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REVISED-Handwritten poem by Kate Roelkey, American, ca. 1850 - The Dying Caliafornian (sic)

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Posted 3 years ago


(383 items)

This is an old manuscript of the words to a song that were first published in February, 1850. I am still trying to determine the true origin of this particular copy, and how it came to be. Several versions of it exist, apparently.

The Dying Caliafornian (sic)

Lay up nearer, Brother, nearer
For my limbs are growing cold
And thy presence seemeth dearer,
When thy arms around me fold.
I am dying, Brother, dying
Soon you’ll mifs me from your berth,
And my form will soon be lying
Neath the oceans bring surf.

Hearken to me, Brother, hearken
I have something I would say
Ere the vale my vision darken
When I go from hence away.
I am going, surely going
But my hope in god is strong
I am dying, Brother, dying
But he doeth nothing wrong.

Tell my Father when you meet him
That in death I prayed for him
Prayed that I one day may meet him
In a world that’s far from sin.
Tell my Mother God afsist her
Now that she is growing old
Now her child would glad have kifsed her
When his lips grew pale and cold.

Tell her she must kifs my children
Like the kifs I last imprefsed
Hold them as when last I held them
Folded closely to my breast.
Give them early to their Maker
Putting all her trust in God
And he never will forsake her
For he says so in his word.

Tell my Sister I remember
Every kindly parting word
And my heart has been kept tender
By the thoughts her memory stirred.
Tell I never reached the haven
Where I sought the precious dust
But I’ve gained a fort called heaven
Where the gold will never rust.

Listen, Brother, catch each whisper
Tis my wife I’d speak of now
Tell, oh tell her how I mifsed her
When the fever burned my brow.
Tell her, Brother, closely listen
Don’t forget one single word
How my eyes in death did glisten
When the tears her memory stirred.

Oh, my children, Heaven blefs them
They recall my life to me
Would I could once more carefs them
Ere I sink beneath the sea.
Twas for them I crofsed the ocean
What my hopes were I’ll not tell
But they’ve gained an orphans portion
Yet he doeth all things well.

Urge them to secure an entrance
For they’ll find their Father there
Faith in Jesus and repentance
Will secure for each a share.
Hark, I hear my Saviour speaking
Tis his voice I know so well
When I’m gone Oh don’t be weeping
Brother, tis my last farewell.

Written by Your Friend,
Kate Roelkey


  1. vetraio50 vetraio50, 3 years ago
    Am I right in thinking that Kate Roelkey wrote the poem or was she just the 'scribe'?
  2. bohemianglassandmore bohemianglassandmore, 3 years ago
    Thanks, B - little things like this keep me going - you never know what unexpected delights you might find, even when you're looking for something else. :)
  3. bohemianglassandmore bohemianglassandmore, 3 years ago
    vetraio50 - I think of her as both poet and scribe- taking down the dying thoughts of a man to deliver to his family after his passing, and putting them in the form of this poem.
  4. IVAN49 IVAN49, 3 years ago
    Poet or or scribe - it is valuable;this is a piece of American history.Money or fame is not everything that counts.Great!
  5. magdalenagirl magdalenagirl, 3 years ago
    Beautiful and very moving.
  6. cogito cogito, 3 years ago
    Wonderful bit of history.

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