Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bad Ale, Ramshackle Buildings, and Odd Fellows - the Whole History and Etymology of "Shebang"

Long before William Hung’s idiosyncratic performance of Ricky Martin’s classic, “She Bangs,” mystified millions of music(?) fans, the murky origins of the idiom, “the Whole Shebang,” mystified “literally” dozens of etymology fans.  


A common misconception is that prisoners of war at Andersonville coined “shebang” during the Civil War to designate their improvised or inadequate shelters.  But historians for the National Park Service insist that the story is a myth; likely fueled by, “MacKinlay Kantor’s 1955 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Andersonville, which uses ‘shebang’ as a universal term for shelters at Andersonville prison.[i]  Although there were soldiers at Andersonville and other prison camps who did call their shelters “shebangs,”[ii] documentary evidence suggests that most prisoners at Andersonville generally used alternate words, like tent, hut, dugout, burrow, lean-to, shanty, or shelter.[iii]

The word “shebang” (or “chebang”), however, predates the Civil War, so it could not have been coined there, in any case.  In addition, the earliest known uses of “shebang” refer to organizations, or groups of people; not shelters, as it was used later.  These two senses of “shebang” (or “chebang”) may have been influenced by two separate and distinct words;   the Irish Shebeen (low-class tavern), and more surprisingly, perhaps the Hebrew Shebang (seven).

The idiom, “the whole shebang (or chebang),” appeared in a literal sense as early as 1863, and figuratively by 1865.  Since the word “shebang” (or “chebang”) was sometimes used as onomatopoeia, to suggest the firing of a gun (like we might use “bang” today), “the whole shebang” may have been influenced by an earlier idiom, with the same meaning; “the whole shoot” – che bang!  

Etymology of Shebang (or Chebang)


Circumstantial evidence suggests that this earlier sense may have been derived from the Hebrew word, shebang (seven), by members of a fraternal order who were familiar with the cabalistic properties of shebang and the number seven, as understood by Freemasons.  The Hebrew word shebang represents seven,[iv] the “perfect number.”  Shebang and its variant, shabang, denote perfection, sworn oaths, and “sufficiency or fullness.”  Mystical fraternal orders, like the Masons, revered these cabalistic properties.  All of which might, at first blush, seem unrelated to, “the whole shebang;” but for the fact that the earliest example of the word that I could find (spelled, “Chebang,” 1854) referred to an Odd Fellows lodge (the Odd Fellows are a fraternal order much like the Masons[v]).  The use of “shebang” (or “chebang”) to designate a lodge to which the members pledged a solemn oath is consistent with at least one of the mystical meanings of the Hebrew Shebang, as understood in Freemasonry.

The better known sense of “shebang,” as a lean-to or improvised shelter (and eventually any building), appears to be derived from the Irish word, shebeen.  The Irish word, shebeen, originally referred to a low-grade ale; shebeen was sold in shebeen houses, which was ultimately shortened to, shebeen, standing alone.  Shebeen houses, or simply, shebeens, were often located in ramshackle buildings or temporary shelters, like a “shebang.”  But “shebang” was also used frequently in reference to a tavern, strongly suggestive of a relationship with the earlier word, shebeen.

The two words appear to have merged into a single word in English, with multiple shades of inter-related meaning.  “Shebang,” and its alternate spelling, “chebang,” appeared in print regularly, in all of its various senses, from as early as 1861.  The variant spellings and variant meanings all survived well into the early 1900s.  The various senses of “shebang” (or “chebang”) were similar enough, that the distinction between and among them was easily blurred.  If a “shebang” (or “chebang”) is an organization or group of people, they might be housed in a building, shelter, or “shebang.”  If a “shebang” (or “chebang”) is a low-class tavern, then the tavern might be housed in a low-class building, shelter, or “shebang.”  If groups of people gather for a social occasion, their “shebang” (or “chebang”) might meet at a tavern, or “shebang” (or “chebang”) for drinks.  Eventually, the word came to be used loosely, to refer to any group, place, or anything at all.

Definition of Shebang

Definition of SHEBANG: everything involved in what is under consideration – usually used in the phrase the whole shebang. 

Although the word is now almost exclusively used as part of the phrase, “the whole shebang,” this was not always the case.  Many of the early descriptions of the word, and early dictionary definitions, focused on the sense of “shebang” as a shelter:

Everything in the way of shelter, in camp parlance, that is not a tent, is a “shebang.”

Mrs. A. H. Hoge, The Boys in Blue or Heroes of the “Rank and File,”  New York, E. B. Treat & Co., 1867, page 272.

The Colorado dialect, in other respects, is peculiar.  A dwelling-house is invariably styled “shebang;” and the word, in many cases, is very appropriate.”

Bayard Taylor, Colorado: A Summer Trip, New York, G. P. Putnam and Son, 1867, page 60.

The fresh idiomatic phrases and “slang” words, that pour in on the ear of the traveler through our New West, and especially in its mining districts, will greatly amuse and interest him. . . . What wealth of new words and new meanings for old ones would Shakespere not have gathered up in a week’s life among the miners of White Pine for instance? “You bet” is an emphatic affirmative; . . . “pan out,” borrowed from washing sands for gold, signifies turning out or amounting to . . . ; a loafer is a “bummer;” “shebang” is applied to any sort of shop, house or office . . . .

Samuel Bowles, Our New West. Records of Travel Between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean, Hartford, Connecticut, Hartford Publishing Co., 1869, page 506.

Two much discussed terms are shebang and skedaddle[vi].  The former, used even yet by students of Yale College and elsewhere to designate their rooms, or a theatrical or other performance in a public hall, has its origin probably in a corruption of the French cabane, a hut, familiar to the troops that came from Louisiana, and constantly used in the Confederate camp for the simple huts, which they built with such alacrity and skill for their winter quarters.

Maximillian Schele De Vere, Americanisms: The English of the New World, New York, Charles Scribner & Co., 1872, page 284. 

Shebang. A strange word that had its origin during the late civil war.  It is applied alike to a room, a shop, or a hut, a tent, a cabin; an engine-house.

John Russell Bartlett, Dictionary of Americanisms, 4th Edition, Boston, Little, Brown, and Company, 1877, page 578.

Shebang. – A word used very much like “diggings” in English slang, and applied alike to one’s residence; a place of public meeting; an office for business; or indeed any place where one is permanently, or even temporarily located. 

John S. Farmer, Americanisms – Old and New, a Dictionary of Words, Phrases and Colloquialisms Peculiar to the United States, British America, The West Indies, &c., &c., London, Private Printing, 1889, page 61-62. 

But although these early accounts focus on the well-known sense of “shebang,” as shelter, as widely used during the Civil War, not all of the early sources use the word in this sense.  The earliest attestations used “shebang” (or “chebang”) to refer to a n organization or group of people, and many early attestations referred to low-grade taverns, much like the word, shebeen.  In addition, although some early references speculated that “shebang” came from the French word, cabana, the paper trail points to a different region; Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

Definition of “the Whole Shebang”

“The whole shebang,” is one of a group of English-language idioms starting with, “the whole - - - ,” all of which mean more or less the same thing, namely, “everything”: the whole nine yards, the whole kit and caboodle, the whole ball of wax, the whole enchilada, the whole shooting match.

Shebang/Chebang – Organization or Group

            Hebrew Shebang - Seven

Several mid-nineteenth century Masonic texts, religious texts, and other books, discuss the significance of the Hebrew word, shebang:  

Masonic Texts:
Seven.  The number seven, among all nations, has been considered as a sacred number, and in every system of antiquity we find frequent reference to it. . . .  Among the Hebrews, the etymology of the word shows its sacred import – for, from the word (shebang) seven, is derived the verb (shebang) to swear, because oaths were confirmed either by witnesses, or by some victims offered in sacrifice . . . . 

L. Carroll Judson, The Masonic Advocate: Being a Concise Exposition and Full Defense of Free Masonry, Philadelphia, 1859, page 225.

The radical meaning of is sufficiency or fullness, and the number seven was thus denominated, because it was on the seventh day that God completed his work of creation; and “hence,” says Parkhurst, “seven was both among believers and heathens the number of sufficiency or completion.”

Albert G. Mackey, New and Improved Edition, A Lexicon of Freemasonry, Philadelphia, Moss, Brother & Co., 1859, page 438. 

Religious Texts:
“Seven”.  “Seven was also called the perfect number; because in that number of days God perfected the work of creation; and the name of the number … shebang, comes from the verb . . . shebang, to fill, to satiate; this verb also, in the conjugations Niphil and Hithpahel, signifies to swear, because an oath is the perfection of a covenant or a security.
William Goodhugh, Pictorial Dictionary of the Holy Bible, Volume 2, London, Henry G. Bohn, 1845, page 1225.

Sarah and her husband continued to dwell in Abimelech’s dominions, some few miles to the south of Gerar; a place afterwards called Beer-Shebang, or Well of the Oath, from the covenant of peace there made between the patriarch and the king.

Grace Aguilar, Women of Israel, Volume 1, New York, D. Appleton & Company, 1853, page 66. 

Other Books:
 The word ‘sabath’ is from the Hebrew shebang or yom shaba, meaning the seventh day.

Andrew Jackson Davis, The Magic Staff; an Autobiography of Andrew Jackson Davis, Fifth Edition, New York, J. S. Brown & Co., 1859, page 330.

My initial inclination was to dismiss the possible Hebrew influence as unrealistic, or merely a coincidence.  The English word “shebang” (or “chebang”), after all, first came into widespread use during the Civil War; decades before the significant waves of Jewish emigration to the United States after 1880.  But, the earliest use of “shebang” (or “chebang”), in a sense that seems related to the modern idiom, refers to an Odd Fellows lodge, so perhaps the Hebrew shebang entered the language through Masonic-style fraternal organizations.  The connection is at least plausible.

            Shebang (Chebang) / Organization or Group

A humorous story published in western Pennsylvania, in 1854, tells of a businessman who receives a letter of introduction for a man named “Sparks,” coming to town to conduct some business.  The letter says that Sparks, who is coming to town from “the Western Reserve” in northeastern Ohio, is “an Odd Fellow.” 

The joke of the story is that the recipient misunderstands the letter; he assumes that the visitor is member of the Odd Fellows when, in reality, he is simply an “odd fellow.” 

Upon meeting the stranger, the recipient of the letter invites the visitor to see their lodge, or “Chebang,” under the mistaken impression that he is a member of the Order of the Odd Fellows.  The visitor, however, is actually just an “odd fellow;” he is completely ignorant of Odd Fellows and their “Chebangs.”  In order to keep up a good front, however, the visitor goes along with the invitation, nodding and pretending to know what it’s all about. 

Through a series of misunderstandings, the visitor misses his appointment to see the “Chebang,” instead being waylaid by some local toughs, who show him a false “Chebang,” run him through an improper initiation ceremony, steal his hat and his wallet, beat him, and leave him in a dark alley:

Showing Him the “Chebang!”
Breaking in an “Odd Fellow.”

‘I had just been to the post office,’ said our friend Popple, ‘and among other letters of business, was one from a clerk of a business firm, with whom we now and then did some trade, informing me that a certain person of Slapjack county, on the Western Reserve, would be down in course of a few days . . . . The letter in question wound up by saying the individual’s name was Mr. Jonas Sparks, had money, stood fair; and – was an Odd Fellow!” . . .

[After their initial meeting] ‘First rate,’ says Sparks, ‘first rate, just my way of doing business, to a T; getting kind o’ late, sort o’ dinner time; heap o’ runnin round to do.  Spose I send up the wax now, right away, weigh it, I’ll trot around, do up my chores, and be back again arter dinner.’

‘Very good,’ said Popple, ‘and, by the way, Sparks, suppose you go to the lodge to-night, and see our Chebang.”

‘Our lodge, got your card with you?’
‘Card?’ says Sparks.
‘Yes, member, aint you?’ replies Popple.
‘You understand?’ says Popple . . . .

‘Now what in sin,’ says Sparks, as he went on his way, dose that feller Popple mean by lodge and Chebang? Calculates, I rekon, I’m sort o’green; git out.  I’ll be darned if he don’t find Western Reserve folks as high up in the figgers as these cute chaps around this settlement are.’ . . .

I found it,’ said Sparks.
‘What?’ says Popple.
‘That Lodge!’
‘Eh? How – where? Have you got your card?’
‘I bought one.’
‘Ha, ha,’ ejaculated Popple.  I guess you’ve been put through!’
‘Well I was,’ says Sparks. ‘I found the lodge.’
‘Did you, indeed?’
‘Saw the Chebang!’

Raftsman’s Journal (Clearfield, Pennsylvania), July 15, 1854, page 1.

The use of “Chebang” throughout the article seems consistent with the Masonic understanding of the Hebrew word, Shebang, as an oath.  If the Odd Fellows also understood shebang as an oath, a lodge might use the word “shebang” (or “chebang”) to identify the lodge to which the members pledged their oath.  It might be a stretch; but then again, I’m not making this stuff up.  It certainly sounds plausible. 

