The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #143842   Message #3338188
Posted By: John Minear
14-Apr-12 - 10:11 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Child Ballads in 18th c. America?
Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads in 18th c. America?
Richie, thanks for the reference on the Cox version of "Lord Thomas" from WVA. It reminded me that I need to look at all of those ballads in that book. I suspect that this kind of mention, that "Mr. Miller thinks the ballad has been known in his family for about two hundred years" is as close as we are going to get on much documentation for these ballads in the 18th century. Thanks for catching this and doing the math. Here is the link for everyone else:

I agree with Steve and "Peregrina" that the Gentry biography is important and fascinating. When I was working on Child Ballad #18 - "Sir Lionel", on the "Wild Boar" thread, I was able to explore some of the family relationships between the Beech Mountain Hicks and Jane Gentry down in Hot Springs, and Sam Harmon over in Cades Cove, Tennessee. Sam had a very interesting version of this ballad and it was quite close to one still sung back up on Beech Mountain, NC, which had been his home before he went to Tennessee, in the 1800s. I am looking forward to taking another look at the material from Mike Yates.

And speaking of the Ritchie Family in Kentucky, I have often wondered about the impact of the "settlement schools" like the one in Hindman, KY, on the spread of this music. I know there were several down in North Carolina as well. I seem to recall that one of the older Ritchie sisters attended one down in NC and brought back that gem "Black is the Color" to Kentucky.

There certainly is a worthy project for somebody to try to document and untangle that "nest" of ballad singers in Madison County, North Carolina. I hope to live long enough to read that book someday!

Bill D. thanks for the reminder about Bruce Olsen's website on Broadside collections. I think it will add more than "a bit" to all of this. Has anybody already gone through this material and rounded up the references to the Child Ballads? Please say "yes"!

And John Moulden, thanks for the two additional references. It's about time for another trip to the UVA library.

And Steve, thanks for the suggestion about the Pennsylvania version of "Barbara Allen" and Percy's Reliques. Do we have any information from the 18th century that people were using Percy as an actual songbook? I keep thinking that we are missing a lot of links in here somewhere. How do we actually get from Percy to Northern Pennsylvania with so little alteration in the text? It certainly does suggest the involvement of a written source, but the PA text also shows evidence of local adaptation.   

Richie's final comment with regard to the "Lord Thomas" version from WVA that a "broadside of the earlier English broadside from the 1700s was printed in the US circa 1840s" makes me wonder if there were not a bunch of broadsides being printed in the US circa the 1840's and that Jonathan's comment back a ways "that most of the American popularity of Child ballads came from some sort of latterly unnoticed "broadside/songster revival" from around 1830?" Would this information be on Bruce Olsen's website?