[Ads-l] stray maverick notes

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Sun Aug 2 14:47:37 UTC 2015

Apparently Ralph Bieber did specify (1940 p.84n) the newspaper condemning the practice of "maverick branding" as Daily Herald (San Antonio), June 20, 1867.

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
Sent: Friday, July 31, 2015 12:58 PM
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] stray maverick notes

It might be interesting to know the history and etymology of the
name "Maverick" -- I doubt that I will find books on the genealogy of the
Massachusetts colonists in the library here, but maybe.  And I'm a member
of NEHGS, which publishes books of that sort.  More anon, perhaps.

I note with dismay that when I searched for "Maverick personal name", all
but one of the first screen of responses were recommending "Maverick" as a
baby name.


On Fri, Jul 31, 2015 at 10:05 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu>

> The OED's "maverick" entry is good; here, minor remarks (rebranding?)
> only. The etymology from Texas landowner Samuel A. Maverick is surely more
> likely that the proposal that a 17th-century Sam Maverick in Boston was the
> source and that it was also applied in Maine, before the Texas use, for "an
> unmarked log in a Maine river drive." The minority view of John Gould in
> Maine Lingo (1975) not only lacks evidence, as far as I know, but
> apparently draws on the apparently secondary sense (OED "...an
> individualist"), as if the original, for the Boston Maverick, called by
> Gould (not by early colonists) an "oddball."
> OED's first citation is indirect: "1867   in J. G. McCoy Hist. Sketches
> Cattle Trade (1940) 83..." McCoy's 1874 book (available at HathiTrust) p. 9
> actually has "Mauvrics" (a spelling, along with mauvrik, not in OED) and
> attributes it to a French cattle owner. The 1940 footnote by Ralph P.
> Bieber quotes an 1867 San Antonio newspaper, without further specification.
> I didn't confirm that (likely accurate) quotation, but did see two other
> 1867 San Antonio uses. Perhaps interestingly, much etymological speculation
> was already noted in that year. By that time S. A. Maverick was out of the
> cattle business, according to his son George in an 1889 letter, responding
> to an inquiry. It is reprinted in Memoirs of Mary A. Maverick [Sam's Wife]
> (1921) p. 123-4, introduced with "What a pity to contradict The Century
> Dictionary, but...." Because Sam was already out of the cattle business by
> 1867 (he sold his herd "About the year 1856"), and etymological speculation
> was noted in 1867, an antedating would not surprise. (I leave aside
> speculations on Sam's reasons for supposedly not branding--which he, his
> employees, did, though not always--by Wm. Safire and others.)
> San Antonio Express, "Texas the Best State After All" 08-09-1867 p. 2
> includes: branding "mavericks."
> The Sept. 14 Chicago Republican p. 3 ran a story on "Mavericks,"
> attributing it to a German in Texas. (Sam wasn't German; that may be a
> misreading of the story told above (08-09), which included a German.
> San Antonio Express responded to "A Northern Correspondent on Texas Cattle
> Raising" p. 2 Sept 28 1867:
> ....He gives the following account of the "Mavericks" which our old friend
> Maverick will enjoy:...[After the Chicago quotation:] We have heard many
> explanations of the term "Mavericks," but we all know it has something to
> do with our old friend and fellow-citizen, Samuel Maverick....he neglected
> to brand or mark them....Mr. M. has ceased to stock raise...."
> Stephen Goranson
> http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998..

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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