Date: Mon, 30 Sep 1996 01:24:47 -0400

From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: JOE BOWERS: an antedate

"Joe Bowers" is the title of a folk song and the name of a folk hero who

"came from Missouri, all the way from Pike" during the '49er California gold


(Perhaps some of you have been watching the PBS series on THE WEST?)

The song can be found in THE SONGS OF THE GOLD RUSH from the University

of California Press, Berkeley, 1964. I visited Berkeley last year and

checked out their "Joe Bowers" manuscripts.

Joe Bowers loved a gal named Sally Black. He finally made a lucky gold

strike while out West, but Sally had done married the butcher in Joe's


Louise Pound wrote three papers on this:

JOE BOWERS, Southern Folklore Quarterly I, pp. 13-15, Sept. 1937.

MORE "JOE BOWERS" LORE, Southern Folklore Quarterly II, pp. 131-133, Sept.


YET ANOTHER JOE BOWERS, Western Folklore, pp. 111-120, April 1957.

She still missed stuff.

Libera Martina Spinazze's INDEX TO THE ARGONAUTS OF CALIFORNIA (1975),

which I read in the San Francisco history room of the public library, lists

a "J. Bowers, Ship Apollo, Sailed Jan. 17, 1849."

Was Joe Bowers real or mythical? Louise Pound missed this gem, which I

found by accident. It's from the New Orleans Picayune, 10 June 1841, pg. 2,

col. 3:

We have heard a great many very plausible stories in our day, but just

at this peculiar juncture we are unable to think of any thing which will even

hold a candle to the one which follows. If any two-legged animal, with a

"human face divine" for a frontispiece, can tell any thing more reasonable we

should be exceedingly happy to hear it.

"In the days of our grandfathers there was one Joe Bowers, conspicuous

above all wooers for his unremitting attention to his 'lady-love.' By night

and day, in storm or in calm, he knew but one road, and that led to his

mistress' home. His dog, his horse, his cat--every thing that belonged to

him--went that way, and no other. Even an old pair of boots, which he threw

away one night, were found the next morning kicking against her door, with

the toes turned out just as he used to wear them, having travelled two miles

in a dark night, with no other guide than their knowledge of the road!