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DTStudy: Floyd Frazier (Ellen Flannery)

DigiTrad:
FLOYD FRAZIER


Joe Offer 13 Jan 18 - 06:33 PM
Joe Offer 13 Jan 18 - 07:11 PM
GUEST 13 Jan 18 - 09:28 PM
Joe Offer 14 Jan 18 - 02:35 AM
Joe Offer 14 Jan 18 - 02:56 AM
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Subject: DTStudy: Floyd Frazier (Ellen Flannery)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Jan 18 - 06:33 PM

This is an edited DTStudy thread, and all messages posted here are subject to editing and deletion.
This thread is intended to serve as a forum for corrections and annotations for the Digital Tradition song named in the title of this thread.

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Floyd Frazier (Ellen Flannery) [Laws F19]

DESCRIPTION: Floyd Frazier kills Ellen Flannery and hides her body. A search is started after her orphaned children are found crying. Her body is discovered, and Floyd is arrested. He confesses to the crime; the singer hopes he will be hanged
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1937 (catalogued by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax)
KEYWORDS: homicide children orphan
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
May 21, 1907 - Reported death date of Ellen Flanary
May 19, 1910 - Scheduled date of the execution for Floyd Frazier for the murder of Ellen Flanary (ee NOTES)
FOUND IN: US(Ap)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Laws F19, "Floyd Frazier (Ellen Flannery)"
Combs/Wilgus 68, pp. 155-157, "Floyd Frazier" (1 text)
Roberts, #31, Floyd Frazier" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT 735, FLOYFRAZ

Roud #695
NOTES: Roberts, pp. 333-334, was given a lead by one of his informants which led him to discover details of the case. Ellen Flanary was "a widder with five or six children," according to a local official. Frazier, it is believed, tried to rape her, then murdered her and partly covered her body with rocks. He was tried twice and sentenced to death both times. The account in Roberts does not reveal any of the evidence against him.
Although the excerpt printed by Roberts says Frazier was supposed to die on July 9, 1909, I found an online copy of a Whitesburg, Kentucky newspaper (May 26, 1910), which says that he was hung on May 19, 1910. He was still in his early twenties, reportedly having been born in 1886.
Roberts reports that, contrary to the song, he never confessed. Supposedly three thousand people witnessed the execution.
Earlier editions of this Index reported a date for the song of 1909, but did not reveal where I found that date. My guess is that it was someone's error for the date of Frazier's trial. The date is barely possible, since the longest versions (Combs's and Roberts's) don't actually refer to the execution, but I very much doubt it. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
File: LF19

Go to the Ballad Search form
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The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

  • Roberts -- Leonard Roberts (with music transcriptions by C. Buell Agey), Sang Branch Settlers: Folksongs and Tales of a Kentucky Mountain Family (American Folklore Society/University of Texas Press, 1974). Ballads cited by Number. Indexed by Robert B. Waltz. Added in version 4.2.
    NOTE: This book starts with a hundred folk songs, then several dozen tales, jokes, and riddles. The items identified as folk songs are indexed. Only a few of the tales -- those which I could instantly identify with songs -- were indexed.

    Here are the lyrics we have in the Digital Tradition, taken from Combs & Wilgus. Corrections in italics.

    FLOYD FRAZIER

    Come you people of every nation,
    And listen to my mournful song;
    I will tell you of a circumstance,
    Which happened not very long.

    Fiovd Floyd Frazier is now in prison,
    And ought to hang-ed be,
    For the killing of an innocent woman,
    This world may plainly see.

    He killed poor Ellen Flannery,
    And hid her in the woods,
    And made a quick return
    To wash away the blood.

    He crept into his cabin,
    And lay there all night,
    Believing his crime was hidden
    From everybody's sight.

    She had five little children,
    From door to door they run,
    To look for their poor mother
    But yet no mother come.

    Their little hearts grew hungry,
    At last they fell asleep,
    To rise up in the morning
    To cry and mourn and weep.

    The night it passed away,
    And the morning it did come;
    Her neighbors all did gather,
    To see what there was done.

    They searched all round her cabin,
    Went wandering up and down;
    At last Joseph Williams found her,
    And she was deadly wound'.

    They found her poor body lying
    Mouldering on the ground;
    The rocks piled upon her,
    They weighed sixty pound.

