How You Wound Up a McCord (a tale of massacre and incest)

For every generation n before your own, there are probably around 2n people whose stories have involved procreatin’ in order to give life to someone indispensable to your existence. Here is but one chain running through that crowd, which happens to be distinguished by being the one that gave you your surname.

James McCord, who is alleged to have been a clan chieftain, had some kids with his wife, whose name is lost to history.* Then he was killed at the battle of Killiecrankie Pass (a name I most definitely did not make up), which was fought July 27, 1689.

His son John McCord high-tailed it to Ireland, and he and Mary MacDougal had some babies.

One of these kiddies, William McCord, came to the colonies in 1720 with his wife (whose name we do not know*) and kids, including William McCord, who was but a wee laddie of four summers. Or something.

William built a fort. After what I can only assume to be a lengthy process during which large fees were paid to marketing professionals for numerous rounds of focus group testing, this fort became known as “Fort McCord”. Then William married Jane Lowry. Too bad there was a terrible massacre at Fort McCord on April 1, 1756. Lucky for you and me, William got off a few kids of his own before being overcome by the natives. (One wonders whether the whole massacre began as a harmless April Fool prank. As a sidenote, a party sent out to rescue those captured during the raid on Fort McCord got itself massacred, too.)

One of William’s kids was James McCord, whose wife Katy may or may not have been briefly carried away by the Native Americans after the Ft. McCord incident. In any event, she lost her last name* and gave birth to James, Jr.

James, Jr. married a woman named Sarah Boal (another last name destined to become mulch for our family tree*). Can we go split-screen here?

James and Sarah have a son, John McCord. He married Nancy Crook. (She was probably glad to change her name to McCord.* See, in the olden days, your last name was what you did for a living, so Joe Smith was probably a blacksmith and Eddie Baker probably made bread. Vladimir Putin. Heh.

John and Nancy had a son, Robert McCord.

James and Sarah have a daughter, Elizabeth McCord. She didn’t stay a McCord, though,* because she married Joseph Adair. Adair is a nice name, isn’t it? And don’t you feel that the right column should be roughly as long as the left? I know I do.

Elizabeth and Joseph had a daughter, and they named her Jane Adair.

And Robert McCord married Jane Adair. That’s incest!

(A note about marrying your cousin. Robert and Jane were born near the beginning of the 19th century, and can be forgiven for their incestuous union because language hadn’t been invented yet, so there was no way to say “hey, don’t do that; that’s incest.” But today we have a strong social taboo against marrying anyone more closely related to you than a second cousin. Some say that it makes your children retarded. Others say that you yourself must be retarded to violate a bedrock taboo. So it’s a chicken-and-egg kind of thing. But just so you understand: Robert marrying Jane would be like you marrying AT’s nephew Sam, which would be disturbing and would probably kill your mother and I. Unless you are reading this after having married your cousin Sam, in which case your mother and I love you very much and we want to support you but we’re just trying to understand and maybe you can visit again next christmas.)

Robert’s and Jane’s son was named James McCord, and he married Mary Cornelia Walker. Their son was named Guyte (or maybe “Guyton”) P. McCord (not “Walker”*), and now we’re getting down to the folks I heard discussed at interminable family holiday gatherings.

Still with me? Guyte McCord married Jean Patterson (who built the little red house in the NC mountains), and they begat James E. McCord, one of my grandfathers. (He isn’t the James McCord who famously broke into the Watergate, though our James is a bit of a John Birch Society type. If you don’t understand this parenthetical, and if you think of American politics as the kind of civil discourse described in 7th grade civics, please do not investigate the Watergate or the JBS. You are better off in your ignorance.)

My Crazy Grandmother Plays at Being Crazy

Jim (as he is known) married Marquita Lance. “That’s an interesting name, ‘Marquita'”, you may be thinking. And you’d be right — it is interesting! Her father, Mark Walter Lance, was so geared up to have a boy and name him Mark, that when my grandmother was born he just went ahead and named her Marquita.* True story.

Marquita punted the name back over the gender fence when she and Jim named my father Mark Lance McCord. He married Dawn Harmon (who snuck her last name into my brother’s middle name* *), and they begat Junior (me). I married AT, and together we made sure you were begatted.

And that’s how the lion got his spots.

* The patriarchy. Pffft. What are you going to do?

* * Take that, patriarchy! Pow!

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