This is a copy of the letter I received from my Great-Aunt Elaine McLaurin Kazen, on June 28, 1997. Only typos have been corrected. Douglas McLaurin.
William Duncan McLaurin, born Inverness, Scotland 1853, married Ella Spottswood, born on board ship on her parents' voyage from Scotland to Canada, 1858. Their children were Amber, 1879, Ethel, 1881, Willard Duncan, 1885, Archibald Colin 1887, and Eleanor (Nellie) 1890. W.D. & Ella married in Canada. My Grandfather's siblings were Colin Charles, James Craig, Douglas, and Alan James (called Jamie).
Among the people mentioned by my cousin, Nell Calder, the genealogist of the family were the following:
Charles McLaren, 1782-1866, writer and editor, born Ormiston, East Lothian. He was co-founder and first editor of "The Encyclopaedia Britannica" 6th edition, and wrote "Genealogy of Fife and the Lothians".
Colin McLaurin, 1698-1746, born Kilmodan, Argyll, was professor at Aberdeen, and was appointed to the chair or mathematics at Edinburgh on Sir Isaac Newton's recommendation. He published "Geometrica Organica" in 1720, and his best known work, "Treatise on fluxations" in 1742, which gave a systematic account of Newton's approach to the calculus. In 1745 he organized the defenses of Edinburgh against the Jacobite army.
Whether Nell was actually able to trace a connection of these people to our family, I do not know, but she did mention them to me. ¿Quién sabe? she cannot be reached, she is now in Heaven, maybe.
As to the origins of the McLaren, McLaurin, MacLaren or MacLaurin name, this is what my research has uncovered for me:
Crest Badge: a lion's head, sabled, langued or crowned with an antique crown or the four points argent, surrounded by laurel in orle proper. Sabled means, of course, black, langued means "represented with tongue of specific tincture", argent means of course, silver, and orle means "narrow border within the shield but removed from its edge", proper means "represented in the natural colouring".
Motto: Creag an Tuirc (The Boar's Rock).
Gaelic name: MacLabrhuinn.
A traditional account claims that the MacLarens are descended from Lorn, son of Erc, who landed in Argyll in 503 AD The MacLarens are recorded as being in possession of lands in Balquidder and Strathern in the 12th Century. In the Ragman Roll in 1296 are three names that have been identified as belonging to the Clan MacLaren, Maurice of Tyrle, Conan of Balquidder, and Laurin of Ardveche in Strathearn, all of Perthshire.
In the 14th Century, when the Earldom of Strathearn became vested in the crown, the MacLarens were reduced from proprietors of their lands to that of perpetual tenants. They remained loyal to the crown and fought for James III at Sauchleburn in 1488, for James IV at Flodden, and for Queen Mary in 1547 at Pinkie. They are included in the Rolls of the Clans in 1587 and 1594, appended to an Act of Parliament known as The General Band. The MacLarens were a war-like clan, and had their share of feuds with neighboring clans. The greater part of the Clan followed the Stewarts of Appin, while others followed the Murrays of Athol. Dugal Stewart, first of Appin, was the natural son of John Stewart, Lord of Lorn, and a daughter of MacLaren of Ardveche. The clan was out in '45 and suffered severely at Culloden, MacLaren of Invernenty was taken prisoner and made a remarkable escape near Moffat when being conveyed to Carlisle. The incident is described by Sir Walter Scott in "Redgauntlet".
John McLaurin, Lord Dredhorn (1734-1796), proved his claim to the chieftanship of the clan before the Lyon Court in 1781, trough his descent from a family that had long held the island of Tiree.
Origin of name: (Gaelic) MacLabhruinn (son of Laurence).
Plant badge: Laurel.
War Cry: Same as motto.
If interested, contact the Scots Ancestry Research Society at 4A North Saint David Street, Edinburgh, Scotland this is the best I can do. I have copied everything that I have available to me, and I am just now recovering somewhat from a debilitating illness. I am sure I made mistakes, so please overlook my typographical errors
You mention an interest in any anecdotes I am able to dredge up from my almost empty head, and comes to mind is as follows:
When my Father was 5 years old, my Grandmother could not find him in any of the usual hideaways when trying to escape from his lessons. So she ran out to tell my Grandfather, and suddenly among the roses in her garden she saw my Father, red in the face, but standing still as a colony of bees swarmed around him, giving him many bee stings. My Grandmother ran to him, scooped him up, and he was furious he said to her "I wanted more and more bees to sting me! I know that when the bees sting you, they loose their tummies and die. I wanted to kill many, many more bees after the first one stung me! Why did you interfere?"
Then, when he was taken to church at a very young age, I don't known exactly how young he was, when the minister said "Kneel as we thank our Lord God for His infinite mercy", my Father did not kneel, and although the recipient of angry looks from my grandparents, he paid no attention. When they left the church my grandparents scolded him and asked him why he did not kneel when everyone else was kneeling. He said "I do not kneel before anyone, even if it is a King or your God". They tried in vain to make him change his mind, even depriving him of food, of course the usual (in those days) spankings taking away privileges, and so on. He was adamant, and said that he would not go to church as long as he was required to kneel.
Then, when I was a baby, this is what happened: when I was born I was the "apple of their eyes". One day my Mother was trying to get me to go to sleep, rocking me in a rocking chair. Just then a wasp flew in, and stung me. My Father went berserk, and chased the wasp all over the room, overturning furniture, knocking tables over, until he finally caught it and then ground it to bits in his fingers. After this, he became his normal self, but swore that none of his children would ever be hurt by anyone or anything as long as he was alive.
Also, when I was very small, and your Auntie Jean was a baby, some of the men that worked for my Father were drinking, singing, and of course eventually engaging in a fight. They were noisy, could be heard all the way to the "Casa Grande", and my Mother asked if he would go down and went down the hill and stop them. He did this, and when he got there he caught one of the fighters by an ear and threw him over a haystack! (the haystack was 20-25 ft high). No one ever said in my hearing or memory what he did to the other man, but he left and was never seen again. When I was at the Rancho "El Tecolote" (which incidentally was really named "La Hacienda de San Felipe de Jesús"), and the house that we lived in for so many years had been built in 1666. I think I was 25 or so, an even after all those years, Lucío (the one who flew over the haystack- that was his name, truly!) still worked for my Father, and took great delight in recounting the tale of his flight over the haystack!
Then one day, when my Father's business partner, the Ogre or Fat Man, was visiting. They were driving to "La Colorada" to pick up the mail and in the middle of the trip they had a flat tire. My Father was furious, I was very hot, and he was covered with sweat even before he got down and went to look at the tires. His business partner was standing by the roadside, finding a little shade, and watched my Father who grabbed the tire with one hand and immobilized the tire rim with the other hand. He took the tire and the it a good distance from the side of the road, then put a good tire on the truck. I remember the Fat One saying "Willard was very angry, he did not even think of using a jack or the tools to remove the tire from the rim. I did not even want to get back on the truck, but I had no choice. When Willard's eyes turn white, I run for the hills!".
One day, in early June, my Father picked me up in Nogales, Arizona. I had been accompanied there by two of the nuns who were my teachers at the convent were I attended school in California. In those days, to permit a young lady to travel (especially in Mexico) without a chaperone was unthinkable. I will give you an insight into who my Father was, a completely honest man. We stopped at the Valley National Bank (now extinct) where we cashed a check for pesos. We stopped at Magdalena for refreshments, it was as you know, a very hot day, and in those days air conditioning was not available (probably not even invented, remember this was a long time ago). When my Father went to pay our drinks he said to me "I have a lot more money than I should. I'll count it and see just what I have". He was astonished to find that he had $1,000 pesos more than he should have. "We'll have to go back to Nogales and turn this money in." I said, "But that is a long way back, and it is so hot, and I can't wait to see Mama. Besides, no one will know the difference." He said "But I do know the difference. And besides that the poor girl who took care of me will go crazy trying to balance her accounts." So away we went, to the teller's amazement she thanked him profusely. If Diogenes was still looking for a TRULY honest man, he need look no further, that TRULY hones man was my Father. This is the way he lived his life.
One evening while I was visiting my parents (this was after I had married, and I was living in Nogales, AZ) when my Father came into the bedroom where I had been chatting with my Mother. I had noticed that she was somewhat distracted. She said to him "I keep thinking about the chickens (she had 500 of them in a large fenced area, with chicken houses), and I have a premonition that they are in danger. I wonder if Luis remembered to close and lock the gate to the chicken yard". My Father smiled, "During the many times you've sent me out the check, the gate has been closed and secure. But I'll go and check". The chicken yard was quite a distance from the house, but even so, after half an hour had elapsed, my Mother (also known as "DOUBTING THOMASINA") started to worry. "What is keeping your Father? He has been gone too long". No sooner had she said this when my Father walked into the bedroom holding a LONG wildcat that was very dead. "You were right to worry. I found it killing chickens and tossing them aside, going after yet another". I say the cat was very dead for good reason. He never had a chance my Father threw a flying tackle, landing on the cat's back breaking its back, while he strangled it with one hand and smashed its skull with the other. The sequel to this tale is that next day my Father had the cat's head cut of, and had Manuel, his foreman on the house ranch, take it to Hermosillo to see if the cat was rabid. It was rabid, and my poor Father had to endure the awful rabies shots, a series of, I believe, six.
When my Father still lived in Northern California, he and the entire family attended the Highland games. He invariably won "the tossing of the caber". The caber is a long wooden pole just about the height of a telephone pole, and about the same weight. He would also win any feats that required great strength.
Other than to tell you of the unending procession of people whom neither my sister or I knew, came to the ranch after the news of my Father's death had traveled to the far reaches of the land, mountains and valley, who came, wanting to repay the favors that my Father had given in their time of need, be it money, a good horse, or a couple of young steers, and cows for the milk of their children. We did not accept their offers of repayment, but instead we asked them to pray for the repose of a truly great soul.
My parents were extraordinary people living as they did, isolated from friends and relatives you can imagine how very difficult it was for my Mother when they had to send your Auntie Jean all the way to California to go to school. The birth of your Grandfather, my brother William Douglas, at just the right time to keep her mind occupied, that must have saved her sanity.
My Father was a man of honor, great physical strength, a mind constantly looking for new ideas, a voracious reader (I remember that he would say to my Mother: "Before I start my book, do you have any questions for me, or is there anything I can do for you? You know that once I start reading, I develop instant hearing loss". His friends were too many to count, and he numbered among them Generals, Yaqui Indians (who offered to take care of any person who had caused them anger or pain or loss), laborers, vaqueros (cowboys), politicians (whom he disliked), President Alvaro Obregón who was a close friend, as were other influential people, rich men, poor men, they all called him "Friend". He and my Mother were the two most generous, kindest people, and I feel blessed for having their blood in my veins.
Douglas, I want to tell you how much I enjoyed meeting you at your Auntie's Jean house. I was so impressed not only by how very handsome you are, but how your intellect was so evident, and knew that you would achieve great things. I wish you all the success in the world, but most of all I wish you happiness. I send you and yours my love, and when you see the rest of the family please give them my love as well. Let me know anything that you discover about our McLaurin ancestors. Good Hunting!
My love to all my McLaurin relatives!
(Elaine M Kazen)
3700 Alabama St. Apt. 317
Bellingham, WA 98226-4550)