Sweet Betsy from Pike

Have you heard tell of sweet Betsy from Pike
She cross the wide prairie with her lover, Ike
With two yoke of Oxen, a big yellow dog,
A tall Shanghai rooster and one spotted hog

One evening quite early they camped on the Platte
'Twas nearby the road on a green, shady flat
Betsy, sore-footed, lay down to repose
In wonder Ike gazed on his Pike County rose

The Indians came down in a wild yelling horde
And Betsy got scared they would scalp her adored
Under the wagon wheel Betsy did crawl
She fought off them Indians with musket and ball

Out on the prairie one bright starry night
They broke out the whiskey and Betsy got tight
She sang and she shouted, she danced on the plain.
She made a great show for that whole wagon train

The Shanghai ran off and the cattle all died
The last piece of bacon that morning was fried
Ike got discouraged and Betsy got made
The dog wagged his tail and looked wondrously sad

They soon reached the desert where Betsy gave out
And down in the sand she lay rolling about
Ike in great terror looked on in surprise
Saying, Betsy get up, you'll get sand in your eyes

Sweet Betsy got up in a great deal of pain
Declared she'd go back to Pike County again
Ike, he just sighed, and they fondly embraced
And she traveled along with her arm round his waist

This bittersweet comic song, first popular in the American gold rush era of 1849-59, describes the hardships and frustrations experienced by pioneer women as they moved west with their families along the immigrant roads. The melody is derived from the old English dance hlal song, "Villikens and His Dinah."

From the CD, The Border of Heaven, by Connie Dover © Taylor Park Music/Connie Dover

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