Thursday, January 3, 2013

Old West glossary, no. 53


Montana cowboys, c1910
Here’s another set of terms and forgotten people gleaned from early western fiction. Definitions were discovered in various online dictionaries, as well as searches in Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, Dictionary of the American West, The New Encyclopedia of the American West, The Cowboy Dictionary, The Cowboy Encyclopedia, Vocabulario Vaquero, I Hear America Talking, Cowboy Lingo, and The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

These are from Agnes Laut’s The Freebooters of the Wilderness, Will Levington Comfort’s Trooper Tales, S. Carleton Jones’ Out of Drowning Valley, Therese Broderick’s The Brand, and A. M. Chisholm’s The Boss of Wind River.

Once again, I struck out on a few. If anyone has a definition for “tilty,” “to cut one’s clubs,” or “pattern reserve,” leave a comment below.


bark camp = a shelter consisting of a shoulder-high framework of stakes and poles, with a roof and sidings of bark, usually from small pine trees. “Outside the wind rose and the rain dripped, but the bark camp was comfortable.” S. Carleton Jones, Out of Drowning Valley.

birl = to turn a log underfoot as it floats. “They may blow dams and saw booms, but we’ll do them yet. Birl into her, bullies!” A. M. Chisholm, The Boss of Wind River.

bobtail = a dishonorable discharge. “If de captain dun gibs me five yeahs an’ a bob-tail, Ah’ll still be glad dat Ah wah in de Black Hoss troop at de propah moment, sah!” Will Levington Comfort, Trooper Tales.

buzzy = crazy, eccentric. “Brown, you’re hivey, you’re buzzy, you’re supposed to hear noises and look idiotic.” Will Levington Comfort, Trooper Tales.

by the Lord Harry = a mild oath. “By the Lord Harry, Crooks, Ackerman is a director of the Peninsular Railway, of the Commercial Bank, and of the Northern Loan Company!” A. M. Chisholm, The Boss of Wind River.

caboose = a shack; an oven or fireplace. “With tape-line and pegs McKenna laid out the ground plans of bunk-house, eating-camp, caboose, foreman’s quarters, and stables.” A. M. Chisholm, The Boss of Wind River.

chlorodyne = a patent medicine invented in the 19th century as a treatment for cholera, diarrhea, insomnia, neuralgia, and migraines; a mixture of laudanum, tincture of cannabis, and chloroform. “The foreman noted the victims of his strategy, issued them chlorodyne from the van, and kept his mouth shut.” A. M. Chisholm, The Boss of Wind River.

corpse candle = a will-o’-the-wisp; a ghostly light seen at night or twilight over bogs, swamps, and marshes; when seen in a churchyard, believed to portend a death or funeral route. “A light—an unmistakable, inappropriate light—had flashed out from the darkness of the hole in which the cave ended. Corpse-candles were the only things Halliday thought of.” S. Carleton Jones, Out of Drowning Valley.

dee = a loop attached to tack, for fastening gear. “Stuck his fingers down into Sabiel’s old saddle till he found the wooden dees.” S. Carleton Jones, Out of Drowning Valley.

Madame de Staël
de Staël, Germaine = French-speaking Swiss author of notable notoriety (1766-1817). “Kate Poison-Water was a sort of De Stael among the Sioux. She was a serpent in cunning, a tigress in strength and agility—a Sioux squaw in general deviltry.” Will Levington Comfort, Trooper Tales.

dope = a mixture of ingredients, edible or drinkable. “Better unsaddle and stop for grub; got some swell dope ’bout ready.” Therese Broderick, The Brand.

eat dog = to suffer humiliation and insult. “You needn’t think we are specially keen for eating dog on this kind of a job!” Agnes C. Laut, The Freebooters of the Wilderness.

gambade = a leap or bound. “What I ought to do now is to gambade after him.” S. Carleton Jones, Out of Drowning Valley.

God’s acre = a churchyard or burial ground. “Curious to learn what distinguished person had found his last resting place here, she entered God’s Acre.” Therese Broderick, The Brand.

government bouquet = Army issue soap. “I administered unto my little fellow-convict a scrubbing down with government bouquet.” Will Levington Comfort, Trooper Tales.

granolithic = a mixture of crushed granite and cement. “At that moment she saw her hero stage driver shooting out tobacco squids at the innocent granolithic.” Agnes C. Laut, The Freebooters of the Wilderness.

hivey = crazy. “Brown, you’re hivey, you’re buzzy, you’re supposed to hear noises and look idiotic.” Will Levington Comfort, Trooper Tales.

Intervale winter, 1901
intervale = a tract of low-lying land, especially along a river. “Below them lay a stretch of long, smooth intervale—fresh with young grass, and skirted by Indian willows with heavy hardwood behind them.” S. Carleton Jones, Out of Drowning Valley.

jingle = spirit, energy. “You have not forgotten all your Western jingle, even though you have been gone a year and a half.” Therese Broderick, The Brand.

jug = to imprison, incarcerate. “I took him by the scruff o’ th’ neck and helped him down Smelter City trail an’—an’—an’ I jugged him; that’s all; an’ there he is yet!” Agnes C. Laut, The Freebooters of the Wilderness.

laboring oar = a position of hard work and chief responsibility. “I’ll bet they have to pull the laboring oar to get it.” S. Carleton Jones, Out of Drowning Valley.

leary = wide awake, alert. “‘Get leary, old man,’ I whispered, excitedly, at this moment, ‘the boys are coming back.’” Will Levington Comfort, Trooper Tales.

limit = a tract or allotment granted for the cutting of timber. “Kent’s tender for the choice Wind River limits was accepted, somewhat to his surprise and to Crooks’s profane amazement.” A. M. Chisholm, The Boss of Wind River.

long chalk = a large amount; from “chalk,” the amount of credit extended to a bar patron. “He wasn’t so unimpressed by your story as he seemed—not by a long chalk!” S. Carleton Jones, Out of Drowning Valley.

