Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Oh, Be Joyful", It's Not What You Think

Copyright 2012, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

Found in the April 22, 1896 issue of the Michigan Messenger, published at Adrian, Lenawee County, Michigan:

"It is reported that Doe Mulligan and Bert Butts were arrested for breaking open a car on the the C. J. & M. side tracks and stealing a barrel of  'Oh, Be Joyful'.

Well, I had never heard that term before, my curiosity was aroused, and I had my suspicions so, I went on a bit of a net search.

"Making distilled spirits isn't a new idea to New Hampshire. As early as the 1600s, the English colonists along the coast learned to make distilled brandy from fermented Indian corn. Local New Hampshire farmers of the 18th and early 19th centuries made their own "brandies" and spirits to sell locally. One farmer, Thomas Walker, Jr., of Thornton, New Hampshire, operated a distillery as well as a lumber business and farm until the1820s, and made a brandy from potatoes and apples called "Oh, Be Joyful." ..."

You can read more at:

I also found hits for music, whitewater, a civil war song, a band, at least one church, lots of neat things in Colorado, a gallery.  I even found a campground!  No kidding!  But, me thinks if you have a barrel of Oh, Be Joyful, you have something other than music and art.  So, I tweaked the search terms to include, "slang".  Ya, now, we're talking, the site, Old West Slang, defines it thus:

Oh-be-joyful - Liquor, beer, intoxicating spirits. "Give me another snort of that oh-be-joyful."

And, that dear readers is my history/slang lesson for the day.

* Graphic courtesy of


irisheyes jennifer said...

Great post! I could use a little 'Oh Be Joyful' just about now. :):)


Joan said...

O be joyful for the things we learn here --- pass it around!

Linda Gartz said...

Sounds like a church hymn to bring one closer to the angels and God. Seems like a snort of "Oh be joyful" will bring you closer to something akin to angels--at least a happier state!

Thanks for dropping by my dashed-off Father's Day Post. On re-reading, fixed up all those typos!