"Pan-handling" (1884)

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Apr 3 05:35:59 UTC 2004

_Daily Gazette_ (Fort Wayne IN), 5 Sep. 1884: p. 8, col. 2:

<<A young lady, one of whose names is Cleveland, was baptized at the St.
Joseph hospital yesterday. The infant ushered upon a cold and Pan-Handling
world has a father, but now our pen pauses in paralytic fingers.>>

I suppose "cold and pan-handling world" here means "life of misery and

The basic idea of "panhandler" is "beggar", I believe. I suppose that
etymologically it refers to a beggar's holding out a pan in which to
receive handouts, but that's just a casual guess.

The name Cleveland would seem to refer to Grover Cleveland, who was at the
time a candidate for the US Presidency (he won the election narrowly). One
of the campaign issues at this time apparently was Cleveland's supposed
fathering and 'abandonment' of an illegitimate son (to whom he did give his
name, apparently, although the paternity was uncertain) about ten years
earlier. I don't know whether the above item was meant to seriously suggest
that Cleveland had repeated his indiscretion, or whether it was merely a
joke at his expense (perhaps based on a coincidence of name).

-- Doug Wilson

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