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Lyr Req: The Robert Bruce? - Washington State/SCA?

GUEST,technodivinitas 20 May 06 - 05:49 AM
Azizi 20 May 06 - 11:46 AM
Acme 20 May 06 - 11:51 AM
Joe Offer 20 May 06 - 01:49 PM
Peace 20 May 06 - 03:18 PM
Deckman 20 May 06 - 03:24 PM
Peace 20 May 06 - 03:26 PM
Peace 20 May 06 - 03:34 PM
Lin in Kansas 21 May 06 - 04:46 AM
Acme 21 May 06 - 12:57 PM
Deckman 22 May 06 - 09:53 AM
GUEST,technodivinitas 22 May 06 - 06:50 PM
GUEST,Senjata Witt 16 Mar 10 - 04:09 PM
GUEST,mg 16 Mar 10 - 04:17 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: The Robert Bruce?
From: GUEST,technodivinitas
Date: 20 May 06 - 05:49 AM

I came through ages ago looking for the lyrics (and info on the author of,) a song called "Song of the River Guard", which I did actually find- but now I'm looking for another, by the same man, though I still don't know his real name.

In the SCA, he was known as Tamarin, (of An Tir,) and the song is a ballad about the ship, "The Robert Bruce", and the founding of Wilipa Bay, then called "Bruceport".

I have about the first two verses, and the chorus:

   In the goldrush days 8 businessmen saw fortune to be made,
not digging gold out of the rocks, but plying the oyster trade.
They bought a ship, the Robert Bruce in the fall of '51-
An eighty foot, three-masted rig of a hundred and thirty tons.

Weigh, hey, haul 'em up, up from down below
we will go and haul the oysters up as they did so long ago. (X2)

They didn't care to scrub the decks, or clean, or cook the stew,
Or do the other menial tasks, so they hired themselves a crew.

Now, the "crew" his name was Jefferson and you have to understand
that on this over-captained ship, he was the only hand.
He worked and slaved through many a task that caused his heart      to stew,
but the 'Bruce was bound for trouble with eight captains and one crew...

It's a terrific song, and he was a terrific performer.
I'll watchin for posts, but assistance can also be sent to

Thanks in advance!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Robert Bruce?
From: Azizi
Date: 20 May 06 - 11:46 AM

If this thread were in the BS section, think about how ripe it would be for comments about certain folks who frequent these portals.

But it's not, so I'll refrain.

And I won't even post a chorus.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Robert Bruce?
From: Acme
Date: 20 May 06 - 11:51 AM

So this is a modern composer and performer singing his own songs? And the period in which this one you're seeking--'51 would be 1851? And this is Wilipa Bay in Washington State?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Robert Bruce?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 May 06 - 01:49 PM

I supposed it's a different Robert Bruce, but this page has an interesting talk of a steamship of that name that regularly visited the Isle of Man:

    Robert Bruce, which began as a regular trader between Liverpool, Isle of Man, Downpatrick, and Greenock. The hour of departure from Liverpool depended on the tide, and the passage from that port to Douglas was " the short space of ten hours," At the end of October the Robert Bruce discontinued running till the next season when she resumed her visits. In August 1820, she met with a deplorable accident. "Whilst at Liverpool she was run foul of by the smack Glasgow, and had her mainmast carried away. The mast in falling came down on three members of the band — at that time a passenger steamer was not considered complete if she did not carry a band.

This page isn't quite clear to me, but apparently a ship named The Robert Bruce sailed out of Quebec in November, 1845, hit a hurricane, and lost its masts.

So, those two are on the wrong ocean, since Bruceport and Willapa Bay are on the coast in the southwest corner of the State of Washington. Sounds like an interesting song. I hope we find it. We have lots of people here from Washington State, so I'd say we have a good chance. I think I'll add "Wash State" to the thread title.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Robert Bruce? - Washington State/SCA?
From: Peace
Date: 20 May 06 - 03:18 PM

The schooner Robert Bruce burns in Willapa Bay, leading to the settlement of Bruceville (later Bruceport), on December 11, 1851.

On December 11, 1851, the schooner Robert Bruce is deliberately set on fire by the ship's cook and burns to the water line. The schooner is in Willapa Bay in what is now Pacific County in southwest Washington, where it is loading a cargo of oysters from the bay for shipment to San Francisco. The oystermen aboard are all rescued, and having lost their ship and belongings they build cabins on the beach and settle at the spot. The "Bruce boys," as they come to be called, continue in the oyster trade and soon earn enough money to buy new ships. The new settlement is named after the burned ship - it is first called Bruceville and shortly thereafter changed to Bruceport.

Willapa Bay was known in the early days of Washington Territory as Shoalwater Bay, an appropriate name for the broad, shallow bay that contained wide stretches of shoals, or mud flats, which were rich in shellfish of all kinds. Chinook and Chehalis villages ringed the bay, and the inhabitants gathered the abundant oysters, which they dried for storage and trade.

