Boy, do I have a barbeque story to tell, and it is like none other! This past weekend I got confirmation that my enslaved 5th great grandfather, Joe McLean, was born in 1775, in Barbecue, a small Township, in Harnett County, North Carolina. Thanks to my newfound DNA cousin Robert Lucas, who lives on Barbecue Church Road, and his family, we followed their car on a guided tour of the land where my ancestors toiled in the fields as slaves. We parked our cars on the grounds of Barbecue Presbyterian Church, near the cemetery. I had arrived.
That Sunday morning, I had dressed in layers with black pants under my skirt for church. My niece Yvette told me that I was going to be too hot, but I had my reasons. I wore the bracelet Yvette had given me for Christmas that she had made for me that had pictures of my late Dad, Mom, and five deceased sisters, Virginia, Dorothy, Mary, Yolanda, and Angie. I had been determined to bring my family with me when I walked on the land where our ancestors had lived. As soon as the car stopped I jumped out, I quickly got rid of the skirt grabbed my Everett and Jones Barbeque 50th Anniversary apron, and ran to my destiny. I had come home.
It was my family’s destiny to go into the barbeque restaurant business. It’s in our DNA! That burning passion I have for smoking, grilling, history, researching, storytelling, and late nights on Ancestry led me to Barbecue Church Road, in Barbecue Township, North Carolina. I brought my family with me to share in this moment of acknowledgment and fulfillment. Dirt from North Carolina and a small pinecone sit on my desk in a sealed mason jar. A daily reminder of my full circle moment. Barbeque is more than a meal it is a lifestyle!
On May 15, 2023, I posted this story on the Saucy Sister’s Blog some history of Barbecue Township https://www.everettandjones.com/saucy-sisters-blog/dna-confirmed
Not only is there a Barbecue township, but there is also a Barbecue church, and the church sits on the corner of Barbecue Church Road. Barbecue Presbyterian Church is older than the country. It was founded in 1757 by Scottish Highlanders from Scotland (At the time it was spelled barbeque). The church was named after the nearby Barbecue Creek. But check this out, there are no barbecue restaurants in Barbecue! I guess they want you to bring your own barbecue. . . Lol! There is however a Barbecue Creek Park.
So, I kept digging and found out that the origins of the name Barbecue came from a famous Scottish explorer and colonizer named Neill McNeill, who arrived in the Cape Fear River valley, North Carolina in 1739, according to historian Malcolm Fowler in his 1955 book “They Passed This Way.” The story goes those mists rising from a creek reminded Neill of barbecue fires smoking in the West Indies (Barbados). He named the creek Barbecue Creek. It became a named landmark on early land grants. He is given credit for naming the township Barbecue. Guess what . . . 3% of my DNA is from Scotland.
Update: from my notes
This same book said that the Scottish explorer and colonizer Neill McNeill is also given credit for introducing barbecued meat to the valley. I’m sure the Native Americans might have something to say about that. Neill’s barbecues were legendary. A whole beef, surprisingly not pork which North Carolina is known for, would be prepped and barbecued over wood charcoal by a man of African and European ancestry (a Black man) named Abraham Carter. He was the one doing the actual work. He was Neill’s servant from the West Indies (Barbados). If a whole animal was cooked that means it was probably cooked in a pit dug in the earth. Awe yes . . . the old hole-in-the-ground cooking technique perfected by African Americans. Was Abraham Neill’s slave? Was Abraham, a Black man, the first pitmaster in North Carolina? Technically Abraham Carter from the West Indies (Barbados) introduced barbecued meat to North Carolina and not the Scottish explorer Neil McNeill. . . I’m just saying.
Here is an update to the DNA Confirmed story.
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While you are here ....
Please join us for the Everett & Jones BBQ 50th Anniversary featuring an Art Exhibition by Fine artist Kenneth McGhee & the new book titled “Brickhouse” by Shirley Everett-Dicko on her families history in the barbecue industry and the history of “brick ovens” and Black women as pitmasters ! We’ve got Art talks, book signing & reading, Blues, BBQ & Beer, demos and sample tastings. And more. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Eventbrite! That’s Saturday, July 1st, 6-9pm. See you soon’
Looking for an agent/publisher for a proposed new barbeque book from a Black woman's perspective 50 years in the game.
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