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Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..

DigiTrad:
JOE BOWERS
MASTER MCGRATH
SWEET BETSY FROM PIKE
THE POKEGAMA BEAR
VILLIKINS AND HIS DINAH


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Sweet Betsy from Pike (25)
Help: Origin of Villikins&Dinah tune (16)
(origins) Origins: Master McGrath (60)
Lyr Req: Villikins & his Dinah: songs using tune (68)
(origins) Origins: They Died as they Lived (1)
Lyr Add: Little Dame Crump (2)
Lyr Req: Dinah and Villikens (23)
Sweet Betsy From Pike - refrain??? (50)
Info on: Master McGrath (14)
This remind you of Villikins & Dinah? (13)
SFTD-Pokegama Bear-11/17 (16)


RoyH (Burl) 06 Aug 04 - 10:22 AM
masato sakurai 06 Aug 04 - 10:36 AM
GUEST,MMario 06 Aug 04 - 10:36 AM
RoyH (Burl) 06 Aug 04 - 01:22 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Aug 04 - 01:29 PM
Amos 06 Aug 04 - 01:36 PM
Rapparee 06 Aug 04 - 01:45 PM
GUEST,MMario 06 Aug 04 - 02:20 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Aug 04 - 07:46 PM
kendall 06 Aug 04 - 08:51 PM
GUEST,Clint Keller 06 Aug 04 - 09:45 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Aug 04 - 09:57 PM
Uncle_DaveO 06 Aug 04 - 10:31 PM
RoyH (Burl) 07 Aug 04 - 05:10 AM
kendall 07 Aug 04 - 06:08 AM
Joe_F 07 Aug 04 - 09:26 AM
Abby Sale 07 Aug 04 - 12:44 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Aug 04 - 01:58 PM
GUEST,Mike Halloran 01 Sep 12 - 04:09 PM
Charley Noble 01 Sep 12 - 07:21 PM
Joe Offer 01 Sep 12 - 08:01 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Sep 12 - 08:14 PM
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Subject: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 06 Aug 04 - 10:22 AM

My all-time favourite American song is 'Sweet Betsy From Pike', but I know nothing of it's origins. Neither do I know where 'Pike' is, nor what is special about 'Pike County pants' as worn by Long Ike when he and Betsy attended a dance. Help, help, help. Thanks, Burl.


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: masato sakurai
Date: 06 Aug 04 - 10:36 AM

She's from Pike County, Missouri. And see these threads.


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 06 Aug 04 - 10:36 AM

my first guess (totally off the cuff) would be Pike County, Pennsylvania.

Though a quick google shows there are Pike Counties in Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois and Ohio as well.

As far as "Pike County Pants" I think it's just referring to clothes he brought from 'home' - nothing special.


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 06 Aug 04 - 01:22 PM

Thanks guys, good answers. I suppose I could have gone straight to the DT but I wanted to see what 'Catters had to say. More questions.........What 'big mountains' did our intrepid pair cross?, and where were they going?.   Does anyone in America sing this song nowadays? I've been over there many times but have never heard it sung. I only know it from records and books. It would be a shame if a jaunty and amusing song like this should die of neglect?   Burl.


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Aug 04 - 01:29 PM

The Song first appeared in Put's Golden Songster for 1858 (prob. composed by John A. Stone, see threads), published in San Francisco. Most people assume the Missouri County was the one in the mind of the composer, including the Traditional Ballad Index.
Not all the Pike Counties mentioned by MMario were in existence in 1858, but I am not about to check the dates.


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: Amos
Date: 06 Aug 04 - 01:36 PM

They were crossing the Rockies and heading for California, I reckon. I can still this song, and some versions of it, without the knickers, are sung in grade schools, or used ot be....

A


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: Rapparee
Date: 06 Aug 04 - 01:45 PM

There's an entry in Botkin's "American Folklore" anthology that states that as early as 1850 people from Missouri were known as "Pikes" in the California diggings; the name came from Pike County, Missouri.


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 06 Aug 04 - 02:20 PM

Pike County, PA was established in 1814 - but the entry in "American Folklore" certainly points towards Missouri.


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Aug 04 - 07:46 PM

John A. Stone, pseudonym Put, the best known early California songwriter, wrote another song called "Emigrant From Pike," which appeared in his 1855 "Original California Songster," Appleton and Co., San Francisco.
Stone is buried in Greenwood, CA, but I can't find his birthplace or where he lived before moving to California. That might help identify the right Pike County (Missouri, probably).


