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Halamus Publishing - Archived Articles - # 6, September, 2002



The Articles from the Monthly Newsletters

Written by

M. Lesley Halamek

September, 2002:–

THEME: A California Gold Rush song from the Hanseatic Port of Hamburg

SONG: "Ick heff mol an Hamborger Veermaster sehn"

(I Once Saw A Ship's Captain in Hamburg)

Q: What was the California Gold Rush? When did it happen?

Q: What is the connection between a Hanseatic Port and the California Gold Rush?

Q: What is, or was, a Hanseatic Port?

Ick heff mol an Hamborger Veermaster sehn

Ick heff mol en Hamborger Veermaster sehn,
To my hooda! To my hooda!
De Masten so scheef as den Schipper sein Been,
To my hoo da hoo da ho!

Blow boys blow for Californio,
There is plenty of Gold
So I've been told
On the banks of Sacramento.

Dat Deck weur vun Isen, vull Schiet und vull Schmeer.
To my hooda! To my hooda!
"Rein Schipp" weur den Käpten Sin grötstet Pläseer.
To my hoo da hoo da ho!

Dat Logis weur vull Wanzen, de Kombüs weur vull Dreck,
To my hooda! To my hooda!
De Beschüten, de leupen von sülben all weg.
To my hoo da hoo da ho!

Dat Soltfleesch weur greun, un de Speck weur vull Moden.
To my hooda! To my hooda!
Köm gäv dat bloß an Wiehnachtsobend.
To my hoo da hoo da ho!

Un wulln wi mol seiln, ick segg dat jo nur,
To my hooda! To my hooda!
Denn leup he dree vorut und veer wedder retur.
To my hoo da hoo da ho!

As dat Schipp weur so weur ok de Kaptein,
To my hooda! To my hooda!
De Lüd for dat Schipp weurn ok blot schlangheit.
To my hoo da hoo da ho!

(The first verse tells that the ship's mast was as crooked as the captain's bandy legs, and the song goes on to describe the dreadful conditions on board ship...the salt beef was green, and the speck (salt pork, bacon) full of nasties...but people from all around the world were rushing to the Sacramento River goldfields in California by any possible means, and, of course, people with transport were exploiting them.)

The melody for
"Ick heff mol an Hamborger Veermaster sehn"
can be found on Page 17 of

"Folksongs for the Violin", Part 3:
Third Position, Modes, and Pentatones"
(A Graded Selection of Melodies for Beginners of All Ages).

Details on the MUSIC PAGE

A: The California Gold Rush

began when the world heard of the discovery of gold, on January 24th, 1848, by James Marshall at Coloma, on the South Fork of the American River, not far from Sacramento, California. The American River is a tributary of the Sacramento River. The Sacramento River (which is 615 km (382 miles) long, and is navigable for about 402 km (250 miles) upstream) and its tributaries were the scene of the California Gold Rush of 1849.

The men, and a few women, who went to California in 1849, were known as 'forty-niners', as in the song "Clementine":

'There was a miner, a forty-niner, and his daughter Clementine...'.

Half a million people from around the world came to California in search of instant wealth....

... And some came from the Hanseatic Port of Hamburg...and some came on squalid, rotting, filthy, vermin-infested hulks like the ship in the song...

For more info visit

A: The Hanseatic League

was a Mediaeval union of mostly Northern European Ports and other towns whose merchants had established trading links with towns in England, Scandanavia and Russia and the Baltic States. The merchants formed themselves into a Hansa or Association for the purpose of securing trade privileges.

The Ports of Lübeck, Hamburg and Bremen took the lead in the Hanseatic League, and its Headquarters were at Lübeck.

Because there was, at that time, no secure national German government to protect the towns and trade routes, the towns in the Hanseatic League banded together to protect themselves, each other, and their trade routes and trade links. The League flourished in the 14th Century.

Membership of the Hanseatic League meant valuable privileges for merchants in England and other countries, one of the most important being protection. The League had a powerful army, and even defeated the King of Denmark in battle, and gained, by the Treaty of Stralsund (1370) a virtual trade monopoly in Scandanavia, until its defeat by the Dutch, in 1441.

The power of the Hanseatic League declined in the 15th Century. Causes for this decline included the growth of nationalism, the discovery of America, and the new trade opportunities thus opened. The Thirty Years War finally brought the League to an end. In 1597 Queen Elizabeth I expelled the German merchants from their Hanseatic colony in London's Steelyard, which they had occupied, free of all London Tolls and Customs Duties, since 1157, and in 1598, the Steelyard was closed.

The last Diet (=Parliament, Congress, etc.) of the League was held in 1669, but the League was never formally dissolved.

Lübeck, Hamburg and Bremen are still known as Hanseatic Ports and Cities.

Chief Towns of the Mediaeval Hanse

Lübeck, Hamburg, Bremen, Cologne, Brunswick, Magdeburg, Breslau,
Cracow, Danzig, Visby (Wisby).

Hanse Members

Dinant, Middelburg, Dordrecht, Amsterdam, Stavoren, Dortmund, Wesel, Munster, Zutfen, Hardewyk, Deventer, Kampen, Groningen, Warburg, Gottingen, Paderborn, Goslar, Hamelin, Hildesheim, Minden, Osnabrück, Merseburg, Halle, Halberstadt, Brandenburg, Luneburg, Frankfurt, Berlin, Kiel, Wismar, Rostock, Stralsund, Anklam, Stettin, Stargard, Kolberg, Thorn, Kulm, Marienburg, Elbing, Braunsberg, Königsberg, Libau, Riga, Dorpat, Pernau, Reval, Narva.

Foreign Agencies of the Mediaeval Hanse

London, Bruges, Bergen, Novgorod

Places in which Hanse had trading privileges

Rochester, Canterbury, Ipswich, Norwich, Yarmouth, Lynn, Boston (UK), Grimsby, Hull, York, Harfleur, Dieppe, Ghent, Sluys, Antwerp, Flensborg, Roskilde, Helsingborg, Warberg, Calmar, Stockholm, Kovno, Pskov.

For more info, visit

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