Softly Pa’s fiddle sang in the starlight. Sometimes he sang a little and sometimes the fiddle sang alone. Sweet and thin and far away, the fiddle went on singing… — Little House on the Prairie, Chapter 4, “Prairie Day”
Daisy Deane was written in 1863 by two Union soldiers in the Massachusetts Volunteer Army, serving in Virginia: Thomas F. Winthrop (19th Regiment) and James Ramsey Murray (14th Regiment). The song was an immediate hit and published during the Civil War.
Thomas F. Winthrop (1842-1905) was a 19 year old student from Andover, Massachusetts when he joined the Infantry. By the time he was mustered out in May 1865, he was a full Captain. After the war, Winthrop worked as a railroad clerk and station agent in New York. James R. Murray (1841-1904) was a 21 year old farmer from Andover, Massachusetts when he joined a Heavy Artillery Regiment and served as a musician. He mustered out as a Private in July 1864. After the war, Murray returned to Massachusetts to teach piano, but soon moved to Chicago and joined the music publishing firm of Root & Cady as an editor. Following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, he returned to his home state, but later moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to work for the John Church Company, again as a music editor. In addition to a number of secular pieces, James Murray is remembered for his musical arrangement of the Christmas classic, “Away in a Manger,” published in 1887 by John Church Company in Murray’s Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses.
While Laura Ingalls Wilder was working on High Prairie – the working title of Little House on the Prairie – Harper & Brothers paid for a copyright search of a list of eleven song titles Mrs. Wilder wanted to use in her book. Edward B. Marks, music publisher, did a search for “Daisy Deane” and could find nothing about the song but believed it to be in the public domain. In November 1934, Marks wrote to George Bye, Wilder’s agent, reporting that “Daisy Deane” was probably included in a songbook published forty years earlier; therefore he felt it was in the public domain.
1. ‘Twas down in the meadows, the violets were blowing,
And the springtime grass was fresh and green;
And the birds by the brooklet their sweet songs were singing
When I met my darling Daisy Deane.
[chorus] None knew thee but to love thee, thou dear one of my heart,
O thy mem’ry is ever fresh and green,
Tho’ the sweet buds may wither and fond hearts be broken,
Still I’ll love thee my darling Daisy Deane.
2. Her eyes soft and tender, the violets outvieing
And a fairer form was never seen–
With her brow’s silken tresses, her cheek like the roses,
There was none like my darling Daisy Deane.
3.The bright flowers are faded, the young grass has fallen,
And a dark cloud hovers o’er the scene;
For the death angel took her, and left me in sorrow
For my lost one, my darling Daisy Deane.
4. O, down in the meadows I still love to wander,
Where the young grass grew so fresh and green;
But the bright golden visions of springtime have faded
With the flowers, and my darling Daisy Deane.
(from Little House on the Prairie)
None knew thee but to love thee,
Thou dear one of my heart…
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Click on the above images to view a copy of original sheet music of “Daisy Deane.”
This music is archived in the Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music, part of Special Collections at the Milton S. Eisenhower Library of The Johns Hopkins University. The collection contains over 29,000 pieces of music and focuses on popular American music from 1780-1960.
“Daisy Deane” (LHP 4)
“None knew thee but to love thee…”