Search billions of records on

(Home)(Index)(Chapter I)(Chapter II)(Chapter III)(Chapter IV)(Appendix)




The second half of the eighteenth century witnessed a culmination of social, political, and economic forces in Scotland that would effectively transform the region forever – clearly it was a time of phenomenal upheaval. Following the "Forty-Five" and the collapse of the nationalistic aspirations of Bonny Prince Charles to restore the fortunes of the Stewart Dynasty a series of powerful influences would be unleashed that would have the effect of creating a chain reaction throughout the Highlands of Scotland.


The Scottish clan had been established on the accepted authority of the chief who in turn was supported by a related class of tacksmen – sublessors who became the chief’s principal tenants. From this class the lands were sub-let to the poor peasantry, creating a chaotic system of small landholdings on short extended leases, and thereby ensuring that farming, the backbone of the economy, did not develop beyond subsistence standards. Yet, the arrangement in which the rights and privileges of the clansmen were assured provided a strong sense of purpose, security, and tradition – even if economic and social advancement were stymied.


Now the clans were disarmed by Act of Parliament; the tartan and bagpipes were banned. But of greatest significance was the abolition of heritable jurisdictions which had the effect of completely destroying traditional highland society. The clan chief stripped of his authority now found himself the owner-landlord of a substantial tract of land which had never been organized to realize a financial profit. And, to aggravate the situation further with the end of warfare, brought about on English terms, came staggering increases in the nation’s population.


In 1773 during his much acclaimed tour of the Highlands Dr. Samuel Johnson the eminent English literary put the situation in perspective when he wrote: "The chiefs, divested of their prerogatives, necessarily turn their thoughts to the improvement of their revenues, and expect more rent, as they have less homage." The swelling population in a relatively barren country would in itself set off a mass migration to more productive lands, yet Dr. Johnson placed most of the blame on the desire of the landlords to raise rents "with too much eagerness." He wrote: "Does the general good not require that the landlords be, for a time, restrained in their demands. . . ?"


With the end of the eighteenth century would come the most dramatic impact of all the forces that would alter Scottish society – the introduction of large-scale sheep farming. The agricultural revolution thus created by the growing world-wide demand for wool would set into motion one of the most painful social dislocations experienced by any people in history. There was no room for profitable new sheep-runs and human beings too with their inefficient, non-profit farming methods. Having no thought, therefore, except for the money to be made many lairds now living in new extravagant mansions in the cities far from the suffering they were about to cause, turned to the tacksmen to carry out the removal of the inhabitants from their lands.


But not all Scots had waited to be "devoured by the sheep." There were those who were knowledgeable enough to foresee a grim dispassionate future, and while yet blessed with some degree of income escaped before circumstances became intolerable. Such was the case with the emigrants who left from Kintyre on June 6, 1739 to settle in the upper Cape Fear River valley of eastern North Carolina where they would become known as the Argyll Colony. In the years between the conclusion of the French and Indian War (1763) and 1775 an estimated twenty to twenty-five thousand emigrated – primarily to North Carolina. Among those involved in this exodus were John and Effie McMillan Gilchrist and John’s younger brother Malcolm.


The Gilchrist brothers were the sons of Angus Gilchrist, farmer in North Loch Kiarran farm, Kilcalmonell Parish; the identity of their mother has never been discovered. Effie McMillan was the daughter of Gilbert and Christian Taylor McMillan who had only recently settled in Kilcalmonell Parish. John and Effie were married on Feb. 12, 1770 in the Highland Church of Scotland in Campbeltown. John was thirty years of age and Effie, twenty-two.


Found in the Old Highland Parish Records of Campbeltown on file in Edinburgh

is the following marriage record:

"1770 February 12. John Gilchrist and Euffin McMillan both of this Parish."


From the inclusion of "both of this Parish" found in the couples’ marriage record along with the fact that the wedding took place in Campbeltown and not the parish church in Clachan gives support to the belief that the couple was not living in Kilcalmonell Parish at the time of their departure. The initial statement made by Mr. John Boyd in his letter of recommendation (See the following page):


"This ‘wile be delivered to you [by] ‘Malcom MacIlchrist who with a ‘Bother of his ‘Caled John . . ." appears to provide further evidence that whereas he knew Malcolm, who was single and quite probably still at home, he was not acquainted with the older brother, John..."




