I-81, North… to Scotland

Posted on January 5, 2014 by


The Pennsylvania Farm Show is something that has become an annual destination of mine. It’s a great event, putting… as one would expect… Pennsylvania agriculture in the limelight. There’s lots to see, and I can’t return to Virginia without what I call “my annual re-provisioning of Pennsylvania agricultural goods.” Cheeses, venison summer sausage, mustards, horseradish… it’s Pennsylvania comfort food, and, to be honest… I find it a warm reminder of my (albeit distant, and beyond memory of anyone in my family) roots in that area.

On my way up and back, my path crosses the paths of some of my Pennsylvania ancestors who lived in the lower Cumberland Valley. It’s the Scotland exit that always perks my interest.

A quick snapshot taken just yesterday.

A quick snapshot taken just yesterday.

From there, all I have to do is head toward Shippensburg, and then make a left toward Middle Spring Presbyterian Church. It’s under 10 miles from the exit. Middle Spring is one of those sites that echoes back to a time when Scots-Irish settled the area (around 1730)… among whom were some of my own people. Regretfully, the surnames of many of the spouses remains a mystery, but two names that stand out are Quigley and McKinney. While the Quigley line was Irish in origin, the McKinney family was one of those Scots-Irish families.

In History of the Families of McKinney-Brady-Quigley (1905), Belle McKinney Hays Swope, wrote:

About the middle of the eighteenth century Joseph MacKenzie followed the tide of the Scotch-Irish immigration into the Cumberland Valley, crossed the Conodoguinet creek and settled three miles northwest of the present town of Newburg, on the mountain road between Newburg and Roxbury in Hopewell township, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. At the foothills of the Kittatinny mountains he built his house of logs, found abundant pasture for his cattle in the clearing of hewn trees felled by his axe and utilized in the walls of his cabin home, and watered his flock in the mountain stream nearby. In a few years the soil was tilled and fields waved with grain. Soon the paths through the forest were broadened into roads, neighbors could be reached within a short time, and the organization of the Presbyterian church at Middle Spring gave them the benefit of religious privileges. His wife probably came with him to America. Her name is unknown. She lies beside her husband in Hanna’s graveyard, near Newburg, where for two generations the MacKenzie family buried their dead. Few interments have been made in this lonely spot within fifty years and only a small number of the graves are marked. The name was changed from MacKenzie to MacKinzie to McKinney by Joseph MacKenzie…

Certainly, Swope gets a bit flowery in her descriptions, but…

… when writing of one of Joseph’s sons, Thomas (my sixth great grandfather), she wrote:

From childhood he aided in the protection of his home from the attacks of the Indians, and with the Quigley and Brady boys trailed the redskins far and near. When the Indian troubles subsided, the Revolution brought consternation to the settlements in the valley, as elsewhere, and Thomas McKinney instilled the sentiments of patriotism in the hearts of his children, teaching them not only the art of fighting, but the wisdom of bravery. Not inclined to warfare, however, the MacKenzies in America preferred the more quiet walks of life and chose to live at peace with all men, rather than at enmity, to conquer with kindness rather than the sword. Within a few miles of each other lived the families of Wills, Quigley, Sharpe, McCune and two branches of the McKinney, descendants of whom inter­married, and three of Thomas McKinney’s children mar­ried into the Quigley family.

My McKinney line remained in the same area for generations… and there are still McKinney descendants in that area. Around 1830, my fourth great grandfather (a great grandson of Joseph MacKenzie) left Cumberland County for Shepherdstown, Virginia, and eventually Washington Co., Maryland. When the Civil War came around, he was in Clear Spring, Maryland, where his son, Joseph Lake McKinney, joined the Union army (who I mentioned again in a recent post). Meanwhile, back in Cumberland County, other McKinney family members joined Pennsylvania units.

Though Swope doesn’t suggest a war-like nature, she does point to a matter of responsibility that seems to have existed within family members, that one must be prepared for war (“teaching them not only the art of fighting, but the wisdom of bravery”). One of my favorite entries in Swope’s book is where she recounted where Eleanor McKinney Gilmore was talking to one of her sons…

She was interested in all that pertained to prosperity of her country, and joined heart and hand with the Union. At the time of the breaking out of the war of the Rebellion her son told her he wanted to enlist, and she nobly advised him to do so, saying, “David, I will be ashamed of you if you do not.” During the anxious days when he was at the front she plied her needle and made useful articles for the soldiers, mingling with her stitches her prayers for her boy.

Anyway, at the Middle Spring Presbyterian Church, there are reminders that Scots-Irish patriotism wasn’t limited exclusively to folks in the South with Scots-Irish ancestry. In addition to headstones of some of the fallen…



… there is a monument


My eyes are always drawn to that one side, on which it reads… “Our Fallen Patriots” and “The Price of Liberty”.

If there is a remnant of the Scots-Irish heritage, of “born fighting“, in the spirit, I’d argue that the visions of liberty boiled down to perception… perceptions most often attached to the particular place were one considered “home”… South or North. This was not something exclusive to those with Scots-Irish heritage… but it doesn’t make less any of the feelings I have when I have a chance to visit the cemeteries at Middle Spring.