Tuesday, May 30, 2006


'Oklahoma Steeple'

Why is this called a steeple, and not a staple? (It's a farm thing, a two-pointed nail used to hold wire fencing togther, among other things. This one is atop a fence post at Roman Nose State Park near Watonga, OK.)

As I was experimenting with my digital camera -- I'm impressed that it took this close closeup -- I kept talking about trying to get a picture of a steeple. Dr. ER later told me she kept looking for a church steeple somewhere close by.

I splained it to her. She was about as satisfied as I am with western Oklahomans' and Texans' explanation of why they call a pond a "tank."

"It just is and we just do."


So maybe that is the reason that the kid at Home Depot thought I was nutso when I asked where their fence steeples were. Of course they didn't know what hardware cloth or a corregated fastener were either but at least those are defined somewhere. Tried to find "steeple nail" on the web. It don't exist. It needs to be in that centennial encyclopedia that people are writing about Oklahoma otherwise it will be lost to history. Why the heck do we call them steeples? No, "we just do" don't cut it.
Good close up.
Check out the doodle bug close ups at Juniors.
I had the same experience at my local Ace hardware. Kid had no clue what I was talking about.
You should go to the Devil's Rope Museum in McLean, Texas. (It is in the same operation as the Texas Route 66 Museum.) Here's their web site link: Devil's Rope Museum.

My hunches:
1) Someone couldn't spell staple.
2) A cattleman out repairing fences with his offspring was opining that "God's country is my church, son, and here's the steeple" as he pointed to the upright staple which held the top strand of the barbed wire they were replacing.

Other than that, I got nothing.
I like Trixie's second explanation best. If it's not true, it should be.
I must review my copy of "The Wire that fenced the West." Maybe there's a mention of "steeples" in there ...
Can't find diddley on steeples as nails but lots of stuff about asherah poles and phallic symbols and how cathedral doors were shaped like the female and the steeples like the male and all that was ment by that and the psychoillogical repressions caused by their cellerbry and how the stone masons, because they were Eygyptians in disguise, put these secrete symbols in all this stuff to be found centuries latter in france. Hell much more interesting than fence post nails.
'Round here, we call 'em staples. 'Steeples' must be a northern thing. : )

Never heard of a 'corregated fastener' neither. Hardware cloth, on the other hand, is essential to rabbit hutch construction - I figured that to be universal (in rural areas, anyway).
Oh, ha ha, Rem. Since even Alabama is north of you, I'll let that slide.

Call it a Western thing. :-)
Not sure whether to really recognize Florida as "Southern", they are called steeples in Apalachia, and tidewater Virginia as well.

Corregated fasteners: a corregated strap nail use to hold wood joints together( screen doors comes to mind).
Dude. The Panhandle of Florida and, well, most of the upper and interior peninsula is as Southern as a chicken-fried Broadman Hymnal. I have driven through Sweet Gum Head, Fla. I was proud to do so.
LOLOLOL.....Been trying to find and entry into this conversation for a day......still blank....just a girl with no earthly idea what ya'll are talking about. :)

.....and OK, I'll say Uncle here. Cause I've tried to GET interested in what you guys are rambling about. Steeples and such, and NO I"m just not interested. LOL
Ha. Somedays are a little more erudite, some days are a little more redneck.

Next on ER: Cotter keys! Who the heck was "Cotter"? Hoot.
Now you're talking. My introduction to vehicle maintenance started with the Cotter pin on my Radio Flyer wagon when I was, oh, 4 years old I believe. Cotter was the name of the farmer who invented the simple pin to hold bits of early farm equipment together. He took one of his wife's hair pins and made a repair in the field rather than taking his equipment back to the barn.
Was this the same guy that had a TV show in the 60's?

Anybody want to hear about Sir Thomas Crapper, who left his name on his product?
Sheila, Steeple are in the "busted thumb" catagory. Some subjects are of no earthly interest unless you have "busted thumb" trying to do them. Steeples have caused a lot of busted thumbs especially hen you try to hammer them in with a pair of fence pliers. Which brings me back to those dang thin Western Nebraska fence post. How would you ever drive a steeple into one of those?
As for Florida's panhandle, been there too (Fort Waldon Beach), but South of North Florida is sort of like Texas, it's a whole nother country.
Next on ER!

You really hit the nail on its non-head with this post ER.
John Cotter of Cotter and Co. maybe?

He started True Value Hardware.
ok... It seems people have nothing better to do other than comment on "Steeple" VS "Staple." BUT... I am glad because I am from NM and my boyfriend was raised in Chicago and we were in a discussion about it... Thanks for proving that I'm not crazy and there are others out there that call this "thing" a steeple:-)
your ancestors learned it in w tn before they went to ok. i'm told the smart folks left. i'm descended from the ones that stayed.
I have often wondered about the derivation of steeple instead of staple because growing up in Ky. (Central mind you, not the Appalachian part) we still called them steeples on our farm. it was years before I even realized they were supposed to be called staples. and I can agree with the "busted thumb" comment because hitting that rounded head with a hammer could sure result in that. also it sometimes caused the steeple to shoot off to the side the first time you hit it and could even do you bodily harm with the ricochet.
last comment, we didn't call it hardware cloth either. It was rat wire, because you lined the corn crib with it to keep them out!
FFA (former farm boy of America)
I grew up in central Indiana and we consistently referred to them as steeples; however, we never really used them enough to have issues finding them at a hardware store. If we ever need a steeple, I take a 16d nail, bend it with a pair of pliers and take the nail head to the grinding wheel. At one point, my dad and I got fed up with having to make them when we needed them, so we made a box of around 100 when we had some free time.
The Oxford English Dictionary has an entry for 'steeple' from 1722:
1722 W. Hamilton Life Sir W. Wallace 57 Wallace..with a furious shock The Bar and Steeple all in Flinders Broke, Then open drave the Gate.

We always called them "arch nails" in my little part of England. I never seemed to have much success using them as a kid, the previously mentioned busted thumb comment brings back some memories. ;)
An electric fence is a barrier that uses electric shocks to deter animals or people from different continent trying to gain access to the premises without invited.fences quotes

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