Sadly, there is only one, single reference that uses “chebang” to designate an Odd Fellows lodge.  There are, however, several references from the just prior to, and during the first years of, the Civil War, in which “shebang” (or “chebang”) is used in similarly, to refer to an organization or group. 

In pre-war Cincinnati, Ohio, the City Council was a “chebang”:

Mr. Hirst (Deputy Sheriff, as well as member,) here arose, and said that he had heard the President [Torrance[vii]} say that he was boss of this “chebang;” he had now to announce that he held in his hand a paper that made him boss of the “chebang,” and he accordingly produced a writ of mandamus, from the Supreme Court, commanding the Council to accept the bonds of Mr. Bellows, as Sealer of Weights and Measures, or appear in Court at Columbus to answer a charge of contempt.

Cincinnati Daily Press (Ohio), March 28, 1861, page 3, column 7. 

During the war, several accounts of wartime service by soldiers of the 2nd Ohio Cavalry and the 105th Ohio Infantry used the word “chebang” or “shebang” to refer to their units.  In July, 1862, for example, a soldier complained about the intemperate behavior of a Kansas Colonel who had been put in charge of their “chebang”:

From the 2d Ohio Cavalry.
Fort Scott, Kansas, July 26th, 1862. 

. . . This inebriate, Weer [(a “Kansas politician, and notorious scoundrel”)], (he does not deserve the title of colonel) is placed in command. . . . He now proposes to have a gay and festive drunk, hence he is habitually drunk.  One day he details five hundred men for picket, another day he details a thousand, according as the whim takes him.  If the Brigade or Regimental commanders make a report or enter any complaints, he pays not the slightest attention to them, cursing all officers alike, telling them to go to h---l, that he runs the “chebang” himself.”

Cleveland Morning Leader, August 5, 1862, page 2.

Several months later, the “chebang” pulled up stakes, and moved to a new location:

From the 2d Ohio Cavalry – Arrival of the New Colonel – Orders to Return to Ohio – Great Rejoicing.

Humbolt, Kansas, Oct. 16, 1862.

. . . All the available force of Fort Scott having been sent into Missouri, including about 150 of the 2d, and reports being well substantiated that they were having a “brush” with the “Butternuts,” a rumor came that the Indians were committing depredations upon the whites of Iola and Humbolt.  Subsequently an “order” came for every well man of the Ohio regiment to be ready to march either in wagons or mounted, within three hours, the result of which order was, seventy-five men in wagons, and twenty-five on skeleton horses, in all one hundred men, were able to go.  With Captain Stanhope and Lieutenants Deming and Barnitz in charge, this “Shebang” left the Fort on the 3d, for Iola, Kansas, and arrived there on the 4th, at sunset.

The Cleveland Morning Leader, October 29, 1862, page 2, column 3. 

In 1863, a soldier of the 105th Ohio Infantry complained about a slacker from their “shebang” who had published misleading accounts of their service:

A Bogus Soldier Shown Up.

Some time since, one Joel S. Bailey, of Hubbard, who volunteered last summer for a big bounty in the 105th Regiment, wrote a letter home, which was published with a flourish of trumpets in the Warren Constitution. . . .

I have a few words to say in regard to Joel Bailey, as I hear he has been writing some statements for home circulation, that are not true.  He is no man t all, and is completely played out of our “shebang.”  He has not been with us through any of our hardships, and has had nothing to do but remain at Nashville and lie on the rest of the boys who are fighting the battles.

Western Reserve Chronicle (Warren, Ohio), April 29, 1863, page 2, column 2.

As the war wore on, the word was no longer confined to units from Ohio.  In 1863, a mobile Army hospital received orders to move the entire unit to another location; James Bryan, MD (who had earlier served as the “President of the Medico-Chirurgical College of Philadelphia”), described the maneuver as moving, “the whole ‘chebang’”:

On the second of June we received orders from the commander of the post, Col. Geo. E. Bryant, of the 12th Wisconsin Vols., to remove the whole hospital up to Young’s Point or Milliken’s Bend.  On the third the whole “chebang” was removed on board the “Forest Queen,” and started for Young’s Point.

James Bryan, M.D., A Short Account of The “Mary Ann” Hospital, Grand Gulf, Miss., American Medical Times, Volume 7, July 4, 1863, page 4.
In Ohio, in 1866, a tounge-in-cheek, hypothetical, intrusive revenue service (the IRS on steroids) was called a “Chebang”:

Elmira and me has concocted a revenue scheme which can’t help but work. . . . The officers of the bureau to consist of a Commissioner, two provost marshals, and one small Quartermaster, all to rank as Major Generals, and to own the district embraced within the jurisdiction of the bureau, and to run the Chebang and carry the elections.  I think this would place the government on “stable foundations.”

Urbana Union (Urbana, Ohio), August 8, 1866, page 1.

In each of these cases, the “shebang” (or “chebang”) was an organization or group of people; a city council, infantry unit, cavalry unit, or hospital; consistent with the apparent use of “chebang” in 1854, to refer to an Odd Fellows lodge, at least in western Pennsylvania and Ohio.

            Was Shebang (Chebang) a Localism?

Interestingly, all of the earliest uses of “shebang” (or “chebang”), used in the sense of a group or organization, all come from a region encompassing western Pennsylvania and Ohio.  The earliest use, with respect to the Odd Fellows lodge, was from Clearfield, Pennsylvania, and one of the characters came from the Western Reserve, which is located in northeastern Ohio, and includes Cleveland.  The pre-war Cincinnati City Council reference was from southern Ohio.  The letters about the 2nd  Ohio Cavalry and the 105th Ohio Infantry appeared in the Cleveland Morning Leader and the Western Reserve Chronicle (Warren, Ohio), respectively; both in northeastern Ohio.

The one exception, among the early uses of “shebang” (or “chebang”) in the sense of an organization or group, is the report of moving an entire Army hospital.  But even the author of that report had Pennsylvania connections, albeit, not from western Pennsylvania.  Before the war, Dr. James M. Bryan had been the editor of the Philadelphia Medical and Surgical Journal.  He had also spent time on the faculty of medical schools in Philadelphia, Castleton, Vermont, and Geneva, New York.  But he was also writing in July of 1863, more than two years into the war.  He may have been influenced by the spread of the word throughout the army.  Hey may also have been influenced by the other sense of the word, “shebang” (or “chebang”) as shelter or hut; in moving the hospital, presumably, he was also moving their tents:

This institution was organized by the introduction of patients from the field after the battles at Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, and the vicinity, from the first to the fifteenth of May, 1863.  It was almost entirely a field hospital, located on the slope of a prominent bluff occupied as a peach orchard.  The buildings consisted of a central dwelling and several outhouses, formerly used as kitchens and quarters for the negroes. . . .  The population of the institution during my administration was from eight hundred to one thousand persons; the nurses were partly enlisted men, and partly female contrabands [(freed slaves)].

