Sunday, February 28, 2010

MacGregor Clan

I am in the final stages of my manuscript, Highland Savior. Since my story is loosely based on the MacGregor and Campbell conflicts, I thought it only right to give the MacGregor's their 15 minutes of fame.

Clan Gregor, or Clan MacGregor, is a Highland Scottish clan. The Gaelic version of the MacGregor name is MacGrioghair. Their clan motto is 'S rioghal mo dhream (My race is royal).

Clan Gregor is believed to have originated in Scotland around the 800s. The MacGregor's suggest they take their name from Gregor (derived from the Latin 'Gregorius' and the Late-Greek 'Gregorios' meaning "Alert, Watchful, or Viligent"). Gregor is said to be a son of the Scottish king Alpin II Mac Eochaidh and younger brother Kenneth MacAlpin, Scottish king in 843 A.D. Alpin II was the son of Eochaidh IV 'the Poisonous,' High King of Scots, by his marriage to his cousin, the Pictish Princess Royal, and therefore had claims to the Scottish and Pictish Thrones.

They fought at the Battle of Bannockburn under chief Malcolm MacGregor during the 14th century. The MacGregor's suffered a reversal of fortune when the Scottish king, Robert the Bruce, granted the barony of Loch Awe, which included the majority of MacGregor lands, to the chief of Clan Campbell. The Campbells, a greedy lot, ejected the MacGregor's from these lands. The MacGregor's fought the Campbells for decades and eventually lost their lands. Reduced to the status of outlaws, no thanks to the Campbells, they rustled cattle and poached deer to survive.

Iain of Glenstrae died in 1519 with no direct heirs. Clan Gregor was in disarray and the powerful Campbells asserted claim to the last remaining MacGregor lands. In 1560, the Campbells dispossessed Gregor Roy MacGregor, who waged war on the Campbells for ten years before being captured and killed. 

Argyle and his clan henchmen were given the task of hunting the MacGregor's down. After suffering severe losses, the MacGregor's were finally overcome.

The Battle of Glen Fruin took place in 1603. The MacGregor's were again victorious and defeated five hundred Clan Colquhoun men, three hundred of them that were on horseback, by four hundred MacGregor's. 

The MacGregor's were formally banished in 1603 by King James VI who made it a capitol offense to bear the MacGregor name. If they did not renounce their name, they were to suffer death. From this period comes the clan's most historical figure, Rob Roy.

Clan Gregor scattered and many of them took other names such as Murray, King, or Grant. They were hunted like animals, flushed out of the heather by bloodhounds. Such persecution continued of the MacGregors until 1774 when they were permitted to be reestablished.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fate-Fact or Fiction?

The definition of fate is described as the power or agency supposed to determine the outcome of events before they occur; destiny; something inevitable, supposedly determined by this power.

I believe everything in life happens for a reason; so yes, I believe in fate.

I'm sure everyone can relate to having a bad experience in their life--well, for some of us, maybe more than one. When I think back on my own personal experiences, I have had my fair share of good and bad. To be truthful, I am thankful for both because without one or the other, I would never be the person I am today. I am a strong believer in letting nature take its course.

Did you ever ask yourself, "What if I would have done this instead of that? What if I made that decision instead of this decision?" You'd probably go mad thinking of all the possible outcomes.

When I was young, I would always ask my grandmother to tell me the story of how she met my grandfather. It was always so intriguing to me. You couldn't help but ask yourself, "Was it meant to be?" 

I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite stories on how love flourishes in sometimes the oddest of places. Was it fate? You decide.


A friend of mine was a 23 year-old hair stylist in Pittsburgh, PA. 

25 years ago, Pittsburgh had a terrible blizzard and she was at work. The salon hardly had any customers all day long and it was time to close. It had been a long, tiring day and she just wanted to close the shop and go home.

She had just finished mopping the floor when the door flew open and the bitter chill of winter cut through the salon. A man appeared in the doorway and shook off the snow. "Is it too late for me to get a haircut?" he asked.

She turned around to see a very handsome man standing there. How could she turn him down? Would you? So she smiled politely and told him to come in. As she was washing his hair, she tried not to study him too intently. One thing was for certain, she thought he was gorgeous. 

Trying not to be nervous, she slyly looked down at his ring finger. Thankfully to her, it was bare. She tried to make polite conversation to ensure he did not have a girlfriend. To her dismay, the answer he gave was not the one she wanted to hear. That was all she needed to hear, he was off limits.

She gave him the haircut and never thought about him again.

A few weeks later, the same man called and scheduled another appointment with her; however, something was different about that visit. He was now single.

They talked and talked and scheduled a date for that same night. In fact, they were together every night for the next three months, until he dropped a bomb.

His job required him to move to WA and he would not be returning anytime soon. Having very little choice in the matter, he regrettably left for WA, leaving her behind. He called three weeks later and told her he couldn't live without her, begging her to come to WA. To her parents' dismay, she dropped everything and moved to WA to be with him. Her parents were furious, but she took a chance on love and won.

25 years later, they are still married with three kids and very much in love. Fate?


A friend of mine shared this story with me about his grandparents and it always brings a smile to my face.

His grandmother was from England. During World War II, she was engaged to an English tank operator. By some twist of fate, no pun intended, her betrothed was killed in action. She was completely heartbroken.

Six months later, she was in a pub in England. An emcee was up on stage and tried to get the audience to participate in his banter. He asked if anyone in the audience had a birthday that day to please come up on the stage. His future grandfather, an American soldier, walked up onto the stage. Low and behold, his grandmother's birthday was also on the same day. As he's telling me this story, I thought I knew right away where it was heading. It gets even better... 

As she attempted to climb up onto the stage, there were microphone and speaker cords laying all about. She lifted her foot, got tangled in the cord, tripped, and literally fell into the arms of his grandfather. Fate? *happy sigh*

The last one that I'll share is my own personal story with my DH.

After earning my degree, I was looking for a job. A family member suggested that I come to MD and look for a job down there.  

So off I went into unknown territory and lived with family for a few months. I had just ended a two year relationship that I had in college and was in no means ready or even willing to start dating again. I was enjoying my new found freedom too much.

That family member boarded a horse at my future mother-in-law's farm. We would go riding there all of the time and I would see my future mother and father-in law. When I think back, it was sort of funny not knowing that someday you would be related. They spoke of having a son, but of all the times I had been there, I had never seen him. 

A few months later, that family member thought it might be a good idea to "hook me up" with the MIA son. Having no desire to date, let alone being "fixed-up" with someone, I kept blowing her off. That was such a loser thing for me. Who wanted to be "fixed-up" with someone? I was not some charity case and I did not need to have a boyfriend at the moment. I was totally against it.

A few weeks later, we had just returned from riding. As I brushed my mount, I could not help but notice the shirtless guy with the cool shades mowing the grass. He screamed masculinity. The sun reflected off his bulging biceps and I had to consciously lift my mouth.

I nudged my family member. "Who is that?" I asked, trying not to drool. She looked at me and smiled. "Oh, that's the son. You're not interested remember?" she smirked.

I think my response was a giddy, "Oh my God! You've got to introduce me!"

Needless to say, we were introduced and we were inseparable. I knew I was going to spend the rest of my life with him after that first date. We were married a few years later and also moved back to PA. It was almost as if I was in MD for the sole purpose of meeting my DH.

20 years later, we are still together. Fate? I think so!

What about you? Do you believe in fate? If you have an interesting story to tell, please share!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Miramont Castle

As my close friends will undoubtedly attest, I have a fascination and addiction to everything Scotland. No, really. It's true! *smile*

Scotland is rich in history and its beauty is unsurpassed. Magnificent castles grace the rolling green countryside and are a staple of everything that is Scotland. From Edinburgh Castle to Eilean Donan Castle, the massive stone structures are rich in history and intrigue. If only the walls could talk!

Did you know there are plenty of historic castles within the United States to investigate and explore? USA Castles should not be overlooked and provide a vast array of history.

My dh and I had the pleasure of touring such a castle in Manitou Springs, CO. Miramont Castle is a must-see for any historical lover.

Jean Baptiste Francolon was a Catholic priest born in Clermont, France in 1854. He was the son of a wealthy diplomat.

In 1878, he was summoned by Bishop Lamy to travel to Sante Fe, NM, where he became the Bishop's secretary.

In the early 1890's, Father Francolon suffered an ailment. He was transferred to Manitou Springs in the hopes that the many mineral waters the area provided would restore his health. 

He began planning the Castle's construction and intended the structure to be a home he could share with his mother, Marie. It was to be called Miramont, meaning "look at (or see) the mountain."

The Castle was completed in 1896 and had running water and electricity. All of the comforts of home!

The Castle was adorned with many wealthy furnishings including a mahogany table inlaid with jewels, tapestries, oils, statuary, antique investments and laces.

