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 VII
WHERE THE LION ROARETH AND THE WANG DOODLE MOURNETH FOR HIS FIRST-BORN

A wrathful God kept vigilant watch over the western frontier. He was a God of tremendous force, who, in the highly descriptive words of one of his backwoods servants "toted thunder in his fist, and flung lightning from his fingers."1 These claims of divine power were not made, however, until the beginning of the nineteenth century. The earliest frontiersmen were too busily engaged with immediate worldy matters to "fall down before a wrathful God."

Settlers at Boonesboro in 1775 held a religious meeting, and later Baptists, of a dozen strains, Presbyterians, Catholics and Methodists swarmed over the mountains to evangelize a sinful western population. But the early frontier was not truly worshipful. It was not, on the other hand, godless for it did have a deep religious feeling, a feeling which was buried beneath a covering of determined individualism. Frontiersmen appealed to God, but their appeals were direct, in their own words, and on their own terms. Once the back country was free from Indian attacks, and Westerners saw their way clear to permanent settlement, their thoughts turned to more organized Christianity.

In 1800 the spirit of the Lord began to make itself manifest upon the frontier. Beginning in Kentucky, this wave of riotous religious revivals poured over the West with an increasing fury. At Russellville, and later at Cane Ridge, in Bourbon County, there was an outpouring of the spirit which outdid anything the frontier had ever seen. Hundreds of poor wretches fell in their tracks as though they had been fired upon by a legion of crack

-142-

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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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