James Bryan, M.D., A Short Account of The “Mary Ann” Hospital, Grand Gulf, Miss., American Medical Times, Volume 7, July 4, 1863, page 4.

In any case, the alternate sense of “shebang,” as shelter, tavern, or building, had already taken root elsewhere; and the two senses may already have begun to merge.

Shebeen/Shebang – Tavern/Shelter

Shebeen was originally an Irish term for low-grade ale.  In 1781, one observer noted that Spaniards of the Biscay region were as affected by Chacoli as the Irish were by Shebeen:

The manners of the Biscayners, and the ancient Irish, are so similar on many occasions, as to encourage the notion of the Irish being descended from them. . . .  In both countries the common people are passionate, easily provoked if their family is slighted, or their descent called in question.  The Chacoli of Biscay, or the Shebeen of Ireland*, makes them equally frantic.

Dillon’s Travels Through Spain, The Monthly Review, Volume 64, 1781, page 47.

The word appears to have been relatively unfamiliar at the time, as the editor wished that the author had explained the terms:

*Mr. Dillon, or Mr. Bowles, - for we know not which of them is now speaking – should have explained these two terms, for the benefit of such of their Readers as are not Irishmen or Biscayners.

Dillon’s Travels Through Spain, The Monthly Review, Volume 64, 1781, page 47.

In 1788, King George III’s Irish revenue laws specifically addressed the sale of shebeen:

AD 1788. Chapter 34, XXVIII. 

And be it further enacted, That all ale called shebeen, which shall be seized by any officer of his Majesty’s revenue, for any offence against any of the revenue laws of this kingdom, shall and may be sold at any time after the seizure thereof, and if the same shall be claimed by the owner thereof, and such ale shall be adjudged not subject to seizure, the claimant shall be paid for such ale so much money as the produce arising from such ale amounted to, provided a proper permit be produced for the malt of which such ale was made.

The Statutes at Large, passed in the Parliaments Held in Ireland, Dublin, 1791, Volume 14 (1787-1789), pages 675-676.

Eventually, shebeen (or, less commonly, sheban) was applied to the place where shebeen was sold, often a low-grade building:

A Shebeen house is a mean cabin or hut, many of which are to be seen at convenient distances on the public roads of Ireland – the inhabitants deal in bad spirits, tobacco and ale, which they contrive to vend without paying duty

John Williams, The eccentricities of John Edwin, comedian, collected from his manuscripts, and enriched with several hundred original anecdotes. Arranged and digested by Anthony Pasquin, esq. [pseud.], London, J. Strahan, 1791, page 69.

The word was also known, and used, in the United States, frequently in stories that related to Ireland or Irish characters, but not exclusively:

This course Mr. Lacie at last found himself compelled to adopt, and a few years saw “Maguire’s farm-house” transformed into “Huey’s sheban,” from which source he contrived to derive a rude livelihood.

Tyrone Power, The Lost Heir and The Prediction, Volume 2, New York, 1830, page 121.

“Wurra now,” cried Thaddy, “that same it is, don’t ye saa, lucky heart,” pointing to a little shebeen, over which, on a rough board, was chalked, in tolerably fair characters, R Finnigan.  “Now I’ll git at it,” continued Thaddy, “entirely;” and, stepping up to the door, he gave a smart rap with his shillala. [(The same show was later described as  “dram shop”.)]

Lucius M. Sargent, Temperance Tales, Volume 3, Boston, Whipple and Damrell, 1837, page 64.

How Tim Carroll Did the Devil
A certain wight –
Tim Carroll hight –
Was absolute master, “by grace divine,”
O’er a mud-walled shebeen
And a jug of poteen,
And a ragged caubeen,
And a bin-full of “prates,” undoubtedly fine . . . .

Yale Literary Magazine, volume 15, 1850.

The term “shebeen” was also applied (from time to time) to similar shops in the United States:

Pacing up and down the hut with a kind of stealthy cat-like pace, was an individual, whose unprepossessing exterior was in good keeping with the rest of this Texian shebeen house.

Vermont Phoenix (Brattleboro), February 26, 1846, page 1.

“Shebeen” or “shebeen house” were still in occasional use in the United States after the Civil War:

A short distance from the old roof tree stood a grocery, or what was better known as a “Shebeen,” where the young men of a similar age to the subject of this sketch spent much of the day and nearly all of the night in innocent amusements, drinking potheen and cracking skulls.

Memphis Daily Appeal, September 12, 1869, page 4.

Losses By Fire.
The Shebeen House, or Hunter’s Point Saloon. Loss, $5,000.

The Sun (New York), February 3, 1872, page 1.

            Shebang – Tavern

In 1862, a report of the United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs described “shebangs” in terms similar to the earlier use of shebeen, suggesting that the two words may be related.  The word appears to be well-known out west, in the region where the report was written, but not necessarily well-known in Washington, as the term is explained, and set off in quotation marks:

Office Nez Perce Indian Agency, Lapwai, W.T., June 30, 1862.

. . . In the month of October, of last year, a town site was laid off on the reservation on Snake river, at the confluence of the Clearwater, which is now known as “Lewiston;” and despite my calling public attention to the laws forbidding it, a small but active town has rapidly sprung up, numbering, perhaps, two hundred tenements of various descriptions, with a population approximating 1,200 white persons.

Along all the roads on the reservation to all the mines, at the crossing of every stream or fresh-water spring, and near the principal Indian villages, an inn or “shebang” is established, ostensibly for the entertainment of travelers, but almost universally used as a den for supplying liquor to Indians.”

Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Page 423. G10.

An article from 1869 suggests that the word may have already been in use for many years (although it is impossible to say whether the writer was using modern words to describe something historical; or using words from the period in which the story took place):

Thirty years ago, Council Bluffs, now a city of many thousand inhabitants, was comprised of half a dozen log houses, a blacksmith’s forge, and a chebang, or whiskey house, dignified with the title of tavern, where a half dime would purchase as much of the raw fluid as any strong man would swallow, or a dime would give him the addition of corn bread and a shake down of straw, for it was always presumable that the guests at this hotel brought their own bedclothes, in the shape of a good Mackinaw blanket.

The Weekly North Carolina Standard (Raleigh), August 11, 1869, page 4. 

