Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Whoa there!

My mother, a professional Texan, is going to burst out of her body brace when she reads this: Cowboys may well have come from the Carolinas.

Carolina also became the preeminent cattle country in the English empire, as the Carolinians pioneered many practices later perfected on a grand scale in the American West, including cattle branding, annual roundups, cow pens, and cattle drives from the interior to the market in Charles Town. Many owners entrusted the roaming cattle to the care of black slaves, who had previous experience as herdsmen in Africa. In Carolina the black herdsmen became known as "cowboys"—apparently the origin of that famous term.

Makes sense when you think about the longleaf pine savannahs before their sad destruction: "Human exploitation of the longleaf forest began in the 18th century, when settlers loosed millions of grazing cattle and foraging hogs beneath the canopy," writes Lawrence Early in Looking for Longleaf.

Further than that, I sayeth not.

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