Thursday, August 18, 2011

EmigranThursday - John MacGregor and Family

Welcome to this week’s EmigranThursday featuring the John MacGregor family of Saratoga and Washington Counties, New York. His biography appeared on facing page 321 of Evert and Ensign’s 1878 History of Washington County, New York. Additional sources from and
  • JOHN MAC GREGOR: The family from which the subject of this sketch traces its descent is traced to Griogar, third son of Alpin MacAchài, king of Scotland, who commenced his reign in 787. Donngheal, the elder son, gave the patronymic MacGregor to his posterity, and his brother Guarai was founder of the clan since distinguished as MacQuarrie. The family has had representatives in the battle of Bannockburn, in the invasion of Ireland, and many of the important changes in Scottish history. The military power of the MacGregors in 1645 was one thousand, when they were persecuted by some of the most powerful clans of Scotland, notwithstanding which, there was a feeling of respect and sympathy for them throughout the Highlands, and to this day " Clann-na-Griogar" is frequently given as a spontaneous and cordially received toast.
  •  The homestead of the family in Scotland was Thorn Hill, in Perthshire. William MacGregor emigrated to America in the year 1785, in company with his two brothers, James and John. The three brothers all had trades. William and James were tanners, curriers, and shoemakers. John became a very prominent merchant in New York city, in partnership with his brother Alexander, who subsequently came to this country. All these four young men had to commence with in a strange land was their hands, and hearts willing to do.
  •  William worked at the shoe trade for a few years in New York, and came to Saratoga, where his main business was farming. After coming to Saratoga county he married Miss Charlotte Cameron, in the year 1793, who had come over the water on the same ship with himself, and was descended from one of the most influential and prominent Scottish families. He settled in the town of Northumberland, and hence became one of the early pioneers of that part of Saratoga county. He lived to be seventy-four years of age, and died in the year 1834. His wife died June 22, 1830, aged sixty-six years.
  •  From this union were born eleven children, of which the subject of this memoir was eldest son, being born May 8, 1797, and is, at the time of the writing of this sketch, nearly eighty one years of age, and able to give the facts for this biography. He received while young the careful training of a very intelligent and cultured mother, and a judicious and careful father ; but, aside from that, received little education from school. Mr. MacGregor remained at home until he was over thirty years of age, engaged in farming and rafting lumber down the Hudson, finding a market in Albany and New York.
  • In the year 1827 he married Miss Charlotte, daughter of John Beakman and Catharine Ten Eyck ; the former a native of Rensselaer Co., N.Y., the latter a native of Albany Co., N.Y.
  • Mrs. MacGregor was born in 1798, March 8; was a woman of great decision of character, of correct moral habits, and is said never in a single instance to have prevaricated, but remained as she had been taught in her youth, faithful to all the principles of true womanhood. She died Nov. 5, 1874.
  •  Mr. MacGregor received little assistance from his father, pecuniarily, at the time of his marriage, and after farming for nine years went to Clinton county and engaged in lumbering, buying a large tract of pine timber land. Here he remained for twenty years, and in 1853 went to Saratoga, thence to Connecticut, and bought a place at Saybrook, where he lived for seven years, and in 1863 came to Fort Edward, where he has since lived. In his business operations he was successful, and has spent a life of constant activity. Characteristic of Mr. MacGregor is his integrity of purpose, his unassuming and plain way. What he lacked in early education has been largely made up by extensive reading.
  •  In politics he was originally a Whig, but upon the formation of the Republican party became an ardent supporter of that party. His firmness and resolution to do what he conceived to be right have gained for him the high esteem of all with whom he has been associated during his life.
The first paragraph of this lengthy bio of John MacGregor is a great example of things you can pretty safely ignore in county histories. On the other hand, it is suggestive of the types of things people of Scottish descent knew about Scotland and believed about their ancestors.
I did not find a William MacGregor or his brothers in Perthshire on FamilySearch. William McGriger does appear in the 1790 US census in Saratoga, Albany County with one male over 16, three males over 16 and 2 females. By 1800, William had moved to Northumberland, Saratoga County, NY. He and his family still seem to be in Saratoga County in 1810, 1820 and 1830. New York had long been a popular destination for Scottish emigrants, not just from Perthshire but from much of Scotland. It is likely that William, James and John MacGregor already had friends in family in the state before they embarked. Unfortunately, records for this earlier time period are much harder to come by.

image from History of Washington County, via the Internet Archive


Joan said...

A hardy lot, those Scots, and our land is the better for them --- so saith a McPherson.

Amanda E. Epperson said...

I think anyone who left Europe to come to the middle of nowhere America to chop down enormous trees to grow wheat is hardy! Although, I am particularly partial to the Scots. :)


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