South America 1

From Clan Stirling Wiki
Recollection of family stories about the South American Stirlings and the Mac Dougalls
Reported by Maria Carolina Petit de La Villéon (1905-2000)

Maria Carolina Petit de La Villéon was the daughter of José Parietti, who was Doctor at Paysandu, and of Carolina Stirling-Mac-Dougall. She gathered the stories she heard from her grandmother, "Mama Isabel", when she was a child. Mama Isabel died in Paysandu in 1919.

Part I - the Stirlings ascendants.

At about the end of the XVIIIth century, two Scottish families came to South America each one on their own. On one side, a young couple, my great grandparents Stirling-Erskine. These decided to emigrate from Scotland to escape some members of the fiancée's family (Catherine Erskine's) to eliminate the fiancé (Alexander Stirling). The maid was a far descendant of bastard of a king of Scotland and her family considered she married beneath her rank. Therefore, he was threatened with death. They got married in secret and, with some hundred pounds given by Alexander's father, they fled away to Brazil. In Rio de Janeiro, the spouse, who had afforded architectural studies and was quite keen on wood carving, was hired for the construction of Emperor Peter I 's palace at Petropolis, and for the supervising of the woodcraft of the Palace. His first son, David, was born in Rio, but he died very young from yellow fever. Rio was a very unhealthy town, surrounded by swamps, and the disease caused great damages. My great grandmother felt very anguished and convinced her husband to quit Brazil to find a more healthy climate.

So they landed at Buenos Aires and settled. There were born all the other children, and among them the second David, my grandfather. When he was about 11 or 12, he was unconscious enough to go to College without sporting the red rosette Juan Manuel de Rosas imposed. He was a dictator in some provinces of Argentina and, as a pitiless tyrant, wanted to institute a federal State in the provinces under the control of José Urquiza, who tended towards Unitarian theses. The civil war was terrible. This happened in the 1840's. The red rosette was compulsory and you would better wear it ! The rosetteless child was beaten so savagely by the police that his hips were seriously wounded and he could not walk anymore. He kept bed for months. His mother was horrified once more and wanted to leave Argentina.

The couple had very good friends, the Haedo. As members of the Spanish gentry, they had been holding on very wide lands since the colonial time in the so-said "Banda Oriental", that is to say the Eastern part of the Uruguay River, which are nowadays the Western departments of Uruguay. These friends sold 2000 "leagues" of their lands to the Stirlings. The chief of the family achieved his will to practise cattle breeding as in Scotland. Amongst this huge territory, he built a mansion which became the "mother estancia", a Virginian styled house with columns on the main front. So as to help the father and the eldest son, the other children came from Buenos Aires. This estancia was called Viraroes (probably a Guarami word). The rest of the family sailed through the Rio de La Plata and went on northward to reach the departments of Rio Negro and Paysandù.

At that time, around 1850, there were internal struggles in the country because of the rivalry between "blancos" and "colorados" caudillos. The eldest son, Alejandro, decided to meet his mother on her way after such a long journey. While they were riding, a "Colorado" group stopped him to get pieces of intelligence. Further on, a blanco group who had witnessed them, thought Alejandro was a spy working for the enemies. He was led to General Flores, a blanco chief, and he is supposed to have been killed there. No one ever knew what happened to this granduncle. From that time the Stirlings have all been colorados, the two parties still existing today. And they never travelled back to Scotland, even as tourists.

So the Stirling family took roots in Uruguay. The great grandfather gave one estancia to each of his son for their wedding. Each of these estancias was 7000 ha wide. They were called : "Rincon de Francia" (this is not reported to France, but to a gang chief from Paraguay who fled his persecutors and hid in this "rincon"), "Santa Isabel", "Rincon Augusto", "Rincon de la Enciu (?)", "El Porvenir". Other estancias were inherited by relatives who married into the family (such as the Cashs and the Youngs) : la "Torre Alta" and "La Esperanza".

My great grandfather's sons married in Uruguay. My grandfather, David, was more than 40 when he married Isabel Mac Dougall, who was born in Argentina, in the province of Entre Rios. She was a daughter of Hugo Mac Dougall. My granfather, as some of his brothers, married late because, as a proud and well-born Scot, he would find no "criola" fine enough to wear their name. Nevertheless they did not consider beneath them to give life to many illegitimate children they would help the best they could. One of my grandfather illegitimate children, Antonio Stirling, was a fair gentleman and was an honour to the name his father gave him.

Next - Part II - the Mac Dougalls ascendants. Now I will tell you about my other great grandfather Mac Dougall, who was the father of my grandmother Isabel.