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Colorado Tartan Day Was A Great Success

We kicked off the “festival season” last weekend in Longmont, Colorado, at the Colorado Tartan Day Festival. Offered the second weekend of April, oftentimes the week after International Tartan Day, it is one of the few FREE events of the year. Many of the larger Clans were in attendance, along with the usual music, food, and history demonstations.

We took the RV up Friday afternoon in 30-50 mph winds and set up in the campground of the Boulder County Fairgrounds, located near the site of the Festival. The wind blew most of the evening and off and on the following day, Saturday, but Sunday was relatively quiet and sunny. Our daughter and grandson attended bboth days with us, and our grandson got to overnight with us on Saturday.

This was my first official festival as USA Genealogist for the Murray Clan Society of North America. I was amazed at the number of people beginning to look into their Scottish heritage, and also those who had studied their lineage already and were comfortable with history.

Next up is June for the Pikes Peak Celtic Festival, a fast-growing event in the state. We will take the RV again, staying in a campground just south of Colorado Springs in Fountain. July is the Elizabeth Celtic Festival southeast of Aurora, followed by the Colorado Scottish Festival in Edgewater, moved from Snowmass where it was held the last several years. A few smaller (or newer) festivals are sandwiched in the calendar these months, but we may not participate. In the Fall, the Longs Peak Festival is the “biggie,” but has not been a favorite of the Clans lately, so it is still up in the air also.

Another Wikitree Greeting


Wish you a Happy New Year.  May 2018 bring you all you need to be happy.

Congratulation for adding your contributions in December.  Whatever the 
quantity of your contributions, they all count.  As I always say 
"Quality is better than quantity" to make a great family tree.  

Thank you for being a Wikitreer,

Guy Constantineau - Wikitree leader

New DNA Results – 23andMe

We just took a 23andMe DNA test a few weeks ago and the results are in. Compared to the Ancestry test I took a few years ago, there are no real surprises, but there are some differences!

According to 23andMe, I am 100% European; in fact, primarily Northwestern European (91.6%). French and German is the highest, at 36.3%, with British and Irish coming in at second with 34.4%. Scandinavian accounts for only 3.4%, but “Broadly Northwestern European” comes in at a whopping 17.5%. In the previous test, English/Irish was the highest (64%), German/Western European was much lower (12%), and Scandinavian was three times higher (12%).

Southern European was 4.0% total, down from 6% in the first test, made up of Italian (1.7%), Iberian (0.8%) and Broadly Southern European at 1.5%. Eastern European came in at 1.9%, compared to 4% the first time, and Broadly European was 2.5%.

I’m not a DNA whiz, but this latest test confirms what I’ve always known: most of my ancestors came from Western Europe, Ireland and the UK. Trace amounts of other European ancestors aren’t so different that I can’t live with the numbers I see, and I can still document ancestors from those areas.

We’re waiting for a couple tests to come back, and one has to be re-done. Not enough spit, I guess. When all the results are in, we’ll do a comparison of each of the areas and see how closely they align.

Unexpected Recognition from Wikitree

Opened my e-mail yesterday to this nice note:

Hi Michael

Hope you are well, just dropped by to say how much we appreciate
your contributions to the community's shared tree. You are doing 
a wonderful job of support others, through your work, you obviously 
love what you do. Thank you

Best Wishes Janet
Wikitree Appreciation Team

I've received notes of thanks (and praise) from various individuals 
before, but never from the leadership.

Wikitree Provides New Relationship Clues to Presidents, Magna Carta Barons, Mayflower Passengers

Wikitree ( released its new set of Relationship Quick Links to several categories of profiles on the site. Knowing I hadn’t done much with them in the past year, I ran through the list of names one at a time and got some remarkable results.

According to the Relationship Finder last year, I was related in some way to almost every President of the United States that has served. The new list pares the list down considerably, but I’m supposedly still related to around half of them. Keep in mind these are BLOOD relations, or DIRECT relations, and don’t include others related by marriage. Check the new list out at:

The second list, Magna Carta Security Barons, showed I am related to nearly every one, including several I had overlooked the last time I checked. Quite possibly Indirect Links were changed to Direct Links. That list is at:

Finally, on a whim, I started checking the list of Mayflower passengers. This is one of the most elusive categories in Genealogy. From Roanoke to Jamestown to Plymouth to all over New England, our ancestors came by the thousands, so the chances of being related to one of about 100 on a small ship that landed on Plymouth Rock were next to nil.

After putting about 30 names into the Relationship Finder, I hit paydirt! Wikitree says a gentleman named Stephen Hopkins is my 11th Great Grandfather, and he brought his teenage son and daughter to the New World with him. So, I’m not just related to ONE Mayflower passenger, but THREE! More research is necessary to “flesh out” the characters of the Hopkins’, but I have a starting point on a project I never imagined I could be involved in.

One interesting fact I did find out so far is that Stephen was the only person on the Mayflower when it left Plymouth, England, that had been to the New World before. He was on one of the Jamestown ships that got caught in a storm and ended up as a castaway in the Bermuda Islands. He eventually escaped, but not before he learned something of the native culture, which made him invaluable to the Mayflower Colony after its establishment.

Trip Diary – April/May 2017 – Days 47 & 48– Blair Castle, Atholl Highlanders, Clan Gathering

Blair Castle, at the heart of Blair Atholl, is the historical seat of Clan Murray. The Atholl Highlanders, a private army created with the blessings of Queen Victoria, guard the castle and stand ready for orders from the 12th Duke of Atholl, who lives in South Africa. The castle itself is run by a national foundation, but the Highlanders have exclusive access to the ballroom below.

Michael Murray, Marquis of Tullibardine, and his younger brother, Lord David Murray, are sons of the Duke. Michael is in line to inherit the title of 13th Duke of Atholl. Both officers in the Highlanders, they were officiating over the annual Parade the Saturday before the Clan Gathering.

