[Ads-l] "Bullshit" ca1879

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Thu Aug 17 20:10:47 UTC 2017

So much for the idea that T. S. Eliot was the coiner of the word "bullshit" ...

Fred Shapiro

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Thursday, August 17, 2017 12:46 PM
Subject: Re: "Bullshit" ca1879

By searching on Jack's compatriot Slap Jack Bill, I was able to find this
from 1879.

Daily Gazette (Las Vegas, N.M.), Sep. 12, 1879, p. 1, col. 3
Special Agent Adams came in from Denver yesterday and last night arrested
B-- S-- Jack, Slap Jack Bill, both noted characters, and a man named Webb
at a saloon on the east side on a charge of robbing the coach. The evidence
is strong.

The Gazette's coverage of the arrest appeared in some other newspapers,
with the nickname similarly expurgated.

Weekly Republican (Phoenix, Ariz.), Sep. 24, 1879, p. 4, col. 1
The men bearing the euphonious titles of B S Jack and Slap Jack Bill, the
pride of the Pan Handle, are gamblers who came from Otero some weeks ago.
They are originally from Texas and are classed as tough citizens.
Arizona Sentinel (Yuma, Ariz.) Sep. 27, 1879, p. 2, col. 2
The Las Vegas Gazette gives an account of the capture of three mail robbers
called Webb, B.S. Jack and Slap Jack Bill. They have been taken to Santa Fe
for trial.

More from the Gazette in 1880:

Daily Gazette (Las Vegas, N.M.), Feb. 10, 1880, p. 4, col. 2
The mail robbers have been indicted and arraigned and all entered pleas of
not guilty. They are John Pierce, alias B.S. Jack, William Nicholson alias
Slap Jack Bill, Frank Cady and Jordan Webb.

In 1881, the Las Vegas Daily Optic gave his name as "Bull Shank Jack" and
several other papers followed suit.

The Times (Philadelphia, Pa.), May 2, 1881, p. 4, col. 2
"Slap Jack Bill," "Fly Speck Sam" and "Bull Shank Jack" all came to Las
Vegas about the time the railroad got here, and were soon run in the quay
on the charge of train and coach robbery.

(Can't find the original version of this in the Optic -- the OCR for it on
NewspaperArchive is pretty terrible.)


On Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 11:36 AM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Fri, Aug 29, 2008 at 1:41 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at yahoo.com>
> wrote:
>> HDAS has a bracketed ref. to one "Bull Dung Billy" back in the Old West.
>> Gary L. Roberts, however, author of the documented bio _Doc Holliday: the
>> Life and Legend_ (N.Y.: Wiley, 2006), p. 111, cites a John "Bullshit Jack"
>> Pierce as a stage-robber near Las Vegas, N.M., around 1880.
>> Though buried among paragraph citations, Roberts seems to cite the _Las
>> Vegas Daily Optic_, July 21, 1881.
> Following up on this long-forgotten thread... the Las Vegas Daily Optic
> for 1881 is now available on NewspaperArchive, so I checked this out.
> Roberts was actually citing the July 20, 1881 issue, but not about
> "Bullshit Jack," unfortunately. Roberts quotes the Optic about how Doc
> Holliday "crept through one of the many legal loop-holes that characterized
> Hoodoo Brown's judicial dispensation." "Bullshit Jack" (or rather "Bull
> Shit Jack") happens to appear in the same paragraph in the Doc Holliday
> bio, but is nowhere to be seen in the Optic.
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__newspaperarchive.com_ben-2Dzimmer-2Dcrime-2Dclipping-2Djul-2D20-2D1881-2D364704_&d=DwIBaQ&c=cjytLXgP8ixuoHflwc-poQ&r=fA3T4uAm2gJS6K8eux_g80UR5n-rtd2GpmRMO1hHScg&m=K9AIG7M9g2v3u87astlBAGB3tCsQPgwKN9Ry772LdAQ&s=ddvBdPBSDDZxvexMTTlu5hjW2n_MuiELxN_mjVmy_ds&e=
> So the hunt continues for early newspaper appearances of "bullshit."
> Nothing so far beats Bonnie Taylor-Blake's discovery of "bullshit" from the
> (Topeka, Kan.) Daily Commonwealth, Aug. 31, 1886, where it appears as a
> possibly intentional typo for "ballast." More here:
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__stronglang.wordpress.com_2015_01_02_when-2Dshit-2Dhits-2Dthe-2Dnewspapers_&d=DwIBaQ&c=cjytLXgP8ixuoHflwc-poQ&r=fA3T4uAm2gJS6K8eux_g80UR5n-rtd2GpmRMO1hHScg&m=K9AIG7M9g2v3u87astlBAGB3tCsQPgwKN9Ry772LdAQ&s=WhnIbVppYtHxxBoOZBGkmX8akuFZK2HBE-RGQET1iGA&e=
> --bgz

The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=DwIBaQ&c=cjytLXgP8ixuoHflwc-poQ&r=fA3T4uAm2gJS6K8eux_g80UR5n-rtd2GpmRMO1hHScg&m=K9AIG7M9g2v3u87astlBAGB3tCsQPgwKN9Ry772LdAQ&s=VodGxbKc2oiLg6cRcu1unEhzpXFAfRKU1uQBBYF4rCQ&e=

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