A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from August 14, 2019
Hillbilly (Hill Billy)

"Hillbilly” is a term that derives from the word “hill” and the name “Billy” (a common name for someone of Scottish ancestry) and has been applied to residents in the Appalachian Mountains and other mountain regions. The term “hillbilly” is often used to describe someone who is poor and unsophisticated (or uneducated).

“NICHOLASVILLE (Kentucky—ed.), October 17.—This has been Court-day, and a quiet one, until about dark, when ten or fifteen roughs, known locally as ‘Hill Billies,’ undertook to take the city” was printed in The Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH) on October 18, 1881. “They are principally what the Frankfort girls picturesquely term ‘Hill-billys’” was printed in the Semi-Weekly South Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, KY) on February 23, 1886. The earliest citations are from Kentucky.

Wikipedia: Hillbilly
“Hillbilly” is a term (often derogatory) for people of various ethnicities who dwell in rural, mountainous areas in the United States, primarily in southern Appalachia and the Ozarks.

The first known instances of “hillbilly” in print were in The Railroad Trainmen’s Journal (vol. ix, July 1892)] an 1899 photograph of men and women in West Virginia labeled “Camp Hillbilly”, and a 1900 New York Journal article containing the definition: “a Hill-Billie is a free and untrammeled white citizen of Alabama, who lives in the hills, has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he pleases, drinks whiskey when he gets it, and fires off his revolver as the fancy takes him”. The stereotype is twofold in that it incorporates both positive and negative traits: “Hillbillies” are often considered independent and self-reliant individuals who resist the modernization of society, but at the same time they are also defined as backward and violent. Scholars argue this duality is reflective of the split ethnic identities in white America.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
hill-billy, n.
Etymology:  hill n. + billy n.1 2.
Previous versions of the OED give the stress as: ˈhill-ˌbilly.
Chiefly U.S.
A person from a remote rural or mountainous area, esp. of the south-eastern U.S. Also attributive and transferred.
1900 N.Y. Jrnl. 23 Apr. 2/5 In short, a Hill-Billie is a free and untrammelled white citizen of Alabama, who lives in the hills, has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he pleases, drinks whiskey when he gets it, and fires off his revolver as the fancy takes him.
1911 N.Y. Sun 10 Aug. (Funk) These two were farmers’ boys and hillbillies and jayhawkers.

18 October 1881, The Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH), pg. 2, col. 1:
Nicholasville, Kentucky.
NICHOLASVILLE, October 17.—This has been Court-day, and a quiet one, until about dark, when ten or fifteen roughs, known locally as “Hill Billies,” undertook to take the city.

23 February 1886, Semi-Weekly South Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, KY), pg. 2, col. 3:
The Penitentiary Muddle.
[Louisville Post.]
They are principally what the Frankfort girls picturesquely term “Hill-billys,” tough-grained old fellows, and mountain men, who have stood by the South family for years.

9 October 1888, Semi-Weekly South Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, KY), “The Fair,” pg. 4, col. 4:
Half mile dash, between Hill Billy, and Charley Norte.

10 September 1889, Semi-Weekly Interior Journal (Stanford, KY), pg. 3, col. 3:
Sad State of Affairs in Rockcastle.
[To the Editor of the Interior Journal.]
County Judge Colyer is a thick-headed, prejudiced “hill Billy,” who cares nothing for the peace and happiness of his constituents, nor anything else that tends to advance the interest of the county, which he has been the instigator in bringing into disrepute.
(By “A Citizen.”—ed.)

9 September 1890, The Daily American (Nashville, TN), “Summer Resort Story,” pg. 5, col. 3:
At one of the famous summer resorts, famed for the curative properties of health-giving waters, not many mile distant from Nashville, and “within a mile” of a district school, located on the rising bend just between the lowland and the highland rim, it has been the custom all summer for the “hill-billies,” or residents of the ridge, to gather in force on each respective Sunday.

22 October 1890, Cincinnati (OH) Post, “He Found It” by Belden, pg. 3, col. 1:
“They wus a bad lot all around—regalar ‘hill billies,’ and ginerally no good.”

17 January 1891, The Freeman (Indianapolis, IN), pg. 8, col. 3:
Since our agent has attracted so much attention every “hill-billy” and his cousin want to be an agent.

