Title: Annual assemblages as related to the persistence of culture patterns--an anthoropological study of summer community
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00098396/00001
 Material Information
Title: Annual assemblages as related to the persistence of culture patterns--an anthoropological study of summer community
Alternate Title: Summer community
Physical Description: xix, 206 leaves. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Neville, Gwen Kennedy, 1938-
Publication Date: 1971
Copyright Date: 1971
Subject: Community life   ( lcsh )
Social psychology   ( lcsh )
Family -- North Carolina -- Montreat   ( lcsh )
Social life and customs -- Montreat (N.C.)   ( lcsh )
Anthropology thesis Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Anthropology -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis -- University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 196-205.
General Note: Manuscript copy.
General Note: Vita.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00098396
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000558967
oclc - 13429927
notis - ACY4411


This item has the following downloads:

annualassemblage00nevirich ( PDF )

Full Text

Annual Assermblages as Relatcd to the Persistaeice
of Culture Patterns--
an Anthropological Srcuy of a Sumrner Ccitoniunity





Copyright by

Gwen Kennejy Neville



Thanks are due to many who have helped to make this dissertatioL

possible. Funds for the research and writing period were provided by

the Graduate Schocl of the University of Florida in the form of a

research fellowship. Financial assistance in the form of mimeograph

time and spnpies was given by the Mountain Retreat Association, Dr.

C. Grier Davis and the Montreat Board graciously gave permission for

the study to be conducted and were helpful and interested at every

turn. Other officials at Montreat were equally cooperative and donated

time and energy to the research endeavor. These include E. A. Andrews,

K. N. Stutts, William Schwantes, T. A. Stubbs and the staff of the

Montreat Business Office.

Other members of the Montreat community who gave their time and

interest are too numerous to mention all by name. Particularly I wish

to thank those who submitted to lengthy interviews during their vacation

time and all the older residents who patiently recalled genealogies for

hours on end. As my informal sponsors and constant hei;ers the Kenneth

Foreman family were valuable to me h beyond words, as information sources

and as concerned friends. Lila and Dick Ray served to keep alive my

sense of perspective and my sense of humor while becoming close friends

as well. Among the Montreat people to whom I owe a special debt are

the collegiate, P,IGo were always full df fun and quick to keep me on

my toes. Fialdiork was enriched by the presence of rmy children and

husband, each of whom contributed particularly research talent in his

own way. Betsy Anderson and Lee Walker served temporarily as research

assistantLs for interviewing,

During the long process of analysing data and writing up results

I am grateful for the support of M:yra Weaver and Dorothy Ncvill, who

aided in many ways, and for that of Mrs. Lady Jane Turner who faith-

fully kept my house and loved my children,

Professional advice and training are appreciated from the members

of the doctoral committee, Dr. William Carter, Dr. Alexander Moore,

and Dr. Elizabeth Eddy. Carol Taylor saw me through the early stages

of the graduate school endeavor. My greatest debt is to my advisor and

friend, Professor Solon Kimball, whose intellectual guidance and personal

encouragement have consistently facilitated my growth as an anthropolo-

gist and as a human being.


This study reports the results of a summer-long investigation of

an annual gathering of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians in the summer community

and conference center at Montreat, North Carolina. This community of

100 year-round residents, a small church college, a store, and a post

office is a quiet village during the winter months. On Junc first a

steady stream of incoming summer residents begins, and by July every

house is filled with people attending religious conferences, visiting

kinfolks, chatting with friends, relaxing, and resting. Elderly people

who have been brought from small apartments in the city hold court on

porches, young adults work as waitresses and busboys at the conference

dormitories, children attend daily organized recreation and play in

groups along the creek. Men talk church politics, and women shuck

fresh corn and slice tomatoes while discussing their children and

the kin, In late August the outward stream of residents begins to

flow back into the towns and cities of the South, and by September

first all is quiet again.

The existence of such an assembly grounds raises an interesting

set of questions for anthropological inquiry. The focal point is

religious, with the conference buildings located at the geographic

center, This religious center is circled by permanent coctages

belonging to town and urban dwellers who have made an annual

pilgrimage over a seventy year period for vacanioas and for visiting

with family. Questions that have been dealt with during this

investigation pertain to the nature of this gathering as an extra-

residential community and as a ceremonial enactment of cultural

values. As a preface to the report of results, some introductory

remarks are included here regarding the fieldwork itself and the

nature of the method of discovery employed,

I knew of the Montrcat conference center before studying

anthropology. When the time came to select a topic for field

research this particular community came to mind as the ideal locality

to investigate certain problems regarding kinship, cultural persis-

tence, and cultural transmission which I believed to be crucial in

understanding the urbanization process and its accompanying social


The methods employed were those of natural history and of the

community study methodology (Arensberg, 1954). Behavior, groupings,

and attitudes were studied within the context of other behavior amd

attitudes making up the total life of the community. Abstractions

regardii.g structure and world-vie'v were elicited from the fabric of

organizational arrangements witnessed in the living situation. This

method required residence in the community and participation in its

activities throughout the summer season of 1970. Specific techniques

of field observation and recording included participant observation,

counting procedures, event analysis, use of charts and maps, and

historical sources, One of the underlying assumptions of this

approach is that the methods employed and the questions asked have

a decided bearing or, the nature of the results obtained from research.

Man and his communities are a part of the bio-social animal world and

are intricately balanced within the web of life. Because of this,

careful tools must be employed in the study of human groups, disturb'-

ing as little as possible of the natural flow of ongoing community

activity. The first of these tools is participant observation.

Participant Observation

The process of moving into my Montreat cottage became the first

stage in the participant observing. I arrived alone by bus in late

May, carrying with me only one suitcase and a typewriter. In the

nearby town of Black Mountain I was met at the bus station by the

owners of my rented house, giving me my first taste of the Montreat

spirit. They had come all the way from their hone city seventy

miles away to clean the house for my arrival and see that all. was

going smoothly. Unfortunately, the winter freezes had damaged the

hot water pipes, so for two weeks I was without hot water until the

plumbers from Asheville cold work into their schedule a trip over

the mountain. The only heat was obtained from an open fireplace

in which I burned the wood I foraged daily. Older residents told

me later that Montreat is supposed to be a little like "camping."

My early weeks confirmed this.

During the first weeks I also learned the rudimentary elements

of living in an extended kin group. I was told by the owners of the

cottage that they had promised to let their son and his bride use

the first floor of the house for eight weeks of the sunmner. Living

in this arrangement, I learned the art of sharing a house with

kinfolkss," ignoring noise and visitors, being polite to all who

stop by, and having household waffle suppers at the drop of a hat,

Getting acquainted with the officials in the Mountain Retreat

Association provided further orientation for me. Tbe manner and

sequence of my first interviews and the process through which I was

introduced to the year-round community provided insights into informaal


Throughout the summer I attended every activity possible: When

my children arrived, they immediately enrolled in the young people's

clubs, where they made friends and became a part of daily rounds. In

the morning I chatted with those who gathered at the Post Office to

get their mail and with Mr. Hinkle, the village storekeeper. During

the days and evenings there were conferences, kin get-togethers,

collegiate parties and outings, and informal encounters. As a new

member of the hontreat Woman's Club I provided a car and assisted in

the annual tour of homes. As an interested new citizen, I attended

Town Council meetings and helped serve food at the Cottage Owners'

Picnic. In the capacity of visiting scholar, I was incorporated into

the coffee break at the Historical Foundation Library and was invited

as the Association's guest to the fund-raising dinners and the patrons'

banquet. Through participation in all these official and semi-

official regular activities, I gradually gained an eereness of

the patterns of groupings end types of activities making up the

fabric of summer life,

My husband assisted in the research by his knowledge of the

community from his own childhood. His kin-relatedness to one of

the large families made him the perfect introducer, Because his

own childhood friends were present, a treasure house of information

fell to me on group formation, style, sequencing, and frequency of

the friendship visiting process. His aunts end uncles of "the

greater family" were especially tolerant of my interest in history,

culture, and kinship and became some of my most valued informants.

During all these observations and participation I attempted to

refrain from any note-taking until after the event when I could jot

down significant happenings. Later, the details were filled in when

it was possible to sit down at the typewriter.


Some counting and note-taking was necessary in order to produce

concrete descriptions and to establish patterns of behavior. All the

registration cards for the sumner conferences were tabulated. City

of origin was recorded for each participant. Lists of cottage owners

were assembled, houses were counted and described. Guests at dormi-

tories and hotels were tabulated for each conference.

The assembling of demographic data on the population was compli-

cated by the fact that families arrived and departed weekly, making

it difficult to find residents at home to do census interviewing.

Finally, the household data were assembled after an accidental

discovery. I discovered that cottagers had sent cards in during

June to the sanitation chairman on the Town Council requesting

garbage pick-up during the dates of their expected occupancy. With

the help of these cards and the sanitation chairman, who drove me

over the garbage routes, house occupancy pattern was established

for various periods of the summer.

Interviewing was conducted on a sample of the population in

order to establish demographic characteristics. Due to the erratic

pattern of residency, it was not feasible to take a random sampling

for the purposes of extensive interviewing. Instead, a purposive

sampling was drawn from five neighborhoods identified by residents

themselves and by observation of interaction. In each neighbor-

hood six couples were interviewed, two from each of three age

categories. The age categories selected were 20-39, 40-59,

and over 60. Additional stipulations were that all persons inter-

viewed be married, have children, and have attended Montreat for

two or more summers. The interview schedule is included in the

Appendix. Interviewing was all done within a two-week period in

August, the peak population period. In addition to the help of my

husband, I also had the help of two college students who did four

interviews each in order to catch the respondents before the end of

summer. Open-ended questions were asked and additional data were

recorded and later sorted and coded. Every couple selected for the

sample was willing to be interviewed, and all were cooperative and


Interaction Analysis and Event Analysis

The procedure of interaction analysis described by Chapple and

Arensberg (1940) was employed to analyze small group meetings by

charting the duration, frequency, and intensity of interaction

directed toward individuals and initiated by them. Through the use

of this technique, behavioral sequences were isolated and examined

for the implicit meanings and values. This procedure was useful in

isolating the nature of the relationships of teacher to student,

minister to congregation, and family head to the household members.

In event analysis the same principles were applied but to the

structure of action within a total event (Kimball and Pearsall,

1955). The events of the family gathering, the cottage owners

picnic, the morning worship, and informal parties were recorded in

this manner. Different sets of interactions accompany various types

of events, and by asking the questions of "who does what to whom

when and where?" these event types emerge as appropriate behavior

sequences in orderly patterns.

Charts and Maps

Charts and maps served the obvious purpose of visual assistance

in conceptualizing the patterning of space-use and the ordering of

activities within the whole. Maps of settlement pattern were over-

layed with colored pins representing kin groups and periodicity of

house occupancy. Arrangement of houses on ridges and in the valley

was seen as a reflection of behavior and meanings (after Hall, 1966).

Charts recorded the number, frequency, and duration of conferences,

planned activities, and scheduled events over a summer-long period.

In addition to these techniques, the observation and recording of

technology included the changes in house types and construction

methods over a period of time, an index of cultural changes in the

Montreat cove.

Historical Materials

Time depth was added to the synchronic view of the community

by the use of historical materials. Among primary sources was the

history of Presbyterianism in Scotland and America assembled in many

volumes and artifacts in the library of the Presbyterian Historical

Foundation at Montreat. Church records, minutes of the General

Assembly and of Synods and Presbyteries, religious publications,

and conference bulletins were consulted. Montreat history was re-

constructed by reading personal diaries, letters, and looking at

old photographs. Most valuable in reconstructing the past were the

long conversations with older members of the Montreat community.

Each larger family has one informally appointed historian who has in

his possession the records of family genealogy. The historian also

has in his recall dozens of anecdotes told him by his parents and

grandparents about the ancestors who entered from Ireland or Scotland.

Many family histories have been published in private editions and

bought by descendants. These provided additional data. The kinship

conversations with elderly Presbyterians, however, were the essential

ingredients in my own synthesis of past with present, and in developing

an awareness of the dynamics of cultural continuity and cultural


Marginal Native--Anthropologist as Human

One of the most difficult aspects of the study of the people of

Montreat was the constant ambivalence that was experienced about

invading their private world and exposing it to the glaring light

of social inquiry, Their courtesy and hospitality, thle willingness

with which they shared remembrances and meanings, and the sincerity

with which many took me into their private world all made it doubly

hard to subject their lifeways to analysis. At times it was tempting

to relar; and become one of them. At other times T experienced

hostility at having been shut out of some group or event. Even

while he works as a social analyst, the anthropologist remains a

human with feelings and fears.

A fieldworker experiencing such mixed feelings is described

by Freilich (1970) as "marginal native." An anthropologist involved

in such situations is an outsider but an individual ho wants very

much to be "in." From time to time during social gatherings and

in individually shared confidenceas, both the aorkar and the infori--ntn

may take on pretended roles which Freilich designates "temporary

permanent native." In this capacity the two mutually agree temp-

orarily to pretend that the anthropologist is not really going to

write all this down but that he is really one of the people. Within

this bind of being an inside-outsider, wanting to maintain objectivity

as a hard-nosed social scientist but at the same time wanting to be

included in a human society, the anthropologist in the field carries

out his daily work. Notes are made and journals kept, events and

orders of action meticulously recorded, confessionals listened to

uneasily, rejections and setbacks dealt with, maps made, houses

counted, songs and religious services learned. All these activities

are crucial to the field method. Equally important is retaining

one's sense of identity and equilibrium. On the second point the

fieldwork manuals offer few suggestions. It remains for each

fieldworker to play the role of stranger and friend in his own way

with his own configuration of personal strengths and weaknesses.

