Nuances: Page 1
Nuances are little historical snippets of information that embellish the story of the Road. (Original quoted content may be edited.)
The Origin of the Phrase "Pike Boys":
Country life, during the mid-1800s, was enlivened by numerous corn huskings, balls, spelling matches, school exhibitions and frolics of all kinds. Young men and boys attended these gatherings, traveling as far as three miles and more, by horseback or foot, often in the back country, to reach them.
A sense of jealousy existed between the young men and boys, living along and near the Road, and those living in the back country. Quarrels and fights broke out, from time to time, at the aforementioned occasions. It's said it was during these occasional altercations the phrase "pike boys" was first used.
First usage of the phrase was to describe boys and sons of families living on or near the Road including those of wagoners, stage drivers, tavern keepers and farmers. (It was used in the same sense that the boys from towns were called "town boys".) The meaning expanded over time to include all persons identified with the road, by residence or occupation, and without "regard to age, race, color or previous condition of servitude." (Negro slaves were commonly seen on the National Road.).
Men who hauled merchandise over the Road were called wagoners. (Searight notes a difference between wagoners and the "modern" teamsters. Wagoners conducted their wagons and drove their teams. Teamsters, by definition, only drove horse teams.)
Taverns, Wagon Stands and Stage Houses
The road was renowned for the great number and excellence of its inns or taverns. On the mountain division, every mile had its tavern. The sign-boards were elevated upon high and heavy posts, and their golden letters winking in the sun,... while the big trough, overflowing with clear, fresh water, and the ground below it sprinkled with droppings of fragrant peppermint, lent a charm to the scene.
Coinage of the Cumberland Road:
The current coin of the road was the big copper cent of United States coinage, the "fippenny bit" (A Spanish half reale coin with a value of six and one-fourth cents, called for brevity a "fip"), the "levy" (A Spanish reale coin with a value of twelve and a half cents), the quarter, the half dollar, and the dollar. The Mexican and Spanish milled dollar were oftener seen than the United States dollar. The silver five-cent piece and the dime of the United States coinage were seen occasionally, but not so much used as the "fip" and the "levy." In times of stringency, the stage companies issued scrip in denominations ranging from five cents to a dollar, which passed readily as money. The scrip was similar to the postal currency of the war period lacking only in the artistic skill displayed in the engraving of the latter. A hungry traveler could obtain a substantial meal at an old wagon stand tavern for a "levy," and two drinks of whisky for a fippenny bit. The morning bill of a wagoner with a six-horse team did not exceed one dollar and twenty-five cents, which included grain and hay for the house, meals for the driver, and all the drink he saw proper to take.
Two fippenny bits equalled a quarter and was the derivation of the slang termtwo-bits. Source
Shunpike or Piker:
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