The Boyces stem from up-country South Carolina, specifically Newberry. The Boyces were a merry lot and fond of jokes.
Scots-Irish have an undeserved reputation for being dour. (“Smile for the camera, Uncle Angus.” “I am smiling.”) The Annals of Newberry contain many anecdotes which convey the atmosphere of semi-frontier America; one can see where Mark Twain got his material.
The courts tried without much success to maintain their dignity.
A Case of Teddiration
I have heard some other instances of summary punishment, one of which shows the rude manners of the day. In ’87 or ’87, or thereabouts, a cake baker, known better by the nickname of Billy Behold, than his real name, William English, was engaged in an affray, in front of Coate’s house, where the court was in session. The Sheriff and his posse of constables were sent out to suppress it. They seized Billy Behold, and dragged him in. Unable to get him through the crowd, thronging around the temporary bar, they lifted him up over the heads of the people, and threw him down among the lawyers. He was ordered to gaol. Next morning he made his peace by telling their worships, “behold, behold,” he said, “may it please your worships, I was a little teddirated.” A strange word, but perhaps a pretty good one to describe drunkenness.
The Button War
Carnes and Shaw were rival lawyers, at the county court bar of Newberry— Carnes was a very large man — Shaw a very small one. Carnes was remarkable tor his wit and good humor — Shaw for his pride and petulance. The latter when irritated could make no argument. On one occasion, in a case of some consequence. Carnes had made the opening speech, and sat down. Shaw arose and commenced his argument alongside of Carnes. When standing, the lapel of the coat of the former was just even with that of the latter. Large buttons, and straight-breasted coats were then the rage. Carnes buttoned a button or two of Shaw’s coat into his, snatched up his hat, jumped up in a great hurry, and walked to the door, dragging, apparently without noticing it, poor Shaw after him. At the door, he affected to have discovered it, for the first time, and looking down at him with apparent surprise, he exclaimed, “Brother popcorn, what mischievous rascal hitched you to me?” The ruse had the effect intended. Shaw, when released, was so enraged he could not make his speech.