When You And I Were Young, Maggie (1866): Tom Roush

You and I Were Young, Maggie is a famous folk song. Though Springtown, Tennessee, has a small monument outside an old mill claiming the song was written by a local George Johnson, in 1820, for his Maggie, the truth is that its lyrics were written as a poem by the Canadian school teacher George Washington Johnson from Hamilton, Ontario. Margaret “Maggie” Clark was his pupil. They fell in love and during a period of illness, George walked to the edge of the Niagara escarpment, overlooking what is now downtown Hamilton, and composed the poem. The general tone is perhaps one of melancholy and consolation over lost youth rather than mere sentimentality or a fear of aging. It was published in 1864 in a collection of his poems entitled Maple Leaves. They were married in 1864 but Maggie’s health deteriorated and she died on May 12, 1865. James Austin Butterfield set the poem to music and it became popular all over the world. George Washington Johnson died in 1917. The schoolhouse where the two lovers met still stands on the escarpment above Hamilton, and a plaque bearing the name of the song has been erected in front of the old building.[1][2][3] In 2005, George Washington Johnson was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

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About layanglicana

Author of books on Calcutta, Delhi and Dar es Salaam, I am now blogging as a lay person about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am also blogging about the effects of World War One on the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire.
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One Response to When You And I Were Young, Maggie (1866): Tom Roush

  1. socialbridge says:

    It’s great to learn the story behind this song. It is extremely well known here in Ireland and I’d never have suspected what its background was.

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