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Q: Origin of "pinhooker"? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Origin of "pinhooker"?
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: nautico-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 14 May 2006 12:58 PDT
Expires: 13 Jun 2006 12:58 PDT
Question ID: 728767
A "pinhooker" is someone who buys something for the express purpose of
reselling it. It's most commonly used nowadays to label someone who
buys race horses to resell them or who attends garage/yard sales to
buy goods for resale. Its original usage, however, allegedly referred
to speculators who bought and then sold the same tobacco at the
auction houses of Bratton's Mill, KY. It seems that Bratton's Mill was
also known as Pinhook. My question: Why was Bratton's Mill known as
Subject: Re: Origin of "pinhooker"?
Answered By: pinkfreud-ga on 14 May 2006 14:15 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Howdy, Nautico. The Dictionary of American Regional English says that
the term 'pinhooker' comes from a regional slang adjective 'pinhook',
rather than from a geographical reference. From what I've read, the
term may be related to the use of rustic fishing equipment made from
bent pins. A 'pinhook' town is a piddly little place where yokels use
homemade fish hooks. Some places that are named Pinhook may be so
named because of geographical features such as a bend in a nearby
river, and there are other colorful explanations for the name. As is
often the case, this is one of those etymological hunts in which the
prey is elusive. At a certain point of the investigation, facts are
few and far between, and speculation is rife. I've gathered both facts
and speculation for you. It was an interesting hunt, but the snipe
disappeared into the mist.

"pinhook v. to speculate in race horses. 
Etymological Note: This is a jargonized variation of pinhook defined
by the Dictionary of American Regional English as 'to act as a
pinhooker, ...a small-time speculator in farm products, esp. tobacco,
esp. one who buys directly from farmers.' DARE traces the origins of
later forms to the adjective pinhook, meaning 'petty, small-time,'
which is recorded as early as 1834 in Davy Crockett?s Narrative Life."

Double-Tongued Word Wrester Dictionary

I found this colorful quote from Davy Crockett:

"When it closed, and I returned home, I found the storm had raised
against me sure enough; and it was echoed from side to side, and from
end to end of my district, that I had turned against Jackson. This was
considered the unpardonable sin. I was hunted down like a wild
varment, and in this hunt every little newspaper in the district, and
every little pinhook lawyer was engaged. Indeed, they were ready to
print anything and everything that the ingenuity of man could invent
against me."

All Biographies: David Crockett

There are several towns in the US that are called Pinhook. Here is
some interesting speculation about the origin of the name of a Pinhook
in Indiana:

"Pinhook, village in Lawrence County [Indiana].  First settled about
1818. According to local legend, the town 'received its name through
the sale of pins [liquor?] in an illegal manner.  No person in the
community had a permit to sell whiskey by the drink.  But in order to
evade the law, one of the early merchants of the little community is
said to have hit upon the idea of selling a customer a bent pin to use
for a fishhook and giving him a drink of whiskey as a premium.  Hence
the name Pinhook.'  Another anecdote says, 'Pinhook's name is related
to the making of fish hooks from pins in earlier days.'  A third oral
account probably explains the name: 'Pinhook, it was thought, was
named from a peculiar twist in the road at the little village'."

Historic Southern Indiana: Southern Indiana Place Names

And a speculative fancy about a town in Ohio:

Blendon Twp. 
Located at the intersection of Granville Road and the Columbus-Central
College Pike, on the banks of the Big Walnut Creek. Pinhook got its
name when a local man named Layman Day commented that the town's
founding father was so stingy that the devil could catch his soul on a
pinhook baited with a five-cent piece. The name stuck somehow, and the
town of Portersburg was changed to Pinhook."

Forgotten Ohio: Ghost Towns of Franklin County 

Paris, Texas was once called Pinhook:

"After Lamar county had been organized and the village of Pinhook had
been selected as the location of the 'County Site' a committee was
appointed to rename the burg and give it a name more in keeping with
the capital of a county. History, as handed down in our [Gibbons
Poteet's] family, has it that T. R. H. Poteet had the honor of
suggesting the name which was adopted--Paris...

Daniel F. Latimer, who came to Paris in 1840 as a boy, and was a
stepson of Claiborne Chisum, said that he and his brother used to fish
in Baker branch, near the Chisum home west of the Frisco yards, using
bent pins for hooks, and that when they went to Clarksville to visit
their relatives, and told their small cousins there of their sport,
the latter living in the fair sized town of Clarksville, described the
Chism home and neighborhood as 'just a pin hook sort of place'."

The History of Paris and Lamar County, Texas

From "Kentucky Place Names" (ISBN 0813101794):

"Caney... This hamlet with po, centered at the jct of KY 191 and 1000,
7 mi s of West Liberty, was once a thriving trade center... it may
have been known early as the Walnut Grove Community and as Pinhook for
the bent pins residents often used for fishing."

My Google search strategy:

Google Web Search: pinhook origin OR name

I hope this helps! 

Best always,
nautico-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Thanks, Pink!

Subject: Re: Origin of "pinhooker"?
From: pinkfreud-ga on 14 May 2006 14:54 PDT
Thank you for the five stars and the very generous tip! 


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