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Hey, welcome to Short Stuff, I'm Josh.


There's Chuck, and this is short stuff, we are talking about a little nursery rhyme, pretty adorable in its nature that you may have heard of before. It's called Mary Had a Little Lamb. Oh, wait a minute, was. Was this lamb's fleece as white as snow it was, and there was something remarkable about it in that wherever Mary went, the lamb went as well. Sounds like a stalker to me a little bit. So this is pretty interesting in that this is controversial.


I mean, this cute little nursery rhyme that every English speaking kid on the planet has heard at one time or another, especially if you're raised in America, may have had, number one, a Real-Life origin in number two. There are two towns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire where the local historical societies will fight each other with bike chains and brass knuckles if they run into one another in public.


Yeah, this is really interesting. In Sterling, Massachusetts, if you go, you're going to see a little copper statue of a little lamb, and it's Mary Sawyer's Little Lamb specifically, which she brought to school in 1815.


Yeah, she was a little girl who and this, I guess we should say, allegedly for all this stuff, because they're everyone's saying to each other is wrong. So allegedly, Mary, say this little lamb nursed it back to health overnight. And over a few days, the lamb got much better. And then she was going to go to school one day and her brother Nat said, hey, once you bring that lamb to school and you love it so much, what you married?


And she did bring the lamb to school, hiding it in a basket under her chair. And at one point she stands up to take part in a recitation lesson and the lamb bleats, the teacher laughs. She takes the lamb outside and kills it. No, she takes a lamb outside and stores it in the shed. But this caught the idea of a guy name or the eye of a guy named John Roleystone.


Yeah, he was an older boy who I guess was visiting the schoolhouse where all this took place that day. He was on his way off to Harvard and he died shortly after of tuberculosis. But before that, he wrote a poem, several lines. That's basically what everybody knows from Mary had a little lamb supposedly that night. He was so taken by this thing, by this event, came back the next day on horseback and handed Mary the little poem he wrote for her.


And Mary Sawyer went on for the rest of her life as Mary, the girl with the little lamb that she'd nursed back to health. And these the source of the famous nursery rhyme. Mary had a little lamb.


Yeah. And it's important to note that he wrote but three stanzas of that poem. And I think he was just thought it was cute. I think it's an adorable story that not only did she nurse this little lamb and take it to school, but this, you know, rising freshman at Harvard was so smitten with this whole thing on his little visit to the school that he wrote a poem about it.


That's right. It's adorable. Then he died of tuberculosis later that you can't point that out again.


And so he he so Jon Ralston and Mary Sawyer are the source of the inspiration and the the basis of that nursery rhyme. Mary had a little lamb as far as Sterling, Massachusetts, is concerned.


But if you drive a little further north, about 90 miles north into New Hampshire, southwest New Hampshire, you come across the town of Newport, you will get a totally different story that their their position is basically that Mary Sawyer was a lying old lady who lied her whole life and made up this fantastic tale and that it was really Sarah Josepha Hale, who was a native of Newport, New Hampshire, who was very famous for setting up the first Thanksgiving in the United States, like as a as a national holiday.


She's the one that made that happen, that she's the one who wrote Mary had a little lamb.


Right. And I think we should take a break. And before we do that, I want to point out that Josh did not misspeak. Her middle name was Josepha and not Joseph or Josephine.


Yeah, it just sounded a little funny. And people might think, why did Josh spice that one up, put a little mustard on it?


So we'll come back and explain more about her story and where Henry Ford figures and right after this.


Hey, it's Bobby Bones, executive producer of Make It Up as we Go, the brand new podcast from Audio Up and I Heart Radio brought to you exclusively by Unilever's Noor and Magnum Brands. The story follows a songwriter's journey as well as the songs themselves and how they make it to country radio from executive producer Miranda Lambert and creators Scarlett Burg and Jared Goosestep, a story inspired by the competitive world of Nashville writing rooms featuring original music by Scarlett Burke, director and executive producer, featuring some of the biggest names in country, including The Cool Guy and Everything Now Nowadays.


Just like now, it's feeling like one day on a Saturday night, make it up as we go only on the podcast network in association with audio of media created by Scarlett Burke and Jared Goosestep. All right, so Sarah Joseph, Josepha Hale, I like Joseph, but I hadn't considered Josepha, but it's a good one, too. That sounds really biblical like she does. She suddenly just grew a beard without a mustache.


Right? You know what I mean? Yes. Like, come to me, Joseph. Let me put oils on your feet.


Right. That's exactly what I was thinking. Remember what, Congressman, was it that literally anointed someone?


Oh, it was Ashcroft, I think, wasn't it? Was it.


Yeah. What a bizarre time it was. I think it was it was Ashcroft. You're totally right.


He also sang some weird patriotic song about the eagle flying high around the same time he got some bad press. Everybody was like, Wow, you're bonkers, buddy. Oh, man.


I miss that guy. He was fun. Fun for the news cycle. He really was. All right. So Sarah Josepha Hale moved to Boston in 1828. She was a poet and a writer, and she was actually the editor of the very first women's magazine in the U.S. called Godey's Ladies book. And it was here in Boston that she met a man named Lowell Mason, who was a musician and composer who said, you know what? If we get some of these poems and set them to music, they would be called songs and we can use these in schools to make a little kids good moral kids.


Mm hmm.


When I think of all this kind of folk musician, children's music study proponent guy, have you ever seen that Mister show where David Cross is like the the guy who sculpted the little the little body that he moves from Appalachian folk art?


That guy. That's who I think of when I think like this guy, you know, just kinda weird and hapless and like out of it and all like his whole focus is learning to to to get music into schools for children and just I don't know why, but it's really stuck in there.


You know, our buddy Scott Ackerman wrote for Mr. Show, it was kind of his entree into the entertainment industry. And that's a yeah, he does a spot on impression of Bob Odenkirk.


Oh, yeah.


Oh, it's great. I got to say that it's very funny. All right.


So Mason and Hale are writing songs together. They put 15 poems to music called Poems for Our Children. And we should point out that the original tune that they wrote for her version of Mary Had a Little Lamb was not the familiar melody that we know. That came on later, I think.


Yeah, apparently that comes from a British song that goes merrily we roll along, roll along, roll along, merrily we roll along over the dark blue sea.


Hey, nice. Oh thank you. Thank you. I've practiced pretty extensively for zonkey.


I'm a little tone deaf this little pitchy but it was fine.


OK, thanks. I'll go with it was fine.


No it was good but yeah that came on later. The original melody. I don't even think we know that. Do we know.


But if you can get your hands on juvenile liar liar YRC that that book that it was originally in, I think the notes are in there. OK, it sounds like in a negative, Davida, that your go to so Mary Sawyer going back to her, the little girl who allegedly actually nursed this little lamb, who followed her around and stalked her, she said, you know what, those first three verses of your poem, Mishael, is exactly like the ones that John Roulstone wrote about my true story.


What is up with that?


Yeah, I guess she just thought that somehow Sarah Josepha Hale had gotten her hands somehow on this this poem that John Ralston had written for and just expanded on that. And Sarah Joseph Hale was like, no, that's not it at all. I made this whole thing up from scratch using strictly my imagination. I've never heard of you or your delightful little story from your childhood about the lamb, which sounds totally made up, by the way.


Right. And so this was like so now you had two upstanding women, Sarah Joseph Hale, the founder of the The American Holiday Thanksgiving. Yeah. And Mary Sawyer, who went on to become the matron of her local hospital. We're basically saying that one another was lying without saying that one another was lying. And to towns like reputations were on the line.


Yeah. And they they actually is older ladies signed sworn statements saying that what they were saying was true and correct. And it kind of went on like this for a little while. And I promised Henry Ford, yeah, and here we're going to deliver because in 1927, automobile magnate Henry Ford got involved and was firmly in the Mary Sawyer camp firmly. He was just a fan of hers, I guess, because he bought the original frame from that red schoolhouse and moved it to Sudbury, where he owned an inn.


And he wrote a book about this called The Story of Mary and Her Little Lamb.


I find that him moving in into Sudbury confuses the story tremendously because it just takes two small towns and adds a third one unnecessarily, if you're sure you know.


But yes, Henry Ford wrote a 60 page book just basically touting Mary Sawyer's story, much to the chagrin of the town of Newport, New Hampshire, and its historical society. And to this day, they will say, like Henry Ford made a great car. I don't know how he would be really as an historian. So, you know, his opinion doesn't count for much.


What I want to know is what was on the other 56 pages. Right. You know. Yeah. Couldn't have taken more than four to tell this little story. No, I know.


I don't know what he talked about. And I think my my joke bone is broken because I can't come up with anything stupid and.


Well, it depends on there are very much two camps here. And to this day, people that defend hail, I mean, people that defense lawyers are like, you know, this is sweet, sweet girl who had this sweet story. Why would she make this up and tell it her whole life? Right. Inhaled offenders were like, well, why would she just conjure up this poem out of thin air? Or I mean, why would she copy it and claim.


Right. She conjured it from thin air because, like, she wouldn't have even known about this poem.


Yeah, she just from what I can tell, she doesn't seem like the type who would have committed plagiarism and then stuck to the lie her entire life. Yeah, it's a mystery. It's a mystery. And even Henry Ford couldn't solve it. But to end this one, because we don't really have a resolution to it, there is like the full poem by Sir Joseph Hale. It ends pretty acutely because she's talking about how everyone wanted to know why the lamb loved Mary so much.


And in the poem it says, well, it's because Mary loves the lamb back. And then it ends with a new gentle animal in confidence may bind and make them follow your will if only you are kind and that sweet thing to teach little kids, be kind to animals and you can basically be the boss of them.


Yes. And you will never be a serial killer. That's right. Because you're kind to them rather than torture. So that's right. Well, that's it for sure. Stuff everybody.


We're out. Stuff you should know is a production of radios HowStuffWorks for more podcasts, My Heart Radio, is it the radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows?