Muleskinner

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MC:
It took me a while to find out what "muleskinner" means (mule driver) but I don't seem to have found any reliable info on the etymology... can anyone shed light?
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david56:
[nq:1]It took me a while to find out what "muleskinner" means (mule driver) but I don't seem to have found any reliable info on the etymology... can anyone shed light?[/nq]
The Little Big Man, as portrayed by Dustin Hoffman, was taken by General Custer for a Mule Skinner. I always assumed it meant a person who skinned mules, but I see I am also wrong. Mind, we don't see a lot of mules in these parts.

David
==
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Dena Jo:
[nq:1]The Little Big Man, as portrayed by Dustin Hoffman, was taken by General Custer for a Mule Skinner. I always ... skinned mules, but I see I am also wrong. Mind, we don't see a lot of mules in these parts.[/nq]
If it's any comfort, I always assumed it was well.

(During my college years, Little Big Man was my favorite movie.)

Dena Jo
Delete "delete.this.for.email" for email.
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Sara Moffat Lorimer:
[nq:1]It took me a while to find out what "muleskinner" means (mule driver) but I don't seem to have found any reliable info on the etymology... can anyone shed light?[/nq]
Isn't a muleskinner a person who uses mules to skin animals? I have a dim recollection of reading in a book about the American frontier that this was so, with the muleskinners skinning buffalo. The men were particularly filthy, even by the standards of the time, and there were prostitutes who specialized in servicing them.
I can't think what the book was, though, and dictionaries are not backing me up. Perhaps it was all a dream.

SML
ess el five six zero at columbia dot edu
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david56:
[nq:2]It took me a while to find out what "muleskinner" ... any reliable info on the etymology... can anyone shed light?[/nq]
[nq:1]Isn't a muleskinner a person who uses mules to skin animals? I have a dim recollection of reading in a ... can't think what the book was, though, and dictionaries are not backing me up. Perhaps it was all a dream.[/nq]
That sounds fairly likely. There can't really be a living in skinning mules, but I can imagine using mules to drag the hide off a buffalo.

David
==
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MC:
[nq:2]Isn't a muleskinner a person who uses mules to skin ... not backing me up. Perhaps it was all a dream.[/nq]
[nq:1]That sounds fairly likely. There can't really be a living in skinning mules, but I can imagine using mules to drag the hide off a buffalo.[/nq]
I just Googled and came up with this:
http://historytogo.utah.gov/bullwacking.html
From which I quote:
Deep in the footnotes to history, however, are the also-rans in frontier communities, the breed of plains men known familiarly as "teamsters," who were right at ground level. In fact, in Brigham Young's day, teamsters had a lock on the lowest rung of the social ladder‹a notch or so below buffalo skinners. Teamsters included bullwhackers and muleskinners, men who could curse their animals in a vile stream of profanity for ten minutes straight without repeating themselves.

General James F. Rusling said of them, they are "red-shirted, big-booted, brigand-looking ruffians, with the inseparable Bowie knife and revolver buckled around their waists; they swing and crack their great whips like fiends, and beat the poor oxen along." Poor oxen is right. This unsung beast is now virtually an extinct species in America; the castrated domesticated bull once reigned supreme by the thousands as a draft animal, but now has been effectively pushed aside by the farm tractor and pickup truck.Bullwhackers were never in the mainstream of frontier life; as a group it was probably the least literate of frontiersmen. There were, however, exceptions. William Perkins, a young Canadian gold rusher writing in 1850, described his experience with a teamster in California this way: "I had tethered my mules, built a fire and cooked my dinner and a tin of coffee, stretched out on the grass enjoying a pipe, when I heard a loud gee-whoa! Proceeding from an ox establishment, and soon as rough a looking individual as I was myself, stopped his team under my oak tree, set his cattle loose, came up and politely asked permission to make use of the fire I had built.

We camped together, and I found out he had been a professor at Yale College and had left his wife and children in Boston. He told me he made more in each trip of his ox cart than he earned in a year with his professor's chair in Boston!"

And they were tough, these bullwhackers who toiled for $25 a month and found. (Muleskinners earned $10 more.) Henry Pickering Walker in The Wagonmasters told of one Joe Shelton, a Montana freighter, who was hooked under the chin by a wild ox that carried him around the corral several times before he was able to lift himself off. He was carried for five days in a dead-axle wagon to a railroad and then by rail to Salt Lake City for medical aid. He survived his ordeal and lived for another sixteen years on ground-up food fed through a silver tube in his throat.
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R H Draney:
david56 filted:
[nq:1]The Little Big Man, as portrayed by Dustin Hoffman, was taken by General Custer for a Mule Skinner. I always ... skinned mules, but I see I am also wrong. Mind, we don't see a lot of mules in these parts.[/nq]
And if you keep trying to skin them, you won't see a lot of them in future either..r
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Sara Moffat Lorimer:
I wrote, in part:
[nq:2]It took me a while to find out what "muleskinner" ... any reliable info on the etymology... can anyone shed light?[/nq]
[nq:1]Isn't a muleskinner a person who uses mules to skin animals? I have a dim recollection of reading in a book about the American frontier that this was so...[/nq]
Found it, p. 58 of the paperback edition of Ian Frazier's "Great Plains," although he doesn't actually use the word "muleskinner."

"Many (buffalo) skinners used mules to pull the hides off... They wore heavy clothes which they seldom changed. Dried blood caked in their beards. When a group of them walked up to a bar, they would reach into their clothes, and the last one to catch a louse had to pay. The prostitues who catered to them were a special type."

SML
ess el five six zero at columbia dot edu
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Spehro Pefhany:
[nq:1]I wrote, in part:[/nq]
[nq:2]Isn't a muleskinner a person who uses mules to skin ... a book about the American frontier that this was so...[/nq]
[nq:1]Found it, p. 58 of the paperback edition of Ian Frazier's "Great Plains," although he doesn't actually use the word ... the last one to catch a louse had to pay. The prostitues who catered to them were a special type."[/nq]
Probably they were lousy in bed.
Best regards,
Spehro Pefhany

"it's the network..." "The Journey is the reward" (Email Removed) Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com Embedded software/hardware/analog Info for designers: http://www.speff.com
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