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Who's A Hoosier?

Who's A Hoosier? image
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A story is told by sorne of the old residents of the Stote to the effect that the word was lirst applied to Indianians about the time when Madison was the center of a large pork trade, and the farmers for a hundred miles around would drive their hogs there iu great droves. The peculiar noiso that they kept up in driving the swine - sounded sornething like hoo-ie! hoo-ie! hoo-ie! - led to their being called, by a corruptionof the sound, "Hoosiers." The story, if true, would make the origin of the word comparatively recent, and it can not be accepted with credence for the reason that the palmy porkopolv days of Madi9on were long after the lioosiers had become known. The ürst that is known of the word appearing in print was in 1830, when John Finley, the Wayne County poet, wrote a Ñew Year's poem for tho Journal entitled "A Hoosier's Nest," in which a description of the pioneer cabin in Indiana is giren. The poem, in the light of one of the traditional stories, gives something of an idea of the manner in which the word cama into use. The first few lines reud: I'm told in rldinfr somewhere west A stranger fouiid a "Hoosier'n nest," In other words, a Buckeye cabln, Just big enousrh to hold Quccn Mab ia. lts situation- low but airy- Was on the borders of a prairie; And, feartng he might be bonlghted, He nniled the house and then alighted. The Hoosier met him at the door, Their salutations soon were o'er. It was the custom among the early pioneers in Indiana in traveling through the country to hail a cabin by calling out: "Wlïo lives herc?" and "Who's here?" About the time of the treaty of peace with the Indians, in 1818, and when the State was very sparsely settled, travel was attended by grc:it dangers, and no man ever rode away from home without his rille. As a common precantion of safety, when a traveler saw in the distance the smuki: from a camp or cabln fíre, he would cali out, upon coming within hearing distance, "Who's here?" and from the response he would know if he was among friends. From a corruption of tliis form of salutation the people of Indiana were called lioosiers. Doubtles settlers, in writing back lo friends at their old homes, would say that thcy "were among the Hoosiers, and in :i few years tho appellation sprang into general use. General W. II. H. Terrell, whose researches in the early history of Indiana have beenthorough, and who may be accepted as authority, says that this is the true origin of the word, and Governor Wright is credited with saying that it was a corruption of tho form of salutation of tho early settlers of the Western country. A critical interoretation of Finlev's noem secms to


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News