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Redneck History

Updated on November 3, 2014
Redneck photos are my own unless otherwise noted. Article copyright 03/10/2011.
Redneck photos are my own unless otherwise noted. Article copyright 03/10/2011.

A little look into the rich history of rednecks.

From hunting squirrels to running whiskey Rednecks have made their mark in American history books. Rednecks are as much a part of American history as is the Civil War, the White House, and George Washington.

The first American Rednecks were most likely a group of poor country immigrants from the Scotland and Ireland territories.

Shunned by mainstream Americans as too low cultured to be associated with, these immigrants did whatever it took to survive in the tough American backwoods, and survive they did.

Wikimedia Commons: Scottish Coast
Wikimedia Commons: Scottish Coast

So did the term Redneck actually originate back in Scottish history?

Although there is some confusion as to exactly where the term Redneck originated, it is believed that the term Red neck may have began in Scotland around 1643.

During The First English Civil War Protestant leaders within the English Parliament recruited the Scots to aide in their battle against the Royalist Army. A deal, or covenant, was struck which was to allow the Scotts to maintain their Presbyterian religion rather than be forced to join in with The Church of England.

The terms of the agreement were drawn up, and signed, by those Scotts who agreed to fight for England in exchange for maintaining their own religious rights. The term Red neck was applied largely to Scottish lowland Presbyterians who signed the Solemn League and Covenant: in their own blood and then afterwords proudly wore their bloodied kerchief around their neck.

When the Civil War did not go in their favor the Covenant between the Scots and the English Parliament was torn up. Many of the Scottish dissenters then fled to nearby Ireland and carried with them the nickname of Red Neck.

Quality wood chandelier: Redneck decor style.

Savoy House 1-40017-6-56, Blue Ridge 6-Light Chandelier, New Tortoise Shell
Savoy House 1-40017-6-56, Blue Ridge 6-Light Chandelier, New Tortoise Shell

Antlers once shed are always available to pick up and use in a variety of home decor projects. If you lived in the country you made good use of most everything that you found out there and antlers were prime for the taking.

This chandelier is a magnificent example of how beautiful natural decor items can be.


Strongly proud and influenced by tradition.

There is a reason why modern Rednecks stand tall with pride today. Redneck history is as colorful as any other out there. Not to be set back by attitudes toward them, these country woodsmen hunted, hooted, hollered, and brazenly shot their way into becoming an integral part of early American history.

Marc Pierce Signature Collection Battle Lines, Deer Sculpture
Marc Pierce Signature Collection Battle Lines, Deer Sculpture

Country folk appreciate the beauty in the wildlife that live around them. These creatures depend upon the rural lifestyle as much as do rural people.


Rednecks in America.

The term "Redneck" in America all started back in the 17th and 18th centuries with the arrival of a group of hardworking immigrants of Irish, Scottish, and Welsh ancestry. These country immigrants were largely common folk looking for a better way of life for themselves and for their families. So they came to settle in America.

The term Red neck should have been used to identify only the Scottish dissenters from England, but the term Redneck instead became a derogatory title used to describe all of the newly arriving class of poor white immigrants.

Shunned, and considered too "uncultured" to be absorbed into mainstream America, these newly arrived immigrants were encouraged to settle in the Appalachian and Ozark mountain areas where they could act as a human shield against the Indian Nations that also resided there.

They learned to trust only those individuals who were loyal to them. This group of people was generally their kin folk, a few close friends, and their bordering neighbors.

Rednecks in America

Life was difficult in the Southern Appalachian and Ozark mountain regions but the newly arrived immigrants settled in and did whatever they felt was necessary to insure their survival.

Shunned by their American comrades they were forced to rely only on themselves and other immigrant neighbors for their survival in this new land. Rednecks ate basically whatever it was that they could hunt, pick, or grow from within the surrounding countryside.

Rednecks dined on squirrel, possum, fish, deer, moose, elk, and even bear if it wandered their way. From hunting squirrels to running whiskey Rednecks made their mark in American history books.

Being a Redneck now took on a somewhat twisted means to recognition. Most of the working poor spent long hours outdoors hunting and farming so were easily distinguishable by the reddened skin on their face, neck, and hands.

Looked down upon by middle and upper white class Americans the term "Redneck" soon became a term that was used in a derogatory tone to describe the majority of all the poorer lower class white peoples of America.

Living in the backwoods wasn't always easy.

Large Black Bears Welcome Sign / Statue with Solar LED Lantern - Bear Cub Decor
Large Black Bears Welcome Sign / Statue with Solar LED Lantern - Bear Cub Decor

A true welcome in country style. A light to greet you and a great big hearty black bear welcome.

When you live in the deep woods you have more than a few critters to deal with.


Rednecks are often depicted as being very backwoods or simple in nature.

Redneck's and the American wars.

Although mistrustful of government bureaucracy, during the War of 1812, the Texas Revolution, the Civil War and the Mexican-American War, rednecks volunteered for duty at a much higher rate than other Americans.

This class of poor white country people had a very strong fighting spirit, and they showed it by fighting, and dying at much higher rates than their upper class American counterparts.

So exactly who or what is a Redneck?

Although the first Rednecks were lower class white immigrants, over time color barriers faded away, and the sun reddened skin on a persons face and neck could no longer be used to identify a Redneck.

The defining characteristic for the term 'Redneck' slowly evolved to be representative of the distinct reputation and attitude of a person. The modern day Redneck can now be from any race, sex, religion or class, and is identified only by his or her distinctive attitude and lifestyle.

The modern day Rednecks of course still being best known for their outspoken, and often times embarrassing, swearing, gambling, drinking, hard working and hell raising way of life.

Redneck: A proud ingredient of American history

An essential part of American history, Rednecks have come to be known as an indispensable and fiercely proud component of the American population.

This courtesy of the rednecks of yesteryear, who through their hard work and independent attitudes, paved a gentler pathway for modern day Rednecks to walk today.

Do you know a modern day Redneck?

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    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 years ago from Canada

      @ArtByLinda: Being of Scottish ancestry and of a poor country upbringing I think so too. Traditions are passed down in families and many individuals developed a very strong sense of independence and pride in their country roots.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 years ago from Canada

      @MariaMontgomery: I have also heard this reason for the name. I think as time moved forward that the red neck of the working man was part of the reason as to why the term began to fit all lower class white working individuals. Thank you so much for your comments. I was not aware of the two confederate flags.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 2 years ago from Idaho

      I think many of us have a little redneck in us, great lens!

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 2 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      Having grown up in the South, I'm afraid I know several Southern rednecks, but I'm happy to say, they are definitely not limited to the South. One can usually identify them by their insistence on flying the Confederate Battle Flag (the one shown above)-- not to be confused with the Confederate Flag. The battle flag was created because, in battle, the union and confederate flags looked too much alike and were easily confused.

      They certainly are survivors, and are a proud people. Like all demographic groups, some have a strong work ethic, and some have no work ethic. In one of my American history courses, my professor taught that during the 1800s, farmers' necks became red from working in the sun and that, that is where the (also derogatory) name of redneck originated in America. Like many things in our culture, there are various stories of origination. This was an interesting lens.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 years ago from Canada

      @jmchaconne: I have not but now that I know of it I will definitely look it up.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 years ago from Canada

      @junecampbell: It really is easy to understand how their distinctive attitude was formed. Pride, loyalty, and a fierce independence being just a few of a redneck's distinct qualities. What I found fascinating was that these new immigrants were used as a human shield and given land strategically between white settlements and indian nations as a means of protecting the community.

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      SteveKaye 2 years ago

      Sort of, maybe, of course.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 2 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      No, I can't say that I do know a modern Redneck. This lens was most educational. I had absolutely no idea that the "rednecks" hailed from Scotland, Ireland and Wales. I had no idea of the historical issues that affected the development of this group of people. Fascinating. They are truly survivors and you have to admire that.

    • jmchaconne profile image

      jmchaconne 3 years ago

      Yes, a cousin and he's hilarious! Thanks for a great lens! I just did a book review lens quest about Oliver Wiswell by Kenneth Roberts called the-american-revolutionary-version. It was fascinating to read the history from the perspective of Americans of the time loyal to the British Crown. Have you read the book? If so, Id be interested in hearing your take.

    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      I think I know a few ;) Very informative, and great lens! I can tell you worked very hard on it.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Yes I do, several. I had no idea the moniker stretched so far back and so far away. My daddy told me that the term redneck came from farmers and others who labored in the sun all day, their necks burning red because neither their hair, nor their hat, nor their collar covered it. He almost always had a sunburnt neck, even in winter. But I love your history and thank you for setting me straight.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 3 years ago from Canada

      I think I do, know a redneck or two.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      @renewedfaith2day: Ha now that is my kind of music.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      HEY, RussKeith! We are all Rednecks, it's just some of us haven't realized it yet.It's your job -no- responsibility to help your wife realize, accept, and embrace the freedom known as Redneck.

      light that candle

      good luck

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      I believe things are so mixed now that no pure redneck blood exists. They've been absorbed.

    • opatoday profile image

      opatoday 3 years ago

      Thanks Real Redneck Fun!!!

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      anonymous 3 years ago

      Thanks for all this information - I didn't know much about Rednecks before!

    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 3 years ago from London

      Lorelei, it's a way of life I can only imagine and envy in many ways, although I guess when it gets to winter it isn't so heavenly? I always thought the term 'red neck' came from getting your neck burnt working out in the sun, so I was fascinated to learn the history of it.

    • CaztyBon profile image

      CaztyBon 3 years ago

      Yes I know a modern day Redneck.

    • profile image

      Scott A McCray 3 years ago

      Wavin' from out in the holler! (Don't ask whut I wuz doin' out there...)

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 3 years ago

      Such a fun lens, and I actually learned some history. I guess I am a redneck by birth - although I never ate the squirrel my dad fixed for our meal.

    • renewedfaith2day profile image

      renewedfaith2day 3 years ago

      I live in Texas...

      The opening day of "Deer Season" is met with religious like reverence.

      Here we have "both" kinds of music: Country and Western...

    • profile image

      RussKeith 4 years ago

      I grew up in a small coal mining town in Pennsylvania and after going to school moved to the Chicago suburbs where I met my wife. When we were first married I would tell her stories of my redneck childhood and I think she never more than half believed me. That was until I took her home. She said she was always expecting someone to break out playing dueling banjos. She now loves my family but says she could never become a redneck.

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 4 years ago

      I love your guide to the illustrious history of the redneck, and proudly flaunt my own redneck heritage!

    • myoyster1957 profile image

      myoyster1957 4 years ago

      Had heard the term, didn't have a clue what it meant, do now, thank you.

    • writerkath profile image

      writerkath 4 years ago

      I live in a town with several! Hey... am I one too? :) I have the song "Queen of my Double Wide Trailer" going through my mind now...

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 4 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      By family history I think I qualify. My neighbors might agree that my roots are showing, as they glance over the back fence at my five hens and my rain barrels.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Me!! Scottish, Irish and other European. Although I would be considered more Modern Day. I have definitely lived a Redneck Life!!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      I have redneck roots - from the Ozarks and my dad was from the Kentucky. They followed many of the traditional ways: cooking and canning, gardening, making their own medicine. Some of the political and social beliefs I do not share - but the groundiness, kindness and caring to your neighbor and native optimism in spite of hard times, all that I love. Blessed and pinned to my history board, I appreciate the depth of your research.

    • CraftyandClever profile image

      CraftyandClever 4 years ago from everywhere but mostly Cali

      I think we should embrace the redneck. I love me a good redneck!

