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Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain

DigiTrad:
ADALIDA
CHARLIE RUTLEDGE
LAKES OF PONCHARTRAIN
LAKES OF PONCHARTRAIN 2
LAKES OF THE PONCHARTRAIN (4)
THE LAKES OF PONTCHARTRAIN 3


Related threads:
Banks of the Old Pontchartrain (Williams/Vincent) (21)
Question about Lakes of Pontchartrain song (55)
Chords Req: The Lakes of Ponchartrain (68)
Lakes of Ponchartrain on banjo (11)
Lyr Req: The Man That Shot the Dog (Mick Quinn) (22)
Spelling of 'Pontchartrain' ? (16)
Lyr Req: Lakes of Ponchetrain? / Ponchartrain (47)
Lyr/Chords Req: Lakes Of Ponchartrain (Deanta) (13)
Lyr Req: Lakes of Pontchartrain - Irish Words (77)
Lyr Req: On the Banks of Lake Pontchartrain (13)
Lakes of Ponchartrain through Irish lang (7)
Lyr Req: Lakes of Ponchartrain (from Sam Henry) (16)
Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain (2) (closed)
Lakes of Ponchartrain (20)
Recording Req: Lakes of Ponchartrain (17)
Inf. Lakes of Ponchatrain? / Ponchartrain (4) (closed)


Big Al Whittle 28 Apr 21 - 11:03 PM
GUEST,# 26 Apr 21 - 12:23 PM
Lighter 24 Apr 21 - 04:11 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 24 Apr 21 - 12:36 PM
Tattie Bogle 24 Apr 21 - 12:05 PM
Lighter 24 Apr 21 - 11:11 AM
meself 24 Apr 21 - 11:06 AM
GUEST,# 24 Apr 21 - 10:53 AM
Lighter 22 Apr 21 - 10:14 AM
Lighter 21 Apr 21 - 09:24 PM
Joe Offer 21 Apr 21 - 08:33 PM
Lighter 21 Apr 21 - 08:28 PM
pattyClink 21 Apr 21 - 08:00 PM
Joe Offer 21 Apr 21 - 07:15 PM
meself 05 Sep 18 - 12:45 PM
The Sandman 04 Sep 18 - 01:56 AM
Lighter 03 Sep 18 - 09:42 PM
GUEST,Doug Gifford 03 Sep 18 - 09:22 PM
Joe Offer 24 Nov 15 - 05:08 AM
MartinRyan 17 Oct 14 - 03:41 AM
Jon Bartlett 17 Oct 14 - 02:14 AM
Joe Offer 17 Oct 14 - 01:39 AM
meself 16 Oct 14 - 12:41 PM
MartinRyan 16 Oct 14 - 12:00 PM
GUEST,Desi C 16 Oct 14 - 10:51 AM
GUEST 16 Oct 14 - 02:35 AM
The Sandman 15 Oct 14 - 03:56 AM
GUEST,ollaimh 14 Oct 14 - 09:40 PM
GUEST,DTM 14 Oct 14 - 01:26 PM
MartinRyan 14 Oct 14 - 12:47 PM
PoppaGator 25 May 12 - 05:18 PM
Les from Hull 13 May 12 - 01:33 PM
GUEST,Don Wise 13 May 12 - 01:14 PM
GUEST,Footerin' About 13 May 12 - 11:43 AM
GUEST,GentillyJoe 12 May 12 - 02:48 PM
GUEST,TEC4 12 Jul 10 - 01:28 PM
GUEST,pattyClink 17 Feb 10 - 09:50 PM
PoppaGator 17 Feb 10 - 03:25 PM
MGM·Lion 12 Feb 10 - 01:40 AM
PoppaGator 11 Feb 10 - 05:18 PM
Susan A-R 10 Feb 10 - 08:49 PM
PoppaGator 10 Feb 10 - 03:58 PM
GUEST,leeneia 10 Feb 10 - 02:18 PM
GUEST,ollaimh 09 Feb 10 - 11:17 PM
PoppaGator 09 Feb 10 - 03:38 PM
GUEST,Betsy 02 Feb 10 - 08:22 PM
PoppaGator 02 Feb 10 - 07:42 PM
Susan A-R 01 Feb 10 - 10:18 PM
PoppaGator 01 Feb 10 - 01:44 PM
Tradsinger 01 Feb 10 - 05:03 AM
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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Apr 21 - 11:03 PM

I know its not the same song. But I thought this might interest some of you.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItlqfdVeEic


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,#
Date: 26 Apr 21 - 12:23 PM

The Louisiana Purchase.

