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 XI
QURATER HOSSES

TRAVELING through Kentucky at an early date François Michaux remarked that "they (Kentuckians) meet often in taverns, particularly during the sitting of the courts of justice, when they pass whole days in them. Horses and lawsuits are the usual subjects of conversation. When a traveler arrives, his horse is valued as soon as they can perceive him." 1 Horses to frontier Westerners constituted the most fascinating subject of conversation and speculation. Racing in the early West was the most vigorous of frontier sports. James Hall wrote a rather unfavorable account of life about the race tracks. He left the definite impression that the throng which gathered around the judges' stand in a quarter race was no place for a timid or modest soul. "I went out to the race course," wrote the punctilious Hall, "as the spring race meeting was going on, and saw one or two heats run in very good time. There was but a small attendance, either of beauty or fashion, and I did not stay long enough to avail myself of the opportunity which such a scene offers for making observations on the more rough and unpolished portion of society; indeed, the swearing of some of the lower orders in the West, especially among the horse traders and gamblers, would shock ears accustomed to the language of Billingsgate or a London gin shop, so full is it of blasphemy; and uttered in a deliberate and determinate tone, such as to induce the belief that the speaker really wishes the fulfillment of the curses which he imprecates. I have heard the vulgar oaths of many countries, as the French, the English, the Irish, and Scotch (which three last have different safety valves of wrath), the Dutch, the German, the Italian, and the Portuguese: of course, they are all vulgar, all more or less blasphemous and disgusting to the ear; but I never heard them

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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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