Monday, August 27, 2007

A "Slaughter" Conspiracy?

In a recent Times-Journal article covering the Republican nomination of Roger Cohn for the position of Cobleskill Town Supervisor, the term “Schoharie County slaughter” was briefly mentioned, with very little background information to explain its meaning.

For all of you who were left scratching your heads as to the meaning of the term “Schoharie County slaughter” let me explain. The term “slaughter” refers to a resident of Schoharie County who can trace his or her family back as having lived in Schoharie County for a significant number of generations. These people are not just locals or natives, they are the community’s “supreme elders”. These are the people who can tell you about Cobleskill’s first ever motor car, or when Schoharie County was first electrified, or about events that transpired during the Revolutionary War as if they themselves were there.

I’d be willing to bet that a group of these so-called “slaughters” get together in some barn somewhere in the dead of night every year to plot out the future of Schoharie County. It’s not hard to imagine, all things that happen in Cobleskill and Schoharie County being decided in advance by a top-secret gathering of “Slaughters”.
Will Lowe’s get village water and sewer? A majority of “slaughters” shake their wise and learned heads and give the idea a thumbs down. Should Cobleskill village ban skateboards on village streets? Most definitely, agree the Slaughters, the Slaughters can’t stand those little whippersnappers and their wheely-boards. Will the Town of Cobleskill consolidate with the Village of Cobleskill? This one has the slaughters tied. Too bad, they’ll have to vote on it next year.

Still many other questions are brought up by the less sage-like Slaughters and are quietly dismissed, such as: will the Warnerville Roller Rink ever be re-opened, or will the Park Theatre ever play anything except G-rated Disney movies, or will Cobleskill ever have a gas station that stays open past 11 FREAKIN’ P.M.!!! Have any of you ever left the house after 11 PM and looked down at a near-empty tank of gas only to drive by countless gas stations with the lights turned off, wondering if you’ll make it home, or end up stranded on the side of the road until morning?

It may be fun to joke around, but we have to ask ourselves: does having long-standing generational ties to a particular area make one fit for office? The reality is, for a lot of people, it does. This may be hurting these communities because it disqualifies many talented and intelligent individuals from serving in public office. Hopefully, Cobleskill’s Democrats will nominate a candidate for Supervisor with more credentials than being merely a “Schoharie County Slaughter”.


t.v. said...

I'm just being a little picky here, but I believe the correct spelling is: Sloughter, and pronounced as in “chowder” for those of you who are not Sloughters, and perhaps for the Times-Journal also, as I did not see the original article. This term has been used by some as a derogatory epithet; during my childhood (the 1960’s) I remember occasionally hearing someone reviled as: “that dirty sloughter”. Only much later did I discover that the term actually was not a curse-word but in fact more the opposite. I suppose any word is only as nasty as how one chooses to use it. I have lived in Schoharie County since 1986, but I guess I can’t call myself a true Sloughter, only a transfer.

Sean Thomaston said...
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Sean Thomaston said...

I'm not sure if anyone will be reading this old post, but yet, TV is right, the correct spelling is "sloughter". I've actually done some research on the origins of the term, and I don't think the use quoted in the Times-Journal to describe Roger Cohn was appropriate at all.

To my understanding it is a term that is unique not simply to Schoharie County, but a distinct region of Schoharie (along the Line Creek in Middleburgh)and refers to a very isolated community. The more I research the subject, the more interested I become.

I'm curious though, TV, you mention that you were familiar with the term in the 1960s, yet claim you have been in Schoharie County since 1986. Based on my understanding, the term "sloughter" is based on a colonial governor of New York, and is limited to its Schoharie County context. I'd be very interested to know what other contexts you have heard the term, or think you have heard the term used.

David said...

I was born in Cobleskill in the 50's, only a visitor these days, but I spent alot of my time growing up in the woods, as you I know Polly Holler very well, and could tell some "hairy" stories of encounters with the mountain folk...let's just say that they are part of Schoharie County's hidden living history....don't try to go the backway into the holler in the Spring, you may taste sloughter pop eye first hand & never make it out!

Anonymous said...

Sloughter, as in the former Colonial Governor Henry Sloughter who, according to Wikipedia, died in 1691. My sources ( I believe from reading A Sloughter's Guide to Schoharie County (I think that was the title, by Les Hendrix?)) tell me that Gov. Sloughter was a native of Schoharie County.

Anonymous said...

Sloughter is a term for the entire county. But I know, cause I is one, that Middleburgh always had stickers in reguards to this. I still have one. It reads and I quote "The last Sloughter out of Middleburgh please turn off the lights."