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Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)

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Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (4)
Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (3)


Patty Watkins 21 Oct 98 - 03:31 PM
Joe Offer 21 Oct 98 - 03:56 PM
Joe Offer 21 Oct 98 - 04:32 PM
Ralph Butts 21 Oct 98 - 04:52 PM
GUEST,lhuber3@hotmail.com 09 Feb 02 - 03:22 PM
Mary in Kentucky 09 Feb 02 - 05:14 PM
Jim Dixon 01 Mar 08 - 05:36 PM
SINSULL 01 Mar 08 - 05:50 PM
Gene 01 Mar 08 - 11:13 PM
GUEST 22 Jun 10 - 11:23 PM
open mike 23 Jun 10 - 06:45 AM
GUEST,CONFIDENTIAL 24 Oct 11 - 07:35 AM
SINSULL 24 Oct 11 - 11:03 AM
Genie 24 Oct 11 - 05:48 PM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Oct 11 - 10:03 AM
Genie 25 Oct 11 - 10:53 AM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Oct 11 - 12:08 PM
Genie 25 Oct 11 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,leeneia 26 Oct 11 - 11:22 AM
Jim Dixon 28 Oct 11 - 01:55 PM
Jim Dixon 28 Oct 11 - 02:07 PM
GUEST,informed2012 11 Oct 12 - 08:13 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 13 Oct 12 - 06:38 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 13 Oct 12 - 06:39 PM
GUEST,mg 16 Nov 12 - 06:05 PM
GUEST,leeneia 17 Nov 12 - 09:17 AM
GUEST,rltide 24 Jun 13 - 06:55 PM
doc.tom 25 Jun 13 - 09:40 AM
GUEST,Linda 10 Oct 14 - 12:38 PM
GUEST 21 Nov 14 - 10:23 PM
GUEST,Suzanna 16 Oct 16 - 01:24 AM
GUEST,Janie Carrithers 12 Mar 17 - 11:52 AM
GUEST,Janie Carrithers 12 Mar 17 - 11:54 AM
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Subject: Kentucky Babe
From: Patty Watkins
Date: 21 Oct 98 - 03:31 PM

I am trying desperately to find the complete words to a song my dad sant to me as a child. It begins (as well as I can remember almost 60 years ago!) "Bees am a humming round, that litle girl of mine, Sleep, Kentucky Babe; Sandman am a coming to that little girl of mine, Sleep Kentucky Babe; Babe of old Kentucky, you are mighty lucky, fly, away to dream, dream, Fly away, Fly away to dream." Many of these phrases may be wrong. There were several versus. I have a two week old grandchild I have been trying to sing it to! Thanks


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Subject: Lyr Add: SLEEP, KENTUCKY BABE
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Oct 98 - 03:56 PM

Here's what I found at a site called the "Bubba Archive"
SLEEP, KENTUCKY BABE
Skeeters am a-hummin' on the honeysuckle vine,
Sleep, Kentucky babe.
Sandman am a-comin' to this little babe of mine,
Sleep, Kentucky babe.
Silv'ry moon am shinin' from the heavens up above.
Bob-o-link am pinin' for it's little lady love.
You is mighty lucky, babe from old Kentucky,
Close your eyes and sleep.

Fly away (fly away).
Fly away, Kentucky babe, fly away to rest.
Fly away (fly away).
Lay your sleepy little head on your Daddy's breast.
Close your eyes and sleep.
Close your eyes and sleep.
These are the "bubba" lyrics. You'll find the complete 1896 version of the song at the Levy Sheet Music Collection. Do a bibliographic search for Kentucky Babe and you'll find it.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: Lyr Add: KENTUCKY BABE
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Oct 98 - 04:32 PM

Kentucky Babe
Lyrics by Richard Henry Buck (revised)
Music by Adam Giebel, 1896


Skeeters are a humming on the honeysuckle vine,
Sleep, Kentucky Babe.
Sandman is a-coming to this little babe of mine,
Sleep, Kentucky Babe.
Silv'ry moon is shining in the heavens up above,
Bobolink is pining for his little lady love,
You are mighty lucky, Babe of old Kentucky,
Close your eyes in sleep, fly away.
Fly away, Kentucky Babe, fly away to rest, fly away.
Lay your sleepy little head on your mommy's breast, fly away.
Um..Um.. close your eyes in sleep.

Daddy's in the canebrake with his little dog and gun,
Sleep, Kentucky Babe.
Possum for your breakfast when your sleeping time is done,
Sleep, Kentucky Babe.
Bogie man'll catch you sure unless you close your eyes,
Waiting just outside the door to take you by surprise,
Best be keeping shady, lovely little lady,
Close your eyes in sleep.

