Hopkins County Genealogical Society
Hears Program on Scotch-Irish Heritage, Thursday Night
by: Bobby McDonald
Franklin County attorney and historian, B.F. Hicks, explains the immigration
patterns of the Scotch-Irish, as they came to the U.S.
The regular meeting of the Hopkins County Genealogical Society was held for the first time in 2012 and featured an interesting program, presented by Mr. B.F. Hicks. Hicks an attorney in Franklin County and one of the major historians in that area, presented the program on our Scotch-Irish Heritage. Hicks told the group that 20% of the immigrants were Highland Scotish, while 80% of them were from the Lowlands of Scotland. Most were of the Presbyterian faith and an astute and thrifty group of people.
Hicks recommended a number of reference books for those seeking their Scotch-Irish ancestors, including: "Born Fighting," "Albion's Seed," and others.
According to Hicks, a number of our practices here in East Texas, which is made-up a large group of Scotch-Irish immigrants, can be traced to the heritage and folkways of our ancestors. For instance, the practice of eating grits, can be traced back to Scotland, where the native people ate "guel," which was an oat based product, and was adapted to the corn that was locally grown, once the settlers arrived in the U.S.
The practice of hosting brush arbor religious meetings and encampments, was patterned after "Holy Fairs" in the native Scotland.
Also, the practice of building homes in a valley, derived its roots from the native Scotland, where immigrants brought the practice to America, as well as the "dog trot" type home, that was built first as a 16' x 16' log cabin, then expanded as the family grew.
Scotch-Irish families coming to America were a prolific group, that had large families, generally 10 to 12 children, and had been known for their large families in Scotland.
Even the now used practice of "rotational grazing," used in farming practices, can be traced to our Scotch-Irish heritage, where farmers rotated the ground their cattle grazed for better fertilization and a better quality forage. "Cow pens" were first used in the U.S., in the Appalachian area of North and South Carolina, as our ancestors arrived there and then followed them to Northeast Texas.
Interestingly, a number of Northeast Texas speech patterns can be traced directly back to Scotland, and are unique in the areas of this country where our ancestors, settled. Examples include: "You wasn't there, was you?" "He done did it!" "He don't have none!" "He went to ______!" "He's fixin' to do something!" "He's pert nigh to the fire!" are all examples of Scotch-Irish dialect, that many of us can remember hearing our ancestors say.
Even our "love lives" can trace their roots to our Scotch-Irish heritage, as "sparkin' " and calling your sweetheart "honey," has origins with our ancestors from Scotland.
Other food items that have a Scotch-Irish origin, include: making desserts and cornbread with soured milk, drinking buttermilk, and eating "clabber." Also, our ancestors brought the eating of soups or stews from their native lands to America, as well as eating collard greens, and a number of other Southern dishes.
Hicks told the group that our ancestoral healing ways were also unique. For a headache, they recommended killing a screech owl and eating the brain. To cure rheumatism, you split a frog and tied it to the top of your foot, and to cure a fever, you split open a live, black chicken, and applied to the bottom of the foot, to "draw out" the fever! (We can be thankful for modern medicine, can't we?)
And, finally, our Scotch-Irish ancestors left us with the proverb: "If two people wash their hands in the same water, they will be friends for life!"
The Hopkins County Genealogical Society will meet next month, on February 16th, and will feature Cumby author, Ryan Petty, presenting the program. The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Genealogical Library, located on Main Street. Make plans to attend and bring a friend for the interesting program.