An Experiment in point of view.

Our next wayfarer, Samuel Woodworth (1784-1842), was the father of Selim, who came to my rescue more than once while I was still a green “Jack Doe” in Frisco. Samuel was born in the county of Plymouth, Massachusetts. He was the youngest of four children born to a poor farmer (a veteran of the Revolutionary war) who tilled the barren soil on a small farm owned by his second wife. He was not able to get his sons a good education, for there was no school held in the village except during the winter months; and economy drove the selection of its teacher who was generally as ignorant as the school’s pupils. By the age of fourteen years, Samuel had a limited knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but a tangible gift for rhyme. Be not deceived, sadly, young Samuel knew that the occupation of poet that first finds a man poor, keeps him so.

How happy is the minstrel’s lot,

   Whose song each care beguiles

The frowns of Fortune fright him not,

   Nor does he court her smiles.

Contented with his tuneful lyre,

   His art can yield the rest;

He pours his soul along the wire,

   And rapture fires his breast.

Samuel’s father and his village teacher could see how bright the lad was – with characteristic quickness of apprehension and strength of memory – and they contrived to procure an education for him. A good preacher, Reverend Nehemiah Thomas (1766-1831) spent a winter teaching him English, Latin, and the classics. Samuel lamented that his education could only last but one short season:

And here the muse bewails her hapless bard,

   Whose cruel fate such golden prospects marr’d;

For hope once whisper’d to his ardent breast,

   “Thy dearest, fondest wish shall be possess’d;”

Unfolded to his view the classic page,

   And all its treasures promised ripening age;

Show’d Learning’s flowery path which led to Fame,

   Whose distant temple glitter’d with his name.

Illusive all! – the phantom all believe,

   Though still we know her promises deceive;

Chill penury convinced the wretch, too late,

   Her words were false, and his a hapless fate.

Young Samuel was compelled to choose a profession, and choose he did, that steadfast profession of Printer. Saying adieu to his dear family, he traveled to the metropolis of his native state, and bound himself as an apprentice to Benjamin Russell, Esq., the publisher and editor of the Columbian Centinel in the year 1806. Samuel, using the pseudonym “Selim,” began to get his poems published in various Boston publications; sadly, he did not retain any copies of these productions. Samuel began to dream of taking an extensive tour of the United States to broaden his understanding of the workings of the world; practicality compelled him to remain with this former master for another year. And alas, he was drawn into hazardous speculations that put him into debt.

Rather than get bound again he traveled destitute along the byways and highways to New York. Samuel hoped to procure employment in the different towns sufficient to continue his tour. His optimism was only dashed when after applying in every printer’s shop in every village, the response was the same: no work here. At length, he found himself in New Haven – a stranger with blistered feet and an empty purse. Not one to give up, Samuel wrote to a friend and asked for some money to carry him further on his quest, and the friend acquiesced. Having a genteel appearance and manners, along with a growing knowledge of human nature, Samuel procured decent lodgings despite poverty, and was treated with respect.

Finding himself comfortable, Samuel returned to his natural disposition that led to scribbling verses, falling in love, and forming transient amiable attachments. He worked for nine months, and decided to begin his own publication, purchased type and a press on credit and soon found himself received payment insufficient to cover costs. In short, he became the pail, dejected picture of despair. In 1810, Samuel formed an enduring amiable attachment with a young lady and the two married. Samuel was no longer a wayfarer.

Love Hitch

Our campus has updated its Gator mascot to look more aggressive, and this old song came to mind… Samuel Woodworth (1784-1842) wrote the popular broadside ballad, “The Hunters of Kentucky,” originally known as “New Orleans,” as a tribute to Andrew Jackson’s decisive victory during the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.

YE gentlemen and ladies fair;

   Who grace this famous city,

Just listen if you’ve time to spare,

   While I rehearse a ditty;

And for the opportunity

   Conceive yourselves quite lucky,

For ‘tis not often that you see

   A hunter from Kentucky.

Oh Kentucky, the hunters of Kentucky!

   Oh Kentucky, the hunters of Kentucky!


We are a hardy, free-born race,

   Each man to fear a stranger;

Whate’er the game we join in chase

   Despoiling time and danger

And if a daring foe annoys,

   Whate’er his strength and forces,

We’ll show him that Kentucky boys

   Are Alligator horses.

Oh Kentucky, &c.


I s’pose you’ve read it in the prints,

   How Packenham attempted

To make old History Jackson wince,

   But soon his scheme repented,

For se, with rifles ready cock’d,

   Thought such occasion lucky,

And soon around the gen’ral flock’d

   The hunters of Kentucky.

Oh Kentucky, &c.


You’ve hear, I s’pose how New Orleans

   Is fam’d for wealth and beauty,

There’s girls ev’ry hue it seems,

   From snowy white to sooty,

So Packenham he made his brags

   If he in fight was luckey

He’d have their girls and cotton bags,

   In spite of old Kentucky.

Oh Kentucky, &c.


But Jackson he was wide awake,

   And was not scar’d at trifles,

For well he knew what aim we take

   With our Kentucky rifles.

So he led us down to Cypress swamp.

   The ground was low and mucky,

There stood John Bull in martial pomp

   And here was old Kentucky.

Oh Kentucky, &c.


A bank was rais’d to hide our breasts,

   Not that we thought of dying,

But that we always like to rest,

   Unless the game is flying.

Behind it stood our little force.

   None wished it to be greater,

For ev’ry man was half a horse,

   And half an alligator.

Oh Kentucky, &c.


They did not let our patience tire,

   Before they show’d their faces;

We did not choose to waste our fire,

   So snugly kept our places.

But when so near we saw them wink,

   We thought it time to stop ‘em,

And ‘twould have done you good I think,

   To see Kentuckians drop ‘em.

Oh Kentucky, &c.


They found, at last, ‘twas vain to fight,

   Where head was all the booty,

And so they wisely took flight,

   And left us all our beauty.

And now, if danger e’er annoys,

   Remember what our trade is,

Just send for us Kentucky boys,

   And we’ll protect ye, ladies.

Oh Kentucky, &c.

The song became Jackson’s presidential campaign song in 1828, and the song found its way into popular culture when author James Fennimore Cooper mentioned it in his 1827 novel called The Prairie. He went on to write the classic broadside ballad called, “The Old Oaken Bucket” that was published in the New York Republican Chronicle on June 3, 1818 and was later set to music by George F. Kiallmark in 1826. Ol’ Samuel’s dream of crossing the country would eventually come to pass; he would find his way to San Francisco on the Pacific Coast posthumously.


From the ballad by Woodward called Hunters of Kentucky.

From the ballad by Woodward called Hunters of Kentucky.