THE FIRST SCOTCH SETTLERS
Reminiscences in Robesonian, by Rev. John Monroe
Fayetteville Observer, Thursday, August 04, 1887 Issue 231; col A
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 aunty 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 and
was the mother of Col. John G. Blue, of Marion, S.C.; of Mrs. Milton McIntosh, and of Mrs. Wm. Buchanan, of Richmond County, N.C.
John Gilchrist, Sr. was the first to institute the study of the classics, and started schools generally amon 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
Counting six children to each human pair, which I believe is considered to average, and, as far as my information extends relative
to this family, there are, or have been, no less than 100,000 of this Gilbert and Christian McMillan's descendants. There are to my
own 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, McNeills, McBrydes (Thomas) McArthurs, Sellars, McKays, McEacherns, Purcells, and 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 of human
life is about thirty years, 100,000 persons could spring from one couple in 100 years, how many could multiply from one pair when
the average of 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 Virginia. (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. Arch. McEachern, Sr., deceased, and
Mrs. Sallie Patterson, also deceased-the grandmother of John T. Sinclair.
About the year 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, or 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
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