Thanks to Google, and online genealogical research, I can begin to piece together that first generation of Scottish ancestors who came to America in the 1700s.
Though I'm probably less than 25% Scot, my Scottish ancestors capture my imagination -- I envision them rising up out of the mists in their kilts, with bagpipes humming, from an isle in the Hebrides. The movies Rob Roy and Braveheart certainly depict the lives of our Scottish ancestors as heroic.
My father's name is John McNair Buie. I was never quite sure where the "John McNair" came from. Thanks to Google, I think I may have found out.
There were apparently a bunch of clannish Buie brothers and sisters and cousins, good Scottish Highlanders, over on the Isle of Jura in the 1700s eager to come to America. Because of its isolation, Jura's population for centuries, at least since the "mass immigration" to America, has rarely risen above 200. It is only 27 miles long and seven miles wide, according to this page. The landscape of Jura looks pretty bleak, not a great place for farming and not many other ways to make a living. My cousin Elizabeth Buie explored Jura, and has a wonderful piece, with wonderful pictures, on her web site.
In contrast, land in America was fertile and plentiful. The Buies of Scotland, like a lot of Highlanders in the 1700s, were discontent. They hopped ships and settled in what is now Cumberland, Richmond, and Scotland Counties, NC. The first few Highlanders appear to have settled in the Cape Fear region of North Carolina in 1732. The first large group of Highlanders settling in that region came in 1739, numbered 350, and were from Argyllshire.
One of the events that made the Highlanders fantasize about starting a new life in America was their 1745 defeat at Culloden by British government troops. Many defeated Scots were banished to the American colonies.
Samuel Johnson, traveling through the Highlands of Scotland in 1773 with his companion James Boswell, wrote in his journal that so many Highlanders he met were contemplating immigrating to America that it was "an epidemic." Visiting the Isle of Skye on October 2, 1774, Boswell reported that many were performing a dance called “America”: "Each of the couples…successively whirls round in a circle, till all are in motion; and the dance seems intended to show how emigration catches, till a whole neighborhood is set afloat."
Highland Scots, in contrast to lowlanders, were more clannish and didn't want to be split up. In the first US census (1790), people of Scottish origins (including the Scotch-Irish) made up more than six percent of the population, numbering about 260,000. The migration of Scottish Highlanders, in particular, to North Carolina began in about 1729 and grew steadily until the outbreak of the American Revolution.
Approximately sixteen hundred Highland Scots settled in the greater Cape Fear region of North Carolina between 1768 and 1771. This area was designated the "Scotch settlement." Fifty-four shiploads of Highlanders migrated from the Western Isles of Scotland in the summer of 1770.
The fastest growth appears to have been just before the Revolution in the early 1770s -- about 30,000 HIghlanders immigrated to North Carolina between 1773 and 1775.
The Buies were part of the MacDonald clain. There were so many MacDonalds in the Cape Fear region by the time of the American Revolution that the MacDonalds, who were loyal to the Crown of England, organized their own march to the sea, but were defeated at Moore’s Creek. This was known for generations as “The Insurrection of the Clan MacDonald” (Source).
In those early generations were my great-great-great-great grandfather, Archibald Buie (born on Jura, 1705), Daniel Buie (b. Jura, 1709); Catherine Buie (b. 1735 on Jura), Gilbert Buie (b. 1730 in Jura), his brother, Neill Buie (exact birthdate unknown), and John MacNair (b. 1735 in the Hebrides).
My grandfather six generations removed from me immigrated to Cumberland County, NC and married Catherine Shaw. They settled in Gum Swamp, now Scotland County, and had six children, all of whom also settled in the region. The family was devoutly Presbyterian, and came to America partly to practice their religion freely. Two of their sons, Daniel and Archibald, became Presbyterian ministers. Archibald Buie died in Cumberland County in 1811. Archibald and Catherine probably have had between 750 and 3,750 direct descendants, depending on how many children on average every generation since has had.
For his part, MacNair wrote that he was born in a small village "in the Parish of Kilkenny in the Shire of Argyle, North Britain. I was the youngest son of Neill MacNair. My mother's name was Sally McGill."
When he was still in Scotland, MacNair's first wife died in 1768 after the birth of their third child. Desolate, John MacNair sought to change his life in a dramatic way. "I came to North Carolina in America in the year 1770 and bought a plantation at Hitchcock in Anson County (now Richmond County, NC) and lived there some time," John MacNair wrote.
Within two years, he was ready to remarry, and chose Catherine Buie, also a widow and also a Highland Scot. The daughter of Donald Buie of Jura, Catherine married John when she was 38 years old, in 1773.
Her first husband, a native of Scotland, was named John MacFarland, and they first settled in Cumberland County, NC. MacFarland had apparently bought some land in Scotland County, so John MacNair and Catherine Buie McFarland, when they married, moved from Cumberland County 30 miles south to what is now Scotland County.
Sadly, the marriage of John and Catherine lasted only 14 years, as she died in 1787 at the age of 52. He lived another 32 years, not dying until June 30, 1819 at the age of 84.
Catherine Buie McNair and John McNair are buried in Old Laurel Hill MacFarland Cemetery in Scotland County, NC.
Catherine left the land her husband had given her to son from her first marriage, Duncan McFarland. He donated it for the creation of Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church. He stipulated that there not be a cemetery on church property, so the family cemetery sits in the midst of a cotton field that adjoins the church.