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Aberdeenshire To America

Aberdeenshire To America

Aboyne Village situated on the north bank of the River Dee, 10m east of Ballater. Aboyne Castle stands in a large estate to the north. Birthplace, at Hirnley farm, of Peter Williamson, "Indian Peter" (1730-1799), adventurer and entrepreneur. As a boy while on a visit to his aunt, he was kidnapped from the quay at Aberdeen and shipped to America. He was indentured as a slave for seven years in Philadelphia and then married and settled in Pennsylvania. In 1754 he was captured by Cherokee Indians and because of his strong physique he was kept as a slave instead of being killed. He eventually escaped and enlisted in the army where he was then taken prisoner by the French and shipped to Plymouth as an exchange prisoner. When he finally returned to Scotland he went to Aberdeen where he tried to raise an action against the magistrates for his boyhood kidnapping. He was driven out of Aberdeen and eventually settled in Edinburgh where he raised his action in the Court of Session and was awarded £100. He established a Coffee Room in Parliament House in Old Parliament Close and in 1770 instituted the Penny Post in Edinburgh. In 1773 he produced the first Edinburgh Street Directory. He was the inspiration for the fictional film "A Man Called Horse".

Alford A small town 23m west of Aberdeen and site of the Covenanting Army's defeat by Marquis of Montrose in 1645. Places of interest include the Grampian Transport Museum. The same name can be found in Florida and Massachusetts. Auchlossan A farm and locality 3½m north east of Aboyne and birthplace of John Kemp (1763-1812) who settled in America in 1782. He became Professor of Maths and Natural Philosophy in Columbia University, New York. He is credited with inspiring one of his pupils, Dewitt Clinton, with the idea of constructing the Eerie Canal across New York State.

Banff Small town on the west side of Banff Bay. To the south lies Duff House, a Georgian mansion designed by William Adam for 1st Earl of Fife in 1735. The town is the birthplace of Sir George Grant (d.1878). While on a trip to America in 1872, he decided to found a colony in Kansas and in 1873 the settlement of Victoria came into being. He introduced the first herd of Black Angus cattle into America.

Birse A hamlet on the north edge of the Forest of Birse, 2m south east of Aboyne. Birthplace of Alexander Garden (1730-1791) who emigrated to South Carolina where he did much to halt smallpox among the colonists. As well as medicine, he studied most of the sciences of the day and collected and studied flora and fauna of the Cherokee country. He sent the first electrical eel back to Britain. The British naturalist, John Ellis named the flower Gardenia in his honour.

Cluny A locality 3m north of Banchory. Birthplace of Angus Neilson MacPherson (1812-1876) who emigrated to America, where he built the famous frigate "Ironsides". He also designed furnaces for heating large plates and invented a method of affixing the plates to the sides of vessels.

Cruden Bay A village 7m south of Peterhead and the birthplace of Thomas Smith (1745-1809) who emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1769. He was a lawyer and a member of the Continental Congress (1780-1782). He was also a judge in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Culter (Peterculter) Village 7½ south west of Aberdeen. The birthplace of Sir Alexander Cuming (1690-1775). As a member of the Royal Society, he embarked on a trading voyage to the Carolinas, collecting herbs and minerals. He became embroiled in politics however, trying to win the Cherokee Indian Nation over to the British cause. He appeared before the tribal leaders in full Highland dress, demanding allegiance to Britain at sword-point. He became known as the "Emperor of the Cherokee Nation" and "Crown King of Tennessee". He returned to London with some of his Cherokee followers who presented George II with several scalps as a token of loyalty. However, he was accused of defrauding settlers of Carolina out of vast sums of money and in 1737 he was sent to the debtors prison, then to Charterhouse Poorhouse where he died in 1775. The town of Cuming in Georgia is named in his honour.

Ellon A small market town, 15m north of Aberdeen. The ruins of Ellon Castle lie just north and east of the town. Birthplace of farmer's son, Alexander Mitchell (1817-1887), who emigrated to Milwaukee in 1839. He became Secretary and then President of the Wisconsin Marine and Fire Insurance Company (founded by fellow Scot, George Smith) which became a state bank. He was also a notable railroad builder who improved the Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad system, expanding its lines to 5,000 miles. He became the company's President in 1867. He was referred to as the "Best Known Scot in Milwaukee". He served two terms in Congress.

Fyvie A village 8m south of Turiff. Fyvie Castle, with its "Green Lady" ghost and its priceless art collection, lies 1m to the north. Birthplace of Professor Alexander Johnson Chalmers Skene (1837-1900) who emigrated to America c.1855. During the Civil War he served for a year as surgeon in the Union army. In 1846, he settled in Brooklyn. He became the most famous American gynaecologist and founded the American Gynaecology Society, becoming its President 1886-87. He also performed the first successful operations of gastroelytrotomy and that of craniotomy.

Huntly A small town 24m south east of Elgin and 33m north west of Aberdeen. Huntly Castle is located north of the town. Birthplace of architect George Grant Elmslie (d.1952), who emigrated with his family to Chicago in 1884. He was a disciple of the renowned architect, Louis Sullivan, with whom he worked until 1909. He formed a partnership with William Purcell and became one of the most prolific Chicago architects during the 1920s. His works included Healy Chapel, Aurora, First Congregational Church, Western Springs, Maxwelton Braes Hotel in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin. He was buried in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago.

