The third deck of a steamboat (or riverboat) was called a “Texas” (or “texas"), dating from about 1850. A waiter assigned to that deck was a “texas tender.” The terms—like the steamboats themselves—are historical.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
The name of one of the United States, formerly a province of Mexico, then for a short time an independent republic.
Western U.S. The uppermost structure of a river-steamer, containing the officers’ quarters. Also attrib.
1853 Pen & Pencil I. 789/2 The roof of the cabin which offered a splendid promenade, and the spectacle of a second edifice of state-rooms, surrounded by a broad promenade and curiously denominated ‘Texas’. 1857 F. L. OLMSTED Journey Texas 27 To this Texas, inveterate card-players retire on Sundays. 1872 SCHELE DE VERE Americanisms 128 The cabins below this [the upper deck] and above the grand saloon, where the officers of the boat are accommodated, also belong to Texas.
1875 ‘MARK TWAIN’ in Atlantic Monthly Feb. 220/2 A tidy, white-aproned, black ‘texas-tender’, to bring up tarts and ices and coffee. 1883 Life on Mississippi iv. 43 The boiler deck, the hurricane deck, and the texas deck are fenced and ornamented with clean white railings. 1889 FARMER Dict. Amer., Texas tender, the waiter on the Texas or upper deck of a Mississippi steamer. 1901 W. CHURCHILL Crisis xxi, He escorted the ladies to quarters in the texas.
25 February 1866, Memphis (TN) Daily Avalanche, pg. 2:
A Madison (Ind.) special says: Among the saved from the steamer Nannie Byers are Captain Rusk, Byers, the engineer; Simmons and Nichols, the pilots; the carpenter, first and second mate, both stewards, the birth-maker and the texas tender and wife.
16 February 1869, Memphis (TN) Daily Avalanche, pg. 2:
Cabin Crew—Varrissa Baptist, pantryman; Napoleon Washington, texas tender;...
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, August 26, 2007 • Permalink