Woodinville, WA - December 12, 1997 Alexander Stirling was born in 1753, at Lethan, near Forfar, in Angusshire, Scotland. He was known to have had a brother John. Alexander came to what was then called "West Florida", in what is today called Louisiana. He served in the First Regiment of Genadiers under Spanish General Don Bernardo de Galvez against the British at Manchac and Baton Rouge, gallantly aiding in the defeat of the British and regaining control of the area for Spain.
For this he was given very large land grants of 8-10 square miles, and he served as a alcalde for the Spanish government.
This branch of the Stirling family probably comes from a offshoot branch of the Stirling's of Glorat near Glasgow, and most likely learned the sugar trade in Jamaica where the Stirling family had numerous sugar plantations. They were also merchants and weavers, and quite sucessful. Many Stirlings members in the south come from this line of the family.
Thanks to a contribution from a researcher in Scotland, A section devoted to Alexander, and the Stirling's of Louisiana has been setup in the family pages section. Below is a letter received in 1984 from W. Michael Stirling, a descendent living in New York, about their family estate, and members of the family.
Reprocuced from old plans, this is approximately how the orginal Plantation House, "Wakefield" looked before the top floors and top veranda were removed and the roof lowered. This was the first great central home of the "Stirlings of Louisiana!".
While is is true that their ancestor, and founder of the family, Alexander Stirling, had other homes in the past, this one, "Wakefield" is considered their representative Estate House.
Because of a family dispute over inferitance, the top part of the house was removed and resulting lumber was used to build two new smaller houses for others in the family. In later years the descendants deeply regretted the "desecartion" of their famous Plantation House, now an historic edifice in Louisiana.
In reconstucting how the original house must have looked the artist forgot to place dormer windows in the roof, a necessity in that semi-tropical clime, to let the rising inside heat out, but at the same time prevent the direct rays of the sun from entering and adding more heat. Dormer windows are a feature on most Louisiana Plantation Houses.
The house was built with it's back to the sun for further coolness, and the rooms were very large with high ceilings to create an atmosphere. The house was roofed wth cypress shingles, ("slates"). Cypress is often called the "wood eternal" since it can withstand the outside elements for generation and is highly resistant to most chemicals. Cypress grows wild in the Louisiana swamps and so was readily available.
In that part of central Louisiana it was the fashion to build the Plantation Houses of wood, but they were grandiose affairs, usually three or four floors high, and with as many as up to 20 rooms. Shade trees were usually planted around the house, but in areas where forest fires were a danger, a wide bare area encircled the house just beyond the shade trees. This prevented a forest fire from reaching the house.
In some plantation Houses, during the hot weather, cooking was done outside in a shed, to prevent heat from accumulating indoors. The cooked food was carried inside and sometimes the family dined on the veranda.
Their ancestor & founder, was an Alexander Stirling, born 1753, at Lethan, near Forfar, in Angusshire, Scotland. This is at the beginning of the Highlands, inland a short distance from Arbroath on the south-east coast. The family were engaged in the business of weaving. He was known to have had a brother, John. Alexander came to what was then called, "West Florida', (now part of Louisiana), in the late 1700's. Because he settled in a place controlled by Spain, and got along well with the Spaniards, it is thought that Alexander Stirling might have been from a Jacobite family, and possibly a Catholic, and this was why he avoided the north-east part of America under English rule. He seems to have been well educated because the Spaniards made him a government official. This seems to suggest that he might have been a Scottish gentleman's son, as it was rare for the lower classes in those days to have some measure of education. The Spaniards gave him large land grants, to this he added other land which he purchased. He ended up owning 8 - 10 squaxe miles of West Feliciana Paxish, (county), and grew very wealthy growing cotton and sugarcane. From the crushed sugarcane stalks, he made on the premises molasses, (treacle), most of which was sent by horse-wagon overland to the Mississippi River where it was transferred to a river boat going downstream to New Orleans, from there it was shipped to the north-east cities where molasses is a prime ingredient in making, "Bostonstyle baked beans", an American delicacy. On the "Wakefield" Plantation grounds are still to be seen some of the giant cauldrons & vats used in the making of molasses.
Most of his descendants today are Episcopalians and this is in keeping with the usual trend for the Upper Classes in the "South" to be Episcopalians, although in certain sections there are exceptions to this rule.
All are members of the "D.A.R", (Daughters of the Revolution), and the "S.A.R", (sons of the Revolution), a very prestigious society limited to thosedescended from an ancestor who fought with George Washington. (Editor: This isn't true. It's open to all descendants of persons that fought in the Revolutionary War.) They are also members of the "First Families of Louisiana!', another highly esteemed organization. While the family lost most of its wealth & holdings after the Civil War of Abraham Lincoln's day, and then the collapse of the Cotton Market, ("King Cotton"), added more to their family woes, yet the "Stirlings of Louisiana!' still wield considerable power, social & political, in central Louisiana. Their numbers are great and they have spread to many other states, such as Mississippis and Texas. On two seperate occasions, relatives, or in-laws, of theirs werer Heads of the US Marine Corps. The Plantation House, "Wakefield" is now run by two elderly, retired, relatives, and it is operated as a Tourist Attraction and Tourist Hotel. On the walls of "Wakefield" still hang many of the old family Protraits and it is remarkable what a facial likeness they show to members of the Stirlings back in Scotland in Nobility. Even some show another Stirling characteristic in Scotland, great physical height. One of the "Wakefield" sons was 6' 7". The house was called "Wakefield" after the book, "The Vicar of Wakefield".
There is more information about this important branch of the Stirling Family in the Family Pages Section of the website. If you have additional information on this line of the please leave a message at [email protected].