Little Old Sod Shanty on My Claim, The

DESCRIPTION: The singer admits, "I'm looking rather seedy while holding down my claim." His little sod shanty is made of poor materials and is infested by mice. He recalls the easier life out east, and wishes a girl would join him
AUTHOR: possibly Lindsey Baker
EARLIEST DATE: 1888?
KEYWORDS: hardtimes settler bachelor
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
May 20, 1862 - President Lincoln signs the Homestead Act
FOUND IN: US(MW,Ro,So) Canada(West)
REFERENCES (14 citations):
Randolph 197, "The Little Old Sod Shanty on the Claim" (1 text plus a fragment, 1 tune)
Fowke/Johnston, pp. 90-91, "The Little Old Sod Shanty" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sandburg, pp. 89-91, "The Little Old Sod Shanty" (1 text, 1 tune)
Thorp/Fife VII, pp. 87-96 (20), "Little Adobe Casa" (6 texts, 2 tunes)
Fowke/Mills/Blume, pp. 142-143, "The Little Old Sod Shanty" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 205, "The Little Old Sod Shanty" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fife-Cowboy/West 25, "The Little Old Sod Shanty" (7 texts, 2 tunes, though some of these -- especially the "G" and "H" texts -- appear distinct)
Arnett, pp. 94-95, "Little Old Sod Shanty" (1 text, 1 tune)
LPound-ABS, 74, p. 165, "The Little Old Sod Shanty on the Claim" (1 text)
Cohen-AFS2, pp. 482-483, "Little Old Sod Shanty" (1 text plus an extract from a rewrite)
Darling-NAS, pp. 332-333, "Little Old Sod Shanty" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 121, "The Little Old Sod Shanty On My Claim" (1 text)
DT, SODSHANT*
ADDITIONAL: John I. White, _Git Along, Little Dogies: Songs and Songmakers of the American West_, 1975 (page references are to the 1989 University of Illinois Press edition), pp. 167-175, "'The Little Sod Shanty on the Claim'" (1 text, 1 tune, plus a history of the song and discussion of sod houses)

Roud #4368
RECORDINGS:
Jules Verne Allen, "Little Old Sod Shanty" (Victor 23757, 1933; on MakeMe)
Craver & Tanner [pseud. for Vernon Dalhart & probably Carson Robison], "The Little Old Sod Shanty" (Vocalion 5342, 1929)
Jenkins Family, "That Little Old Sod Shanty" (OKeh 45563, 1932; rec. 1930)
Chubby Parker, "My Little Old Sod Shanty on the Claim" (Gennett 6319/Silvertone 25103, 1927)
Jack Weston, "Little Old Sod Shanty" (Van Dyke 84293, 1929)
John I. White, "The Little Old Sod Shanty" (Romeo 1118 [as Jimmie Price], Jewel 5723 [as Whitey John], Banner 6532/Broadway 8132/Cameo 9321 [as "My Little Old Sod Shanty"]/Challenger 840/Conqueror 7725/Jewel 5723/Paramount 3190/Romeo 1118 [as Whitey Johns], Conqueror 7434/Domino 4440/Imperial 2216 [as "The Little Old Shanty], Pathe 32488/Perfect 12567/Regal 8881 [as the Lone Star Ranger], 1929)
Marc Williams, "Little Old Sod Shanty" (Brunswick 564, 1931; rec. 1930)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane" (tune) and references there
cf. "Starving to Death on a Government Claim (The Lane County Bachelor)" (theme)
cf. "My Little German Home Across the Sea" (tune & meter)
cf. "I Will Tell You My Troubles" (tune & meter)
cf. "The Double-Breasted Mansion on the Square" (tune & meter)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
The Little Vine-Clad Cottage
The Little 'Dobe Casa
Little Old Sod Shanty in the West
NOTES: This piece is probably based on Will S. Hays's "The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane," with which it shares a melody.
The song clearly dates back to the latter part of the nineteenth century, the period of Homestead Claims. The Homestead Act of 1862 had opened large areas of the western U.S. to settlement, allowing settlers to lay claim to 160 acre sections in return for nominal payments. However, the settlers were required to live on their claims for five years before they could "prove up" and gain title to the property. Many settlers, like the one here, wound up living in impossible conditions because it was the only way to stake the claim.
Fife in Thorp/Fife treats "Little Adobe Casa," and some related parodies, as separate from "Little Old Sod Shanty." (Interestingly, the Fifes lump the songs in "Cowboy and Western Songs"). To me these look to be simply localizations of the same song, and there are intermediate versions, so I do not separate them.
Several people seem to have claimed the authorship (e.g. Pound lists a report that one Emery Miller claims to have made it up while living on a claim in the 1880s; on p. p. 171-172 White lists claims by Lindsey Baker, Emery Miller, Charles Griffiths Reynolds, and Orland Newell). The claim by Baker seems to be the strongest, but proof is probably impossible. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.7
File: R197

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