There once was a man from Nantucket- One of the earliest known versions of There once was a man from Nantucket motif is this rendition from 1924:
There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.
wherein this version — in which “Nantucket” can be jokingly read as “Nan took it (i.e., the bucket)” — was so popular that the newspapers Princeton Tiger Magazine and The Chicago Tribune each started a “Limerick Challenge” for readers to submit sequels. The first in the series, as it appeared in the Tribune and Pawtucket Times, was this:
But he followed the pair to Pawtucket,
The man and the girl with the bucket;
And he said to the man,
He was welcome to Nan,
But as for the bucket, Pawtucket.
The New York Exchange followed up with this:
Then the pair followed Pa to Manhasset,
Where he still held the cash as an asset,
But Nan and the man
Stole the money and ran,
And as for the bucket, Manhasset.
The Limerick Challenge was finalized by this fourth part, a re-entry from the Pawtucket Times:
Of this story we hear from Nantucket,
About the mysterious loss of a bucket,
We are sorry for Nan,
As well as the man—
The cash and the bucket, Pawtucket.
“There once was a man from Nantucket” is the opening line for many limericks and is among the most familiar opening lines in poetry.