Medford's contribution to Thanksgiving

Over the river and through the woods, to grandfather's house we go ...

The first page of the song, from 1845.


If you really want to recreate the famous song, you'll have to cross over the Mystic River in Medford and head for the house that still stands at 114 South St. When Lydia Maria Child wrote the song, as part of the book, Flowers for Children, in 1845, she was recalling her childhood visits to her grandfather's house there.

Today, Child, herself born in Medford in 1802, is recalled, if at all, just for the song. But that was hardly the sum of her life. Child was an abolitionist and women's rights activist (she thought the two were linked - white men kept both blacks and women subjugated) ; her Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans Called Africans was one of the first abolitionist books published in the US, and she later became editor of an anti-slaver newspaper.

She also fought for the rights of native Americans. And she was a novelist and poet who also found time to run a school in Watertown.

Book image from the Library of Congress. The rest of the song.



Free tagging: 



By on

I always heard it as "grandmother's house." I wonder when the lyrics changed?

Happy Thanksgiving, Adam, and to everyone out there in UHub land.

Hey, you're no Grandmother

By on

Well, you ain't no Little Red Riding Hood.

Bullwinkle, I think we're in the wrong story.

Well, obviously, it's a two story house.

Wishing all a Happy Thanksgiving to all UHubbers.


Different lyrics/verses

Verses may have been added and lyrics tinkered with over the years. I found one verse absent from Adam's link that I remember singing in the latter half of the 20th century:

Over the river and through the wood --
Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurray for the pumpkin pie!

Unfortunately many lyrics sites attribute the song to "traditional" rather than crediting Lydia Marie Child.



I'll confess that

By on

the only place I've heard that verse is from the Bullwinkle's Corner version of the poem.

White and drifted snow?

By on

Even back then did we have many white Thanksgivings?

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving Uhubbers. Thanks to all my friends and foils alike! You keep it interesting.


The Year Without a Summer

Not just white and drifted snow, but the Mystic River (fully tidal at that crossing point in that era) frozen solidly enough to support a horse and sleigh!

Think about that.

Lydia Marie Child was a young teen when Tambora erupted in 1815 and created one full year of winter in 1816 and several rather extreme winters in New England over the following decade. Thus her recollection may be somewhat flavored by that experience. Winter was a time for travel, and earlier freezes meant more opportunities.

Grandfather's House still stands - it is on South Street in Medford, near where the footbridge comes across from Medford Square and the crossing light on Rt. 16.


We often ice skated around T-Day

Back in the day, like late 60's, we were often able to ice skate in late Nov and early Dec. This was on the local cranberry bogs which were shallow and froze early. That doesn't seem to happen much lately.

I learned this from stumbling

By on

I learned this from stumbling across the house on South Street a few years ago, where there used to be a plaque standing outside. (The plaque appears to be missing in Adam's google maps link)

Thankful for UHub

By on

Especially for tidbits like this song!

I, too, always thought it was "grandmother's house". Child sounds like quite an impressive person - so glad to learn about her.


Thank you for this Adam.

By on

Thank you for this Adam.
what an interesting history of a song I sing all the time in the car but had no idea of it's local roots.