Connecticut had its canal, too, and the Farmington Canal, or more properly the New Haven and Northampton Canal, was built between 1825 and 1828, linking New Haven to Plainville and thence onto the Farmington River. This song I found in Eloise H. Linscott’s Folk Songs of Old New England, but I was unhappy with the metre… So I rewrote the tune as a 2/4 and composed a chorus to round it out.
According to Ms. Linscott – “This jovial song was entirely local to the town of Plainville… very likely written by some forgotten local poet and was sung while Capt. Dick Norton guided his boat from New Haven to Plainville…” It also seems that an Edna Whiting had a general store with the doors opening to the canal for deliveries.
Oh! Captain Dick’s a gay old bird
Yes, he is, upon my word!
But that ain’t simply no excuse
‘Cause his whiskers ‘re filled with terbaccer juice!
Chorus: All in a day in a river boat
Pulled by a mule or a billy goat
I walk the deck thinking of my gal
As we sail on the Farmington Water Canal.
Click Webster never went to school
But he can drive any orn’ry mule.
He chaws terbaccer, he drinks rum
He can make a canal-boat hum! Chorus:
The boat ties up at Whitin’s dock
Three times a week, ’bout four o’clock,
Out comes Adney and old Eb too,
Gub FIomer, Bela, and the rest of the crew. Chorus:
They pull and haul and cuss and swear,
Unload the cargo and then repair
To the store to licker up and smoke,
Tell tall stories, swap lies, and joke ! Chorus: