Joe's Music Rack
Part of

Down By The
Old Mill Stream


Down By The Old Mill Stream
ASCAP Work ID: None found under the name listed above by the composer - listed as Public Domain
(American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers)
ISWC: No Affiliation
(International Standard Musical Work Code)
BMI Work ID: No Affiliation
(Broadcast Music, Inc.)

William "Tell" Taylor
Born: October 28, 1876 near the Village of Vanlue, Amanda Township, Hancock County, Ohio
Died: November 23, 1937 (age 61) Chicago, IL

Publisher: Forster Music Publishing Company - Chicago, IL
ASCAP: 10561238
(1908) date first given - 1910 first published

The song was written in 1908 while Taylor was sitting on the banks of the Blanchard River in northwest Ohio. Reportedly, Taylor's friends persuaded him not to publish the song, believing it did not have commercial value. Two years later in 1910, however, the song was published and introduced to the public with performances by the vaudeville quartet, The Orpheus Comedy Four. After the group performed the song at an Woolworth store in Kansas City, it became so popular that the store sold out all one thousand of the copies of its sheet music Taylor had brought with him. Since then, over four million copies of its sheet music have been sold, and it has become a staple for barbershop quartets.

In 1937, when the original copyright for "Down By The Old Mill Stream" was expiring, Earl Kelly Smith (18861954) filed an application to renew the copyright as co-composer. The renewal was granted. Jerry Vogel Music Company began publishing it. Forster Music, which had acquired the rights to the song from the heirs of Tell Taylor, filed suit to stop Vogel from publishing the song. In 1944, a U.S. District Court in New York ruled in favor of Forster.

Transcribed from Sheet Music

(Verse 1)
My darling I am dreaming of the days gone by,
When you and I were sweethearts beneath the summer sky;
Your hair has turned to silver the gold has faded too;
But still I will remember, where I first met you.


(Verse 2)
The old mill wheel is silent and has fallen down,
The old oak tree has withered and lies there on the ground;
While you and I are sweethearts the same as days of yore;
Although we've been together, forty years and more.

Down by the old mill stream where I first met you,
With your eyes of blue, dressed in gingham* too,
It was there I knew that you loved me true,
You were sixteen, my village queen, by the old mill stream.

* Gingham is a printed or dyed fabric that is known for its checked patterns of white and a bold color. The size of the checks can vary, and although it typically is found with the checks appearing in horizontal rows and vertical columns, the checks also can appear to be arranged diagonally. Originally, this fabric was intended to be woven into stripes. Its name comes from the word genggang, which means "striped" in the Malay language spoken in places such as Malaysia and Indonesia, where it is believed to have originated.


Others who have recorded this song

  1. Jerry Colonna - Decca 28633 / "My Sweet Adeline" - 2:57

  2. Bing Crosby & Spike Jones Four - Decca 2447B

  3. Bing Crosby & Spike Jones Four - Decca 25492

  4. Frank Froeba and His Boy - Decca 23602

  5. Nathan Glantz and His Orchestra - Puritan 11399-B - 2126 -

  6. Guy Lombardo's Royal Canadians - Decca 102-A - 38290 - 06283 - New York, NY - August 13, 1934 - 3:16

  7. Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra - 1927A vocal: Dan Grissom - 63585=A - New York, NY - April 12, 1938 - 2:56

  8. Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra - 25422 vocal: Dan Grissom - 63585=A - New York, NY - April 12, 1938 - 2:56

  9. Harry MacDonough - Victor - 17000 - 11074=2 - October 10, 1911 - 2:48

  10. Three Peppers - Decca - 2239B - 64819 - December 16, 1938 - 2:27

Your Key To Collectibles - DECCA 78 DISCOGRAPHY
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Down By The Old Mill Stream
Joe's Music Rack
part of