This version is from the Warner Brothers Most Fantastic Fakebook in the World. It gets rid of objectionable language without getting too mired in political correctness. The original (see Levy link above) is far too racist for our times.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Kentucky Babe
From: Ralph Butts
Date: 21 Oct 98 - 04:52 PM

I have a wonderful old Brunswick 78 of this one. Naturally, it's not the PC version.

...Tiger


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Subject: RE: Kentucky Babe
From: GUEST,lhuber3@hotmail.com
Date: 09 Feb 02 - 03:22 PM

Need notes for this song. Can't remember all of the tune. thanks


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Subject: RE: Kentucky Babe
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 09 Feb 02 - 05:14 PM

You rang?.........

Hear it here.

See the sheet music at the Levy site that Joe linked to above.

Are you sure you don't want Kentucky Woman? ;-)


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Subject: Lyr Add: KENTUCKY BABE (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 01 Mar 08 - 05:36 PM

Here is the original, warts and all. Of course I wouldn't advocate singing it this way today, but I think it's important to document where it came from.

KENTUCKY BABE
Words, Richard Henry Buck. Music, Adam Geibel.
Boston: White-Smith Music Publishing Co., 1897.

1. Skeeters am a-hummin' in de honeysuckle vine.
Sleep, Kentucky babe!
Sandman am a-comin' to dis little coon of mine.
Sleep, Kentucky babe!
Silv'ry moon am shinin' in de heabens up above.
Bobolink am pinin' fo' his little lady love.
You is mighty lucky,
Babe of old Kentucky.
Close yo' eyes in sleep.

CHORUS: Fly away. (Fly away.) Fly away, Kentucky babe. Fly away to rest.
Fly away. (Fly away.) Lay yo' kinky, woolly head on yo' mammy's breast.
Um -- Um -- Close yo' eyes in sleep.

2. Daddy's in de canebrake wid his little dog and gun.
Sleep, Kentucky babe!
Possum fo' yo' breakfast when yo' sleepin' time is done.
Sleep, Kentucky babe!
Bogie man'll ketch yo' sure unless yo' close yo' eyes,
Waitin' jes' outside de doo' to take yo' by surprise.
Bes' be keepin' shady,
Little colored lady.
Close yo' eyes in sleep.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe
From: SINSULL
Date: 01 Mar 08 - 05:50 PM

I sing this one in my home in the politically incorrect version. I also sing "Mammie's Little Coal Black Rose". I grew up on these songs and love them.. Pickaninny, coon, kinky hair - the songs were written as lullabies not insults and as lullabies, I sing them.

Keep in mind, my grandparent's faced the "No Irish Need Apply" signs. My son is Hispanic and I can tell horror tales of discrimination which disappeared when his middle-class white mother showed up. I am not insensitive to others' concerns.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe
From: Gene
Date: 01 Mar 08 - 11:13 PM

Gene Autry sang it....many moons ago


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jun 10 - 11:23 PM

I always heard:
Skeeters am a humming on the honeysuckle vine,
sleep Kentucky babe

A Bob-A-Link a pine-n to his little lady love
You is mighty lucky, babe of all Kentucky
Close your eyes and sleep

bob-a-linka-bob-a-linka


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: open mike
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 06:45 AM

my mamma used to sing me this one, too.

i hope lots of littel kids get lullabies sung to them these days
but i fear it is becoming a lost art..


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: GUEST,CONFIDENTIAL
Date: 24 Oct 11 - 07:35 AM

RE - SONG KENTUCKY BABE
I am now 65 Years Old - and I went to an all girls Catholic High School. When i was a Freshman We were taught this song in Music Class. I Do Not Consider it to be a Song of Discrmination - It is a Classic Old Plantation Song - And Has Historical Value.
It is A Part Of Our GREAT AMERICANN HISTORY.
I LOVE THIS SONG - THE WORDS AND MELODY ARE BOTH BEAUTIFUL


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: SINSULL
Date: 24 Oct 11 - 11:03 AM

So why post anonymously?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: Genie
Date: 24 Oct 11 - 05:48 PM

In come contexts, I think it's fine to sing lyrics that are now 'politically incorrect', as the history that they are. But there are obviously other settings where many in your audience would either be very offended or perhaps take your singing of the song as an endorsement of the viewpoint expressed in the song itself.

FWIW, "colored" was for many decades the "politically correct" term.   (And I still puzzle at why "colored people" is somehow much more offensive than "people of color," but I really don't expect people's feelings to be dictated by logic.)

I think one of the biggest problems with songs that are "written in dialect" is that the printed word does not correspond very closely to actual sounds. It's like trying to master the sound of a Russian song by seeing the lyrics transliterated into some sort of 'phonetic English'.   If I see 'phonetic' words like "heab'm," "yo'," "de cornfiel'," etc., that does not really tell me how a slave on an early 19th C. plantation would have pronounced those words (even when trying to speak in a manner that would have not gotten him or her whipped for being "uppity").    And I'm guessing that many times the white entertainers in minstrel shows probably exaggerated the dialect, overdoing the sounds they imagined were represented by the way the "dialect" was written down.

