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Origins: Pearl Bryan (murder ballad)

DigiTrad:
PEARL BRYAN
PEARL BRYAN (3)
THE JEALOUS LOVER
THE JEALOUS LOVER 2
THE LAST NIGHT OF NOVEMBER


Related threads:
Versions: Jealous Lover (Florella) (5)
Lyr Req: Pearl Bryant (murder ballad) (7)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
Pearl Bryan (from Brewster, Ballads and Songs of Indiana)


Earl 25 Jan 98 - 05:27 PM
Bruce O. 25 Jan 98 - 06:01 PM
Dale Rose 25 Jan 98 - 07:24 PM
Wolfgang Hell 26 Jan 98 - 07:36 AM
Earl 26 Jan 98 - 10:19 AM
Kate Riley (karilley@tds.net) 20 Jan 99 - 09:15 PM
Bruce O. 20 Jan 99 - 11:08 PM
Sandy Paton 20 Jan 99 - 11:36 PM
Steve Parkes 21 Jan 99 - 03:58 AM
RWilhelm 21 Jan 99 - 04:46 PM
Kate Riley 21 Jan 99 - 07:44 PM
karen k 22 Jan 99 - 09:17 AM
Bruce O. 22 Jan 99 - 11:05 AM
Bob R. 11 Mar 99 - 11:55 AM
Steve Parkes 11 Mar 99 - 12:11 PM
RWilhelm 13 Mar 99 - 09:28 AM
wildlone 31 Dec 01 - 05:12 PM
Art Thieme 31 Dec 01 - 06:33 PM
Stewie 31 Dec 01 - 06:43 PM
Stewie 31 Dec 01 - 06:55 PM
toadfrog 31 Dec 01 - 08:14 PM
Joe Offer 15 Sep 04 - 03:03 AM
Mrrzy 15 Sep 04 - 11:36 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Sep 04 - 04:57 PM
Uncle_DaveO 15 Sep 04 - 05:36 PM
Uncle_DaveO 15 Sep 04 - 05:37 PM
Joe Offer 15 Sep 04 - 07:46 PM
Joe Offer 15 Sep 04 - 08:58 PM
Joe Offer 15 Sep 04 - 09:33 PM
Steve Parkes 16 Sep 04 - 11:31 AM
Joe Offer 16 Sep 04 - 06:06 PM
GUEST,Terry M Wabnitz 12 Mar 05 - 02:52 PM
masato sakurai 12 Mar 05 - 06:06 PM
Goose Gander 12 Mar 05 - 07:05 PM
masato sakurai 13 Dec 07 - 12:17 AM
Rapparee 13 Dec 07 - 02:49 PM
Stewie 13 Dec 07 - 06:43 PM
GUEST 02 Oct 10 - 04:53 PM
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Subject: Pearl Bryan
From: Earl
Date: 25 Jan 98 - 05:27 PM

I am looking for a recorded version of the oldtime country song "Pearl Bryan". It is listed as being recorded by Burnett & Rutherford, Flemming Brown, and The Phipps Family but I don't know when the recordings were made. I haven't found CD's by any of them. Any recording or other information on "Pearl Bryan" would be appreciated.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: Bruce O.
Date: 25 Jan 98 - 06:01 PM

Two versions in DT. Laws, 'Native American Balladry', F2, notes murderers were executed March 20, 1897.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: Dale Rose
Date: 25 Jan 98 - 07:24 PM

The Dick Burnett and Leonard Rutherford version is on County 522, an old time compilation , but so far as I know, it has not been reissued on CD. There is also an entire lp of Burnett and Rutherford, Rounder 1004, but it did not include this song. Both are out of print. When it comes to both Rounder and County, however, it is always a good idea to make a check with them. It is possible they have a copy or two lying around somewhere. Both are well worth having.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: Wolfgang Hell
Date: 26 Jan 98 - 07:36 AM

Pearl Bryan Rt - Jealous Lover

1.Brown, Fleming. Fleming Brown, Folk Legacy FSI-004, LP (1962), cut# 12
2.Burnett and Rutherford. Old Time Ballads from the Southern Mountains, County 522, LP (197?), cut# 4
3.Phipps Family. Phipps Family, Folkways FA 2375, LP (1965), cut# 13

I just copied this information from
http://milton.mse.jhu.edu:8001/research/folkindex/
which is a great place to go if you are looking for recordings
Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: Earl
Date: 26 Jan 98 - 10:19 AM

Thanks guys, as usual the information is very helpful and the response time incredible.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: Kate Riley (karilley@tds.net)
Date: 20 Jan 99 - 09:15 PM

