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Teamster driving a team of six horses at the Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
Lydia Vargo and Teamster with delivery wagon in Toledo, Ohio c. 1920

A teamster is the American term for a truck driver or a person who drives teams of draft animals. Further, the term often refers to a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a labor union in the United States and Canada.

Originally the term teamster referred to a person who drove a team, usually of oxen, horses, or mules, pulling a wagon,[1] replacing the earlier teamer.[2]

This term was common by the time of the Mexican–American War (1848) and the Indian Wars throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries on the American frontier.

Another name for the occupation was bullwhacker, related to driving oxen. A teamster might also drive pack animals, such as a muletrain, in which case he was also known as a muleteer or muleskinner. Today this person may be called an outfitter or packer.[3]

In some places, a teamster was known as a carter, referring to the bullock cart.[4] In Australian English, a teamster was also known as a bullocker or bullocky.

From the Revolutionary War at least through World War I, United States Army enlisted personnel responsible for transporting supplies by wagon and upkeep of animals for this purpose were called wagoners.[5]


  1. ^ Harper, Douglas. "teamster". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. ^ "teamster, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, December 2020. Web. 11 February 2021.
  3. ^ Shemanski, Frances (1984) "Mule Days Celebration", A Guide to Fairs and Festivals in the United States, Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, p. 15, ISBN 0-313-21437-9
  4. ^ Gunasekera, Jayantha (Feb 9, 2014). "How Kotelawala (Snr) got young brother-in-law killed". The Sunday Times. Sri Lanka.
  5. ^ "The American Revolutionary War (1776)". U. S. Army Transportation Museum. Retrieved 22 May 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Telleen, Maurice (1977), The Draft Horse Primer: A Guide to the Care and Use of Work Horses and Mules, Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pennsylvania, ISBN 0-87857-161-2
  • Elser, Smoke (1980), Packin' in on Mules and Horses Mountain Press Publishing Co., Missoula, Montana, ISBN 0-87842-127-0
  • Gebhards, Stacy V. (2000), When Mules Wear Diamonds: Mountain Packing with Mules and Horses Wilderness Skills, McCall, Idaho, OCLC 47630999
  • Damerow, Gail; Ainsworth, Brandt and Edmunds, Bill (2001) Driving Draft Horses, DVD, Rural Heritage Video, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, ISBN 978-1-893707-31-3
  • Damerow, Gail and Rice, Alina (2008), Draft Horses and Mules: Harnessing Equine Power for Farm & Show, Storey Publishing, North Adams, Massachusetts, ISBN 978-1-60342-081-5