Robert Sims played a fiddle and the dancing in April 1894 was livelier than that of antiquity. Nevertheless, the ancient Greek muse of dance and chorus must have been smiling on a group of devotees from Sandy Hill, now Hudson Falls, in Washington County, NY.
Terpsichorean: relating to dancing; from Terpsichore, the Greek muse of dance and chorus.
“The Terpsichorean Club of Sandy Hill gave one of their enjoyable parties in Middleworth Hall last evening. About sixty couple were present and tripped the light fantastic to the inspiring music of Sim’s Orchestra,” according to The Morning Star of Glens Falls.
Today’s 19th century vocabulary lesson continues with a daily double.
Boniface: the proprietor of a hotel, restaurant of night club.
Hegera: an exodus, especially from a undesirable place.
“Lake George hotel proprietors say they expect an unusually prosperous season this year, and one boniface stated to a Star reporter yesterday that he anticipated the season would be better than ever before, as there would not be a large hagira [sic] to Europe as there was last summer,” The Morning Star reported on April 15, 1890.
Other 19th century vocabulary words collected from Northern New York historic newspapers:
Phonography: not to be confused with photography, but the method of teaching spelling based on pronunciation.
Fortnight: two weeks, old English term meaning 14 days.
“The farmers in this vicinity have begun their spring work in earnest. Plowing, planting and sowing are going on rapidly. The season is about a fortnight ahead of last year.” – The Granville Sentinel, April 19, 1889.
Innocuous desuetude – doing nothing with it.
“Money seems to be very scarce, and if anyone has it in any quantity, they are letting it remain in innocuous desuetude.” — a Stony Creek correspondent in The Morning Star on Dec. 30, 1893.
Ulster – A man’s long loose overcoat of rough cloth.
“The wind blew a gale all day, and it picked up all the loose snow and whirled it in eddies around the corners. The air was biting and keen, and the wind pierced through the heaviest ulster.” – The Morning Star, Feb. 24, 1894.
Decoction – A medicinal preparation made by boiling.
“The firemen worked faithfully, and are entitled to credit… They wish to extend their thanks to several citizens who furnished them with hot coffee. Under the circumstances it was a particularly acceptable decoction.” – The Morning Star, Feb. 26, 1894.
Illustration: “Terpsichore,” oil-on-canvas painting by Jean-Marc Nattier (1739).