Hi. I just sort of stumbled onto this thread and I realize that it is now a year old. But, I would like to find the words and music to this song about Pearl Bryan as I am researching her murder in 1896. Sorry about this, but I'm excited to know that this song actually *exists*.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: Bruce O.
Date: 20 Jan 99 - 11:08 PM

In DT means it's in the Digital Tradition database. Click 'back', and at top left of the home page (here) put 'Pearl Bryan' in the search box and click.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 20 Jan 99 - 11:36 PM

The Fleming Brown recording of it is on Folk-Legacy's "Custom" cassette: Fleming Brown - C-4. Fleming recorded it for us in 1961. Click on: Folk-Legacy to reach our web site. Then go to "Custom." The cassette comes with a booklet of notes and texts.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 21 Jan 99 - 03:58 AM

Hi Kate!

I hope you'll keep us posted with your findings on the murder. I've been curious about it ever since I heard te Phipps Family's song about twenty-five years ago. Their version is similar to the first one in the DT. It has a final verse/chorus:

Then in came poor Pearl's mother
And turning to Jackson said
"You have killed my daughter,
Won't you tell me where's her head?"

"Won't you tell me where's her head?
Won't you tell me where's her head?"
Pearl Bryan's dead, can't find her head,
And Wallen (sic) and Jackson's hung

At the time I thought this ending was so bizarre and surreal I found it very funny. Now I'm older and I hope a bit wiser; I can see I was really laughing at the naive style of the song's author, which was still bad enough. With a daughter of my own, I don't think it's at all funny.

Nevertheless, gruesome murders have a fascination - think of the Maria Martin / Red Barn Murder, for example. If you haven't read it, I can recommend George Orwell's Decline of the English murder.

Maybe we should have a new thread on the subject?

Steve
^^


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: RWilhelm
Date: 21 Jan 99 - 04:46 PM

It is a fascinating story. The headless body was found in Ft. Thomas, Kentucky, on Feb. 1, 1896. The body was identified through the shoes found at the scene. Pearl Bryan lived in Greencastle, Indiana. She told her parents she was going to visit friends in Indianapolis, instead she went to Cincinnati to have an abortion. The father was probably Scott Jackson who was a dental student in Cincinnati at the time, but could also have been William Wood, Pearl's second cousin and the son of a prominent Methodist minister.

In Cincinnati, Jackson's roommate, Alonzo Walling, was to arrange the abortion. Pearl's movements were documented through Jan. 29 after that time no one knows for sure what happened. Both Jackson and Walling denied seeing Pearl after the 29th and each blamed the other for her death. They were tried and convicted on circumstantial evidence and hanged about a year later. Neither admitted killing Pearl and neither would say what happened to her head. The head was never found.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: Kate Riley
Date: 21 Jan 99 - 07:44 PM

Thanks Earl, that was a great summary. Also of interest in the case was the testimony of cab driver George Jackson, an African-American man who was hired to drive Jackson, Walling and Pearl to the field where her body was found. He identified Walling as the man who hired him. During the drive when he became alarmed at the noises inside the cab, he testified that Walling held a gun to his head to force him to continue to drive. Many people at the time discounted his testimony (three guesses as to why!). BTW, I checked out the lyrics in the database! Thanks! Pearl's sister really is supposed to have confronted Jackson and Walling about the location of Pearl's head. Folklore in Greencastle always held that her sister later committed suicide because of the murder.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: karen k
Date: 22 Jan 99 - 09:17 AM

Kate,

The book, "Folk-Songs of the South" edited by John Harrington Cox, has a piece about Pearl Bryan on pages 197 to 202. He gives 8 variations of the song which he collected from people back in the early 1900's. The song is listed under the title, "The Jealous Lover."

If this is helpful and you cannot find or haven't already found this book e-mail me at - klk@snet.net - with your mailing address and I will copy the pages and send them to you. The copy of the book that I have is a Dover, 1967 reprint of the original 1925 book. There are lots of used book sites on the net where you might find a copy.

Good luck with your research. It's a very interesting story and song.

karen k


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: Bruce O.
Date: 22 Jan 99 - 11:05 AM

See the Traditional Ballad Index (Mudcat's Links) for three ballads on Pearl Bryan.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: Bob R.
Date: 11 Mar 99 - 11:55 AM

Just my little two cents worth. I stumbled upon this and thought I had to add my own little comments.. Nobody has said anything about it so I thought I would share it.

