Songs and Dances of the Oregon Trail


60 Songs and Dance Tunes in Standard Music Notation, with suggested chords. History of the tunes, quotes about the music and dancing on the Trail from pioneer journals and accounts, and instructions for seventeen dances and play party games. Includes music and dance from the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails, collectively, the "Overland Trail," and early pioneer communities

Written, edited and typeset in the SCORE music engraving program from research done by Phil and Vivian Williams.

151 pages, 8.5 X 11 inches, soft cover, perfect bound. ISBN 978-0-9883100-0-1


Most journals and accounts of pioneers who came to the West over the Oregon Trail dwell on the hardships of the long journey through the wilderness to new homes in the West. However, there was a happier side to this adventure that some pioneers wrote about - the songs they sang around the evening campfires and the dances on the open prairie to the sound of the fiddle and banjo.

This book contains sixty songs and dance tunes sung and danced to on the Trail, and instruction for seventeen dances and play parties, along with their historical backgrounds. All the tunes and dances are well researched for historical accuracy. Also included are quotes from pioneer journals and account of music and dancing on the Trail, and numerous illustrations. The tunes are set in standard music notation with a lead line, words, and suggested chords for each tune. Many of the tunes used for dancing also are songs, and the settings for these include the song words. All songs and dance tunes are public domain.

Songs and Dances of the Oregon Trail can be used by teachers of Oregon Trail history, by presenters of programs of music and dances of the Overland Trail, and by anyone else who just wants to sing a good tune from the past or do a dance or a play party from the pioneer era.

The Authors - Phil & Vivian Williams are well known as historians and performers of the dance music of the pioneer West. They have been performing historical Northwest fiddling programs and playing traditional dances for over fifty years. Vivian has a B.A. degree in history from Reed College and an M.A. in anthropology from the University of Washington, and is a noted traditional fiddler. Phil has a B.A. degree in philosophy from Reed College, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Washington Law School. He plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, and bass. Both Phil and Vivian grew up in Washington's Puget Sound country, singing and playing the music and doing the dances that came out over the Oregon Trail.

The Tunes

Following is a listing of the songs and dance tunes in the book..

The Blue Juniata
Blue-Tailed Fly
Buffalo Gals
The Camptown Races
The Girl I Left Behind Me
Home Sweet Home
The Hunters of Kentucky
I Have Something Sweet to Tell You
My Old Aunt Sally
My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night
Nelly Bly
Nelly Was a Lady
O Christmas Tree
Oh! Susanna
Old Dan Tucker
Old Folks at Home
Old Gray Goose
Old Joe Clark
One More River to Cross
PopGoes the Weasel
Seeing the Elephant
She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain
Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me
Skip to My Lou
Sourwood Mountain
Sweet Betsey from Pike
Turkey in the Straw
Wait for the Wagon
Weevily Wheat

TUNES FOR DANCING (many with words)
Arkansas Traveler
Buy a Broom Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines
The Cheat
Detroit Schottische
Devil's Dream
Fisher's Hornpipe
Irish Washerwoman
Jenny Lind Polka
The Last Rose of Summer
Lauterbach Waltz
Life Let Us Cherish
Malbrough S'en Va-t-en Guerre
McDonald's Reel
Mississippi Sawyer
Money Musk
My Love is But a Lassie
Off to California
Operat Reel
Rochester Schottische
Root Hog or Die
Rory O'More
Rowin the Beau
Rye Straw or The Unfortunate Dog
Soldier's Joy
Spanish Dance
Tassels on Her Boots

Yankee Doodle

Square Dances:
Grapevine Twist
Nine Pin Quadrille
Birdie in the Cage

Longways Set Dances

Virginia Reel
Money Musk
Opera Reel

Mixers & Circle Dances
Le Carillon de Dunkirque (Chimes of Dunkirk)
Le Rond Serpenté (The Snaky Circle)
Spanish Dance

Couple Dances

Play Party Games
Buffalo Gals
Old Dan Tucker
Shoo Fly
Skip to My Lou
Weevily Wheat



Sample pages from the book in PDF format: (Click on an image below to view the page full size.)


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