backstick n Cf forestick n
1 A large stick placed on top of a still larger backlog n 1 at the back of a wood-burning fire. Nth, esp NEng old-fash
1811 Newburyport Herald (MA) 14 May /2, Died . . In Woodstock, (C.) Dea. Wm. Lyon, Æt. 67; while placing a back-stick in a fire-place. 1840 NH Sentinel (Keene) 15 Jan 1/3 (as of 1770), In both corners under the chimney was room for benches, where children might sit on a winter’s evening, parching corn, while the huge green back-log and back-stick were simmering and singing. 1869 Chase Hist. Old Chester 409 seNH, They would first put on a “back-log,” from a foot to a foot and a half in diameter, and a “back-stick,” smaller, on the top, then a “fore-stick,” and small wood in front laid on andirons, if they were able to have them, if not, on stones. 1877 VT State Bd. Ag. Report 4.92 nVT (as of c1825), Provided with a handsled, the boy would first roll on to it the back log, one and a half or two feet in diameter and four feet long; . . roll off the log in the usual place at one side of the fire place, on the floor; return to the wood-yard for the back stick and fore stick, and again two or three loads of split wood. 1913 (1980) Hardy OH Schoolmistress (as of c1850) 17, It [=the fireplace] was wide enough and deep enough to take in a back log which had to be rolled into the house and into the fireplace because it was too heavy to be carried. . . On top of the back log was laid the back stick. The andirons were put into place and the fore stick was laid across. 1941 LANE Map 330 (Log) 1 inf, seMA, Backstick.
2 = backlog n 1. chiefly sAppalachians, Gulf States See Map
1854 Taylor January & June 189 cnNY, What cared we for that, as we sat by the old-fashioned fire? Back-stick, fore-stick, top-stick, and superstructure, all in their places. Ibid 190, The huge “back-stick,” below all, lies like a great bar, and withstands the fiery surf that beats against it. 1875 Scientific Amer. 33.362 swVA, Draton S. Hale, Estillville, Va.—In this invention the fire dogs are so constructed as to keep the fire held up against the back stick. 1900 Merrill Seventieth IN 190 cIN (as of 1862), The back stick would last all night, which was well, for never was there a stick cut ahead. 1908 Practical Farmer 97.204 TN, My ideal for heating purposes is a model fireplace not over 2½ feet wide . . , a large hearth, good green back stick, staunch andirons, and dry sticks laid on. 1952 Brown NC Folkl. 1.688 nwNC, [From a recording made in 1940:] And that night she had a big forestick on the fire and a big backstick, and pine knots burning in order to make the light. c1960 Wilson Coll. csKY, Backlog, regular. . . Also backstick. 1962 Atwood Vocab. TX 45 TX, AR, The large log that used to hold fire in the fireplace for a long period is almost universally known as the backlog (144 oc[currences]). However, there are nine Texas occurrences of back stick, a term that shows somewhat more currency in southern Arkansas. 1963 Edwards Gravel 92 eTN (as of 1920s), The dull glow on the back-stick played on his spectacles. 1965–70 DARE (Qu. D33, When you build a fire in the fireplace . . the big log that goes behind the others) 29 Infs, chiefly sAppalachians, Gulf States, Backstick; LA6, Backstick of wood. 2005 Williams Gratitude 47 wNC (as of 1940s), They left a few of the biggest sticks unsplit to use as a backstick. It served two purposes–it th’owed the heat fards into the room, then when it got hot and caught afire, would keep a fire in the fireplace all night.