Colonel Alexander McAlester, born in 1714 on Balnakiel Estate in Kilcalmonell Parish became a leader of considerable influence among the North Carolina Scots. The following letters are part of a collection of the patriot colonel’s correspondence graciously furnished by Mr. William C. Fields of Fayetteville, N.C. The letters were given to him by an aunt, Mrs. Alexander Pope McAllister, whose husband was a great-great grandson of Col. McAlester. The letters are now on file in the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh.


Balnakile June 21, 1770

Dear Sir,

This ‘wile be delivered to you [by] Malcom MacIlchrist who with a ‘Bother of his ‘Caled John & Iver McMurchy who is married to a sister of ‘theirs are gone for America, and to that part of it where you remain ‘Caled Cape Fair in North Carolina, and as they ‘Importund me to ‘recommend them to your protection & Care to See to get ‘themSelvles in a good way to their Satisfaction, I hereby ‘Chearfully Embrace the opportunity to write to you by them & more Especially as I flatter myself you Exert yourself to the ‘outmost of your power for their ‘behoof which I shall look upon as a Singular favour done me, our Countrymen are all upon the wing of leaving us & going for that New World of America if they go on at this rate we shall here have a thin Country of Inhabitants.

The MacGilchrists are Clever pretty lads and are ‘fite for Sea or land both of them ‘has good Education and are pretty much master of Numbers & writes a good hand & would pass for Gentlemen their Father I am persuaded you know for their Grandfather lived in Lochkiarran a place you knew very ‘wile in your young days. I hope they ‘wile turn ‘wile out, & that you’d have reason to be ‘oblidged to me for their ‘reccommendation I have No News worthy of your Notice from This Country to give My Father ‘dy’d the Second of ‘Aprile your Brother Hector from Arran was here at his Burial. He has always some ‘destant thoughts of going to America. I long much to hear from you & let me ‘Intreat you to give me a particular account from you of the Country & if the Accounts pleases me [its] more than probable that I may see The Country someday or then if I am spared.

I heartily Congratulate you upon the thoughts of Meeting with so many of your Country people this year in America, I wish you & them a happy Meeting and am with the greatest Sincerity regard & Esteem

Dear Sir

Your most Affectionate Cousin

& very Humble Sev.

John Boyd


The following is a paraphrased transcription of the letter written by Colonel Alexander McAlester in response to Mr. John Boyd’s June 21, 1770 letter of introduction for John and Malcolm Gilchrist:


1770 Nov. 29. Alexander McAlester, Barmore (Cumberland County, North Carolina, to Mr. John Boyd, Balinakill)

Dear Sir.

I acknowledge the receipt of your letter by Malcolm McGilchrist with whom I was unable to converse at that time, but I’m creditably informed they have both purchased land since then. Each has clear ground on his piece of land to raise bread corn, so they should soon be established.

I wish with all my heart that all poor people, both young and old that have any family to do for would take courage and leave the oppression they now lie under in Scotland and let the lairds and landlords till their own estates; they would in a little time be glad to see their tenants prosper. As for the idea I have of such things, I think the richer the tenant is the richer the laird is. But be they rich or poor, it is all one with the lairds so long as they get their due. While sorry for the present state of affairs, it is a means to make this country flourish by immigration of industrious inhabitants. If they are half as industrious here as there, the barrenness land we have would be good tillable soil. People may have what notions of this place they please or call it what they will – it is the best poor man’s country I have heard of.

There is a rumor of war. Whether it is so or not I can’t say. All I’m sorry for is that it will be a means of hindering the poor from entering the door that God has opened for them. I have no hope of seeing you in America because you have so much to leave in Scotland, but I hope that we can continue to correspond.

[There was no signature]


In a letter written in October of 1771, Mr. James McAlester, tacksman of nearby Ronachan Estate (located just south of Balnakiel), inquired as follows:


I would wish to ‘here in ‘generall how the poor people that went from this country last year is ‘sattled and in ‘particuler those ‘whos name is below as they were from near this place:

Alexander & Angus McAlester Archibald McCoist

Angus Brown John Johnstone, a taylor

Malkem McFaill [McPhail] Donald Johnstone

Archibald McIllbride [McBride] Alexander Graham

Archibald McFiggan John & Malkem McIllcrist

Neil Paterson [Gilchrist]


In a reply written late in 1772, Colonel McAlester wrote:

"You desire me in your letter to acquaint you how the people is ‘settled that came over last year. They are all doing well but as you observe they are the poorest sort that comes and no doubt meet with some ‘deficulty before they can fix themselves."

