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Lyr Req: Forty Years Ago / New Country Song

Moe 20 Nov 98 - 12:44 AM
Jim Dixon 18 Jan 11 - 12:40 AM
Jim Dixon 18 Jan 11 - 01:02 AM
Jim Dixon 23 Jan 11 - 02:05 PM
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Subject: Nope... it's 40 years ago.
From: Moe
Date: 20 Nov 98 - 12:44 AM

Found one verse, need the tune and the rest of the story This wilderness was our abiding place Some forty years ago. For fish we used a hook and line, And shot the buck and doe, We pounded corn to make it fine, On johnny cake our ladies dined, In this new count-er-ee of ours, Some forty years ago. All I know about it is that it was sung to a Civil War vet When he was a little boy in michigan. Thanks , Moe


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 40 Years Ago
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 18 Jan 11 - 12:40 AM

From Captain Streeter, Pioneer by Everett Guy Ballard (Chicago: Emery Publishing Service, 1914), page 20:


CHAPTER II

CHILDHOOD AND PIONEER LIFE

My earliest recollections are of my grandmother Marion rocking and singing to me as I sat upon her lap. I was about two years of age, and my grandfather and grandmother Marion, then very aged, were living with our family. I recall very distinctly the lines of a straggling verse which my grandmother sang to me many times, and which ran like this, if my youthful memory is to be trusted:

"This wilderness was our abiding place
Some forty years ago;
For fish we used the hook and line,
And with the gun we shot the buck or doe;
On Johnny cake our ladies dined
Some forty years ago;
We pounded corn to make it fine
In this new countrie some forty years ago."

This is my very first recollection of song and poetry, and almost my first recollection of any thing. My grandmother did not live many months after this….

[The above book is a biography of George Wellington "Cap" Streeter (1837 - 1921), which would put the date around 1839. However, I don't believe a 2-year-old could have memorized that poem.—JD]


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE NEW COUNTRY SONG
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 18 Jan 11 - 01:02 AM

From History of Tuscola and Bay Counties, Mich. (Chicago: H. R. Page & Co., 1883), page 70:


THE NEW COUNTRY SONG.

The following poem, which portrays pioneer experience in the new country to the letter, was sung by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Pettingill, of Arbela, in 1880, at a pioneer picnic held in Millington, Tuscola County.

This country was a wilderness full forty years ago,
And if good meat we chose to eat, we caught the buck and doe.
Our fish we caught with hook and line,
We pounded corn to make it fine;
On Johnny cakes our ladies dine,
In the new country,

Our occupation was to make the lofty forest bow;
With axes good we chopped our wood for well we all knew how.
We tilled our soil for rye and wheat,
For strangers and ourselves to eat,
From the maple trees we made our sweet
In the new country.

Our paths then went through winding vales where oft the savage trod;
They were no roads, they were no guides, but all the ones we had.
Our huts were built of logs of wood,
Rolled up in squares and caulked with mud.
When the bark was tight, our roofs were good,
In the new country.

Our pastures were both long and wide, o'er every hill and dell;
We found our herds where'er we heard the tinkling of the bell.
Rattlesnakes were our children's dread,
And oft the trembling mother said:
"Some Indian will steal my babe,"
In the new country.

We had our music in the night, for loud the wolves did howl;
The next in order to the fright was the hooting of the owl.
The mosquitoes oft disturbed our joys;
The gnats they bit but made no noise.
The nettles made the lively boys,
In the new country.

Thorn plums, they were our apples, when the mandrakes were all gone;
The little grapes we used to eat when frosty nights came on;
For wintergreens our girls did stray,
For butternuts boys did climb the tree,
And evensroot was our ladies' tea,
In the new country.

The deerskins were for moccasins, to wear upon our feet,
With checkered shirts 'twas thought no harm our company to greet;
And if a visit our ladies pay,
On a winter's night or a winter's day,
The oxen draw the ladies' sleigh,
In the new country.

We lived in social harmony, and drank the purling stream;
The lawyer, priest or doctor were seldom ever seen;
Our health it needed no repair,
From doctor's pills or parson's prayer;
How could we keep a lawyer where
All, all was harmony?

My friends, we've lived this many a year through our country's growth and pride;
My friends, we've lived this many a year, while thousands near have died;
But now we're growing old and gray,
We've passed the flowery month of May,
And in our graves we soon must lay
In the old country.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THIS WILDERNESS WAS OUR ABODE...
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 02:05 PM

Another version, from the minutes of the annual meeting, in Historical Collections, Volume 35 (Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, 1907), page 27:

Mrs. Ernsberger recited the following poem, which her mother for many years sang at the Oakland county pioneer meetings:

This wilderness was our abode
Some fifty years ago;
And when good meat we wished to eat
We shot the buck or doe.
For fish we used our hook and line,
We pounded corn to make it fine,
On Johnny-cake our ladies dined
In this new country.

Our occupation was to make
This lofty forest bow,
And with axes good, we chopped our wood
For well we all knew how.
We cleared our land for rye and wheat,
For strangers and ourselves to eat,
From a maple tree we drew our sweet
In this new country.

Our paths were through the winding woods
Where oft the savage trod,
They were not wide, nor a safe guide,
But all the roads we had.
Our houses they were logs of wood,
Built up in squares and corked with mud,
If the bark was tight the roof was good
In this new country.

The Indians sometimes made us fear
That there were dangers nigh,
And the shaggy bear was ofttimes seen
When the pig was in his sty.
The rattle-snakes, our children's dread,
And ofttimes frightened, mother said,
"Some beast of prey may steal my babe,"
In this new country.

We lived in social harmony
And drank the sparkling stream.
No doctor there, no lawyer there
Was scarcely to be seen.
Our health it needed no repairs,
No pious man forgot his prayers,
For who would fee a lawyer there
In this new country?

Of deer skins we made moccasins
To wear upon our feet;
And the checked shirt was thought no hurt
Good company to keep.
And if we wished to take a ride
On winter's day or winter's night,
Our oxen drew our lady's sleigh
In this new country.

The little thorns our apples were,
When mandrakes they were gone,
And the sour grapes we used to take
When frosty days came on.
For wintergreens our girls did stray
For butternuts boys climbed the trees
And the sassafras was our ladies' tea
In this new country.


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