Due to a post from about 15 years back, I am putting the above link there to remind myself of just how BIG the area was. Makes it easier--in a sense--to see how regional inflections, influences and interpretations occurred.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Apr 21 - 04:11 PM

Peter, thanks for the link! Very nice show.

I feel, personally, that the song is more likely to have come from America than Ireland (more versions have been found here), and a connection to the New Orleans Irish is conceivable, of course, but without much support. Knowledge of "Jackson," however, whether in Mississippi or Louisiana, suggests some familiarity with the region. Or it could have been suggested by a book or map.

The tune of "The Lily of the West" was well known in the U.S. - and, I believe England as well.

FWIW - very little - the name "Devilbiss" is of German.

Just which meaning of Creole the author had in mind is up in the air. In the two earliest printed versions (above), her hair is "glowing" or "golden."

A sentimental song about interracial love in the American South (much less sex, as one radio guest suggested!) would have been remarkable indeed in the 19th century.

I agree with the guest that "alligators" is an exotic touch, but it really tells nothing about the song's origin.

And I also agree that "Pontchartrain" somewhat resembles "The Indian Lass," at least in outline. In that song, a sailor on a far distant shore is befriended by an (East) Indian girl, who invites him to her hut. He returns to his home but can't forget her.

But that's about all the resemblance there is.

Bottom line: mysteries unsolved.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 24 Apr 21 - 12:36 PM

RTE radio 1 did a feature on the song last october (2020). I caught most of it while driving at the time.

The program is online here :

By the Lakes of Ponchartrain - on the trail of the classic song - RTE Radio 1


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 24 Apr 21 - 12:05 PM

If you want to go a bit further back in history, note that Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana was named after the Comte de Pontchartrain in France! Pontchartrain is very close to where our French friends live, some distance to the SW of Paris.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Pontchartrain


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Apr 21 - 11:11 AM

Of course, Georgia money would likely be worthless in Louisiana even before and during the Civil War.

If the speaker is meant to be a Confederate veteran - as many assume - I'm a little surprised the war isn't even alluded to.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: meself
Date: 24 Apr 21 - 11:06 AM

In the version I first encountered - that in Helen Creighton's Songs & Ballads of NS - as in one or two in this thread, the speaker says he "tried to paint her beauty", rather than, per Brady et al, "To try to paint her beauty", so it gives the impression of some time going by - long enough for him to get out his paints and ... canvas? and give it a go.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,#
Date: 24 Apr 21 - 10:53 AM

At last there are lyrics for the song that make sense. It always bothered me that one minute the guy was worried about alligators and the next asking the young lady to marry him. AFAIC, Paul Brady, a brilliant and clean guitar player as well as a tremendous vocalist did such a clipped rendition of the song. So, thank you to all who have contributed to this thread and brought light into the darkness.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 10:14 AM

The Times-Picayune (New Orleans), Aug. 30, 1955, p. 7, dated to at least "40 years ago":                     


                      LAK-A PONTCHARTRAIN

Through swamps and past alligators, I wound my weary way,
O'er ties and railroad crossings my footsteps quickly played;
'Twas at the edge of evening some higher land I gained,
'Twas there I met the Creole girl from the Lak-a Pontchartrain.

"Good evening, my pretty fair maiden, my money does me no good,
Were it not for the alligators, I'd sleep out in the wood."
"Oh, you are welcome, stranger, altho our house is plain,
We never turn a stranger from the Lak-a Pontchartrain."

She took me to her father's house and treated me quite well,
Her hair in glowing ringlets around her shoulders fell.
I tried to gain her beauty but found it was in vain --
So handsome was the Creole girl from the Lak-a Pontchartrain.

I asked her if she'd marry me -- she said that ne'er could be --
She had her own true lover, and he was far at sea.
She said she had her own true love and true she would remain
Until he returned to the Creole girl and the Lak-a Pontchartrain.

Adieu, my pretty fair maiden. I will no longer stay --
I thank you for your kindness in the cottage by the way; --
But in some social circle a flowering [sic] bowl shall bring
A drink to the health of the Creole girl from the Lak-a Pontchartrain.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Apr 21 - 09:24 PM

The Canton [Mo.] Press, Dec. 15, 1893, p. 4 (I've put spaces between the stanzas):


                      LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN

'Twas on one bright March morning, I bade Orleans adieu
Being on my road to Jackson, where I was forced to go;
The cursed Georgia money no credit there did gain,
Which filled my heart with sorrow on the lake of Pontchartrain.

Through swamps and alligators, there I did take my way,
A-stepping o'er the railroad ties, which 'neath my feet did play,
Till in the dusk of evening, some high ground I did gain,
Where I met a lovely Creole girl. on the lake of Pontchartrain.

I said to her, "Dear lady, my money is no good,
Were it not for alligators, O, I'd lie in the wood.
"You are welcome in here, stranger, no money would I gain;
We always keep a traveler on the lake of Pontchartrain."

She took me to her mother's home, they treated me quite well;
Round her neck raven tresses in graceful ringlets fell;
To try to paint her beauty, by me, would be in vain
So lovely is that Creole girl on the lake of Pontchartrain.

I have roamed through many a country, many people I have seen,
But ne'er was pressed so hardly as on this road I have been;
But then, with gentle kindness [she] relieved me of my pain,
Making me forget my sorrow, on the lake of Pontchartrain.

Farewell! my gentle damsel, I may never see you more,
But still I'll think with gratitude of that cottage on the shore;
And when in social circle the friendly glass I drain,
I'll always toast that Creole girl on the lake of Pontchartrain.

                                              A. DEVILBISS

If the unknown Devilbiss was the author, it's strange that some stanzas are missing. Space limitations?

"Jackson" may be Jackson, La., a small town and county seat between New Orleans and Natchez, Miss. (Jackson, Miss., is much farther away.)

If the Civil War has just ended, "Georgia money" most likely refers to state currency notes issued by Georgia banks. Even during the war, state notes were generally worthless outside the state of issue.

All state notes were rendered worthless by a new federal tax in 1866.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Apr 21 - 08:33 PM

The manuscript itself is at this link. It looks like writing exercises my parents did in the 1920s. We had something like this that my dad did in elementary school. It was shaped like a stocking, and we hung it on the Christmas tree every year.

-Joe-

http://joe-offer.com/Pontchartrain/CreoGirl.htm


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Apr 21 - 08:28 PM

Yes, great find, fascinating and helpful. Thanks so much!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: pattyClink
Date: 21 Apr 21 - 08:00 PM

Awesome new/old version!   I hate how it doesn't mention 'the road to Jackson town', but that's okay, other parts are better than the 'standard'. Nice!

I got to spend time in Vinita near the Wyandotte lands. MANY tribes got exiled in that vicinity and it is instructive to be in a part of our country where Indian and Europeans both were involved in town founding and economy building. Lots of Indian features in faces everywhere one looks. No great surprise to Oklahomans but it was new to me.

Thanks to Steven for not letting this sit in a box somewhere but bringing it here!


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Subject: ADD Version: Creo Girl
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Apr 21 - 07:15 PM

Steven Payne sent me and Big Mick a scan of these handwritten lyrics. I'm going to post his email and the lyrics exactly.
-Joe-


Mick and Joe

I’ve attached copies of the transcription below. A bit of explanation:

My grandmother Ethel was Native American adopted as an infant in 1883 by a white farming family just across the Missouri border from Indian Territory. She grew up white and was married at age 16 to a neighbor farmer. They headed west, lived for awhile in Wyandotte OK where first son was born, then continued west to Arizona.

The transcript below was saved by my mother (Ethel’s youngest daughter) from a letter that Ethel sent back from Arizona to her sister in Missouri. My mother has since passed but I suspect that my mother thought that Ethel had written the verses (Ethel loved poetry).

My take is that Ethel heard the song/poem somewhere between Oklahoma and Arizona, loved it, and sent the lyrics to her favorite sister Stella.

That is all I know about this transcript. My brother has the original and sent the foto copy to me. Please use it as you see fit.

Thanks for the interest.

Steven Payne

    "CREO GIRL"

    1. 'Twas on a bright May morning
    I bid Orleans Adieu
    Being on my road to Texas
    Where I was forced to go.
    Oh the cursed Georgias money,
    Did me no credit gain;
    And I got broken hearted -
    On the Lake of Ponca Train.

    2. O'er swamps and alligators
    I led my weary way.
    O'er rail-road ties and crossing
    My weary feet did stray.
    Till at the dawn of evening
    Some higher ground I gained
    'Twas there I met with the Creo Girl
    On the Lake of Ponca Train.

    3. Good eve my pretty fair maiden
    My money does me no good.
    If it wasn't for the alligators
    I'd sleep all night in the wood.
    "You're welcome, welcome stranger,
    Although our home is plain:
    We never turn out a stranger
    On the Lake of Ponca Train.

    4. She took me to her fathers house
    And treated me quite well.
    Her golden hair in ringlets
    All o'er her shoulders fell.
    Oh I tried to paint her beauty,
    But I found it all in vain.
    So handsome was the Creo Girl,
    On the Lake of Ponca Train.

    5. Oh I ask her if she'd marry me,
    She said that never could be,
    She said she had a lover
    And he was far at sea.
    She said she had a lover,
    And true she would remain
    Till he came back to claim his bride
    On the Lake of Ponca Train.

    "Good bye my pretty fair maiden
    I never may see you more.
    But I'll never forget your kindness
    Or the Cottage by the shore."
    When at those social circles
    The sparkling cup I drink
    I'll drink to the health of the Creo Girl.
    On the Lake of Ponca Train.

    The End.
    Written by Ethel for Stella.
    Buckeye, Arizona. May 7th 1902.


Now, is that cool, or what?
Thank you very much, Steven.

-Joe Offer-

And here's the manuscript:


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: meself
Date: 05 Sep 18 - 12:45 PM

I long took the "my money does me no good" phrase to mean simply that, being out into the woods dodging alligators, his money does him no good; i.e., their are no motels around. Later heard Paul Brady's rendition of the version with the bit about "cursing all foreign credit", which certainly complicates the issue.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Sep 18 - 01:56 AM

more likely a confederate soldier


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Sep 18 - 09:42 PM

The usual tune ("Lily of the West") sounds to me like a first cousin to the comical American "Joe Bowers," later used as the tune of "I'm a Good Old Rebel."

"The Buffalo Skinners" may also be related. abut maybe it's my imagination.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,Doug Gifford
Date: 03 Sep 18 - 09:22 PM

I learned my version from Michael Ketemer in central Ontario -- I don't know where he heard it -- and always assumed the singer was a British soldier escaping the aftermath of the battle of New Orleans. I based this on: my money is no good, a stranger there, the tune, some of the language (as if I'd know…). Just a thought.


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Subject: ADD: The Creole Girl (from Pound)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Nov 15 - 05:08 AM

The earliest version indexed by the Traditional Ballad Index (1922) is in Louise Pound, American Ballads and Songs, # 55, pp. 127-128, titled "The Creole Girl" (1 text).

THE CREOLE GIRL

Over swamps and alligators I'm on my weary way
Over railroad ties and crossings, my weary feet did stray.
Until the shades of evening some higher ground I gained.
'Twas there I met a Creole girl on the lakes of Ponchartrain.

"Good eve to you, fair maiden, my money does me no good;
If it were not for the alligators I would stay out in the wood."
"O welcome, welcome, stranger, although our house is plain;
We never turn a stranger out'on the lakes of Ponchartrain."

She took me to her mother's house and treated me quite well.
Her hair in flowing ringlets around her shoulders fell.
I tried to paint her beauty, but I found it was in vain,
So beautiful was the creole girl on the lakes of Ponchartrain.

I asked her if she would marry me, she said that never could be.
She said she had a lover, and he was far at sea.
She said she had a lover and true she would remain,
Till he came back to her again on the lakes of Ponchartrain.

"Adieu, adieu, fair maiden, I never will see you more,
I'll never forget your kindness in the cottage by the shore.
At home in social circles, our flaming bowls we'll drain.
We'll drink to the health of the creole girl on the lakes of Ponchartrain."


https://archive.org/details/americanballads00poungoog

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: MartinRyan
Date: 17 Oct 14 - 03:41 AM

Re "The Blarney Roses" connection, I think GSS, above, may have been referring to the air Frank Harte uses in my post of Oct. 14 above. Not sure I agree, though there is a resemblance. To me, it better resembles the "Irish Molly"/"Sash my father wore" tune.

I'm having problems connecting to the DT tunes and will check out your links later.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 17 Oct 14 - 02:14 AM

Thanks, Joe. All the BC versions are slight variants on your first tune above (#2).

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Oct 14 - 01:39 AM

The only tune I know for "Lakes of Ponchartrain is this one, which is also the tune I know for Peter Emberly. And I see above the same tune is used for Blarney Roses, and it has also been used for Lily of the West. Know of any other songs that use this melody?


Now, I might not be aware of alternate melodies for "Lakes of Ponchartrain, but the Digital Tradition has

Any more? Can anyone point me to recordings of "Ponchartrain" with various melodies?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: meself
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 12:41 PM

Just in case anyone comes along here who is unfamiliar with the work of Helen Creighton, and for that reason only, I respond to a previous post concerning her: she was a, yes, middle-class (horrors!) woman who devoted her life to collecting folksongs and folklore by travelling to remote and neglected places in Nova Scotia, 1930s to 1960s. Who these superior "folk collectors with ethics and respect for traditional cultures" lauded by the previous poster were, and where they were, I don't know - Helen Creighton was certainly not stumbling over them in the fishing villages and farming communities of the Maritimes.   Perhaps the previous poster can point us to some of their material, as corrective to that published by Helen Creighton. She was certainly not standing in their way, anymore than she was stopping anyone from collecting labour anthems and strike songs - is it really her fault if no one could be bothered?

As for Ian MacKay - he is an academic, with a university professorship, which is far more than Helen Creighton ever had - and, btw, which would make him at least middle-class, would it not? - who is known for nothing other than his weak pot-shots at a distant giant.

As for the previous poster in question - take a look at his posting history to get a sense of what he's about.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: MartinRyan
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 12:00 PM

Have to agree that the standard version gets done to death all too regularly - but some of the variants, when snuck up on an audience unawares, still have power to grasp. "Arthur McBride" tends to meet a similar fate.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 10:51 AM

I have nothing to add to the history etc. And this may not be apt. But I felt I just had to say that I am sick to death of hearing this song at just about every Folk Club I go to. Good song though it is it becomes a long miserable drone after the 100th time of hearing! It ranks alongside Hotel California as the most over sang Folk club songs. And no one ever seems to try do either the slightest bit different, or try anything new with it. Could you kindly peep this in mind next time for the sake of sufferers like me, or stay away from the Black Country area
P.S Dylan singrs, do you alwys have to sing his LONGEST songs Grrrr


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 02:35 AM

Could have sworn I sent this in years ago. It's from the Phil Thomas collection and in his Songs of the Pacific Northwest. The places are along the US/Canada border in the Okanagan/Okanogan country.

The Banks of the Similkameen

It was one Sunday morning I bid Grand Forks adieu
To beat my way to Oroville, a place that once I knew
Over ties and railway crossings I beat my weary way
Until I met a maiden at the close of one hot day.

Well, good eve, good eve, fair maiden, my money does me no good
If it hadn't a been for the coyotes, I'd a stayed out in the woods.
You're welcome, welcome stranger, although our home is plain
We never have turned a stranger out on the banks of the Similkameen.

She took me to her mother's house and treated me quite well
Her hair in dark brown ringlets about her shoulders fell
I tried to paint her beauty but true it was in vain
For perfect was the Orovoille girl on the banks of the Similkameen.

I asked her to marry me, she said it ne'er could be
She said she had a lover and he lived in BC
She said she had a lover and true she would remain
Until her came to claim her on the banks of the Similkameen.

So adieu, adieu, fair maiden, I never shall see no more
I'll never forget your kindness nor the cottage by the shore
Adieu, adieu, fair maiden, we'll drink to the flowing stream
We'll drink a health to the Oroville girl on the banks of the Similkameen.

Since posting this I've come across three more versions, some close, some not so close, to this one. In one "Similkameen" (the river outside my door) become "the Kettle Stream", the Kettle River a couple of hundred clicks to the east. All these versions share the same tune, which is definitively NOT the usual (not nearly so good, in fact).

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 03:56 AM

It shares the same tune as The Blarney Roses


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,ollaimh
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 09:40 PM

Helen creighten's recording notes are available now, that should tell when and where she recorded it, I say recorded, she used to write down the lyrics and tune back then.

phill Thomas, the british Columbia collector used to say it was based on the earlier song little mohee, from new England.

Creighton used to say it was about a wayward nova scotia sailor, trapped in louisianna with no local money, probably during the civil war.

the peter emberly I have heard has a different melody. although they scan closely so you could switch them. lily of the west is often switched with lakes of ponchatrain. and vice versa.

(pontchartrain was a senior bureaucrat in the French ministry of the marine--responsible for colonies. he had a son who started a farming settlement in acadia and did some trading in louisianna,btw)

ian mackay's book:"quest of the folk" debunks a lot of Helen creightons bigotry and tendency to make it up when she wasn't getting what she wanted. she was middle class Halifax and the people she was collecting from were beneath her.   she treated them and her music quite badly. often she censored the rebellious and lewd. luckily she had no French nor gaelic so her collections from those sources were not tainted by her middle class bigotry.

but then most mudcatters are more like her than like folk collectors with ethics and respect for traditional cultures. so she's a fav here.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,DTM
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 01:26 PM

The tune to version I'm familiar with (& seems to be the most popular one) always sounds like a parallel of "The Wild Colonial Boy".
(Apologies if this has been mentioned before)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: MartinRyan
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 12:47 PM

Interesting version from Frank Harte now available at The Goilin Song Project:

Click here

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 25 May 12 - 05:18 PM

GUEST GentillyJoe: If you really live in Gentilly, we're neighbors. I don't give out my address, etc., on the internet, but I will let on that I can be seen at the Neutral Ground coffeehouse uptown on the third Tuesday of every month at 9pm ;^)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Les from Hull
Date: 13 May 12 - 01:33 PM

It seems that this railway was built from 1851 onwards. Of course the song may have had a version that didn't mention the rails or rods.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 13 May 12 - 01:14 PM

Ther is, of course, the verse which starts:

"O'er railroad ties and crossings I made my weary way....."

which, like the reference to "Riding the rods" prompts the question of when the first railway reached New Orleans.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,Footerin' About
Date: 13 May 12 - 11:43 AM

It's funny but I've never heard the Paul Brady version. This may make me inferior in the eyes of certain other posters (:)) however the versions I HAVE heard have been excellent, in their own inferior and unmusical ways. now that that's steeled.... I always believed it came from around 1812 myself.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,GentillyJoe
Date: 12 May 12 - 02:48 PM

One piece of info that might provide some insight: There are actually three interconnected lakes, with Pontchartrain in the middle - Lake Maurepas to the west, Lake Pontchartrain, and Lake Borgne, which is actually open to the Gulf of Mexico.

Madisonville, formerly known as Cokie ("coquille", or seashell) and located just off the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain on the banks of the Tchefuncte River, is historically a Creole (in the mixed-race sense) town. I like to imagine that our anonymous Irishman fetched up there and met his Creole girl.

I like the Tanyas' version too. That gal sings like she might even be from south Louisiana...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,TEC4
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 01:28 PM

This is a very interesting thread, and helped me because I wanted to use the song in a story set in 1937 and I guess I can.

By the way, I vote for D.L. Menard's version ...

TEC4


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 17 Feb 10 - 09:50 PM

I can't track down information I vaguely remember on 'curse all foreign money'--it had something to do with a financial bubble or panic, I believe, where certain money wasn't accepted for some reason.

And Poppa, I think you're right about circa 1830s. Natchez was flush and people were streaming in from everywhere to make a buck, and our brick streets in Jackson were being laid by masons up from New Orleans, and there was good money in various sorts of construction for the new capital city/town at that time, a Capitol (built 1833-1839), big hotels, etc. so it would be a good place your 'fortune to renew'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 17 Feb 10 - 03:25 PM

Heh heh; hadn't thought of that, but that may have been part of my unscious thought process.

I think that the "alligators" line is everyone's favorite, and may indeed be resposnsible for the song's enduring popularity....


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 01:40 AM

===If it weren't for the "Preview" feature, you'd be seeing a LOT more misspelled words from me.===

I take it we are to sing this line to tune of 2nd line of the verse - "If it weren't for the alligators"? Can just about be done with a few added notes...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 05:18 PM

I am guilty of my own share of typos, too.

In my defense, I would like to point out that it's almost always my clumsy arthritic fingers that are to blame, not my actual knowledge of how a given word is correctly spelled. ;^)

If it weren't for the "Preview" feature, you'd be seeing a LOT more misspelled words from me.

(PS ~ Caught THREE typos previewing the above three short paragraphs!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Susan A-R
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 08:49 PM

That'd be me. I am spelling challenged, which only marginally has to do with visual impairment. Thanks for the great history everyone. I can see a wonderful, if not definitive intro to this song developing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 03:58 PM

I realize now that my map was erroneous.

The curve of Basin Street, just outside the French Quarter, marks the old basin that once lay at the end of Bayou St. John, a natural geographical feature which used to run all the way into town and come to an end where they dug a man-made turning basin. Now the bayou comes to an end quite a bit further back toward to Lake, at Jeff Davis corner of Conti.

The New Basic Canal was dug a bit west of the bayou and terminated at a newly built basin, about where today's Union Passenger Terminal (bus & Amtrak station) stands, and at the point where the route marked on the map I posted yesterday takes a sharp turn. Just ignore the last leg of the route marked on yesterday's map to see the path of the old New Basic Canal.

Don't have time to make a new map right now; maybe later.

leeneia: Nice job spelling Tchoupitoulas, which is an even more difficult task than spelling Pontchartrain.

Alice: apologies for getting mixed up over who originally misspelled Pontchartrain...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 02:18 PM

Thanks for the map, Poppagator. It makes things much clearer. I'm pleased to see one of my favorite streets, Tchoupitoulas.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,ollaimh
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 11:17 PM

i knew several folk collectors in nova scotia who were convinced that the lakes of p was a later development from little mohee. helen creighton collected a full set of lyrics in nova scotia back in the thirties--exactly like the christie moore version.which tells me it was old in new england and nova scotia in 1900 at least; she got it from a very old guy.

the cajuns were adadiens. they settled in nova scotia and southern new brunswick from 1605 untill the british came and ethniclly cleansed them in 1755. remember evangiline and gabriel. in logfellows poem.they were treated very cruelly. lost all their possessions, their farms, families were separated and they were dispersed over the thirteen colonies. many went to louisianna as there was a french presence there. the french there were landed and rich and did not welcome their co linguists so they settled in the unwanted land of the bayou ans up on the western prarie or loiusianna. they are still there.

i live now in new brunswick where most modern acadiens live.many returned and about half(including my faily) hjid in the woods and "went native" for several decades to avaoid the british deportations. this event is still the shapping event in acadien culture.its called the grande derangement. its like the famine to the gaels. a tragedy which eveyyone knows of but little is said untill recently.

now new brunswick is almost half acadien,prince edward island maybe twenty per cent and nova scotia ten per cent. many don'[tspeak french in nova scotia and pei but french culture is alive and well in nouveau brunswick where many speak a local dialect called shiac(a contraction of shediac--the unofficial capitalof acadie and best lobster in the world)

i often fantasize about going down to the bayou--if any one survived katrina--with my mandolin harpand bouzouki and ask "ou est la musique acadienne?" and see if i have any tunes in common--even though i'm mostly scotts gael--only one acadien grandfather.

anyway   i think little mohee was the origion of the tune. as i recall it also has a line about sleeping out in the woods but for the bears.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 03:38 PM

Here's a Mapquest map showing the (approximate) route of the long-since-filled New Basin Canal, built by immigrant labor (mostly Irish) in the 1830s. Slaves were considered too valuable to risk in the disease-ridden swamps, so newcomers from Europe were welcome to defy death for a few pennies a day.

Ironically enough, we now know that natives of the area, white and black alike, were immune to Yellow Fever and other such local diseases, and would have survived the same working conditions that killed so many immigrant workers. Nobody understood that then, sadly enough.

Most of the canal's route. once filled in and paved over, became the "Pontchartrain Expressway" from the suburban areas near the lakefront to the Mississippi River Bridge. Most of the expressway eventually became part of the I-10 when the interstate highway system was developed through the late 50s and 1960s.

http://www.mapquest.com/mq/10-irxmiq4n0k7MSytuKd7Z

Note: The actual lakefront in the 1830s was somewhat further "inland" (south) than the current shoreline. The starting point for my Marpquest request for directions, near the corner of Pontchartrain Blvd. and Robert E Lee, may have been offshore in 1830. The downtown end of the canal was a turning basin abutting the curved section of Basin St, but the actual route of the old canal from the current I-10/US-90 right-of-way across the Central Business District to the Treme/Storyville area just north of the French Quarter is no longer clearly visible ~ probably along Loyola Ave., more or less...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,Betsy
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 08:22 PM

It seems like a slow and lovely version of the Blarney roses tune
Dunno which came first but a lovely story and song


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 07:42 PM

Several commentators have guessed that the "foreign money" in the song had to do with Confederate vs Union currency, which doesn't fit the time-line of the theory I believe, which has the narrator living in New Orleans more than 20 years earlier.

