24 Jul ‘Filling in the gaps’
by Vivian Lawson Hogue
“You aren’t from around here, are you?” When one hears that question, it usually means he or she has said, done or even had an opinion about something that is not customary in a particular locality. The truth is none of us are from around here unless we’re Native American, and even they originated elsewhere.
In 2017, I wrote a 501 LIFE piece about my new interest in genealogy. Sources on one family side were the valuable records of a third cousin, and others were from a Kentucky gentleman from the other side named Maurice Kirby Gordon. Born in 1878, he was a well-known attorney, genealogist and, most importantly, my third cousin. Meanwhile, a woman in another state was typing Gordon’s name into her search engine, as his research and records helped with her husband’s family tree as they had with me.
Julia’s heritage is definitely not from around here, as she is of Scandinavian descent. Her Swedish grandparents arrived in America in 1903, with earlier ancestors from Norway in 1872, some from Ireland in 1842, and some from England on the ship “Ann” in 1623. Their names and arrival dates are on ship logs and in registration and citizenship records, and she benefits from their ventures. Our backgrounds are vastly different, but we work on the same research that was once a time-eating task. My, how the Internet makes past times fly.
There are things everyone notices about those who were raised differently and in different states or countries. There are the matters of food, seasonings, clothing, animals, insects, sports. From where did all these differences come? I doubt any of us can say our heritage is from one country or region. When I tested for my ancestral DNA, I found I was British, Scandinavian, Irish/Scot/Welsh with the rest a predominately European mixture. I am assured that both sides provided Native American heritage.
I found that my primarily Scot, Irish and English ancestors joined the Virginia migration in the mid-1600s. They continued to disperse to Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, then Arkansas. Like the candy, they came “Now and Later.” And through a lot of immigration, assimilation and marriages, . . . well, here I am, “born and raised” (or “reared,” as some elders say) in Conway, Ark.! And if it weren’t for Conway’s Lake Bennett and my father’s government job moves, I could have hailed from the hills of Northeast Arkansas, where all my maternal and paternal relatives live and lived.
“Outlanders,” an old hill term from the Scots meaning people “not from around here,” might mention what they call my southern accent, but it is actually just Arkansan. Got a little “twang” to it. But apparently it is my use of words and phrases transferred from the UK to the Arkansas territory that I’ve absorbed through my parents and grandparents (and who knows how far back!). Words do have histories of which entire books have been written!
Several words had to do with religion because churches were worship and gathering centers. If we had high winds, my dad would say it was “blowin’ hell off the cross.” (Regarding another “G” word, my mother told me very early to never use “gosh,” “golly,” “gee whiz,” “gee” or “Jeez” as they were substitutes for God’s and Jesus’s names.)
My friend originally from Pennsylvania says her state’s residents called rubber bands “gum bands.” My uncle viewed bad decision-making on “using your head for a hat rack.” My mother would say she would start supper “directly,” meaning later. My dad would talk about seeing a hawk “down in the holler (hollow)” which is a low spot or valley in the terrain.
So I’m from here, but it is thought-provoking to think I am “from” so many other countries, states and people. But even more so, is someone in Europe looking for me?
Vivian Lawson Hogue
A native of Conway, Vivian Lawson Hogue graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a degree in art education. A retired teacher, she worked in the Conway School District for 23 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.