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House of Burnett – Message from Secretary


Message from the Secretary

Reports from Stone Mountain Highland Games

Central Virginia Celtic Festival and Highland Games


A Burnett Genealogical Odyssey by Terry Burnett


Greeting From Your Secretary

This being my last note as Secretary of The House of Burnett I would like to reflex on how things were and how they are now.

In 2005 on a trip to Scotland, the Secretary of The House of Burnett told all of us on the trip that he was resigning. In September of 2005 he still had not found a replacement. Rather than allowing the House of Burnett to try to run with a Secretary and to keep it from failing. I decided to take the job. Sadly, that December the President resigned, leaving myself as Secretary and Mike Burnett as Treasurer. I them went on a search for the Board members to find that were in name only.

I had no real experience in the running of The House of Burnett, so Mike and I just did what we thought was, the right thing to do. As time went by, we found a volunteer to become the President. With her help we found members to volunteer to be on the Board. Our first Board meeting since 2005 was in 2010 at the Grandfather Mountain Games, where we reviewed and made changes to the By Laws. That was in 2010 shortly the President passed away. The next person to step up was our current President Jackelyn Daugherty.

We now have over 400 hundred on our list. We have an election annually for Board Members. The Board in turn elects the Executive Officers which is what the By Laws call for. As you can see we now have a functioning Board and an involved Executive Officers for the House of Burnett.

As I bow out, I hope you give my replacement Nicole Zimmermann the same support as you gave me. The Board will be meeting on 10 November at which time the Executive will be elected.

As I have said many times I was not Secretary material, but I hope I have served you well. I will continue to be involved, going to games, answering questions and helping where I can. I will be coming out with a new e-mail address before the end of the year.

Leland L. Burnett


Stone Mountain Highland Games

Lieutenant James Burnette sponsored a tent at the Oct. 19-21, 2018 Stone Mountain Highland Games near Atlanta, GA.  Terry Burnett and his wife Sally also attended and helped manage the tent (see main featured photo).

John and Elizabeth MacLeod, who were the guests of honor and live in Tasmania, Australia stopped by the tent. Jim gave them the invitation to Crathes as they have not been there and we look forward to that day.

A great time was enjoyed by all including haggis and fish and chips.  Several Burnetts attended the games.

John and Elizabeth MacLeod with Jim Burnette

who were the guests of honor at the Games


Central Virginia Celtic Festival and Highland Games

Thanks to Tana and Bill Moore who represented the House of Burnett



A Burnett Genealogical Odyssey

Terry Burnett

 Summertime in Columbia, South Carolina is almost unbearable.  Natives even refer to the city (only half-joking) as “the screen door to hell.” So when my wife, Sally, told me that the average July daytime temperature in Boone, North Carolina was 75 degrees, I immediately told her to make a camping reservation.

We arrived at the campground in Boone just after dark on Friday night and as I sat outside our motor home reveling in the delicious cool, I noticed a young man across the way wearing a kilt.  I  suddenly realized that we had come to Boone during the famous Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.

I had never been to the Games, but had always wanted to “get in touch” with my Burnett Scottish roots, so on Sunday, with a great deal of anticipation and no specific expectations, we took a shuttle to the top of Grandfather Mountain and started walking around.

The experience changed my life.  The pageantry was amazing. The music, the colors, the shared sense of connection to all things Scottish, the sights, smells, laughter, the youngsters – both girls and boys in their highland finery, the skirl of the pipes, all contributed to making me feel a part of something bigger and grander and yet more intimate than I could have expected.

To top it off, I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Burnette and other Burnett kin at the House of Burnett tent.  I was immediately “all in” and decided then and there to throw myself into participation with the House of Burnett.

I signed up for membership.  I bought a kilt and all of the necessary (and some not-so-necessary) habiliments. I decided to offer my services as a convenor for local and regional highland games, such as those in Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Greenville, South Carolina.

My membership included a subscription the Burnett Banner, which is a wonderful and lively family newsletter full of great stories, great information, and great people.  One of the most interesting recent articles I found is archived under the Genealogy heading. It was an article by Terry Burnett Barwin, who is managing the Burnett Y-DNA Project.  The Project is designed to trace the Y-DNA lineage of Burnett males so that common ancestors can be identified for as far back as eight or more generations, thus allowing insight into shared ancestry often in spite of the absence of early birth, death, marriage, baptismal, land, etc., records.

I contacted Terry, and not only did she encourage me to participate in the Project, but she immediately and graciously began to examine my own sparse Burnett genealogy.  Terry is a very accomplished Genealogist, whose careful and thorough research opened to me a whole new world of knowledge and insight into my Burnett ancestry.

Terry’s persistent digging transformed the way I see my past – and yes, it is my past.  Most of us see genealogy as names and dates and places – mere disembodied facts without relevance or connection to who we are.  But I met people.  I met a man named John Burnett (likely the first of my line to come to America), who risked everything, who left everything, to come to Virginia in 1675 to make a home and a life.  I met James Burnett, born about 1750, who served in the Virginia Line during the American Revolution. He endured the bitter winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge with Washington, and then fought at Monmouth Court House in New Jersey. I got to know my great-uncle John Lawson Burnett, who graduated from Vanderbilt Law School, served in the Alabama House and Senate, and ultimately served ten terms in the US House of Representatives from Cherokee County, AL.  He authored a controversial immigration reform bill and became the target of a terrorist bomb plot in 1919 (I felt like his story was taken from the evening news!).  I met adventurers, risk-takers, entrepreneurs, business and mine owners, soldiers, politicians – even slave owners.  Through wills, diaries, news articles, lawsuits, and obituaries I began to understand them not merely as names and dates on headstones, but as people – as my people.

As a part of this odyssey, I began to appreciate that where I came from and from whom I came has informed who I am.  Their history is my history.  Their adventures, successes, failures (moral and otherwise) are in some measure my own.  I would not be here, I would not be who I am, without them.  Their blood flows in my veins and in my son’s and daughter’s and granddaughters’ veins.

Through my participation in the Burnett Y-DNA Project and Terry’s unerring research, I have come to see that I am part of this larger, grander Burnett story. You are too.  We are connected to our Burnett ancestors and to each other through shared blood, pain, and joy.  And there is nothing better.

I encourage all Burnett men to participate in this amazing Project.  The monetary cost is small.  The investment of time is negligible.  But the reward is great.  This Project has the potential to bring us all much closer together as a larger family, and to lead us all on an odyssey that can connect us to our past, our present, and indeed, our future.