    They took her to her house,
    And there not long to stay,
    And then unto the graveyard,
    Until the Judgment Day.

    The people all did gather
    To see her dreadful wounds;
    The sight it was the greatest
    That ever has been found.

    She suffered in great mis'ry,
    In trouble and in pain;
    I hope her soul is in heaven,
    Forever there to reign.

    This young man was arrested,
    And rushed into the jail;
    The jury pronounced him guilty,
    They did not allow. him bail.

    He owned that he did kill her,
    And all that he had done;
    I think his case is dangerous,
    He has all the risk to run

    They carried him to Pineville,
    And there awhile to dwell;
    I'm afraid the crime he's committed
    Will send his soul to hell.

    This song came to me
    By day and by night;
    I think it is right to sing it
    In this vain world of delight.

    DT #735
    LawsÿF19
    @murder
    From CoombsCombs & Wilgus
    Collected from Margaret Green of Smithsboro Kentucky
    filename[ FLOYFRAZ
    SOF
    apr97

    The version in the Digital Tradition is Laws F19, #68 in Folk-Songs of the Southern United States (Folk-Songs du Midi des Etats-Unis), by Josiah H. Combs, edited by D.K. Wilgus Page 155, ©1967 by the American Folklore Society.

    The song was collected (1909?) from Mrs. Margaret Green, Smithsboro, Knott County, Kentucky. Originally published in 1925 in Folk-Songs du Midi des Etats-Unis.

    Except for a few minor OCR errors, the Digital Tradition lyrics are an accurate transcription of the lyrics in the book published in 1967 by the American Folklore Society.


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    Subject: RE: DTStudy: Floyd Frazier (Ellen Flannery)
    From: Joe Offer
    Date: 13 Jan 18 - 07:11 PM

    The song was indexed for the Traditional Ballad Index by Robert B. Waltz (RBW). Added in version 4.2.

    NOTES (from Waltz): Roberts, pp. 333-334, was given a lead by one of his informants which led him to discover details of the case. Ellen Flanary was "a widder with five or six children," according to a local official. Frazier, it is believed, tried to rape her, then murdered her and partly covered her body with rocks. He was tried twice and sentenced to death both times. The account in Roberts does not reveal any of the evidence against him.
    Although the excerpt printed by Roberts says Frazier was supposed to die on July 9, 1909, I found an online copy of a Whitesburg, Kentucky newspaper (May 26, 1910), which says that he was hung on May 19, 1910. He was still in his early twenties, reportedly having been born in 1886.
    Roberts reports that, contrary to the song, he never confessed. Supposedly three thousand people witnessed the execution.
    Earlier editions of this Index reported a date for the song of 1909, but did not reveal where I found that date. My guess is that it was someone's error for the date of Frazier's trial. The date is barely possible, since the longest versions (Combs's and Roberts's) don't actually refer to the execution, but I very much doubt it. - RBW
    Last updated in version 4.2


    Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index bibliography about the Roberts book.

  • Roberts -- Leonard Roberts (with music transcriptions by C. Buell Agey), Sang Branch Settlers: Folksongs and Tales of a Kentucky Mountain Family (American Folklore Society/University of Texas Press, 1974). Ballads cited by Number. Indexed by Robert B. Waltz. Added in version 4.2.
    NOTE: This book starts with a hundred folk songs, then several dozen tales, jokes, and riddles. The items identified as folk songs are indexed. Only a few of the tales -- those which I could instantly identify with songs -- were indexed.
  • Sounds like it would be really nice to get the lyrics and tune from the Roberts book. Anybody have it? I've ordered a copy of the book. so I'll post what I find there when I get it.

    In the meantime, here's a link to an excerpt of the Roberts book: (click here)
    Apparently, an alternate title of the Roberts book is Up Cutshin and Down Greasy: Folkways of a Kentucky Mountain Family
    Can anybody help locate the Library of Congress recordings that are listed in Roud? I can't find them.

