Ho for California (Banks of Sacramento)

DESCRIPTION: The "plot" of the song varies widely, according to its use by pioneers, sailors, or gold-diggers. The chorus is fixed: "(Then) Ho! (boys), Ho! To California go! There's plenty of gold in the world, we're told, on the banks of the Sacramento"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1849 (Journal of William F. Morgan of the La Grange)
KEYWORDS: gold shanty travel
1849 - California gold rush
FOUND IN: US(MA,MW,NE) Australia Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (20 citations):
Eddy 125, "California" (1 text, 1 tune)
Warner 70, "Ho, Boys, Ho" (1 text, 1 tune)
Doerflinger, pp. 68-70, "Sacramento" (3 texts, 2 tunes, though the last of these derives its verses from "Rolling in the Dew (The Milkmaid)")
Colcord, pp. 105-106, "Sacramento" (1 text, 1 tune)
Walton/Grimm/Murdock, pp. 39-40, "Banks of Sacramento" (1 composite text, 1 tune)
Harlow, pp. 109-110, "Banks of Sacramento" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hugill, pp. 106-114, "California," "Sacramento" (7 texts-1 in German, 3 tunes) [AbEd, pp. 95-100]
Shay-SeaSongs, pp. 82-83, "The Banks of Sacramento" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sandburg, pp. 110-111, "California"; 111, "The Banks of Sacramento" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Smith/Hatt, p. 37, "On the Banks of the Sacramento" (1 text)
Lomax-FSUSA 42, "Sacramento" (1 text, 1 tune)
Meredith/Covell/Brown, p. 91, "Banks of the Sacramento" (1 fragmentary text, in which the singer seeks girls rather than gold; 1 tune)
Huntington-Whalemen, pp. 174-176, "The California Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen-AFS2, pp. 655-656, "Ho! For California!" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 88, "Sacramento" (1 text)
Fuld-WFM, pp. 158-159, "(De) Camptown Races--(Sacramento)"
ADDITIONAL: Captain John Robinson, "Songs of the Chantey Man," a series published July-August 1917 in the periodical _The Bellman_ (Minneapolis, MN, 1906-1919). "Sacramento" is in Part 2, 7/21/1917.
Frederick Pease Harlow, _The Making of a Sailor, or Sea Life Aboard a Yankee Square-Rigger_, 1928; republished by Dover, 1988, p. 320, "Banks of Sacramento" (1 text, 1 tune)
Stewart Gordon, _A History of the World in Sixteen Shipwrecks_, ForeEdge, 2015, p. 176, "(no title)" (1 text)

Roud #319
Logan English, "Sacramento" (on LEnglish02)
cf. "Ten Thousand Miles Away" (tune)
cf. "A Capital Ship" (tune)
Blow, Boys, Blow for Californi-O
Der Hamborger Veermaster
Der Hamborger Vullrigger
NOTES [80 words]: Possibly created and certainly popularized by the Hutchinson Family (who published a text in their 1855 songbook), versions of this song are found throughout the U.S., and are well-known among sailors.
The texts are diverse (Hugill, for instance, has a version in which a sailor courts a girl and winds up with a venereal disease), but most seem to be related to the California gold rush. The tune is a variation on "Camptown Races," perhaps in turn based on "A Capital Ship." - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
File: E125

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