The second verse of “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” has never quite made sense to me. It describes the events that follow Jed’s discovery of oil on his property.
Well the first thing you know, old Jed’s a millionaire.
The kinfolk said “Jed, move away from there!”
They said “Californy is the place you oughta be,”
So they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly.
Hills, that is. Swimming pools, movie stars.
Jed is now a millionaire, and the first thing his kinfolk say to him is, “You have to move. To California. Now.” I don’t think I follow the logic. One of the advantages of being wealthy is that you can live pretty much wherever you want. As far as I know, there is no law requiring millionaires to congregate in Beverly Hills. Why does Jed have to go there?
To answer this question we have to consider who, exactly, is urging Jed to move. Who are these “kinfolk”? They’re not Jethro, Elly Mae, and Granny. If those people were suggesting the move, they would say: “Jed, move away from here. Californy is the place we oughta be.” The wording of the song establishes that the kinfolk are not members of Jed’s household, and they don’t expect to go with him to Beverly Hills.
Why are they so keen to convince him to move? This isn’t the reaction you would expect from people related to a man who just became rich. Shouldn’t they be sucking up to Jed in the hope that he’ll share his wealth with them? Urging him to move across the country doesn’t fit that pattern. I can only think of one thing that explains this odd behavior: Jed and his kinfolk are not on good terms. They know that they don’t stand a chance of getting their hands on any of his money — and therefore, they see his newfound wealth only as an opportunity to get rid of him. And Jethro and Elly Mae and Granny as well.
So we know that Jed’s kinfolk are not close relatives (or they’d be living with him) and don’t like him much. What kind of kinfolk does that suggest? In-laws, of course. Notice that Jed’s wife — Jethro and Elly Mae’s mother — is nowhere to be seen in the series. Presumably, she is dead. Her family may never have been fond of Jed in the first place, but tolerated him while she was alive. Now that she’s gone, that tolerance is at an end.
This is pure conjecture, but here’s what I think happened: Jed and his wife were members of families on opposite sides of a feud. When they married, their families declared a truce. After his wife’s death, the old grudges reasserted themselves. Jed’s transformation into a millionaire inspired only envy and resentment among his kinfolk, who were only too happy to goad him into moving away and taking his blood relatives with him. And he was quite willing to oblige them.
So he loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly.