Lost on the Lady Elgin

from by The Lost Forty

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about

This song depicts the outpouring of grief that followed the tragic sinking of the side-wheel passenger steamer Lady Elgin when the lumber schooner Augusta collided with her in Lake Michigan in 1860. It was the most deadly Great Lakes shipwreck of the 19th century, with between 279 and 350 lives lost. The disaster struck a particularly painful blow to the Irish community of Milwaukee’s Third Ward as many of the doomed passengers hailed from that area. The song was composed by Chicago printer Henry C. Work.

lyrics

Up from the poor man’s cottage, forth from the mansion door,
Sweeping across the water and echoing along the shore,
Caught by the morning breezes, borne on the evening gale,
Came at the dawn of morning a sad and sorrowful wail.

Lost on the Lady Elgin, sleeping to wake no more,
Numbering in death five hundred, that failed to reach the shore.

Sad were the wails of children, weeping for parents gone,
Children that slept at evening, orphans awoke at dawn,
Sisters for brothers weeping, husbands for missing wives,
These were the ties that were severed by those five hundred lives.

Staunch was the noble steamer, precious the freight she bore,
Gaily they loosed their cables a few short hours before,
Proudly she strode our harbor, joyfully rang the bell,
Little they thought, ere morning, ’twould peal so sad a knell.

credits

from The Lonesome Hours of Winter, released November 23, 2018
Brian: vocals, bouzouki
Randy: guitar

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about

The Lost Forty Saint Paul, Minnesota

Brian Miller and Randy Gosa craft intricate arrangements of rare old songs entwined with the history of the Great Lakes region. Their sources and their approach celebrate two centuries of Irish musical influence on the under-explored folk song traditions of the north woods. ... more

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