Old Rafting Chant
Old Time Tales of Warren County


Old Rafting Chant

Thus drifting to sea on a white hick of pine,
For grub and the wages we're paid,
The scoffers who rail as we buffet the brine
May see us in sun or in shade;
But true to our course, though weather be thick,
We set our broad sail as before,
And stand by the tiller that governs the hick,
Nor care how we look from the shore.

Many of the songs sung on Warren County's rafts were brought in from a distance. Here is one that came from. Wisconsin. Few of the songs had such a well connected story as this.

The Big Eau Clair

Come, all you jolly lumbermen, come listen to my song,
Just for a few short moments, I won't detain you long.
Concerning a young damsel, a lady young and fair,
Who dearly loved her shanty boy upon the big Eau Claire.
This young and thoughtless maiden was of a high degree;
Her mother kept a milliner shop in the town of Mosinee.
Sold waterfalls and ribbons and bonnets trimmed with lace
To all the gay young ladies that lived around the place.
The shanty boy was handsome, there was none so gay as he;
In summer time he tail-sawed in the mill at Mosinee;
And when the winter came around, with its cold, chilly breeze,
He worked upon the big Eau Claire, a-cutting down the trees.
He had a handsome black mustache, a curly head of hair;
A handsomer man there couldn't be found upon the big Eau Claire.
He loved the milliner's daughter, he loved her long and well.
But circumstances being so, the truth to you I'll tell.
The milliner said the shanty boy and her daughter ne'er should wed,
But Sally did not care a darn for what her mother said.
So they packed their millinery all away, and bonnets by the stack
And set up another shop 'way down in Fon du Lac.
Now, Sally was broken-hearted and sometimes tired of life;
She talked about her shanty boy and longed to be his wife.
Arid when brown autumn came around and ripened all the crops,
She went 'way down to Baraboo, and went to picking hops.
She got the scarlet fever, lay sick a week or two,
In a drummer's pest house in the town of Baraboo;
And ofttimes in her ravings she tore her auburn hair,
And talked about her shanty boy upon the big Eau Claire.
The doctors tried, but all in vain, her life they could not save;
And now the weeping willow is bending o'er her grave.
When the shanty boy heard this sad news, he became a lunatic;
He acted just like any young man when he becomes love-sick.
He hid his saw in a hollow log, and traded off his axe,
And hired as sucker on a fleet, along with sailor Jack.
He fell off from the rapids-piece, the falls at Mosinee,
Which put an end to all his grief and his sad misery.
The bold Wisconsin river is rushing o'er his bones,
His comrades are the catfish, his grave a pile of stones.
The milliner is bankrupt now, her stock is gone to rack;
She talks of moving some fine time away from Fon du Lac.
Her pillow is haunted every night by the ghost of her daughter fair,
And by the ghost of the shanty boy from off the big Eau Claire.

SOURCE:  Page(s) 135-137: Old Time Tales of Warren County; Meadville, Pa.: Press of Tribune Pub. Co., 1932


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