16 counties fit nicely in ‘Yankee Doodle’

Posted May 17, 2009, at 5:09 p.m.

I can’t for the life of me remember exactly when we learned Maine’s counties by singing this verse to the tune of “Yankee Doodle.”

The 16 counties in our state

Are Cumberland and Franklin,

Piscataquis and Kennebec,

Oxford and Androscoggin.

Waldo, Washington and York,

Lincoln, Knox and Hancock.

Sagadahoc and Somerset,

Aroostook and Penobscot!

It may have been in fifth or sixth grade at Sangerville Consolidated School, when teachers Alice Mossler and Ethel Sawyer brought us together weekly to sing old classics such as “Santa Lucia” and “Little Brown Church in the Vale” and “Love’s Old Sweet Song.”

It could have been in eighth grade, when Leota Brown taught us Maine history at Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford.

Those two theories would narrow it down to 1961-1965.

I once heard television news anchor Connie Chung, whose husband, Maury Povich, has Maine roots, try to sing it on TV with the counties in alphabetical order, but that doesn’t fit the tune.

There are other versions of the song, still sung to “Yankee Doodle.” The Secretary of State Kid’s Page at www.maine.gov/sos/kids/government/counties.htm offers the counties in this order:

16 counties in our State, Cumberland and Franklin.

Piscataquis, Somerset, Aroostook, Androscoggin,

Sagadahoc, Kennebec, Lincoln, Knox and Hancock

Waldo, Washington and York

Oxford and Penobscot!

That’s OK, too. I still like the version I learned best, and I am older than the secretary of state!

Now, what year did we learn the “State of Maine Song”? It starts out, “Grand State of Maine, proudly we sing,” with the chorus:

Oh Pine Tree State,

Your woods, fields and hills,

Your lakes, streams and

Rockbound coast

Will ever fill our hearts

With thrills.

And though we seek

Far and wide

Our search will be in vain

To find a fairer spot on Earth

Than Maine! Maine! Maine!

Probably we learned that one with Mrs. Mossler and Miss Sawyer.

“State of Maine Song” was written by Roger Vinton Snow and adopted by the Maine Legislature on March 30, 1937.

And then there was the Val-deree song, or the Bud Leavitt Song, actually called “The Happy Wanderer.” The original lyrics were in German.

I love to go a-wandering

Along the mountain track.

And as I go, I love to sing,

My knapsack on my back.

Val-deree, Val-derah,

Val-deree, Valder-



My knapsack on my back.

We learned all of the verses to that one, too. “The Bud Leavitt Show” ran from 1953 to 1973.

Hope you enjoyed reminiscing about these “Maine songs.” Run off a few copies and send them to your friends and grandchildren. Or, go on the Bangor Daily News Web site at www.bangordailynews.com, call up Family Ties under Lifestyle and e-mail this column.


Spring is here; now’s the time to get out and look for our ancestors. What better time to attend a discussion on cleaning headstones?

The Penobscot County Genealogical Society will have Bill Macomber presenting “Cleaning Up our Ancestors” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 20, in the Lecture Hall at Bangor Public Library.

Bill and his wife, Jane, have been touring cemeteries throughout the United States and Sweden.

Jane is the vice president of Maine Old Cemetery Association. Bill has extensive knowledge of cleaning and repairing gravestones, and will display some common cleaning tools.

You don’t have to be a member to attend, and refreshments will be available.

3441. DIONNE-TILLEY-LEVESQUE-LAGACE-DUBE-BISHOP. Looking for exact date and place of marriage for Guillaume Dionne, son of Elie Dionne and Helene (Lagace), also known as William Henry Tilley; and Modeste Levesque, daughter of Louis Benoni Levesque and Sophie (Dube), also known as Maude Bishop. Marriage may have taken place about 1883 in Benedicta area. Guillaume was born Nov. 10, 1861, at St. Francis, Aroostook County, and died July 5, 1948, at Sherman Mills. Modeste was born Feb. 9, 1860, at St. Hilaire, Madawaska County, New Brunswick, and died 1919. Their children carried the surname Tilley. Madawaska, Van Buren and Wallagrass area should not be overlooked as possible marriage place, nor Madawaska County, New Brunswick. Jim Belanger, 32 Plan Road, Hollis, N.H. 03049; N1NH@tds.net, (603) 465-2301.

Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or e-mail queries to familyti@bangordailynews.net.