After the return to academia, one experiences a long period of

recovery, re-incorporation into the scholarly community, and

separation from the emotional involvement of the fieldwork

experience. It is only then that the work of science can proceed,

although the science of anthropology will hopefully always be

modified by the intensity of involvement required by the art of

the field.

The study reported here represents an attempt to answer some

questions about the nature of human society and its validation in

religious and communal life. Many more questions remain to be

asked regarding the manifestations of community, the linkages


between public and private worlds, and the ceremonial expressions

of world-view. These questions are left for future studies in future





ACIKNLEDGEENTS . . . . . . . .. iii

PREFACE . . . . . . . . . . . . . v

I.IST OF TABLES . . . . . . . . . . . xvi

LIST OF FIGURES . . . . . . . . . . xvii

AESTRACT . . . . . . . . . xviii

INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . ...... .



2. THE MONTREAT COCMMNITY ................. 33

3. FAMIIIlY AND KTN .................. ... 66

4. RELIGION AND WORLD-VIEW... ............ ... .110


ANTD SUll . . . . . .

APPEL VY . . . . . . . .





Table Page

I. PRESB-YTERIAN CCYIMRNITY FORM 1790-1890 . . . .. 30







THE LIFE CYCLE ................ 142









COLONIES 1710-1790 . . . . . . .

II. THE MONTREAT COVE . . . . . . . .

MONTREAT, JUNE-AUGUST 1970 . . . . .



VI. THE GREATER FAMILY . . . . . . .


DESCENT GROUP #1 . . . . . . .


DESCENT GROUPS #2, #3, and #4 . . . .

GROUPS #5, #6, and #7 . . . . . .

DESCENT GROUPS #5, #6, and #7 . . . .






. 13

. 39

. . 46

. 73

. 74

. 76

. 88

. 89

. 91

. 92

. 93

. . 94

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Gwen Kennedy Neville

December, 1971

Chairman: Professor Solon Kimball
Major Department: Anthropology

A summer community of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians in North

Carolina is investigated by the natural history method as an

annual manifestation of community form and expression of cultural

identity among otherwise widely scattered urban residents.

Familial, religious, and socialization structures are shown to

be closely linked and these linkages expressed ceremonially in

the interactions of community participants.

Over a seventy year period this gathering has served to

facilitate the retention of certain essential elements of Pres-

byterian community form from the agrarian life style and has

served to facilitate the persistence of this culture as a viable

entity. Elements of kinship and family coupled with emphasis

on church and the Calvinistic world-view are strengthened by the

annual assemblage, and within the summer community socialization

structures are provided for the enculturation of the young.


Through this gathering a network has developed among a group of

widely scattered nuclear families who are tied together by kin-

ship, friendship, and shared lifeways.

The findings of this research indicate the need for expanded

models for the study of personal communities and ceremonial life in

American society. Rites of intensif-iration are seen as an important

element in the dynamics of cuLtural persistence among cultural sub-

segments of the urban population.


The transition from an agrarian economy to an urban, industrial

one in the American South has been accompanied by a transition from

older forms of community to those compatible with city l;fe, In the

South's historical rural system, each sub-cultural group retained

classic patterns of settlement, technology, and social separation

characteristic of its Old World predecessor. In the transition to

the new life styles required of commercial industrial, economy, each

of these cultural groups has maintained certain elements of its own

culture, expressed in various ways within the new eavironmenr,

The problem examined here regards the -nature of the dynamics for

re-establishing and maintaining this cultural identity. More

specifically, it deals with cultural persistence amnr.g groups of

town and urban dwellers who are widely dispersed and have beun

assumed to be assimilated into general American core culture. Cne

vehicle for carrying the culture of such a scattered coriucrity is

the ceremonial, in which members of the culture gar.her periodically

and ritually reinforce their world-view, ceremonially re-stating

those values that are central to the ongoing of their cultural

identity. This type of communal ritual is called a rite of

intensification by CIhapple and Coon (1942). Such a concaunal

ritual served as a laboratory in this study, within which the

dynamics of cultural persistence were explored.

The summer community at Montreat, North Carolina, serves as a

communal gathering for Southern Presbyterians of Scotch-Irish descent.

Montreat provides a locale for three different types of activates,

reflecting the three central emphases of the Presbyterian community

form--family, religious ritual and doctrine, and socialization of

the young. First, it serves as a location for a summer cottage

community where families spend vacations visiting with kinsmen and

attending reunions of the larger family. Second, it offers a meet-

ing place for religious conferences and meetings where active church

members from throughout the South come for spiritual renewal. Third,

it offers planned activities for children of both vacationers and

conferees. The planned programs are carried out in ways that reflect

family and church values and transmit to the young the essentials

of Presbyterianisem.

The individuals who participate in these gatherings live in

towns and cities during the winter months in nuclear family units.

Their public world behaviors are appropriate to the requirements of

a highly elaborated, diversified urban society. Separate cultural

identity is subordinated to the diversified aggregate of the urban

culture. The separateness of the group as a sub-culture appears

annually, however, when the scattered families gather within the

boundaries of the Montreat community. At this time the interactions,

ordering ef individuals and events, and specific cultural practices

represent the essential elements of Presbyterian community form

typical of older, agrarian patterns.

The basic question asked in the Montreat study dealt with the

dynamics of re-establishment and maintenance of culture and its

appropriate community form in the face of disturbances in economic

base and scttlemecnt pattern. Data from the study indicate that one

significant mechanism for the preservation and persistence of culture

is the periodical restatement of the essential community forms in a

rite of intensification. Such a rite provides a locale for the

ceremonial enactment of world-view and human groupings and thus

facilitates the retention of a cultural identity among, individuals

of dispersed residence. The gathering serves also to establish and

maintain a network of kinship, friendship, and shared lifeways among

scattered families. In addition, it provides for the selection of

appropriate marriage partners and for the socialization of the young

in the Presbyterian way of life.

The argument for the ceremonial function of this sumtne;. conr.uuity

is presented in five sections. First, historical data are introduced

to provide a picture of the agrarian community form of Piedmout

Presbyterians between 1790 and 1890. The classical community is

defined as co-terminous with the congregation, linked to other

community-congregations by exchange of marriage partners. Second,

present day hontreat is described including its physical and social

components. The two worlds of cottage people and conference attenders

are examined as representing the dual emphasis on family and church.

Third, family gatherlrgs and the structure of family and kin are

described in detail as evidence for the centrality of this aspect of

life. Fourth, the significant emphasis placed on religion is shown

tu be linked to the focus on the family in the participation

selectively by men and women in both these structures as dictated by

theological doctrine and sacred mythology. Participation is further

dictaLed by age and by -tatus, and the correct orde-ring is communicated

to the young in appropriate interaction sequences. Finally, the topic

of socialization is presented in order to demonstrate that world-view

and community form are transmitted to the young through the associa-

tions and activities at Montreat. This transmission and the recruit-

ment of marriage partners for the next generation facilitates the

separate continuity of this culture even though its members live

much of the year as scattered units.

Full understanding of the phenomenon of Montreat depends on

integration and a composite perception of the five foci described

in the previous paragraph. This study has the goal of describing

the aspects of community and their linkages in such a way that this

understanding is made explicit.



Montreat as a locus of religious conference activity was

acquired by the. Southern Presbyterians in 1907, but long before

this date there were gatherings of Presbyterian families in The

summer. A long-standing custom of "hoaeconings" in rural churches

across the Piedmont South set the stage for the name type of gathler-

ing to occur among those who as the region industrialized, separated

over a wide space and adopted urban life styles.

During the American colonial period and throughout the nineteenr.h

century, the community among Presbyterians -was roughly co-terainous

with the coagrogation. The full round of activities necessary to

comprise a total community were present : All essenr.tial elementP,

including economic and jural, were handled within the bounded

Presbyterian congregation. Links to other congregations were forged

in joint meetings, kin visiting, and exchange of marriage partners,

The forr of expression of these elements was altered by the intro-

duction of industry and the increase of commercialism around 1890

(Cash, 1941).

The following paragraphs briefly describe agrarian community

form as it existed among Piedmont Presbyterians between the years

1790-1890, against the background of the migration from Scotland

and Northern Ireland and the settlement in the colonies. This

description and the tracing of migrations are necessary antecedents

for the understanding of the present day com'rinity,

The Scotch-Irith as a Cultural E.ntity

Any discussion of southern Presbyterians mast begin with the

nature and role of the Scotch-Irish. This label was coined in the

American colonies to denote certain Scotsmen who had migrated from

their homeland in 1610 to the Ulster Plantation in Northern Ireland,

and who subsequently moved to the American colonies between 1710

and 1790 (Leyburn 1962). The settlers in Ireland were known simply

as Scots. At first in America they were called Ulster Scots or

Ulstermen and later, Scotch-Irish.

It is important to establish at this point that the Scotch-

Itish considered themselves a special people, different and set

apart by history and religion, first from their Irish hosts, and

then from the English colonists. They did not mix freely with

either group and held a strong sense of thair own peoplehood,

defined by Cordon (1964) as a prime ingredient in the maintenance

of ethnicity.

A Sense of Peoplehood

The glories of this separate entity were proclaimed by a

special society. Three consecutive meetings were held in 1889-

1890 of The Scotch-Irish Society of America, composed of descendants

of the original immigrants. The sense of peoplehood shared by these

descendants is clear in their accolades to one another and their

enumeration of the accomplishments of illustrous members (Scotch-

Irish Society of America, 1889). The separateness of the Scots

from their Irish neighbors during the years of the Ulster Plantation

further demonstrates their awareness of themselves as a group set

apart. Leyburn (1962) points out that little, if any, intermarriage

with the Celtic Irish occurred during the one hundred years of

Scottish colonization of Northern Ireland, The fact that the Scots

were devout Presbyterians and the Irish were Catholics reinforced

the ethnic identity of both groups. (Leyburn 1962). In the colonies

the Ulster Scots found themselves in the presence of an English

aristocracy dominated by Anglicans and of laws militating against

free practice of their dissenting religion. During the early colonial

period in North Carolina, for instance, no marriage was legal unless

celebrated by an Anglican clergyman (Binlzley, 1944). Under the stress

of such measures, when Presbyterian congregations were formed, they

were extremely cohesive and separate.

The entire migration to the America' continent has been described

by Scotch-Irish historians as havir been religiously motivated.

There were strong economic motives cs well, but the shared sense of

peoplehood was augmented by the desire to escape from alternate

persecutions by both Anglicans and Catholics, Regarding the feelings

of the colonists about their exit from North Ireland, Dickson (1966)

states the following: "To the emigrants the wilderness became an

ocean and Moses an Ulster Scot" (p. 12),

Present-day Presbyterians in Montreat, who claim descent from

this great migration, describe themselves as coming from Scottish

ancestry and ignore completely the Irish hundred years. Others

whose ancestor entered later from Ireland give their background

as Irish, qualified by the name of the county or town in Northern

Ireland to distinguish themselves from the Catholic Irish. Still

others identify historically with the early entering ancestor himself

and with his trials in America as a member of a dissenting religious


The descendants of the original entering group are now the core

of the Southern Presbyterian Church. Their unity is obvious and

tightly knit, and they see themselves as a separate entity from other

Presbyterians of other regions. The official name of the Southern

regional church is the Presbyterian Church in the United States, but

it covers an area of only fourteen states in the South. Montreat

Presbyterians refer to the Presbyterians in all other regions as

members of "the Northern church." In tracing the migration into

the colonies and looking at the distribution of Presbyterian churches

and villages, this feeling of being a part of a circumscribed group

will be further understood.

Miigration and Distribution of Presbyterians in the Colonies

The original migration of Iowlafnd Scots was to Northern Ireland

between 1608 and 1620 at the instigation of the English King, James I,

himself a Scot. In order to control the warring Celtic tribes)he had

confiscated large land holdings and given these to English noblemen

who then turned them into baronies and invited settlement. According

to Hill (1877) five counties in Northern Ireland--those of Armagh,

Tyrone, Donegal, Fermanagh, and Cavan--were settled almost entirely

by Lowland Scots. By 1715 the population of Northern Ireland,

known as Ulster Plantation, is estimated to have included about

200,000 Presbyterians, Lowland Scots (Dickson, 1966). The villagers

went to the Ulster Plantation in groups of families, sometimes

accompanied by their pastor, and built farms on the same pattern

they had known in Scotland. A neighborhood of farmsteads would be

connected to the central two or three village houses by country lanes

and at the heart of the village Leighborhood was the Presbyterian

church or Kirk, which appeared with the earliest dwellings (Bolton,


After one hundred years of relative success in the Ulster

Plantation, the Scots began a general exodus to America. This was

brought about economically by the enforcement of "rac!;-rcnting."

absentee landlordism, in an attempt by the English nobles to squeeze

greater profits and by the passing of Navigation Acts by Parliament

to quell trade. In addition, religious pressures had been added to

the economic ones. Political harrassment was increasingly felt by

the Presbyterians, whose growing strength provoked the wrath of the

Established Church (Leyburn, 1962).