He then adds:

"The McIlcrest and McFiggan I know and is in a good way."


The year the Gilchrists’ migrated (1770) has never been a matter of question, but interest has centered on the time of year. The dates taken from three documents have produced a problem in sequence:

(1) February 12, 1770 The date of the marriage of John Gilchrist and Effie McMillan in Campbeltown, Scotland

(2) May 3, 1770 -- John Gilchrist purchases his first tract of land in North Carolina from Mr. Joseph Fort

(3) June 21, 1770 -- Mr. John Boyd of Balinakiel writes his letter of recommendation for John and Malcolm Gilchrist


The problem may thus be explained as follows: The couple did not leave for North Carolina immediately following the wedding, as would necessarily have had to be the case for John to make his land purchase on May 3rd. Mr. Boyd’s letter clearly stated that the letter would be "delivered to you by Malcom MacIlchrist"; and Col. McAlester’s response clearly acknowledged "the receipt of your letter by Malcolm McGilchrist". Missing is John Gilchrist’s signature on the May 3rd land purchase. It is known that an older daughter of Angus, named Mary and married to John McBryde, had arrived several years earlier. The probable explanation therefore is that John McBryde may have purchased the land prior to the arrival of John and Malcolm. Add to this the fact that most voyages took place during the early summer when there was less threat from Atlantic gales; with favorable conditions sailing time was an approximate two and a half months.


John Gilchrist’s first purchase of land on May 3, 1770 was for seventy acres of land on the "mill prong" of Raft Swamp in what was then Bladen County, N.C. (The mill prong was the prong of the swamp on which a pre-Revolutionary War mill had been built.) The land was part of an original three hundred acre tract which was part of a royal grant to Henry O’Berry in 1748. He paid Mr. Joseph Fort, the new owner, ten pounds proclamation money.

Click here for a property map for John Gilchrist, c.1800 in Robeson County, North Carolina

Click here for a property map for John Gilchrist, c.1800 in Robeson County, North Carolina

More land was purchased in the ensuing years producing, as the map illustrating his acquisitions reveals, a patchwork of landholdings. By 1800, John Gilchrist had become recognized as one of the largest landholders in the eastern part of North Carolina, acquiring an estimated 2400 acres of land.

That John Gilchrist was a man of some financial means is quite apparent from his substantial land acquisitions. From whence the money had come is a question that may never be answered. The authoritative LUMBER RIVER SCOTS, by Dr. Edwin Purcell, himself a descendant of John Gilchrist, states (page 465): "This Gilchrist family came to America with much more of the world’s goods than most of the Scotch people who came to this section. They seemed unusually well supplied with such things as clothing, books, and the best household furnishings of the day." That the money may have come through inheritance does not receive complete support in that Malcolm did not acquire an amount of land commensurate with that of John. Having been married for a relatively short period of time it would appear unlikely that the newly weds would have amassed such wealth – unless John, by careful management of his income had laid aside a substantial amount before the marriage. A careful analysis of his Last Will And Testament does in fact reveal an unmistakable caution in the matter of his finances.

John and Effie became parents of nine children: Mary, Angus, Margaret, Malcolm, Archibald, Gilbert, Flora, John (Jr.), and Linlie who died in childhood. Following Effie’s death in 1794, John married Flora McKay Currie and from this marriage came a daughter who was named Effie. Deeply instilled into the Gilchrist children was a great love and appreciation for the family, the church, and a good education. The family became charter members of the small Raft Swamp Church which became the predecessor of the Antioch Presbyterian Church located, today, on State Road 211 half way between Red Springs and Raeford, N.C. To assure that his children would have the best foundation in education, John secured a tutor from Scotland. The foundation thus established would cause this family in later years to have a significant impact on the development of education in early Robeson County – created from a part of Bladen County in 1787.


The following are the children born to John Gilchrist:

(l) MARY GILCHRIST (1771-Nov. 20, 1843)

She was born shortly after her parents arrival from Scotland. She married twice: Col. Archibald McKay, a British army officer who died shortly after marriage, and John Purcell, a very influential person in upper Robeson County, N.C. Both John and Mary are buried in the Mill Prong Cemetery. There was a son by her first marriage, and seven children by her second.

