The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #50439   Message #764938
Posted By: masato sakurai
14-Aug-02 - 12:33 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Frozen Charlotte / Young Charlotte
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte
This is "Young Charlotte (Fair Charlotte)" [Laws G17].

W.K. McNeil writes on the ballad "Schaladi" in his Southern Folk Ballads, vol. II (August House, 1998, pp. 99-100) as follows:

This is a unique tite for this ballad which is usually known as "Young Charlotte" or "Fair Charlotte," and probably results from a misunderstanding of the word "Charlotte." The only other name by which it is widely known is "The Frozen Girl." There has been much discussion about the authorship of this ballad, which at one time was thought to be the work of William Lorenzo Carter, a blind poet and ballad-singer from Bensontown, Vermont. Carter supposedly wrote the song sometime prior to 1833 and hawked copies of it in his travels across New England and New York State. According to another claim the song was written shortly after the death of a Charlotte Dills, who was frozen to death at Auburn, Indiana, in 1862. Most authorities, however, now agree that it was the work of Seba Smith (1792-1868), a Maine native generally known for his humorous writings such as The Life and Writings of Major Jack Downing (1833) and My Thirty Years Out of the Senate (1859).
Smith read a story published in 1831 about a Charlotte J--who was found dead in her "bower," all dressed for a ball. That was the source for the heroine's name but the incident that inspired the song was a story that appeared in the February 8, 1840, issue of the New York Observer. Titled "A Corpse Going to a Ball," the article concerned an unnamed young lady who froze to death on January 1, 1840, while on her way to a dance. Smith's ballad, also titled "A Corpse Going to a Ball," appeared in the December 28, 1843, issue of The Rover. From there it went on to widespread popularity; it has been collected in Vermont, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Colorado, Michigan, Arkansas, Utah, Virginia, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, New York, Iowa, California, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, West Virginia, Maine, and Newfoundland.

Recordings listed at Folk Music Index are:

Young Charlotte [Laws G17] - Smith, Seba
At - Corpse Going to a Ball ; Fair Charlotte
1. American Ballads and Songs, Scribners, Sof (1972/1922), p103
2. Native American Balladry, Amer. Folklore Society, Bk (1964), p221
3. Delmore Brothers. Grass Roots Harmony, Oak, Sof (1968), p.68 (Frozen Girl)
4. Hartsell, Lula Jayne. Southern Folk Ballads, Vol. 2. Ballads - Stories in Song..., August House, Bk (1988), p. 98 (Schaladi)
5. McCurdy, Ed. Sin Songs. Pro/Con, Elektra EKL-124, LP (1955), cut#B.08 (Frozen Charlotte)
6. Seeger, Pete. Champlain Valley Songs, Folkways FH 5210, LP (195?), cut#B.08
7. Smith, Betty. Songs Traditionally Sung in North Carolina, Folk Legacy FSA-053, LP (1975), cut# 5

Two recordings at the Max Hunter Collection ("Fair Charlotte" is not online):
1. Young Charlotte
Cat. #0064 (MFH #727) - As sung by Mrs. Allie Long Parker, Eureka Springs, Arkansas on April 14, 1958
2. Young Charlottie
Cat. #0050 (MFH #727) - As sung by Mrs. Goldie Schott in Mondell, Arkansas on April 3, 1958

One recording of "Young Charlotte" (sung by George Vinton Graham, vocals and guitar; recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in San Jose, California on August 16, 1939) is at California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties.

See also The Traditional Ballad Index: Young Charlotte.

~Masato