I first learned this song from my old friend, Tim Leonard. The song is a tradition in his family and is attributed to their distinguished ancestor, the Reverend Doctor Thornton Bancroft Penfield (1867-1958). The Reverend Doctor was born to missionaries in India but grew up in the US, graduating from Columbia in 1890.
He wrote a fair amount of poetry and had a sense of humor. He did time as class poet at Columbia and he edited various college publications. He also published a book of poems called The Four-Leaved Clover.