Nice to hear from you. I trust all is well. I have Bill's song books and CD's as well as those that George Ward recorded, great stuff it is indeed. There's another great singer of canal songs in this general area, Roy Justice. I'll be ordering his canal song CD's. Many of the canal songs were simply passed from canal to canal sometimes with lyrical changes to reflect the locality. I was speaking to the granddaughter of one of the last boatman on the canal and she put me on to a gent who told me of a book entitled "Songs of the Musconetcong". That's one of the rivers out here in Warren County, one of the great New Jersey trout fisheries. The canal site at parts is very near this river. This gent told me there are songs and poems in this book that speak of the Morris Canal. It seems this book is fairly available in the used book market. So it's off to get a copy by hook or by crook.
In these parts we call it "BuddyHackettsTown". If memory serves me well this was coined by a radio DJ here in New Jersey. I've been in touch with the Canal Society of New Jersey. The folks I wrote of above are involved with it although not very active anymore given their ages. The gent that told me of "Songs of the Musconetcong" offered to join me for a tour around some of the old canal route. I'm sure he is full of stories and I can't wait to set that up.
I spent many a Summer's afternoon fishing and swimming in, and Winter's afternoon ice skating on, the Delaware and Raritan Canal in my younger years. That coupled with swimming, fishing, and ice skating on the Rahway River as a youngster might very well be the reason for my health issues today. I can only imagine what one would have encountered in the waters around Paterson, our country's first planned industrial city.
My moms family migrated from County Kilkenny and family legend holds that those that came over the earliest were navvy's, and subsequently boatman or crew, on the Big Ditch as well. Over the years they settled in many different places over here with those migrating during and after the famine years mostly settling in New York City and Hudson County, New Jersey.
Thank you all for your contributions. I've embarked on this project as part of a citizens effort to designate an area between the Morris Canal and the Musconetcong River a National Heritage Corridor. This effort is part of the overall effort to preserve open space here in Warren County.
My best to all!