    -Joe-


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    Subject: RE: DTStudy: Floyd Frazier (Ellen Flannery)
    From: GUEST
    Date: 13 Jan 18 - 09:28 PM

    The reason the hanging took place later then ordered he escaped an ran to Florida


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    Subject: RE: DTStudy: Floyd Frazier (Ellen Flannery)
    From: Joe Offer
    Date: 14 Jan 18 - 02:35 AM

    There's an interesting collection of newspaper clippings on this story at http://traildriver.com/web%20content/projects/appalachia/native%20kentucky%20ballads/036%20floyd%20frazier/036%20floyd%20frazier.html:

    NATIVE KENTUCKY BALLADS / 036
    Floyd Frazier, or
    The Murder of Ellen Flannery

    clippings transcribed by Steve Green


    Berea Citizen ~ May 30, 1907

    An Atrocious Crime

    Lexington, Ky.?The body of Mrs. Ellen Flanary, 30, a widow, of Perry Creek [sic], was discovered near her home beneath a heap of rocks, stabbed in the breast, with her throat cut and several fractures, unearthing the most inhuman tragedy in the murder annuals [sic] of Letcher county. Floyd Frazier, 18, revealed bloody clothes and was arrested. No motive is known.

    Gloomy for Frazier


    Sergent, Ky.?The chain of evidence fastening the murder of Mrs. Ellen Flannery upon young Floyd Frazier is gaining strength, the police say. A bloody knife was found near the scene of the murder. Stains of blood also were found on his garments.  Frazier refuses to talk.


    Hazel Green Herald ~ February 6, 1908

    Because one juror in the Floyd Frazier murder case in Letcher county held out for life imprisonment against eleven for hanging, the case goes over to the next term of court. Frazier is the self confessed murderer of Ellen Flannery.


    Interior Journal (Stanford, Ky.) ~ May 5, 1908

    The jury in the Floyd Frazier murder case of Whitesburg  returned a death verdict. A jury from Floyd county tried the case. Frazier murdered Mrs. Ellen Flanary, a widow, by cutting her throat.


    Interior Journal (Stanford, Ky.) ~ May 5, 1908

    Floyd Frazier will be hanged at Whitesburg July 3 for murdering Mrs. Ella Flaney [sic]. It will be Letcher county's first legal execution.


    Berea Citizen ~ May 7, 1908

    Death Verdict for Murderer


    Sergent, Ky.?The jury in the Floyd Frazier murder case, Whitesburg, returned a death verdict. The jury from Floyd county tried the case. Frazier murdered Miss Ellen Flanary, widow, at Port Creek, this county, May 23 of last year, by cutting her throat.


    Interior Journal (Stanford, Ky.) ~ November 24, 1908

    Sheriff Rice W. Johnson and Officer Lew Mays captured Floyd Frazier, who is under sentence to hang in Letcher county. He was captured on Bryson mountain, near Middlesboro. Frazier, with seven other prisoners, escaped from the county jail at Pineville. He had been sent to that county for safe keeping.


    Mountain Advocate (Barbourville, Ky.) ~ December 4, 1908

    Floyd Frazier Captured

    Floyd Frazier, who, with seven others made his escape from the Pineville jail about two weeks ago, was captured last Thursday in Tennessee and returned to the Pineville jail.


    Interior Journal (Stanford, Ky.) ~ April 30, 1909

    Floyd Frazier, who killed Mrs. Ellen Flannery in Letcher county, got a death sentence.


    Hazel Green Herald ~ May 13, 1909

    Floyd Frazier, who cut Mrs. Ellen Flannery's throat with an old case knife in May, 1907, causing her death, was sentenced to be hanged at the recent term of Letcher Circuit court.


    Paducah Evening Sun ~ January 31, 1910

    Kentucky Kernels


    Floyd Frazier, first man hanged in Letcher county.


    Interior Journal (Stanford, Ky.) ~ February 1, 1910

    Unless Gov. Willson interferes and grants a commutation of the sentence, Floyd Frazier must hang for the murder of Ellen Flannery, in Letcher county. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the lower court in his case.


    Clay City Times ~ February 3, 1910

    Floyd Frazier, aged 20 and of a good family must hang at Whitesburg for the murder of a woman some time ago. This will be the first legal hanging to occur in Letcher county.


    Interior Journal (Stanford, Ky.) ~ February 4, 1910

    Floyd Frazier, under sentence of death at Whitesburg for the murder of Mrs. Ellen Flannery in 1907, collapsed when the Court of Appeals affirmed the death sentence. Frazier is only 20 years old.