Movement into the American colonies began ir 1710 by groups of

families in a similar pattern to the Northerr Ireland migration,

accompanied often by the parish minister (Revill 1968). Settlements

were established beyond the cities of debarkation--Philadelphia,

Boston, and New Castle, Pennsylvania, and in the South at New Bern,

Charleston, and Savannah, The only migrants 7ho stayed in cities

were those who had individually indentured themselves to serve town

families0 Thase were mainly single men (Dickson 1965). The others

moved along in the congregational groups into the Susquehanna Valley

first, and later through the Shanandoah Valley and into the Carolina

Piedmont. Where the trail began in Pennsylvania, settlements, farms,

and churches bear the place-names of the Irish places of origin--

Octarara, Donegal, Pequa, Derry, and Paxtang. Congregations in the

Shenandoah Valley also are named for places, but more often local

landmarks and Biblical locales than for places in Ireland and

Scotland. The earliest meeting ho-se in Virginia is the Augusta

Stone Church, followed by Fork-of-the-James Meeting House, Tinkling

Spring Church, Mossy Creel. Church and the Biblically-.inFpired Bethel,

tMt. Carmel, Mt. Zion, and 1New Providence.

All of these early Virginia churches were situated in the open

countryside surrounded by the graveyard fur the congregation, spatially

uniting the living and dead. Each sat at the center of a neighborhood

of individual farms owned individually and operated with seasonal co-

operative effort with one's neighbors and kin. The local congregation

was bounded by the area gathering each Sunday for worship services

and for ceremonials such as communion, baptism, and periodic weddings

and funerals.

The influx of settlers from Northern Ireland and the rapid

movement of colonists from early settlements into the frontier

country of the Piedmont caused the population of Scotch-Irish on the

Piedmont to swell. In 1775 Leyburn places the numbers in the vicinity

of 100,000 (1962, p. 213). Secondary migrations were directed at

East Tennessee, North Alabama and North Georgia (a part of the

Piedmont) and at the grassy cattle country of North Florida and East

Texas. The same pattern was followed as earlier, with the church

names in these locales reflecting the names of the home church of

the settlement group of families. A Stone Church is found in

Oconee County, South Carolina, composed of descendants of members

of the Augusta County, Virginia, original. Nearby is a Mt. Carmel

Church named for a mother church also in Augusta County (Brackett,

1905). Families from the churches at Rocky River and Sugar Creek in

Neckletberg County, North Carolina, migrated in the. "beehiving" pattern

into North Alabama and founded churches there, as well as into East

Texas. This pattern of branching out by family clusters is discussed

at length by Owsley (1949) and given extensive documentation in use

of land tract deeds, grants, and county records.

The migration pattern of beehiving is one in which related

younger nuclear families of a community move out in groups to form

a daughter community--in this case a daughter congregation. Presby-

terian communities divided in this fashion in a pattern congruent

with the Celtic "stem family" tradition, In the European stem family

tradition, one offspring remains with the family land and the others

all marry into trades, into ownership of other farms, or "travel."

Those who traditionally travel go into tile priesthood or to the USA.

The American version of this, as expressed in evidence from colonial

Presbyterian history, is the movement out into unsettled frontier

areas by clusters of married siblings and cousins to establish new

Presbyterian communities.

Binkley (1944) suggests that areas chosen for settlement were

closely related to traditional farming concepts and methods of

cultivation. He describes farming techniques as connected with

political proclivities of the Scotch-irish in the following way:

As expert woodsmen these migrants judged soil by the type
of timber it bore. They accordingly shunned the prairies
of the old Northwest on the erroneous assumption that they
were undesirable as the Southern pine barrens. In any case
their primitive plows could not have broken the stubborn
turf, and thus nature determined a northern boundary of
Jacksonian Democracy so decisively thae: "in illinois a map

of party groupings looks like a map of the original forest
and prairie areas with the glacial lobe extending from Iake
Michigan clearly visible."
(Binkley 1944, p. 122)

In the South such a distribution map made for Presbyterian congre-

gations would show similar distribution according to soil and farming

methods. It would show heavy settlement in the present states of

Virginia (the Valley and foothills), North and South Carolina

(Piedmont areas), Tennessee except for the mountains, and North

Georgia. The South Georgia swampy country was bypassed for the

North Florida ridge, where farming was good and cattle thrived.

Scattered dots would appear in the areas of North Alabama and East

Texas. The first six states above continue to be strongly Presby-

terian and contribute a majority of the members of the present day

summer community at Montreat.

An accompanying map, Figure I, gives a representation of the

Southern region with migration destinations indicated.

Presbyterian Commurities in the Piedmont Region

The pattern of migration and settlement of Presbyterian Scotch-

Irish through the Virginia Valley and on the Piedmont grew out of

Anglo-Saxon and Celtic cultural antecedents. Kimball and Arensberg

(1.965) note a one-to-one correspondence between a culture and its

accompanying coramunity form, According to this assumption, the

retention of these two aspects of a society go hand in hand.

Retention of cormnunity form, then, or of its essential ingredients

is an integral part of the passing on of cultural tradition. This

line of reasoning leads to the necessity for a discussion of both

culture and of community among the early Scotch-Irish colonists.


To Susc~uehanna
Valley 1710-1720
,//k'E 2Z
SHsqueYwln n
1720- 1740
i-/4o- 17SO

figure I
Prc^byfsritn M isf itn
to hti An;erisric5 C olon'cs [7i0-;[790

The agrarian life pattern brought from Lowland Scotland to

Northern Ireland and to the colonies is seen here as a prototypical

form against which the current version of community and cultural

expression will be examined. Economy, political arrangements, family,

religion, education, and links to the outside are the elements of

community organization which will be treated as a background to that

which follows in the summer community of Montreat. Because it lies at

the basis of the farming life, the economy will be discussed initially.

Economy and Settlement Pattern

The economy and settlement pattern of Lowland Scotland in the

seventeenth century are associated with the culture area of Europe

described by Arensberg and Kimball (1965) as Atlantic Fringe.

Elements of a second culture area, that of People of the Plains,

are also present. The Celtic, Atlantic Fringe heritage is seen in

a number of cultural practices. A large number of practices and

types of groupings among the Lowland Scots are also typical of the

adjoining culture area of the English Midlands and East Anglia,

associated with the People of the Plains. The mixture of these

two traditions among the early Scottish Presbyterians is significant

because the two traditions persist in the contemporary community

of Presbyterians at Montreat 360 years later.

Celtic tradition, as described by Arensberg, includes a settle-

ment pattern of scattered, dispersed farms based on single family

agriculture. Social organization is based on nuclear families tied

together in a bilateral kinship pattern in which descent is traced

through a lineage system. All descendants of an apical ancestor

share a common loyalty. Politically, the family alliances are knit

together into a tribal hegemony. The Irish tribes and the Highland

Scot clans were known by the English in the Seventeenth Century as

the "wilde Irish" and the '"barbaric Scots" (McLeod 1967). Religion

and magic in this culture includes the sanctification of old age,

fairy and witch cults, and a magic connected to rural places of

worship, a "sacred grove."

In contrast to the Celtic tradition, East Anglia and the English

Midlands have a distinctly different tradition, which is also seen in

Lowland Scotland--that of the People of the Plains. In this pattern

one finds repeated villages in which co-operation is practiced in

regard to agriculture and husbandry and the villagers share political

control as a community of equals. For Thirteenth Century England,

Homans (1960) describes these villagers as open field farmers. The

two patterns of agriculture of the Plains and the Atlantic Fringe

traditions are called champion--open fields and compact villages--

and woodlands--dispersed settlement and closed fields. In addition

to central England and Lowland Scotland, the champion pattern is

found in the Germanic-Saxon areas of the North European Plains to

the Urals (Champagne, Picardy, Flanders, Denmark, Southern Sweden).

Woodlands, closed-fields patterns are associated with Normandy,

Brittany, Cornwall, the Irish uplands, Devonshire, and Essex.

In Scotland the Highland families of pure Celtic stock and the

Lowland villagers were tied together by kinship alliances and polit-

ical treaties in an arrangement of promised allegiance for defense

and economic purposes. These networks and alliances extended outward

to the towns on the coast and into the neighboring English country-

side. The links were activated for purposes of assistance in

emigration into Ireland and the colonies, as groups of interrelated

families moved together with the assistance of friends and family

near the coast or in port towns.

During the centuries immediately preceding migration, the

Celtic and Saxon mixture of the Scottish Lowlands was overlaid by

English feudalism. English nobles owned vast amounts of lands

which was divided up into tenancies. Local gentry, the Lairds, had

the responsibility of managing the tenancies and supervising the

actual farming operations of the tenants. Deeply engrained small

farmers, the "kindly tenants," had lived on the same ancestral lands

for generations and were interrelated with one another and with the

Lairds. Exchange of services and a proportion of the crop were

given as "rent" on the land.

Those too poor to own the necessary farming equipment and

animals became joint tenants, sharing oxen and a plow. Sometimes

the household was also shared, and a third class of tenants, those

known as sub-tenants, might live in the house as hired laborers to

one of the above classes. The sub-tenants were also known as cotters

or laborers and received a house or room and a garden in return for

farm work.

Leyburn (1962) suggests that it was the kindly tenants who made

up the bulk of the migration to Ulster and later to the colonies.

These were hardest hit by the system of rack-renting discussed in

relation to the history of the migration. The kindly tenants were

reluctant, according to this source, to lower themselves to becoming

joint tenants or laborers but at the same time could not pay enforced

set rents on the land. Their tradition of landholding was that of

inheritance from father to son, with a high value on careful husbandry.

This tradition fits with data on land-holding and on values relating

to the land that are reported from colonial history of the Scotch-

Irish people (Bolton, 1910; Dickson, 1966).

The pattern of settlement in the Lowlands had included tenant

houses being built near one another in villages with the land of

each farmer separated from that of others by strips of common land.

This settlement pattern was altered by the move to the colonies,

because each farmer was now given an allocation of acreage for his

own family. Houses were built on this acreage, but families who had

traditionally shared common land and who also shared kinship and

congregational ties arranged farms in a congregational cluster

about the central focus of the Presbyterian church. At this stage

the kindly tenants themselves became the owners of farms. In the

tradition of handing down ancestral homesteads, the now individually

owned farms were handed from father to son.

Evidence from interviews with older residents of Montreat and

from historical sources suggests that in the first generation of

emigration the farm was shared with grown sons, who took over parts

of the farm as their own land after the death of the father. In

later generations this was not practical due to the size of land-

holdings. This second generation coincides with the beginning of

the Presbyterian migrations out onto the unsettled Piedmont regions.

Sons who did not inherit the family farm moved with their families

and related families to take over new land on the Carolina frontier.

In this way two traditions were preserved--that of the inheritance

of ancestral lands and that of the cluster of families in a Presbyterian


Lowland areas of Scotland .ere heavily Presbyterian, with two-

thirds of tile early reform ministers coming frota Lowland counties

(Kewiston 1913). The village. and champion pattern was congruent

with church doctrine of closed congregation; coterminous with neigh-

borhood and covenant. Congregation on the Picdsiont w-as coteriainous

with the economic community and provided in the 'period 1790-1S90

many of the political and social controls as well.

Political and Social Control

Presbyterian church governmental polity grows out of the tradition

of John Knox and the early Scottish reform movement, which centered in

the Lowlands. In order to break away completely from Romnn Catholicism,

the church government on which the Reformers insisted included cong-'e-

gational self-direction, with an election of Elders to represent the

membership in a congregational council known as the Session. The Kirk

Session was presided over by the parish minister, who was know. as a

Teaching Elder and was considered no better or higher in ran.: than

the other Elders, called Ruling Elders. All members of the congre-

gation shared jointly in the possession of the Covenant given to them

by God and in the "priesthood of believers" in which all shared the

task equally of ministering to one another. The individual congre-

gations were linked together by the Presbytery, an organization

composed of one Elder and che pastor of cach congregation in a wider

geographical area. Presbyteries were supervised by the highest church

court, the General Assembly. The General Assem:bly of the Presbyterian

Church in the South is made up of fourteen Synods, corresponding to

the Southern states.

This governmental form is actua''ly a set of courts ascending in

authority from the discipline of the local congregation to the pro-

nouncements of the General Assembly. Members of a church in the

early colonial period were subject to discipline by the Session for

social infractions, and members could bring suit against one another

for grievances. Because the official judiciary system in the late

Eighteenth Century was controlled by royal appointees in English

crown towns, the congregational court system served efficiently to

provide community control. Presbyterian congregations preferred to

discipline their own flock.

Moral or spiritual offenses, as defined by the church, were not

necessarily the legal offenses. In case of serious crime, the

session would presumably turn over the offender to a civil court,

Early records of the Sugar Creek and Rocky River Churches in North

Carolina list disciplinary action against members for attempted

stealing, drunkenness, adultery, and for violation of the Sabbath,.

The acceptable punishment was temporary e:,clusioa froia communion or

permanent removal from church office. Confession and willingness to

reform were considered signs that the offender was properly repentant,

Gradually as the Piedmont became more densely populated and

the county seat towns began to take over local jural matters, the

congregational discipline was diminished in importance. The church

session has continued to be important, however, in matters of

personal conduct and family behavior. Members of a congregation

can be reprimanded or asked to resign from church office or from

the pastorate if the Session finds them guilty of offensive behavior0

Family Organization of the Scotch-Irish

The Biblical world view at the heart of the Reformed tradition

places the family within an ordered universe of which God is the

Father. Family fits into a predictable cycle of events in which the

natural world is cared for by man and conserved for his children.

Regularity of recurrent yearly seasons and agricultural events is at

the base of the seasonal cycle of the activities of farm life. In

comparing the world view of the Scots to the Hebrews of Old Testament

times, Leyburn gives this description:

o . The veracity of the Bible was attested by its izJe-adiate
applicability to life. The Hebrews of the Old Testament had
been much like the Scots in their constant warfare, their pride,
their precarious life in a poor country with dangerous neigh-
bors, their struggle against idolatry (for "Baal" read "popery").
The very images of the Scriptures applied as much to Scotland
as to Palestine: the shepherds, flowers of the field, mighty
fortresses, the woman who had lost a coin, Scots were no more
seafarers than the Hebrews; yet they fished, as did the men of
Calilee, and they knew the danger of sudden squalls blowing
down on their lochs,
(Leyburn 1961, p. 75)

Old Testament family imagery fits equally well with the Lowland

Scot culture. In this Biblical ideal type, the father is head of the

house, the ideal is to have many sons, the barren woman is pitied,

daughters are considered a comfort to their mother, and a man's sons

adopt the family trade or take over the land and flocks, with eldest

having preference. A man's father and mother are to be honored and

cared for in old age.

The nuclear family unit among the Scotch-Irish was augmented in

the extension of kinship ties outward through both the mother's and

father's line in a bilateral kindred. The domestic unit might consist

of the married couple, the parents of husband or wife, and the unmarried

children. Important in the family structure of the Highland Scots

and Celtic Irish was the lineage, or clann--a Gaelic word meaning

"children of"--in which descent is reckoned by a group of persons

having a common ancestor. Fox (1967) points out that whereas the

Celts were organized on the ancestor-focused descent group principle,

the Teutonic and Saxon peoples were organized along the ego-focused

"sib" or kindred.

Lowland Scot culture is a blend of two basic European traditions.

Both Celtic and Anglo-Saxon traits appear in the kin and family of

the Lowlanders in the cultural matrix which we have called Scotch-

Irish and Presbyterian. Forms of the family and the two important

organizational threads become visible in the types of church meetings

and gatherings hcld in the eighteenth and nineteenth century Piedmont

Presbyterian churches, emphasizing the ego-focused kindred and honoring

past ancestors at the head of extensive descent groups.

Family as the household of God was extended to include the

congregation of related families who often had migrated together.

Due to the migration pattern of branching off by a group of nuclear

families to travel to new territory, the family of God reached over

the South and into East Texas. Reunions of those living within

driving or riding distance and the summer kin visits kept scattered

congregations in touch and offered possible Presbyterian mate choices

for young people in isolated regions. All the families within the

Presbyterian greater family were united by their view of the world

based on their Calvinistic heritage. Church and religious observances

gave meanings to the daily lives of the Scotch-Irish community.

Religion--the Tradition of the Covenanters

One of the revered traditions often mentioned in the older

church histories is that of the Covenanters, a word used for groups

of Scottish Reformers during the days of John Knox. These Reformers

placed heavy emphasis on written documents, creeds, doctrines, and

instruments of worship. Within the first ten years of the Presbyterian

movement in Scotland five of these documents had been added to John

Calvin's original Institutes of the Christian Religion. Together

these six writings formed the credal architecture of the emerging

church. They include the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Book

of Discipline, the Book of Common Order, the Acts of the General

Assemblies, and the Acts of Parliament.

In order to assure the loyalty of supporters,the reform groups

adopted an old Scottish custom of making "bands" to seal allegiance.

Hewiston, the historian of the Covenanters, describes these as solemn

religious compacts to support a common goal (Hewiston, 1913). In

this case the covenants or bands were signed by groups of nobles,

groups of reformist priests, or other followers who promised to be

loyal to the credal statements. Those having signed one of these

agreements were known as Covenanters, and later the entire dissenting

group became known by this term. Meetings for the purpose of signing

the bands were held in the forest--in the tradition of the "sacred

grove"--and secrecy was maintained for protection from the authorities.

Admission was gained only by presenting an identifying token to show

that the possessor was one of the inner group. This token continued

to be used in the form of a communion token in Presbyterian congre-

gations until late in the nineteenth century as a sign that the holder

had passed an examination given by the Session on theology and

belief. At Montreat a similar practice persisted until a few years

ago in the form of presentation of gate tickets by cottage owners

and conference people as a sign that they belonged inside the


In the Covenanter tradition two important themes are welded--

that of the people of God as recipients of the Covenant of Grace given

by Him and that of the centrality of credal statements and set doc-

trines, The emphasis on doctrinal pronouncements necessitates in

turn the education of the Elders and ministers for proper interpre-

tation and of all the congregational members in order to read and

understand the Bible and Catechism. The congregation is the repository

of the Covenant, standing in a relationship of coraunity with all

other Presbyterian congregations and in a historical. tradi, lion in

which many saints have gone before in the ancestral path. Family

stands with congregation and community as of primary significance in

receiving and passing on the Covenant of Grace.


The structuring of the church's educational enterprise is

linked to the structure of the church government, The local pulpit

was the primary focal point of religious indoctrination in early

congregations, with tile Bible as textbook and the minister as the

instrument of revelation. The emphasis on individual Bible reading

as a means of receiving the Holy Spirit made it necessary from the

earliest days to provide a congregational school to supplement

Sunday morning preaching services. The minister taught youngsters

to read and to recite. the Westminster Catechism, which contains

the interpretations of Scripture and of the tenets of Calvinism.

In order to become ordained and thereby qualified to teach the

young and to administer the sacraments, the minister had to attend

theological seminary so that he himself would be well versed in the

right interpretations of scripture and doctrine. This emphasis on

education of the clergy is cited by many historians as a primary

cause of the breaking away of many congregations into the more

revivalistic religions of the frontier during the period of the

Great Awakening of 1740 and the later revival period of the 1780's.

The preaching of the Methodists and Baptists attracted many as the

frontier expanded, and the Presbyterian seminaries could not keep up

with the demand for educated pastors (Binkley 1944, Sweet 1950).

A quote from Leyturn expresses the gradual drain and the resulting


Before the arrival of the Scotch-Irish, Presbyterianism in
America had naturally reflected the usages of its predominantly
English congregations. By 1789, however, a majority of people
in the church had a background of Ulster and Scottish Presby-
terianism. As the Baptist and Methodist churches increasingly
drew away those who set little store by tradition, the
Presbyterian Church came to reflect the strict practices
of true-blue Calvinism.
(1962, p. 287)

These "true-blue Calvinists" established academies throughout

the South to train young men for the ministry and for law and

medicine. The model for all subsequent Presbyterian schools was

the first one established, the Log College at Princeton in 1746.

This was followed by the founding of Hampden-Sydney in 1776 by the

Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont Presbyterians. Others followed--

Timber Ridge Academy, later Washington & Lee University; the Log

College of North Carolina which later became Davidson College;

and Liberty Hall in Charlotte which was to be Queens College of

North Carolina. Candidates for the ministry were sent on to the

seminary at Princeton or to Edinburgh if funds permitted,

Examination of church histories reveals that the educational

requirements for ministers and the high esteem given to Elders as

the interpreters of the faith runs continuously through the official

documents, At the turn of the twentieth century the Southerq Presby-

terian Church remained intact, consistent and moderate, peopled with

descendants of the original settlers, pastored by men educated at

Princeton and the newer Southern seminaries. The list of names of

pastors of the churches of the Mecklenburg Presbytery in North

Carolina during the first 150 years of habitation reflects a

continuous pattern of interrelated families whose ancestors are

buried in one of the graveyards, whose sons would grow up to pastor

one of the neighboring churches, and whose daughters would marry each

others' sons to continue the tradition of stalwart Calvinism (Spence

1954; McGeachy 1954; Sommerville 1939), The linkages these congre-

gations had were expressed interacticnally in joint meetings and


Joint M1eetins, Church Homecomings, and KiniGa thvrin's

The local rural Presbycerian church of the Eighteenth and

Nineteenth Centuries was the weekly gathering place for the people

of scattered farmsteads and crossroads villages to worship and

exchange news. Meetings lasted all day and included preaching,

dinner on the grounds, singing and praying under the trees, chatting,

and playing of children, Churches without a pastor might meet with

other neighboring congregations or share a traveling pastor who would

spend two Sundays a month at each congregation. During the absence

of a pastor, church affairs and congregational discipline were handled

by the Elders, who also could conduct Sunday services and preach

although they were not permitted to administer the Sacraments or to

perform marriages.

Joint meetings between two or more congregations were coma.only

held in the spring or fall to hold the celebration of the Lord's

Supper. if a congregation had no pastor it joined with a neighboring

group. This bi-yearly ceremonial lasted for three or four days and

included an examination of each ooi-r=anicant by the Session on his

belief and commitment. Tokens were administered to those wiro had

successfully passed the inquiry, and the tokens were turned in upon

receiving the sacrament. Other activities accompanying the celebra-.

tion were fasting on the day before communion, visiting with others,

and a dinner in the grove after the worship service. Leybur. gives

this description of holy communion in the Eighteenth Century

Presbyterian churches.

Where congregations were without a pastor, Presbyterians
frequently traveled many miles to participate; these visita-
tions, though they strained the hospitality of the settlers,
were generally welcome since they brought news from afar and
renewed old acquaintance. When the congregation was too
large to be accommodated in the church building, the preaching
might take place in the open air. The bread and wine were
placed upon long tables, which sometimes extended dow, the
aisles from pulpit to door. To these tables were admitted
none who had not previously received tokens from the Session,
as evidence of their right to commune.
(Leyburn 1962, p. 245)

Through the years, this tradition of gathering for biennial

coEmunion grew into a custom of having all the "sons and daughters

of the congregation" come back for the coimnunion service hcld in iay.

In some churches this was known as "congregational homecoming" and

later as the "church homecoming." At this time all those who had

been born into and brought up in the congregation returned with

their husbands or wives and families to visit relatives, parents,

and friends. Older people who were from afar but whose parents and

ancestors were buried in the church graveyard would also make the

pilgrimage and visit the remaining kin. In many churches a day of

joint effort at cleaning the graveyard preceded the day of the meet-

ing, and during the preaching and praying the deceased ancestors

were mentioned and honored. The same type of gathering has been

studied in the Appalachian Highlands by Simpkins (n. d.) for a

Pentecostal Holiness community of Scotch-Irish ancestry. In this

community the gathering is known as a "graveyard reunion." The

past honored dead who are heads of families are given the place of

honor in the graveyard, Spatially this is expressed in the grave--

yard by burying the family head and his wife xritb all their child:re;.

stretched out at their feet,

The timing of these ceremonials was closely connected to the

agricultural cycle. Three different times have been noted for the

annual homecoming gathering among the Piedmont Presbyterians. Onre

time is early May "after the roads are passable." Another is August

"after the crops are laid by" (planting is corpleLed and the crops

are growing), and a third is Octcber 'before the cold weather sets


The homecoming was a religious meeting in that communion was

celebrated and preaching occurred, but it was not a revival in the

evangelistic sense. In the frontier revival associa-ed with

Methodist and Baptist traditions, emphasis was placed on saving the

unsaved. In the May and October meetings emphasis was on reviving

the already saved people of God, holders of His promises and Covenant.

The May Meeting is still held at many rural churches. One such

meeting was described to me by a former pastor of the Rocky River

Presbyterian Church in the Mecklenberg area of North Carolina. It

is said by members to provide food for the social, spiritual, and

physical parts of nman, with the latter represented by elaborate

homecooked dishes provided by participating women. For the dinner

on the grounds after the worship service, each family has a separate

table for the larger family, between twenty and thirty people.

Everyone brings food and eats it by family groups, then the men and

the women gather to discuss news and politics with age mates while

the children play freely in adjoining meadows with cousins and friends,.

The May Meeting has both social and religious significance, as pointed

out in the official history of that rural congregation.

The ay Meeting not only reflects the joy of the treasured
feasts of Israel, but stands as an earnest of chat uninterrupted
gathering around the Father's table, when the saints of all
ages shall drink anew of the fruit of the vine in the blessed
Kingdom of their Redeemer. It is not only a backward look to
the days of Alexander Craighead, John Makemie Wilson and Daniel
Lindley . but a prospect of the time when they, and those
who follow them across the intervening years, shall assemble
in the house not made with hands, at the end of the age, beside
the waters of another River, which flow forever by the throne
of God,
(Spence 1954, p. 168)

The May Meeting, or church homecoming, is an occasion in which

the past, present, and future are symbolically united into a ceremonial

restatement of collective beliefs and values. Significantly, it in-

cludes an important emphasis on kinship and on the family group

descended from revered Presbyterian forbearers, all joined together

into the family of the faith. In its enactment the themes may be

observed which have been elaborated as components of the Scotch-

Irish tradition. In the same manner the communal gathering at

Montreat may be examined for its symbolic statement of beliefs and

values. Within the structuring of activities and events of the

surmaer-long equivalent of the May Meeting is seen an enactment on

the community level of the culture content of Presbyterianism,

Community and Culture Among Early Presbyterians

The traditional conimunity form expressed in values, cultural

practices, and types of groupings is presented in Table I. This

representation presents in tabular form the ways in which the

culture-community congruency was exhibited in the period 1790-

1890, Disturbance came to the economic base in 1S90, with rising

industrial and commercial centers and the era of the mill towns.

This disturbance was accompanied by a change in settlement patterns

from farm into town and city, accompanied by changes in mechanisms

for social control, These mechanisms, formerly handled by the con-

gregations were taken over by public jural institutions. Other

changes followed in family, religion, and education appropriate to

new environments. Essential elements of agrarian pattern retained

by the Presbyterian summer community at Montreat are the family

organization, the religion and world-view, and the means of social-

izing the young into family and church. A description of these three

aspects of the contemporary summer community is presented in the

following pages as a demonstration of the retention of certain core

elements in the Scotch-Irish culture. The circumstances of the


Cultural Systems

Values and BelicEfs

1. Economic

2. Political and
Social Control

3. Family and Kin

4. Religion

5. Education

6. Links to the Outside

Man is a steward of the world
for God and as such r.ust take
care of resources. Success
is an evidence of good

Final moral authority exists.
Creeds and Book of Discipline
are its repository.

Family is locus of learning and
of receiving the Covenant,
Ancestors hand cown the faith
from generation to generation.

Sovereignty of God (Order).
Salvation by Grace (Flesh is
weak, Spirit is more holy).
Church is the Elect (Covenant

Emphasis on Bible and creeds
requires literacy fcr all,
Educated clergy essential
for right interpretations.

Congregation is locus of the
covenant, linked to all other
congregaLtions of th 31Eect
as the People of God,

*Values a-d beliefs are taken from Calvinistic world view, which. is
discussed in detail in a later section regarding the world view of
the contemporary Presbyterians.

- ~~~-- ---` -----

TABLE I extended

Cultural Practices

Farming economy with both cattle
and crops. Co-operation with
neighbors, alliances with
mercantile and shopkeepers.

Congregation handled its own
disciplinary problems. Session
acted as church court.

Monogamy for life (no divorce).
Old are revered. Inheritance of
family farm by children.

Church life center of community
social life. Prayers at home
and church.

Individuals sent to school and
if possible to college. Ministers
attended seminary at Princeton or
in Scotland.

Congregation moved in groups to
new territory. If individuals
went alone it was only temp-
orarily. Families remained in
touch along lines of kinship.

Forms of Groupings

Scattered open-country farmsteads
with church at center, scattered
villages at crossroads. Towns
linked to countryside by

Series of ascending courts in
progression of greater authority
upward to General Assembly.

Nuclear family residential unit.
Gatherings of several generations
to honor ancestors. Cousin visiting.
Marriage within Presbyterian group.

Congregational worship service,
dinner on the grounds, church

Church school with pastor as
teacher. Presbyterian colleges
with faculty who are all

Joint meetings with other con-
gregations. Representatives to
Presbytery and to Synod. Home-
comings and family reunions.
Merchants traded with the outside.


founding of Montreat are relevant here as a preface, in order to

demonstrate the fashion in which Montreat follows in the church

homecoming tradition through the facilitating of linkages between

congregations and at the same time provides the locale for a rite

of intensification.



Montreat was founded in 1907 as a retreat center for members

of the Southern Presbyterian church. It has drawn the majority

of participants from the areas of original Presbyterian settlement

and has attracted back into its fold many sons and daughters who

moved away. The summer long gathering has characteristics of a

church homecoming as well as of a local congregation. In the forms

of community expressed, Montreat represents a periodic restatement

of those values and groupings essential to the preservation of a

culture whose agrarian economy has been modified. This chapter

gives a purely ethnographic description of the present community,

within the context of its history.

History of Montreat as a Ceremonial Grounds

Montreat was established as a conference center during the

period of rapid change in the South from an agrarian to an urban

economic base. Records of the founding of the conference center

indicate that this was seen as following in the tradition of the

gathering of God's people, familiar from the rural homecomings.

The purchasing committee was composed of Elders and ministers

appointed as a committee of the General Assembly. These met in

the Session room of the First Presbyterian Church of a booming

milltown in the Piedmont to close the purchase of property.

Montreat's original owner was an interdenominational

organization which had held summer tent meetings at the site for

eight summers. As historical background, this early period has

relevance to the later period of Presbyterian ownership.

Older informants in the summer community remembered the days of

the interdenominational camp meeting revivals. Then a large tent

served for the preaching meetings with smaller tents surrounding it

for individual families to camp. A kitchen tent was pitched over a

wooden platform where everyone gathered for meals. Famous evangelists

were invited and often preached in the tent meetings. Later a hotel

was built and an all-purpose community building,which served as an

auditorium in summer and in winter as a school for the year-round


Owners and promoters of the original interdenominational corpora-

tion--the Mountain Retreat Association--were all residents of New York,

Connecticut, and Baltimore, and included real estate speculators as

well as other businessmen. Their stated goal was to develop the

land in their holdings into a "model Christian community" which

would be year-round in nature and include only those individuals

with the highest of morals and character (Mountain Retreat Association

1898). The charter received by this corporation from the State of

North Carolina gave it the power to establish schools and roads that

were tax-exempt due to the fact that they were "for the common good."

The charter also prohibited forever the sale of intoxicating liquor

on the premises (Anderson 1949).

The original owners were predominantly Northern Presbyterians

and Congregationalists, and the meeting to buy the property in 1897

was held in the Session room of LaFayette Avenue Presbyterian Church

in New York. During the early years of trying to establish the ideal

Christian community the developers' only real success was with the

summer meetings. Gradually vacation houses began to appear and a

permanent recurring summer population took hold by the early 1900's.

Many were Southern Presbyterians who had heard through church chnnr.ls

about the high goals and fine moral character of the proposed develop-

ment and its strict rules of abstinence, When the corporation began

to falter financially in 1907, after having changed management

several times, it was offered for sale to the Southern Presbyterians.

One of the promoters of the transfer and of the mission of

Montreat during the next fifty years was the minister of the First

Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, North Carolina, a heavily business

and mill-dominated Presbyterian area. His constituents in the

industrial world, and other pastors in similar situations, became

enthusiastic with him about the possibilities of owning a summer

conference center where Presbyterians could gather. This man became

the second president of the Association under the Presbyterian Church,

a post he held for thirty years. During his administration stone

buildings appeared one by one, donated by businessmen and indus-

trialists and carrying names of pious Presbyterian forbearers.

In the official history of Montreat, the following passage

explains why the property was acquired in 1907. It reflects the

spirit which led a large number of concerned patrons to support it

as a center for denominational ceremonial life.

Montreat might be the revival of a long neglected Scriptural
method to make strong and more effective the Kingdom of God
upon earth. From the day of Moses to the day of Pentecost,

embracing the entire Bible period from Moses to the ascension
of our Lord, under Divine direction and appointment, God's
chosen people were called together three times a year in one
place. These meetings were Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast
of Tabernacles. These three annual assemblies for worship
ran parallel with the Presbyterian form of government from
the day of Moses until the end of the New Testament age.
These assemblies . were of unspeakable value during the
Old Testament period to unify, co--ordinate, instruct, and
inspire God's chosen people . under the Divine order of
things they were supplementary to the Presbyterian form of
government and played just as important a part in promoting
the interest of the Kingdom as did the form of government.

We Presbyterians have emphasized in our thought and doctrine
the form of government; why have we so long minimized the
practical value of its Biblical supplement, the three great
annual popular meetings referred to above?

. Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, and our Lord made use
of large assemblies in the mountains as one of the most
effective means to instruct, revive, and stimulate God's
people to their noblest actions.
(Anderson 1949, p. 20)

The People of Montreat are the best people of our Church.
They come from every section of the Church and perhaps as a
class represent the cream of the churches.

Separation from bad influences, the provision of the best
spiritual food end spiritual environment, and association
with one another are factors to aid our best people to live
in the best way.
(Anderson 1949, p. 25)

Participants in the summer activities of the contemporary

community continue to view *,[ontreat as a stabilizing force in

their lives and those of their children. They refer to having one

place that does not change and a place where they can get

spiritual refreshment. Montreat's location in a mountain cove

and its physical arrangements facilitate isolation and limited,

select interaction groups. These aspects are dealt with next in

the cor.:uunity description.

The Contemporary Setting

Montreat separates itself from the world by a tall stone archway

which residents call "the gate." When one enters the Montreat gate

from the small town of Black Mountain one observes that this is the

only road leading in, and that it ends in a mountain cove from

which there is no other exit by car. Assembly Drive winds along a

creek past Lake Susan, formed at the center of the valley floor by a

concrete dam. The creek has its source at the top of Greybeard

Mountain, at the top of the cove and the end of the Montreat property.

Surrounding the lake are a number of two story grey stone

buildings built by local craftsmen of local stone. The largest of

these, Assembly Inn, is a hotel for conference guests and vacationers.

Its appearance resembles a proud Scottish or north English stone

castle standing guard over the conference center. Other buildings

around the lake are used for conference hotels in summer and college

dormitories in winter. One houses the Association business office,

another is a gymnasium, and another serves as a coffee house for

collegiate workers and is known as the Left Bank. The only modern-

istic structure is Moore Center, a building which houses a bookstore

and gift shop along with the snack bar and social center.

To the rear of Moore Center on a circle off the main road stands

the large auditorium where all conference meetings and worship ser-

vices are held. The auditorium is circular in design with its

internal support beams curving over in tent-like fashion, reminding

the worshipper of the camp meeting tents in Montreat's past. Other

public assembly buildings are scattered along the roads nearby, housing

conference rooms, a chapel, a classroom building, and additional

dormitories. The center of morning informal social exchange is a

cypress and stone structure on a side road in which the Post Office,

general store, and laundromat are housed. The attendants at each

serve as unofficial news distributors and the bulletin board posts


Summer houses line the road from the entrance all the way up

to the Montreat Reservoir at the end of Greybeard Trail. Many of

the houses are white frame construction with two stories and a large

porch. They range from a log cabin built in 1909 to a contemporary

octagonal house of 1971. Some are covered by shingles, others made

of stone. All but a few are roomy and have at least four bedrooms,

some having an additional guest house at the rear. In all, 403

houses line the valley road and the ridges, 318 being occupied by

only summer people. Summer people refer to their houses as cottages,

no matter how large, and to themselves as "cottage owners."

The year-round people cluster in an area along a low ridge just

off the main road on the side of the mountain which is said to get

sunshine all winter long and to thaw out first in spring. Some

ridge roads are inaccessible during winter,and others on the shady

side of the cove have deep piles of snow and ice until very late in

spring, concentrating the winter residents in a practical and closely

bounded vicinity. The spacing of the roads and houses within the

mountain cove is illustrated in Figure II.

The topography of the ridges and valley has bearing on the

social interaction of the cottage people attending summer activities.

Those whose houses fall along the valley and creek roads are seen

FigureUlT The Montreat Cove

frequently at the large preaching meetings for conferences, at the

summer Montreat Woman's Club, Garden Club, and Ministers' Forum.

Valley people visit on the road or on the steps with neighbors and

in small clusters at the Post Office. On the ridges, however, houses

are perched atop dozens of steps and located on steep roads difficult

to negotiate by car. Ridge people take advantage of their view of the

surrounding mountains and valleys by sitting for long hours on their

porches. Visiting takes place individually, with one friend who has

braved the climb. One informant labelled the two types of Montreat

cottage owners as "creek people" and "view people." Families in the

market for a house or looking for one to rent possess decided pref-

erences for either ridge or valley. Within these two distinctions,

there are more specific preferences for one or another neighborhood

on a certain side of the ridge or in the valley floor.

In addition to topography, other factors influencing the inter-

action patterns of the population are the division of the community

into year-round, conference, and cottage components and the various

internal divisions of the cottage population itself. In order to

understand fully the behavior and groupings of the cottage segment,

which is the central focus here, it is necessary to see this segment

against the background of the year-round group and in coexistence

with the transient collegiate workers and conference participants.

Year-Round People--Maintaining a Tradition

A winter population of permanent residents maintains the infra-

structure of practical services necessary for the summer gathering

to occur. During the winter months the town of Montreat is composed

of about 100 individuals. In addition, a Presbyterian college exists

within the same facilities utilized in summer by the conferences.

The permanent residents are faculty members at Montreat-Anderson

College, administrative staff, and retired ministers and missionaries.

The conference planning is done by the staff of the Mountain Retreat

Association, Inc., in charge of maintaining the conference center and

making arrangements for summer programs. The college and the conference

center share buildings, maintenance crews, and a business office staff.

The two have the same President. The same Board of Directors serves

both by reconvening on a second meeting day as the college directors,

after spending the first day as the Association directors. A third

administrative structure serving the practical needs of town govern-

ment is the Town Council of the Town of Montreat, incorporated as a

municipality only two years ago by the State of North Carolina. All

three organizations share in the expense of road upkeep, garbage

collection, and public improvements. Cottage owners pay taxes and

service fees to the town government, and most do not fully under-

stand the tripartite divisions.

In addition to the governmental and regulatory functions

involved in keeping the community in operation, the year-round

residents hold positions in the planning of conferences, management

and upkeep of the conference hotels, and the locating of rental

customers for individual cottagers who will be away for a summer.

Another group of tradition-maintainers works full time all year at

the Presbyterian Historical Foundation, a massive library and

archives building containing written documents and artifacts on

230 years of American Presbyterian history in the South.

All the work crews for maintenance and repair--the plumbers

and mechanics and road builders--live in the nearby small mountain

towns of Black Mountain or Swannanoa and drive into Montreat to do

their jobs. The storekeeper and all the secretaries in the business

office, as well as the majority of the library workers, also live in

Black Mountain. This results in a one-class community for those who

live on thie grounds of the town of Montreat. All residents are pro-

fessionals in the educational, religious or business fields (two

professional accountants formerly with the Association still live in

Montreat and drive 20 miles to Asheville to work). All attend the

Montreat Presbyterian Church. The one-religion, one-class combination

is referred to by the local pastor as "the only theocracy in America."

Winter preparations and planning for maintenance include the

planning of the sumner young people's clubs as part of the conference

center service to the conference and cottage people. Day-camp type

facilities are provided including recreational and sports activities

for children of all ages. Head of the program is the athletic director

of the college during winter. He is assisted in sun=rer by a recreation

specialist from Richmond. Together these two recruit college students

to serve as counselors in the club program. The program supports

itself financially by fees paid, but its operation requires time and

