The Sandhills: The Comforts of Tradition and Ritual

Riverton, ancestral home of poet John Charles McNeill and historian Gerald Johnson, near Wagram in Scotland county, is not a “place but a state of mind.” Tradition abounds in this tiny Scottish settlement on the banks of the Lumbee River. Riverton Nights, held regularly, resemble the original ceileidhs of the Scottish Highlands where everyone has an opportunity to perform. McNeill expressed his joy in the activities of summer on the banks of the river in his poem “Sunburnt Boys.” While serving as a Baptist missionary to China, McNeill's cousin, Dr. Hudson McMillan, was imprisoned in a concentration camp when Mao Zedong brought communists into power. From his cell, he wrote journal accounts of Riverton Nights and prayer meetings in Scotland County, recalling those boyhood pleasures, using the format which remains unchanged to this day. In this presentation Dr. Mary Wayne Watson focuses on traditions associated with the “old country” still seen in the region.

Lectern, small table for display