History of the Clan Gunn Society of North America

By Edwin C. Manson
THE GUNN SALUTE, 24:1: Summer 1994

Clan Gunn Heritage Center, Scotland

Some of the founding members at the Stone Mountain Festival in 1984.

CGSNA Founders Donald Williamson & Emmett Wilson

CGSNA Founders Donald Williamson & Emmett Wilson

Always on the lookout for the sight of a Gunn tartan, Donald Bruce Williamson, an aeronautical engineer, living in Atlanta, Georgia, was at the 1967 Grandfather Mountain Gathering of Highland Clans. There he met Emmett and Joy Wilson. They were the first to march proudly in that parade of tartan-clad clans, the Gunn’s wearing the ancient colors. Their tartan banner was loaned by Donald’s wife, “Bobbie”. As ladies were then not permitted to parade there, I do not know what “Bobbie” wore while her skirt was carried aloft so proudly around that large parade ground. They agreed to meet the following year at the same place, ready to organize a Gunn Society.

Donald spent the year of 1968 going through as many southeastern telephone books as he could lay hands on, writing many letters announcing the proposed organization. His efforts were interrupted when he was called to a business meeting in California and he asked Emmett Wilson to conduct the organizational meeting. A small group did assemble but no roster was taken and no organization was formed.

Donald continued to write more and more letters through 1969 and facilities were arranged for a meeting. On July 12, 1969, the organization meeting was called to order on the field of Grandfather Mountain. The elected officers were: President – Donald Bruce Williamson; Vice-President – Emmett T. Wilson; Treasurer – George D. Wilson; Chaplain – Rev. Richard J. Johnson; and Secretary – Edward B. Wilson. There was an official tie with the Clan Gunn Society overseas which was gathering strength in numbers in Britain, and Donald continued to maintain contact with Iain Alexander Gunn, who later became Chief of Clan Gunn.

Today we have over 700+ members. Through the efforts of Chuck and Jan Franz, our Clan Society is officially a nonprofit. We host tents all across the United States and Canada with the mission to share our heritage and meet our kin. We hope you will join us and become a member so we can continue to serve our mission and share our heritage.


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Gunn Ancient

Refers to the use of ancient, more historical colors. They tend to be more muted than the Modern tartans.

Gunn Modern

Stronger, less muted colors, does not refer to the date of the tartan.

Gunn Weathered

Tones faded by exposure to weather and harsh terrain and often were used as the Great Kilt.  The colors reflect the weathering of the kilt.

Other Tartans

Dress tartans – originally worn by the women of the clan, generally with a white background and lighter-colored patterns.

Mourning tartans – generally of black and white.

Hunting tartans – dark in color and worn for sport, especially suitable when a clan possessed a brightly colored tartan, making it unsuitable for hunting.

Chiefs’ tartans – for the personal use of the chief and his immediate family

Clan Gunn Chief at Heritage Center in Latheron, Scotland. Photo by: Undiscovered Scotland 

Great Kilt Try-on

With CGSNA 2nd Vice President,
Cason Slaughter