“Seeing Nellie Home”


"In the sky the bright stars glittered; On the bank the pale moon shone. It was from Aunt Dinah's quilting party I was seeing Nellie home." The singer professes his love for Nellie on the way. Evidently they get married, because they are now old together

Supplemental text

Seeing Nellie Home
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

When I Saw Sweet Nelly Home

From sheet music published 1859 by Wm. A. Pond & Co. The title
above is that found on the interior page. Title page inscribed
                  To his friend
                 Edwin Green, Esq.
               When I saw sweet
                        Nellie home
                       SUNG BY
                Composed and arranged by
                     JOHN FLETCHER.
An unauthorized and incorrect copy of this song has been published
under my name but without my consent. This is the
                    ONLY CORRECT EDITION

1. VER. In the sky the bright stars glittered
        On the grass the moonlight fell
        Hush'd the sound of daylight bustle
        Closed the pink-eyed pimpernell
        As a-down the moss grown wood path
        Where the cattle love to roam,
        From an august evening party
        I was seeing Nelly home.

Repeat Chorus last time
In the sky the bright stars glittered
On the grass the moonlight shonw
From an august evening party
I was seeing Nelly home.

2. VER. When the autumn tinged the greenwood
        Turning all its leaves to gold
        In the lawn by elders shaded
        I my love to Nelly told
        As we stood together gazing
        On the star bespangled dome
        How I blessed the august evening
        When I saw sweet Nelly home.

3. VER. White hairs mingled with my tresses
        Furrows steal upon my brow
        But a love smile cheers and blesses
        Life's declining moments now
        Matron in the snowy kerchief
        Closer to my bosom come
        Tell me do'st thous still remember
        When I saw sweet Nelly home


The early history of this song is slightly confused. It first appeared in 1856, but evidently in an unauthorized edition perhaps taken from a minstrel troupe performance.

In 1859 the composer, John Fletcher, issued an official edition -- complete with complaints about the previous editions. Yet in this text Nelly was not brought home from "Aunt Dinah's quilting party" but "from an august evening party." Jackson thinks this an error; it strikes me as possible that this was a deliberate change intended to differentiate the editions. Even stranger, the cover of the 1859 edition calls the girl "Nellie," but inside she is "Nelly." One can only suppose that neither she nor her swain could read too well.

Even the name of the author varies; the 1856 edition calls her(?) Frances Kyle; the 1859 edition omits the name; in 1884 the name is given variously as Frances and Francis. - RBW


  • Floyd County Ramblers, "Aunt Dinah's Quilting Party" (Victor V-40331, 1930; Bluebird B-5107, 1933)
  • Haydn Quartet, "Aunt Dinah's Quilting Party" (Victor 2456, 1903)
  • Lester McFarland & Robert Gardner, "Seeing Nellie Home" (Brunswick 199, 1928; rec. 1927)


  1. Dean, p. 79, "Seeing Nellie Home" (1 text)
  2. RJackson-19CPop, pp. 229-232, "When I Saw Sweet Nellie Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. BrownIII 289, "Seeing Nelly Home" (1 text)
  4. Silber-FSWB, p. 254, "Seing Nellie Home (Aunt Dinah's Quilting Party)" (1 text)
  6. ST RJ19229 (Full)
  7. Roud #5492
  8. BI, RJ19229


Alternate titles: “Aunt Dinah's Quilting Party”
Author: Words: F. Kyle / Music: John Fletcher
Earliest date: 1856 (sheet music)
Keywords: love courting age party
Found in: US(MW,SE)