energy throughout the winter to make it work. When sunmier people

begin to arrive in June2they take for granted that the roads will

have been repaired from winter snows, the electric generator for

their cottages will be in order, water will come out of the bathroom

tap and their garbage will be collected. Conference-goers expect

programs to be printed, registration forms to be waiting, and hotel

rooms to be cleaned and ready. These unseen but essential activities

have been planned for well in advance by the permanent staff whe

verbally conceptualize their tradition-maintaining task as keeping

Montreat in order as a place for the people of the church "'to gain

spiritual renewal." One of the *ways in which services and clean

rooms are provided is by the importing each summer of a hundred or

more college students in a worker corps of maids, bellboys, cafeteria

workers, and hotel waitresses to perform the necessary tasks of

undergirding the conference center's operation, This corps is

known as "the collegiates"

Collegiate Workers

The Collegiates form an important segment of Montreat summer

community life. Ar a later point the group will be discussed in

detail as it fits into the socialization process, but at this time

it is necessary to mention the role played by this group in ongoing

conference operations.

Applications flood the Montreat Business Office as early as

November for the jobs in the following summer. All jobs pay equally,

but some carry more status among the Collegiates themselves. Highest

in prestige is the job of club worker, with auditorium crew, maid,

Assembly Inn waitress, and cafeteria worker following. In 1971 one

hundred fifteen college students were hired for summer jobs. Many

were sons and daughters of longstanding cottage families. Others

had heard of the work through friends at school or at church.

The Collegiates live in dormitories operated by the conference

center and eat meals together in the conference cafeteria. Their

daily work includes all the housekeeping tasks required to keep rooms

clcand. for hzte) guests and t, piroido' plensartly served food. In

addition; the young men greet new guests and run errands as hotel

bellboys. Others see that conference rooms are ready for meetings

and that the auditorium sound equipment is in good order.

Conference participants see the Coilegiates only on their best

behavior. This good behavior is supposed to represent, according to

the instructions manual, an attitude known as "the Montreat Spirit."

This attitude insures that on the surface all will go well. It is

up to this corps of workers to see that those who have come to the

conferences for spiritual renewal go away renewed. No person can be

spiritually renewed if his linens are not changed or his meal is

served cold.

Conferesi.e Peoplej-Seeking Spiritual Rene-wal

The conference season is the hub of summer activity, and

conference people receive royal treatment as they gather in the

dormitories and hotels. Preparing for the arrival of the first

conferences; the Montreat maintenance crews refurbish buildings and

meeting rooms, paint chairs, and install sound equipment in the

auditorium. Pre-season retreats are. held by the Synod of North

Carolina for leaders in church programs.

The first Assembly-'wide conference in 1971 was the Men's

Conference, which was held or the weekend of July 4th. It was

followed by the conference of the Presbyterian Evangelistic

Fellowship, a Bible carrying group which emphasized revitali-

zationi of the individual and church renewal. Six more con-

ferences followed, in an o(der which is set from year to year

wi*th only th-. c:act dates varying. The largest is the final one,

the Mo-Ltrcat Bible Conference., which draws participation from more

of the cottage people than any other and boasts two youth divisions

which enlist busloads of youngsters from city churches. Data on

attendance are presented in Figure III. Conference registration was

compared in this graph to the registration in the hotels, to indicate

that a high percentage of conference people are transient. The graph

indicates that participants in the PEF conference are being housed in

other than the hotel facilities. In 1970 this group was composed of

many large families who rented houses for the four or five days of

their stay in order to save on expenses. The Montreat Bible con-

ference had the same type of attendance. In addition, some of the

older cottage families registered for this traditional conference,

keeping lower the proportion in hotel facilities.

It is significant that the Montreat Bible Conference is set at

the final point in the summer. In 1970 this conference closed with

a preaching service by a world famous evangelist. A weekend of

festivities for cottage owners and patrons preceded the closing

service. By the 23rd of August, the Bible Conference was over,

Collegiates had completed their work, and clubs closed for the

season. Without the conference people the grounds became quiet again.

During the summer of 1970, a total of 6052 persons registered

for conferences. Conferences aimed at the entire Southern Presby-

terian church drew 4338 participants. These figures appear in

Table II. The six states of North Carolina, Georgia, Florida,

South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee contributed 3099 of these

registrations, or 71.42 per cent of the total. These states are

the ones in which the largest Presbyterian population is found and

are also the states which were migration destinations for early


; Lt
4- --
V 0S


0 -
S <

I i


Cohfre)ce and Hotel Reqisfration
at AMontreof JL e- Aug. 1970

7TOh*l Con.Rei6+raihom
[H Mumbrmcotri^Vcwrat Hoel,

E 4-

s bi
- -D




State of Residence Number Per Cent

North Carolina 797 18.37

Georgia 567 13.07

Florida 538 12.40

South Carolina 446 10.28

Tennessee 435 10.02

Virginia 316 7.28

Sub Total 3099 71.42

Louisiana 263 6.06

Texas 196 4.51

West Virginia 130 2.99

Mississippi 99 2.28

Kentucky 87 2.00

Arkansas 82 1.89

Missouri 45 1.03

Maryland 25 .57

Outside South 96 2.21

No Record 216 4.97

Total Attending 4338 99,93

Presbyterian settlers from Scotland, Ireland and later from Virginia

and the North Carolina Piedmont. Virginia Presbyterians have their

own conference center at Massanetta Springs, which is organized with

both conference dormitories and cottages in the same manner as the

community of Montreat. Therefore, Virginians do not comprise a large

proportion of the total here even though the state has a large Presby-

terian population and was an original locus of settlement.

Conference people and cottage people interact together only

rarely. Although the conference participants are active church

members, their emphasis on wide kin connections is considerably less

than that of the cottagers. Those who know a cottage family from the

home church will frequently drop in to visit or have coffee, but in

general conference attenders remain within the planned program of

activity and socialize with other individuals attending the same


One activity in which both conference and cottage populations

take part is the Sunday morning worship service in the main auditorium.

After the service the auditorium lawn becomes the gathering spot for

greeting old friends and kinsmen, for visiting and for news exchange.

The oldest and largest families sometimes remain until after one

o'clock at this activity. Then the old fashioned dinner on the

grounds is replaced by Sunday dinner at the Howerton Hall Cafeteria.

The conference attenders spend Sunday afternoons sleeping, visiting

with some long lost friend in a cottage, or in recreational

activities--Sunday swimming and tennis having been only recently

permitted. Sunday evenings bring another worship service with

preaching in the auditorium followed by a hymn sing in the Assembly

Inn, when all the old gospel songs are requested. Conference and

Cottage are joined on Sundays in their shared meanings associated

with congregational worship and Sabbath-observance.

Cottage-owners--Preserving a Way of Life

The process of gathering begins among cottage-owners in early

June when the first house is opened for summer. Except for the

Sunday morning and evening services cottage owners do not ordinarily

attend conferences. Several older women who had been vacationing at

Montreat all their lives told me that they had never registered for

a conference. "Oh, we go down to the auditorium if there's a real

good speaker or Bible lesson, but never to more than one or two

sessions." The preferred activity of the vacationers is to rest

and relax, take trips to nearby attractions, visit informally with

kinsmen on porches, and entertain relatives and friends as house-

guests. The average stay in cottages is a month, with a wide

spectrum of practices ranging from all summer to only a few days.

The most often noticed pattern was that of the mother coming to

Montreat with the children at the beginning of summer, setting up

summer housekeeping, and staying until mid-August when it was time

to get ready for school again. The father of such a household would

commute on weekends from Charlotte or Atlanta--even Houston in one

instance--or would simply not appear until August for his two-week

or month-long vacation. Some families came all together in July or

August, a common practice among younger couples and couples in the

ministry. Others in the older age group appeared at the first of

June and entertained a constant stream of children and grandchildren

all summer, staying on alone "until the leaves turn in October."


These cottage-owners comprise the core of the summer community

and represent the central nucleus of a transgenerational web of kin-

ship and friendship in Southern Presbyterianism. The official list-

ing gives 322 separate names of individuals who own summer houses.

Winter residences of cottage owners are in fourteen Southern

states and thirteen localities outside the South. The six states

of North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, and

Tennessee account for 85.4 per cent of the total (see Table II).

Other states which contribute five or more owners are West Virginia

and Alabama, eight each; Kentucky and Louisiana, five each; and

Texas, six. Individual owners from these states were traced and

their background and professions investigated. In every case it

was found that the owner either is a member of a North Carolina

Presbyterian family, is a member of the Presbyterian clergy, or

belongs to an established Presbyterian family in his state of

origin. Of the total number of cottage owners, 102 are from

North Carolina, 34.2 per cent of the total. Twenty-four of these

come from Charlotte alone--an early seat of Presbyterianism. Of

South Carolina's 64 owners, nine are from Rock Hill, another

established Presbyterian town, seven are from Columbia, and eight

are from Charleston. All others are spread throughout the small

cities and towns of the state, with the Presbyterian centers of

Clinton, Greenville, and Spartanburg contributing four each.

Individuals dwelling outside the South were also found to have

a longstanding connection with Presbyterianism in North Carolina.

Some are former residents of the South whose family and friendship

ties remained, others have wide kinship connections anong the

Montreat families, and some are clergymen or missionaries on

assignments away from the home territory.

A comparison of the data presented in Tables II and III reveals

that the six states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida,

Georgia, Virginia, and Tennessee contribute the majority of

Montreat-goers in both conference and cottage categories. For

the conference population this figure is 67.2 per cent of all

Assembly-wide conferences. This jumps to 75 per cent of all

conferences when the Synod of North Carolina Conferences are added

into the overall total. For cottage-owners the six states contribute

85.4 per cent of all owners. These data are significant when viewed

against the stated goal of the Montreat promoters to provide a

conference center for the entire General Assembly. This has not in

fact occurred. Instead, the original heavily Presbyterian areas of

the Virg.inia Valley and the Piedmont along with the targets of

secondary Scotch-Irish migration (North Florida, North Georgia, and

East Tennessee) have remained at the core of participation in the

present-day summer community. This is expressed numerically in the

distribution of participants in the church's conferences and its

summer vacation community. The cottage population has a higher

percentage from these states, due in part to the tendency co

vacation near the home city. In addition, these states are at

the geographic center of the family visiting and kinship that

is such an integral part of the cottagers' sumirer. Those

Southern Presbyterians who do not take part in the large family

gatherings or who do not reckon kin with gzeat lineal depth

generally are uninterested in oning a house in cuch a community as


State Number Per Cent

North Carolina 102 31.67

South Carolina 64 19.87

Florida 44 13.66

Georgia 27 8.38

Virginia 22 6.83

Tennessee 15 4.65

Sub Total 274 85.06

West Virginia 8 2.48

Alabama 8 2.48

Texas 6 1.86

Kentucky 5 1.55

Louisiana 5 1.55

Mississippi 1 .31

Arkansas 1 .31

Missouri 1 .31

Outside South

East Coast 8 2.48

West Coast 1 .31

Midwest 4 1.24

Total 322 99.94

this. These marginally-kin but locally active churchmen reported in

interviews that they prefer to take Montreat in small doses by

attending selected conferences and staying in the hotels.

As a population, cottage-owners are predominantly from towns

and cities. Data presented in Table IV on winter residence of

cottage-owners reveals that 47.21 per cent of the cottages are

owned by families residing in cities over 50,000. In addition,

28.15 per cent of owners reside in towns with population between

10,000 and 50,000. A total of 75.36 per cent of all cottage owners

are town and urban dwellers, with only 24.93 per cent residing in

towns under 10,000 or in rural areas. These findings support the

general thesis that Montreat provides a ceremonial center for kin

gatherings in a group whose economic base has been affected by the

industrial and urban processes in the South. Ancestry of these

same families in the rural farming pattern was established by the

geneological data discussed in a later section of this study.


Towns Cottage-Owners

Number Per Cent

Towns under 10,000 77 24.93

Towns 10,000 50,000 87 28.15

Cities over 50,000 145 46.92

309 100.00

Occupations and education

Occupation was elicited from a sample of cottage owners as part

of the administration of thirty extensive interviews with residents

of five Montreat neighborhoods from three different age groups. A

breakdown of occupations in Table V illustrates that all respondents

are members of the professional class, with 50.3 per cent engaged in

some form of clergy activity. One of the local stories is that

Montreat is "full of preachers," another that "I had to become a

businessman to support all the preachers in my family." In fact,

in many of the large families the majority of men are ministers and

missionaries, with the businessman or physician being in the minority

and often feeling somewhat pressured by the family. One elderly

woman from one of these ministerial families spoke of her brother

who went into business when their father died leaving eight children

for the widow to support. "I always said Brother was a sacrifice to

Papa's death. If he hadn't had to work to support us he would have

gone into one of the vocations." Vocations, or "callings," include

preaching, medicine, law, or teaching. Her particular group of

siblings included four ministers. One brother was a missionary.

Two sisters had married ministers. A younger member of this

family who is himself an ordained minister refers to his family

as "the tribe of Levi."

Seventy per cent of the wives interviewed listed occupation as

Housewife. Of the seven who were teachers, four replied that they

had been housewives for years "until the children were grown."

These women expressed the opinion that the place of the mother is

at home with the children. Single woren ard widows often are secei


Husband Wife

Minister 16 Housewife 21

College Teacher 1 Teacher 7

Banker 1 Church work 1

Business Executive 6 Nurse 1

Physician 3

Engineer 1

Attorney 1

No Record 1

Total 30 30

*The sample of 30 was chosen on a purposive sampling basis from
five Montreat neighborhoods, with six families interviewed in
each neighborhood.

in the church-related professions or in teaching.

Education is highly valued in the present day, as in the past.

Educational data are presented in Table VI. When each college

attended was counted as one, the sample of thirty male cottage-

owners had attended thirty-two different colleges. Seventeen of

them were Presbyterian, and eight of the remaining were also private

schools. Twelve of the Presbyterian school attenders had attended

Davidson College. Of these same thirty men twenty-five had attended

graduate school, with nineteen being seminaries. The B.D. degree

is held by the seminary graduates, there are law and medical

degrees, and among older ministers the distinction of a D.D., or

honorary doctorate in divinity is common. This honorary degree

is often bestowed by Presbyterian colleges on well-known older

pastors who have contributed significantly to the life of the

