For National Poetry Month: “A-sailing Down Jones River”

Sailboat on the water, no date
Sailboat on the water, no date

A-sailing Down Jones River

Do you recall one night in June,
When sailing down Jones River,
We listened to the Bullfrog’s tune
And watched the moonbeams quiver?
I oft since then have watched the moon
But never, love, ah never, never,
Can I forget that night in June
While sailing down Jones River.
Can I forget that night in June
While sailing down Jones River.
Can I forget that night in June
While sailing down Jones River.
Can I forget that night in June
And the moonlight on Jones River

Our boat went drifting toward the Bay,
By the wharves along the river,
Those old, old wharves where the good ships lay,
In the days now gone forever.
The busy hum of toil is o’er;
On the ways no ships were standing, standing
Holmes, Cushman, Bartlett, Drew, were gone;
All silent lay The Landing.
Can I forget that night in June
When sailing down Jones River?
Can I forget that Bullfrog’s tune
And the moonlight on Jones River?

Catherine Drew Russell

It was customary in earlier days for boating parties in the river or out into the Bay, to drift and sing. Moonlight parties were especially popular. Popular tunes of the day were often sung with original words, like the above, following the general idea of the song but adapted to the mood of the party. Miss Russell was very apt at impromptu rhyming and this is one of the songs composed at the time and recalled in later years. We used the song with its original music at the meeting of the Jones River Village Club, when Miss Russell gave her Musical Reminiscences of Kingston, with different members assisting in the vocal and instrumental examples. E.F.D. [Emily Fuller Drew]

Sources: IC-11 Delano Photograph Collection; PC-36 Poetry

New Exhibit — Kingston’s Civil War Soldiers, Sailors and Nurses

Captain William Simmons, 1864
Captain William Simmons, 1864

A native of Kingston, William Simmons served in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War, not as an officer, but as a master shipwright and later Constructor at the Navy Yard in Charlestown.

On exhibit for Memorial Day are photographs of Simmons and other residents of Kingston and nearby towns who served a century and a half ago.  Stop by and take a look.

Why they called it Rocky Nook

View from Rocky Nook, no date
View from Rocky Nook, no date

This picture postcard shows the view from Rocky Nook across Kingston Bay toward the Standish Monument in Duxbury. Oh, and lots of rocks.

Cough syrup

From the collection of Jennie Mclauthlen, Kingston’s first Librarian.

Recipe for cough syrup, 1887


Raisin Pie. — One cup chopped raisins, two cups of water, one teaspon mixed spice, one cup cracker-crumbs, two cups sugar, one cup of vinegar, one-half cup butter, one beaten egge.  Boil and fill pies; bake three-quarters of an hour.

Cough Syrup.
One oz. flax-seed.
One oz. stick slippery elm.
One oz. thoroughwort.
One oz. hops.
One oz. black licorice.
Two quarts water — boil to a little less than one qt: strain and boil in a little more water, to get strength all out — strain again– ] add 1 pint of molasses.  Boil down to thickness of honey about 1 1/2 pints. When done, add 1 Table-spoon of whiskey.  Add the licorice after the herbs are boiled and strained.
Mrs. Whittemore.

Add 1/2 lb. loaf sugar

Archivist’s note: Feel free to make the raisin pie, but don’t make your own cough medicine at home from this recipe. That would be foolish.