Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

My Life In Appalachia – Mountain Hoosiers

My life in appalachia mountain hoosier

I was consulting my Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English for something when my eye fell upon the entry mountain hoosier-a term I have never heard.

According to the dictionary, Joseph Hall’s earliest research showed people native to the mountains of NC and TN called themselves as well as their neighbors mountain hoosiers. The entry goes on to document the phrase was commonly used in Swain County NC, Cocke Co TN, Jefferson Co TN, Sevier Co TN, and even here in Brasstown.

Even though I’ve never heard the term-I’d say the 2 girls in the photo fit the description perfectly.

How about you ever heard of a mountain hoosier?


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.



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  • Reply
    Randall Lee Troup
    October 31, 2020 at 7:08 pm

    My Daddy (Burton Troup, 1909-2000) was from a backwoods area of the Cumberland Plateau in northeast Alabama and referred to his being a “mountain hoojer” (my spelling) when he was growing up. His tales are in Only Yesterday, a now out-of-print book I edited for him. It turns up on Abebooks and Alibris now and then.

  • Reply
    David Burgner
    October 7, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    We always called them “Mountain Hoodgers”.

    • Reply
      Steve Roberts
      April 3, 2021 at 3:06 pm

      Another slang term.

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    April 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    I grew up in Southern Indiana. I was always told a Hoosier was someone from Indiana or a backwoods person.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    April 7, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    My mama says ” hoodgers”. And she means not willing to give an inch in following their own old ways; insular and peculiar.

  • Reply
    Ed Reed
    April 7, 2013 at 9:22 am

    I heard “mountain hoosier” a lot during my childhood from the older folks. My mother used the term a lot. “He’s an old mountain hoosier.”

  • Reply
    Tim Cuthbertson
    April 6, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Along with so many others here, I never heard of Mountain Hoosiers. I only heard about Indiana Hoosiers and I never had any idea what the term referred to.
    However, I grew up a Georgia Cracker, and I never had any idea what that meant, either. I loved the Atlanta Crackers baseball club, though.

  • Reply
    April 6, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    I’ve heard of Hoosiers, but never heard it explained before. I wonder if there’s any kind of connection to the old all-in-one kitchen cabinets called Hoosiers?
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Kim Campbell
    April 6, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Not Mountain Hoosier, however, being born and raised in Indiana, we are called The Hoosier State. The most popular definition is a shortening of Who’s yer neighbor?

  • Reply
    April 5, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    This evening I’m still pondering Hoosiers which just seems so strange to me, but I’m remembering my Daddy teasing us when we got a bit unruly, saying “your sounding like a bunch of “Hessians” making all that racket.” With his Scotch-Irish heritage I’m wondering about a Hoosier/Hessian correlation. Hmmmm?

  • Reply
    Samuel J Ervin Jr.
    April 5, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Jim, I am one of those “Larky” Hoosiers you speak of. I am not a native but I married into a “Larky” family. My daughter’s bloodlines run way up Larky Creek. She even went to school at Alarka Elementary for a while and danced with the Alarka Cloggers.
    When I was growing up, I looked down on those Larky “Hoogers” as we called them. Now one of them calls me Daddy. Does that make me an oxymoron?

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    April 5, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Y yea,, when we were in school if you dated a girl from the mountains in Bankhead forest, you were dating them “mountain Huuggers” ( we pronounced it) girls,, most were strong as ox and arnory as bears..

  • Reply
    April 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    I always thought of “housiers” as
    our friends up in Indiana, never
    heard it applied here.
    Hope everyone has a nice time at
    the Martin’s Creek program. I’m
    gonna try to take advantage of the
    Sunshine Saturday and get some
    garden work done…Ken

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    April 5, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Tipper–I actually heard the time fairly frequently as a kid, although usually just the “hoosier” part, not “mountain hoosier.” Folks would say something like “he’s just an old Larky hoosier” (someone who lived on Alarka Creek) or “she’s a sure enough Round Hill Hoosier.”
    However, I haven’t heard the usage in decades, which suggests it has faded like so much of the traditional mountain vernacular.
    I’d be curious to learn whether some of the other Swain County natives who haunt this site are familiar with the term. All of them are younger than me, if I’m not mistaken, so maybe it was fading during my adolescence.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    April 5, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    That’s a new term to me! Thanks to Mike McLain for the research, and thanks to you, Tipper, I learn something new all the time at The Blind Pig!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    April 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    I have heard the term “Mountain Hoosier” in north GA where I’m from. Never knew the true meaning but thought it meant a person who kind of lived by his own rules back in the hills.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 5, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Mountain Hoosier: It fits me to a T.
    Another mountain idiom that I’m proud to be.

  • Reply
    April 5, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I have heard that term years ago but, I remember it being pronounced “Mountain Hoodger”.
    I’ll try not to ramble but here’s what I think. When my Granny died my uncle was talking about her at the wake. He was (of course) speaking of how he had loved her and he said, “I think everybody loved her, and if they didn’t it was just because they didn’t know her.” That’s what I think about the names that some people give others. If they call someone something that’s not flattering or demeaning, it’s probably simply because they just didn’t know them. Hate to sound so philosophical this early but, I really believe that.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    April 5, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Never heard Hoosier as it pertains to mountain folks. However, I have heard of Hoosier cabinets! They were wonderful cabinets. Holding all your lifes sustaining supplies in one place. Of course, you would have to go to the spring for milk or the cow.
    A place for everything and everything in its place. Spices of life, meal, flour, coffee, a few taters, onions stored in another deep part of the cabinet.
    Then there were all the tools right at hand to carve out the needs…It was rough and ready, not always the elite cabinet but meal ready
    I think that is why when a mountain woman moved she for shore wanted her Hoosier cabinet to go with her.
    At least my Mama did!
    Maybe that’s why some were called Hoosiers, tough steady and ready to stay the course, and what you see is what you get. No airs put on!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Gina S
    April 5, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Like you Tipper, I have always associated the term, Hoosier, with folks from Indiana. Thus I was fascinated to read the excerpt from Indiana University. Thanks Blind Pig and Mike McLain.

  • Reply
    April 5, 2013 at 8:25 am

    New term for me! The girls look like they are enjoying a private ‘girly’ time. Good for them!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 5, 2013 at 8:24 am

    I have heard the term, mountain hoosier, but it been so long I no longer have a reference for it. It sounds to me lime Mike found the best history for the word.
    I think, for the most part, we are no longer that backward a people.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 5, 2013 at 8:22 am

    I agree with Jo, no bumpkins there.
    But, I am proud to be a 5th generation FL Cracker. The term is not negative, but taken from the noise the whip makes during a cattle drive.

  • Reply
    April 5, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Have never heard the term “mountain hoosiers”. Good pic of the girls.

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    April 5, 2013 at 8:05 am

    I’ve heard of Indiana Hoosiers and hoosier cabinets. Wish I could come to the jamboree. Sounds “right up my alley”. Maybe next year.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    April 5, 2013 at 7:11 am

    You got me curious. I had never heard “mountain hoosier”, but of course, I knew the Hoosier State, Indiana. I found an article on the website of Indiana University and got a bit of a surprise:
    “The best evidence, however, suggests that “Hoosier” was a term of contempt and opprobrium common in the upland South and used to denote a rustic, a bumpkin, a countryman, a roughneck, a hick or an awkward, uncouth or unskilled fellow. Although the word’s derogatory meaning has faded, it can still be heard in its original sense, albeit less frequently than its cousins “Cracker” and “Redneck.”
    From the South “Hoosier” moved north and westward with the people into the Ohio Valley, where it was applied at first to the presumably unsophisticated inhabitants of Southern Indiana. Later it expanded to include all residents of the state and gradually lost its original, potent connotation of coarseness in manners, appearance and intellect.”
    According to this, the term “Hoosier” came from the “upland South” (Appalachia?) and made its way to Indiana.

  • Reply
    April 5, 2013 at 6:38 am

    I had to search this one out. Never heard it used except for the cabinets and the state. ….And those Country Ladies are too lovely to be Hoosiers.

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