Thursday, November 15, 2018

Root Hog or Die

        I have come on foot-back to fill my engagement (at Goose Creek, Pamlico County). I did not think when I left home yesterday, after finishing my week’s washing, that I would find such an assemblage of ladies and gentlemen, boys, girls and children. As I started to remark before I commenced, that as Mondays are my wash days, I could not get here any sooner on account of yesterday being ironing day and it did seem to me that my wife and daughters had more frocks, more petticoats, more dresses than any wash day ever before. I told my wife that she ought to have put off washing till later as I had been invited to deliver my famous address on the great and well known subject: “Root Hog or Die, or Words to That Effect.”
            Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am glad to see you out today in such great numbers. Why, this hall is nearly full and I must say this is the largest audience I have had since I have been a stump speaker.
            There’s only one thing that worries me, my devoted friends, and that is that everlasting wash day. Every Monday morning, like the sun, that wash day comes around, and if I don’t get rid of it soon it will carry me to an early grave although I carry gray hairs of sorrow and trouble on my brow and fifty-four years of age to my credit. Still I live in hopes that some day I will either break my arm or have consumption and that pest of a wash day will be a thing of the past and a joy forever, amen.
            But like the North Carolina hog, I have got to root or die. Therefore, in order to save my bacon and also make money enough to be able to hire someone to do the family washing, I have taken to lecturing. And what a time I have. At times I have to walk to the speaking place, but that is on account of the committees who have to meet me failing to do so. Then, again, after hearing my lecture it is almost impossible to get board, and I have to leave between two suns. That is humiliating, but I’d rather do that than get in a wash tub, wouldn’t you?
            Now, what we need, ladies and gentlemen, is a hog that doesn’t root. If there had not been rooters this subject of mine would not have been known to fame and fortune. It is said, so Col. Fred Olds* says (Col. Olds is one of the best known men in the United States) that the origin of “Root Hog or Die” was started by Senator Butler. It is said that a good many years ago Col. Butler had a hog that was seven feet long and sixteen hands high or sixteen feet high, I forget which Col. Olds said, and Col. Butler used this hog as a fox-horse. That is, he rode him like a horse, saddle, bridle and all, and there wasn’t a horse in Sampson County that could beat him running. 
Image result for hog largest
            Col. Olds says this hog has been known to jump a ten-rail fence and never touch a rail. Well, time passed on, as time and wash days have a right to do, and this famous hog-trotter became old, as usual, and Col. Butler turned him loose in the huckleberry swamps with this parting injunction: “Good-bye, old hog. You will have to root now or die!” And the poor hog was turned away from his home in all his sins and a warm bed into the wide, wide wicked world and huckleberry swamp to root or die. Not a friendly voice to cheer him on his aged days. …

[Frederick Augustus Olds, 1853-1935, historian, newspaper columnist, lecturer, and editor, was born in Pitt County, North Carolina. ]

[Taken from the Raleigh Post (Raleigh, NC) 5 April 1900
The author was not named.]

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