Inverugie Hamlet on the river Ugie, 2m north west of Peterhead. Nearby are the ruins of a castle, which once belonged to the Keiths, Earls Marischals. Birthplace of Sir William Keith (1680-1749), who emigrated to Virginia and became Governor of Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Keith A small town on the right bank of the River Isla, 15m south east of Elgin. Birthplace of James Gordon Bennett (d.1872) who emigrated to America in 1819 and who became a major figure in the American newspaper industry. He worked his way up in journalism and in 1826 he became Associate Editor of the New York Enquirer and Courier. He defended the right of the press to report trials without the permission of the courts. He also published the first edition of the New York Herald. He was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn New York.

Lumsden A village 4m south of Rhynie and 11m south south west of Huntly. Birthplace of James D. Law (b.1865), who emigrated to the USA c.1886 and settled in Camden, New Jersey. He became involved in motion pictures and was also an author of international repute. He also invented the "Universal Clock" - one dial tells the correct time continuously and synchronously in any part of the world.

Monymusk A village 7m south west of Inverurie. Places of interest include Monymusk House and Church. The latter houses a window in the tower that was gifted by the Presbyterian Church of Oklahoma. Birthplace of miniature painter, Archibald Robertson (1765-18350, who emigrated to America and settled in Philadelphia in 1792. He painted portraits of George Washington and other leading American citizens. He also designed a medal used to commemorate the opening of the Eerie Canal in 1825.

New Deer A village 14m south west of Fraserburgh and birthplace of millionaire, Bertie Charles Forbes (1880-1954). He settled in New York in 1904 and began his rise to fame and fortune in the newspaper industry. He became a famous journalist and launched his own Forbes Magazine of Business, which still stands as one of the most respected magazines today. He was buried in a New Jersey cemetery but 34 years later, his son Malcolm, who took over the family business, brought his body home to be re-interred in the old churchyard at New Deer.

Old Deer A village on the south side of the Forest of Deer, 10m west of Peterhead. Birthplace of the following: Thomas Davidson (1840-1900), who emigrated first to Canada in 1866, then moved on to Boston and finally to St. Louis. He was a philosopher, scholar and educator, establishing the Breadwinner's College for the working class and also promoted summer schools; David Bremner Henderson (1840-1906), who emigrated to Illinois in 1846, before settling in Iowa in 1849. He served in the Civil War in 1865 and suffered injuries, which resulted in the loss of a leg. He went on to serve in the House of Representatives as a Republican for the period 1883-1903 and was Speaker in the 56th and 57th Congresses; Banker, George Smith (1808-1899), who emigrated to America in 1833. He settled in Chicago in 1834, where he made his fortune in real estate. He founded the Chicago Marine and Fire Insurance Company in 1836 and then the Wisconsin Marine and Fire Insurance Company, establishing the latter as a bank in 1839. His successful investments enabled him to retire to London in 1861 where he spent the rest of his life.

Old Meldrum A small town 4m north east of Inverurie. Birthplace of William Keith (1839-1911), who emigrated to America in the mid-1800s. He was an artist and naturalist and produced many black and white sketches of the west coast and Sierras before going on to create spectacular landscapes. He was regarded as California's greatest landscape painter.

Ordiquhill A parish 6m south south west of Portsoy. Birthplace of Peter Wilson (1746-1825), who emigrated to New York in 1763 before settling in New Jersey. He published several textbooks on Latin and Greek and was a member of the New Jersey legislature in 1777. In 1783 he was appointed to revise and codify the laws of the State of New York.

Pitsligo A parish on the north coast ½m south east of Rosehearty. The 15th century Pitsligo Castle, bought and restored by American millionaire, Malcolm Forbes, in 1988, lies close by. Birthplace of General Hugh Mercer (1725-1777), who had served as assistant surgeon in the army of Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 1745 Rebellion. He emigrated to America in 1747 and settled in Mercersburgh, Pennsylvania. He saw service in the French and Indian Wars of 1755 and in the War of Independence. He died in 1777 after being severely wounded in the Battle of Princeton in New Jersey. His funeral took place in Philadelphia and a monument was erected to his memory in the Laurel Hill Cemetery there. There is also a statue of him in Fredericksburg, Virginia where he was an apothecary before the Revolution. Various towns and counties throughout the US are named in his honour.

Brora A village 5m north west of Peterhead. Birthplace of James Shewan (1848-1914). He moved to America and invested in real estate where he accumulated a fortune, enabling him to finance his own shipyard in New York in 1869. It was the largest dry dock and ship repairing plant in the port of New York.

Turriff A small town 9m south of Banff. Birthplace of the following: Alexander Millar (b.1849), who emigrated to Boston in 1872 where he became a stenographer in the Union Pacific offices. In 1887 he became Secretary of the Union Pacific Railway System; William J. Robb (b.1867) who emigrated to New York in 1887 and became a clerk in the wholesale firm of Aitken, Son & Co. He worked his way up to become Vice-President and Treasurer of Judkins & McCormick Co. of New York city, one of the largest manufacturers.

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