“The Logger's Alphabet”


A song by which lumbermen remember the alphabet and tell of their "merry" lives: "A is for axes as all of you know / And B is for boys who can use them also.... So merry, so merry, so merry are we / No mortals on earth are as happy as we"


Linscott claims that there are unprintable versions of this song, but it's not clear (since she doesn't print them) whether they are really lumber-camp versions or just forms of the various bawdy alphabets.

She also says that the song has been attributed to Larry Gorman -- but what hasn't been?

Although all collections of this song appear to be from the twentieth century, chances are that it dates from the 1860s or earlier; by the 1870s, the crosscut saw was replacing the axe as the standard method for felling trees -- but most versions of this have multiple references to axes and few if any to saws. - RBW

Cross references


  • Sam Campbell, "The Shantyboys' Alphabet" (on Lumber01)
  • Sam Eskin, "Lumberman's Alphabet" (on GrowOn3)
  • Wilmot MacDonald, "The Lumberman's Alphabet" (on Miramichi1)
  • Gus Schaffer, "Lumberjack's Alphabet" (on AFS, 1938; on LC56)


  1. Doerflinger, pp. 207-208, "The Lumberman's Alphabet" (1 text, 1 tune, plus a sort of personalized appendix, "The Shantyboy's Song," on p. 209)
  2. Flanders/Olney, pp. 112-113, "Lumberman's Alphabet" (1 text)
  3. Linscott, pp. 235-237, "The Lumberman's Alphabet" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. FSCatskills 3, "The Woodsman's Alphabet" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Rickaby 6, "The Shanty-Man's Alphabet" (1 text plus a fragment, 2 tunes)
  6. Gardner/Chickering 102, "The Lumberman's Alphabet" (1 text plus an excerpt and mention of 5 more)
  7. Fowke-Lumbering #1 , "The Shantyboy's Alphabet" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Fowke/Mills/Blume, pp. 168-170, "The Lumberman's Alphabet" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Creighton-NovaScotia 98, "Alphabet Song (Lumberman's)" (1 text; the "A" and "B" texts in this entry are "The Sailor's Alphabet")
  10. Ives-NewBrunswick, pp. 87-90, "The Lumberman's Alphabet" (1 text, 1 tune)
  11. Manny/Wilson 82, "The Lumberman's Alphabet (The Axe-Handle Song)" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. Botkin-NEFolklr, pp. 564-565, "The Lumberman's Alphabet" (1 text, 1 tune)
  13. Beck 5, "Alphabet Song" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  14. Scott-BoA, pp. 173-175, "The Lumberman's Alphabet" (1 text, 1 tune)
  15. Darling-NAS, pp. 335-336, "The Lumberman's Alphabet" (1 text)
  17. Roud #159
  18. BI, Doe207


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1916 (Gardner/Chickering)
Found in: US(MA,MW,NE) Canada(Mar,Ont)