Four Other Kilsyths

There are at least four other places called Kilsyth – two in the USA, one in Australia and one in Canada. We thank Rob Kay for permitting us to use the following information he compiled and we would also take this opportunity to send greetings from Kilsyth Scotland to our counterparts in the following places.

United States of America

Kilsyth, part of Mount Hope, West Virginia, United States is in Fayette County; location is 37°53’25″N 81°10’57″W. The town of Mt Hope was hit by disastrous flooding in autumn 2001, and is still struggling to get back on its feet. KCC is trying to get in touch and would welcome any news.

Mount Hope, West Virginia, USA

A driving or walking tour through Mount Hope provides visitors with a rare opportunity to view many of the sights that were once commonplace throughout the coal fields of Southern West Virginia. Although the dozens of coal mining operations have disappeared from the hills surrounding the town, along the streets of Mount Hope visitors can still view many examples of the grand structures built by the coal barons and coal companies. The town’s downtown section remains virtually the same as it did during the 1920’s, the decade when the town was one of the most important communities in the vast coal fields of the region. The offices of the region’s largest coal company, the New River Company, still exist as well as the company’s repair shops and foundry building. Just outside town, in Kilsyth, two large smokestacks loom over the former repair shop used by the McKell Coal &amp Coke Company, also used by the company’s railroad, the Kanawha, Glen Jean &amp Eastern Railway. And these sites are just a few of the many historic sites located in and near the town.

The town of Kilsyth (originally spelled as “Kilsythe”) was a company town created, built and controlled by the McKell Coal &amp Coke Company. In 1903, Kilsyth was incorporated as a town, not long after the McKell Kilsyth mine was opened. Virtually all of the major businesses located in the town were owned by the McKell interests, which included the large Company Store and a small movie theater. The homes of the town were lighted by power provided by a generating plant located on the McKell coal mining site.

As the mining operations and the railroad owned by McKell continued to grow during the early decades of the 1900’s, Kilsyth became home to a sprawling mining and railroad repair shop complex located adjacent to the Kilsyth mine. Much of the old McKell repair shop complex remains standing today, including the former KGJ &amp E engine-house, one of a very few, and perhaps the only remaining engine including the former KGJ &amp E engine-house, one of a very few, and perhaps the only remaining engine-houses remaining in Southern West Virginia. Although Thurmond receives its notoriety for being the region’s “historic railroad town,” the community of Kilsyth actually contains a far greater number of historic railroad structures than does the present-day town of Thurmond. The huge twin-smokestacks, still standing in the centre of the McKell complex at Kilsyth, grace the skyline serving as highly visible landmarks that can be easy spotted from miles away. The old smokestack are regarded by many as an eyesore, while others see them as one of the last remaining examples of the massive industrial edifices that was once typical throughout the hillsides and valleys throughout Southern West Virginia.

The final chapter of saga of the McKell Coal &amp Coke Company was written in 1939, with the death of William McKell. Having never married, and having no children of his own, William McKell had not been able to groom a replacement for himself. Although the McKell coal empire had a vast amount of coal lands that had not yet been mined (most of it located in the Garden Ground area) the McKell coal empire ceased to function for lack of a new “king.” The following year, the McKell heirs, having no interest in entering the coal business, sold the McKell Coal &amp Coke Company to the New River Company. Thus ended the reign of one of the area’s pioneering coal companies that had a profound effect upon the towns of Mt. Hope and Kilsyth and virtually the entire region for more than four decades.

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Kilsyth, Tennessee, United States is a small settlement in Campbell County; location is 36°25’43″N 84°4’59″W about four miles from La Follette.

Perhaps some coal miners came to this area from Scotland earlier on as this region was dotted with numerous small coal mining towns. Most are only a memory now to some folks and before long that will eventually pass on.

Mr. McDonald has devoted much of his time to putting the history of Campbell County in print.

Kilsyth was located approximately 5 miles north of La Follette on Hwy. 25w. There was not much to it; a beer joint, a dance hall, gas station, coal tipple and a few houses. At one time when passenger trains ran there may have been a train stop.

Some family names associated with the area are Hutson, Spradlin, Guy, Burger, Wallace, Smith.

>With many thanks to Charles Hutson and Don Branam for the information.

