I want to offer some analysis of the versions of the "House Carpenter" collected in the Northeastern part of the United States that we have found so far. At this time I am not including the Canadian versions. I am also excluding the version known as "The Banks of Claudy", collected from Ellen Sullivan of Springfield, Vermont, since it is so different from all of the others, and I have already posted Heylin's analysis of it. And, I am excluding, for now, the version collected from Edith Ballenger Price, of Newport, Rhode Island, entitled "The Daemon Lover." This, too, is a unique version, different from all of the others. I will discuss it in a different context later.
In addition to the Sullivan and Price variants, there are two other versions that are significantly different enough from the rest to deserve mention. One is the version entitled "The Young Turtle Dove", from a manuscript that belonged to Mrs. John Luther of Pittsburg, New Hampshire. The other is the version from Alec Couchey of Essex, New York, as sung by Lee Knight, entitled "The Gypsy Daisy", which combines "The House Carpenter" with "The Gypsy Davey." I will be including both of these variants in my discussion.
There are also a number of fragments or incomplete versions in what we have found so far. They are as follows: the version from Susie Carr Young, of Brewer, Maine; the one from Celia Kelter, of Tabasco, New York; the one from Mrs. Wales of Burlington, Vermont; the one from Maynard Reynolds of Pittsburgh, New Hampshire; the one from Clarence Cutting from the Adirondack region of New York, and the one from Jennie Devlin, from either Gloucester, Massachusetts or perhaps New Jersey. I will include all of these fragments in my discussion.
I will also include the broadside printed by De Marsan, which I assume is the same one printed by "J. Andrews" in New York City in 1857. We don't know the sources for the Andrews/De Marsan broadside, but since it was printed in New York, it seems to me to be a part of our collection, as well as one of the possible sources for the others that we have found.
All of our versions have been collected roughly within a hundred years of the printing of the Andrews/De Marsan broadside. It predates all of our versions and certainly could have been around for all of our singers to draw on as a source. I want to try to see which of our versions seem most dependent upon the broadside and which ones differ from it the most. All of them follow the same general narrative of the broadside, but with some significant individual variations. None of our versions correspond exactly with the broadside. Each one differs in some significant way.
I have not been able to see any geographical tendencies among our versions. The "state boundaries" seem irrelevant, so I have decided to ignore them. Also the distance from New York City as the source of the broadside does not seem relevant. We don't have enough samples from Canada to be able to tell about any influence from that direction. So I am treating our versions strictly on a regional basis within the northeastern part of the United States.