[Ads-l] antedating Wolverine as nickname for Michiganders

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 25 23:21:38 UTC 2019

Barry Popik's site has an earliest date from the New York American, August 19, 1834, page 2, column 2.  That reference includes a list of nicknames seven different states or regions, including "Woolverines" for people from the Michigan Territory.


Buffalo Patriot and Commercial Advertiser, June 17, 1834, page 1.

I recently ran across an earlier example.  It is either a humorous story, or personal anecdote, about a bar-room scene at Prairie Ronde, Kalamazoo, Michigan Territory, December 26, 1833.  The writer describes his visit to a bar out in the prairie, and the "wild looking characters" assembled there.  The text of the piece includes most of the same nicknames repeated as a simple list in the August 1834 item, but with some additions, omissions and alternate spellings or names.

[Begin excerpt]
"There was a haired 'hoosher' from Indiana, a couple of smart looking 'succors' from the southern part of Illinois, a keen eyed, leathern belted 'badger' from the mines of Ouisconsin, and a sturdy, yeoman-like fellow, whose white capote, Indian mocassins and red sash proclaimed, while he boasted a three years residence, the genuine wolverine, or naturalized Michiganian.  Could one refuse to drink with such a company.

"The spokesman was evidently a 'red horse' from Kentucky, and nothing was wanting but a 'buckeye' from Ohio, to render the group as complete as it was select.  I was in the midst of the first real prairie I had ever seen, - on an island of timber, whose lee while making slow headway for the last two hours, with a biting breeze on my beam, it had been my whole object, aim and ambition to get - a comfortable bar room, a smoking 'cocktail' - a worshipful assemblage (Goldsmith's Club was a fool to it) had never entered my dreams? -- Could I refuse to drink with such a company?  The warm glass was in my frozen fingers.  The most devout temperance man could see no harm in that!  It is touched smartly by the rim of the red horse - it is brushed by the hoosher - it rings against the badger - it come in companionable contact with the wolvering - 'my respect to you, gentlemen, and luck to us all.'"
[End excerpt]

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

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