Kilsyth, Australia

Kilsyth and Kilsyth South are residential suburbs between Mooroolbark and Boronia, 32 km. east of Melbourne. The name presumably was inspired by Kilsyth, Scotland, but no record has revealed the reason for any such connection.

Kilsyth is in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges and the cleared land was suitable for orchards. The original village centre was on Mt. Dandenong Road, which was the linking route between the Croydon railway station and the Dandenong Ranges. Kilsyth primary school was opened in 1910, by when there was a public hall, store and post office. A Kilsyth and District Horticultural Society was formed in 1913.

Residential settlement along the Mount Dandenong Road grew as weekenders and hillside retreats were built. By 1954 Kilsyth had an estimated population of 1,500 persons. In 1971 a second primary school, Kilsyth East, was opened. Pembroke secondary school was opened in 1970 and a third primary school next to it several years later.

Kilsyth is generously provided with recreation reserves, the largest having a sports centre in Liverpool Road. The Elizabeth Bridge Reserve includes a lake and a community house.

Kilsyth South consists of undulating land reducing to flat land in the west, between Canterbury Road and the Dandenong Creek. Drainage works have enabled residential settlement in parts, mixed with industrial uses, the Eastwood Golf Club and a water-retarding basin. The Ghilgai (Steiner) school is in Kilsyth South.

Kilsyth has a small shopping centre in Mt. Dandenong Roadnear the first primary school Mt. Dandenong Road is also the address of a Catholic primary school, elderly persons’ accommodation, the Linley reception centre and a larger shopping centre, Churinga Village, near the Kilsyth Hall.

Kilsyth’s estimated populations have been 1,500 (1955), 4,000 (1970) and 10,250 (1994).

The community is well served with sporting facilities and recreation reserves including the Elizabeth Bridge Reserve which embraces a lake and community house. A pleasant drive east on the Mt Dandenong Tourist Road takes you to Kalorama and the Yarra Ranges Shire Council’s Karwarra Australian Plant Garden. Slightly more than half of the 2ha reserve is made up of landscaped gardens, while the rest conserves native grasses, herbs and trees including stringy bark, narrow leaf peppermint, mountain grey gum and blackwood wattle.

australiaThe Kilsyth Country Dance Society are based in a suburb not far from Kilsyth (Australia) This photo shows the group with one of the original members holding a depiction of their logo which was specially designed for them by Mr William Chalmers of Kilsyth, Scotland.

Kilsyth, Canada

026 signKilsyth was the early village of importance in Derby, situated near the centre of the township on the Owen Sound and Saugeen Stage Road. The first school in the township was built on the Fleming farm, near Kilsyth, Jessie Fleming being the first teacher. The first church in the township was the English church, in what is known as the “Irish Settlement” in the third concession; and the first post office was established here, Andrew Fleming being the first postmaster.

It contained a post office, tavern, smithy, stores, and several other places of business. Most noted perhaps was the potter works started by Messrs. Walmsley and McCluskie which at one time was quite a large concern, the works producing articles of common use as well as ornaments. Among the early business men were, Thomas Sloan – merchant and postmaster; William Fleming – merchant; George Smith – keeper of the “Sloan Hotel”.

052 (800x533)The village of Kilsyth was founded in 1845 by Alexander Fleming, a stonemason, and his wife Jean, along with their seven children. They were natives of Ballinluig, Perthshire, Scotland. As emigrants, they travelled from their home to Kilsyth with all their possessions in three one-horse carts. At Kilsyth they embarked onto a horse drawn barge on the Forth and Clyde canal, built just eleven years earlier. This was the last place they set foot on Scottish soil, never to return.

Once at Port Glasgow, they moved their belongings directly onto a four masted sailing ship, the Jeanie Deans, 298 tons, which sailed on May 1st, 1843, the journey taking eleven weeks. Once arrived at Toronto, they stayed with relatives, and finally chose a plot of land they named Springfield Farm, where they built a log cabin by a pond which still exists to this day.

033 churchThe village of some seventy inhabitants is a quiet rural place set in pleasant rolling farmland. It has a fine church – the Kilsyth United Church, and a village hall, and cherishes its Scottish roots. There is also a school with an enrolment of three to four hundred pupils drawn from the surrounding district. Descendants of the Fleming family still live in the village.

(With many thanks to Mr. A Bulloch for the information on Kilsyth Canada and the story of the Fleming family)