Methodist axe = an axe with two cutting edges. “So the crew slashed out a way with double-bitted or two-faced axes—‘Methodist axes,’ as they were called in an unwarranted reflection upon that excellent denomination.” A. M. Chisholm, The Boss of Wind River.

peach = to inform against. “If th’ don’t give him twinty thousan’ fur settin’ toight here he’ll peach.” Agnes C. Laut, The Freebooters of the Wilderness.

Perry Davis’ Pain Killer = a patent medicine containing opiates and ethyl alcohol, created in 1840. “I didn’t have no vanilly or lemon flavor, so I just put in a squirt of Perry Davis’ Pain Killer, and I guess that’s what knocked her out.” Therese Broderick, The Brand.

proxene = an officer in charge of offering hospitality to visitors from a friendly city or state. “I am proxene in camp today; but I must confess no visitors were expected.” Therese Broderick, The Brand.

pulled = arrested and taken before a magistrate. “An’ be pulled f’r it, wid yer name in the papers, an’ a fine, an’ a lawyer to pay, an’ all.” A. M. Chisholm, The Boss of Wind River.

Logs entering rollway, 1935
rollway = a slope where logs were rolled into a river. “With the foreman he went over most of the job, from the first slashings to the river rollways.” A. M. Chisholm, The Boss of Wind River.

scut = a contemptible person. “Ye lyin’ scut! Ye filthy cess pool o’ dirt an’ falsehood!” Agnes C. Laut, The Freebooters of the Wilderness.

snap = a share, portion. “When any man offers you a gilt-edged snap, try to figure out why he doesn’t keep it all for himself.” A. M. Chisholm, The Boss of Wind River.

soldier = to pretend to work, shirk. “I’ll have no sojerin’ on this job! Understand?” A. M. Chisholm, The Boss of Wind River.

squawfish = the pikeminnow; the largest member of the carp family, an edible fish found in the rivers of North America. “I heard Mr. George whisper to Uncle Jim that they were ‘squaw-fish,’ but if I can I’ll try to help you eat them.” Therese Broderick, The Brand.

stand in = to be in league with. “There are a holy lot of wires in our business, and we have to stand in with the people who pull them, see?” A. M. Chisholm, The Boss of Wind River.

sternway = movement in reverse. “Once more Mr. Ackerman was taken flat aback. Figuratively speaking, he even gathered sternway.” A. M. Chisholm, The Boss of Wind River.

thewed = muscled. “The massive thewed frontiersman with the shock of white hair and ruddy cheeks and almost boyish eyes.” Agnes C. Laut, The Freebooters of the Wilderness.

Thimbleberry
thimbleberry = a wild black raspberry. “Spread out upon the large, green thimble-berry leaves were several beautiful speckled and salmon-tinted trout, all large and firm.” Therese Broderick, The Brand.

thunder barrel = a barrel used in theatrical productions to produce the sound of thunder. “A know his kind o’ thunder-barrel bravery, that makes the more noise the emptier and bigger it is.” Agnes C. Laut, The Freebooters of the Wilderness.

van = a camp store or supply chest maintained at a logging camp in the woods. “The foreman noted the victims of his strategy, issued them chlorodyne from the van, and kept his mouth shut.” A. M. Chisholm, The Boss of Wind River.

walking boss = the superintendent of two or more logging camps. “He and Wright held council with McKenna, Tobin, Deever, and MacNutt, the former being Kent’s walking boss and the last three his foremen.” A. M. Chisholm, The Boss of Wind River.

whiskey jack = the gray jay or Canada Jay, a North American bird found in coniferous forests. “A whisky jack flitted from branch to branch of the under brush—always just a step ahead.” Agnes C. Laut, The Freebooters of the Wilderness.

windjamming = fast talking, lying. “It will take more than wind-jamming to win next fall’s elections with this against them.” Agnes C. Laut, The Freebooters of the Wilderness.


Image credits:
Wikimedia Commons

Coming up: S. Carleton Jones, Out of Drowning Valley (1910)

8 comments:

  1. I've heard of birl but forgotten it until you mentioned it. always liked the term corpse candle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reading the spooky lore around corpse candles, I can see the potential there for horror fiction and ghost stories.

      Delete
  2. That chlorodyne seems like an excellent cure-all!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've got a windjammer in my current wip--just didn't know it. :) As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed your glossary. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, now you know. Thanks for dropping by, Jacquie.

      Delete
  4. Another swell batch, none of them familiar. Though my great uncle used to call coffee "bug dope." So maybe there's a relationship there. Wonderful!

    ReplyDelete