A FELLOW BY THE NAME OF DAN McGINNIS wrote the lyrics to take the piss out of his boss, George Mercier. Old George was engaged to Anna Tucker, and managed to land a job that McGinnis wanted. In spite, McGinnis wrote the lyrics, and tagged Jack Haggerty’s name on it, some think to make George wonder if there might have been a bit of a dalliance between Jack, who was the local heartthrob, and Anna.
We know all of this because a woman by the name of Geraldine Chickering did the research. A thousand thanks to her for bringing a tale of river life from the Flat River in Minnesota into focus. We stole it from Touchstone, a mix of American and Irish musicians.
Dan McGinnis, Minnesota, Nineteenth Century
I’m a heartbroken raftsman, from Greenville I came
All my virtue’s departed with a lass I did fain
From the strong darts of Cupid I’ve suffered much grief
And my heart’s broke asunder, I can get no relief.
Of my trouble I’ll tell you without much delay
Of a sweet little lassie my heart stole away
She’s a blacksmith’s fair daughter from the flat river side
And I always intended to make her my bride.
I work on the river where the white waters roar
And my name I’ve engraved on the high rocky shore
I’m the boy that stands happy on the dark, burling stream
But my thoughts were on Molly, she haunted my dream.
I gave her fine jewels, the finest of lace
And the costliest muslins, her form to embrace
I gave her my wages all for to keep safe
I deprived her of nothing I had on this earth.
While I worked on the river, I earned quite a stake
I was steadfast and steady, and ne’er played the rake
For Camp Flat and river I’m very well known
And they call me Jack Haggerty, the pride of the town.
Till she wrote me a letter, which I did receive
And she said from her promise herself she’d relieve
For to wed to another she’d a long time delayed
And the next time I’d see her she’d no more be a maid.
To her mother, Jane Tucker, I lay all the blame
For she caused her to leave and go back on my name
For to cast off the riggings that God was to tie
And to leave me a rambler ’til the day that I die
So come all ye bold raftsmen with hearts stout and true
Don’t trust to a woman ’cause you’re beat if you do
And if you do meet one with a dark chestnut curl
Remember Jack Haggerty and the Flat River girl!