(2) ANGUS GILCHRIST (1773-Oct. 2,1834)

Along with his father, he became one of the largest landowners in the eastern part of N. C. He was a surveyor and was regarded as one of the most educated men in Robeson County. He built "The Famous Gilchrist House" which was the largest, finest and best furnished house in this section of the state; it became a major stage-coach stop on the route between New York and New Orleans. His first wife was Margaret McKay, a sister of Mary Gilchrist’s first husband; there were five children. His second wife was Elizabeth McNeill; there were three children. Two sons: James Graham Gilchrist (from the second marriage) and Archibald McKay Gilchrist (from the first marriage) moved to Lowndes County, Alabama where they opened a law firm in Haynesville. James G. Gilchrist served as a Confederate colonel, then later as an outstanding member in the Alabama legislature; he was a large plantation owner.

(3) MARGARET GILCHRIST (1775-????)

She married John McPhaul (1770-Aug. 20, 1820); there were eight children. Both John and Margaret are buried in the Mill Prong Cemetery.

(4) MALCOLM GILCHRIST (1776-Mar. 17,1851)

He married Anny Galbraith (July 2, 1799-June 5, 1861); there were eleven children. He was a very well educated man. In 1811, he moved his family to Jefferson County, Mississippi, where he became a very large land owner. A granddaughter, Annie Colman Peyton of Hazelhurst, Miss., became instrumental in the establishment of Mississippi State College for Women in Columbus -- the first state-endowed institution for women in the United States.


He married Mary McPherson; there were nine children. Two of his sons became dentists, with Daniel traveling over much of North and South Carolina. Sidney, his fourth child, moved to Gadsden County, Florida, settling near Quincy in 1851.


He first married Nancy McPherson , a sister of Archibald Gilchrist’s wife, Mary. From this marriage came eight children. The family played an active role in the Antioch Presbyterian Church. Following his marriage to Mary Currie (1800-1879), with whom he had an additional six children, he moved in the early 1830’s to Barbour County, Alabama settling on former Creek Indian land just west of Eufaula. Accompanying him and Mary were six of the children from his first marriage and four from his second marriage. He along with his sons Malcolom, Daniel, and John became among the area’s largest land owners. (*Note: The number of children fathered by Gilbert (14) is a correction from the number (18) presented in the LUMBER RIVER SCOTS.)

(7) FLORA GILCHRIST (1782-OCT. 29, 1843)

She married Dougald Torrey (June 14, 1780 - Feb. 4, 1853); there were ten children. In 1806, they became a part of a large group of second generation Scots who settled near Ebenezer Church, Mississippi (near Port Gibson). The settlement became known as "Scotch Settlement" and "New Scotland". They are buried near the site of the Old Ebenezer Presbyterian Church.

(8) JOHN GILCHRIST, II (1785-Dec. 6, 1868)

He never married. He was regarded by most as the most outstanding of his parents children. He became one of the first graduates of the University of North Carolina in 1809. He received his Masters Degree from Chapel Hill in 1812. He returned to Robeson County and opened a law practice, during which time he established Floral College, the first college in North Carolina and only the third in the nation to grant diplomas to women. He served four terms in the North Carolina Legislature. He established the first Sunday School in upper Robeson County (now, Hoke County). He was deeply involved in community life, eventually laying aside his law practice so as to devote more time to that and to Floral College.

(9) LINLIE GILCHRIST (1787 - Died in Childhood)


Following the death of Effie in 1794 John Gilchrist married Flora McKay Currie (1760 - Dec. 5, 1847), and from this marriage came a daughter:


(l0) EFFIE GILCHRIST (June 21, 1796 - Dec. 5, 1866)

She married John Blue II (Sept. 28, 1776 - May 3, 1831); there were ten children. Victor Blue, a grandson, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1887. In the Spanish-American War of 1898, he was advanced five grades for "extraordinary heroism", and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He served in numerous assignments in the Atlantic and Pacific, and finally Washington, D.C. In 1916 he was assigned the command of the battleship Texas, which he commanded throughout World War I; he was part of the North Sea Fleet. For the distinguished service he rendered, he received the U.S. Distinguished Service Cross and Belgium’s Order of Leopold. He was also given a medal reserved for those individuals who display the greatest acts of heroism. The only other such recipients prior to him were George Washington and U. S. Grant. A U. S. destroyer was named in his honor. He was Senior Rear Admiral when he died Jan. 22, 1928, and was accorded every possible military honor. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Effie Gilchrist Blue along with her mother, Flora Currie Gilchrist, were buried in the old Blue family cemetery in Scotland County.


The American Revolution exploded upon the colonies on April 19, 1775, reaching North Carolina early in 1776. The Scottish settlers became divided in their allegiance, with most of those settled around Cross Creek at the upper end of the Cape Fear River siding with the British, while those settled in upper Robeson County joined sides with the Patriots. Of great significance to the region was the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge where on Feb. 27, 1776, eighteen miles above Wilmington, a force of 1500 Loyalists, most of whom were Scots, under the command of General Donald McDonald were defeated by a Patriot force of about 1,000 men under Colonel James Moore. The defeat of the Loyalist force ended any further chance for a successful campaign by the British in North Carolina; it also signaled the beginning of large-scale confiscation and pillaging of Loyalists’ property and homes. That John Gilchrist did not condone the fighting or the plunder that followed can be clearly gleaned from the depositions made in his behalf during his contested 1797 election to the North Carolina Senate. Also of note is the fact that Mary, John and Effie’s oldest child married Archibald McKay who had served as a colonel in the British army during the war.


During the bleak period of the Revolution when not only medical supplies became scarce but fear and distrust created an unsettled atmosphere, one woman came forward to render such unselfish service that her name has been forever stamped into the region’s history. She was the mother-in-law of John Gilchrist --- Christian McMillan, known to all people in upper Robeson County and neighboring areas by the Gaelic name Chriosdaidh Ban (pronounced "Charisteena Ban"), meaning "Fair Christian." Christian Taylor McMillan and her husband, Gilbert McMillan, had arrived the year following that of their daughter and son-in-law, and sadly his would be the first grave to be placed in the Mill Prong Cemetery; he died the year after their arrival in 1772. Undaunted by her husband’s death Christian rode her little gray pony in virtually all types of weather to bring help and encouragement to the settlers. Heeding a call at all hours she would ride with no thought of the distance involved; on one occasion she rode a distance of nearly sixty miles to render help to the sick. She died June 15, 1811 at the age of 84 and was buried next to Gilbert.


John Gilchrist, Sr. became quite influential in the political life of Robeson County, as well as the state of North Carolina --- a legacy unquestionably passed on to his son John, Jr. He served as a member of the North Carolina House of Commons from 1792 to 1793, then later in the state Senate from 1796 to 1797.


In the year following his term in the House of Commons, John was dealt a major blow with the death of his wife Effie. During that year of 1794 he made his largest single land purchase – 860 acres, which included McPhaul’s Mill, the pre-Revolutionary War mill from which the "mill prong" of Little Raft Swamp received its name. At this time he married Flora McKay Currie, and for his new wife he began construction on the famous Mill Prong House in 1795. In 1796 their daughter Effie was born.

Click here for a full size image of Mill Prong House

Click here for an older, full size image of Mill Prong House

Click here for a newer, full size image of Mill Prong House

Click here for a newer, full size image of Mill Prong House

The Mill Prong House even has it's own website! Click here and visit the Mill Prong House website  Also, for more information about Hoke County, North Carolina genealogical research, visit this website:

The elegant house was built on a slight prominence overlooking Little Raft Swamp. Typical of many of the fine homes built in the years immediately following the war, Mill Prong became a near perfect example of the popular country federal style of architecture, having the matching upper and lower portico. The matching brick chimneys were constructed in the attractive Femish bond style using brick made on the site. Instead of the usual turned posts, the posts supporting the upper portico were gently tapered and hand dressed. Throughout the house are to be found hand-hewn, heart pine beams, along with the expert use of mortise and pegged construction which unquestionably has been a major factor enabling the house to survive for nearly two centuries. The original structure consisted of two lower rooms and two upper rooms, and the customary separate kitchen. In the years between 1815 and 1835, a major expansion of the roofline took place resulting in two more rooms being added to both the first and second floors. The house, it is believed, was completed in 1802 the same year that John Gilchrist died. He was sixty-two .


He expressed in his Will that he wished his body "to be decently buried by the right side of my first wife" in the Mill Prong Cemetery located approximately a quarter of a mile behind the house.

The Last Will and Testament of John Gilchrist

The following is the LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT of JOHN GILCHRIST, signed by him on May 12, 1802. The document is, today, on file in the of Archives, Raleigh, N.C. under Robeson County.


