HISTORICAL RECORD

Growing up in West Virginia we were told that our paternal ancestors were French Canadians. While it is true, our paternal ancestors did immigrate to Buffalo, NY from Canada.  So, part of that was true. But one weekend I visited a Scottish Festival in Arlington, Texas just to past the time that day. While touring the festival I came across a little red book by I.F. Grant about the history of Clan Grant, a highland Clan. That got my attention and interest which led to our association with the Clan Grant Society, USA. As members of the Society, we, John and Helen Grant, traveled to many of the Highland, Scottish Festivals and Games in the Central Plains of America. Being centrally located in Kansas at that time, it was easy for us to travel to the surrounding states, e.g. Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, representing Clan Grant USA, until our eventual move to Texas. During our  travels, we discovered that many States had their own Scottish Tartan as a state symbol. Texas for instance has their ‘Bluebonnet’ tartan. There are other states with a recorded design as well, e.g., Indiana, Idaho, Arkansas, and Washington, just to name a few.  In 2002 while attending the Annual Grant Gathering in Stone Mountain Georgia, we became aware of the Georgia State Tartan. We asked Dr. Philip Smith, the Clan Secretary at that time, if our native state, West Virginia, had one. Dr. Smith, a member of the Guild of Tartan Scholars and the Scottish Tartan Authority replied, “they do not, why don’t you design them one?” We had no clue how to begin so we asked him for the “how to” and necessary steps for registration. He agreed to mentor and advise us on this endeavor. We returned home and made several attempts to design a pleasurable tartan, all the time, sending our ideas to Dr. Smith and he advising us to keep trying. On one attempt he suggested we take a look at the “West Virginia Folk Shawl”. He had found this shawl at the Daughters of the Revolution museum in Barboursville, West Virginia and recognized it to be of Celtic origin. He duplicated the shawl and added ‘thread count’ to make it an official tartan and then registered it. He suggested we try to incorporate our ideas into a similar pattern. Considering his advice, we decided to mimic the ‘shawl pattern’, to some degree, adding our own distinctive pattern, colors, and thread count, thereby identifying our state tartan from all others. We included the colors of our existing state symbols into the pattern and sent that to Dr. Smith for review. Although he felt it a bit too busy, he agreed that we had developed a tartan even though the symbolism wasn’t a requirement. So, the West Virginia State Tartan was born incorporating the following state symbols into the final product; red for the cardinal, our state bird, black for the black bear, our state animal, green for the rhododendron, our state flower, yellow for the fall colors of the sugar maple, our state tree, blue for the streams and lakes, and finally a white line to incorporate the colors of our state symbols with the colors of our nation.  After several attempts to secure a WV Senators support, his secretary suggested we seek state support as it was a state issue rather than a federal one.  We then solicited the assistance of our local West Virginia brothers, Ron and Kevin Grant, to pursue a state acceptance. It so happened that the House Pro-Tem was the son of our junior high athletic coach. He was amenable to the task and sought support of the state legislative bodies. On March 6th, 2008 the design was approved by both chambers to become the Official West Virginia State Tartan. House Resolution 29 made it official and can be reviewed on this site.    While the brothers were busy with the state officials, Helen and I sought official recognition with the Scottish Tartan Society in Scotland. On May 27th, 2008 the tartan was entered into the historical registry. Its name, sett and colors, accepted and recorded by certificate number 7631. As noted earlier that Dr. Smith has been our mentor and guide during this process. To honor his expertise and patience in our endeavor, and his eternal friendship, we asked that his name be added to the certificate 7631 even though he reminded us that it was our design and it was not necessary.   For anyone interested in having a Tartan designed or designing one independently, Dr. Smith is available to render assistance at his web site, tartanscholar.com as he continues to remain a noted author and educator and friend.