[APG Public List] "jug distemper"
laboswell at rogers.com
Mon Oct 4 21:10:52 MDT 2010
One slang use of jug is for 'jail or prison'. Distempers were any disease
condition, including mental "derangement". Distempers also were rather
toxic paint mixtures with lead and lime in them (though also referred to a
type of milk paint).
I'd lean towards something related to alcohol.
Wonder if it could refer to a death from drinking a bad batch of homemade
alcohol. Home stills were still the more common source of whiskey in that
period, and what killed people wasn't the whiskey itself, but other things
in the still itself that got into the 'brew'. Or what was added to the mix.
Such whiskey was commonly stored in jugs, 'jug of whiskey'. And given the
use of the term distemper to refer to mental derangement, which probably
would be a symptom of a poisoning resulting from drinking a contaminated,
----- Original Message -----
From: Ray Beere Johnson II
To: APG Posting
Sent: Monday, October 04, 2010 9:55 PM
Subject: Re: [APG Public List] "jug distemper"
On Oct 4, 2010, at 1:19 PM, Maria Hopper wrote:
> Anyone ever hear of "Jug distemper" listed as a cause of death in an
> 1836 NJ diary? Couldn't find in in the archaic medical terms sights. Ree
I'm not sure if I've run across this exact term before. I certainly
don't have a source and am too rushed to hunt one down. (I got two different
results - four total - for "jug distemper" - all in Google Books - and
neither of these results offered any hint of a meaning, even in context.)
But, if I were reading a diary from this period, and read the term
"jug distemper", in the context of a cause of death, my working assumption
would be that the person "drank themselves to death". However, I don't think
this is a medical term, or suggests a precise medical cause. It would be
more colloquial in nature, I think. That assumption is borne out by the fact
it only appears in Google Books four times - three of those being duplicated
_and_ an obvious list of colloquialisms, and the additional hit including
"jug, distemper" is clearly not using this phrase.
Of course, a careful reading of the diary may reveal previous entries
which state _or suggest_ this person was drinking or drunk on various
occasions. Or it might not, depending on how important the individual was in
the life of the diarist, or how circumspect they usually tended to be.
Ray Beere Johnson II
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