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 4 years ago

      Blessed-It always amazes me how badly people treat fellow man

    • CCGAL profile image

      CCGAL 4 years ago

      I'm fairly certain that my family consists of nothing but rednecks, some just a bit more unpolished than others. I just didn't realize I could embrace my redneckedness with no redfacedness. :) Loved this lens!

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 4 years ago

      Had no idea that the term redneck was of Scottish origin. I always thought it was a term used for people who had red necks from working in the fields or outside.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      The majority of us Rednecks in the Southeast and Appalachia don't get offended by the term. I am mostly mixed celtic ancestry as are most. We are mostly God fearin and pretty independent. We teach our younguns by the Ten Commandments. Our second religion is hunting and fishin. Most any I know can survive for any given time in the woods with little preparation. My kids were good with most weapons and trapping by ten or so. And no we don't care much for government and believe most the issues people whine about is pure B.S.

    • Dusty2 LM profile image

      Dusty2 LM 4 years ago

      Very informative lens. Being of Scottish and Irish decent from the old county I guess you could consider me a Redneck also. Many of things I do subconsciously I recognized doing in this lens. What do you think?

      Anyway, I want to thank you for stopping by my lenses and giving them a "thumbs up". I appreciate it. Do try the scones recipe as you will be quite pleased when you eat them. Bon Appetite!

    • zeff789 profile image

      zeff789 4 years ago

      i think i am also a reneck.

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 4 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      Apart from the drinking and gambling I think you could call me a Redneck. Didn't know they were originally Irish, Scottish immigrants.

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      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      I learned a bit about the terms true meaning ... there are more rednecks out there than I thought (by this definition).

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      grannysage 4 years ago

      That was interesting. My husband says those were his people in Scotland. I was previously married to a Kansas farmer and I always thought the term redneck came from the fact that they had short hair and got a sunburn on their neck while they were out on the tractor.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 4 years ago from Connecticut

      Very interesting, and I didn't know the origin for term "Redneck". I can relate to the current meaning of Redneck as someone with a strong personality and distinctive attitude to do things their way.

    • profile image

      Light-in-me 4 years ago

      Wow, I really learned a lot. I even read through the comments and had a blast. :)

      Robin :)

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 4 years ago from California

      I live in a town of rednecks :) This was really interesting. I never really knew where they name came from, the history behind it, just knew it existed as a derogatory term while growing up. However now I see people proudly displaying Redneck items...guess the term has come full circle :)

    • deckdesign profile image

      deckdesign 4 years ago

      Great information on rednecks and gift ideas. Thanks.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This lens was very informational. I learned a lot about Redneck history, much of which I didn't know about. Well done!

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Yes, me. I have graduated from corn cobs or Sears catalogs to toilet paper though. Hillbilly blessed...yes, my middle name is William=Billy. Ha!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I am happy your did this lens. My understanding was corrected.

    • profile image

      MarcellaCarlton 5 years ago

      Yes, I know some modern day red-necks . They are 3 of my grandson. And, on the question of red-neck Christmas Ornaments any ol' used beer cup would do.

    • Mim Art profile image

      Mim Art 5 years ago

      What a terrific lens, attitude, and approach. I loved this read, as well as the pen-name. It really grabbed me, especially considering I live in a town where, when you enter it's 'city' limits you set your watch back 20 years - so I guess that makes me a redneck, at least by association ... although the squirrels around my property are a little sparse and nervous *cheeky wink and a squid-giggle*

    • firstcookbooklady profile image

      Char Milbrett 5 years ago from Minnesota

      I am probably a Redneck. I have been known to drive my car in reverse, pick up a dead raccoon off the road, throw it in my back seat and leave it in my car all day while at work... and then, bringing it home to throw in my freezer for my son who used to take the pelts into the local Fur and Feather establishment... :)

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      @Zut Moon: Gasp....better not tell Paul Brandt that. He classifies himself as a Canadian redneck.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I live in Kentucky and my ancestors are Irish so I proudly fit into this category. Leave it to rednecks to turn a derogatory term into a badge of pride.

    • Zut Moon profile image

      Zut Moon 5 years ago

      Nope ... we ain't go no rednecks here in Canada. As soon as one appears to be going that way - we sends him to the USA !!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I'm an old hippy returning to sprinkle a little redneck angel dust, I have a good history and a plenty in common with these good hearted, fun loving folks who take care of their own.

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      Edutopia 5 years ago

      Even as some one who has grown up in redneck central there was plenty in here I had no idea about. Great job on the lens.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: Thank you for stopping by my Redneck history article Tipi. You have such a wonderful personality and attitude toward others...very accepting and curious. You are a joy.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      @MagnoliaTree: Most Rednecks are indeed very proud to be a redneck. Many who do not term themselves as rednecks are very proud of their beliefs, heritage, and traditions. Pride, loyalty, and honor are very important aspects of a Redneck's belief system.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      @SecondHandJoe LM: Now that is a wonderful Redneck tale and I thank you so much for bringing me a smile and a chuckle with my morning coffee.

    • SecondHandJoe LM profile image

      SecondHandJoe LM 5 years ago

      I'm starting a lens on David Allen Coe (long way from finished). I recently flew to the stockyards in Fort Worth to see him play at Billy Bob's. He once lost his house in Florida and moved into a cave in Tennessee.

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      MagnoliaTree 5 years ago

      I never knew about the origin of the term "redneck" and the pride that it denotes. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Bookmama2 profile image

      Bookmama2 5 years ago

      Well of all the Jeff Foxworthy jokes, the one, "If you have ever cut the grass and discovered a car, you just might be a redneck" is the one that came closest to the mark. Though we never have, it's because we know exactly where in the yard we parked!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have known many modern day rednecks and love every one of them! Good hard working, give you the shirt off their back folks that say what they mean, no games. I didn't any of the history and was unaware of the discrimination issues, thank you for the education once again.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I was born and raised in Alabama, so I know lots of rednecks. Didn't know anything about redneck history until reading your lens. I enjoyed your lens and learned quite a bit from it. Thanks for sharing this info with everyone.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      @Virginia Allain: Me either till I started delving back into the history of the term Redneck. As I am Scottish it sort of fits right in there ;)

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      @Stazjia: Thank you for visiting Stazjia. The history of rednecks really is quite interesting isn't it.

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 5 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      Really interesting page about the history of Rednecks - blessed.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      I didn't know about the link to the Scotch-Irish in redneck history. I might just be one.

    • LoKackl profile image

      LoKackl 5 years ago

      I'm glad to learn of the Scottish origin of the term. Terrific lens.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      @Pete Schultz: Rednecks are indeed a unique lot and their history has a lot to do with who they are.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      @Diana Wenzel: Thank you so much for that wonderful compliment. I am so glad that you stopped by my Redneck History article. Thank you for visiting.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      Very interesting history. It makes me sad that people are so quickly judged (and for all the wrong reasons). Thanks for presenting the background of the Redneck origins, culture, and evolution.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      @norma-holt: Thank you so much for your wonderful words. Australia does indeed have as colorful a history as do Rednecks. The very best of wishes to you.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 5 years ago

      This is a lovely history that is little known by those outside of the USA. It is sad to see the results of discrimination and how the suppressed are usually the first to step up to the plate to do the hard and dirty work. In Australia such people as you describe built the country and did not have disciminatory titles as we mostly all came from the same background initially and there is no social class here, *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust.

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      Pete Schultz 6 years ago

      fun indeed, and something new too.

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      Sherry Venegas 6 years ago from La Verne, CA

      This lens is purdy. During my sleepless night of last, I saw the movie "Leaves of Grass." starring Edward Norton. haha, it was funny, though sometimes not lol. That guy is a good actor.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      @JoleneBelmain: Thank you for popping by. Have a wonderful day hun...

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: Yep, but it really is alright to be a Redneck. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I do, and it makes me crazy! I can not reveal his name here but he knows who he is!

    • JoleneBelmain profile image

      JoleneBelmain 6 years ago

      Another wonderful lens full of very interesting facts :)

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