29 April 1891, The Daily Messenger (Owensboro, KY), “Almost a Tragedy,” pg. 1, col. 3:
There was never a better collection of people on an excursion until at Lodiburg a menagerie of hill-billies with which that country is afflicted got on board.

17 June 1892, Pascagoula (MS) Democrat-Star, “Editorial and Otherwise,” pg. 1, col. 3:
Hobbs, of the Mississippi Leader, in his Convention notes, says the “red-necks” and “hill-billies,” as they are classically called, were like angel’s visits—few and far between.

27 July 1892, Port Gibson (MS) Reveille, “Intolerance in Copiah,” pg. 1, col. 5:
Be it said to the credit of the press of Mississippi that it never lowered its dignity to characterize the members of the people’s party as “red necks” and “hillbillies.”

20 August 1892, Grenada (MS) Sentinel, “Horse Items,” pg. 1, col. 2:
... Mr. J. T. Garner’s “Hill-Billy” ...
(The name of a horse.—ed.)

Wikipedia: The Beverly Hillbillies
The Beverly Hillbillies is an American situation comedy television series broadcast on CBS from 1962 to 1971. The show had an ensemble cast featuring Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, Donna Douglas, and Max Baer Jr. as the Clampetts, a poor backwoods family from the Ozarks region who move to posh Beverly Hills, California after striking oil on their land.

Oxford Scholarship Online
Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon
Anthony Harkins
This book examines the evolution of one of the most pervasive and enduring American icons from the 18th-century to the present day. Spanning film, literature, and the entire expanse of American popular culture, from comics to country music to television and the Internet, the book argues that the longevity of the hillbilly stems from its ambiguity as a marker of both social derision and regional pride. Typically associated with Appalachia or the Ozarks, the “hillbilly” was viewed by mainstream Americans simultaneously as a violent degenerate who threatens the social order, and as a keeper of traditional values of family, home, and physical production. The character was therefore both a foil to an increasingly urbanizing and industrializing America and a symbol of a nostalgic past free of the problems of contemporary life. The book also argues that “hillbillies” have played a critical role in the construction of whiteness and modernity. Middle-class Americans imagined hillbillies, with their supposedly pure Anglo-Saxon or Scottish origins, as an exotic race, akin to blacks and Indians, but still native and white, as opposed to the growing influx of immigrants in the first half of the 20th century. At the same time, the image’s whiteness allowed crude caricatures of Southern mountaineers to persist long after similar ethnic and racial stereotypes had become socially unacceptable.
Keywords: popular culture, Hillbilly, Whiteness, stereotype, ambiguity, mountaineers, Appalachia, Ozarks
Print publication date: 2005 Print ISBN-13: 9780195189506
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189506.001.0001

Urban Dictionary
Often used as an insult and racial slur against White folks who live in the country. A hillbilly is a person who lives in a remote, rural area in the South, often in the Appalachian (Or sometimes Ozark) Mountains and therefore is isolated and somewhat out of touch with modern culture.

The stereotype of a hillbilly is a person who: Is a White Southerner who owns a shotgun, goes barefoot, wears a worn out floppy hat, drinks moonshine and whiskey which he makes himself, plays the banjo or fiddle, drives old beat up pick up trucks, has bad teeth, is poorly educated, has long a beard, wears worn out clothes and hand me downs, and is happy and content with what they have.

Just because someone is a hillbilly doesn’t mean that they fit the hillbilly stereotype listed above.
by OneBadAsp October 24, 2006

Appalachian History
The word ‘Hillbilly’: Linguistic Mystery and Popular Culture Fixture
Posted by Dave Tabler | March 5, 2012
Present Day
Country music acts largely now prefer not to label themselves as “hillbillies,” but the term is still alive and well today. Hillbilly Days is an annual festival, the second largest festival held in Kentucky. Held in April, it celebrates the best of Appalachian culture and is sometimes referred to as the “Mardi Gras of the Mountains.”

It’s fair to say, then, that these Scottish immigrants made an impression. The force of their tenacity and loyalty and ancestral family ways developed into a character that grew to be famous, and will continue to be so, throughout the world.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Wednesday, August 14, 2019 • Permalink