David Parker, Professor of History at Kennesaw State University in Northwest Georgia, writes another history blog, which is well worth reading if you’re interested in American history. Of linguistic interest is his post from last Christmas on the meaning, spelling, and history of that great American pronoun y’all (discussed here and here on LH). The OED’s first citation is from 1909; he antedated that by over half a century:
I came across a citation to the Southern Literary Messenger from 1858. The piece was written by “Mozis Addums,” penname of George William Bagby, one of the humorists of the mid-nineteenth century who thought spelling everything phonetically was funny. Mozis described the crowded conditions in the boarding house where he was living: “Packin uv pork in a meet house, which you should be keerful it don’t git hot at the bone, and prizin uv tobakker, which y’all’s Winstun nose how to do it, givs you a parshil idee, but only parshil.”
There’s a lot more (in his words, “More than y’all wanted to know about ‘y’all’”), so y’all head on over and enjoy!