The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #48893   Message #745772
Posted By: John Minear
10-Jul-02 - 09:47 AM
Thread Name: Origin: Limber Jim
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Limber Jim: History & Lyrics
According to the Library of Congress, Fletcher Collins collected "Buckeye Jim" (aka "Limber Jim") from Mrs. J.U. (Patty) Newman in 1939, at Elon College, in North Carolina. From Fletcher Collins himself, in his liner notes for THE TRUE LOVER'S FAREWELL: APPALACHIAN FOLK BALLADS, by Custer LaRue (Dorian Recordings Dor-90213):

"It is important not to overtypify our image of the ballad-singer. They don't run to stereotype. My best traditional singer, who in 1939 sang me eighty-one ballads, was far from being an illiterate old woman dipping snuff in her Appalachian cabin. Born in 1864, singing to me in a modern brick cottage on the edge of the campus of Elon College in North Carolina, she was the wife of a professor of Greek and Latin. She attended Antioch College in Ohio, taught school in her time, and was the niece of two Long brothers who were respectively presidents of Elon and Antioch Colleges in the 1880's. Her father, the eldest Long brother, farmed in North Carolina and Missouri; her mother was from an old Guilford, North Carolina, family. The Longs were a singing family, led by grandmother Long and Patty Newman's elder sisters, from whom she learned her bountiful repertory of songs. That she remembered them at seventy-six, when she gave them to me, she attributed to learning them when she was very young, some when she was only four, and to the fact that she married into an unmusical family and had to keep singing to herself, as well as to her own children, even though they were stone-deaf.

She was pleased that her songs were being recorded for the Library of Congress, for she was aware of old mortality and felt that the songs were too good to die with here. But it was not her singing that she valued; it was the songs. When I inquired politely about her family and early life, she stopped me and said, "Now look here, Fletcher, I'm just telling you all this because you wanted to know. I don't want any of this in the newspapers. If my life's been worth anything, it'll be found out withut being stuck in the papers." - Fletcher Collins, 1995.

Collins did record this song and it can be heard at the Library of Congress in the Folklife Reading Room, and "copies can be made through the Library's Recording Laboratory, but that can be a rather expensive process." (reference specialist LOC).

It is especially interesting to note that Mrs. Newman attended college in Ohio, and that her father farmed in Missouri. This might provide some connection to Hearn's "Limber Jim" tradition.

You can hear Custer LaRue sing three other of Mrs. Newman's songs, collected by Fletcher Collins, on this same album: "Berayna" (a version of "The Three Jolly Huntsmen") and "Johnny Home from Sea" and "Charlie's Sweet".