Louisiana Legend of Cooter Brown and His Cajun Connection
You've probably heard the saying "Drunker than Cooter Brown" your whole life, but did you know Cooter Brown was supposedly a real person from Louisiana who lived somewhere in Acadiana?
Who Was Cooter Brown?
Cooter Brown, sometimes called Cootie Brown, is a metaphor commonly used to describe how drunk someone is.
"That guy was drunker than Cooter Brown" is something you've heard your entire life and probably never thought twice about the meaning behind it.
Although definitive evidence is scarce, there are a few widely accepted legends when it comes to if Cooter Brown was a real person and why he was always so drunk.
The first origin story comes from almanac.com which interviewed an employee of Cooter Brown’s Tavern & Oyster Bar in New Orleans.
From almanac.com -
"Cooter Brown lived along the Mason-Dixon line at the time of the Civil War. He had family on both sides, and, not wishing to be drafted by either the North or the South, he decided to get drunk — and stay drunk — so that he wouldn’t have to fight in the war."
Apparently gaining the reputation of being a stumbling drunk was a successful way of not having to fight in the Civil War.
The almanac.com explanation of who Cooter Brown was has him pegged as a southerner, the other origin story of Cooter Brown brings the legend a lot closer to home.
Was Cooter Brown From Louisiana?
According to the second origin story of Cooter Brown, it sounds like he was from right here in Acadiana.
From wikipedia.com -
"Cooter Brown was a biracial man (half Cherokee, half Black) who lived in southern Louisiana on a small plot of land given to him by an old Cajun fur trapper. Cooter lived alone in the old Cajun's shack. When the Civil War broke out, Cooter didn't want to choose sides."
Brown reportedly didn't really like people all that much and preferred to keep to himself. He was fearful of both sides, Confederate and Union, and chose to deal with his fear and uncertainty about the times he was living in by staying drunk.
Really, really drunk.
By the time the Civil War had ended, Cooter Brown had developed such a dire dependency on alcohol that he couldn't have stopped drinking even if he wanted to.
Think about it. Cooter Brown continuously stayed so drunk that the stories of his legendary drinking have stuck around for nearly 200 years.
Legend has it that at some point after the Civil War, the shack he was living in caught fire and burned completely to the ground.
Locals searched the property after the fire and reportedly never found Brown's body.
Given the information stating Cooter Brown was "half Cherokee, half Black" and that he lived in an "old Cajun's shack", it's a fairly reasonable assumption that he was, in fact from Acadiana.
If not born and raised in Acadiana, he lived here at the time he constructed his legend of apparently being the drunkest person anyone had ever come across.
Read more at almanac.com and wikipedia.com.