Shebang – Shelter/Lean-To/Building

A common element in many of the shebeen-as-tavern references is that the shebeen is generally ramshackle; “a mean cabin or hut,” “unprepossessing,” “mud-walled,” “a rough board.”  This sense was incorporated into the use of “shebang” (or “chebang”) to refer to crude or temporary shelters during the Civil War:

Beside the hospitals, I also go occasionally on long tours through the camps, talking with the men, &c.  Sometimes at night among the groups around the fires, in their shebang enclosures of bushes.  I soon get acquainted anywhere in camp, with officers or men, and am always well used.  Sometimes I go down on picket with the regiments I know best.

Walt Whitman, letter from Fredericksburgh, Dec. 22-31 [1862], (in, John Burroughs, Notes on Walt Whitman, as Poet and Person, Second Edition, New York, J. S. Redfield, 1871, page 89.

In describing the Union occupation of Chattanooga:

[T]he men have not been unmindful of their comforts, and have appropriated brick as well as lumber, and constructed for themselves very comfortable “chebangs” from the demolished dwellings of the chivalry.

The Indiana State Sentinel, November 9, 1863, page 2, column 3.

Southerners staying in Northern prison camps slept in numbered “chebangs”:

I found that the political prisoners had been removed from their first locality; and were now occupying “Chebang” No. 26.

Isaac W. K. Handy, United States Bonds; or Duress by Federal Authority: a Journal of Current Events During an Imprisonment of Fifteen Months, at Fort Delaware, Baltimore, Turnbull Brothers, 1874, page 424.

Northerners in Southern prison camps also slept in “shebangs”:

On the last Thursday of November, 1864, three of us sat in a shebang in the prison stockade at Florence, S. C.  Shebang was the prison word for a dwelling constructed in this way.  An excavation about seven feet in length, six feet in breadth, and two feet in depth was made.  The earth taken out was banked up perpendicularly on the edge of the excavation inside; outside the surface was sloped.

Democratic Northwest (Napoleon, Ohio), December 25, 1884, Holiday Supplement, page 10, column 3.

“Shebang” was also used to refer to larger tents or enclosures:

From Co. C, 150th Regiment. Co. C, Barracks 150 Regt., O.N.G., Fort Bunker Hill, Near Washington, D. C., May 27

. . . We have a great time getting our letters when the mail arrives.  Capt. DeForest usually brings our letters to our barracks, or sometimes to our dining hall, and reads off the names of the fortunate recipients of favors from home, who are cheered, one after another, as their names are read off, the unlucky ones being obliged to “wait and watch” a little longer.  The next mail fortunately turns the mourning entirely around to the other side of the “chebang.”

Cleveland Morning Leader, May 31, 1864, page 4 column 5.

The word, “shebang,” was also frequently used to refer to a building housing a business, or to the business, itself, similar to “shebeen,” but not restricted, necessarily, to saloons.  In Kansas, for example (where the 2nd Ohio 2d Cavalry served), a bakery could be a shebang:

The advertisement of the Eastern Baker, at Lawrence – Wm. M. Hazeltine, proprietor – will be found in The News, if you will look sharp for it; and you had better hunt it up, for you will be sure to want something to eat when you go to Lawrence, and Hazeltine’s is the place to get it. . . . It is worth about 37 ½ cents to get acquainted with the good-natured Hazeltine, and if his shebang don’t bring the smile to a hungry man’s face, and cause his mouth to water, we are no judge of the genus homo.

The Emporia (Kansas) News, December 20, 1862, page 3, column 1.

Some unnamed sort of business of interest to stock raisers was a “shebang”:

We see by the bills that Mark Patty has taken up his residence half of each week in town, and is running a “shebang,” or rather, a he-bang.  He has something of great interest to stock raisers.  Go and see him.

The Emporia News (Kansas), May 23, 1863, page 3, column 1. 

Back in Ohio, a newspaper office was a “chebang”:

But alas! For his editorial on “dits” and “tit bits.” Grant’s boys took possession of his “chebang” before the wall-paper edition was circulated, and one of the Yanks worked off the Citizen with the following highly satisfactory conclusion to its editorial department:

Gallipolis Journal (Gallipolis, Ohio), September 3, 1863, page 1, column 4.

In Memphis, Tennessee, while under Union occupation, well-to-do citizenry could buy exemptions from having to perform militia duty; a practice that some believed to be crooked.  One officer who “sold” such exemptions was forced to close up shop – his “shop” was a chebang:

Assistant Adjutant-Gen. Cohen opened shop in this line several weeks ago; but, in consequence of his neglect to pay his license in advance – or, perhaps, for some other reason – his “chebang” was closed by order of the provost marshal.

Memphis Daily Appeal, May 5, 1864, page 1.

In 1865, students from Yale University who had travelled west during their military service in the Civil War, mocked the speech patterns of Hoosiers from “Injunoppolis”:

Here is the way they talk in that benighted neighborhood.  “I hav saw where you was going at,” and “I have went where you couldn’t git to go.” “I never seen” any man have “such a right smart git,” as “me and him did.”  “That there man there, what owns this shebang,” “wounded his watch up,” “Onct or twict,” “just like I do mine,” &c.  Here is the way they drill.  “Keep your feet a movin, redy to do as ye did yistday, -git.”  “From four strings into two – git.” “turn around sideways, and go off in a crosswise direction – git.” 

Yale Literary Magazine, Volume 30, Number 4, February 1865, pages 152-153.

In 1866, a team of Sicilian counterfeiters in Mobile, Alabama were said to run a “chebang”:

[T]he disgraceful den on St. Francis street, known as the Headquarters Restaurant, was under the protection of the Commanding General . . . .  This, of course, was “as good a thing” as could be desired by the counterfeiters.  David Palazza, a big fist among them, being a half owner of the “chebang.”

The Daily Clarion (Meridian, Mississippi), February 11, 1866, page 1.

In several of these examples, it is ambiguous as to whether “shebang” (or “chebang”) refers to the building in which the business is operated, or refers to the business, generally, as an organization or group, as seemed to be the case with the Odd Fellows “chebang,” the Cincinnati City Council, and military units.  In the end, it may not really matter; the two senses appear to have merged into one.  A “shebang” could be a shebeen house, a lean-to shelter, a building, a company, a military unit, or a counterfeiting ring.

