Calvinism, Scotch-Irish, and the Appalachian Experience

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by BobinKy, Feb 7, 2011.

  1. BobinKy

    BobinKy
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    Over the weekend I found a very interesting article: The Appalachian Experience by Cratis Williams.

    I am posting a link to this article here on Baptist Board (see references below) because Williams discusses the introduction of Calvinism in the sixteenth century to the Scottish Border people living between English counties to the south (Church of England) and Highland Scots living to the north (Catholicism).

    When introduced to John Calvin’s Institutes of Religion in the sixteenth century, the Scottish Border people found in Calvin’s harsh doctrines an interpretation of man’s relationship to man and God congenial to their experience. That man is in the image of God and deserving of respect for that image caressed their personal independence and pride. That man is depraved and unworthy of God’s grace they did not find it necessary to look far to see. The fatalism that had become a part of them was easily translated into the doctrines of predestination and election. God’s sovereignty they could respect and the supreme authority of the Scriptures they could accept as inquiring persons in their own individual rights but not from a prince as the arbiter of sacred matters. The promise that God elected in his grace and predestined at the creation a few unworthy mortals to share eternal bliss with Him offered more felicity than had been the lot of the Borderers on earth. Small wonder that they should become the most ardent supporters of the Protestant Reformation in the British Isles (Williams, 1977, p. 3).​

    A century later it was these same Scottish Border people, removed to Ireland, who settled the region in the American colonies that would later be known known as Appalachia. The label of "Scotch-Irish" was given to these migrants from North Ireland. They began to arrive in the colonies about 1720 (my folks came over in 1723 as indentured servants). Strictly speaking, they were neither Irish nor Scots. A more accurate label would have been Anglo-Celts. Often today, many people refer to their heritage as "Arsh."

    The story of the Scotch-Irish within historical times began in 55 B.C. with the invasion of Great Britain by Julius Ceasar. The hereditary leaders of the Britons, who were Celts and of the same stock that had spread across Europe prior to the rise of the Greek and Roman Civilizations, who escaped murder or capture by the Roman armies fled northward or westward toward Scotland and Wales. . . . The fleeing Celts, unable to get over the rim into the Highlands, hid and later settled as small farmers in the hilly country along the Scottish Border. . . . The Romans, finding Scotland of little value, considered it not worth conquering and built a wall across Great Britain . . . known as Hadrian's Wall (Williams, 1977, p. 2).​

    And how about those Calvinistic roots?

    At first overwhelmingly Presbyterian in religion, the rural mountain folk abandoned the Presbyterian churches for old line Baptist and Methodist persuasions following the evangelistic revivals along the mountain border in the early 1800s, but their descendants have retained the Calvinistic doctrines of their ancestors even into the present generation (Williams, 1977, p. 6).​

    . . .


    I descend from Scotch-Irish ancestors. However, as Williams stated, I feel more Anglo-Celt than Scotch-Irish. My church heritage is a mixture. I feel I stand in the middle of the old-line Baptist and Methodist persuasions mentioned above by Williams. I currently fellowship with a Free Will Baptist church. To me, old-line Baptist, such as United Baptist, Free Will Baptist, and Old Regular Baptist have similarities. Some of our churches, however, may not admit to such similarities.

    And I feel more at home with these old-line churches than with contemporary Independent or Southern Baptist fellowships. You know in the first few minutes after walking in the front door, if you fit or not. Sometimes, you know walking across the parking lot--or just driving by.

    I have not retained my Calvinistic roots--although I did try to do so with a General Association of Regular Baptist Church (GARBC) many years ago. Somehow, Calvinism does not stick to my ribs.

    Maybe it is the geography. For seven years, I lived close to the Cane Ridge Meeting House, the location of the 2nd Great Revival (1801). Perhaps, when I lived in a log cabin on that location, the preaching of those great revival days was still in the soil nourishing the vegetables of my garden or hanging in the air vibrating from the many walnuts I used to collect, crack, and eat? Maybe I continue to walk about with some of the Celtic Spiritual make-up from 2000 years ago? Maybe, it is the way God created me, Jesus Christ saved me, and the Holy Spirit continues to guide me?

    . . .

    How many of you descend from Scotch-Irish ancestors?

    We are special, you know!

    Have you retained your Calvinistic roots?


    ...Bob

    . . .


    REFERENCES

    Williams, Craig. (1977). The Appalachian Experience. Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia, publication no. 11, 1977. Wise, VA: Historical Society of Southwest Virginia.



    Cratis D. Williams Graduate School, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.



    [​IMG]





     
    #1 BobinKy, Feb 7, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 7, 2011
  2. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    My mother in law 's family is from the lowlands of Scotland. Pioneering people in this country. Original Covenanter's, driven out of their land is Scotland by English who executed them like vermin. She feels no Anglo kinship with the Sassenagh (or some other words that cant be used in polite company). She would also correct you in that Scotch is a whiskey & Scots are the people. now here is a test, do you know the difference in single malt to blend?
     
  3. convicted1

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    My mom's mother, her maiden was Fitzwater, and I think that my ancestors are from Ireland. I need to get up with mom, Grandma died in 1969, so I need to ask my mom more about where her family came from. I know some of them came from Ireland, because I heard mom mention that she always liked the tatse of whiskey, which was the Irish in her. As far as "theological" background, I truly don't know, and I don't know if mom would now either. I am not Calvinistic, nor am I Arminian.

    i am I AM's

    Willis
     
  4. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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  5. Old Union Brother

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    That's my heritage as well. The Little's were aligned with the Wallaces in Scotland. The first Calhoun came to the colonies as indentured servants.


    Peace and Prayers

    Jeff
     
  6. Thousand Hills

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    I imagine most of my ancestors are Scotch-Irish, as both my mother and father's families are from deep in the Appalachian Mountains along the NC/TN border. My mother grew up attending a Presbyterian Church in the mountains, and my parents were married there (neither are calvinists). I remember attending VBS there as a child when I spent my summers with my grandparents. I have been back to visit a couple times with my grandfather in the past few years until he was placed in assisted living. I don't consider myself a Calvinist, but tend to lean more in that direction, but I doubt it has anything to do with my ancestory. My ancestors were more likely to be horse thiefs than deep theologians.:laugh:

    Others have mentioned a tie in to whiskey, the only one I have is that if you remember the old 50's movie Thunder Road with Robert Mitchum (one of the greatest car chase movies of all time BTW), my last name is the same as one of the families that made moonshine in the movie.
     
  7. quantumfaith

    quantumfaith
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    Thanks so much for sharing the history, I am scot/irish/english in ancestry. The wife and I just visited Ireland for the first time. I was most struck by the National Archaelogical Museum. In the museum, they had rooms dedicated to the various periods of human habitation, the Celts and their predecessors (neolithic stone age culture) date in Ireland back to 8-9000 BC. The scots, are actually "cousins" to the irish, in that the celts migrated back and forth between Eire and Scotland, where in Scotland at the time lived small tribal people known as the Pict's, the intermarrying of the irish celts and Pict's became what we know as the Scots.
     
  8. Thousand Hills

    Thousand Hills
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    To the OP, BobInKY, do you have a bigger picture of the map you could share?
     
  9. pinoybaptist

    pinoybaptist
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    naaah...you're just plain mean, Bob.

    (just kidding)
     
  10. BobinKy

    BobinKy
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    Here are four, which is the maximum number of graphics allowed per post here at Baptist Board. Let me know if you interested in a specific state or county, or there is a specific theme you want to study, such as migration routes if you are interested in studying routes your ancestors may have traveled through the region on their way south or west.

    I hope this helps.

    Everybody, I guess the first map is so large that inserting the graphic increased the horizontal width of the screen, causing everyone to use the horizontal scroll bar at the bottom of the screen. I am sorry for messing up the width, but I could not find a way to fix the situation and still give Thousand Hills a large map of the area.

    ...Bob

    . . .

    Two interesting links

    "On the Naming of Appalachia," from An Appalachian Symposium: Essays written in honor of Cratis D. Williams, edited by J. W. Williamson (Boone, NC: Appalachian State University Press, 1977)

    Appalachian Trail Images for those who want to hike the Appalachian Trail.



    . . .

    Four maps of Appalachia



    [​IMG]

    Hillbilly Highway: Appalachia and America
    Dr. Whisnant (1997)
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill




    [​IMG]

    Wilderness Road Migration Routes (1700s)




    [​IMG]

    www.city-data.com/forum/general-u-s/382509-most-favorable-part-south-2
    Post by Silverwing (07/18/2008)



    [​IMG]

    Great Appalachian Valley
    thomaslegion.net/greatappalachianvalleyhistoryandmap
     
    #10 BobinKy, Feb 7, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 7, 2011
  11. Thousand Hills

    Thousand Hills
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    Bob, Thank you for putting this together :thumbsup:
     
  12. WestminsterMan

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    I am of Scoth-Irish ancestry. I don't remember having Calvanist roots - at least it was never spoken of in those terms when I was growing up.

    Peace!
    WM
     
  13. sag38

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    It's interesting that you can see the start of the Appalachian region just north of Montgomery, Alabama. Heading up 231N towards Wetumpka, you can see a very definitive rise in the landscape. My parents live in those foothills near a beautiful town called Tallassee. In that area are beautiful hills, rocky rivers (the Coosa and Tallapoosa join to form the Alabama river just below the start of the foot hills) and creeks, with lots of oaks and pine trees.
     
  14. kyredneck

    kyredneck
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    I'm Scots Irish on both sides, but........there is an Anglo (or two) in the wood pile on Mom's side.

    My father's ancestors began in KY when three Scots brothers immigrated in through the Cumberland gap in 1803.

    Some of my ancestors were Primitive Baptists that were involved from the beginning in the creation of a school, Oneida Baptist Institute in Clay County; NOT a mission school, but a homespun accomplishment by local folks who had in the past been killing each other in the feuds, that would teach their children to love one another and stop the feuding. I helped to financially support this school for years while I was working.

    I believe that the county I'm in (Clark) is included on the fringe of Appalachia on one of those maps (couldn't tell for sure). Most of the county I would consider to be 'Bluegrass' of Central KY, the eastern section to be 'foothills' of Appalachia.
     
  15. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    Bet you got a secret family recipe hidden away there somewhere. :godisgood:
     
  16. kyredneck

    kyredneck
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    Lol, well, I don't have it, but I've no doubt there were more than just one recipe. Whisky making/bootlegging is in my heritage for sure. It was a feud over bootlegging rights that eventually caused my father's immediate family to pick up and leave Lee county when he was fourteen years old. (and that's all I've got to say about that :) )
     
  17. ktn4eg

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    My family is of Scots-Irish background.
    Members of my family fought with Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
     
  18. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    My ancestors on Mom's side were Scots-Irish Presbyterians who came over in the 18th century. My brother has researched this quite a book, and the earliest ancestor he found a record of was John Rice, six generations ago, who settled in Tennessee. John was one of the Overmountain Men formed in 1780 to fight the British. His son had the interesting name of Dangerfield Rice. His son James Porter Rice helped found the Presbyterian church in Hazel Hill MO in 1853. James fought for the South in the Civil War with his son under Conferate calvary Colonel Jo Shelby.

    James' son Will was my great-grandfather. He became a Texas cowboy and abandoned the faith. However, he trusted Christ as Savior at a revival meeting at First BC of Gainsville. Will became an SBC lay preacher. His son was John R. Rice, my grandfather and a well-known Baptist evangelist. So we've been non-Calvinist Baptists since 1889.
     
  19. Bethelassoc

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    Bob, great idea for a thread.

    My mom and dad are both from eastern KY. Alot of northern IN migrated from KY during the 50s and 60s looking for work, so it wasn't too difficult getting some United Baptists up there.

    Dad's side supposedly came to the colonies on the Mayflower. My last name "White" supposedly is traced back to the "MacGregor" clan.

    Dad's side has steadily attended United Baptist; mom's side (German) came out of, and some still attend the Old Regular Baptist.

    Anyway, I believe that the calvinistic roots are well blended within most United Baptist churches.

    I also appreciate our old school brethren. :saint:

    David
     

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