cohee n, also attrib Also sp coohee, kohee, quohe(e) [From the phr quo he, co he said he, embodying a shortened form of quoth that was formerly common in Scots and nIr dialect.] hist Cf tuckahoe n 3
A backwoods settler of Scots or northern Irish origin; hence esp an inhabitant of Virginia (including what became West Virginia in 1863) west of the Blue Ridge.
1769 in 1953 Woodmason Carolina Backcountry 149 SC, But for Her better being acquainted with the Contents of the Discourse, I have ventur’d to translate it into the Quohee language. [The following two quots are from this burlesque sermon in “Quohee language.”] Ibid 159, Such Acts of Oppression I daily hear off—Which is very Cruel from one Christian to another and from one Quohee to another Beloved Countrymen [sic]. [Ibid 161, Quo’ they, Sir, It belongs to Old Mr. Hamer. . . Well Quo’ He [=Abraham] Honies, do send for Mr. Hamer—Here I am, says the Old Gentleman. Quo’ Abraham Sir, What will You take for Your field Yonder?] 1786 in 1884 VA Calendar State Papers 4.191 KY, We have two sorts of people in this country, one called tuckyahoes, being Generall[y] of the Lowland old Virginians. The other Class is Called cohees, Generally made up of Backwoods Virginians and Northward men, Scotch, Irish, &c. 1789 in 1873 May Jrl. 144 WV, My little log hut was filled with two boats’ crews of Yankees, from Marietta, and a number of Kohees, belonging to the [Wheeling, West Virginia] settlement. 1818 VA Evangelical & Lit. Mag. 1.513 cVA, The country west of the blue-ridge was first settled by Scotch Irish, as emigrants from the North of Ireland, are usually termed. . . The western men were nicknamed Cohees, because almost universally in telling what any one said they used the antiquated expression Quoth he, corruptly pronounced Quo’ he, which was easily changed into Cohee. a1848 (1954) Foster Jeffersonian Amer. 161 cVA (as of 1807), On the other side of the Blue Ridge . . the people differ very much in their habits and manners from the Virginians of the plain. . . They call themselves Cohees tho’ from their accent in many places one should guess them to be Highlanders. 1862 Daily Intelligencer (Wheeling WV) 26 May 2/1, Could anything be half so humiliating to the upper crust of Big Richmond as for the cohees of the Northwest, the ”greasy mechanics” and “mudsills” of Wheeling, to make the first triumphal entry into the fallen capital[?] 1867 Lowell Biglow (2d ser.) lviii, Coheesˊ: applied to the people of certain settlements in Western Pennsylvania, from their use of the archaic form Quo’ he. 1890 Macmillan’s Mag. 61.266 VA, The people on either side of the Blue Ridge . . still sometimes distinguish the “folks over the mountain” by the old sobriquets of “Cohees” and “Tuckahoes” respectively. 1899 (1912) Green VA Folk-Speech 125, Coohees. . . Of Scotch origin “Quo’ he.” Coohees was the nickname applied to people in western Virginia, while those in the east were called “Tuckahoes.” 1949 AmSp 24.28, Mr. F. O. Richey . . tells me [=H. L. Mencken] that the local legend has it that Cohee was derived from quoth he, which is ascribed to the Quakers. A more likely etymology ascribes its origin to an Indian word signifying a bend in a river.