Origin of the term Redneck!

Blog Post created by pir8fan on Feb 9, 2011

There were some hurt feelings yesterday because of a lack of understanding! For those who really care to know what a Redneck is this is kinda long but it is enlightening!!  I had heard this before and copied this from answerbag.com!


Some may believe Jeff Foxworthy either developed the term “redneck” or it simply describes a poor, uneducated person from eastern Kentucky or southern West Virginia.

It’s all simply not true. In fact, the term redneck originated in my home state of West Virginia, in an area known as the southern coalfields.

In fact, it all concerns a large group of coal miners in protest to a murder and to become unionized – while wearing red bandanas around their necks – marched across the state and fought a bloody battle at Blair Mountain (West Virginia) in the fall of 1921.

The protest is known as the largest armed uprising in U.S. history, while some 10,000-coal miners confronted state and federal troops in an attempt to unionize the coal miners of West Virginia.

The month-long war was deemed the “Red Neck Wars” because of the red bandanas. And, one of the most notable of the battle’s union organizers was Mother Jones.

To make a long story short…The spring of 1920 was a troubled time in the West Virginia Coalfields. A nationwide coal strike settled during the winter and won unionized miners a 27-percent wage increase.

Unfortunately, the settlement didn’t help most miners in southern West Virginia, the largest non-unionized coal region in the country.

When the United Mine Workers (UMW) stepped up its campaign to organize Logan (my hometown), Mingo and McDowell counties, coal operators wanted revenge and hired private detectives (Baldwin-Felts) to cancel all union activity.

Miners who did join the UMW were fired and literally thrown from their company-owned houses.

However, tension between the two sides exploded into deadly violence May 19, 1920 when 13 Baldwin-Felts detectives arrived in Matewan to evict union miners from houses owned by the Stone Mountain Mining Company.

It was a time of anti-unionism and “yellow-dog contracts.” Before being hired by the Stone Mountain Mining Company, miners had to sign the contracts pledging never to join the mineworkers union or to associate with union members.

In exchange for signing the contract and being committed to buying food and clothes from company-owned stores, mine workers and their families received jobs and homes to live in.

As the coal industry began to boom, greedy company men began to pay less money to the mineworkers in order to make more money. To make things worse, the company would lower their payments to workers the same day they would raise the price of food and clothes in the stores where the workers had to shop.

Folks opted to move to the area in order to make a nice life for themselves. But dealing with such gluttonous work politics on top of tough working conditions created turmoil.

Well, Matewan Chief of Police Sid Hatfield became involved on behalf of the evicted families. And after the eviction of several families, the Baldwin-Felts detectives ate dinner at the Urias Hotel then walked to the depot to catch the 5 p.m. train to Bluefield, Virginia. However, Hatfield, who said he had warrants from the county sheriff, intercepted the detectives. Detective Albert Felts then produced a warrant for Hatfield’s arrest, which Matewan Mayor C.C. Testerman claimed to be a fake.

All the while detective didn’t know they had been surrounded by armed miners, who were watching from windows and doorways all along Mate Street.

During the face-off between the detectives, Hatfield and Testerman, more than 100 shots were fired. The bloody battle known today at the “Matewan Massacre” left seven detectives and four townspeople dead – including Felts and Testerman.

Of course, Hatfield became a hero and was eventually acquitted of murder charges for his part in the massacre. However, in the summer of 1921 Hatfield and his associate Ed Chambers were shot to death by Baldwin-Felts detectives on the steps of the McDowell County Courthouse, where they were to stand trial for a shooting at a nearby coal camp.

Learning of the murders, almost 10,000 united miners began the redneck march across the state of West Virginia to avenge the deaths and to drive Baldwin-Felts detectives out of the area once and for all.

The march ended at Blair Mountain, where state and federal trooped defeated miners and halted the UMW’s campaign in southern West Virginia. Afterward, most of the southern coalfields remained non-union until 1933.

So the next time you hear the word redneck, you can say it doesn’t have anything to do with being barefoot and pregnant nor does it describe a person living in a mobile home or in a trailer park. In fact the word redneck simply describes a group of men just wanting to make an honest and fair living.