Last week David Barton bought his patented brand of psuedo-history to the pulpit to the First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia where he unveiled a new “fact” that we had never heard from him before.
While discussing Black history, Barton asserted that Indiana’s “Hoosier” nickname derived from itinerant Black preacher Harry Hoosier:
Harry Hoosier was one of the great evangelists in the First Great Awakening … but we never heard of Harry Hoosier. By the way, look at his last name. Does that last name seem familiar to anybody? Anybody recognize the name “Hoosier” anywhere? I wonder how many people who live in Indiana know that they’re named for a Black evangelist. But that’s where the name came from because of the impact he had in his preaching all across that part of the country. You got converted, your life became different, you changed your lifestyle, they’d look as say “oh, that’s another one of those Hoosiers.”
Of course, that is David Barton’s version of history. The Indiana Historical Society has rather different explanation:
It’s safe to conclude the Hoosher and Hoosier nickname adopted by Indiana residents and for them by their nearby neighbors was derived from the dialect term (probably traceable from England) not uncommon among southern immigrants to Indiana and the Ohio Valley several years before [John] Finley arrived and penned his famous poem [The Hoosier’s Nest].
Although the term implied a frontier roughness just beyond the most recently settled and “civilized” regions (which of course were always moving west), its subsequent widespread acceptance in the 1830s and 1840s was definitely good-natured, if not independent-minded, in meaning then and thereafter.