1914 – “Hoopies” Is Popular Term In The West Virginia Panhandle

“Hoopies” is a derogatory but usually good natured name given to rural West Virginians who come north to work. People from Follansbee often call folks from areas south of the next bridge crossing the Ohio River “Hoopies.” The term was especially used when referring to residents from Wellsburg, which was the football sports rival. According to the Dictionary of American Regional English, the term is in wide use in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia and upper Ohio Valley including Eastern Pennsylvania.

The origin of the word Hoopies is a mystery.  One notion is that the term comes from “barrel hoops.”  Hillbilly dwellers in West Virginia used to come down to the towns to work in factories that made the hoops that held barrels together.  Early cooper shops used split saplings to serve as the hoops holding the barrel and then weaving together the ends, or using small nails.   According to folks in East Liverpool, the term originates from back hills people coming to town carrying bundles of the saplings, which were sold to the cooper shops. They were called Hoopies or hoops.