Old English wolcen; cognate with Dutch wolk and German Wolke ‘cloud’.
1. (archaic) The sky, the upper air; the heavens.
◦ c1388, Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, This day in mirth and revel to dispend Till on the welkin shone the starres bright
“make the welkin ring”
1. To make a loud noise.
2. By extension of (1), to celebrate or revel.
3. By extension of (1), to experience the noise of asteroids, comets or meteors coming through the upper atmosphere.
It is lost to history why Port Huron’s first base ball club chose the name Welkin. The word welkin means “heavens” or “sky.” “Make the welkin ring,” was a common saying in the late 1860’s. It is possible the Welkins named their club after the barque, Welkin that sailed the Atlantic Ocean in the late 1800’s.
A barque is a three to five masted sailing vessel primarily used to haul cargo. A typical 1800’s style barque is pictured right. The 131 foot Welkin, registered in New York, regularly sailed to Europe in the late 1800’s. She was built in 1853 by Captain Joseph Stetson in Camden, Maine. She was known to carry many goods as well as immigrants. It is possible that one or more of the original Welkins either served aboard the Welkin or were passengers on the barque.
It is believed at least one of the original Welkinites served in the 1st Artillery in the Civil War. The artillery would certainly have made the “welkin ring.”
In 1869 the undefeated Cincinnati Red Stockings sang the following song to their adoring fans:
We are a band of baseball players From Cincinnati city.
We come to toss the ball around And sing to you our ditty
And if you listen to the song We are about to sing,
We’ll tell you all about baseball And make the welkin ring.
The ladies want to know
Who are those gallant men in Stockings red, they’d like to know.