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Origins: Two sons were brothers

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OLD AVRAM BROWN (Round)


Related thread:
Origins/ADD: Old Grimes / Bohunkus (11)


Penny S. 06 Dec 07 - 11:34 AM
BB 06 Dec 07 - 02:43 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 06 Dec 07 - 03:35 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 06 Dec 07 - 03:42 PM
Newport Boy 06 Dec 07 - 04:24 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 06 Dec 07 - 05:27 PM
Newport Boy 06 Dec 07 - 05:48 PM
Mo the caller 06 Dec 07 - 05:58 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 06 Dec 07 - 07:19 PM
Penny S. 07 Dec 07 - 06:24 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 07 Dec 07 - 05:56 PM
BB 07 Dec 07 - 06:01 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 07 Dec 07 - 06:30 PM
BB 08 Dec 07 - 11:24 AM
Joe_F 08 Dec 07 - 08:07 PM
GUEST,Jon 08 Dec 07 - 09:26 PM
GUEST 11 Oct 12 - 11:56 AM
Nigel Parsons 12 Oct 12 - 06:14 AM
GUEST,Joy A 14 Oct 12 - 12:52 PM
Nigel Parsons 17 Oct 12 - 06:50 AM
GUEST,Charlie 02 Jan 14 - 02:00 PM
Richard Mellish 02 Jan 14 - 03:38 PM
GUEST,Brian 20 Jun 14 - 07:50 AM
LadyJean 20 Jun 14 - 11:31 PM
Gutcher 21 Jun 14 - 10:46 AM
Bill D 21 Jun 14 - 02:53 PM
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Subject: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: Penny S.
Date: 06 Dec 07 - 11:34 AM

I was watching a programme on accents recorded by German researchers from POWs in WW1, and one of the common pieces was the parable of the prodigal son, beginning, "There was a man who had two sons..." when out from my dim and distant memory swam a song. I do not know its origin or where I learned it(certainly not from a US university song book, which provides the nearest match).

Any ideas?

There was a farmer had two sons, and these two sons were brothers,
Josephus was the name of one, Biancus was the other.

Now these two brothers had a pig, and it was double jointed,
They took it to the blacksmith's shop, to get its trotters pointed.

Now these two (men) fell sick and died, from eating apple jelly,
Josephus died upon his back, Biancus on his birthday.

Line missing, ending with "ell"
Josephus he went up to heaven, Biancus went as well.

Penny


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: BB
Date: 06 Dec 07 - 02:43 PM

Roy Harris recorded a version of this back in '99. He got it from Duncan MacClellan of the Inverness Folk Club 'ages ago'. Duncan's version came from a Scottish comedian called Donald Dallas. Frank Crumit sang a version he called 'Bohunkus'.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 06 Dec 07 - 03:35 PM

My copy of the Roud Index lists about a dozen entries for this (No.6360), all from the USA or Canada, with titles Josephus and Bohunkus, Bohunkus, Old Grimes is Dead, Sing


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 06 Dec 07 - 03:42 PM

(continues - accidental return there)

Sing Brethren Sing, Bohunker and Kychunker and Twin Lakes (3 Newfoundland entries). I'm sure I've got a version of this somewhere, but it's not in my obvious first choices of places to look!

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: Newport Boy
Date: 06 Dec 07 - 04:24 PM

This was discussed in an old thread here

I have a version of this, collected from my mother in about 1957. She'd sung it as a junior schoolgirl in South Wales before 1920. I think she'd learned it from my Great Aunt Gert, born 1883. My mother's cousin confirms that she learned it from Gert.

I noted the following words in 1957.

FARMERS TWO SONS

There was a farmer had two sons, and these two sons were brothers,
Josephus was the name of one, Piancus was the others.

Now these two brothers had a shirt, and it was washed on Mondays.
Josephus wore it all the week, Piancus wore it Sundays.

Now these two brothers had a horse, and it was very thin.
They took it to the riverside, and gently pushed it in.

Now these two brothers had a pig, and it was double jointed,
They took it to the blacksmith's shop, to have its tail repointed.

Now these two brothers both are dead, from eating apple jelly,
They laid Josephus on his back, Piancus on his belly.

Yes, these two brothers both are dead, I trust you wish them well
Josephus he went up to heaven; Piancus - who can tell?


My mother always sang the 'belly' as a Welsh word - I don't know the phonetics for the 'll'.

