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 V
SOMEBODY IN MY BED

A TRAVELER arriving at a frontier tavern inquired of an indifferent innkeeper:

"Have you something to eat?""I guess whisky is all the feed we have for sale.""Have you any meat?" "No." "Either cold or hot will make no difference to me.""I guess I don't know." "Have you any fowls?" "No." "Fish?" "No." "Ham?" "No." "Bread?" "No." "Cheese?" "No." "Crackers?" "No." "I will pay you any price you please.""I guess we have only whisky feed."1 This greeting engendered little cheer in saddle-worn or stage-jolted travelers of the western country, since there was little or no competition, and some tavern-keepers could see no earthly reason why even the most timid souls couldn't exist on whisky alone. America had no more democratic institution than the tavern. When the eastern or foreign traveler set foot westward, either by way of the mountain road to Pittsburgh, or the Wilderness Road through Cumberland Gap, he had the choice of either sleeping "out," or spending his nights in overcrowded taverns.2 These early hostelries were neither famous for their fine springs and soft mattresses nor the excellency of their culinary departments. A clearing was made in the woods by the roadside, a large log house was constructed on the spot, and a crude wooden tavern sign hung on a leaning skinned pole to wag an indifferent welcome to weary travelers. There was a large room which had many uses, among which were tap, entertainment, and as a sleeping room for late arrivals or stubborn cusses who refused to brave the rigors of the big bedroom upstairs.3 A wide fireplace at the end of the hall was the center of activity; here early arrivals took seat, and refused to push back or "open up" for others to get even a glimpse

-102-

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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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