The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #8085 Message #2874827
Posted By: Jim Dixon
29-Mar-10 - 01:56 PM
Thread Name: Origins: State of Arkansas
Subject: Lyr Add: THE STATE OF ARKANSAW (from J Lomax)
From Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads by John A. Lomax (New York: Sturgis & Walton Co., 1910), page 226:
THE STATE OF ARKANSAW
MY name is Stamford Barnes. I come from Nobleville* town.
I've traveled this wide world over. I've traveled this wide world round.
I've met with ups and downs in life, but better days I've saw,
But I've never knew what misery were till I came to Arkansaw.
I landed in St. Louis with ten dollars and no more.
I read the daily papers till both my eyes were sore.
I read them evening papers until at last I saw
Ten thousand men were wanted in the state of Arkansaw.
I wiped my eyes with great surprise when I read this grateful news,
And straightway off I started to see the agent, Billy Hughes.
He says, "Pay me five dollars and a ticket to you I'll draw.
It'll land you safe upon the railroad in the State of Arkansaw."
I started off one morning a quarter after five.
I started from St. Louis, half dead and half alive.
I bought me a quart of whiskey my misery to thaw.
I got as drunk as a biled owl when I left for old Arkansaw.
I landed in Ft. Smith one sultry Sunday afternoon.
It was in the month of May, the early month of June.
Up stepped a walking skeleton with a long and lantern jaw,
Invited me to his hotel, "The best in Arkansaw."
I followed my conductor into his dwelling place.
Poverty were depictured in his melancholy face.
His bread it was corn dodger, his beef I could not chaw.
This was the kind of hash they fed me in the State of Arkansaw.
I started off next morning to catch the morning train.
He says to me, "You'd better work, for I have some land to drain.
I'll pay you fifty cents a day, your board, washing, and all.
You'll find yourself a different man when you leave old Arkansaw."
I worked six weeks for the son of a gun. Jesse Herring was his name.
He was six foot seven in his stocking feet and taller than any crane.
His hair hung down in strings over his long and lantern jaw.
He was a photograph of all the gents who lived in Arkansaw.
He fed me on corn dodgers as hard as any rock,
Until my teeth began to loosen and my knees began to knock.
I got so thin on sassafras tea I could hide behind a straw,
And indeed I was a different man when I left old Arkansaw.
Farewell to swamp angels, cane brakes, and chills.
Farewell to sage and sassafras and corn dodger pills.
If ever I see this land again, I'll give to you my paw.
It will be through a telescope from here to Arkansaw.
[* Nobleville is the former name of two settlements: Rochester, in Champaign County, Ohio; and Sterling, in Wayne County, Pennsylvania.]