Scottish Settlement Relationships

Since I just made the case that we are all cousins, and because the settlers came from a common region of Scotland and moved to a similar sized region in Michigan, we can now fill in some details. Looking at census records and other historical documents, like family memoirs, we can begin defining the social network that drew all these families into a coherent settlement. We can show how they knew each other in Scotland and how that relationship continued thousands of miles westward in Michigan.

It is convenient and roughly correct that our Scottish relatives came in three overlapping waves to southeastern Michigan. The first wave were Americans of Scottish descent. Their Scottish ancestors had come to America in the 1600 and 1700 hundreds. So they had been Americans for many years- several generations. They often came from the thirteen colonies, usually via New York State or Pennsylvania. When they arrived in what was to become the Scottish Settlement, they settled primarily in four northwestern townships of Macomb County: Bruce, Armada, Washington, and Ray (some in Addison Township, Oakland County). Michigan was just a territory until 1837, so these were Michigan Territory pioneers. A rough time line for the first wave is 1825 to 1835. It is also true that there were people of Scottish ancestry living in the Michigan Territory before this first wave. There are no records (that I found) linking the earliest settlers to the first wave of homesteaders, but the surnames are the same- for example, there were Wallaces in the Michigan Territory prior to the first wave.

There is a connection, a set of relationships, that link these early first wave pioneers to the second wave of Scottish migration to southeastern Michigan. The second wave of families came directly from Scotland, perhaps because they already had relatives in southeastern Michigan who had encouraged them to come.

This second wave of pioneers spread beyond Bruce and Armada Townships in Macomb County, to Lapeer County, mostly to Almont Township, but also to Metamora Township. These pioneers came from the Ayrshire region of Scotland, primarily East Ayrshire and the cluster of small towns near Kilmarnock, including Craigie, Tarbolton, Mauchline, and Galston. This wave came roughly between 1835 and 1855.

The third wave came from Renfrewshire, especially the suburbs of Glasgow, and most notably from Paisley. These were Swedenborgian Christians. They settled on farms clustered near their church in Berlin Township, St. Clair County. These pioneers also had relatives in Macomb and Lapeer Counties, and were probably drawn to the area through the encouragement of first and second wave relatives. These pioneers also came roughly from about 1835 to 1855, so they were a parallel migration with the Ayrshire group.

There is strong evidence, in textbooks, legal documents, and letters that all three waves of Scottish families are connected. The connections are through marriage, common religion, or because they were neighbors; and usually all three apply.

The First Wave: 1825 to 1835

The first Scottish migration into what would become the Scottish Settlement was composed of (at least) the following family surnames: Gray; Taylor; Reside; Wylie; Crawford; Robertson; Hopkins; Mc Kay; Stevenson; Wasson; and Thompson. The Sanborn family may also have been Scottish but I have not been able to verify this.

An early atlas depicting Bruce Township shows that the following families were neighbors (lived on adjacent farms): Reids, Resides, Grays, Braidwoods, Robertsons, Borlands, Taylors, Millikens, and McKays. The earliest farmers in Bruce may have been John Smith, Robert McKay, and James Reside. A homeopathic physician Louis Balfour was from Scotland before coming to live in Bruce.

How they are related to the second wave?

This is a list that was complied as research evolved. It grows as knowledge unfolds.

The Taylors knew the Braidwoods.
The Braidwoods intermarried with the Millikins and Robertsons.
Taylors intermarried with the Hopkins; Janet Taylor married John Hopkin.
Taylors were neighbors with the Sanborns and Robertsons
The Stevensons had family living in both the Lapeer and Macomb regions of the settlement.
The McKays and Hopkins families were related through marriage.

The Second Wave: 1835 to 1855

The second Scottish migration into what would become the Scottish Settlement was composed of the following family surnames: McKay; Hamilton; Morton; Cochrane; Wallace; Braidwood; Paton; McIlrick, Borland; Hopkin; McKail; Mair; Ferguson; Muir; Stephens; Watson; Rattray; Wiley; French; and Reid (Reed). These families were the core of the settlement that lived in the vicinity of Almont Township in Lapeer County. They were primarily Presbyterians, although Baptists, Methodists, and Congregationalist were also represented.

