On Mon, 7 mar 1994, DAVID B. CONLIN, 680-2909 wrote:
> When I was growing up in Kansas in the 60's I remember reading
> that the state nickname "Jayhawker" was of Irish derivation...
> Does anyone have information on this?
On Tue, 8 Mar 1994, SEAN V. KELLEY, -2812 wrote:
> As a Kansan myself, all I can think of is that a
> JayHawker is a term used to refer to the abolutionist
> Kansans who opposed the 'Missoura' Bushwackers during the
> Civil War.
(Sorry about the time gap here, but I've been away for a couple of days).
I too am a native Kansan (fifth generation), now living in Rhode Island (now
where did I put those slippers?), but I have never heard of the Jawhawker or
the Jayhawk being of Irish derivation. My understanding is that the term
"Jayhawker," which as Mr. Kelley pointed out, was used to refer to Kansas
Abolistionists, derived from "Jayhawk," a mythical bird of prey. Kansans have,
and this I know for a fact, a real penchant for telling a good one, and the
bigger the tale the better. I've heard relatives tell stories about ears of
corn the size of steers, men drinking lakes dry, winters that froze fire, etc.
All of them were great tales to grow up to. The Jayhawk was a bird noted for
its rapacity and speed. A bird of large size (I always thought of it as the
size of a vulture) and brilliant plumage, it swooped down on its prey, whether
livestock, curing meat, poultry, and even children (my guess is that it was a
bogey designed for keeping kids close at home, like another famous Kansas
critter, the Ratbear, which inhabited creeks and woods (yes, there are woods in
Kansas). The answer to your query might rest in Irish or Scottish mythology.
Are there mythical birds of prey in Irish or Scottish myth? There certainly
were many Irish and Scottish settlers in the 1850's and 60's.
Lastly, to Mr. Kelley. Could you be the self same Sean Kelley who was a friend
of my brother Scott at KU?