Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 1999-11 > 0941557766
From: Horatio Paul McAfee <>
Subject: A Kith and Kin Story
Date: Tue, 02 Nov 1999 09:49:26 -0600
Here is a little story about kith and kin and how knowing about it
helped me locate ancestors. I hesitate to lay this before such a wise
and experienced scholars such as predominate on the Scotch-Irish list,
but I will do so anyway.
Among the Scots-Irish in early America, there was kith and kin
relationships that were very common. Perhaps this was a purely Scottish
thing or purely Irish thing, I don't know. But here is how is goes:
Kin, of course, refers to blood relations. Kith refers to relations that
are not based a blood
connection, but on friendship between two (or more ) families.
Sometimes kith turned into kin when the offspring of families married.
That happened among my Chisholms.
In the early 1800's, for example, Enoch P. Chisholm and Amanda McMahon
got married in Texas. Something told me kith and kin was at work. So,
searching in Alabama, I found a Chisholm family in the same locality
where a McMahon family had lived for a time. Sure enough, these were
the fathers of Enoch and Amanda. Possibly, Enoch and Amanda had know
each other in childhood.
Then, knowing one of the families had come from Tennessee, I found the
grandfathers of Enoch and Amanda had been officers in local government
in Washington Co. in Eastern Tennessee. It turns out the fathers of
Enoch and Amanda had served in closely related Western Tennessee militia
units in the War of 1812 and in the (tragic) campaigns against the Creek
One of the daughters of Enoch and Amanda married a man named DeGuire. By
some turn of circumstance the Chisholm name was replaced in the kith
and kin scheme of things by the DeGuire name. I have a letter written
by a McMahon nephew of Amanda to a DeGuire counsin in the 1880's. What I
found next completed the circle. When one of the DeGuire descendents
died in California in 1922 the person who wrote a funeral poem for him
was a Mary McMahon.
So, if you have followed my tale here, you will see that a kith and kin
relationship that began at least around the time of the American
revolution in Eastern Tennessee continued among succeeding generations
into the 20th Century. I doubt if the people in 1922 were aware that
their family friendship actually began nearly a 150 years before. The
relationship of the Chisholms and McMahons may have originated in
Northern Ireland or, perhaps even in Scotland.
It may have lasted in California into the 1940's but I can not prove
Horatio Paul McAfee
|A Kith and Kin Story by Horatio Paul McAfee <>|