Nov 19, 2018

Hillbillies and Rednecks: Yes


All my patrilineal kin have long been at least vaguely aware of our rural mid-south mountain past.  I think we can now add something approaching actual information to the suspicion that we are the droppings of mountain folk all the way back to colonial years.

Recent wanderings through the thin family records and general histories of the times and places  persuade me our early Farrells, freshly arrived from Ireland after 1763 and before 1779,  rather quickly built their log cabins somewhere in the Piedmont country.  Plausibly, they took up ground -- probably squatted as was was common -- near the Shenandoah Valley.  By 1783, just after the Revolution, they had trekked further west,  to the environs of Boonsboro, along the Kentucky River. I have spent time around there, and it is a land of hills and dense forests, not overburdened with good roads and trails even in the 21st Century.

The Shenandoah Valley from east to west is a narrow corridor, a few dozen miles wide.  From north to south it stretches a few hundred miles. In its northern reaches it includes Augusta County, Virginia where a source or two say John's military company was raised. It isn't much to go on, but it is the best we have at present.  It is consistent with a social/economic argument Jim Webb makes: Our Scots-Irish people, with their protestantism and small assets,  were unwelcome along the sea coast -- tidewater country. The coast was a bastion of wealthy, or relatively so, English aristocrats, and Anglicism was the state church.

As Webb has it, the Presbyterians from the Scotland-England border lowlands and northern Ireland were encouraged to move inland fast for two main reasons. One was the simple snobbery of the earlier and monied colonists loyal to King George. The other was fear of Indian attacks in resistance to European encroachment.  Maurading natives still raised frequent scares among the coastal elites who reasoned that a line of truculent white settlers with a fighting tradition -- namely us -- along the mountain ridges to westward might absorb the fury of Indian raiders.


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