By Chris McDaniel
Courier Publisher 

Immigrate the Right Way

Publisher's Desk


September 22, 2021

Courtesy Photo

Border Patrol agents on horse back encounter a group of illegal Haitian immigrants near Del Rio, Texas.

Throughout its short history, these United States have been the go to place for immigrants the world over. Most of us here today are either immigrants ourselves, or the progeny of immigrants. Native Americans, of course, are the one caveat. ellis

For the rest of us, many immigrated lawfully - either through Ellis Island or some other port of entry.

I began thinking about my immigrant history when considering the more than 10,000 Haitian nationals currently living under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. As illegal immigrants, many will be transported back to their home country. (More Info at

So why are my ancestors any different from theirs? Mine - to the best of my knowledge - entered legally. They got the proper clearance and started off new lives the right way.

These Haitians did not.

While I am all for legal immigration, no one should just be allowed to cut in line. It is absolutely unfair to those who wait patiently for their turn.

On my mother's side, my family first moved to Canada from Germany some time before World War I, waiting there until they received the documents necessary to continue on legally into the United States. They passed through Western Montana before moving to the southern border of Arizona to farm on homesteads granted by the federal government.

My great-grandmother, just a child, reportedly said in German -- upon seeing the desert for the first time - "My God, we have come to live in hell." For those of you have had the great pleasure of visiting the Sonora desert in the summer months, you will understand she was being quite serious.

Undeterred, the family carved out a living from the parched earth they had been entrusted. It was hard work, but they endured. Several relatives of mine still own farmland down on the border, the last I heard.

On my paternal grandfather's side, knowledge of my roots gets a bit murky much past the 1900 mark. I know for sure my grandfather and his brothers lived on a farm in the Beaumont area of Texas in the early 20th century. How long they had been there, and where they had come from before, is unfortunately unknown to me.

I have been able to piece together some general information based on my surname, which takes my roots to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

McDaniel is an anglicized bastardization of Clan MacDonell of Glengarry. The MacDonells are related to Clan MacDonald of golden arches cheeseburger fame, and may simply be a different pronunciation evolving over several generations.

Anyway, some of the MacDonalds were Jacobites, rebels against the English Crown who cast their support in favor of exiled Stuart King, James II, and his heirs following the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and 1689.

The rebellious nature of the MacDonalds may have been stoked by the Massacre of Glencoe on Feb. 12, 1692, during which more than 30 clan members were slaughtered by two companies of the Earl of Argyll's Regiment of Foot, a Scottish infantry regiment formed in April 1689 to suppress the Jacobite movement in the Highlands.

About 40 women and children who survived the massacre died of exposure while fleeing into the Highlands.

The utter ruthlessness of the massacre is of note because the infantry regiment had been living as guests among the MacDonald's for nearly two weeks before the slaughter. While the MacDonald's there were known for living outside the law, their deaths at the hands of those they had offered quarter was shocking even in those times. The commander of the regiment carrying out the foul deed was Robert Campbell, which further fueled an ongoing blood feud between the Campbells and MacDonalds.

Three divisions of MacDonalds fought at the Battle of Culloden on April 16, 1746, a disastrous defeat for the Jacobite rebellion.

Other MacDonalds, or McDonells, lived in Ulster Northern Ireland. As a sea faring people, the clan often trekked back and forth between Ireland and southwest Scotland. I do not know currently whether I have Irish as well as Scottish roots, but my dad has always held that we are indeed, "Ulster Scots."

Because of the constant fighting and chaos in the British Isles during that time, many of my clan moved to the New World. I know for sure someone with my name came to North America (I was born, yay!), but I do not have information as to exactly when and exactly where.

From what little I do know, it is logical to assume the family ended up in the Deep South before making it to Texas. As such, they likely would have been Confederates. This continued a long tradition of rebelliousness stemming all the way back to Scotland. Family on my mom's side lived in Texas as well, and were almost definitely Johnny Rebs. For this reason, I am proud to be a "rebel" myself. Gotta love gray.

There may, and I stress "may," have also been parts of our family who wore federal blue. We don't talk about that.

Damned Yankees.


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