Pearl Bryan's spirit is supposedly walking the floors of Bobby Mackey's Music World in Wilder Kentucky.. The history of that building is phoenomenal. it is suspected that Walling and Jackson decapitated her and her head was thrown down the deep well in the basement of this building for a sacrifice. She still walks the floors of this building looking for her head. There is also a great book about Mackey's if anyone is interested. It is called Hell's Gate and the author is Douglas Hensley.

If you like to read or dont like to read, you WILL have trouble putting this book down, I guarantee it!

Bob R.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 11 Mar 99 - 12:11 PM

I know this is a silly question, but how does she search for her head? She obviously can't literally look for it. Likewise, the head can't lie there shouting, "Over here!"; allowing that ghosts can actually shout without any breath (they seem to manage well enough in other departments), the body wouldn't be able to hear. On the other hand, if the body can wander around, could the head also?

While we're on the subject, how come a ghost's clothes come back in spirit form as clothes, since they were already living-impaired, or whatever the pc expression is, when the clothee died? Why not come back as cotton bolls or sheep, or not at all?

Steve



P.S. NOI!!


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: RWilhelm
Date: 13 Mar 99 - 09:28 AM

Pearl and her killers haunt Bobby Mackey's along with the ghosts of a couple of gangsters from the 20's and the pregnant woman they murdered. None of them showed up the night I was there but Bobby has a pretty hot country band.

Hensley contends that in the 19th Century occult rituals were held along the Licking River because it flows North like the Nile. It sounds interesting but I haven't found anything to corroborate it.

Pearl's ghost also appears at a nursing home in Newport Kentucky and in two towns in Indiana. I think Steve is right, the problems involved with searching for your missing head must be tremendous. Sounds like Pearl is taking the random walk approach.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: wildlone
Date: 31 Dec 01 - 05:12 PM

Resurecting this old thread to say I picked up the "67" reprint in a nearby town, How it got to the UK is anyones guess.
dave


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: Art Thieme
Date: 31 Dec 01 - 06:33 PM

I do remember a good version of this ballad as recorded by PAUL CLAYTON on Riverside Records--a 33 & 1/3 LP record of murder ballads. It ended with a verse something like this:

Oh, girls, heed my warning,
Remember what I've said,
Yes, girls, heed my warning,
Oh, girls, don't lose your head.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: Stewie
Date: 31 Dec 01 - 06:43 PM

There is a more recent reprint of the 1925 original Cox - Pelican Publishing Company 1998. This is still readily available; I purchased a copy in August 2001. Pelican Publishing Company 1000 Burmaster Street, Gretna, Louisiana 70053.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: Stewie
Date: 31 Dec 01 - 06:55 PM

The Burnette and Rutherford recording is now available on CD: Burnette & Rutherford 'Complete Recorded Works' Document DOCD-8025. Also available on CD is a version by Roy Harvey and The North Carolina Ramblers: Roy Harvey 'Complete Recorded Works Vol 1' Document DOCD-8050.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: toadfrog
Date: 31 Dec 01 - 08:14 PM

The problem with the Paul Clayton version is that it has no actual tune. It is like a comic song, or a parody of songs. The final verse goes.

You girls who fall in love
Be sure don't be misled.
Don't take any hasty action,
Oh girls don't lose your head!


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Sep 04 - 03:03 AM

This song and "Jealous Lover" are intertwined so closely it's hard to tell one song from the other. Pearl Bryan in the Digital Tradition is from the Penguin (or Viking) Book of Folk Ballads, which reprinted the "A" text from Brewster's Ballads and Songs of Indiana:
    Young girls, if you'll listen, a story I'll relate
    That happened near Fort Thomas in the old Kentucky State
Pearl Bryan 3 in the DT is from Eddy, Ballads and Songs From Ohio:
    In Greencastle lived a maiden
    She was known the wide world o'er
    She was murdered by Scots Jackson
    Whom she fondly did adore.


Here are the Traditional Ballad Index entries:

Pearl Bryan (I) [Laws F2]

DESCRIPTION: Pearl Bryan runs away to meet her lover Jackson, who, helped by Walling, takes her to Kentucky and decapitates her. Her body is discovered the next day. (The fate of the murderers may then be described)
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1935 (Brewster)
KEYWORDS: elopement murder
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
Feb 1, 1896 - Discovery of the headless body of Pearl Bryan, killed along with her unborn child by Scott Jackson and Alonzo Walling, near Fort Thomas, Kentucky
Mar 20, 1897 - Execution of Jackson and Walling
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MW,SE)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Laws F2, "Pearl Bryan I"
Brewster 61, "Pearl Bryan" (3 texts plus an excerpt and mention of 3 more; 1 tune; the "A" and "B" texts and the "F" fragment and tune are this piece; the "C" text is Laws F1B)
Leach, pp. 789-790, "Pearl Bryan" (1 text)
Burt, p. 31, "(Pearl Bryan)" (1 short text)
Friedman, p. 209, "Pearl Bryan" (1 text)
Darling-NAS, pp. 199-200, "Pearl Bryan" (1 text plus a fragment)
DT 751, PERLBRY1