church. These recipients are then referred to by the term and

called "Dr." with full honors as if the degree had been earned.

Of thirty wives in the sample, college attendance was tabulated

thirty-one times when each college attended was separately listed.

Nine women had attended Presbyterian schools and eight had attended

other private colleges, with fourteen attending state universities.

Only five went on to graduate school, four of whom attended the

Presbyterian School of Christian Education, a professional school

for the training of church personnel. The women interviewed did

not seem interested in graduate education for themselves nor did

they indicate any dissatisfaction with their roles as homemakers.

Many said that their daughters were interested in women's liberation

and that these daughters might attend graduate school. While


Husband Wife

Colleges Attended

Presbyterian Colleges 17 9

Other Private Colleges 8 8

State Colleges 7 14

Total 32 31

Graduate Schools Attended

Seminary 19

School of Christian
Education 4

Medical 4

Nursing 1

Law 1


Total 25 5

tach college and graduate school listed was included as one
item, including those where the respondent had attended only
one year and transferred to another institution.

education is considered essential for both men and women in order

that proper interpretation of the Bible and church doctrines may

result, the education of women is viewed solely as a preparation

for dutiful motherhood and supportive service to the husband. For

women a personal preference for a women's college is stated by

fourteen respondents. When asked about their daughters' education,

additional women informally specified women's colleges. Women at

Presbyterian all-girl colleges are believed by their parents to be

in an education for beneficial service to the family and to the


Activities and interaction

Activities of the families in the cottages while living at

Montreat include i-anual work as well as religious and recreational

pursuits. Men are seen on top of roofs replacing shingles and on

scaffolds or ladders painting the house. For half the cottage

population, those who are clergymen's families, the Montreat house

is the only home they will ever own. Satisfaction is expressed

at working on something that "is ours" and on which results are

visible. Women spend much time in the kitchen cooking for visiting

kin, making use of the abundance of local vegetables and fruits.

Trips to the Asheville vegetable market, to outlet stores selling

towels and blankets, and to antique stores are all popular feminine


Age as a determinant in activity type is important. The very

old are brought up to Montreat by their children and grandchildren

to sit on porches and visit with old friends or the children of old

friends. Elderly but active individuals are the mainstay of the

attenders at Sunday evening services and Bible hour during the

more traditional conferences. They also are daily visitors to the

village store and Post Office. For the middle-aged, the business

of keeping the household in order, cooking, repairing, and enter-

taining consumes much time and energy along with babysitting for

grandchildren. Young couples branch out in many directions for

recreation and trips by couples or in unisexual friendship groups,

and children attend daily clubs or play together along the creek.

In addition to the activities segregated by sex there are

several types of activities and groupings among cottage people

which include both sexes and are based on various kinds of friend-

ships and loyalties. One of these is the childhood friendship group

which exists throughout life, composed of those with whom one played

as a child in the clubs or shared meaningful Montreat activities.

The group may or may not include the spouse of members, but if so

the spouse is always only nominally a part. Childhood friends

often meet together at night in one person's cottage by the fire

for coffee or hot chocolate to relive cld times and laugh at old

jokes. Spouses attend but may sit in fringe areas and discuss

matters pertaining to the present-day church or their own children.

During the daytime, pairs of same sex form out of these cliques to

play tennis or golf or to go on the shopping trips. Often same or

opposite sex pairs or trios will sit at the playground or beside

the lake chatting while the children play or swim.

A grouping similar in nature to the childhood group is that

composed of friends from college and seminary days. Men who were

roommates at Davidson and who now do business or serve in Presbytery

together will be seen playing tennis. Women whose husbands were

seminary classmates will talk over the days of having babies and

typing seminary term papers. Opposite sex friends who worked

together in the Montreat clubs are part of these groups, even if

they attended different colleges or seminaries, because club work

came during college summers. Couples met and courted each other

during the years these friendships were formed, reinforcing the

tie. As couples the younger people (30-40 years old) plan activities

together, attend fairs and shows in Asheville, go out to dinner, and

take children on extended hikes and picnics. One of the stated aims

of this group at Montreat is "to see old friends" and "to be sure

our children get to know each other."

A formal group made up of those who are officials on the Montreat

Board or who serve together on an official Assembly Agency may activate

itself at Montreat from time to time in an unofficial way. The matters

of politics within the church and Association are subjects of discus-

sion at many social gatherings. The Montreat Board meets formally

in early August and consists of Elders, ministers, and laymen chosen

by a committee of the General Assembly. Two women are members, both

being connected to longstanding Presbyterian families. The Board

meets informally by twos and threes as the summer goes on. The work

of decision making and committee planning is accomplished within the

already established friendship network of cottage owning families.

One network of friends and associates has no claim to being

within any of the above categories. This network consists of five

couples and their children who take part in tennis, golf, picnics,

and other activities similar to those ol the childhood and college

groups. They gather for refreshments on porches in a practice

known as "having Kool-Aid" and refer to themselves as "the Montreat

Jet Set." These couples all live in large cities, belong to country

clubs, send their children to private schools, and the husbands all

are engaged in occupations of business and professional nature that

are highly profitable and unconnected to the ministry. None comes

from a large family claiming deep iMontreat ties. All bought the

Montreat house within the past ten years; none inherited it. Of

the five couples one member of each was originally from outside

the Presbyterian church, three out of five of these being the wife.

In 1970 all women stayed all sunnier with the children. They banded

together in a group of their own in a life style of city transplanted

to summer resort. The husbands when visiting or on vacation were

perfectly content with the arrangement, since it required little

adaptation for them from city lifeways. These couples are marginal

to traditional Calvinistic Presbyterianism. Although they are active

church members, generous givers and regularly spend vacation time at

Montreat, they are still on the outer edge of the web both by

heritage and by choice.

All cottage owners take part together in the cottage owners

picnics. There were two of these during the su=mer of 1970. Once

was on the Fourth of July, which was viewed by some of the cottagers

as the beginning of the season. The second was on the final weekend

of the season in August. the same weekend as the summer Board meeting

and the important patrons' banquet for all who had contributed $100

or more to Montreat's development fund. Cottage owners made up the

bulk of attendance at this banquet. The two cottage owners' picnics

were attended by about 250 individuals each.

The picnics resemble a church dinner on the grounds. All come

as families, bringing large covered dishes of hot and cold food to

weigh down the long tables spread out in the open air near Moore

Center. Everyone cats seated by families in the manner described

for "May meeting," and after supper age-mates stroll about chatting

with one another while children played nearby in the creek. Year-

round house owners attend with the summer people, and the event is

blessed at the outset by the President of the Mountain Retreat

Association with an invocation of God's presence. In this activity

the ordering of events and the structuring of interaction are con-

gruent with those of both the church homecoming and the regularly

held local congregational church family night supper. It is indeed

a congregational event in which individuals of all ages, sex, and

status positions participate together.

Community Cohesion--the Fourth of July

The one activity of the summer in which all three of the sub-

communities participate is the day-long ceremonial celebrating the

Fourth of July. During this event the unity and loyalty of all

segments to the national values are enacted in the form of a parade,

group games and contests, family folk dancing, and finally a display

of fireworks. This celebration enacts an American secular holiday

within the boundaries of one religious community. Part of the

Presbyterian way is to value the national state, a canopy of loyalty

covering all the various social and cultural divisions of American


The day is opened with the parade, in which "anything catL be

entered that either walks or rolls on wheels." The assortment in-

cludes everything from a large flat-bedded truck with a small band

of teenagers to a walking kindergarten troop with paper hats and

flags. Each club grade enters a "float" walking or rolling, arranged

in age-graded sequence from youngest to oldest. The parade observed

in summer of 1970 included ordered activities that spoke symbolically

of loyalties and priorities.

First in the parade holding the place of honor came the mayor,

followed by the two Town Councilors, one of whom carried the American

flag. The leaders were followed by a convertible. carrying the "parade

marshall," the ex-mayor who is also the President of the Association.

These first two items included all the politically significant figure-

heads in the town of Montreat.

At the parade's end a flag-raising ceremony was held at the Post

Office, complete with prayers and hymns. After the benediction the

crowd dispersed to eat individual lunches and then reconvened for an

afternoon of contests and games.

The components of the parade represent the several important

facets to the total summer community. Loyalty to the orderly

execution of government is accompanied by loyalty to the family and

to co-nunity cooperation. In the same manner, the components of

the afternoon's contests represent community cooperation and compe-

tition within highly structured rules.

Games and competition in the afternoon were of the relay variety

using potatoes, sacks, water balloons or other objects passed from

hand to hand. A tall pole bad been greased and money placed at the

top for the pole-climbing contest, and other contests included

watermelon-eating, pie-eating, and hog-calling. Participants in

the games were primarily the young, but all ages cheered them on.

Everyone in the community gathered for a third event after

supper, a family square dance on the tennis courts to the tunes of

a mountain band imported from Asheville. All members of the town

were present except for the very old who had gotten too tired from

the day's activities. Many of the old sat on the sidelines and

clapped, and others danced as if they were young to the same dances

as their children and grandchildren in the next circle.

Two events during the day singled out special groups. One was

a luncheon held at the Assembly Inn Hotel for a select group of men

who were potential "Montreat representatives" in their home towns to

present publicity and sell the idea of continuing support of the

conference center to local churches. A second event was the cottage

owners' picnic held for house owners and their families.1

The celebration is seen by the participants as something

"everyone in Montreat does together." Everyone agrees in general

on the loyalty to the American flag even when the political battles

over water and open gates become divisive. Children of summer-long

residents and conference children can work together on a float, Even

lWhen I asked if I might attend as an observer my request was met
with some reluctance on the part of the planners of both events. For
the luncheon the reason given was that it was "for men only." Finally
the chairman reconsidered and decided that I didn't count as a woman
since I seemed to be a neutral researcher. For the favor of attend-
ing the cottage-owners' picnic I volunteered to help with the serving
and cleaning up, and my husband poured cokes for hundreds of thirsty
customers for his spot as an observer.

when controversy rages over the jazz music used by certain worship

services or the evangelical preaching by revivalists, everyone can

sing "Hy Country 'Tis of Thee" and pledge allegiance to the flag with

integrity. Those who would like to see Hontreat stay as it is and

those who are pushing for radical changes are able to "oooool" and

"aaaaah" together over the fireworks reflecting on the lake.

The Fourth of July represents a congregational event in which

all the cormurnity segments participate together and are united in a

set of greater loyalties to the country and the flag that outweigh

any internal divisions. The loyalty to nation is the canopy that

covers all other differences. Next come the canopies of church and

then family. These will be treated in the following pages, with

family coming first as the basic unit of individual interaction.

These loyalties to family and church life are stated in behaviors

and activities within all areas of Montreat life.



The importance of kinship among the Montreat cottage people is

immediately noted by the outsider or newcomer to the community. The

most visible expression of this centrality is the gathering of large

numbers of family members in clearly bounded groups for day-long

celebrations known. as "the family picnic," or "the family get-

together." Kinship is also present as an emphasis in greeting

patterns, terms of reference and address, placing of houses, house

names and ownership, visiting among individuals of different ages,

and the reverence for the ancestors and for past family history.

In interviewing older informants, constructing family

genealogies, and by ascertaining who goes to which family gathering,

the role of kinship in the Montrcat social structure began to emerge.

Family membership is based on descent reckoned from a common ancestor,

and kin groups based on descent share in a complicated sec of

reciprocal obligations and rights. Furthermore, the roles of men

and women in the family take on importance as they form the basis

for a dual organizational principle in the other aspects of society.

This duality is sanctioned in the Calvinistic explanations ot man's

relation to the world and passed on to the next generations,

It is the purpose of this chapter to describe the organization

of kinship end family in the Montreat community. We shall begin by

an enumeration of the centrality of kinship to the social structure,

as indicated in cultural practices. Membership in a certain family

and descent group is expressed in the attendance at family gatherings.

Three types of gatherings for these descent groups are described in

the following pages. An emphasis on past tradition is seen, coupled

with an emphasis on the present congregation, through all areas of

the social structure. This double emphasis is discussed here as it

is expressed in lineal and lateral kinship ties. Finally, the

familial roles of mother and father are treated as an example of the

manner in which Calvinistic viewpoints pervade the assignment of

roles and division of labor within the family. This point is

developed fully in a later chapter within thle context of world-

view. This chapter is limited to presentation of evidence from

social interaction and attitudes regarding the nature of the

kinship network and its strong hold on the people of Montreat,

The Cenctralitc of Kinshin

When newcomers are introduced to oldtimers in the. Montreat

community, an immediate attempt is made to place them in the social

structure by discovering to whom they are related, The standard

greeting when the surname of the newcomer is spoken is invariably

"Oh, are you related to Mr. Jack Davis?" or "Now, which Neville are

you?" With this as a beginning, the oldtimer carefully reconstructs

in his mind the relationship of the newcomer to others in Montreat,

often drawing an imaginary kinship chart in the air with his fore-


When this matter Is settled, the conversation begins as the

oldtimer relates a story about the newcomer's kinsman with whom the

oldtimer is best acquainted, This may take the form of explaining

how the person was first met or the details of tie close relationship.

Stories of this type include tales of having been classmates or room.-