An Oyster Craze

White settlers at the mouth of the Columbia River, whose north bank was a short portage from the south end of Shoalwater Bay, were attracted by the abundance of oysters. America was in the midst of an oyster craze, which had begun in the early 1800s, and there was a huge demand for the shellfish. In the summer of 1851 Charles J. W. Russell, a settler from Virginia, introduced the first oysters to the booming San Francisco market. Russell followed Chinook portage trails from the Columbia to Shoalwater Bay, hired Indians to harvest a load of oysters and carry them back to the Columbia, then shipped the fresh oysters by steamboat to San Francisco.

In the fall of 1851, schooners began sailing directly into Shoalwater Bay to obtain oysters from the Chinook and Chehalis inhabitants. A Captain Fieldsted collected the first load, but it spoiled before reaching San Francisco. The second attempt, by Anthony Ludlam in the schooner Sea Serpent, was a success.

The third schooner to enter the Bay in search of oysters was the Robert Bruce. It carried, among others, Mark Winant, Alexander Hanson, John Morgan, and Richard J. Milward, who had organized a company to go into the oyster trade. The schooner anchored off the east shore of the Bay near its northern end, not far from the mouth of the Willapa River, and began loading oysters. For some reason the ship's cook harbored a grudge against the oystermen or the schooner's captain. On December 11, 1851, after reportedly putting laudanum in the food to make the crew and oystermen unconscious, the cook set the schooner on fire and departed in the only rowboat, never to be seen again.

The Bruce Boys

Fortunately for the unconscious men on the burning ship, the fire was spotted by Bill McCarty, a settler who lived on the portage route south of the Bay, who happened to be cutting timber at the Bay's north end. McCarty and the Indians he was with were able to reach the schooner in the shallow harbor and carry the men to safety. However, the Robert Bruce burned to the water line and Winant, Hanson, Morgan, and Milward lost almost all their possessions. Undeterred, the "Bruce boys," as they were called, built cabins on the beach near an Indian village where Russell had built a house and trading post. They began hiring Indians to collect oysters to sell to arriving ships, and soon made enough money to buy ships of their own.

The settlement established by the Bruce boys grew slowly. There were 14 inhabitants in the fall of 1852, when James G. Swan (1818-1900), who went on to play a varied and colorful role in the early history of Washington, first arrived in the region at the invitation of his friend Charles Russell. Swan spent three years on Shoalwater Bay, and in 1857 described his experiences there in The Northwest Coast, Or, Three Years' Residence in Washington Territory, one of the earliest books about life in Washington.

In his 1857 book, Swan wrote that by 1854, "We had now grown into the dignity of a village, and, at a meeting of the settlers, it was voted to name the town Bruceville (which has since been changed to Bruceport)" (Swan, 319). The community had its own court, where Swan occasionally appeared as a lawyer, and for a time served as county seat. The area is still called Bruceport today, and Bruceport County Park is located near where the oystermen settled when their ship was burned.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Robert Bruce? - Washington State/SCA?
From: Deckman
Date: 20 May 06 - 03:24 PM

Bruce" has it mostly correct. I'll post some more about this thread in a few hours. CHEERS, Bob (deckman)Nelson

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Robert Bruce? - Washington State/SCA?
From: Peace
Date: 20 May 06 - 03:26 PM

Pic of Willapa Bay

and a great article here. (Couldn't get link to work, so you'll have to Google it):

Sou'wester 2005 Fall

Scroll down a bit.

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Subject: Lyr Add: DISCOVERY OF SHOALWATER BAY (Langenbach)
From: Peace
Date: 20 May 06 - 03:34 PM

What a bunch of treasures. This song is only marginally related to the thread but before I lose it I thought it good to post. It is from (you'll have to Google)

Sou'wester 1989 Centennial

and there are some wonderful reads on that site.

By Judge John J. Langenbach, Retired

'Twas Seventeen hundred eighty-eight:
King George the Third on England's throne
Begrudged the colonies a state
Of independence as their own.
An Englishman, Lieutenant Meares
Displayed a flag, the Portuguese,
From Masthead of the craft he steers
Across the seas, the Ship "Felice".
The fur-trade from uncharted shore
For wealthy martson China's sea...
Such was the mission which he bore
In searching shores of mystery.
Within man's heart there is a spark,
Within his mind, a goal, a quest;
To pierce the blanket of the dark,
To glimpse the Unknown's gleaming crest.
Mere trade did not appease his thirst;
Adventure urged him to explore
And verify or be the first
To navigate a new-found shore.
He vindicated Fuca's Strait;
To Isle Tatoosh gave that Chief's name
And coasting south on winds of fate
Came to the harbor of our claim.
At noon upon July the fifth
To eastward came in view a Bay
Within the shore appeared a rift,
Beyond expansive waters lay,
Low Point was south; the Cape to north
Was named Shoal-water, like the Bay;
From distant wooded hills carne forth
A river thru the low-lands gray.
From desolate and rugged shore
Which seemed from habitation bare
Appeared a log canoe which bore
A man and boy beside them there.
Two fine sea-otter skins to trade
The boy uplifted. Soon by a sign
A bargain thru some gifts was made
To show a friendliness benign.
It seems to be prophetic that our coast
Was first espied from Ship "Felice"
For "Happiness" has been our boast
And shores abound in lasting peace.
Though he now sails uncharted spheres,
The memory is green today
Of resolute Lieutenant Meares
Who found and named Shoalwater Bay.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Robert Bruce? - Washington State/SCA?
From: Lin in Kansas
Date: 21 May 06 - 04:46 AM