The tune she sang was very similar to Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn. I have it fairly accurately notated, and will post an ABC tomorrow.

I'd always assumed this was a local children's song, but it seems that the basic idea is much earlier, and that it possibly had been learned from a music hall (vaudeville) act.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 06 Dec 07 - 05:27 PM

There are two versions in the Max Hunter collection: Josephus and Bohunkus from Reba Dearmore, Mountain Home, Arkansas, 1969 and Bohunkus and Josephus from Bill Ping, Santa Rosa, California, 1972 (an Old Grimes version). The text is there and sound too (Reba Dearmore's tune is essentially Auld Lang Syne).

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: Newport Boy
Date: 06 Dec 07 - 05:48 PM

As promised above, my tune in (crude) ABC.

X: 1
T:Farmers Two Sons
M:3/4
L:1/8
Q:1/8=90
K:G
D|DG B3A|GE D3D|DG B3G|AA3 c|
BA G3A|BG E3D|DG B3A|GG3|

Phil


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: Mo the caller
Date: 06 Dec 07 - 05:58 PM

The Old Grimes verse is a bit like something we sang in the school Senior Choir
"Old Abr'am Brown is dead and gone you'll never see him more
He used to wear a long brown coat that buttoned down before"

And then the same words with a lot of fancy counterpoint


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 06 Dec 07 - 07:19 PM

I thought I had a version somewhere: This is from Cox Folk-Songs of the South:

OLD GRIMES

Old Grimes is dead, that good old man,
We ne'er shall see him more;
He used to wear an old gray coat,
All buttoned up before, my boys,
All buttoned up before.

I wish I had a load of wood,
To fence my garden round;
For the neighbours' pigs they do get in
And root up all my ground, my boys,
And root up all my ground.

Our old cat has got so far
She'll neither sing nor pray;
She chased a mouse all round the house
And broke the Sabbath day, my boys,
And broke the Sabbath day.

Somebody stole my banty hen,
I with they'd let her be;
For Saturday she laid two eggs,
And Sunday she laid three, my boys,
And Sunday she laid three.


Cox's notes say: The first stanza will be recognised as belonging to the well-known poem by Albert Gordon Green. The rest is a comic perversion after the fashion of a nursery rhyme.

Communicated by Miss Lily Hagans, Morgantown, Monongalia County, January 2, 1916; obtained from an old lady, Mrs Boyd.



There are plenty of references to the song on the net. It seems to have been recorded by several quartets in the 20s and appeared in several university song books. The Ballad Index Supplement quotes several texts.

I also have a version (1v plus tune) from the Frank C Brown collection of NC songs, and I'll try and post that tomorrow.

I can't find any likely-looking early source, though one Ohio univerity site said it wasn't know there before the 1890s, but that's not really much help.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: Penny S.
Date: 07 Dec 07 - 06:24 AM

That looks a bit like the tune I remember. I'm wondering if I heard it from my father who knew songs from a Boys Brigade book. Penny


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 07 Dec 07 - 05:56 PM

Here's the North Carolina tune I mentioned above. The notes include the information For different textual versions cf BSM 259, JAFS xxvi 125-6 and Texas FS 224-5

Mick



X:1
T:Old Grimes Is Dead
S:Miss Zilpah Frisbie of McDowell county; recorded Durham, July 24, 1923
B:The Frank C Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore
L:1/8
M:6/8
K:F
C|F2 D C2 F|A2 G F2
w:Old Grimes is dead, that good old man;
C|D2 F FFD|(D C2-) C2
w:We ne'er shall see him no more.__
C|F2 F G2 G|A2 B c2
w:He used to wear a long-tailed coat
(A/G/)|F2 F A2 G|(G F2-) F2|]
w:All_ but-toned down be-fore.__


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: BB
Date: 07 Dec 07 - 06:01 PM

There a verse above that's interesting. There's a rather irreverent song from Exmoor about John Wesley - tune 'The Seven Joys of Mary' or 'The Old Grey Duck', which includes the following verses:

John Wesley was a minister who lived in days of yore,
He often wore an old brown coat that buttoned up before.

John Wesley had another coat of quite a different kind;
Instead of buttoning up before, it buttoned up behind.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 07 Dec 07 - 06:30 PM

The poem Old Grimes was published by Albert Greene in 1822 and is available in several places on the net. Here's a copy from Old Grimes - wikisource:

Old Grimes is dead; that good old man,
      We ne'er shall see him more;
    He used to wear a long, black coat,
      All buttoned down before.

    His heart was open as the day,
      His feelings all were true;
    His hair was some inclined to gray,
      He wore it in a queue.

    He lived at peace with all mankind,
      In friendship he was true;
    His coat had pocket-holes behind,
      His pantaloons were blue.

    He modest merit sought to find,
      And pay it its desert;
    He had no malice in his mind,
      No ruffles on his shirt.

    His neighbours he did not abuse,
      Was sociable and gay;
    He wore large buckles on his shoes,
      And changed them every day.

    His knowledge, hid from public gaze,
      He did not bring to view,
    Nor make a noise town-meeting days,
      As many people do.

    His worldly goods he never threw
      In trust to fortune's chances,
    But lived (as all his brothers do)
      In easy circumstances.

    Thus undisturbed by anxious cares
      His peaceful moments ran;
    And everybody said he was
      A fine old gentleman.



The poem seems to have been published a lot thereafter. Walt Whitman did an imitative version in 1840 - Young Grimes

When old Grimes died, he left a son--
The graft of worthy stock;
In deed and word he shows himself
A chip of the old block.

In youth, 'tis said, he liked not school--
Of tasks he was no lover;
He wrote sums in a ciphering book,
Which had a pasteboard cover.

Young Grimes ne'er went to see the girls
Before he was fourteen;
Nor smoked, nor swore, for that he knew
Gave Mrs. Grimes much pain.

He never was extravagant
In pleasure, dress, or board;
His Sunday suit was of blue cloth,
At six and eight a yard.

But still there is, to tell the truth,
No stinginess in him;
And in July he wears an old
Straw hat with a broad brim.


Whether the song versions were based on the poems or whether Greene was inspired by the song would be an interesting question to answer.

Bartlett's Quotations 1919 offers these two in notes to the 1st verse of Old Grimes:

John Lee is dead, that good old man,—
We ne'er shall see him more;
He used to wear an old drab coat
All buttoned down before.

To the memory of John Lee, who died May 21, 1823.
An Inscription in Matherne Churchyard.

Old Abram Brown is dead and gone,—
    You'll never see him more;
He used to wear a long brown coat
    That buttoned down before.

Halliwell: Nursery Rhymes of England, p. 60.


The first quote from 1823 would suggest either that someone was quick at appropriating Greene's verse or (perhaps more likely?) that the verse was already in circulation.


Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: BB
Date: 08 Dec 07 - 11:24 AM

More and more interesting! The root of the John Wesley song is obviously the same.

"John Wesley had three daughters fair, and they was tall and thin,
He took them to the river bank and threw the buggers in.

There came along three farmer's sons, and they was tall and stout;
They saw them struggling in the stream and pulled the buggers out."

"John Wesley had an old straw hat without no crown nor brim,
'Twouldn't 'a' bin much use to thee, and 'twadn't no use to him."

We tend not to sing this in 'polite' circles!

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: Joe_F
Date: 08 Dec 07 - 08:07 PM

My mother sang

There was a farmer had two sons,
And these two sons were brothers.
Josephus was the name of one,
Bohuncus was the other.

Now these two sons to the theater went
Whenever they saw fit.
Bohuncus in the gall'ry say,
Josephus, in the pit.

Now these two sons are dead and gone.
We may their story tell:
Josephus, he to heaven went;
Bohuncus, he to --

Mick Pearce's "Old Grimes" shares a motif with

There was a Presbyterian cat
Went hunting for her prey.
She caught a moose within the hoose
Upon the Sawbath day.

The people they were horrifiet,
And they were grieved sair,
And so they brocht that wicked cat
Before the ministair.

The ministair was horrifiet,
And loodly he did say,
"O wicked cat, to catch a moose
Upon the Sawbath day.

The Sawbath's been, frae days of yore,
An institution,"
And so they led that wicked cat
To execution.

MORAL:
The higher up the plum tree graws,
The sweeter graw the plums.
The mair the cobbler plies his trade,
The braider graw his thumbs.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 08 Dec 07 - 09:26 PM

From my memory of Bangor sessions.

Now it came to pass in the fullness of time
That these two brothers di-ed.
They buried Josephius upside down.
And Banqueius on his si-ed

I think there was also a verse about stealing the fathers coffin lid to make a sh....en house door.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Oct 12 - 11:56 AM

The fragment I remember myu mother singing was:
There was a framer had two sons
And these two sons were brothers.
Josephus was the name of one, Bohunkus was the others.

Now these two sons are dead and gone,
Long may their ashes rest.
Josephus of the cannibals died
Bohunkus by inquest.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 12 Oct 12 - 06:14 AM

Posted elsewhere in 2002.
This is clearly related. Possibly comments above about the 'welsh' pronunciation of 'll' in 'belly' feed back to this version:

JOHN/HENRY
Tune: Bugeilio'r gwenith gwyn. Lyrics Unknown

There was a man, he had two sons,
And these two sons were brothers.
John Henry was the name of one,
And Henry John, the other.

Now these two sons, the found a bike.
The found it in a hollow.
And whereso'er the front wheel went,
The back would surely follow,

Now these two sons, they bought a cow.
They milked it with a spanner.
The milk came out in shilling tins,
The smaller ones; a tanner.

Now these two sons took ill and died.
They died of eating jelly.
John Henry died upon his back,
And Henry John his belly.

Notes: 'shilling' 12 old pence, one 20th of a pound sterling.
'Tanner' six old pence. One fortieth of a pound.
Jelly: gelatinised fruit cup.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: GUEST,Joy A
Date: 14 Oct 12 - 12:52 PM

My Grandfather (b. 1900) from Georgia sang:

There was a farmer he had two sons and these two sons were brothers
Josephus was the name of one and Bohunkus was the other

These two boys they had a mule and this here mule was blind
Josephus walked in front of the mule, Bohunkus walked behind


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Subject: Lyr Add: On Mules
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 17 Oct 12 - 06:50 AM

Following on, an old Scout campfire song:
Mules, A Cation
(ttto Auld Lang Syne)

On mules we find,
Two legs behind.
And two we find before.
We stand behind
Before we find
What the two behind be for!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: GUEST,Charlie
Date: 02 Jan 14 - 02:00 PM

I've also heard this song at Inverness Folk club in the 1980's. The guy who sang it said he came across it on an old '78 belonging to his Grannie, and it was recorded by Lonnie Donegan.

I remember a verse:

Josepheus was a wicked man,
..............(can't remember),
He stole his Father's coffin lid,
To make a henhouse door.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 02 Jan 14 - 03:38 PM

Mike Waterson had a version in which the brothers' names were Adolphus John and John Adolphus. Besides the introductory verse I think it had only two others: the one about the thin horse (which they took to the River Went) and the one about their dying.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: GUEST,Brian
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 07:50 AM

My recollection of this is slightly different, being as follows:-
There was a man who had two sons
And these two sons were brothers
Adolphus John was the name of one
And John Adolphus the other

Now these two men they bought a suit
They bought it on a Monday
Adolphus John wore it all the week
And John Adolphus on Sunday

Now these two men they had a horse
Oh dear it was so thin
They took it to the river side
And pushed the poor thing in

Now these two men they died they did
From eating fish and jelly
Adolphus John died on his back
And John Adolphus on his…..birthday

Now these two men are dead and gone
I'm sure you wish them well
Adolphus John went to heaven above
And John Adolphus…..as well


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: LadyJean
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 11:31 PM

My mom sang the first verse about the two sons. She sang Bohunkus. A Bohunk is someone from the Czech Republic. In Western Pennsylvania, a hunky is someone of Eastern European ancestry, Czech, Slovak, Serb, Croat, Russian, Ukrainian etc. are all hunkies. It's considered a perjorative, but I know people, among them my next door neighbor, who proudly call themselves Hunkies. He's got Hunky4 for his license plate.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: Gutcher
Date: 21 Jun 14 - 10:46 AM

The Inverness connection mentioned above would be from recollection of
this song recorded on a 78rpm record by two natives of that area------ Dan Dallas and Lee Fraser--the length of the song being restricted by the then technology.
This recording can be found on you-tube.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Two sons were brothers
From: Bill D
Date: 21 Jun 14 - 02:53 PM

I missed this way back then...

somewhere I learned:

There was a farmer he had two sons and these two sons were brothers
Josephus was the name of one and Bohunkus was the others

Now these two sons are dead & gone, and they have gone to rest.
Josephus of the cholera died, Bohunkus by request.


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