1893-1897: Sweet “BetseyAnnSpikes” :) (Part 3 of 7) (a Grand Ronde connection?)

To read previous installments of Betseyannspikes’s correspondence, click here.

wind river yamhill

The only picture I could find of Wind River, Yamhill County, Oregon (image credit: TopoZone)

Have I mentioned that Betsey’s habit of spelling English uniquely extends to her Jargon? And that implies “she” was writing Chinuk Wawa from “her” own genuine experience, not using a published guidebook as a crutch.

Student of the Old School.
Huckleberry Patch and Bear Holler

My deer Ed:–

Sez I tu myself, Betseyann, sez I, yer ort tu rite again, becase the boys in the vally iz wonderin what’s bekum uv me. I got yer last paper and wuz orfull glad tu here that Bear Hunter Youngs wore the gold meddle at the Medfurd shuten turnament. Tell him tu charco six nicky ticky illihee, nicka hiass skukum muckamuck nicka potalatch copa misiahka. [1]  Tell Skott Griffin, uv Tolo chuck [2], that i am kummin down thar this fall to trade him olallas [3] for wapatoes [4]. In the new version uv the english language, its kalled taters, or sumthing tu that effect. Now deer Ed, yer no me well a nuff ter no I don’t want ter kritasize anybody, and have always had a resonabool amount u affection fur the nuter ganders [5]  and if I have sed anything hereterfore that I iz sorry fur I am glad uv it and must ask furgiveness fur it. Oh, Ed, I must tell yer the nuze. Manafraiduvabear wuz up tu Mimaluce [6] Injun tuther day huntin fur huckleberries and kudent find eny. No wunder, Sally Mockasin sed she wuz over thar and seed him. She told me that Manafraidofabear didn’t get out tu hunt eny fur fear he’d see a tichfoot. [7] It iz gitting so kold up hear I spect we will haft tu hunt winter quarters. Prof. Schonchin and me had a split up tuther day, and I think I will move back tu Bumblebees Flat, or down tu the mowth uv Galls Creek, neer Bill Nye Hay’s place. I node Bill a long time and heze a jolly gude feller so he iz. I spoze yer have got squainted with Prof. Skott Morris afore this, az lives over at Aunt Yockies. I tell her Skotty is a nice boy, and if a man tramps on hiz korns, hede better look a leetle oude. If thar iz eny law Skotty ‘ill fitch him round. I woodent rite sich long letters but it iz so fur down tu the vally, and we don’t hav eny male karrier, and haft tu watch our chance tu get a letter ter yer. Oh, yes! there wuz a dandy dude uv a young feller up hear tuther day sprouten around Suzan Huckleberry. I axt him whar he wuz frum, and he winked one eye a little and pinted hiz thum over hiz shoulder and sed he wuz frum the Kapital and that night he skiped out. I am no detective, but I’ll bet my old kaliker dress it wuz Bloomer, the Jackson county trezurer. [8] Well, Ed, if yer ever kum up this way kum and see me.


Medford Mail, September 29, 1893, page 1


[1] < charco six nicky ticky illihee, nicka hiass skukum muckamuck nicka potalatch copa misiahka > — translation by Ben Truwe, on whose wonderful SW Oregon history site I found these letters: [“Come, friend, I want land; I give plenty food to you.”] My reading of it is with a plural addressee: cháku, síks, nayka tíki íliʔi, nayka hayas-skúkum mə́kʰmək, nayka pálach kʰupa msáyka ‘Come, friends, I want land, I (have) very-excellent food, which I’ll give to you folks.’ That’s quite fluent Jargon, the most Settler thing about it (other than “I want land!”) being the use of skukum as an attributive adjective ‘excellent’ rather than its more literal sense ‘strong’. The silent (null) expression of ‘have’ that I’m “hearing” here would be an uncommon but known strategy in frontier-era CW.

[2] < Tolo chuck > — Ben Truwe’s translation: [“water”]. My translation: ‘Win Water’, perhaps ‘Win River’, which might be a pun on English Wind River, which is a stream in the Grand Ronde Community, Oregon. I’m curious whether Betsey and her Chinuk Wawa are meant to evoke someone living in that particular region.

[3] < olallas > [“berries”] — úlali + Settler English noun plural -s.

[4] < wapatoes > [“potatoes”] — wáptʰu + Settler English noun plural -s.

[5] [“neuter genders”]

[6] < Mimaluce > ‘Dead’, or possibly ‘Kill’ — míməlust.

[7] < tichfoot > ‘a bear’ (ítsx̣ut), seemingly infected by Betsey’s bad English spelling to make one of her folk-etymology puns, as if to say ‘tetch-foot’ (touch-foot)? Maybe it had to do with the slang word ‘tetched’ meaning ‘crazy’. Also: you don’t suppose the Settler CW spelling and pronunciation ̓< (t)i(t)chfoot > influenced the rise of the Pacific NW “bigfoot”/Sasquatch legends, do you?

[8] [“who had recently absconded with county funds”]

What do you think?