Eventually, a “shebang” could be anything at all, including a pack-mule[viii], a canoe[ix], a high school[x], a general store in an abandoned mining town[xi], or Marshall Fields’ department store:

Let this boy learn how to stand on his own legs, knock around among rough men, eating pork and beans and listening to smutty stories and rollicking hi-yi songs, thrown into the guardhouse if he gets drunk or shoots off his mouth, scrubbing his accoutrements, making his bed on the ground or on stone and wooden floors of barracks, washing his own shirt, battling against vermin that lay eggs under the armpits of all who get into active service – let this young Marshall Field III go up against this game without special favors from commissioned officers and non-coms – and then he may come back to State street, take things in his own hands and run the vast Marshall Field shebang all by himself.

Carl Sandburg, Will Marshall Field III Enlist?, The Day Book, April 17, 1917, page 12.

The Evening Star (Washington DC), August 26, 1906, page 56.

The Whole Shebang/Chebang

Cleveland Daily Leader, July 4, 1866.

The phrase, “the whole shebang,” has been in use, figuratively, since at least 1865:

I wrote you some time since of a disturbance that occurred at Lauderdale Springs [Mississippi], in which a train of cars was attacked by the negro soldiers.  It seems that a disturbance occurred between the negro soldiers and the resident negroes at that place.  The negroes, fleeing to the cars, were pursued by the negro soldiers, who, in their fury, committed the assault complained of.

It will be gratifying to your readers to hear that the officers commanding these troops have been arrested, the negroes themselves put under guard, and the whole “shebang” are to go before a court-martial.

Daily Ohio Statesman(Columbus, Ohio), December 15, 1865, page 2.

A Holiday. – No more papers until Thursday evening! Fourth of July is claimed as a holiday by printers as well as other people, and the whole “chebang,” from the “Great Mogul” to the youngest and poorest “devil,” are off to “celebrate.”

Cleveland Daily Leader (Ohio), July 4, 1866, Morning Edition, page 4.     

In May 1866, a mob of white people rampaged through Memphis in what has become known as the Memphis Riots and Massacre of 1866. Over the course of three days, more than forty Black people were murdered, more than seventy injured, more than one-hundred robbed, and several raped, by rampaging Whites.  They also burned about ninety homes, four churches and twelve schools. 

Memphis Riot of 1866; Harpers Weekly, May 26, 1866.

The official government report of the melee includes several examples of the word, “shebang;” applied to a “whiskey shop” and a “grocery.”  When a rioter threatened to burn down someone’s home, he threatened to burn, “the whole shebang”:

He came into my house and dropped his knife.  Then he came again and asked where his knife was.  I did not know anything about his knife.  He told me if I did not tell him where his knife was he would burn up the whole “shebang.”

Mr. E. B. Washburne, Memphis Riots and Massacres, Report, from the Select Committee on the Memphis Riots, July 25, 1866.

The phrase, “the whole shebang,” appeared in Tennessee several more times in the ensuing years:

- Lou Harris, a strapping black wench, went to the house of a gentleman, who, she declared, was in debt to her; and, on his refusing to settle immediately, she threatened to “clean out the whole shebang.”  Before sailing in, however, she sounded a war whoop, which brought the police down on her and she was locked up.

Memphis Daily Appeal (Tennessee), March 13, 1869, page 3.

A free-love colony has purchased land near Kalamazoo, Mich., and are going into business there.  The Kalamazoologists of the city want to move out and let the free-lovers run the whole shebang.

The Home Journal (Winchester, Tennessee), May 19, 1870, page 1.

“The whole shebang” was also used in western Pennsylvania:

A four horse team, a band wagon, a band and a doctor or two appeared here last week and drove around town in gorgeous style, selling “Kunkel’s Pain Slayer” on the Public Square and discoursing sweet music and comic songs for several evenings.  The employees, however, finally sued the “Pain Slayer” for wages due, and ere long seven executions were in the hands of officers and the whole “shebang” levied upon, and it will be sold on Wednesday if no appropriation comes to hand in the meantime.  It gives me great pain to thus chronicle the death of the great Pain Slayer.

The Cambria Freeman (Ebensburg, Pennsylvania), August 4, 1870, page 3. 

The phrase, “the whole shebang,” appeared in a New York newspaper in 1872, but in an article about a speech given in Columbus, Ohio.  The speaker, George Francis Train, was a railroad and shipping magnate from Boston, and may have been pandering to the Ohio crowd, for a laugh.  He was speaking about the practice of giving complimentary railroad passes to local power brokers:

Everybody and everything is deadheaded in the age of the Dents.  The other day the palace car from here had five passengers.  I paid, as I always do, never accepting a complementary [applause], but the other four had passes.  “Who is that man?” I asked the conductor.  “He is the editor of the Podmunk Stink Pot, and the other with a fur cap, he is our Representative, “Who is that small man with a squint in his eye?” “He is our ex-member of Congress.” [Laughter.]  “And that man with him?” “He is our local Judge.” [Laughter.]  So you see I paid for the whole shebang. [Loud laughter.]  And that represents the whole country.  How can you get justice when pulpit, press, legislators, and judges are deadheaded?

The Sun (New York), March 12, 1872, page 2.

The article about deadheading was picked up by other papers, and appeared at least in Ohio and West Virginia.  Throughout the 1870s, the phrase “the whole shebang” appeared with increasing frequency, often in the context of politics, but not exclusively.  

In 1876, a campaign poem supporting Rutherford B. Hayes’ candidacy for President of the United States appeared in numerous newspapers ranging from New York to Nebraska.  Coincidentally (or not?), Hayes haled from Cincinnati and was then the Governor of Ohio:

The man the Democrats to daze,
To send them on their devious ways
And fill their souls with wild amaze,
Their buildings shake, their towers raze,
And put their whole shebang ablaze,
At the end of the coming election days,
Is – well, we’ll call him President Hayes.
– N. Y. Graphic.

Nebraska Advertiser (Brownville, Nebraska), June 29, 1876, page 4.

The Whole Shoot

Before “the whole shebang” came into being, the idiom, “the whole shoot,” expressed the same meaning.  I was not able to find very many examples of the earlier idiom; perhaps it was considered too informal or back-woodsy, to be picked up by newspaper editors; or perhaps it was overshadowed by “the whole shebang,” as it emerged during the following decade.  I cannot claim to have proven any connection, but the similarity in sound and meaning suggest that the earlier idiom could have had some influence on the development, or at least the widespread acceptance of the newer idiom:

I reckon I know too much about painting, stranger, to be sucked in as easy as you think for.  Fifty dollars! Why daddy only giv two dollars for paint to paint our big wagin, and it was the clure red, and thar war anough left to paint more ner the whole shoot of your picters. . . . Fayetteville (Ark.) Independent.

