“My Jenny Jerusha Jane”
One day Peter came to the bedroom door to bid her good morning. He had stuck a long feather in his hatband and as it nodded above his good-natured face he looked so comical that Laura had to laugh. Then she heard him talking to his pony and calling his dog and knew he was taking the sheep out. He was singing… — The First Four Years, “A Year of Grace”
JJenny Jerusha Jane (or Jennie Jerusha JAne) is sung by Laura’s double cousin, Peter Ingalls, as he goes about his daily routine. Peter had come to De Smet in 1892 when his parents left Wabasha County, Minnesota, and he took a job working on a neighboring farm, although it seems that he lived with Laura and Almanzo Wilder at least part of the time.
“Jenny Jerusha Jane” was written by A.G. Chase to music by W.M. Phelps, published by White & Co., Marshall, Michigan, 1868. It was a popular song sung by Dave Reed of Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, New York. Richard M. (“Uncle Dick”) Hooley, an Irish emigrant, started the troupe in 1862, and for many years, it was the only one performing minstrel shows every night of the week. The group moved to Chicago in 1867 and was successful until Hooley’s retirement in 1869. The opera house built by Hooley was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
1. I’ll tell you of a handsome girl, the prettiest ever seen.
She’s the masterpiece of nature, she is fairer than a queen,
She’s the pride of this great city, and she’s got the sweetest name,
Oh! I’m in love head, neck and heels
With Jenny Jerusha Jane.
[chorus] Oh my! She is a charming beauty,
Oh dear! she’s got the sweetest name.
Hi! Yi! to love her is my duty,
Handsome, pretty, little pinky Jenny Jerusha Jane.
2. I met her on the Avenue one sunny afternoon,
And in passing by she gave a wink, I followed after soon.
You ought to see the people stare, they didn’t know what to think,
To see me promenading
With this pretty little pink.
3. My place the fellows envied, the girls were jealous too,
I know it by their actions; what I say to you is true.
They tried to bluff and scare me off but nothing could they gain,
They couldn’t win from me my love
Sweet Jenny Jerusha Jane.
4. Her eyes they are as black as jet, her teeth are white as pearls;
Her hair is bright and dark as night, and gracefully it curls.
Her cheeks are like the sweetest rose, her lips a crimson stain.
Oh! she’s a perfect little pet!
That’s Jenny Jerusha Jane.
5. I asked her then if she’d have me and would be my guiding star.
She referred me to her Mama and likewise her dear Papa.
They said that they were willing for a son in law to claim,
And told me to be happy
With my Jenny Jerusha Jane.
(from The First Four Years)
Oh, my! but ain’t she handsome!
Dear me! she’s the sweetest name!
Ki! yi! to love her is my dooty,
My pretty, little, posy-pink
Jenny Jerusha Jane.
“My Jenny Jerusha Jane” (LTP 8)
“Oh, my! But ain’t she handsome!”