My papa is a slave on the Fever River,
Works all day in the burnin' sun.
Loadin' the wood in the red-hot smelter;
He's so tired when thd day is done.
When the lead starts to run inside the ladle,
Scrape off the top and let the pig cool down.
Load the pig lead in the master's wagon,
Down Stagecoach Trail to Galena town.
Cho: O Galena, O Galena,
You're such a pretty little riverboat town;
But I wish we could spend more time on the levee,
Watchin' the riverboats come to town.
A slave's only worth what his back can carry;
Guess my papa's worth about half the world;
Heard him say to mama after supper,
"Wish that boy was lucky, like the girls.
Girls get to work in a nice warm kitchen,
Cuttin' up the food and mendin' clothes.
When the rocks freeze to the ground in winter,
That boy'll sweat like a mule in the fallin' snow."
Slavery's not legal in Illinois;
That's what I heard Reverend Cartwright say.
If someday we get our freedom,
That's gonna be a dancin' day.
We'll build us a cabin on the Fever River,
File a claim and we'll dig for lead.
When we hit it, then we'll be rich folks,
And we'll sleep in a feather bed.
By the way, does anybody know if there is a Fever River, or is it possibly a nickname for the Mississippi? I have checked maps with no result.