December 8, 2014
A few years back, Gretchen Wilson proclaimed her pride in her redneck heritage by singing about it, and the song instantly became a country music and karaoke hit. The song had a “The Lady Is A Tramp” sort of theme, and the lyrics shouted to the world that it was okay to be a member of the Good Ol’ Southern Tomboy Girls’ Club.
For years, I’ve spent what little spare time I have, delving into family history, learning about our genealogy and trying to trace my many lineages. I’ve even gone so far as to get a sample of my dad’s DNA and send it in for testing with one of the Family Tree services. Sometimes, I go for months without the tiniest movement forward in my study (um, actually, I guess that would be movement backward). And then sometimes, a previously-blocked road gets dynamited wide open.
That happened recently when I talked my husband into taking a side trip to Camden, Tennessee. I knew I had ancestors buried in the small town, and tromping around in cemeteries where my people are gives me a feeling of satisfaction. Seeing an old grave helps me realize these people were truly real. What I didn’t expect to find was a brass plate affixed to one of the two grave stones with a family history that took one of my lines all the way back to The Reverend Alexander McWhorter, a Presbyterian minister, who was killed in the Insurrection of 1641 in Ireland.
I’m not going to bore you with all the in-between, except to say that his son (also Alexander) had been born in Edinborough, Scotland, and the following generation (Hugh McWhorter) was born in Ireland, but died in Delaware. Seeking religious freedom, the families had come to the colonies. By the early 1700s, they had migrated south to the Carolinas.
Now, I don’t know how familiar you are with the term “redneck,” but it was used back in the 1640’s in Scotland to refer to those who opposed the rule of the Catholic church. These dissenters often signed their documents in blood, and they wore red cloths around their necks, hence the Redneck moniker. Eventually, the term came to refer to Presbyterians in general and appeared to have followed the Scottish immigrants to the colonies during the years prior to the Revolutionary War.
So my Presbyterian roots–the church I’m still a member of today–go all the way back to the original use of the term.
You can refer to me as Redneck anytime, and I’ll thank you for it!
Your turn! Share an interesting tidbit about your own roots with us!