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      Off to California

            Music from the Gold Rush Era

Miss Ella

This song appears in Put’s Original California Songster by John A. Stone under the title of “California Bloomer” but we can’t help but call it “Miss Ella” for obvious reasons.  Women were rare in the gold fields; women miners were rarest of all.  The melody we use is “Nelly Bly, ” from a song by Stephen C. Foster.  It was common practice to put new words to existing well-known tunes–this is where the term “broadside” comes from in a musical context.  The Songster, in fact, doesn’t contains musical notation, just lyrics with the suggested melodies from tunes of the day.

Notes: the Platte River is in Nebraska, Lumpkin County is in Georgia.  We believe alkalied is a term for the consequences of drinking bad water...or perhaps other strong drink.

Lyrics -- Hear it -- Banjo Tab
Lead vocal and guitar: Alan
Harmony vocal and banjo: Andy
Harmony vocal and fiddle: Dorothy

Miss Ella she is twenty-nine, has taken two degrees
tore her shirt-tail off behind so she can see her knees
Miss Ella she's a gallus nag Miss Ella she is neat
her eyes look like a saffron bag and lord what awful feet

Take your time Miss Ella, take your time Miss Ella, do
and I will rock the cradle and give all the ore to you

I saw Miss Ella on the Platte where she got alkalied
her jackass he was rolling fat and straddle she did ride
she's from Lumpkin County and I know her like a book
I used to see her wash her feet in Johnson's sawmill brook

Miss Ella has a claim they say, she works it all the while
she creviced round the other day and panned out a little pile
she'll get it all after a while if patiently she waits
cause I'll leave her when I make my pile and vamoose for the states



from the CD
Hard Times in the Promised Land

Hard Times in the Promised Land CD Available at CDBaby