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: kendall
Date: 06 Aug 04 - 08:51 PM

...They stopped at Salt Lake to inquire the way,
And Brigham declared that sweet Betsy should stay,
But Betsy was frightened and shae ran like a deer
While Brigham stood pawing the ground like steer.


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: GUEST,Clint Keller
Date: 06 Aug 04 - 09:45 PM

My family sang it when I was a kid. My grandparents lived in Pike County Illinois, which is just acros the river from Pike County Missouri. Pike County Mo is where Betsy & Ike came from, the way I heerd it.

The state nickname for Missourians was "Pukes," supposedly derive from "Pikes."

That's nickname as in "Hoosiers" and Sooners." This is all family folklore.

They got to Salt Lake, and Hangtown, so the big mountains must have been the Rockies. I always thought the Pike County pants were his dress-up pants from home, making a little fun of him, and rhyming with "dance..

clint


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Aug 04 - 09:57 PM

Most versions of Sweet Betsy have been posted in one or another of the threads given at the top of this thread. The Mormon versions were posted in thread 24592: Mormon Betsy
The version partly quoted by Kendall above (and also in thread 24592) was sung by Lee Clearfield, Utah, 1946 and by Ray Decker, Provo, Utah, 1959. See Cheney, Edit., "Mormon Songs from the Rocky Mountains," 1961 (1981), Univ. Utah Press.
The threads listed above give much detail about the song.


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 06 Aug 04 - 10:31 PM

And those Pike Counties are probably named for Zebulon Pike, the famous explorer of the American West. Pike's Peak is, of course, also his namesake.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 07 Aug 04 - 05:10 AM

Thank you my friends. This just gets better and better. Don't stop now. Burl.


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: kendall
Date: 07 Aug 04 - 06:08 AM

They camped on the prairie one bright starry night,
They broke out some whiskey and Betsy got "tight"
She laughed and she danced all over the plain
And showed her bare ass to the whole wagon train.


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: Joe_F
Date: 07 Aug 04 - 09:26 AM

I cannot raise Masato's link to Pike County, MO. However, that is definitely what the song refers to. It seems that Missouri, and Pike County in particular, contributed notably to the Gold Rush & subsequent migration to California. Immigrants from that county, and from Missouri generally, were derisively called "Pikes" or "Pikers" by other Californians. Webster's 3rd thinks that the general U.S. slang "piker" = tightwad, pissant comes from that, but the 10th Collegiate refuses to make the connection.


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: Abby Sale
Date: 07 Aug 04 - 12:44 PM

I sing the full version, pretty much straight from Old Put. Since most people in the clubs are well over 40, most did hear/learn some of it in school but the only real thought they have of it is that damned cute doggie wagging its tail.

I usually that while it's certainly a comic song, it's from the days when rubber crutches were considered funny. Nevertheless, it also certainly deals with many of the real tribulations the pioneers faced and/or were concerned about. In its way, the song is dead serious. Then I name some song elements..

You may (or may not) be interested in the random notes I've collected on it.

============================================================
Hangtown is along Hangtown Cheek, now part of Placerville, CA on US Route 50, northeast of Sacramento; one of the first places you'd hit in California. Hangtown prostitutes apparently had such a great reputation as the best whores in California that many girls in other areas falsely claimed to be from Hangtown. Nothing new about false advertising.

This well-known comic song mentions pre-marital sex, starvation, cholera, slaughter, privation, drunkenness, public disorderliness, public (partial) nudity, racial slurs, scalping, mortal fear, manslaughter, debility, toxemic seizure, bickering, morbid frustration, despair and discouragement, terror, pain, religious slurs, bigamy, kidnap, vehicular breakdown and crash, possible infanticide, animal abuse & death, alcohol poisoning, jealousy, unfaithfulness, divorce.

First printed in Put's Golden Songster, 1858

"A favorite California immigrant song of the fifties. Carl Sandburg writes: 'It has the stuff of a realistic novel. It is droll and don't -care, bleary and leering, as slippery and lackadaisical as some of the comic characters of Shakespeare.'"
From John Lomax Cowboy Songs and other Frontier Ballads, 1910 ('Brigham' verse from recording by Frank Warner. filename[ SWEETBET)

As to the tune:
Herbert Cazden Haufrecht and Norman Studer Folk Songs of the Catskills, pp 156-158, give a specific date of 1851 for the publication of the sheet music (in England) of "Vilikins" in a musical farce entitled The Wandering Minstrel. George Lyman Kittredge (not a man to be argued with) attributed to the pen of Henry Mayhew (he of the very important London Labor and London Poor).

