Families trace ties at Heritage Center

Abbi Overfelt Editor

October 7, 2013

LAURINBURG — With the tune of a practicing student bagpiper for background music, Jim and Becky Collins sat on the edge of two armchairs, searching through genealogy books for the names of Becky’s Scottish ancestors.

The Wilmington residents were getting in the mood for today’s Highland Games.

“There was never a need for me to connect with any of it,” Becky said, recalling stories she has heard all of her life about the McDiarmid lineage. “Now I’m trying to make that connection, to find out the truth of it.”

The two were one of many who stopped in the Scottish Heritage Center on Friday to get a glimpse of artifacts, exhibits, and records before the fifth-annual event that celebrates Scotland County’s Scottish roots.

Visitors to the center were greeted by Billy Gehringer, a former St. Andrews University student who took the job at the museum’s front desk because he loved the school, and “wasn’t ready to leave.”

“The games kind of bring the town together,” he said, “and spotlight all the Scottish history in the area, even to visitors who know nothing about it.”

Becky and Jim aim to learn more, even though, as Becky whispers, Jim is of Irish decent.

“Hey, that’s still honorable,” he protested mildly. “We’d be right next to each other anyway.”