I think you could probably sing the song very close to the way it was originally written, without overcompensating to remove all traces of dialect, and it probably wouldn't be offensive to very many. (I'd probably take out "coon," though.)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Oct 11 - 10:03 AM

History? I have a question.

Has anybody ever heard anybody use 'am' in the way this song uses it? as in 'Skeeters am a-humming.'

I could believe 'skeeters be hummin'

or simply 'skeeters hummin'

or 'skeeters, they hummin'

But 'skeeters am a-hummin'? I don't think so.

Let's not forget that much of the appeal of this song lies in its wonderful, gently rocking melody.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: Genie
Date: 25 Oct 11 - 10:53 AM

"Skeeters am a-humming" may be fairly authentic dialect of that time and place and I don't hear it as any more offensive than commonly used folk, country, blues idioms such as "I ain't got no" or "he ain't never done nothin'."   

But I agree that it's the sound of the melody and the overall feel of the song that's most important. I don't think that minor changes to the lyrics hurt the song, as long as they sound natural and keep the spirit of the song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Oct 11 - 12:08 PM

I'm not worried about whether it's offensive. I'm just curious as to whether it's authentic. These lyrics could have been written by someone who hardly ever saw, much less had a conversation with, a black person.

I agree with you about the minor changes and the spirit of the song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: Genie
Date: 25 Oct 11 - 12:50 PM

I'm just saying I think constructions like "skeeters am a-humming" probably are pretty authentic for the dialect in question (although I don't doubt that a lot of slave dialect was kind of forced onto them by the 'massas', in keeping with their not being allowed to learn to read and write).   I think other aspects of the way these "dialect" songs were written, such as
"in de canebrake wid his little dog and gun" or "fo' yo' breakfast when yo' sleepin' time" or
"Bogie man'll ketch yo' sure unless yo' close yo' eyes" does seem to exaggerate the way some of these words were probably pronounced.

Looking at these lyrics, I notice that SOME words are spelled in a sort of exaggerated slang/dialect way while the spelling of others suggests quite "standard" English:

KENTUCKY BABE
Words, Richard Henry Buck. Music, Adam Geibel.
Boston: White-Smith Music Publishing Co., 1897.

1. Skeeters am a-hummin' in de honeysuckle vine.
Sleep, Kentucky babe!
Sandman am a-comin' to dis little coon of mine.
Sleep, Kentucky babe!
Silv'ry moon am shinin' in de heabens up above.
Bobolink am pinin' fo' his little lady love.
You is mighty lucky,
Babe of old Kentucky.
Close yo' eyes in sleep.

CHORUS: Fly away. (Fly away.) Fly away, Kentucky babe. Fly away to rest.
Fly away. (Fly away.) Lay yo' kinky, woolly head on yo' mammy's breast.
Um -- Um -- Close yo' eyes in sleep.

"Daddy's in de canebrake wid his little dog and gun.
Sleep, Kentucky babe!"
Why not "dawg an' gun" or "Kainrtucky?" too.

"Possum fo' yo' breakfast when yo' sleepin' time is done.
...
Bogie man'll ketch yo' sure unless yo' close yo' eyes,"

Why not "ketch ya when yo' sleepin' tahm be done" or "ketch ya sho' 'nless ya close yo' ahs?"

"Waitin' jes' outside de doo' to take yo' by surprise."

I think "Waitin' jes' outsahd de do' ta take ya bah supprahs" might be a better 'phonetic' representation of what the dialect/accent actually sounded like.

And would someone who said things like "Bes' be keepin shady" and "Close yo' eyes" be likely to say "little" instead of "li'l?"

This is what I mean when I say that accents are represented in lyrics by using ordinary letters to indicate phonetic sounds it's often unclear and inconsistent.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 26 Oct 11 - 11:22 AM

I agree. If we actually spelt out the subtle changes in vowels as we listen to English all around the world, it would take forever to type it and nobody would want to read it.

The song has its weaknesses. I mean, when you're a mother singing your baby to sleep, do you care which state of the union you're in? No, you don't. The whole 'Kentucky babe' theme was stuck in the song because for a while there was a fad for songs about black people and the South.

Not that Kentucky is that far south, but to people in Boston (where the song was published) it probably seemed that way.

Daddy in the canebrake? In Kentucky? I don't think so. If you want cane, go to Louisiana.

The song lives on because it has its joys - the image of skeeters in the honeysuckle and a bobolink singing. (Are there bobolinks in Kentucky?) And as I mentioned, a lovely melody.

PS I'm a bird-watcher, and I've never even seen a bobolink. I think they're a New England bird.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 01:55 PM

A species of cane native to Kentucky:

Arundinaria gigantea, Giant Cane
Kentucky distribution map - Photographs (not necessarily taken in Kentucky)

There may be others.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 02:07 PM

Bobolink, Dolichonyx oryzivorus
Article at Cornell Lab of Ornithology includes a distribution map. The map shows that their breeding area includes the northern parts of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, and they pass through Kentucky while migrating.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: GUEST,informed2012
Date: 11 Oct 12 - 08:13 AM

Grow, learn sympathy towards others...this is a racist piece of trash. Bury it and let's all move on!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 13 Oct 12 - 06:38 PM

Not another one of THOSE posts. Yes, it's racist. BUT it's also a product of the 1890s and its also important to document where it came from.

Ms. Morwen Edhelwen.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 13 Oct 12 - 06:39 PM

Sorry: "it's".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 16 Nov 12 - 06:05 PM

We used to sing am in some Stephen Foster songs..definitely Old Black Joe..for my head am bending low.

I think there was some place in Swanee River as well..

I think it is a true dialect use.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 17 Nov 12 - 09:17 AM

It's not a rascist piece of trash. It doesn't sneer or jeer or spread hate.

It's also got a great tune. Great tunes should be preserved.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: GUEST,rltide
Date: 24 Jun 13 - 06:55 PM

Hard to believe anyone would want to change or destroy these original lyrics. One doesn't have to sing them or even listen to them, but the original lyrics should be preserved. I grew up in the south and conversed with the children of slaves. The dialect in this song "reflects" that dialect. It doesn't literally, and phonetically match it. I have often heard people say they would have liked to have heard Lincoln speak. Surely there is value in knowing how African Americans spoke during the same period of history. The song itself casts a wonderful spell. It is magical!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: doc.tom
Date: 25 Jun 13 - 09:40 AM

In a complete cultural translocation, Kentucky Babe was one of the favourite songs in the repertoire of The Skeeters (!) harmony group whose singing I grew up with in Wadebridge, Cornwall, in the 1960s. They were 'old boys' then, and occasionally sang late on a Sunday lunchtime in The Swan where Sam Treglowan, former Cornish wrestling champion, was landlord. There were several other 'minstrel' songs (Campdown Races, Blue-tail Fly, Little 'Lize, etc.) in the repertoires amidst songs we'd now refer to as English (Cornish) trad.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: GUEST,Linda
Date: 10 Oct 14 - 12:38 PM

Sang this one in grade school for choir performances in the late 50s. We sang it in parts with dialect and original words. All white grade school choir, first grade through eighth.   Even now I recall every word and part of this beautiful, haunting song. We knew it was a black perspective, and the original words gave you some sense of it, like a poem would. I think it's a shame that words like "kinky, woolly head" are replaced. I have to ask why? I wish that such tender descriptions of a black infant's head at imother's breast would be considered soft and quietly beautiful rather than inappropriate. That's how we considered it at the time we sang it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Nov 14 - 10:23 PM

My grandmother sang this to me all the time, I'm really glad I found the lyrics so I can sing it to my children some day.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: GUEST,Suzanna
Date: 16 Oct 16 - 01:24 AM

My mother also sang me to sleep countless times to this, my favorite bedtime song. My father grew up, not on a plantation, but as a sharecropper's son in southeast Alabama. On the land they worked, my grandfather hired and housed a family of African American descent, who my father delighted in the company of from as young as a 2yr old child. He read Uncle Remus Stories to me, and never had to practice or repeat a word in correction because this language and dialect were as much a part of him as his genetic makeup. That being said, in the stories from a book, in the stories from his life experiences, and in this song, the word "am" was used in this way as naturally as you or I might say "are" in its stead. It may be difficult to see how these words developed in use or what we now consider to be misuse, but the time, people, level of education allowed, etc., seem to have carved this niche into this cultural Southern language and style of speech and inflection. I simply adore it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: GUEST,Janie Carrithers
Date: 12 Mar 17 - 11:52 AM

In the wonderful Gullah dialect used by the descendents   of this beautiful language there was no conjugation of "to be" - no present, past or perfect-time was indicated by inflection for instance-I be goin to to town yesterday-I be goin to town today and I be going to town tomorrow?   ... birds am a hummin - that means the present , past and perfect tense(time). Many languages do not have declension of verbs as the English language -study linguistics-it is not an illiterate response -it is someone bi-lingual and it takes a very intelligent person to be able to Interpret !


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kentucky Babe (Buck, Geibel, 1897)
From: GUEST,Janie Carrithers
Date: 12 Mar 17 - 11:54 AM

Daniel Boone's daughter nearly died in the canebrakes


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