    Mountain Advocate (Barbourville, Ky.) ~ February 11, 1910

    AFFIRMED

    Court of Appeals Affirms Letcher Circuit Court

    Floyd Frazier Must Hang for His Atrocious Crime

    Last Friday the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Letcher Circuit Court in the Floyd Frazier case. This means that the jury's verdict of death on this unfortunate young man shall be carried out unless something unforeseen happens within the next ninety days. Most of our readers know that on May 21, 1907, Mrs. Ellen Flannery, a widow, was found murdered near her home on Pert Creek in this county. Floyd Frazier was arrested and the first trial resulted in a hung jury. The second trial was by a Perry county jury and a death verdict was brought in, but owing to some error the Court of Appeals granted a new hearing. The third trial was by a jury from Knott county and again a death verdict was rendered. Gov. Willson will fix a date for the execution of the court's sentence as soon as a mandate issues, which must be within thirty days from the date of the handing down of the judgment. After the mandate issues the time limit of the execution is from thirty to sixty days. It is highly probable that an effort will be made to have Gov. Willson to commute the sentence to life imprisonment. A legal hanging has never taken place in Letcher county. Floyd Frazier is related to some of the oldest and best families in Letcher county, Eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia. ?The Mountain Eagle.


    Interior Journal (Stanford, Ky.) ~ March 11, 1910

    Floyd Frazier will be hanged in Leslie county [sic] April 7 for the murder of a woman.


    Paducah Evening Sun ~ March 17, 1910

    Floyd Frazier, under sentence of death for murder at Whitesburg, makes daring attempt to escape, but is caught.


    Paducah Evening Sun ~ April 5, 1910

    Floyd Frazier, who is to be hanged at Whitesburg, Letcher county, next Thursday, jokes with men while they build scaffold.


    Hopkinsville Kentuckian ~ April 7, 1910

    Floyd Frazier will be hanged in Letcher county today for the murder of Mrs. Ellen Flanary. The Governor declined to interfere in the case, saying that he saw no good reason why he should set aside the verdicts of three juries, each of which fixed the punishment at death. Strong efforts were made to have the death sentence commuted to life imprisonment.


    Hopkinsville Kentuckian ~ April 9, 1910

    Murderer Gets Respite

    Gov. Wilson grants a respite of the death sentence of Floyd Frazier, of Letcher county until May 19.


    Berea Citizen ~ April 14, 1910

    GRANTED A REPRIEVE

    Wild Ride of Horseman to Reach Whitesburg in Time

    Frankfort, Ky.?With all the speed that a horseman can urge out of his steed, a messenger traveled across the mountains of Letcher county from Sergent to Whitesburg and conveyed the information that Gov. Willson had granted Floyd Frazier a respite until May 19, in order that he may investigate his application for a commutation of life sentence more carefully. Whitesburg is in the heart of the Kentucky mountains, many miles from a railroad station.


    Hazel Green Herald ~ April 14, 1910

    Floyd Frazier, who was to have been executed at Whitesburg last week, was granted a reprieve by Governor Willson until May 19.


    Hazel Green Herald ~ May 12, 1910

    Peculiar actions on the part of young Floyd Frazier, under sentence of death at Whitesburg on May 19, caused the jailer, William Hall, to make a most systematic search of Frazier's cell. He found secreted away a bottle of carbolic acid, with which Frazier was determined to commit suicide, thereby cheating the gallows.


    Paducah Evening Sun ~ May 17, 1910

    Whitesburg ready for the execution of Floyd Frazier, murderer of Ellen Flannery.


    Hopkinsville Kentuckian ~ May 19, 1910

    Floyd Frazier will be hanged at Whitesburg today for the murder of Mrs. Ellen Flannery, Gov. Willson having refused to interfere.


    Bourbon News (Paris, Ky.) ~ May 20, 1910

    Frazier Pays Extreme Penalty

    At Whitesburg, Ky. yesterday afternoon Floyd Frazier paid the death penalty for the murder of Mrs. Ellen Flannery on May 16, 1907. On the scaffold Frazier made a statement that his sins had been forgiven. The drop fell at 1:30 o'clock and in eleven minutes he was pronounced dead. Five thousand people witnessed the execution.


    Berea Citizen ~ May 26, 1910

    FRAZIER HANGED

    Gov. Willson having declined to interfere, Floyd Frazier was hanged in Letcher County last week. He made no public confession.


