[Ads-l] "maverick" redux

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 11 03:47:21 UTC 2022

 Digging further into the San Antonio Express archive on Genealogybank, I
found a further antedating, in a grimly racist editorial commentary about
Native American incursions.

San Antonio Express, Mar. 25, 1867, p. 3, col. 1
A frontiers-man considers it as much his duty to kill a savage as to brand
a Maverick.

On Tue, May 10, 2022 at 3:44 PM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> The earliest OED3 cite for "maverick" meaning "an unbranded calf or
> yearling" is the following:
> ---
> 1867   Daily Herald (San Antonio, Texas) 20 June   The term maverick which
> was formerly applied to unbranded yearlings is now applied to every calf
> which can be separated from the mother cow.
> ---
> As Stephen Goranson noted in a 2015 thread, this cite was given in a
> footnote by Ralph P. Bieber in a 1940 edition of Joseph G. McCoy's
> _Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest_
> (originally published in 1874).
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2015-August/138353.html
> I haven't been able to corroborate that cite, since I can't find a
> digitized version of that edition of the San Antonio Daily Herald. (OED3
> doesn't give a page number, which suggests they're relying on the Bieber
> footnote.) In any case, I found a slightly earlier example in a different
> San Antonio paper (via Genealogybank).
> ---
> San Antonio Express, Tuesday, May 21, 1867, p. 3, col. 2
> "The Columbus And San Antonio Railroad Meeting"
> We can't help thinking that if Mr. Schleicher, who is strongly interested
> in the Indianola line, will be candid, he must confess that the resolutions
> drafted by him were dictated by his kind feelings for the speaker, and are
> thus nothing more than an unmeaning politeness, not intended to induce the
> people of San Antonio to invest money, land, labor, provisions, or cattle;
> nay, not even a single maverick, in the Columbus, Gonzalez, San Antonio and
> Rio Grande Railroad.
> ---
> The article notes that the meeting on a "projected railroad from Columbus
> to San Antonio and the Rio Grande" was chaired by "Mr. Maverick"
> (presumably Samuel Maverick), so the reference to "not even a single
> maverick" appears to be a playful allusion to Maverick's practice of
> leaving his cattle unbranded.

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