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Our History

The Mackenzie Highlanders Pipes & Drums of Iowa was organized in 1978 by
Tom Coulson, a bagpiper who proudly served with the Canadian forces, during World War II.  


After immigrating to the US, and settling down in the Newton, Iowa area, Tom played in a local Za Ga Zig Shrine Pipe Band from 1974-1978. Recalling his playing days in the military, Tom founded the Mackenzie Highlanders, choosing for the band the ancient Mackenzie tartan of the Seaforth Highlanders, a highly decorated combat unit he had loved dearly and greatly respected. Several band members whom he had met and played with in the Za Ga Zig Shrine Pipe Band from 1974 to 1978 joined with him to form the original band, including Dick Beveridge, NB (Duke) Snyder, Lloyd Townsend, Jack Montgomery, and Ron Grimes.  

In the mid-1980’s Tom retired and moved to Keene, New Hampshire, but not before he had instilled in the band a great respect for the music and traditions from both Scotland and Ireland. The band continues the traditions that Tom passed on, both in the music we play, and the uniform we wear.

Clan Mackenzie


Why the Tartan?

From his admiration of the Seaforth Highlanders, our founder, chose the regimental tartan of the Seaforths, the Mackenzie tartan. The Seaforth Highlanders were originally raised by Mackenzie, Earl of Seaforth, in 1778. 

The Mackenzie tartan has its beginnings in 1881 with the amalgamation of the 72nd Regiment of the Foot and the 78th Regiment of the Foot. It was named after Kenneth Mackenzie, 1st Earl of Seaforth, and his cousin Francis Mackenzie, 1st Baron of Seaforth. Originally named “Seaforth Highlanders”, on 22 November 1881, Queen Victoria approved the regiment as the Seaforth Highlanders. The Seaforth Highlanders saw action in both WWI and WWII, and became a highly decorated unit. 

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