A “cedar chopper” is literally a person who chops down cedar trees. The term was common around Austin in the Texas Hill Country, where cedar trees grow. A city north of Austin called Cedar Park has held a Cedar Chopper Festival and a Cedar Chopper Barbecue Cook-Off.
The cedar chopper’s work was very difficult; cedar choppers had a reputation for getting drunk after the work. The term “cedar chopper” became similar to such terms as “hayseed,” “country bumpkin,” “hillbilly,” and “redneck.” The numbers of cedar choppers have diminished, but the term is still used to describe a central Texan who hasn’t become urbanized.
A backward, narrow-minded ignorant person from Central Texas, a red-neck. The term was derived from individuals who earned their incomes from harvesting cedar (juniper) trees for fence-posts; and was actually celebrated until recently (Cedar Chopper Festival, in Cedar Park, Texas, a repugnant bedroom community north-west of Austin, Texas).
David, that is the stupidest, most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard anyone say, you really are a Cedar Chopper.
by Arid Shrub Jan 13, 2006
Austin Kids Guide
Cedar Chopper Festival
Cedar Park is a thirty-minute drive north from Austin. Now primarily a suburb, once this was called cedar chopper country. Cedar choppers were independent people who worked the hilly land to the west, cutting juniper trees to provide fence posts for area ranchers. This generations-old trade is still plied by some Hill Country families today. The town celebrates its heritage with an annual Cedar Chopper Festival in June.
The June Cedar Chopper Festival in Cedar Park honors with music and food the days when the evergreens were primary industry in the area. (512)-258-8007.
Location: Cedar Park, TX
(Historical Dictionary of American Slang)
cedar savage n. Logging. (see quots.).
1956 Sorden & Eberts Logger’s 8 [ref. to a1925]: Cedar-savage, A man who cuts or peels cedar logs, poles, or posts.
1958 McCulloch Woods Words 31: Cedar savage—A logger working in a cedar pole camp, or for a shingle bolt outfit.
(Dictionary of American Regional English)
cedar chopper n TX Cf cedar savage 2
A rustic, a hayseed.
1962 Atwood Vocab. TX 74 cTX, The rustic type of person…cedar chopper and charcoal burner, both of which are recorded only in Travis County.
1967-1968 DARE (Qu. HH1,..Rustic or countrified person) Infs TX4, 54, Cedar chopper; (Qu. HH18, Very insignificant or low-grade people) Inf TX54, Cedar choppers.
(Dictionary of American Regional English)
cedar savage n
1. Among loggers: one who works with cedar logs or poles.
1956 Sorden-Ebert Logger’s Words 8 Gt Lakes, Cedar-savage, A man who cuts or peels cedar logs, poles or posts.
1958 McCulloch Woods Words 31 Pacific NW, Cedar savage—A logger working in a cedar pole camp, or for a shingle bolt outfit.
1966 DARE Tape MI10, His cousin who worked in the deep swamps generally, hewing ties or cutting shingle timber, was generally called a cedar savage.
2 A rustic; a farmer. derog Cf cedar chopper
1958 American Speech 33.263 MN, The subsistence farmer with is small cleared plot of unproductive soil. To him some townspeople have given the opprobrious name jack pine savage or cedar savage.
The Regional Vocabulary of Texas
by Elmer Bagby Atwood
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press
This attitude is reflected in the rather frequent occurrence of such words as hick (32) and hillbilly (28). The latter of these may not be derogatory in all cases, but probably at least reflects the user’s feeling of superiority. Other terms for the rustic type of person are hayseed (17) and yokel (8), as well as such local usages as cedar chopper and charcoal burner, both of which are only recorded in Travis County.
cedar chopper. A type of rustic: 74.
7 September 1973, San Antonio (TX) Express, “Cedar Chopper Won’t Chop At Texas Folklife Festival” by Sam Kindrick, pg. 7E, col. 1:
It’s a totally false rumor that I’m supposed to chop cedar at the Texas Folklife Festival now under way.
Just because the subtitle of my new book is “The Secret Life and Hard Times of a Cedar Chopper” doesn’t mean that I’m going to whack staves or wire deuces with a double-bit ax.
5 July 1976, Denton (TX) Record-Chronicle, “‘Cedar Chopper’ Takes Life Easy With No Excuses,” pg. 7A, col. 1:
MARBLE FALLS, Tex. (AP)—A “cedar chopper” is a no-count, shiftless rapscallion who works sporadically, drinks religiously, fights regularly and worries rarely.
W. C. Bell is a cedar chopper.
While the definition of “cedar chopper” is a generic one, Bell would never deny that it is accurate—even if it isn’t so.
It is a reputation earned over a century of cutting cedar posts by day and raising hell by night. And it’s a reputation today’s more civilized choppers wear with unspoken pride.
21 August 1982, Kerrville (TX) Mountain Sun, pg. 3, col. 4:
Peter readily admits that he isn’t like the legendary cedar chopper. “They were pretty hard people. You don’t see the old cedar chopper like you did 20 or 30 years ago. People thought of them as white trash with their apple-crate houses and beat-up old trucks. But I tell you, this is hard work with a chain saw. And those folks went out and cut cedar with an ax. Now, those were some tough hombres.”
17 December 1990, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, “Independent Living: Northwest of Austin, rural residents struggle but shun welfare” by Mary Jacoby, pg. A1:
Literally, a cedar chopper is a subsistence-level laborer who cuts and sells cedar for fence ... Willie Gephart, 42, is a cedar chopper and proud of it. ...
5 December 1998, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, “Cedar park officials at odds over e-mail” by Pamlea Le Blanc, pg. B1:
With that in mind, Sides said he hoped to move the city away from what he calls a small town “cedar chopper’’ image and into the high-tech arena.
22 October 2000, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, “Deep Roots in Central Texas” and “Sundown of the Cedar Choppers” by Mark Lisheron, pg. A1:
Call someone a cedar chopper and you’ve pegged them as ignorant, backward and, maybe, a little dangerous. But unlike a “hillbilly,’’ the embodiment of indolence, a cedar chopper in the Texas Hill Country worked brutally hard for a few dollars a day.
A small and shunned group of laboring families settled into the valleys of Westlake Hills and around Spicewood Springs Road, clearing cedar trees from ranches and farms for pay.
27 April 2004, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, “A good read in Saddam’s easy chair” by John Kelso:
Austin author Ben Rehder is thrilled that someone has actually read his funny deer-hunting mystery novel “Buck Fever” while sitting on one of Saddam Hussein’s plush easy chairs. What are the odds? This may be the first time a book that includes the expressions “cedar chopper,” “Moon Pies” and “12-pack” has ever been thumbed through on a piece of Saddam’s furniture.
Cedar Park Chamber of Commerce
This year we welcome the 1st Ever AT&T-CPCoC Cedar Chopper Barbecue Cook-Off!
This event is sure to become a staple in our community.
First Ever – AT&T and Cedar Park Chamber of Commerce Cedar Chopper Barbecue Cook-Off
Date: May 9 & 10, 2008
Place: 1890 Ranch – Medical Parkway and 183A