Cazden notes that the first publication in the United States of the text of "Vilikins and His Dinah" was in the "Bobbin Around Songster" of 1851. Seven years later, he continues, the tune was sufficiently familiar in California for John A. Stone to use it for the air of his "Sweet Betsy from Pike," as printed in "Put's Golden Songster."

A side-note from From Lomax, Folk Songs of North America:

May 3, 1849. Fifteen miles to Bull Creek. The guide pointed out the continuous rise and fall of the track across what are rightly called the billows, or little ridges of the prairie. 'No, it's not high mountains ner great rivers ner hostile Injuns,' says Meek, 'that'll give us most grief. It's the long grind o' doin' every day's work regler an' not let-up fer nobody ner nothin'. Figger it fur yourself; 2,100 miles-four months to do it in between April rains and September snows- 123 days. How much a day and every cussed day?' I saw the point. Seventeen miles a day.

'Yaas,' drawled the scout. 'And every day rain, hail, cholera, breakdowns, lame 'mules, sick cows, washouts, prairie fires, flooded coulees, lost horses, dust storms, alkali water. Seventeen miles every day--or you land in the snow and eat each other like the Donner party done in '46.'

May 13, 1849. Long pull. Here we are beginning to meet people who are turning back, discouraged. They had seen enough of the 'Elephant'. Graves are more frequent these last days. We saw whitening on the plains, bones of animals which had died on the way.

Quote: From '49ers by Archer Butler Hulbert (Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1931), pp. 16,41.


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Aug 04 - 01:58 PM

Other songs besides Betsy by John A. Stone ('Put') include "Coming Round the Horn," "Emigrant from Pike," and "The Fools of '49 (in the DT as Fools of Forty Nine), and "Hangtown Gals," posted by Masato. Several were included in Lingenfelter and Dwyer, "Songs of the American West."
All add to the story of the gold rush.
"Emigrant from Pike" : Thread 72218: Emigrant
"Hangtown Gals" thread 46751: Hangtown
I will post "Coming Round the Horn," which Stone published in 1855 and which received music by Crosby in 1858 (Turner et al.), sometime today.

Unfortunately, the Songsters have not been reprinted this century and are costly. By 1868, 25,000 copies of "Put's Golden Songster" had been printed by Appleton and Co. but their flimsy, pamphlet form led to their rapid destruction. A reprint service offers copies of the 64 page booklet for $36, a good original is $350 or more.
Stone, who came to California in 1850, never made any money from gold, but his song writing abilities made up for his lack of mining luck.


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Subject: ADD: Joe Bowers
From: GUEST,Mike Halloran
Date: 01 Sep 12 - 04:09 PM

"By 1868, 25,000 copies of "Put's Golden Songster" had been printed by Appleton and Co."

This information, like there being four editions, is highly suspect. Has anyone seen a copy of either Songster that wasn't Fourth Edition?

I have been to Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery where a marker of recent vintage marks John A Stone's grave. I have an old book by a resident who claims that Stone claimed to be the author of "Joe Bowers" and went by that name late in life. I have no idea if it is true that Stone wrote Joe Bowers, but the lyrics certainly suggest this:

JOE BOWERS

My name it is Joe Bowers;
I have a brother Ike.
I came from old Missoura,
All the way from Pike.

I used to know a girl there;
Her name was Sally Black.
I asked her if she`d marry me;
She said it was a whack.

She said to me, `Joe Bowers.
Before we hitch for life,
You`d better get a little home
To take your little wife.` `

`Oh Sally, dearest Sally,
Oh Sally, for your sake.
I`ll go to California
And try and raise a stake.`

When I got in that country
I didn`t have a red;
I had such wolfish feelings
I wished myself most dead.

But the thughts of my dear Sally
Soon made those feelings git,
And whispered hope to Bowers,
I wish I had them yet.

At last a letter,
Enough to make me swear,
That Sally married a butcher,
And the butcher had red hair.

Before I got through reading,
At length the letter said:
Sally had a baby,
And the baby`s head was red.


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Sep 12 - 07:21 PM

The reference to a "Shanghai rooster" also helps date this song; they were imported from China but only became popular in the 1850s.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Sep 12 - 08:01 PM

Q and I transcribed both of the "Old Put" songsters. You'll find them here (click).


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Subject: RE: Where is Pike (as in 'Sweet Betsy from..
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Sep 12 - 08:14 PM

Joe Bowers, posted in thread 46751:
Gold Miners' Songs 2

More complete than the verses lacking citation posted here.

Generally believed to have been written by J. E. Johnson, published in "Johnson's Original Comic Songs," San Francisco, 1858.


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