American Tunes History
"Oh Shenandoah" (also called simply "Shenandoah", or "Across the Wide Missouri") is a traditional American folk song of uncertain origin, dating at least to the early 19th century. The song is number 324 in the Roud Folk Song Index, but is not listed amongst the Child Ballads.Until the nineteenth century only adventurers who sought their fortunes as trappers and traders of beaver fur ventured as far west as the Missouri River. Most of these men were loners who became friendly with, and sometimes married, Native Americans.Shenandoah is said to have originated with French voyageurs traveling down the Missouri River. The lyrics tell the story of a trader who fell in love with the daughter of an Algonquian chief, Shenandoah. American sailors heading down the Mississippi River picked up the song and made it a capstan shanty that they sang while hauling in the anchor (WIKI).