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Brewster: Ballads and Songs of Indiana 175
THE PRETTY MOHEA
Eight texts have been recovered, under the following titles: "The Pretty Mohea," "The Little Mohee," and "Mauhee." All tell the same story, with but minor differences.
This song is sometimes known also as "The Pretty Maumee " and the difference in titles has led to much conjecture and discussion. Regarding the title, Eckstorm and Smyth (Minstrelsy of Maine, p. 233) give the following explanation: "This is known as a 'sailor song.' Mohea, or Mohee, is probably Maui, of the Sandwich Islands. To the old explorers and navigators what we call Oahu was Owhyee, and Maui was Mohee. This explains the references to the cocoanut groves. ... In this country, to the westward and southward, the song is often called 'The Pretty Maumee,' and an eminent student of folk-lore says in the 'Journal of American Folk-Lore' (vol. 25, p. 16) that it 'is a song of a frontiersman's Indian sweetheart, which probably preserves in its title the name of the Miami tribe of Indians.' The Miamis, living originally in southern Wisconsin and Michigan, later in Ohio, probably had very little idea of cocoanut groves and ships under full sail, and the word 'Indian' in the first stanza can hardly be interpreted as meaning an American Indian." Professor Kittredge thinks it modeled upon the English broadside "The Indian Lass."
For American texts, see Cox, p. 372; Eckstorm and Smyth, p. 230; Fauset, Folk-Lore from Nova Scotia, p. 115; Hudson, Folksongs, p. 162; Journal, XLV, 96; Lomax, American Ballads and Folk-Songs, p. 163; Pound, No. 91; Mackenzie, Ballads, p. 155; Scarborough, Song Catcher, p. 337; Thomas, p. 98; Wyman and Brockway, p. 52.
British: JFSS, II, 262; Kidson, Traditional Tunes, pp. 109-11.
"The Pretty Mohea." Contributed by Mrs. Mary J. Shriver, of East St. Louis, Illinois. November 30, 1935.
1. As I went out walking for pleasure one day,
In sweet recreation to pass time away, As I sat amusing myself on the grass,
0 who should I spy but a fair Indian lass?
2. She sat down beside me, and, taking my hand,
Said, "You are a stranger and in a strange land; But if you will follow, you're welcome to come And dwell in the cottage that I call my home."
3. The sun was fast sinking far o'er the blue sea
When I wandered alone with my pretty Mohea; Together we wandered, together did rove
Till we came to the cot in the cocoanut grove.