The Scotch-Irish in Maryland, Virginia, and North and South Carolina

Source:The Scotch-Irish in America
Author:Samuel Swett Green

A very large portion of the people in the South Atlantic States are of Scotch-Irish extraction.

During many years of the eighteenth century a stream of emigrants flowed south, through Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and across the Savannah river, into Georgia. Their movements were parallel with the lines of the Blue Ridge.

In Maryland they settled, mainly, in the narrow slip of land in the western part of the State, although they were to be found scattered through all portions of the province.

In the latter part of the seventeenth and the earlier years of the eighteenth centuries there were many Scotch-Irish residents in Virginia, east of the Blue Ridge mountains; some were even settled west of that range. In 1738 began a movement which completely filled the valley west of the Blue Ridge, from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, with men of that race, excepting the lower portion, which was occupied by Germans.

In the year 1736, Henry McCulloch, from the province of Ulster, obtained a grant of 64,000 acres in the present County of Duplin, North Carolina, and introduced upon it between three and four thousand of his Scotch-Irish countrymen from the north of Ireland.

Besides the large number of emigrants of this nationality who came, through Virginia from Pennsylvania, into North Carolina, many ships filled with Scotch-Irish passengers from the north of Ireland came into Charleston and other southern ports, and the emigrants moving north met those coming south from Pennsylvania and settled with them in North Carolina and other southern States.

Our associate, William Wirt Henry, in speaking of the Scotch-Irish, says: “So great was the population of the race in North Carolina before the Revolution, that they may be said to have given direction to her history. With their advent, began the educational history of the State.”[40]

Dr. David Ramsay, an ardent patriot in Revolutionary times, like the New Hampshire physician, Matthew Thornton, wrote much, as is well known, about the history of South Carolina. He says, as quoted by Henry, in speaking of pre-revolutionary times, that “scarce a ship sailed from any of ‘the ports of Ireland’ for Charleston, that was not crowded with men, women, and children.” He speaks, too, of a thousand emigrants who came in a single year from Pennsylvania and Virginia, driving their horses, cattle and hogs before them and who were assigned places in the western woods of the province. These, says Henry, were Scotch-Irish. They were distinguished by economy and industry, and the portion of the province occupied by them soon became its most populous part.

Ramsay says, that to this element in the population, “South Carolina is indebted for much of its early literature. A great proportion of its physicians, clergymen, lawyers and schoolmasters were from North Britain.”[41]

The early settlers of South Carolina were largely Huguenots; the province seems to have been generously peopled, too, by the Scotch-Irish, a race which was connected by a religious tie to the Huguenots, both being warm Calvinists.

The prosperity of Georgia has been largely owing to Scotch-Irish settlers and their descendants.

The pioneers of Kentucky were mainly from Virginia and North Carolina, and its population is largely Scotch-Irish in its ancestry. The first settlers of Tennessee crossed over the mountains from North Carolina and with subsequent emigrants made that State one of those, a very large portion of whose people are of the same race. Mississippi and Alabama, Florida, Arkansas and Missouri, were settled at first by emigrants from adjacent States and have all of them, naturally, a considerable Scotch-Irish element in their population.

Texas was conquered by a Scotch-Irishman, General Sam Houston,[42] and has many families of Scotch-Irish ancestry within its borders. There are many representatives of this race in other States, such as Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota and California. The race has been prolific and, being of a hardy, brave and adventurous spirit, has gone everywhere throughout the country.

The story of Cherry Valley, a little town in New York that was settled by Scotch-Irishmen in 1741, is very interesting, but I have no time to tell it.[43]

The passage of more than one hundred years since The Scotch-Irish in America by Henry Jones Ford was first published in 1915 has rendered the book no less fascinating and gripping. Written in a thoroughly accessible way, it tells the story of how the hardy breed of men and women, who in America came to be known as the ‘Scotch-Irish’, was forged in the north of Ireland during the seventeenth century. This book is a comprehensive and very informative account of the history of the Scotch-Irish in America.