Date Awarded


Document Type

Dissertation -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




James P Whittenburg


This study traces the social and cultural odyssey of three generations of elite families as they moved from Ireland and Pennsylvania to the Virginia frontier and eventually sent branches into Kentucky. It focuses on the influence of gender roles and kinship in enabling this elite to consolidate its power in Virginia and to extend that authority across the Appalachians.;Although its members were mostly Scotch-Irish, a shared commercial heritage proved more significant than common ethnic origins in defining the culture of this elite. Men entered Virginia as advantaged outsiders. They quickly shifted the focus of their entrepreneurial drive from Britain and Philadelphia to the vast lands of the interior. They succeeded in increasing their wealth, power, and social status in Virginia and in passing on these qualities and the values that underlay them to their sons and grandsons.;Women's roles complemented those of men. While men travelled widely to oversee the government and settlement of a vast frontier, wives remained at home and acted in their husbands' steads. By the time the third generation came of age, however, this role for women had narrowed as increasingly specialized occupations for men limited the involvement of wives in their husbands' daily business affairs. Third generation wives proved better educated than their mothers and grandmothers, however, and cultivated an active interest in politics.;Ties of kinship bound nuclear families together into a regional elite, and extended kin networks played important economic and emotional roles. Men cooperated with kin in speculative commercial ventures, looked out for each others' political interests, and encouraged one another in their endeavors. Female relatives assisted mothers in childbirth and in caring for young children. A wide array of kin helped parents educate and socialize their children and eventually influenced a young person's selection of a mate.;Patterns of serial migration made possible the recreation of kinship networks in Kentucky, while letters and visits kept Virginia and Kentucky branches of families in touch. Common concerns--business interests, family news, religious faith, and their children--bound kin on both sides of the Appalachians together into an emerging southern elite.



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