In 1973, four pipers from the western Mohawk Valley of New York State
(Dr. William Forbes, Jim Clough, Tom Carl, and Frank Dugan, Jr.) created a new pipe
band in Rome, NY.
At the time, the U. S. National Park Service was reconstructing colonial Fort Stanwix in the heart of the city of Rome. In the spirit of the nation's approaching bicentennial, the band was named after the famed British 78th Regiment of Foot, who helped to build and guard Fort Stanwix during the winter of 1758-59 and who played a major role later that year in defeating the French at Québec.
The 78th Regiment of Foot was commonly known as Fraser's Highlanders (for Highland chieftain Simon Fraser who raised the regiment), and the new band was incorporated as the 78th Fraser's Highlanders. The band performed and competed in spectacular and authentic uniforms. The band's attention to historic detail, coupled with their outstanding playing, made them popular performers at historic sites such as Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Ontario.
As bicentennial fever waned in the US, the historical aspect of the
band became less relevant, and the band moved gradually to new uniforms typical of
competing pipe bands of the time. The musical quality of the band remained high, and
the 78th Fraser’s
Highlanders from Rome, NY amassed an enviable record of competition successes. The band won
EUSPBA Supreme Championships four times, and, in the very special year 1982, the Fraser’s
became the first band ever to win two EUSPBA Supreme Championships in one year, capturing
the award for both Grades 3 and 4.
When a new
Grade 1 band was incorporated in 1982 in Ontario and named the 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe
Band, confusion developed about the two bands with similar names. In 1987, the 78th Fraser’s
Highlanders from Rome voted to change their name. After much discussion, they chose the
name Mohawk Valley Frasers as a way to continue to honor the Scotsmen who helped build
Ft. Stanwix in Rome.
Under the direction of Pipe Major Jim Clough, the
Mohawk Valley Frasers continue to be popular performers at parades, concerts, festivals, college
commencements, Highland games, and other special events throughout the northeastern United States.
The Frasers commonly perform with dancers from the Braemar Highland Dancers.
The 1990s and Present
The Mohawk Valley Frasers acquired their current look in the 1990s, with
kilts in the Modern MacGillivray tartan. Over the past decade, the Mohawk Valley Frasers
have fielded highly successful bands with strong competition records in Grades 3, 4,
and 5. Most recently, the Mohawk Valley Frasers won the 2003 Grade 3 Canadian Championship
at Fort Erie and placed third in the North American Championship at Maxville.