From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
Cooter Brown, sometimes given as Cootie Brown, is a name used in metaphors and similes for drunkenness, mostly in the Southern United States. Cooter Brown supposedly lived on the line which divided the North and South during the American Civil War, making him eligible for military draft by either side. He had family on both sides of the line, so he did not want to fight in the war. He decided to get drunk and stay drunk for the duration of the war so that he would be seen as useless for military purposes and would not be drafted. Ever since, colloquial and proverbial ratings of drunkenness have been benchmarked against the legendary drinker: "as drunk as Cooter Brown" or "drunker than Cooter Brown."
Another version of the Cooter Brown story: Cooter Brown was a biracial man (Half Cherokee, Half Black) who lived in south 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, because he didn't know who might win. He didn't like people much and was fearful of either side. Because of this, Cooter, who was a heavy drinker anyway, began drinking all the time. Cooter always dressed like an Indian so as to confirm the fact that he was an Indian and not a Negro. And as such, he was a free man. Whenever soldiers (Yanks or Rebels) showed-up in the area they would always find him drunk. Often he'd offer the soldiers a drink. Word began to spread about the crazy, drunken Indian named Cooter Brown. By the time the war ended, Cooter couldn't stop drinking if he had wanted to. One night his shack caught fire and burned completely to the ground. When locals investigated the burned site the next day there was nothing that remained of Cooter's body. They surmised that old Cooter had so much alcohol in him that he had just burned up. Since then Cooter Brown has been synonymous with inebriety.