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16 October 2014
Scottish Roots - Searching for your family history in Scotland

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Did your ancestors become American Indians?

Duncan McDonald was a descendant of the Glencoe McDonalds who were killed in the infamous Massacre of Glencoe. But by 1877 he considered himself a member of the Nez Perce tribe on the Rocky Mountains of Idaho. His story is re-told in an amazing book by historian James Hunter, Glencoe and the Indians (Mainstream Publishing, 1996). It’s a classic piece of genealogical research, which traces a family over 900 years and uncovers an amazing story.

Macdonald Nez Perce - click for a larger image

The book deals with the life of the McDonald family during the last 300 years in North America and Scotland. Hunter demonstrates the family’s descent through these 300 years beyond reasonable doubt, and in principle a further 900 years.

Here is a sample of the chain of descent, generation by generation:

Charles Duncan McDonald was born in Mission Valley on the Flathead Reservation, Montana, on 17 November 1897. Charlie was a founding member of the Tribal Council of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. He died aged 97 on 2 January 1995 at his home in St Ignatius, Flathead. Charlie was the son of:
Joseph A McDonald who was born at Fort Colville in what is now Washington State in 1866. Joseph was the younger brother of Duncan McDonald who features very largely in this book as a result of his involvement in the Nez Perce War of 1877. Duncan and Joseph were sons of:
Angus McDonald who was born at Craig on the north shore of Loch Torridon, Scotland, in October 1816 and who died at his Mission Valley home in the Flathead Reservation in February 1889. Angus came to North America in 1838 and in 1842 married Catherine whose father was part Mohawk and whose mother was Nez Perce. Catherine was both descended from and and related to a number of Nez Perce chiefs. Angus, for his part, was the son of:
Donald MacDonald who was resident at Craig in 1816 and who appears to have had subsequent connections with the Dingwall and Strathconon areas. Donald was the son of:
Margaret MacDonald who was born in Glencoe in 1763 and who was an elder sister of the leading Hudson’s Bay Company fur trader, Archibald McDonald. The first name of Margaret’s husband is unknown. His surname, however was MacDonald. This man had family links with the Knoydart area and was related (possibly as cousin) to Finan McDonald who was born in Knoydart in the 1770s and who, as a North West Company fur trader, became one of the first white men to enter present-day Montana. Margaret was daughter of:
Angus MacDonald who was born in Glencoe in 1730. Angus fought at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 and afterwards became tacksman or tenant of the Glencoe farm of Inverigan. Angus was the son of:
John MacDonald who was born in Glencoe around 1680 and who, as a small boy, escaped with his mother and his brother, Donald, from the massacre perpetrated by Scottish Government troops in Glencoe in February 1692. John was the son of:
Aonghas mac Ailean Dubh (Angus son of Black Allan), or Angus MacDonald, who served as a young man with the Marquis of Montrose during the latter’s campaign of 1644-45 and who personally guided Montrose’s army into Argyll in November 1644. Angus was the son of:
Ailean Dubh (Black Allan), Allan MacDonald, who held lands in the early seventeenth century, at Laroch, near Glencoe. Allan was the son of:
Iain Dubh (Black John) who was the second son of:
Iain Og (Young John), eight chief of Glencoe. Iain Og who lived towards the end of the sixteenth century, was the son of:
Iain, seventh chief of Glencoe, and further traced down to:
Iain, second chief of Glencoe, who was the son of:
Iain Og an Fhraoich (Young John of the Heather) who, in the early fourteenth century, became first chief of the Glencoe MacDonalds. Iain Og was the son of:
Aonghas Og (Young Angus) of Islay who served with Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 - this being the key victory in the war which Scotland fought with England to establish its independence. Angus was the son of:
Aongas Mor (Big Angus) who was the son of:
Donald who was the son of:
Ranald who was the son of:
Somerled who was born around 1100 and who made himself the effective ruler of an extensive realm which comprised the south-western portion of the Highland mainland and most of the islands off Scotland’s west coast. Somerled, who died in 1164, said traditionally to be the son of:
Gilla-Brigte and then further back to:
Gofraid who came to Scotland from Ireland in 853 and who was made the son of:
Fergus who, some twelve centuries ago, was the chief of a tribe, clan, or kindred whose homeland was in the vicinity of present day County Derry in the northern part of Ireland.

Next in the Histories series here.

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