by George H. Grant
In July of 1977, George & Lucille Grant attended the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. They were invited by neighbors, Ivan and Constance MacArthur. Ivan was to be made president of the MacArthur Clan Society.
On Sunday afternoon there is a "Parade of Tartans", with each Clan marching behind their tartan banner around the field. The GRANT Banner was preceded by a piper, Ludovic Grant, the banner was carried by Dorsey McIllroy. There were no clansmen following. After the parade, George asked Dorsey & Ludovic if there was a Clan Grant Society. The answer was no. Neither of them had the time or energy necessary to get it started. They suggested I get in touch with Lord Strathspey, if interested, they would give all the support they could.
After long conversations with Lucille, George wrote Strathspey, requesting permission to form a clan society in America. Patrick responded in the affirmative and gave me the names & addresses of other people who had expressed an interest in a society. He highly recommended I contact John G. Grant of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, CA. I did, John & I talked and agreed to work together to organize. In January, 1978, George flew to California on business and met with John & Barbara Grant. Plans were made and implemented, we were off and running.
The list provided by Patrick became Founding Charter members. Dr. Philip & Shirley Grant Smith were on the list. Probably the most important couple for the society. Shirley was our secretary from the beginning and Phil gave us much needed guidance. Shirley functioned as membership, chief recruiter, news gatherer and general organizer. Couldn't have been done without their efforts. Eugene & Jule Grant, Angwin, CA. organised California and the West coast. For 10 years through the spring and summer they attended every Highland Game in California. Gene made a trailer with a top that folded out to form a counter and tent for the games. Jim and Mary Suttie were their companions and successors.
We decided, if we could get Lord & Lady Strathspey over here, it would be a great help. We contacted the organizers of, Grandfather Mtn., Los Angeles Games, & Arlington, VA. Highland Games, and asked they invite the Strathspey's to be Honored Guests. We would pay their travel and accommodation expenses. They agreed.
In late June 1978, they arrived in Chattanooga, TN with a Pipe Band and the Mayor to meet them at the airport. John & Barbara were there. We had the week designated "Chattanooga's Scottish Heritage". They were given the Keys to the City and were royally entertained at various high profile functions every day. The week culminated with a reception at George & Lucille's home for 250+ people. Strathspey's picture was in the paper every day for the entire week.
Next week it was Grandfather Mtn. We signed up 25 new members. 28 charter members came from around the eastern U.S. Monday the Strathspeys' flew to Los Angles for another grand week . Saturday they were the Honored guests at the games. Monday the flew to Washington, DC. They were met at the airport by The St. Andrews Pipe Band. Gordon & Mildred Grant arranged for a looong limousine for the week as transportation. They visited the "White House", Arlington Cemetery, Smithsonian, everywhere in great style. At the Games we met "Cluny" MacPherson and his wife.
The trip was a success. We now had over a hundred member around the country. All enthusiastic. We were on our way.
In 1980, we decided to try and start a Canadian Branch. Mathew & Anne Grant-Knapp, one of our Charter members, began hosting a tent at Canadian Games, across the border, from their home in Buffalo, NY. They found plenty of interest. Ian & JoAnne Grant of Missasauga, (Toronto), agreed to be the conveners. Canadian Membership flourished. U.S. sent newsletters for a time until they found a news editor. Ian & Joanne had a job transfer to France and Syd & Eileen Grant successfully took over. In the mid 1980's a Canadian Maritime Branch was established.
1981 was designated, "The Year of the Scot", in Edinburgh. James "Hank" Grant , our Historian, had been to Scotland several times, especially to Grant Country. He arranged to rent, "Kinveachy Lodge", for 36 of us from the U.S. We planned to visit important Grant Castles and locations in Speyside. We felt it very important to have an active Clan Society in Scotland, especially Speyside.
We all, 36 of us, arrived in Edinburgh the week before going to Kinveachy. Grants from Australia joined us. We took the evening salute at Edinburgh Castle. Strathspey was one of the Honored Guests of the Edinburgh City. We went everywhere in our kilts. George, Lucille & Strathspey's walked down the royal mile. Patrick was wearing trousers. George was asked to pose for pictures every few steps. Patrick acted as his agent, asking for 1 pound 50 P, per picture.
One day, visiting exhibits in one of the buildings, we came across, David Grant-Blythe. He was manning a Burns exhibit. I introduced Strathspey to David. David was quite impressed, and indicated an interest in forming a Clan Society in the U.K. He asked us over to his home for a drink that night. We were all going to "Usher Hall", for a concert by the Scottish Fiddlers Society & Capt. Angus MacDonald, Pipe Major of the Royal Scots Greys and Piper to the Queen. He insisted we come after the concert. We agreed and 20 of us descended upon David and his wife. She poured the drinks and I knew something was wrong. The glasses were all filled to the brim with Scotch, just like a glass of milk. She knew nothing about drinking. Lucille and I collected the glasses and repoured wee drams.
We invited David and his wife to come to Kinveachy the following Saturday. We were having a reception for everyone who was anyone in Speyside.
The week in Speyside was spent being very visible. We were cordially welcomed and visited, Monymusk, Ballindalloch, Glenfarclas, Rothiemurchus, Highland Folk Museum, Castle Grant, Cullen House, Glen Moriston, Glen Urquart, and Revack Lodge. We had dinner on the train from Boat of Garten to Aviemore. Guests were George Grant, Glenfarclas, Russell's of Ballindalloch. Friday evening we held a street dance for the people of Grantown-on-Spey, in the square. The goal was to stir up interest in Clan Grant and introduce Lord Strathspey to Speyside. Most people thought the Earl of Seafield was Chief.
The Saturday afternoon reception at Kinveachy Lodge was the highlight of the week.
We had the Grantown Pipe band playing in the Kinveachy car park as people arrived. Everyone was piped to the front door to a receiving line of The Strathspey's, George, Lucille, John, Barbara, Hank & Linda Grant. Waiters moved through the crowd with whiskey, wine, beer, & cokes. Long tables of hors d'oeuvres were available.
It was the largest gathering of Grants since the funeral of the Countess of Seafield. The Grants of Rothiemurchus and Chief of the Grants met and spoke for the first time in 200 years. All of the Grant families we visited earlier in the week were there. Chief of the MacKenzies and "Lochiel" Cameron attended. A short welcome speech by George Grant and Strathspey was the only interruption.
All the Americans and Strathspey felt we had been successful in rekindling interest in Clan Grant in Speyside.
Patrick gave David permission to start a clan society in Scotland. We Americans agreed to support his efforts, financially and by sending our newsletter if requested to members. In the first few years we sent money to David to pay attorneys and other costs. After about 2 years the effort became self supporting. We did send money to pay an architect, hired by David, for drawings making Duthil into an apartment for James. We did not think this was a good idea and did not agree to pay for the apartment.
The United States Branch of the Society continues to support activities in Scotland. We sent over $7000.00 to help pay for Duthil renovation. Within 24 hours of a request by Sir Patrick Grant, Dalvey, we sent $1500.00 to help pay for the feasibility study for Duthil. We maintain a Duthil Fund for contributions from members year round. We sent over $800.00 this year. It is our hope we can continue to co-operate toward sustaining and improving our Worldwide Society.