Joseph Smith bought a rake,
And sold it for some corn;
He lived a week on johnny cake*,
And now he's dead and gone.
*A Johnny Cake is made with cornmeal, so its taste is similar to cornbread. It can be cooked in a skillet or baked. It's thin and flat like a pancake.
I couldn't find this rhyme in some of the most comprehensive collections of nursery rhymes (like The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes and The Annotated Mother Goose). Perhaps it was new to the early 20th century. (I found it in a book from 1912.) If anyone knows anything about the origin of this rhyme, or if you recall hearing it growing up, please email me and let me know. -Mama Lisa
Thanks and Acknowledgements
This rhyme can be found in The Little Mother Goose (1912), illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith, and printed in the USA.