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From Scotland to Jonesborough

Although Jonesborough residents Angus and Brownee Walton call themselves “more American than anything else,” they only became official citizens of the United States this month.
The couple, originally from the same area in Scotland, met and married there. Since then, their travels have taken them all over the world.
“But we’ve lived [in America] the longest,” said Brownee, from their home in Jonesborough. “We’re more American than anything else.”
The Waltons weren’t planning on becoming citizens when they first moved to the U.S., always thinking they’d make it back to the United Kingdom one day. But when their daughters (and then grandchildren) ended up settling here, they knew it was time to make their stay permanent.
In their early 20s, the Waltons moved to Peru with their one-year-old daughter, and stayed for 10 years. Their second daughter was born there. Next, in 1977, they moved to Wisconsin, then lived in the Bahamas, and then Florida, where they stayed for 20 years.
The final move to Jonesborough was a bit of a “triangulation,” Angus said, as in trying to split the distance between where their two daughters had settled — Wisconsin and Connecticut.
“We were looking to move closer to our family,” Angus said. “We wanted to look at a place that was equidistant, and it came down to Western North Carolina or East Tennessee.”
But it was love at first sight for Brownee and Jonesborough.
“My wife saw Jonesborough and just fell in love with it,” Angus said.
That was three years ago.
Knowing that they planned on remaining close to their family, the Waltons sent in a citizenship application last September, and surprisingly, they said, received a swift response.
While it was quick, the process required a bit of traveling: to Charlotte, a 3-hour drive, for a 5-minute fingerprinting process; to Memphis, an 8-hour drive, for a 12-minute interview; and to Chattanooga for the final citizenship ceremony, they said.
“I really thought [the process] would take longer,” Brownee said. “But I guess it depends on where you were from, or where you go through the process.”
Of about 50 people from Tennessee at the swearing-in, there were people of about 35 different nationalities, the Waltons said.
Both said the mood of the ceremony was very appropriate for the occasion.
“You’re really giving up your heritage in some ways,”Brownee Walton said. “But you’re also gaining a new one.”
However, the Waltons also work to share and preserve their Scottish heritage by helping to run Tartan Days, the festival that took place this weekend in downtown Jonesborough.
The first year the festival ran, Angus was not an organizer, but saw the “Best Legs in a Kilt” contest advertised and entered.
He won, and teamed up with two former organizers. Although there was not a festival last year, this year’s promises to be a success in celebrating Scots-Irish heritage, Walton said, with lots of singing, dancing, storytelling and jokes.
“There’s so much history from Scotland,” Angus Walton said. “It’s a nation very proud of its past and history. It’s the one part of the world the Romans didn’t manage to conquer. They had to build a wall.”