    Clay City Times ~ May 26, 1910

    Hanging at Whitesburg

    Floyd Frazier, aged 23, was hung at Whitesburg last Thursday for the murder of Ellen Flannary sometime in 1907. This was the first legal hanging to take place in Letcher county and will be the last legal hanging in Kentucky as the law substituting electrocution at Frankfort for hanging will go into effect before another case of death penalty can be imposed.


    Hazel Green Herald ~ May 26, 1910

    After the attorneys and relatives of Floyd Frazier, a young white man, of Whitesburg, had exhausted every legal means to save him from the gallows, for the murder of Ellen Flannery, a poor young widow living with her three small children on Pert creek, on May 16, 1907, he paid the penalty for his crime last Thursday. An uncle of Frazier received a letter  from the governor when his body was swinging from the scaffold. The governor called attention to the heinousness of the crime and gave other reasons for refusing commutation of sentence.


    Last Update: August 26, 2011

     


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    Subject: RE: DTStudy: Floyd Frazier (Ellen Flannery)
    From: Joe Offer
    Date: 14 Jan 18 - 02:56 AM

    More information at Lost Creek Medicine Show:

      Saturday, December 22, 2012

      Ellen Flannery, Letcher County's Lady in White


      The first (legal) hanging here in Letcher County was connected to one of it?s most famous murder cases which also happens to be one of our most famous hauntings. Floyd Frazier was hanged on the gallows where the old Whitesburg High School now stands on May 19, 1910 for the murder of Ellen Flannery. For the last century Ellen is said to be spotted occasionally near where she was killed, seeming to try and get back home.

      On May 21, 1907 Ellen Flannery, the widowed mother of five children, sent her two eldest children to town on errands and went out to pick greens for supper. The children returned from town to find that their mother had not returned. When night fell, they were still alone. They spent the night by themselves and the next morning neighbors learned of Ellen missing and a search party sat out to look for her.

      Among the search party was 21 year old Floyd Frazier. Frazier was said to have been mildly mentally handicapped and had been sweet on Ellen. Taking the lead, he led the party to a creek bank, then announced their was no need to check down in the creek, she wasn?t there. Other party members insisted on checking, and there they found the body of Ellen Flannery.

      Several large stones, some weighing up to 65 pounds, were piled on top of her in an effort to conceal her body. Her throat had been slashed and their was bruising on her head. Also her skirt had been torn off and placed beneath her body.

      Nearby lay the mess of greens she had collected along with a blood trail leading away from the scene. A fence close by had bloody handprints on it from someone climbing over it. Following the trail, large footprints were found in the mud with an unusual number of tacks in the heel. Following the footprints they found a knife, and under another pile of rocks, Ellen?s bonnet.

      Suspicious of Frazier who had led them straight to the body, police went to his home where a shirt was found with blood on the sleeve that had been scrubbed. He had several scratches on him as well. When a pair of shoes belonging to him were found that contained an unusual number of tacks in the heel that matched the footprints, Frazier was arrested for the murder.

      Sentenced to be hanged, his mother and several others testified at the trial that Floyd didn't have the mind of an average person and was known to fly off in a rage for no apparent reason. Word spread around town that Frazier's mother disapproved and was even jealous of his love for Flannery, and some said she even told him to kill her.

      Ellen Flannery's ghost has been seen walking in the head of Pert Creek and along Pine Mountain that joins the hollow. Witnesses have seen her apparition walking near the spot where she was killed, perhaps trying to get back home to her children. I've visited the site where Ellen was killed, as well as her gravesite on ghost hunting trips. While we didn?t capture any concrete evidence, we did hear strange sounds like gravel crunching but there were no cars. Was Ellen or Floyd walking down the road by us? There are many stories of drivers seeing a woman in white while crossing Pine Mountain. Maybe this is the spirit of Ellen Flannery, eternally searching for her way back home.

      To view the lyrics to an old mountain ballad about Floyd and Ellen, hit this jump.

      For an old Mountain Eagle article on the hanging, check out this link (click).



    There's a lot of interesting information on this case in a book called Slender Is the Thread: Tales from a Country Law Office.

    Court record information on this case is at The Southwestern Reporter, Volume 124, page 797


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