Saturday, February 11, 2012

They Were a What?

I ran across these interesting occupations and historical terms in Barbara Jean Evans' "A to ZAX, A Comprehensive Dictionary For Genealogists & Historians."

knock-knobbler:  the name of the person who walks about the church during the service to maintain order.

prairie breaker:  a person who accepted free land from the federal government and lived on it while he "developed" or homesteaded it.

fluttergrub:  a field laborer.

argonaut:  after gold was discovered in California in 1848 those who went to hunt the gold were called "argonauts" after the name of the mythical ship in which Jason sought the Golden Fleece.

doxies:  women of a doubtful reputation; prostitutes.

trenchepaine:  the person who cut bread at the royal table.

cordwainer:  shoemaker.

costermonger:  a person who sells fruit and vegetables from a cart on the street.

candy butcher:  a peddler on a train or a railroad station who sold small goods to passengers.

bull-wacker  a driver of horses who used a long whip called a bull-wacker.

bung:  pickpocket.

baise:  bastard.

woods colt:  a child born out of wedlock.

window peeper:  the district tax assessor.

vita brevis:  life is short.

St. Elmo's Fire:  so called for the patron saint of sailors, this is a fire-like glow caused by static electricity, which is seen at the tips of masts, tops of trees, etc.

infirmarian:  a nurse in a hospital.

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