The Clan Gathering on Sunday was interesting for several reasons. We were looking forward to a Highland Games in Scotland so we could compare with games we’ve been to in Colorado. The usual food, jewelry, clothing, and amusement booths were in abundance, but there was much more of an emphasis on the Shot Put, Caber Toss, Hammer Throw, and bagpipes than we have seen. Once the games had concluded, Michael Murray kicked off the festivities, and the field opened up to family events and sports. Sporting events at games in the States are usually off to the side somewhere, and are not usually headline events.

We first saw fidget spinners in London, but many of the shops couldn’t get enough to keep them on the shelves. We didn’t know they had appeared in the States until we got home.



Trip Diary – April/May 2017 – Day 46 – Murray Tour

After traveling south from Inverness to Blair Atholl and the center of Scotland, we spent the afternoon visiting sights of interest to the Murray Clan, both Abercairny and Tullibardine. In the first photo below, Daniel Parker, President of UK Clan Murray and a cousin through his wife, Anna Murray, showed us around “The Stables,” a wedding venue they started a few years ago. The structure was actually the horse stables of the Estate of Abercairny a few miles down the road where Anna’s father lives. It was moved up the road stone by stone during the 1700’s, and is filled with original paintings of Murray ancestors.

Traditions and memories are the hallmark of the UK. Near The Stables is a small plot of land where the dogs of the family since the mid-1800’s are buried. There are also several gardens available for weddings, including this formal garden with 17th Century furnishings.

Tullibardine Chapel was our next visit, with its original wood ceiling beams and glass windows. The Murrays of Abercairny married the Drummonds of Strathearn, ending up with over 13,000 acres of land altogether. The Murrays of Tullibardine left the area and moved south toward Perth, eventually ending up with enormous holdings in their own right.

If the chapel looks familiar for some reason, it was featured in the last few episodes of season two of the hit television show, Outlanders. This was the church the group hid in while trying to evade the British soldiers.



Trip Diary – April/May 2017 – Day 45 – Loch Ness & Inverness

Inverness is the gateway to the west of Scotland and the isles (Skye and the Hebrides), and also the north of Scotland and the isles (Orkneys and Shetlands). Loch Ness and its famous, although questionable, inhabitant, “Nessie”, is BIG business in Inverness. An exhibition center and mandatory gift shop tell the story of Nessie, but also introduce visitors to the real science taking place in the lake over the decades. A major study of Zooplankton and other minute sea creatures has prompted sonar studies of the lake itself, eventually mapping the entire lake to its full 700+ foot depth. Loch Ness was also the site of an ill-fated land speed record attempt, one of the few recreational uses ever made on the lake.


The only way to truly “see” Loch Ness is by ferry. Loch Ness is actually one of three lochs and a canal leading north to Inverness. A lighthouse that doesn’t look much like a lighthouse makes the end of the canal where the loch begins. The ruins of Urquhart Castle lies on the west shore of the loch at its midpoint.

You can’t go on the lake without wondering whether you’ll see Nessie or not. One possible solution to hundreds of sightings over the years is shown in the photo below. When two boats, in this case large ferries, cross paths on the loch, the wakes eventually intersect and form loops that could be mistaken for “humps” of a creature under the right conditions. On this day, however, Nessie was nowhere to be found.


Trip Diary – April/May 2017 – Day 44 – Inverness to Isle of Skye

We wanted to visit at least one island while we were here, and we chose Skye because it was one of the largest. Big mistake! We found out the Outer Hebrides have better weather, by far, than Skye, which has the nickname “Cloud Isle.” We found that out was a good name. We woke up to rain in the morning on the Isle, and drove higher and higher into more dense clouds. Barely able to see a few hundred feet in front of us, we decided to cut our loop trip short and return to Inverness.

As we left the Isle, we stopped at Eilean Donan Castle, a 13th Century stronghold on the shoreline, accessible only by an easily-defensible bridge.

Back to Inverness to prepare to find Nessie tomorrow!!

Trip Diary – April/May 2017 – Day 43 – Aberdeen to Inverness

As I wrote yesterday, the name Gordon is big in these parts. Based out of Huntly Castle on the eastern Highlands, they ruled a vast area. George Gordon, 2nd Earl of Gordon, was known as the “Cock of the North” and has a song written about him. The Gordons were also the first family to be given the title Marquis. The inscription on the front of Huntly Castle denotes that fact.

Further down the road, we ran across Brodie Castle. Don’t know much about it, or the family now living in it.

Just outside of Inverness is Culloden Field, the site of another famous battle in Scotland’s history, although not one to be proudly discussed. The Scots who supported Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles, son of King James II) were Jacobites (James in Gaelic) who fought in opposition to George, the English King from Germany, supported by other Scots. From what I know, the clans I’m related to were sympathizers of the Prince, and fought and died for him at the Battle of Culloden in April, 1746.

The two forces lined up in the huge field opposite each other. Noted by the blue flags for the Jacobites and the red flags for the British, they charged. Seriously outnumbered, over 700 Jacobites fell and died on the first charge. As the others tried to re-group, they were cut down in large numbers, as well. The Jacobite ranks broke and tried to escape, but the British had orders to kill every opponent, with some being caught and killed days after the battle. Others who died were civilians who had nothing to do with either side in the battle. Culloden became the last armed resistance between the Scots and the English.

Many clanmembers were buried in mass graves in the field. The owner of the property put markers on the graves in the late 1800’s to show the locations of known graves. Dead British soldiers were also buried in a large mass grave near the British lines.

On this day, as days before, the landscape was worth capturing in photos. Everything is in full bloom now, and promises a beautiful Summer for future visitors.