Mudcat Café message #24732 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #4458   Message #24732
Posted By: Earl
27-Mar-98 - 10:20 AM
Thread Name: Take Kathleen home to where?
Subject: RE: Take Kathleen home to where?
The book _Popular Songs of the Nineteenth Century_ by Richard Jackson has some interesting notes on "Katheeen." He begins with this statement on researching old songs: "There can scarcely be many other bodies of 'nonfiction' on a single subject so riddled with casual scholarship (where it is present at all) and heady whimisicallity."

Apparently there have been a number of conflicting stories about when, where, why and for whom the song was written. Interestingly, going back to Germany or Ireland is not listed among them. One has his wife, bereaved over the death of their son asking the husband to take her home from Louisville to New York (which of course is not across the ocean.) Another has her asking to go back to Bowling Green, Virginia from Europe where they had gone to recover from the death of their son. Some say she died on shipboard of a broken heart and was buried at sea.

There was an article written for the Music Library Association in 1948 called "Getting Kathleen Home Again" which supposedly clears everything up. Westendorf's wife was named Jennie and was born in Ogdensburg, New York. They lived in Indiana and never went to Europe. The song was written as an "answer" to a song called "Barney, Take Me Home Again" written by Westendorf's friend and sometime collaborator, George W. Persley. Although it's not stated this way, it appears that it was an American with a German last name writing a popular "Irish" song.