THE SCOTCH-IRISH OF WESTERN VIRGINIA...concluded

A CONTRIBUTION FROM COL. WILLIAM PRESTON JOHNSTON, PRESIDENT OF TULANE UNIVERSITY, NEW ORLEANS, LA.

« previous page | Scotch-Irish Virginia homepage | start of this article

In my mind there is no doubt as to the causes which have given such prominence to the Scotch-Irish element in our history during the last hundred and fifty years. The first is that they are of "the elect," not only theologically as they believed, but were by heredity constituted to be the standard bearers in the pioneer army of progress and civilization. A people with great physical and mental vigor who will not brook personal or political subjection, who possess the organizing faculty in an eminent degree, and who rest their faith upon the eternal verities, and conduct their life upon a basis of rigid morality, are bound to lift themselves above the dead level of an average humanity. When in October, 1765, the Indians massacred the settlers on Kerr's Creek, in Rockbridge County, Va., they carried off the women and children into captivity. When they crossed the Ohio River the Indians, pleased with victory and secure of their prey, requested the captives to sing for them. One of them, Mrs. Gilmore, sang the one hundred and thirty-seventh Psalm of Rouse's version:

On Babel's stream we sat and wept,
When Zion we thought on,
In midst thereof we hanged our harps,
The willow trees thereon.

For then a song requested they
Who did us captives bring;
Our spoilers called for mirth, and said:
"A song of Zion sing."

In the depths, their trust was still in the Lord. Darkness is upon the soul of man; but he can yet look up; the Lord liveth.

I feel a great temptation to say something of the individual men who founded that Scotch-Irish colony in the valley that has served as a hive whence have gone forth so many toilers in arts and arms for the republic. But this is not the time, nor is it my province, and there are others who can do this work better. I only wish to say to you how fully I sympathize with you in your admiration for the qualities that have made the Scotch-Irish a notable segment of our American people.

END OF THIS ARTICLE

« previous page | Scotch-Irish Virginia homepage | start of this article


Library Ireland Facebook