hoeboy (?)

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sun Dec 23 02:42:21 UTC 2007

>An unprincipled scoundrel, named Conrad Sweidenmeyer, or some such
>outlandish name, has long been in the habit of making sausages and
>Bologna puddings out of dead rats, cats, dogs, and even horses, by
>which abominable villainy he has realized a considerable
>fortune.  ***  People can not be too cautious how they even touch
>sausages -- even when made properly and by Christians, there is
>something disgusting about them; but as they are now made, by
>hoeboys, and out of putrid dogs and rats, they are truly
>horrifying.  The sale of them ought to be interdicted by law.
>         Subterranean, June 28, 1845, p. 2, col. 3
>Is this perhaps "hoe-boy", i. e., farmer?

I suspect it's the same as "ho-boy"/"haut-boy", shown in Bartlett's
1860 _Dictionary of Americanisms_ (readable at Google Books), meaning
"nightman", i.e., one whose occupation is the removal of excrement
from privies.

Maybe the above provides an antedating: the 1860 book shows a
citation from 1857.

I don't know why the latrine-cleaner was called a "ho-boy". The
spelling "haut-boy" would seem to be modeled on the homophonous word
for "oboe". _Maybe_ "hoe-boy" is the original form: maybe a hoe was
traditionally used to collect the nightsoil?

-- Doug Wilson

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