I, John Gilchrist of the County of Robeson in the state of North Carolina be of sound mind and memory (Blessed be God) do make this last will and testament in manner and from following (Viz)

I wish my body to be decently buried by the right side of my first wife at the discretion of my Executor and Executrix herein after mentioned, and as to my worldly affairs I dispose of them in the following manner.

In primus, I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Flory all that part of my plantation whereon I now live that may lie above a line beginning at the mouth of the ditch near the cotton machine and runs thence a direct line as the corn row next above the ditch to the outward or fartherly fence together with my dwelling & out-houses as well as the exclusive privilege of using all timber & other conveniences for the use of a farm or range that may lie or be on any of the adjacent lands, and the privilege of using the crossing place on the swamp for the convenience of work & during her widowhood -- I also give her and her heirs forever my Negro wench Rachel; the big mare and her colt; six choice cows with their calves; and six choice ewes with their lambs; the lorrie horse; and four choice heifers.

I give unto John Purcel my son-in-law forty five dollars of lent that he now has in his own hands and no more.

I give unto my son Angus my Negro boy Toney and the paying to John MacPhaul, fifty dollars.

I bequeath unto my son-in-law John MacPhaul the foregoing sum of fifty dollars to be paid him by Angus and no more.

I give unto my son Archibald all my lands in Robeson and Richmond Counties that lies adjoining the Bridge on Drowning Creek below Peter McEachens also my Negro wench Mary and the young working mare.

I give unto my son Malcolm all my lands on shoeheel (?) below the Goose pond -- my Negro fellow George, and his choice of the two year old mares as also the use of my upper plantation known by the name of Lowry's Place for the space of four years.

I give unto my Daughter Flory my Negro girl Fanny as also the one third of the breeding cattle & the one third of the whole of the sheep that may be left after the choice made by my wife.

I give unto my son John all that part of my lands on both sides of MacPhaul’s Mill Swamp, the long swamp &c that may lie below a line beginning in the force of the little middle swamp where the path leading from the cotton machine to John MacNeill's crosses and running thence a direct line to the watering place nearly opposite the middle of Lowry's Field about two hundred yards below Lowry's ford, thence down the run of the swamp to a stake opposite the rnouth of the ditch that drains the big pond, thence to and with that ditch to the side of the hill by said pond -- thence a direct course to the Mulatto Road so as to touch on the lower end of the Gypsey's Pond, thence out that road so far as my lands extend reserving and excluding the parts and privileges herein before given to my wife during her widowhood as aforesaid.

I also give him my Negro wench and her youngest child, the cotton machine with all it’s income and the two year old mare after Malcom's choice.

I give unto my son Gilbert all my lands and possessions including Lowry's Place that lies above the boundary described as John's upper house (?); with the exception of the four years given Malcom of that place --- I also give him my Negro boy Solomon & Negro girl Aimey; the little old mare & her colt; likewise the one-third of the breeding cattle & the one-third of the whole of my sheep that may be left after my wife makes her choice.

I give and bequeath unto my daughter Effy one hundred acres lying in ten mile swamp --- my Negro boy Sam & Negro girl Bett, as also one third of breeding cattle & one third of the whole of the sheep that may be left after her mother's choice.

It is further my wish & desire & require it so to be that should John or Gilbert die without heirs (?) that then the lands given to that one shall descend at his death to the survivor of them.

All the stock not herein particularly mentioned, I desire may be appropriated by my Executor and Executrix in the most frugal and beneficial manner towards raising and education of my three younger children excepting such as may be necessary from time to time for the support and maintenance of the family --

I constitute and appoint my son Angus, Executor; and my beloved wife Flory, Executrix of this my Last Will and Testament.

In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal, the12th day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and two.

John Gilchrist

Signed and sealed in presence of

Duncan McNeill & R. Currie


To the Memory of John Gilchrist this marble is inscribed. He died in May, 1802, aged 62. He had a vigorous mind much improved by education and travel. He was a patron of learning, often a Legislator. A Presbyterian in faith, in morals circumspect and fond of piety.


Effie, wife of John Gilchrist Sr. Died AD 1794 age 46 years. The deceased sustained a spotless reputation; possessed a sound energetic and discriminating mind and was for 20 years a communicant member of the Presbyterian Church. Natives of Cantire, Scotland. Emigrated in 1770.