The Jackson Standard (Jackson, Ohio), February 2, 1854, page 1.[xii]

After reading the imbecile stuff, we cannot express our opinion of “Bing. Trigg, alias Brick Toppe,” better than by quoting the language we once heard a blasphemous old codger use, when speaking of a set with whom he was at the outs.  Said he: “The whole shoot of them are d—d fools, except Mike; and he’s a G—d d—d fool!”

The White Cloud Kansas Chief (White Cloud, Kansas), September 27, 1860, page 2.

The Bell-ringers and Breckites voted for the Douglas candidate for Supreme Judge, and the whole shoot of them are beaten nearly 20,000 votes. – Set down Ohio at 40,000 to 50,000 for Old Abe.

The White Cloud Kansas Chief (White Cloud, Kansas), October 18, 1860, page 2. 

“Well, I recollect,” replied our friend, “that we corralled the whole shoot of them d—d sudden, and the only pity is, we didn’t set fire to the house and burn up the whole shoot of them!

The White Cloud Kansas Chief (White Cloud, Kansas), January 16, 1862, page 2. 


From time to time, the word, “chebang” or “che-bang,” was used as onomatopoeia to represent the sound of a gun firing:

Now, our women folks was under the captin’s charge every one on ‘em.  They didn’t’ know any of the men aboard, ans stuck up their noses so mighty high at us, that I was dreadful afeard some on ‘em would tumble over backards; but when the hurricane come on, goodness sakes! How they huddled in amongst us, and sot up so close; and when the ship creen’d over, they’d give leetle squeaks, and catch hold of our arms, and maybe round our necks, or anywhere handy; and when the staysail went all to bits, with chebang! Like a cannon, there was a young heifer, and not a bad lookin’ one either, jumped right at me, and got her arms round me, and hung on like grim death, and begged me to save her.

Philip Paxton, Piney Woods Tavern; or, Sam Slick in Texas, Philadelphia, T. B. Peterson & Brothers, 1858, page 112.

(From the Logan Gazette.)
Old Ben Wade.
. . .
Then Old Ben Wade, like a “giant grim” said
   “Who dares crook a finger at me – at me?”
And he brandished his sword, and “che-bang!”
went his gun,
   And “pop!” went his pistols three.
Then this bragging Old Blade of Vallangigham said
   “A very vile trator is he – is he!”
And he brandished his sword, while “che-bang!
Went his gun.
   And “pop!” went his pistols three.
. . .

The Spirit of Democracy, June 4, 1862, page 1.

Happened dis-away.  I ‘uz a’sett’n’ here kinder dozin’ in de dark, en che-bang! Goes a gun, right out dah.

Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson, and Those Extraordinary Twins, The Century Illustrated, Volume 47, Number 4, February 1894, page 780.

“Che-Bang” was also the name of a character in a humorous (?) story about a very ugly and very fat Chinese princess who falls in love with a very short and very ugly Laplander.  The two want to be together, but her father has promised her to the old, unappealing Chow-Chow.  She eats rat poison and dies; he hangs himself in prison:[xiii]

There’s a legend in China, that beneath the moon’s bright sheen,
Ever fondly linked together, may in summer-time be seen,
Still wand’ring ‘mid the tea-plants, in the province of Ko-Whang,
The little Lapland tinker and his spirit-bride Che-Bang.

The Cincinnati Commercial (Ohio), April 16, 1853, page 2.

But even in this story, “Che-Bang,” may have been intended as an allusion to the noise of an explosion.  A footnote asserts that “Cho Che Bang” was Chinese for “touch and go off.”

The Whole Jing-Bang?

Stephen Goranson, writing on the American Dialect Society e-mail discussion list, noted that the expression, “the whole jing-bang,” dates to at least 1838:

Howandiver, when all’s done, it’s a shame, so it is, that he’s not a bishop this blessed day and hour; for next to the Goiant ov Saint Garlath’s, he’s out and out the cleverest fellow of the whole jing-bang.

Father Tom and the Pope; or a Night at the Vatican, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 43, Number 271, May 1838, page 619.

The dictionary, A Dialect of Banffshire (London, 1866), defined the word, “jingbang,” as “the whole number.”  An article on the dialect of Ulster, in the Ulster Journal of Archaeology (Vol. 11, No. 4, 1905), suggested that “jing-bang,” meaning the whole lot, was derived from an old English word, jing, meaning a gang or a pack.

If “jing-bang” was a common slang term among Scottish or Irish immigrants in the United States, it may well have been a model for the expression, “the whole shebang,” or at least have influenced the acceptance or popularity of the phrase. The “whole jing-bang,” the “whole shoot,” and the obvious literal (onomatopoeia) meaning of the “whole shebang,” may each have played a role in making the “whole shebang” memorable enough to earn its place in the public consciousness, and survive for more than a century and a half.

One Last Possibility – or Red Herring?

In 1905, miners in Cornwall made very small shelters to protect candles carried in the damp, wet conditions inside the mines; they called the shelters, “shebangs”:

Shebang – A mining term; a kind of candlestick; see below.

A small piece of wood having [two sloping pieces] . . . of metal projecting on it.  A candle is fastened below and so protected from dropping water when it is being carried about in wet places underground.  A loop permits of the she-bang being hung on a button of the miner’s coat.

Joseph Wright, English Dialect Dictionary, Volume 5. R-S, Oxford, Horace Hart at the University Press, 1905.

The late date of publication cautions against drawing too strong a conclusion.  Perhaps the Cornish miners borrowed the word from the American “shebang;” there is no reason that they couldn’t have.  Unsuccessful miners returning from the American West could have imported the term.  Or, if the term was an old, well-worn term, perhaps Cornish miners brought the term into the United States years earlier.  We may never know.  In any case, it is an intriguing loose end.


The English word, “shebang,” seems to be clearly related to the Irish word, Shebeen.  It may also have been influenced by the Hebrew word, Shebang (seven), by way of Odd Fellows lodges, at least in Western Pennsylvania or Ohio.  In its early days, “shebang” had several distinct meanings, tavern, shelter, or organization, which later merged into a more amorphous sense of any building, place, business, or organization; or anything, really.  The phrase, “the whole shebang,” appeared in a literal sense by 1863, and figuratively by 1865.   An earlier idiom, “the whole shoot,” could have influenced the development or wide acceptance of the idiomatic sense of, “the whole shebang;” the idioms have the same meaning, similar sounds, and “chebang” was known to be used as onomatopoeia to represent the sound of an explosion or shooting of a gun.  Maybe that’s a stretch – but it seems possible, if not plausible.


