Monday, September 20, 2010

Scots In Delaware County, New York

While attempting to track the movements of Scotch Settlement residents, I tripped across many other Scottish communities in the eastern United States. Many of the communities I "discovered" (in the sense that Columbus "discovered" the New World) are not generally mentioned in literature on the Scottish Diaspora. 

Before moving to moving to Ohio, David Rose, his wife Isobel Rose and his mother Isobel McLean step-mother Elizabeth Rose* had, by 1815, settled amongst the Scotch in Delaware County, New York. According to a letter sent by his brother-in-law Alexander Dallas, David held 100 acres of fertile land, good for cattle and grazing. 

Where is Delaware County?  Who are the Scots there?

Delaware County is located northwest of New York city and borders the state of Pennsylvania. According to county histories the Scots came "late" to this region and were not the primarily settlers. Scottish settlement in the county seems to have been at its height between 1790 and 1820. In some regions like Bovina they became the dominant residents, in others they had to live in the hills as the better land in the valleys had been taken.  There seems to have been concentration of Scots in the towns of Delhi, Bovina, and Andes where they attended Reformed, Associated Reformed, and United Presbyterian churches.

The Scots who settled in Delaware County appear to have been from all over Scotland, though mostly from the Lowlands. Local sources mention: Hawick, Glasgow, Dumfriesshire, Dumbartonshire, Berwickshire, Roxburghshire, Morayshire, Selkirkshire, Perthshire, and the Highlands. David Rose was from the parish of Nairn. These varied origins speak to the pervasiveness of out migration from Scotland.

The popularity of Delaware County with Scots is confirmed by the 1850 census.  In this year the Scottish born population of Delaware is second only to the City of New York. This immigrant population in Delaware was spread throughout the county; but there were sizable communities in Delhi (298 people), Andes (256 people), Hamden (192 people) and Bovina (169 people).  Further investigating this county and the Scots who lived there is on my VERY LONG list of things to do.

In addition to the Dallas Letter in the National Library of Scotland, I consulted:

Delaware County, New York; history of the century, 1797-1897; centennial celebration, June 9 and 10, 1897
HISTORY OF DELAWARE COUNTY, N.Y., WITH ILLUSTRATIONS, BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES AND PORTRAITS OF SOME PIONEERS AND PROMINENT RESIDENTS
Burials in the Town of Stamford and vicinity Delaware County, New York, 1767-1990

My favorite passage from these sources is "The general reader need not be told that Scottish thrift and Scottish piety have transmitted traits that do honor to the countrymen of Scott and Wallace." (Munsell 1880 p125).


*Feb 2012 update: If I'd paid more attention to my files, I would have noticed that David's father Hugh married Elizabeth Rose in August 1793. Since David's mother must have died before that, she can't have been in New York in 1815.

1 comment:

Thomas MacEntee said...

I am personally familiar with Delaware County and its rolling hillsides. I grew up in neighboring Sullivan County, NY and I have many living relatives as well as ancestors still in Delaware County. What most people don't realize is how far west into New York it extends - quite large.

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