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The Charlie Maguire Songbook

Words and Chords to His Most Popular Songs

Mary Gibbs

Words & Music by Charlie Maguire © Mello-Jamin Music. All rights reserved.

Mary Hannah Gibbs (1879-1984), the scrappy woman who risked her life for Itasca State Park (Head waters of the great Mississippi River) when she was 24 years old in 1903, could be a candidate for the earliest woman park ranger in history, as well as one of the earliest female environmentalists in the world. Her life before, during, and after her brief tenure as acting Commissioner in Minnesota's oldest park drove my search for answers which has now spanned 10 years and two countries, and has changed this song five times so far since I first wrote it. Plans are in the making to celebrate her life next year in 2003 the 100th Anniversary of her brave stand at Itasca. Watch this web site for more information as it becomes available.

The version you can play here is from my latest album "Stepping Stones," but you can also hear another version on "Harbour Lights." Collect 'em all! See Recordings for ordering information.

Play Sample

 G     D     C-G        D                      C-G                                                                         
Lake Itasca 1903, Mary Gibbs is part of that history
Am                          C            G
She walked up to a gunman rifle in his hand
Am                         C       G
Guarding a sluiceway at a logging dam
Am                     C D-D7
Alone this woman took a stand


G                   D                C          G
She let the waters out, she let the lake down low
D                         C    G
Mary Gibbs let the Mississippi go
Am                     C-G
Down to the Gulf of Mexico
G                    C         D-G
Mary Gibbs let the Mississippi go

Additional verses:

The logging dam was deep and wide
Flooding out the land on every side
Acting Commissioner at 24
To protect the Head waters and enforce the law
Like her dying father had done before (refrain)

"I'll shoot anyone!" that gunman said
Pushing back the warrant before it was read
But Mary Gibbs she put out her hand
She placed on the lever that controlled the dam
"You'll not shoot it off!" she told that man
And "You'll not shoot me!" she told that man (refrain)

Now old Judge Spooner he called her in
"An outlaw you'll be if you do that again!"
Against his orders she could not stand
The timber interests had tied her hands
She caught a train, for the Canadian land (refrain)

Previous Songs: I Like It Here/O Cold and Misery * Winter on the Farm * Darling * Fine Old Lady * The Teton Dam * Towboat * The Hinkley Fire * L'Etoile Du Nord * Goodnight Baby * Gypsy Woody * The B. C. Rail * Play Us a Waltz * Ozawindib * Long Way to Another Friend * Fall Is Here * Rainfall Has Turned to Snow * Itasca: A Place of Beginnings * I'm From Minnesota * The Ballad of Augie Mattsen * The Strike Is On * Sam Smith

This month's song

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