Introduction

Blue Horizontal Line

 

It is the environment of the family that largely defines our response to life, and the reservoir of heredity in the family that largely determines the powers we are born with. Rebellion against the family is but an affirmation of the power of the family to generate enthusiasm, and the study of the family needs no justification.
Most of the information in this book is known to the majority of the history conscious Macaulays and, of the Macaulays, the majority are history conscious. However, no statement has been made to the lineage that has not been verified from reliable documents, and if there were any valid question, the material was not endorsed for inclusion.
 
No horse thieves, criminals or fiends were found in research, though the authors hoped as they went further back in time, things would pick up, but they did not. The burden of Presbyterian respectability was made heavier by the discovery that the tale of John Heard, who around 1720 was supposed to have stabbed an Episcopalian priest with a pitchfork in a dispute over tithes, is mere oral tradition.
 
Neill Macaulay, an intelligent man of academic bent and unusual education for his time and region, was the son of Neill McAulay, a well-to-do business man of Iredell County, North Carolina. After attending Davidson College in 1870, he then transferred to Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina. He stayed in upper South Carolina, after graduation, as a teacher, founding, in the custom of the times, his own academy. The Davidson College Semi-Centennial Catalogue of 1891 lists him as “Founder of McAulay’s High School, Seneca, South Carolina.”
 
In upper South Carolina he married later in life Henrietta Holleman of Oconee County, South Carolina. She was a descendent of some of the early settlers of Virginia and South Carolina, the daughter of Joseph Whitfield Holleman of Walhalla, South Carolina, a former Intendent of the town, elder in the First Presbyterian Church, judge of the probate court, and a man of some local importance.
 
J. W. Holleman opposed the marriage between his daughter and Neill Webster Macaulay, feeling he was too much older (19 years), although such marriages at the time were quite common. To stop the courtship, “Judge” Holleman sent his daughter to stay with relatives near Carnesville, Georgia. Neill Macaulay went after Henrietta, they eloped and were married January 6, 1892.
 
The couple had ten children, and the family eventually made their home in Walhalla, where Mr. Macaulay had been Commissioner of Education, 1888-92, and where he became editor of his own newspaper, “The Oconee News”. Considered a profound thinker for the time and vicinity, he was sought after particularly for rhetorical speeches to ornament civic, church and patriotic occasions. He died in 1916 during World War I as his era was ending.
 
Mr. Macaulay left a reasonable estate, enough for the time and area, to take care of his large family. Unfortunately, it was lost in depressions and business failures current in the early 20th century. In order to further the education of her children, Henrietta Macaulay left Walhalla, settling in Columbia, South Carolina, where the family might be near the University. Her foresight and courage in making a good offence in Columbia, the seat of the University, stressing formal education and centering the family in an urban area, cannot be underestimated. It was one of those moves that affect generations.
 
In doing this Henrietta Macaulay was remaining loyal to the intellectual values of her husband. Even if his money were lost, Neill Macaulay’s values remained. These complemented his wife’s courage and common sense. A man who read Latin and Greek for pleasure, he stressed a Presbyterian faith of dignity, integrity and simplicity, finding in the simplicity of Presbyterianism classical values and parallels softened by a Christian compassion, and made urgent by a sense of election and mission.
 
History has often recorded families of great wealth and social position. It has rarely recorded families of fine values. This is a rather unfortunate commentary on the nature of mankind. But it was Neill Macaulay’s heritage of a sense of values that enabled his family to become the masters of themselves, rather than the servants of commercialism. For, in the end, it is the values that a family holds, not the money it grasps, that enables it to endure.
 
Neill Macaulay was a consistent Christian (his brother was a Presbyterian minister), a believer in democracy (he brought mountain children into his home to educate), and a 19th century gentleman (old ladies in 1955 remembered fondly the gravity and courtesy of his grand manner). Though he lived through the days of reconstruction and post-bellum poverty, he taught his family that what a family is, is more important than what it has. It is to his credit that he maintained and inculcated these views at a time of social disintegration and collapse that included increased emotionalism, commercialism and a coarser fabric in American life.
 
It has been the purpose of the authors to see that no coarse pretensions mar this book. The Macaulays were not aristocrats, although they shared the Hugenot ancestors of many, and would have been insulted by the tidewater label. They were Presbyterian proud upcountry gentry and there was no compromise in them.
 
If they were called aristocrats, as was sometimes the case, it was because their vision was essentially republican and orderly, an association undoubtedly drawn from their consistent and dignified Presbyterian affiliation. That society most indiginous to the Macaulays was not the tidewater South but the Valley of Virginia, the piedmont or early New England. If parallels are sought, it was to those upcountry republican values and representative way of life that the Macaulays most heartily subscribed.
 
In examining the history of any family, one is always reminded of the verse from Hebrews 12:1 -- “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses... let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
 
Every family is surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, good or bad, ephemeral yet haunting. Perhaps a psychologist might call it a racial memory, but it exists in a family: in reoccurring ways, looks, and temperaments.
 
When a child is born, it is only from these family reservoirs of heredity that he may have drawn. He can bring to life nothing that his ancestors have not furnished. He will be formed in life by the conscious and unconscious witness of the family, past and present, for we do know that, whether in psychology or heredity or both, the sins and virtues of the parents descend in influence to the Biblical third and fourth genera- tions, which is probably a conservative religious estimate.
 
The family is so important in life, the members so inter-complementary that, after studying the generations, it is easy to understand the old Scots desire of a man to be buried with his fathers:

I was in them,
They were in me,
God can’t tell a wave
apart from the sea.
 

It is this sea of life, that reservoir of heredity and continuing environment, from which the individual’s life rises, only to fall back into a continuing stream, now carrying others toward the shore.
 
The family streams merge with other family streams in an ever increasing reservoir of latent heredity for the future in this sea of life, troubled only by individual waves of consciousness, which, briefly over, lapse into the great hereditary reservoir from which future generations will be formed, to break and return.
 
This sea of life and heredity, in which men are waves, this family of man growing constantly, is of eternal interest. Yet the families pouring into the common pool of history are uniquely themselves. The individuals produced by them are too.
 
HOME Table of Contents

 

 

Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.