There are nine distinct architectural designs within the Castle: Romanesque, Gothic, Moorish, English Tudor, shingle-style Queen Anne, Flemish stepped gables, domestic Elizabethan, Venetian Ogee and half-timber Chateau. Father Francolon had apparently collected ideas from his early years of traveling the world with his father.

The Castle is built on four levels which boasts 14,000 square feet and 46 rooms. It has five fireplaces, the largest being sixteen feet wide and weighing 400,000 pounds.

An addition was made to the Castle sometime after its completion in 1896, but no records have been located in order to verify the date. The newer part of the Castle added a chapel, grand staircase and solarium. Pictures do not compliment the architecture of the Castle.

Miramont Castle was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 3, 1977.

If you are traveling to the Colorado Springs area, place Miramont Castle on the top of your list.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Most Romantic Words Ever Spoken

Do you remember the most romantic words that were ever spoken to you?

My dh literally swept me off my feet when we were dating. He was so handsome, big and strong and had that sweet southern twang.

He was the kindest man I'd ever met. Who wouldn't fall for that?

I think the most romantic words came from him when we were dating. I remember being upset about something and I was crying. I did not want him to see me upset so I turned my head away from him. Having him see his girlfriend as a watering pot was not on the top of my list.

He grabbed my chin and turned me to face him. He wiped my tears with his thumb and gave me a warm smile. "I can't stand to see you cry," he whispered. "I wish I could take away your pain. Maybe I'll have better luck as your husband," he murmured, bending his head in for a kiss.

Yep, that was a winner. Just like a scene from a romantic movie or book. I'll remember that one forever.

In lieu of Valentine's Day, what were the most romantic words ever spoken to you?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Germany, 1500's

I have always been intrigued by family history. I love hearing stories about the past. The stories are full of hope and promise where our ancestors sought and sometimes fought for a better way of life.

My family lineage traces back to Galicia, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Lithuania. Just to name a few! I am one big melting pot of nationalities.

My husband on the other hand, is 100% all-around German. Maternal and paternal sides of his family were all descended from Germany.

Several years ago, my husband's grandmother gave him a box. When he opened it, he was surprised to discover a letter that had been passed down from generation to generation regarding his family lineage. From the details in this letter, we were able to trace my husband's family lineage back to Germany in the 1500's.

The letter is displayed below and I have copied everything verbatim. **Last names removed. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Try to follow if you can. The sentences are very wordy, but I did not want to change the content. There was also not a date on the letter which would have been helpful.

* * *

John Conrad and his two brothers emigrated from Germany. John settled on the farm where George now lives, about 1770 (Doubs, MD). One brother settled in Pennsylvania and the other died soon after landing.

John Conrad had three sisters. They married and went to Ohio.

David was born in 1796. He was married three times, but had no children.

John Conrad was killed during a storm. A tree blew against the house and when he went out to see the damage, a brick was knocked off the chimney, striking him on the head.

Jacob was born in 1804. He also was married three times. His first wife was Catherine and they had two children. Susie married David and they had seven children. Michael married Elizabeth, his second wife was a widow, and they had six children. Jane married William, they had seven children. Mary married James, they had eleven children. David married Aurelia, they had six children. Jacob married Virginia, they had seven children. Lewis married Elizabeth, they had six children. Frank married Elize, they had two children. His third wife was Sophia, they had no children.

He was intensely southern in his sympathies. He suffered considerable loss during the Civil War; in horses, cattle and fencing, during a dash by the Confederate cavalry through the Manor. The Federal forces were stationed at Point of Rocks and hearing the Confederates were at Adamstown, left Point of Rocks and not taking the main road, but across the country, they pulled down the fences as they passed through farms, among them was his farm.

They pulled down his fences, but as soon as they were through, he put up the fences. In less than half an hour, they were retreating back toward Point of Rocks. He heard firing and before he could get away, the retreating Federal troops were upon him.

The first barrier in their way after they had run into the Confederate Cavalry, who were returning from Adamstown, was the fence they had only a short time before pulled down. They were being closely pressed by the Confederates, they came in full retreat.

The first barrier was a gate, this did not seriously stop them as their horses were forced over the gate, which was knocked down, throwing some of the horses and riders, but when the fence was reached, the horses could not be made to attempt to jump over. The soldiers were forced to dismount and he was ordered to help open the fence, which he promptly did. The soldiers threatened to shoot him for putting up the fence, which they had pulled down, but as they were in full retreat and their guns had all been emptied with the first skirmish with the Confederates, they had not time to reload their guns, which probably saved his life.

Lewis was the first merchant here about 1879 and sold liquor and groceries.