Genealogy Song: ‘I Think I Hear a Woodpecker Knocking at My Family Tree’

“I Think I Hear a Woodpecker Knocking at My Family Tree” is probably the funniest genealogy song you will ever hear.

photo of the sheet music for the song "I Think I Hear a Woodpecker Knocking at My Family Tree”

Credit: University of Oregon, Sheet Music Collection

Written by composer Joseph Edgar Howard (1878-1961), this genealogy song has been popular since it was written back in 1909. A copy of the original sheet music for this piece was put online by the University of Oregon. You can see a copy of the song’s lyrics on the original sheet music; the lyrics are also reproduced below for your reference:

My family tree is an awful sight to see

For the bark is all worn bare;

It’s a busted stump which is mostly punk

And the worms are nesting there.

I’d point with pride to the ones who died

In my genealogy,

But the fact is this, almost all my kin and kith,

Have been hanged up on that tree.

I think I hear a woodpecker knocking on my family tree,

While I hear his knock, knock, knock,

I think he’s on to me.

My family did a whole lot of things that ain’t in history

But when he gets free with my ancestry

He’s knocking me. I me.

My father Dan was a literary man

He lived by and in the pen,

When he got away it was safe to say

He would soon be back again;

My uncle Frank for his work in a bank

By the police was in demand,

While my cousin Roy was an awful handy boy

With a stocking full of sand.

I think I hear a woodpecker knocking on my family tree,

While I hear his knock, knock, knock,

I think he’s on to me.

My family did a whole lot of things that ain’t in history

But when he gets free with my ancestry

He’s knocking me. I me.

Listen to a recording of this funny genealogy song here:

http://www.abmp3.info/mp3/i-think-hear-a-woodpecker-knocking-at-my-family-tree.html

Joseph Howard was a well-known vaudevillian. His most famous song was Hello, Ma Baby written in 1899.