1893-1897: Sweet “BetseyAnnSpikes” :) (Part 2 of 7)

Next in our mini-series…


(Image credit: Cheezburger.com)

Thanks to the truly wonderful regional history website of Ben Truwe, we have access to a transcribed collection of letters to the editor by “Betseyannspikes” from the 1890s.

Student of the Old School.

Huckleberry Patch

My dear Ed: — I got your letter and wuz orfull glad ter hear frum yu, and tu hear yu wuz well, but I iz sorry yu kouldent kum up hear last weak tu our picknik. Miss Sallyhuckleberry, Miss Sitkum Chuck, Miss Halo Muckamuck [1] and mi self had things fixt up orful nice fur yer. Tell Mr. D. S. Youngs tu kum with hiz shotgun. I’ve got tu snipes and a ground hog karaled fur him. I spect if Manafraidofabear wuz hear now we wood hav tu fix a skaffool [2] up in the top uv a tree fur him tu sleep in, fur the bear iz thicker than grasshoppers in Kansas. Prof. Schonschin sends his regards tu Dave Mardon, az lives in the Willer Springs. We herd that Dave haz bonded hiz hul ranch to Mr. Chapman, uv Gold Hill, fur a rite smart chance uv money. Well, deer Ed, I kant think uv much tu rite this time. If yer ever kum up this wa kum and see me. Yourz az ever,


— from the Medford (OR) Mail of September 1, 1893, page 2


[1] Miss Sallyhuckleberry, Miss Sitkum Chuck, Miss Halo Muckamuck: Letter 1 spelled the first character’s name Salahuckleberry, as if it were partly a pun on salal berries. Now we find two more Jargon epithets joining her:

  • Sitkum chuck is literally ‘half water’, I imagine a complaint about watered-down and overpriced booze in a frontier town. (El Comancho’sChinook Book musing that “Tar could be klale sitkum chuck or black half-water” is purest speculation.)
  • Halo Muckamuck is a more common and therefore easier to translate expression: ‘there’s no food’, another frontier lament. J. Orin Oliphant’s journal from the Indian wars, entry of April 13, 1856, uses this phrase as he’s waiting for an overdue pack train of supplies. A destitute old Warm Springs Indian is quoted repeating the phrase in 1895. It comes up in an Okanogan County pioneer’s reminiscence of Native people’s CW: “Klatawa Okanogan, halo muckamuck“. We still find one Northwest newspaper using it generations later, characterizing a plan to socialize US railroads: Halo mamook pe halo muckamuck,” ‘No work, then no eats.’ 

[2] Ben Truwe’s note: [scaffold].

What do you think?