Back in the 1830s (and even later, through the Civil War), there was no standarized nationwide paper money ~ different local banks issued their own bills, hence the word "banknote." The proliferation of different-looking dollar bills may have looked confusing to a newcomer used to life under the more-tightly-organized British crown. Or maybe banknotes from one's hometown bank were not recognized once you traveled out of town, requiring the traveler to go to a local bank to exchange currency.

(Aside: The ten-dollar bills issued by Francophone institutions in New Orleans prominently dislayed the word "DIX" (french for "ten"); some believe that this is the origin of the terms "Dixie" and "Dixieland.")

I belong to the Irish Channel St Parick's Day Marching Club and participate in the oldest of the city's several Irish-themed parades each March. The organization was founded shortly after WWII, when veterans from the very tight community in the Irish Channel neighborhood began scattering into the suburbs to take advantage of the GI housing bill. (Those postwar loans were available only for NEW housing, presumably thanks to the construction lobby. The money could NOT be used to buy and/or renovate old buildings in old neighborhoods, which explains that postwar "white flight" to the suburbs was not entirely about racism.)

The parade was founded not only to honor Ireland and St Patrick, but also as a sort of reunion back in the old neighborhood, which over time became predominantly African-American and, later, Hispanic. The Saturday before March 17, our parade day, is sometimes jokingly called "White History Day in New Orleans."

Anyway ~ the real old-timers of the Irish Channel neighborhood were and are largely Irish, but also Italian and German. And their Irish forebearers all came to the states MANY generations ago, so there has been a lot of intermarriage with the other Catholic immigrant nationalities, and little or connection to any known relatives back in the Old Country. (Remember: the Irish quit coming to N.O. after that Basin Canal / Yellow Fever fiasco.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Susan A-R
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 10:18 PM

I had wondered. I've read the wonderful series of 1830s mysteries set in New Orleans by Barbara Hambly (well researched, starting with Free Man of Color) and all of the information you lay out is in there, as well as the fact that things were really still shaking down between the French and the Americans, so maybe the "foreign money" refrence fits that. Some of those guys did survive (There is a pretty remarkable St. Patrick's Day celebration to this day in New Orleans, but perhaps that's just the partying city celebrating whenever given a chance?)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 01:44 PM

Hi Alice in 2010!

I popped over here after seeing that your newer thread had been quickly closed. I'm sure you've noticed by now that there is a "T" in "Pontchartrain."

I am absolutely convinced that this song has to have had its origins in the 1830s, when the first wave of 19th-century famine in Ireland drove so many immigrants to the US ~ specifically, to New Orleans, where plenty of unskilled labor was available digging the New Basic Canal, which would run from Lake Pontchartrain several miles into the center of town.

Most of the laborers were immigrants, mostly Irish, and huge numbers died of Yellow Fever. The word got back to Ireland that New Orleans was a very dangerous desitination, and subsequent waves of immigration from Ireland very consciously avoided Louisiana.

Since Irish folk came to this area only during this relatively brief period, and since they worked so close to the lakeshore, AND since the song is about the only example within the Irish-traditional repertoire that includes any reference to the New Orleans area, I'm sure that there must be some connection.

Whoever wrote it probably either hurried back home to Ireland before he'd die of a tropical disease, or perhaps was an Irishman who stayed home and culled the setting and other refences from letters received from friends and family who had left him behind. There are several clearly mistaken geographical bits (for starters, there's only one Lake Pontchartrain, not plural "lakes"), which might support the idea of the author writing from across the ocean based on his understanding of correspondence from Louisiana. However, even a person right on the scene might not have had an accurate big-picture map in his mind. God only knows how confusing it must have been to be up to one's knees in a swamp, in the middle of an epidemic!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Tradsinger
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 05:03 AM

I always think of this song as a version of the English folksong "The Indian Lass", which is related to "The Little Mohi", well-known in the States. Can anyone trace the lineage?

Tradsinger


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