The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Hog Thieves

By Sue Collins © 1986

Issue: November, 1986

The reason that I know more about my mother's family is that my father never cared about pedigrees and when I asked about times and places I was told a story that had neither points of information.

"What was your Grandmother's maiden name?"

"I don't know but she wasn't well and she was grouchy. She always said, 'Can't you keep those children quiet?'"

There was a character in our town that came from a prominent family but due to his habit of going on sprees, he never accomplished anything himself. When he was "in his cups" however he liked to brag about his ancestors and often came to my father's office and took up his time with his bragging.

On day Daddy saw him coming and decided to teach him a lesson. He searched his mind for an example of a bad ancestor and decided that a hog thief would be a disgrace. Before that man could open his mouth he said, "Before you tell me about your people let me tell you about mine. They were hog thieves in Ireland and they kept getting shot in the back over there so they came over here and they kept getting shot in the back over here so they gave it up as a bad risk. Today we are ladies and gentlemen although none of us has done great things. Whatever we are, it has not been hard to be better than our ancestors."

The man did not speak but, with a strange look on his face, left immediately and never returned.

Thinking that he had probably lost his battle with the bottle, Daddy asked a man who knew quite a few people around town, if he knew what had happened to him and told him of the last visit.

The man roared with laughter and said, "If you had known what I know and said what you said, you would not be the gentleman you claim to be. That man's very ancestors were the biggest hog thieves in the county."