Posted by Barry Jacobs on June 21, 2000
In Reply to: Mark Twain's Use of "[word removed in order to comply with Google's Publisher Policy] in the woodpile" posted by Gabriela on June 16, 2000
President Jimmy Carter once used the phrase (to his regret) in a reply to a question from an African-American also surnamed "Carter."
To paraphrase the encounter:
The man asked, "My name's 'Carter' and your name is 'Carter.' How come we're not related." To which the President responded, "Lot's of Georgia families have a [word removed in order to comply with Google's Publisher Policy] in the woodpile."
I grew up in the rural South (Texas). This phrase was quite common. I have always heard it used in the context of President Carter's lame joke, i.e. to imply a dubious or racially mixed ancestry.