The Hopkin memoirs list the regular members of the United Presbyterian Church on Scotch Settlement Road in Almont:

"If you had visited the church in those times you would have seem the congregation in their accustomed pews on a Sabbath morning. There were the families of McIlrick, Borland, Muir, Morton, Reid, Braidwood, Robertson, Hamilton, Gray, Millikin, Rowan, Cochrane, Wallace, McKail, Hopkin, and Woodburn. These I recall as regular attendants . . . "

How they are related to the third wave?

The Hamiltons had first wave family members living in the Lapeer region as well as the Berlin Township section of the settlement. They intermarried with several other Scottish families.

The Mortons had family spread throughout the settlement area, in all three of the geographical zones. William and his family were Swedenborgians living in Berlin Township. Thomas and his family were Presbyterian, and lived in the Lapeer region of the settlement. Matthew and his family were Methodists who lived in the Macomb area.

The Cochranes were neighbors with the Wallaces.

The Reids had family in all three counties, Lapeer, Macomb, and St. Clair regions of the settlement.

The Third Wave: 1835 to 1855

The third Scottish migration into the Scottish Settlement was composed of the following family surnames: Hamilton; Morton; Allan; Robb; Millikin; Downie; Marshall; Reid; Ives; McArthur; Cameron; and Wallace. Even through they came concurrently with the Almont pioneers, I list them as a third wave because they came from Paisley and Glasgow rather than Ayrshire.

Exploring the Social Network

We could start anywhere on the social web, but the Morton family has a unique circumstance that makes starting with them enlightening. Three relatives, two brothers and a nephew of the brothers lived in three locations within the settlement. Each was instrumental in helping to define the social and religious character of the Scottish Settlement where they resided.

The three locations where the Morton men lived represent the three waves of migration described above: William Morton resided in the Swedenborgian community in Berlin Township, St. Clair County; his brother Thomas Morton lived in the Scottish Presbyterian community in Almont Township in Lapeer County; and their nephew (cousin?) James Morton lived in Bruce Township in Macomb County and was a Methodist minister.

William Morton was part of the Glasgow (Paisley) Scottish wave that brought the Swedenborgian Christian Church from Scotland to Michigan. William was a spiritual and civic leader in the Berlin Township community of Scots.

Thomas Morton, Williams younger brother, was instrumental in the development of the Presbyterian Church on Scottish Settlement Road in the Almont community of Scots. Geographically, the Almont community of Scottish families lived about four miles from the Berlin Township community of Scots, since Almont and Berlin Townships are side by side, even though in different Counties. Almont Township is in the northeast corner of Lapeer County, while Berlin Township is in the southwest portion of St. Clair County.

Tracing these three Morton relatives helps us see how many of the Scottish families were connected. Besides providing this social glue, the brothers, William and Thomas do us another service as we look at their family back in Scotland.

William came from Paisley, Scotland to Berlin, Michigan. Thomas came from the Ayrshire County town of Craigie in Scotland to Almont in Michigan. At first glance, it seemed unlikely that they were related, and that the Paisley community of Scots was separate from the Ayrshire families, and so must have come for separate reasons at separate times in history.

After some investigation, it became apparent that William had moved from Craigie to Paisley. The brothers were in contact and somehow decided to leave Scotland more or less together for a common location in Michigan. They were separated by a religious difference, Thomas holding to the traditional Presbyterian Scottish Church and William adopting the unique thoughts and visions of Emanuel Swedenborg. But both arrived in Michigan as pioneers, and within a few years of each other.

Thomas Morton and his wife Jean Millikin Morton settled in "Bristol" (now "Almont"), June, 1838. Traveling with Thomas and Jean were Jean's sister Catherine (Millikin) Robb, her husband, Samuel Robb, and Samuel's brother John Robb and his wife Mary Ann Machie. When Samuel Robb senior and three of his sons arrived in Berlin Township, they stayed with their friends from Scotland, the Rieds (Reeds). Two of the Robb girls married into the Allan family. The Allans intermarried with the McArthurs, Muirs, and Mc Collum families.

In just one paragraph, we have established relationships that bonded the Mortons, Robbs, Reids, Muirs, Allans, Millikins, McArthurs, Mackies, and Mc Collums, half of the families in the Berlin Township Swedenborgian community.