Guest, I would suggest contacting someone in the An Tir SCA--you'd be likely to find what you're looking for there, if the man is a minstrel in that world.

Most of the SCA folk in the Seattle area are friendly and helpful.

Good luck.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Robert Bruce? - Washington State/SCA?
From: Acme
Date: 21 May 06 - 12:57 PM

I put in the spelling with one "l" earlier from the poster's information and because my initial search also came across the name (or something very similar) on an island in Hawaii when Google tried to respell it. The gut reaction was to spell it with two but it didn't sound like I was aiming for a Hawaiian location. Now I'm wondering what that was about (though I doubt there are oyster ships off of a Hawaiian island).

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Robert Bruce? - Washington State/SCA?
From: Deckman
Date: 22 May 06 - 09:53 AM

The "Willipa Bay" area of the south western Washington coast is very rich in lore. And yes, James G. Swan was an amazing charactor and prolific diarist. Years ago, I had the thrill of actually holding one of his diraries, which was/is archieved at the University of Washington, in Seattle. If you want to get aquainted with him, I'd suggest you start with "Winter's Brother," by Ivan Doig.

My distant memory also says that Jack London also hung out for a while learning the oyster trade in Shoalwater bay.

My brother has lived down there for many years now. And the local "Shoalwater Indian Nation" has the biggest business in the area: a gambling casino.

Also of note, one of the most prolific, and best, MC songwriters lives on the South side of Willipa bay: Mary Garvey.

CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Robert Bruce? - Washington State/SCA?
From: GUEST,technodivinitas
Date: 22 May 06 - 06:50 PM

Okay- trying to respond to everyone...

Yes, most of you seem to have the right story in mind- though the one set of lyrics posted is far from the right song, and I think a completely different tale. (Shoalwater Bay is mentioned in the song about the Robert Bruce, but it's not founded by the "Bruce Boys", of course, and is only mentioned in passing.)

I'm not sure if that steamer is the same boat or not- I think probably not, as the Robert Bruce in question was a Schooner.

The year refered to is yes- 1851.

And sadly I have spoken with the scadians hereabouts, and few remember Tamarin, less still the man's songs. (Yes, modern composer, yes original song.)

(And I haven't got a clue to whom or what Aziza is refering- I must assume it's a mudcat injoke, and I'm only around once in a blue moon, sadly- no time for more.)

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Robert Bruce? - Washington State/SCA?
From: GUEST,Senjata Witt
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 04:09 PM

I know this song, and NEED the rest of the lyrics myself...
It's by a man who went by the name Tamaran or Tamarin in the SCA, and it goes like this:

Weigh hey Haul em up-Up from down below
we will go and haul the oysters up as they did so long ago.
Weigh hey, Haul em up- up from down below
Wash off the much, they're worth a buck in Californ-I O.

In the gold rush days eight businesssmen saw fortune to be made
Not digging gold out from the rocks but plying the oyster trade
They bought a ship, the Robert Bruce in the fall of 51
An eight foot two masted rig of 140 tons.

They didn't care to work the lines, nor scrub or cook the stew
Or do the other menial work- So they hired themselves a crew.
Now, the crew, his name was jefferson, and you have to understand
that on this over-captained ship he was the only hand.
He slaved and sweat through many a chore which caused his heart to stew
but the 'Bruce was bound for trouble with 8 captains and one crew...

I know the rest of the story told how they fought with him, and gave him a beating, and then he got even by drugging them, and setting their ship on fire. He took the dinghy and when they woke to find the ship in flames, had to swim for it. The ship couldn't be salvaged- not as a ship at least, so they pulled up what wood they could, and built a few shacks, and that town supposedly becae "Bruceport".

Anyone know the rest of the song? I can be reached at and I'd really love to have it complete again!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Robert Bruce? - Washington State/SCA?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 04:17 PM

Interesting..I had not noticed this thread before.

And I was thinking that a CD of shellfish songs would be interesting..although probably not overly profitable...could put some great songs together..this time from around the the two oyster guys who rowed the ocean..and Oyster Girl and I am sure we could assemble 15 or so at least..probably some on the east coast of USA..

I will start a

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