Click here to view a full size image of John & Effie Gilchrist's gravemarkers

Click here to view a full size image of John & Effie Gilchrist's gravemarkers

Less than two years after the Gilchrist arrival in North Carolina, Malcolm, who was four years younger than his brother John, married Catharine Buie of Cumberland County. Born June 30,1752 in Bladen County Catharine was the daughter of Daniel Buie who, in 1780, was living in the Barbeque District of Cumberland County, N.C.; later he moved to neighboring Moore County. Daniel was in turn a son of Archibald Buie who emigrated in Sept. 1739 from the Island of Jura off Scotland’s western coast. The year following his arrival he acquired 320 acres of land on the southwest side of the northwest branch of the Cape Fear River in June 1740, and an additional 200 acres on the north side of the river’s northwest branch in 1746. Archibald died in May, 1781 having moved his family to the Barbeque Creek area in about 1760.


Malcolm and Catharine settled in Moore County (now, Lee County) near her parents. In a manner clearly in keeping with the Gilchrist character, Malcolm also became a respected and influential member of his community in the years. In 1792 he served as Sheriff of Moore County, then in 1794 and 1795 he served in the North Carolina House of Commons, the year following John’s term. From 1796 through 1800 he served in the North Carolina Senate. In 1809, he and Catharine and their nine children along with other members of the Buie family moved to Maury County, Tennessee to settle newly opened Indian land. Malcolm’s tract consisted of one thousand acres (The deed is still on file in the Maury County Courthouse - Records A - Vol. I, page 167). Malcolm and Catharine’s children were:


(1) JOHN GILCHRIST (1772 - 1852)

He first married Katherine Cameron (NOTE: a correction to Lumber River Scots); there were six children. His second wife was Phoebe Smith; two children were born. He settled in McNairy County, Tenn., where he was buried in the Gilchrist Cemetery

(2) DUNCAN GILCHRIST (1774 - ????)

(3) SARAH MARTHA GILCHRIST (1776 - ????)

She married Alexander McMillan; there were two sons born

(4) ANN GILCHRIST (1778 - ????)

She married a Mr. Leach

(5) MALCOLM GILCHRIST, II (1786 - 1845)

He never married. He became an extremely successful cotton merchant and surveyor in Lawrence County, Alabama. His income was built on transporting cotton over the dangerous shoals of the Tennessee River to the Mississippi and on to New Orleans; he came to own a fleet of boats

(6) DANIEL GILCHRIST (1788 - July 24, 1855)

He married Nancy A. Philips (Jan. 21, 1793 - May, 1863); there were seven children. They made their home in Lawrence County, Alabama where they built a large plantation home called "The Old Homestead" near Courtland, Ala. Along with his brother, Malcolm, Daniel became recognized as one of the best engineer-surveyors in that area - doing much work for the government. The brothers received numerous land grants from the government for their services. The family was very actively involved in the Presbyterian Church, where Daniel served as elder. He is buried in the Gilchrist section of the old Courtland Cemetery. His monument bears the inscription: "He was affectionate to his family, faithful to friends, energetic in business, and earnest in religion."

(7) WILLIAM GILCHRIST (1790 - Sept. 5, 1843)

He married Martha Ann Jones; there were three children. He was educated at the University of North Carolina, and in 1811 moved to Maury County, Tenn. He studied law under Judge Overton of Nashville and later practiced law in Shelbyville. He served briefly as a member of the General Assembly of Tennessee. In 1836 he and his wife moved to Little Rock, Arkansas where he began a law practice. He became a judge and later came to hold the position of Director of the State Bank of Little Rock. He was active in the Presbyterian Church; and after holding several offices in the Masonic Lodge, he served as the first Grand Master of the Arkansas Lodge in 1838. He was buried in Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock

(8) CATHARINE GILCHRIST (1792 - Sept. 8, 1881)

She married David Dobbins; there were eleven children. The family lived in McNairy County, Tenn., near her parents. He was for forty years a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church

(9) ARCHIBALD GILCHRIST (1794 - Jan. 11, 1852)

He never married, taking care of his mother following the death of his father. He is buried next to his parents in the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Maury County


Malcolm Gilchrist, Sr. died on April 12, 1821 and Catharine died on Oct. 5, 1839. Both were buried in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery near Columbia, Tenn., in Maury County.



Sacred to the memory of Malcolm Gilchrist, Sr.

who was the son of Angus Gilchrist

was born in Cantire, Scotland

on the 8th day of Feb. 1744.

