How Did “Hillbillies” Get Their Name and Why Do They Live In the Appalachian and Ozark Mountains?

The term hillbilly generally describes an uneducated or rough-hewn inhabitant of the Ozark and Appalachian mountains of the United States.

Hillbillies are a proud culture unto themselves with amazing music that reflects their harsh, isolated existence and the origins of their forefathers.

The first hillbillies were the Scots-Irish followers of Britain’s King William III (1650-1702) whose Protestant Orangemen defeated the Roman Catholic allies of the former British king James II (1633-1701) at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland in 1690.

William III’s followers were known as Billy Boys, and many of them immigrated to the hills of Appalachia before the American Revolution.

It was during this time that British soldiers gave these people the name hillbillies, an informal reference to their previous history as supporters of King William of Orange.

In 1900 an article in the New York Journal described a hillbilly as a “free and untrammelled white citizen of Alabama who lives in the hills, has no means … drinks whiskey … and fires off his revolver.”

In many remote Ozark areas, it is still possible to find people who speak English with a dialect that can be traced back to pre-American Revolution days.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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