mates in college or seminary, having attended Montreat together for a

number of years, being in the same Presbytery as pastors, or being

pastor of the same church in sequence. The happiest coincidence is

the discovery of a personal kinship through someone in the oldtimer's

group who is married to someone in the group of the newcomer.

"Newcomer" is used here in a relative sense. Introductions are

likely to take place primarily between members of separate generaLions

or between new spouses and the friends and relatives of the spouse who

is a longtime community member. As an outsider and really a newcomer

to the community during the summer of residence, I was introduced to

everyone and received this treatment without exception from all of

the older members. Due to the fact that my name was familiar from

my husband's family connections, I was classified as "a Neville"

rather than as "an anthropologist."

From introduction onward (or from birth) a new person is referred

to by his membership in a family. Those who have married in and have

no relatives at lontreat are referred to by the family membership of

the spouse (as John Davis's wife or Mary and William Davis's daughter-

in-law). Cnlv people with no wide family connections are ever given

non-farilial classifications by occupation or office. Examples of

this are "the storekeeper," "the man at the laundry," and "Mr.

Jones's secretary," all of whom are outside the kin network and

live nearby in Black fountain. Conversely, a member of a well-known

IAll names used in this work are pseudonyms.

family who holds an elected or appointed office is always spoken of

by his family affiliation even if the office he holds is an important


The centrality of kin is also reflected in the location of houses

of a number of brothers, sisters, or other relatives in clusters near

one another. Even the names of these houses have a family flavor.

One is called "Relatives' Rest," and others reflect joint ownership

in titles that combine several surnames. Houses are unnumbered and

are referred to according to their ownership. Directions are given

to any place by its relationship to "the old Morris house," "the

Davison place," or "the Nelson cottage."

Reverence for the aged and their treatment with respect and care

is congruent with the kinship emhas-;s on past ancestors and "those

who have gone before." Visiting is obligatory for young family

members to the old aunts and uncles, the only cross age-group personal

interaction that was witnessed during the suaruer. Th- elderly,

particularly the women, are considered the repository of knowledge

regarding the family, and each family has one elder statesman who

functions in the role of "family head" in the family -ethering.

In addition, each family has a "faril.y historian" in the older

generation who is in charge of ker:ping up with evcryoce's marriages

and births, collecting past histories, and compiling of the family

book, which is either mimeographed or clothbound.

The emphasis on past ancestry and thae normal tracing of

geneology is socially expressed In the gathering together for

periodic family reunions, which re for the e::r-ess purpose of

honoring a co-m'on ancestor. Although there ale variations fromn family

to family, the ancestor honored is likely to be the most esteemed

mr.ale in the third or fourth ascending generation, corresponding

roughly to the generation after arrival from Ireland. Thus, one

family group of more than 400 descendants met at the Fairview Church

in 1971 to honor an ancestor who had entered America with seven sons

and a daughter and whose migration from the Shanandoah Valley had led

him to Fairview, South Carolina. Another family group of 92 honored

a male ancestor of the generation after arrival (b. 1S25). His

descendants number 275 and are carefully catalogued in the family

book. These gatherings became the testing ground for hypotheses

about descent group formation, and the results of these tests are

formulated here in material on descent and family membership.

Descent and Family Membership

Only one member of each couple interviewed claimed membership

in a family that holds big reunions or family picnics. This varied

between husband and wife and might be counted through ego's mother's

side or ego's father's side. Interviews and attendances at family

reunions established that there are a limited number of "old Montreat

families." The children of these families marry ou t of the inside

Montreat core but inside the total Presbyterian Southern church,

The descent group structure consists of kin groups, the member-

ship of each including all descendants of one counmon ancestor. The

specific ancestor honored is always male, although descent is traced

through both male and female members. Mates are non-members recruited

from within the Presbyterian church. Children are automatically

members because of lineal descent. This system of determining kin

group membership :.s that of "unrestricted cognatic descent" by

Robin Fox (1967). The ancestor-focused lineal emphasis if. expressed

laterally in the interaction with the kLndred of ego. Family gather-

ings are seen here as the expression of kin interaction and representa.-

tions of group membership. The three gatherings to be described are

the household, the family, and the greater family ,

Household--the Three-Generation Family

In the calendrical cycle of gathering times the three-generation

family get-together is most likely to take place at Thanksgiving,

Christmas, or during the early summer at "the Montreat house." This

three-generation family includes the household of grandmother and

grandfather with their grown children and the grandchildren 1who

range in age from babies to college youth. This family is the family

of orientation of the parents. Families now reside in nuclear units,

but siblings on the parental generation return to their own household

of orientation for celebrations. This periodic re-gathering indicates

a unity of the group recognizing common parentage--doescent froui a

common ancestor on the immediate ascending generation. It is these

adult siblings who share a summer household at lMontreat.

The assembled members of this group number from fifteen to

twenty participants, including the adult siblings and their children.

During these get-togctfhers cousins become well acquainted and discover

common interests and activities and arrange to visit each other at

various times during the summer. The institution of cousinshipp"

in which one's cousins express an extension of the sibling group is

closely associated with the three-generation family and is a part of

the sibling unity. The cousins are the children cf a group of par-ntal

generation siblings and _as such are the nearest of kTi n-Ct tc

brothers and sisters of one's cwn. Cousinship is tied into the

lineage principle in the descent of all the cousins from the common

grandfather--ancestor on the grandparental generation--and "grand-.

mother's house" is the spatial equivalent of the cone in Figure IV,

covering the heads of all the descending flock.

Family: Four Generations, or "All the Aunts and Uncles"

When it: is possible to get together a larger representation of

family, as when many live in one city and others are passing through

or when many are planning a visit at MontreaL simultaneously, an

effort is made to get together "all the aunts and uncles." This

expression refers to the siblings on the grandparental generation,

or all children of the great-grandfather, who is usually by now

deceased. This same group is also referred to as "all the Laswell

cousins," meaning all the children of the aunts and uncles who are

now deceased. The gathering represents a combination of four to six

three-geoueration households and as such may be quite large. One

such meeting required a hotel dining room for the meal, which

forty-two attended. A letter sent out following this particular

gathering read as follows:

Dear Cousins: Here five days after our few hours together, I
am thinking of what we did. We met acknowledging our descent
from a cormon ancestor--i must say two common ancestors
including BarEao, T really believe her nose would take a little
tilt at being called a cc mnon ancestor. Then I believe she'd
look Cdown the line anrl feel pretty well. Then we planned to
record -.hat 7we know so that these facts of the past may not
be lost--we accented the fact that the man who cares nothing
for his ancestors will likely accomplish little to pass on
to his posterity.

The four generation descent group is represented in Figure V.

In the family used as an example there are three households plus an

un,.arriec aunt (female sibling on the grandparental generation).

4 -?

IA C, lclrb,

PIcendioiher' l5nhouss"cOr
"Rpe- Mor&arn? iOU5s&c"

gurc F I rc'e Gsn 4'(- o ioft & ily Ga&ie '0n'1+ '

t; M5hersrdi vp iuici -tckfcir \j- u," cne .-xic;^
b\ *.hadC,. \h vn i'quwc jS'., e.*rtrri~r



-c;I (3

o C-


L!- C

he 0i-
r(V '


C,- -

r -,



The Greater Family: Five or More Generations

The family reunion or the "family picnic" is represented in the

third descent group, seen in Figure VI. This consists of all the

descendants of a common ancestor on the fifth or earlier ascending

generation. At the Adkins family picnic which is described here

as it occurred in 1970, there were members of five generations

present, the oldest person being a second wife of one of the sons

of the ancestor being honored. The youngest person was a new infant,

The youngest on the fifth generation from the original ancestor was

a little girl whose mother and great-grandmother were also present

and whose great-grandmother could remember the honored ancestor

from her own childhood.

The family picnic of this greater family was held at a Presbytery-

owned summer youth camp near Montreat. The camp facilities provided

enough room for the eating arrangements and for adequate recreation

for all the younger members. Preparations were made by two older

members who have residences at Montreat. Arrivals began in early

morning with three elderly women who served as organizers. The

second group included an elderly woman who was later introduced

as the oldest aunt. Arrivals continued until 12:30, just before

lunch was served. The family historian was asked to give the

blessing, and an older man in the grandparental generation

served as master of ceremonies. Families and households sat

together at tables laden with food prepared by each mother.

Gossip and news were exchanged, children ate quietly and

politely and waited until after the formal program to escape.

The formal program consisted mainly of introductions. The


) i

,, r,,

St-- -- C
f y 3V 'J

'/ ^

\ ---I


master of ceremonies called on each "family head," who in turn

inLroduced his or her spouse and their household of children and

grandchildren, with children's households and grandchildren's

households, The oldest lineal member of each family of four genera-

tions is considered the family head of that family. If none is

present the eldest son stands in for the family head. A surviving

spouse may perform this function if no other members of that

generation arc alive. The honored ancestor in this case had nine

children, seven of whom produced offspring. Seven families were

recognized as "the Georges," "the Nelsons," "the Parsons," and so

forth until each family head had introduced his own descent group.

In one family where no member was living on the grandparental

generation, the oldest son who was present stood up and at age 37

took on the role of "family head" for his own household and the

households of his two brothers.

Following the introductions of families the "family historian"

was presented and he distributed a mimeographed paper containing a

chronological listing of all 275 descendants of "the Colonel"

including their birthdates, death dates, and generation designation.

Announcement was made of a forthcoming book on the Colonel's life

which was written by the historian's son as his Master's degree

thesis in the field of history.

The Adkins "greater family" is represented in Figure VI. For

simplicity of presentation all members were not included; instead,

an indication is given of each generation.

Tradition and Interaction: Lineality and the Kindred

The two underlying principles of kinship and descent utilized

here have been those of the unity of the lineage and the unity of the

sibling group. Studies of the bilateral kindred in our o n and other

complex societies have characterized this form of kin organization as

lacking in time depth and in awareness of geneological connections,

emphasizing the present and the interaction with a few relatives in

action sets (Blehr,1963). The Montreat families described here offer

an example of a sub-segment of a society organized on the bilateral

kindred which retains as essential to its structure the tightly over-

lapping descent groups focused on an ancestor rather than on ego and

his action-set.

A possible explanation may be found in the tracing of kinship

organization from both the Celtic and Anglo-Saxcn traditions which

intermingled to produce the strain of Lowland Scots iwho migrated to

the colonies. Celtic kin reckoning was based on the Ziann, with

its interconnected families headed by a clann chief as "family head."

Lineality and descent were the central foci, congruent with a tribal

hegemony. Oil the other hand, information on Anglo-Saxon kin patterns

points to a cornunity organization based on the small village with

members taking part as "first among equals" and based on the kinship

principle associated with the unity of siblings and the ego-centered

kindred rather than on lineality (Fox, 1967).

Both of these threads run through the Miontreat kinship data.

In discussing the kinship organization further, evidence will be

presented to illustrate aspects of kinship emphasizing tradition

and lineality as well as aspects having to do with the communal

group as an interaction set, or the kindred of ego.

Descent and Reverence for the Ancestors

Awareness of family history and emphasis on ties to Scotland

and the past, their practices regarding inheritance of family wealth

and its disposition, and the patterns of naming children are all a

part of the lineal emphasis, revering "those who have gone before,"

Family his story

Every descent group has its own family historian. This was

evident during the fieldwork when in interviews some individuals were

not willing to discuss family genealogy, but insisted on passing me

along to "Uncle John" or "Aunt Mary" who "knows al. about the family,"

Soon it became apparent that far from being unfamiliar with the family

past, these individuals were following the code of territoriality in

their unwillingness to encroach on the sacred ground of the specialist

in these matters, Each large descent group has one of chese

specialists and he or she alona has the honor and the responsibility

for keeping up with the records and for tracking ancestry. One of

these family historians has invented an ingenious sun-burst chart

with herself and her spouse at the center, showing the genealogy

of each one. Other charts more nearly resemble the descent cons in

the figures presented in the previous pages. in these the focus is

on the ancestor himself and on all his descendants. Still other

family historians have compiled regular histories of "the McCampbell

family" or of "all the Turners." These often trace ancestry back-

ward to the ancestor who entered the colonies from Ireland or Scotland.

Places are associated with revered dead, either church or home-

stead, Pictures are kept of family houses and of rural churches

jlhcro. the family once took part in congreglrional life. During

interviews m;iny older people spoke of having gone back to "find my

grandmother's grave" in the little churchyard. Others recalled the

days of the church humercoriing celebration where Lhey had joined the

descendants of all those buried in the graveyard. In thesa services,

it was recalled, speeches and hymns referred to all those dear departed

loved ones "who had gone before,"

Hearkening back into the past, many older people speak : fondly of

the ancestral home built by a prosperous great-grandfather on lands

that belonged to the family. In one case this home belonged to a

revered ancestor at the apex of a large descent group who had been a

United States Congressman after having served as a Colonel in the

Confederacy. The honm was named Stony Point, the same name appearing

on the entry sign at the Montreat house of one of the descendants.

Other ancestral homes go back to Scotland and the Montreat house is

named for that particular placc-name--Lochmoran, Glen Eyrie, and

others. Family heads ofilen make the pilgrinamage back to Scotland

to visit "the old homeplace.'"

It is not unconoeon for families to send their sons "back to

Scotland" for graduate school, particularly to attend theological

school at the University of Edinburgh. Many doctorate degrees ariong

Southern Presbyterian ministers are from Edinburgh or St. Andrews,

and are predominately in Biblical studies or historical theology.

Other popular spots for graduate study are Princeton Seminar:" and

Yale Divinity School, where numbers of grandfathers also did

theological study.

Among th,. fpa.';1ies selected for depth intervie',s about their

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs