Social Question

sliceswiththings's avatar

Were cowboys called cowboys back then?

Asked by sliceswiththings (11661points) September 19th, 2010

I was watching a cowboy movie and thinking about this. Was the word “cowboy” assigned to those who fit the category after they were no longer the standard way of life or did they call themselves that at the time?

“I need some new boots” or ” I need some new cowboy boots?”

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5 Answers

Hawkeye's avatar

Good point. Outlaws. ranchers, trappers, bounty hunters, the Kid etc

jaytkay's avatar

From my quick armchair research, it was current in the West by 1881, and seems to have become a household word in Chicago during the 1880s.

Statements after the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral:

Wyatt Earp – Nov. 17, 1881 – “It was generally understood among officers, and those who have information about criminals, that Ike Clanton was a sort of chief among the cowboys….” link

Mrs. M.J. King – Oct. 30, 1881 – “I inquired what was the matter, and they said there was going to be a fuss between the Earp boys and cowboys…” link

Chicago Tribune archive search for “cowboy”

1860 – 1869
6 results

1870 – 1879
15 results

1880 – 1889
1023 results

Seek's avatar

^ This.

Though, it certainly wouldn’t have been “I need some new cowboy boots”. I think most people around Reconstruction and the years after would have been glad to have boots that were meant for human feet and were free of holes, regardless of the appearance.

Ben_Dover's avatar

They were Cowmen.

Strauss's avatar

I think the term “cowboy” was originally synonymous with “cattleman”, although it was generally used for the hired hands who handled the cattle, rather than the ranchers who owned them.

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