What is the origin of “owl hoot?”

Dr. Byron Loyd
Snellville, Georgia

Outlaws were referred to as “owlhoots.” “Riding the owlhoot trail” referred to a man who had left the straight and narrow to become an outlaw.

One explanation of origin came from a man living in the Indian Territory of eastern Oklahoma around 1870. He claimed the name came about from the Indians in the area using owl hoots to signal danger or someone’s approach.

Another tale goes that outlaws were called “owlhoots” because, when they were getting ready to ambush somebody in the dark, they would imitate the hooting of owls to signal to each other.

In any case the term became part of the language of the Old West.

Why do most buckskin jackets and coats have fringe?

John Burgess

Charleston, Tennessee

Fringe (also used on shirts and pants) prevented rain from soaking the body at the seams by draining the water off the garment. It was also used for string; if you needed
to tie something, you just cut off a piece
of fringe.

Secondarily, it was used for decoration. A mountain man re-enactor told me fringe projected a menacing appearance when one was under attack—much the same way as when an eagle ruffles its feathers.

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