“The Little Mohee”


A (foreign soldier) is greeted by a pretty Mohee. She offers to take him into her tribe if he will stay with her. He will not stay; he has a sweetheart at home. Returning home, he find his girl has left him, and wishes himself back with the Mohee


Kittredge describes this as a "chastened" (i.e. de-bawdy-ized) American reworking of a British broadside, "The Indian Lass." It is agreed, though, that the American version is much superior to the British. [It may be agreed that this is superior to "The Indian Lass," but not by me. - PJS]

Barry, however, considers the American version original; it then became a sea song, with the girl transformed from a "Mohee" to a resident of Maui, and the British version descends from that. Belden concurs at least to the extent of calling it a sea song and saying "that the 'Indian lass' is a denizen not of America but of the South Seas."

Huntington splits the difference; he thinks the sea version is the original, and the source of the Native American version (he doesn't mention "The Indian Lass"). He offers no evidence for this view, except for the early dates of the whaling versions.

Just looking at the sundry texts, my (slight) inclination is to think "The Little Mohee" the original; "The Indian Lass" looks like this song with a little bit of "The Lake of Ponchartrain" mixed in and the Indian girl released from tribal affiliation.

Scarborough has a discussion of the matter, in which she supports Kittredge in calling it a British import. But she seems to consider the two still one song -- although her versions consistently mention the Mohee/Mauhee/Mawhee, she titles the song "The Indian Lass."

Whatever its origin, the song has become extremely popular in America (Laws lists in excess of two dozen versions, from more than a dozen states). Sundry tunes are used; many are close to "On Top of Old Smokey." - RBW

Cross references


  • Hall Brothers, "Little Mo-Hee" (Bluebird B-6843/Montgomery Ward 7237, 1937)
  • Buell Kazee, "The Little Mohee" (Brunswick 156, 1927; Brunswick 436, 1930) (on Kazee01 [fragment])
  • Bradley Kincaid, "The Little Mohee" (Gennett 6856/Supertone 9402, 1929)
  • Flora Noles, "Little Mohee" (OKeh 45037, 1926)
  • Pie Plant Pete [pseud. for Claude Moye], "Little Mo-Hee", Perfect 5-10-14/Melotone 5-10-14, 1935; rec. 1934)
  • Riley Puckett, "Little Maumee" (Columbia 15277-D, 1928)
  • Roe Bros. & Morrell, "My Little Mohi" (Columbia 15199-D, 1927)
  • Ernest Stoneman and His Dixie Mountaineers, "The Pretty Mohea" (Edison, unissued, 1928)


  1. Laws H8, "The Little Mohea"
  2. Belden, pp. 143-145, "Little Mohea" (1 text plus references to 6 more)
  3. Randolph 63, "The Pretty Mohee" (2 texts plus an excerpt, 1 tune)
  4. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 484-486, "The Pretty Mohee" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 63A)
  5. BrownII 110, "Little Mohea" (1 text plus mention of 11 more)
  6. Hudson 47, pp. 162-164, "Little Mohea" (2 texts plus mention of 3 more)
  7. Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 336-345, "The Indian Lass" (6 texts plus a fragment/excerpt, with local titles "Pretty Mauhee," "The Pretty Mohea," "Pretty Mohea," "The Lass of Mohee," "Mawhee," "The Pretty Mahee," (no title); 1 tune on pp. 448-449)
  8. Brewster 29, "The Pretty Mohee" (3 texts plus an excerpt and mention of 3 more, 1 tune)
  9. Dean, pp. 17-18. "The Lass of Mohe" (1 text)
  10. Logsdon 40, pp. 211-214, "The Little Mohea" (1 text, 1 tune)
  11. Leach, pp. 725-726, "The Little Mohee" (1 text)
  12. Wyman-Brockway I, p. 52, "The Little Mohee" (1 text, 1 tune)
  13. Fuson, p. 84, "The Little Mohea" (1 text)
  14. Cambiaire, pp. 62-63, "The Pretty Mauhee" (1 text)
  15. Fife-Cowboy/West 47, "Little Mohea" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  16. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 163-165, "The Little Mohee" (1 text, 1 tune)
  17. Botkin-AmFolklr, pp. 824-825, "The Little Mohee" (1 text, 1 tune)
  18. Chase, pp. 128-129, "The Little Mohee" (1 text, 1 tune)
  19. SHenry H836, pp. 372-373, "The Lass of Mohee" (1 text with many variant readings, 1 tune)
  20. LPound-ABS, 91, pp. 197-198, "The Pretty Mohea" (1 text)
  21. JHCox 116, "The Pretty Mohea" (3 texts)
  22. JHCoxIIB, #12A-C, pp. 147-150, "The Pretty Mohea," "The Little Maumee" (1 text plus 2 fragments, 2 tunes)
  23. Huntington-Whalemen, pp. 148-150, "The Lass of Mowee" ( text)
  24. Colcord, pp. 199-200, "The Lass of Mohea" (1 text, 1 tune)
  25. Fowke/MacMillan 53, "The Young Spanish Lass" (1 text, 1 tune)
  26. Leach-Labrador 103, "Little Mohee" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  27. Mackenzie 58, "The Lass of Mohee" (1 text)
  28. Dibblee/Dibblee, pp. 82-83, "The Lass of Mohee" (1 text, 1 tune)
  29. Shay-SeaSongs, pp. 195-197, "The Little Mohee" (1 text, 1 tune)
  30. Darling-NAS, pp. 227-229, "The Little Mohee" (1 text)
  31. Silber-FSWB, p. 148, "Little Mohee" (1 text)
  32. cf. Gardner/Chickering, p. 482, "The Pretty Mohea" (source notes only)
  33. DT 648, LILMOHEE*
  34. Roud #275
  35. BI, LH08


Alternate titles: “Cocoanut Grove”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1847 (Journal of William Histed of the Cortes)
Found in: US(Ap,MW,NE,Ro,SE,So,SW) Ireland Canada(Newf)