The Rampaging Frontier: Manners and Humors of Pioneer Days in the South and the Middle West

By Thomas D. Clark | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
GREEN UN'S

MEASURED by certain standards the whole western country was populated by green and inquisitive rustics. The greenhorn of the early western frontier, however, was unlike the tenderfoot of a later period. He was shut off from free communication with the outside world and as a consequence was uninformed of what was taking place elsewhere. At other times Westerners gave the impression that they were nothing more than a bumptious race of crude, brash backwoodsmen. If the accounts of the early English travelers are of any value the West was a land of verdant forest, verdant mud and verdant natives. Everywhere visitors, both native and foreign, met with an eternal stream of questions of "Where did you get that horse?" "What is your business?" Others claimed that they were greeted with "Stranger, will you drink or fight?"1 If a stranger coming into town had drunk with everybody who wished to pump him of news, he would have remained thoroughly "overseas" during an extended visit.

The traveler Flagg was considerably wrought up over the eternal questioning which he experienced. He referred to these inquisitions as "blessed moments of trencher devotion" in which all the inmates of a log cabin examined him with the thoroughness of a county court lawyer. Everyone took his turn in asking "name and nativity, occupation, location, and destination." Uncle Bill "a little corpulent old fellow with a proboscis of exceeding rubicundity, and eyes red as a weasel's, to say nothing of a voice melodious in note as an asthmatic clarionet," was searching in his inquiries. He exasperated the traveler to such an extent that he preached a forthright sermon on western inquisitiveness. "The curiosity of the Northern Yankee," said the

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The Rampaging Frontier: Manners and Humors of Pioneer Days in the South and the Middle West
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter I - The Backwoods 17
  • Chapter II - Varmints 39
  • Chapter III - Green Un's 57
  • Chapter IV - Boom Poles and Paddle Wheels 79
  • Chapter V - Somebody in My Bed 102
  • Chapter VI - Servants of the People 120
  • Chapter VII - Where the Lion Roareth and the Wang Doodle Mourneth for His First-Born 142
  • Chapter VIII - Bench, Bar and Jury 163
  • Chapter IX - Gentlemen of Rank 183
  • Chapter X - Liars 205
  • Chapter XI - Qurater Hosses 224
  • Chapter XII - Keards 239
  • Chapter XIII - Fiddlin' 259
  • Chapter XIV - Foolin' with the Gals 281
  • Chapter XV - Yankees B'Gad 301
  • Notes 321
  • Bibliography. 341
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