Charles Wolfe says that it was a 1913 composition by George 'Honeyboy' Evans, one of the last of the great minstrel showmen who was known also for his 'In the Good Old Summertime'. Wolfe describes it colourfully as 'another instance of an old sheet music publication "getting loose" in the folk tradition'. The Carters were the first to record it. I looked in Levy and Duke for the original, but turned up nothing. Has anyone seen the original? It would be interesting to know whether, or to what extent, it was transformed by the folk process.
There is also a rather languorous (in the best sense) version by John Hartford on John and Jamie Hartford 'Hartford & Hartford' Flying Fish FF70566.