Once I Lived in Cottonwood
A Folk Song
Oh, once I lived in Cottonwood and owned a little farm,
But I was called to Dixie, which did me much alarm;
To raise the cane and cotton, I right away must go;
But the reason why they called on me, I'm sure I do not know.
I yoked old Jim and Bolly up all for to make a start,
To leave my house and garden, it almost broke my heart.
We moved along quite slowly and often looked behind,
For the sand and rocks of Dixie kept running through my mind.
At length we reached the Black Ridge where I broke my wagon down,
I could not find a carpenter so far from any town,
So with a clumsy cedar pole I fixed an awkward slide;
My wagon pulled so heavy then that Betsy could not ride.
While Betsy was a'walking, I told her to take care,
When all upon a sudden she struck a pricklypear.
Then she began to blubber out as loud as she could bawl,
"If I was back in Cottonwood, I would not come at all!"
When we reached the Sandy, we could not move at all,
For poor old Jim and Bolly began to puff and loll.
I whipped and swore a little but could not make the route,
For myself, the team, and Betsy, were all of us give out.
Next we got to Washington, where we stayed a little while
To see if April showers would make the verdure smile.
But, oh, I was mistaken and so I went away,
For the red hills of November looked just the same in May.
I feel so weak and hungry now, there's nothing here to cheer
Except prophetic sermons which we very often hear.
They will hand them out by dozens and prove them by the book--
I'd rather have some roasting ears to stay at home and cook.
I feel so weak and hungry now, I think I'm nearly dead;
'Tis seven weeks next Sunday since I have tasted bread.
Of carrot tops and lucerne greens we have enough to eat--
But I'd like to change that diet off for buck-wheat cakes and meat.
I brought this old coat with me about two years ago,
And how I'll get another one, I'm sure I do not know.
May providence protect me against the cold and wet;
I think myself and Betsy, these times will not forget.
My shirt is dyed with wild dockroot, with greasewood for a set;
I fear the colors all will fade when once it does get wet.
They said we would raise madder, and indigo so blue,
But that turned out a humbug, the story was not true.
The hot winds whirl around me and take away my breath;
I've had the chills and fever till I'm nearly shook to death.
"All earthly tribulations are but a moment here;
And, oh, if I prove faithful, a righteous crown I'll wear."
My wagons's sold for sorghum seed to make a little bread;
And poor old Jim and Bolly long ago are dead.
There's only me and Betsy left to hoe the cotton-tree;
May Heaven help the Dixie-ite wherever he may be!
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