[Combs, Josiah Henry. 1913. The Kentucky highlanders from a native mountaineer's viewpoint. Lexington, Ky: J. L. Richardson.]
Now, since the writer is a Kentucky Mountaineer, both by birth and by adoption, he seeks your indulgence and pardon in attempting to add to the long list of those who have discussed the social, political, economical and anthropogeographical status of the Kentucky mountains. Much has been said by various writers concerning the descent and nationality of the Kentucky mountaineers. Fiske, the historian, says they are of Scotch-Irish descent, and that their fore-fathers came down from Pennsylvania into the Southern Alleghanies early in the history of the Republic; Thomas Dixon, Jr., in "The Leopard's Spots," and also in "The Clansman," calls.the Southern highlanders Scotch and Scotch-Irish; Dr. Gucrrant, of Wilmore, Ky., a whole-souled and good old Presbyterian "missionary" to the mountains, and President Frost, of Berea College, without any reserve whatever, class the majority of the mountaineers as Scotch Highlanders.[Kerr, Charles, William Elsey Connelley, and E. Merton Coulter. 1922. History of Kentucky. Chicago: American Historical Society.]
The prevalence of a number of Scotch and Irish cognomens in this section no doubt has prompted the above writers to reach their conclusions in this matter. A saner view, and, in the opinion of the writer, the only correct one, is taken by Ellen Churchill Semple, writing in the Geographical Review, June, 1901. Here the view is taken that the great majority of the Kentucky highlanders are of pure, Anglo-Saxon or old English extraction, with a minority of the Scotch-Irish, largely Teutonic in origin. We are confronted, then, with three theories, as follows:
3. Old English, or Anglo-Saxon.
We shall use the two methods of reasoning—the Destructive and the Constructive, and class the first and second of the above theories under the former of these methods, and. the third theory under the latter, or constructive method.
THE SCOTCH-IRISH THEORY.
1. The prevalence of such names in the Kentucky mountains as McCoy, McDowell, Mcintosh, Mclntyre, McGuire, Campbell, Calhoun, Callahan, Duff, and a few others, has given rise to this first theory. [. . .] Now, if the majority of the Kentucky Mountaineers were Scotch-Irish, the majority of the cognomens of these people ought to be either Scotch, or.Irish, or both. Let us see. Out of four hundred surnames collected from Eastern Kentucky by the writer, it is difficult to find an aggregate of twenty per cent, of Scotch and of Irish cognomens. It is evident, then, that this Scotch-Irish theory cannot be taken seriously. [. . .]
OLD ENGLISH AS A THEORY.
3. Old English or Anglo-Saxon. . As was said above, this is the theory of Ellen Churchill Semple. It is also championed by President Thlrkield, of Howard University, who has given a quarter of a century to mission and educational work among the Southern Alleghanies. James Lane Allen is not the only gifted writer' who is positive that English is the ancestry of the majority of Kentuckians in tvtry section of the state. A long chain of cold facts, and not a mere hypothesis, establishes the truth of this contention. The Kentucky Mountaineers, themselves —their customs, dialect, linguistic characteristics, folk* songs, play-and-dancc-songs, child-rhymes, superstitions and riddles, nursery rhymes and the like, and above all, their cognomens, speak most loudly in the matter. First, then, the unanswerable argument in favor of this view, is that it is endorsed by the science and study of English philology. Every honest man bears the surname of his father. An analysis of the list of four hundred surnames referred to above dearly demonstrates that at least eighty per cent, of them are of pure Old English origin. Then, how did this English element get into the Kentucky, mountains ? Most of them came from Virginia and North Carolina, and some maybe from Pennsylvania. Three-fourths of the old "citizens".of the mountains will converse with you for hours, and tell you of their people in "Ole Virginny" and in North Car' liny." In this connection, and since there is an insignificant element of French Huguenot parentage in the Kentucky highlands, it might be well to quote a paragraph from Ellen Churchill Semple's story in the Geographical Review. She says :
"They (the Mountaineers) formed a part of the same tide of pioneers which crossed the mountains to people the states on the southwest, but they chanced to turn aside from the main stream, and ever since have stagnated in these mountain hollows. For example, over a hundred years ago eleven Combs brothers, related to General Combs Of the Revolutionary army, came over the mountains from North Carolina. Nine of them settling along the North Fork of the Kentucky River in the mountains of Perry County, One went further down the stream into the rough hiil country of Breathitt County, and the eleventh continued on his way till he came into the smiling country of the Blue Grass, and here became the progenitor of a family which represents the blue blood of the state, with all the aristocratic instincts of the old South; while their cousins In the mountains go barefoot," Even a careless perusal of the telephone register in almost any Kentucky town will reveal a majority of English surnames. In the early migrations across the mountains and into the plains, many a pioneer no doubt was compelled to remain in the mountains because one of. his wagon or cart wheels ran off, one of his family became sick, or some other little hindrance interfered. And here, attracted by the abundance of game, fish, and the natural scenery, he was content to remain and make his home. Does this severing of ties and relationship make the blood of the inhabitant of the refined and cultured Blue Grass any bluer than that of his less favored, but virile and sturdy brother of the highlands? Let John Fox, Jr's novels decide.
FOLK-LORE AND PHILOLOGY AS AN ARGUMENT.
And now we come to the folk-lore of the Kentucky mountains. The folk-songs, play-and-dance-songs, child and nursery rhymes, "jigs," superstitions and riddles strongly corroborate the theory that most of this folklore came directly or indirectly from England. In this instance the proof is so overwhelmingly conclusive that only a few. examples will suffice. If reference is made to Alice B. Gomme's monumental work on "Traditional Child Games of England and Scotland," practically all of the games and play-songs of that work will be found to be common, also, in some form, if not exactly, to those of the Kentucky mountains. [. . .]
In this contention for the Old English theory of the origin of the Kentucky Mountaineers, the writer has not aimed to completely discard the evidences of Scotch and Irish ancestry. Beyond the minority of Scotch and Irish cognomens the evidences are so few as hardly to deserve mention, and for that reason they have been omitted.
Who are these people? Authorities are not so much divided on this question today as they once were. They are generally agreed that the mountain people of the Cumberland Gap region are of English and Scotch-Irish descent. A look at some of the more prominent pioneers will confirm this. Doctor Walker, the real discoverer of the region— the learned explorer who gave English names to the region—was a Virginian of English extraction. Daniel Boone, the leading pioneer of the times, traced his descent to Exeter, England. It is said on good authority that one of the reasons for Daniel Boone wishing to leave his home on the Yadkin was because some Scotch people had moved into the neighborhood and were clearing away the forests too much to suit him. Here we have suggestions, in the lives of the people, of the character of the people—English and Scotch—who were moved southwestwardly in the direction of Cumberland Gap. [. . .]
Some historians have tried to make a distinction between the ancestry of the people of the Bluegrass and the people of the mountains, but their statements cannot find support among the best authorities. Virginia was settled by the rural peoples of England, and Kentucky, being an off-shoot of the same settlement, traces her ancestry to the same source. Some of these people from Virginia, from choice, settled in the mountain region, and the others, from the same reason, settled in the Bluegrass or moved on farther west. [. . .]
Fiske and Roosevelt try to force the conclusion that the Scotch-Irish predominated, but this is not in accord with the latest and best view, which is better stated by Shaler. William Aspenwall Bradley, says: "The length and conditions of my stay in the hill country gave me an unusual opportunity to become acquainted with the life and character of the mountain people, about whom, perhaps, more has been written and less actually known than about any other on the continent. It used to be the theory of historians, like Fiske, that they are the descendants of Scotch-Irish settlers. More recently the view has been advanced by Miss Ellen Churchill Semple and other Kentucky writers that the Cumberland Mountains, at least, are of English ancestry, and this view has been widely accepted, with the result that we hear much nowadays of the purest Anglo-Saxon blood on earth—whatever that may mean. To me it is clear that both strains mingle in Kentucky."