THE FIRST SCOTCH SETTLERS
Reminiscences in Robesonian, by Rev. John Monroe
The Fayetteville Observer, Thursday, August 04, 1887; Issue 231; col A
Shared by Myrtle Bridges
October 2, 2011
The first Scotch settlers that I have any authentic record or history of were Gilbert and Christian McMillan ("Chriosdian Ban") who
emigrated in 1770. Gilbert McMillan died in 1772, two years after his arrival in America, leaving his wife, with one son and seven
daughters in what was then almost a wilderness. She seems to have been equal to the occasion, as she has left a history which has
been handed down for four generations, that far surpasses the history of any other woman that has ever lived in this section. Her
son Archibald McMillan, married a Miss McArthur, and was the father of "Old Duncan McMillan, of Florida;" of John McMillan and Christian
McNeill, the mother of Henry McNeill. Mary married Archibald Sellars; one married McKay; one married Hughes or McEwen; one, McAllister;
one-Effie, married John Gilchrist, Sr., the father of John Gilchrist (lawyer.) I do not know at this writing who the others married.
Besides raising and educating to some extent this large family, she was sent for by the Scotch in sickness and in trouble as far as
sixty miles. Of this I was told by her grandson, lawyer John Gilchrist, who recollected her well. She was a member of the Presbyterian
Church, and after a long and useful career, died on the 15th day of June, 1811, in the 84th year of her age. She is buried at D.P.
McEachern's, beside her husband, where an ancient-looking marble slab, with inscriptions almost defaced, mark their graves. Her daughter
Effie, who married John Gilchrist, Sr., had nine or ten children, and died in 1794, in the 46th year of her age. John Gilchrist afterwards
married a Miss Currie, an aunt or grand-aunt of Hector Currie, deceased, father of "Bud" Currie, deceased, formerly of Maxton. By this
union he had a daughter named Effie, who married Col. John Blue, of Marion, S.C.; of Mrs. Milton McIntosh, and of Mrs. Wm. Buchanan, of
Richmond County, NC John Gilchrist Sr., was the first to institute the study of the classics, and started school generally among the
Scotch settlers. He died in May, 1802, aged 62 years. It will be proper here to correct a mistake made in a former number by the copyist,
relative to John Gilchrist, lawyer as being the first to institute the study of the classics, etc. It was the father of the lawyer, John
Gilchrist, Senior, who first introduced schools generally, etc. The lawyer, being a graduate himself, was doubtless as much in favor of
education as was his father.
On the tombstone which marks the grave of John Gilchrist, Sr., is found the following inscription: "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."
Angus Gilchrist, Sr., owner of the Gilchrist bridge, was an elder brother of the lawyer, and died in 1834. He was said to be an excellent
Counting six children to each human pair, which I believe is considered the average, and, as far as my information extends relative to
this family, there are, or have been, no less than 100,00 of this Gilbert and Christian McMillan's descendants. They are to my knowledge in
North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan,
California and of course in other places unknown to me. They are the progenitors of the Bakers, one family of the McMillans, McNeill,
McBrydes (Thomas), McArthurs, Sellars, McKays, McEacherns, Purcells, Gilchrists, and others. I have often thought of this when I heard men
doubtful about all the human family springing from one pair. If, when the average human life is about thirty years, 100,00 persons could
spring from one couple in 100 years, how many could multiply from one pair when the average life was 500 or more years? Likewise, as this
unwritten history is handed down for over one hundred years and believed to be authentic, doubting Thomases ought to think that Adam could
have related the history of creation and the early history of his life, for 600 years, to Enoch, and Enoch to Noah. Hence Noah would have
the information second-handed (see Bible Dictionary) for four channels through which Noah could have received it second-handed.
Over two hundred years ago (1660) three Purcell brothers emigrated from Ulster, Ireland, to America. They were Scotch-Irish. One of them
settled in Pennsylvania, one further down the Ohio, near the mouth of the Scioto river, and the other in West Virginia. The Pennsylvania
Purcells are descended from the Pennsylvania brother; those of that name in Kentucky and Tennessee, from the one who settled on the Scioto.
Likewise, the Virginia and North Carolina Purcells, from the Virginian. (James G. Blaine is a descendant of this West Virginia brother.)
Malcomb Purcell, one of the Virginia family, emigrated to North Carolina about 1760, settled near Fayetteville, on the Cape Fear river.
He married Beatrice Torry in 1772, and was killed by the Tories during the Revolutionary War, in trying to make his escape from them across
the Cape Fear. His widow, Beatrice Purcell, with her then 4 or 5 year-old son, John Purcell, Sr., came to Robeson County, I suppose to be
under the protection of her brother, David Torry, who lived on Saddle Tree Swamp, near the present town of Lumberton. Here Mrs. Purcell
married Daniel McEachern, and by this union had two children, Col. Archibald McEachern, Sr., deceased, and Mrs. Sallie Patterson, also
deceased-the grand mother of John T. Sinclair.
About 1792 David Torry moved to upper Robeson, and bought the place where Archibald Purcell formerly resided. His nephew, John Purcell,
and sister, Mrs. McEachern, came with him, or soon afterwards (Mr. McEachern being deceased.)
In 1798 John Purcell married Mrs. Mary McKay, the widow of Col. Archibald McKay, of the British army, the daughter of John Gilchrist, Sr.,
and the granddaughter of Christian and Gilbert McMillan. This Col. McKay fought on the side of Great Britain during the revolutionary war.
After the war he returned to England, where he remained several years. He came back to America and married Mary Gilchrist. I presume that
he was acquainted with her and her father before they left Scotland. They were natives of Cantire. He purchased 4,000 acres of land, including
the place on which I now reside, where one son, Hector McKay, was born. He died of fever in 1794. As before stated, in 1798 his widow married
John Purcell, Sr. They had seven children. The sons were Malcom, John, Alexander, Archibald. Miss E. Purcell married Graham. Miss Mary Purcell
married Rev. Hector McNeill. They have all passed away except Mrs. Gilchrist.
Return to What's New in Richmond County
Return to Richmond Co. Home Page