A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from August 28, 2007
Jimplecute (Jimpsecute)

"Jimplecute” is almost exclusively used as the title of the Jefferson Jimplecute, the fifth-oldest newspaper in Texas. The words “jimplecute” and “jimsecute” were used in 19th century Texas to mean “a sweetheart.” The origin is unknown, but a derivation from the old English word “jimp” is likely.

The Jefferson Jimplecute newspaper has a whimsical drawing of an animal by that name. In the 1930s, the newspaper promoted that JIMPLECUTE was an acronym for “Join Industry Manufacturing Planting Labor Energy Capital in Unity Together Everlasting,” but it is extremely unlikely that this is the origin of the term.

Wikipedia: Jefferson Jimplecute
The Jefferson Jimplecute is the newspaper of record in the city of Jefferson, Texas.

It was founded in 1848 and is the fifth oldest newspaper in the state.

The origin of the paper’s unusual name is not known, as the original publisher did not leave any clues. However, four theories have arisen as to the origin:

(1) An early editor dropped several pieces of type on the floor, and upon returning them to his composing stick, randomly spelled out the word “jimplecute”.
(2) A mythical creature developed to frighten superstitious slaves during the American Civil War.
(3) A slang term meaning “sweetheart”, “slim”, or “neat” (the word “jimp” is defined as such in some dictionaries)
(4) An acronym for the motto “Joining Industry, Manufacturing, Planting, Labor, Energy, Capital (in) Unity Together Everlastingly.” (This is considered by the paper to be the most reliable, and the motto exists in the newspaper heading.)

Jefferson Jimplecute: History
History of the “Jimplecute”

One of the most intriguing facets of Jefferson life is the name of its newspaper - The Jimplecute.

Billing itself as the fifth oldest newspaper in the state, the Jimplecute’s name has prompted an untold number of questions and more than a few “answers” as to the origin of the name.

It’s doubtful, however, that anyone will ever know the answer since the publisher who chose the name left no clue as to its origins.

Jefferson’s first newspaper was “The Democrat,” first published in 1847 by a Gen. W.N. Bishop. The newspaper changed hands several times in just a few years, and the name was changed to “Spirit of the Age.”

The Jimp, as it is familiarly known, was first published in 1848, and that is reflected today on the underline of the front-page nameplate. The price of a subscription back in 1848 was $4. Today, it’s $20.

There are at least four explanations for the newspaper’s unusual name, ranging from the understandable to the sublime.

The first typifies the sublime. One tale has it that the paper’s first editor, sometimes described as a tippler, dropped a handful of type to the floor before gathering them up randomly in his composing stick. The random letters, of course, spelled “Jimplecute.”

The second explanation - and probably the most believable—is that the word is an acronym for the motto: Joining Industry, Manufacturing, Planting, Labor, Energy, Capital (in) Unity Together Everlastingly.”

Yet a third explanation is that the word is, indeed, a legitimate one with an overseas ancestry. Thanks to research done by Fred Tarpley for his book “Jefferson: Riverport to the Southwest,” there is evidence to suggest the word “jimplecute” is a slang term sometimes meaning “sweetheart” or “slim” or “neat” in other slightly different forms.

The word “jimp,” according to Tarpley’s research, is of Scottish origin and dates to the 16th century. Then, the word meant “slender, slim, delicate, graceful, neat.” The word “jimp” still appears in dictionaries and is defined as described above.

The fourth explanation is that a “Jimplecute” is, in fact, a horrible mythical creature created, some say, to frighten superstitious slaves before and during the War Between the States.

The beast has been described as “a crouched animal with the mouth of a dragon, the head of an Indian, the body like that of a large armadillo, the front legs and feet like those of a lion ready to spring.” The creature also featured a snake atop its back and a forked tail.

Legend has it that the creature came about when publisher Ward Taylor commissioned an itinerant sign painter to create the beast to lend significance to the word itself.

The name, however, is fitting, in some measure. It is a singular appellation attached to an institution that has served a unique community for more than 150 years.

(Dictionary of American Regional English)
jimpsecute n Also jimplecute, jimpsycute [Orig uncert but of EDD jimsey (at jimp adj.) “neat, smart” + cute; SND jimp adj. “Of persons: slender, small, graceful, neat, dainty"]
MS, SW, esp TX obs
A sweetheart.
1869 Overland Mth. 3.131 TX, When a Texan goes forth on a sparking errand, he does not go to pay his devoirs to his Amaryllis...but his “jimpsecute.”
1870 in 1896 Farmer-Henley Slang 58, The Jimplecute of Texas changed her name, which was a good thing to do—Jimplecute being Texas vernacular for sweetheart.
1890 AN&Q 5.6, In some of the South-western States a young man’s sweetheart is his Jimsecute.
1891 Ibid 8.60, In the State of Mississippi, I several times heard the word jimpsycute used in the sense of “sweetheart,” it being always, so far as I remember, applied to the young lady in the case.

19 March 1937, Ogden (UT) Standard-Examiner, pg. 11A, col. 8:
JEFFERSON, Tex. (UP)—A new oil well believed to have tapped a vast oil pool comparable to the Rodessa pool has brought back the “Jimp.”

The only newspaper in the United States to bear the name Jimplecute has been purchased by Tom Foster, aggressive Texas journalist who began publishing his Kilgore Daily News within 70 hours after the discovery of the mammoth East Texas oil field.

The Jimplecute, founded 60 years ago stands for Join Industry Manufacturing Planting Labor Energy Capital in Unity Together Everlastingly.

5 August 1957, Dallas Morning News, “About the Mystery of Jimplecute” by Frank X. Tolbert, part 4, pg. 2:
THE JIMPLECUTE now carries a clue to what old Colonel Taylor was getting at under its Page I mast. This hints that Jimplecute stands for “Join Industry, Manufacturing, Planting, Labor, Energy, Capital (in) Unity Together Everlasting.”

Editor Hicks showed us a different clue to the mystery. It seems that there was an old southern slang word, “jimpricute,” which is supposed to have meant “of novel and pleasing appearance.” Maybe, that’s what The Jimplecute’s founder had in mind when he named his paper.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Tuesday, August 28, 2007 • Permalink