Posted by ESC on October 27, 2002
In Reply to: Mooncussers posted by nancy k. on October 26, 2002
: Anyone know the origin of the word "mooncusser"?
MOONCUSSERS - "So called because these people cursed (cussed) the moon and the light that it brought, robbing them of their livelihood. During early 19th century, these lowlifes lured merchant ships to shore on dark nights by waving lanterns that were mistaken for the lights of other vessels. When the ships were destroyed on rocks, their cargo was collected as salvage. American sailors called inhabitants of the 'back-shore' of Cap Cod 'mooncussers.' Though these people were not often accused of luring ships to their destruction, they did salvage wrecks off the Cape." From Facts on File Dictionary of American Regionalisms by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 2000).
This is confusing because it says they were "lowlifes" but then says they were "not often accused."