Came to the United States of America

in the year 1770. Died on the 12th day

of April 1821 aged Seventy Seven years

two months and four days.




Sacred to the memory of Catharine Gilchrist

wife of Malcolm Gilchrist who was born

in Cumberland County North Carolina

June 30 1752


Oct. 5 1839

aged 87 years 3 months

and 5 days


It is apparent from research that Angus Gilchrist, Sr. of Kilcalmonell Parish in upper Kintyre Scotland did have other children besides John and Malcolm. It appears quite probable that if in fact Duncan, referred to earlier as the possible older son, inherited the family farm, combined with the growing scarcity of land in general, substantial reason would therefore be given accounting for why the brothers emigrated. Another son was Angus, Jr., who became the parish church treasurer in 1782. And, reference is also made by Mr. John Boyd in his 1770 letter of introduction of an Iver McMurchy "who is married to a sister of ‘theirs."


It is also known that an older sister named Mary Gilchrist, born about 1736 and married in 1759 to John McBryde, had with her husband and baby son, Duncan born in 1762, emigrated to Bladen County in 1763. Their graves are also found in the Mill Prong Cemetery; she died in 1792 and he in 1785. The Gilchrists and McBrydes (or, McBride) could trace the existance of a close family friendship as far back as the 1600’s living on the McEachin-leased farms in central Kintyre. In Kilcalmonell Parish the families farmed neighboring farms, and because THE LUMBER RIVER SCOTS states on page 735 that Mary and John claimed to be first cousins a strong theory has persisted that the unknown wife of Angus, Sr. may have been a McBryde. There were five children born to John and Mary: Duncan, John, Angus, Archibald, and Mary.


Of greatest interest is the known existence of two other Gilchrist families living in Robeson County, N.C. – each, according to the 1790 census, headed by a William Gilchrist. The census further revealed that one of the families consisted of three females and the husband and the other, three males under sixteen, two females, and the husband. Mr. Ian MacDonald of Clachan, Scotland discovered the existence of a William Gilchrist who with his family settled on Rockfish Creek in Cumberland County, N.C. (see Mr. MacDonald’s notes at the conclusion of Chapter: III); the family came from Kilcalmonell Parish. The two William Gilchrists are believed to be father and son, with one dying between 1790 and 1800 and the other in 1834. The latter William was survived by a wife, Catharine, a son John, daughters: Catharine who married Daniel Lamon and Margaret (Peggy) who married Gilbert McMillan; there at least four other sons whose names are not known. Gilbert McMillan died May 21, 1849 and Peggy died Nov. 6, 1847, and both were buried in the old McMillan Cemetery located near the junction of Hoke County, N.C. roads 1111 and 1108. William, Jr.’s widow, Catharine, lived in the household of their son, John, past her 95th year in 1850. Their son John married twice, his second wife being named Sarah. He was buried along with his wife, Sarah, a son and a daughter in the old Antioch Presbyterian Church Cemetery between Raeford and Red Springs, N.C.


Giving further evidence of a possible relationship is the fact that William, Jr. lived very near John Gilchrist, Sr. on the mill prong of Little Raft Swamp. Record indicates that John Sr. and his son Angus were involved in at least three 1794 land purchases made by William, Jr. In 1795. In 1795 Malcolm Gilchrist and William Gilchrist were the two representatives to the North Carolina House of Commons from Moore County (This was quite probably William, Sr. John, the son of William, Jr., named six of his children: Mary, William, Duncan, John, Catharine, and Sarah; which in fact were names also found used by Malcolm and Catharine Buie Gilchrist. On the 1833 role of the newly organized Antioch Presbyterian Church were several of the children of John Gilchrist, Sr. as well as William, Jr., his wife and several of his children. Thus, there appears considerable reason to suspect that William Gilchrist, Sr. was a third brother, another son of Angus, Sr., who may have arrived earlier. This would further support the story that has on occasion been heard that there were three Gilchrist brothers who emigrated to North Carolina in the late 1700’s.


Today, nearly eight generations later the impact made by these early Gilchrists is still felt in the communities in which they lived. They freely gave much of the land they had acquired for the building of churches and schools. The great emphasis which they placed on church and school was equaled only by the love and devotion they gave their families. Respected in whatever they did and wherever they went they established a solid foundation on which later descendants would build.

(Home)(Index)(Chapter I)(Chapter II)(Chapter III)(Chapter IV)(Appendix)