Addendum: September 24, 2015

The words “chebang” or “shebang” were used used in show business circles (at least in Baltimore, Maryland) from as early as 1859, and continuing through the early days of the Civil War.  There are at least four examples of use in the show business newspaper, The Yankee Clipper; all of the examples appear in a section of theatrical news from Baltimore.  The earliest names the writer; "Sam Lathrop, stump orator and clown."  Depending on the context, the words appear to refer to either a group of people - a troupe of performers - and/or the place where they perform.

An item from 1859 describes a newly formed “minstrel” troupe as, “a pretty strong chebang.” A troupe of performers is like a fraternal organization - perhaps the word was borrowed from the Hebrew, Shebang, via the Odd Fellows or Masons.

“Old” Pete Morris seems to have taken a new lease of life by joining a new company, occupying Girard Minstrel Hall, St. Louis.  A. McDonald is proprietor, T. M. Gessler manager, Frank Lyneh stage manager, and Frank Forster musical director.  Pete has for associates Tommy Pell, Charley Coriell, J. Wood, M. Lutz, J. Derniker, J. Smith, etc.  A pretty strong “chebang.”  Pete carries on no opposition to Edward Everett, but stops at Everett House.

New York Clipper, August 6, 1859, page 127.  Other sources describe Pete Morris as a “comic vocalist” and Tommy Pell as an “elegant clog dancer.”  It is also possible, I suppose, that the writer meant to refer to the entire Girard Minstrel Hall as a strong "chebang," in which case the word may have been borrowed from the Irish, shebeen.

The later examples appear to refer to the place of performance; beer is available - perhaps the name was borrowed from the Irish, shebeen:  

The Museum, whose bright laurels faded when Henry C. Jarrett resigned his claim to the shop, opened a few nights ago to a tremendous and, what might be termed, to a heterogeneous audience . . . . . Percival’s Pagoda is the title of the Shebang, and lager and segars are the order of the night.  The company at this place is excellent.  Garry Demott is with the company, getting up light farces.

The New York Clipper, September 29, 1860, page 191. [In Baltimore] 

At the Pagoda, Baltimore, a sensation is being created by a female vocalist, who appears nightly, thickly veiled.  The bills set forth that she sang for months in New Orleans, always appearing veiled.  An inquisitive chap in Baltimore, however, solved the problem, as to who she was, by gaining admission to the stage, when she was found to be an old attaché of the Shebang.

New York Clipper, December 1, 1860, page 263. 

The Pagoda, Baltimore, has suffered another collapse.  It opened on the 8th, and shut pan on the 15th. . . .  The company attached to the Holliday [Street Theater] will open the Shebang in a few days. 

New York Clipper, June 29, 1861, page 87.  

These four examples do not appear to offer any new clues to the origin of the word, but they do show earlier and more widespread use than previously known.


Addendum: January 28,2016.

The word “shebang” was also used in California as early as early 1860.
In a report of a house fire destroying an old home:
If the story is true, and too much valuable "plunder" was not burned up in the house, we are half inclined to congratulate the newly-married pair, (Mr. and Mrs. K.) upon the event, especially the better half of the firm, for it will bring about the building of an enlarged and improved domicil upon the ruins of the old farm house.  Sorry, however, that the old "shebang" could not have been removed at a cheaper rate. 

Marysville Daily Appeal, February 6, 1860.

It is possible, I suppose, that the writer for the Marysville Daily Appeal learned the word from the reports out of Baltimore published in the New York Clipper (see above, Addendum, September 24, 2015).  We know that they read the Clipper; on July 15, 1861, the Marysville Daily Appeal published a reprint of the New York Clipper article of June 29, 1861, about the reopening of the Pagoda "shebang" in Baltimore.  In any case, this shows how telegraphic mass-communication would have made it possible for the word to spread quickly throughout the United States, regardless of its point of origin.

"Shebang" was also used in the theatrical business in California. In a nostalgic look back at Old Sacramento:
Those were the times that tried mens gum boots, you bet! We entertain a lurking remembrance of decorations in oleaginous pigments in the Pixley & Smith temple of Thespis - the old shebang of a theatre, built by Bill Smith - now William Wilson Lawton - and Seymour Pixley. 

Marysville Daily Appeal, March 19, 1860.



[ii] Charles C. Nott, Sketches in Prison Camps, 1865; Warren Lee Goss, The Soldier’s Story of His Captivity at Andersonville, Belle Isle, and other Rebel Prisons, 1867; J. H. Duganne, Camps and Prisons: Twenty Months in the Department of the Gulf, 1865; Gilbert E. Sabre, Nineteen Months a Prisoner of War, 1865; A. M. Keiley, In Vinculis: or, The Prisoner of War, Being the Experience of a Rebel in Two Federal Pens, 1866.
[iii] National Park Service, Myth: Prisoners at Andersonville Called Their Shelters ‘Shebangs.’
[iv] I am not a Hebrew scholar, and do not claim to know how the word is actually understood in Hebrew.  My comments about the Hebrew word, shebang, are limited to how the word was characterized by several English-language books from the mid-nineteenth century.
[v] Wor. Bro. Mark A. Tabbert 33, Masonic Papers, The Odd Fellows, first published December 2003 on “The Northern Light”, Scottish Rite Freemasonry, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, USA.
[vii] “John F. Torrence was president of the City Council in 1860 and in 1861 Samuel B. Hirst presided for a short time.” Charles Theodore Greve, Centennial History of Cincinnati and RepresentativeCitizens, Volume 1, Chicago, Biographical Publishing Company, 1904, page 962.
[viii] Henry White, The Cowboys of the Briny Deep, St. Louis Republic, July 26, 1903, Magazine Section, page 46.
[ix] Evening Star (Washington DC), August 26, 1906, page 56 (Uncle Geo. Washington Bings comic strip).
[x] The Bemidji Daily Pioneer (Minnesota), January 5, 1912, page 3.
[xi] Honest Joe, The Evening Star (Washington DC), November 22, 1914, page 6.
[xii] The same story also appeared in other newspapers and magazines with a national audience: Southern Sentinel (Plaquemine Parish of Iberville, Louisiana), July 22, 1854, page 1; Yankee Notions, Volume 5, Number 7, July 1856, page 216; The Country Gentleman, Volume 3, Number 10, March 9, 1854, page 164.
[xiii] The story is very similar to the purported Chinese legend of ill-fated lovers, Li Chi and Chang, whose story is illustrated on the traditional Blue Willow, china plate pattern; which, coincidentally, may have influenced the name of the, “Blue Plate Special.”  See my post, Washington’s Willowware, Men’s Clubs and Dining Cars – the Delicious History and Etymology of “Blue Plate Specials.”

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