Roud #2212
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Jealous Lover (I), The (Florella, Floella) (Pearl Bryan II) (Nell Cropsey II) [Laws F1A, B, C]" [Laws F1], particularly the "B" subgroup of Pearl Bryan ballads
cf. "Pearl Bryan III" [Laws F3]
cf. "Pearl Bryan IV"
Notes: Cox gives significant details about the history behind this song. Pearl Bryan was probably murdered on January 31, the day before the discovery of her body. Jackson and Walling were "young doctors" to whom Miss Bryan had appealed for medical help. Her body was recognized based on her feet (she is said to have been "web-footed"); her head was not recovered. A third man, surnamed Woods, was regarded as a possible co-conspirator, but not convicted.
To tell this song from the other Pearl Bryan ballads, consider this first stanza (from Leach):
Now, ladies, if you'll listen, a story I'll relate
What happened near Fort Thomas in the old Kentucky state.
'Twas late in January this awful deed was done
By Jackson and by Walling; how cold their blood did run! - RBW
File: LF02

Pearl Bryan (II)

  • See Jealous Lover

  • Pearl Bryan (III) [Laws F3]

    DESCRIPTION: Pearl Bryan appeals to Jackson for help; he is not interested and, with (Alonzo) Walling, cuts off her head and abandons the body
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE:
    KEYWORDS: murder abandonment
    HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
    Feb 1, 1896 - Discovery of the headless body of Pearl Bryan, killed along with her unborn child by Scott Jackson and Alonzo Walling, near Fort Thomas, Kentucky
    Mar 20, 1897 - Execution of Jackson and Walling
    FOUND IN: US(Ap,MW)
    REFERENCES (3 citations):
    Laws F3, "Pearl Bryan III"
    Eddy 105, "A Fatal Acquaintance" (2 texts, but Laws considers only the B text part of this ballad; the A text may belong with Pearl Bryan II)
    DT 755, PERLBRY3

    Roud #2213
    CROSS-REFERENCES:
    cf. "The Jealous Lover (I), The (Florella, Floella) (Pearl Bryan II) (Nell Cropsey II) [Laws F1A, B, C]" [Laws F1], particularly the "B" subgroup of Pearl Bryan ballads
    cf. "Pearl Bryan I" [Laws F2]
    cf. "Pearl Bryan IV"
    Notes: To tell this song from the other Pearl Bryan ballads, consider this first stanza (from Eddy):
    In Greencastle lived a maiden
    She was known the wide world o'er;
    She was murdered by Scott Jackson
    Whom she fondly did adore.
    Comparison with Eddy's other text (which also lacks a melody) would seem to imply that the two could be one -- but Laws separates them, so the Index does the same. - RBW
    File: LF03

    Pearl Bryan (IV)

    DESCRIPTION: A girl of Greencastle, Indiana loves a young man. (She becomes pregnant?, and) begs him to make good the wrong he has done her. He refuses and plans to depart. She follows him. He kills her. Young girls are warned by the example of Pearl Bryan
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: 1939 (Eddy)
    KEYWORDS: love murder abandonment
    HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
    Feb 1, 1896 - Discovery of the headless body of Pearl Bryan, killed along with her unborn child by Scott Jackson and Alonzo Walling, near Fort Thomas, Kentucky
    Mar 20, 1897 - Execution of Jackson and Walling
    FOUND IN: US(MW)
    REFERENCES (1 citation):
    Eddy 105, "A Fatal Acquaintance" (2 texts, but Laws assigns the B text to "Pearl Bryan III")
    CROSS-REFERENCES:
    cf. "The Jealous Lover (I), The (Florella, Floella) (Pearl Bryan II) (Nell Cropsey II) [Laws F1A, B, C]" [Laws F1], particularly the "B" subgroup of Pearl Bryan ballads
    cf. "Pearl Bryan I" [Laws F2]
    cf. "Pearl Bryan III" [Laws F3]
    Notes: This song is item dF51 in Laws's Appendix II.
    To tell this song from the other Peal Bryan ballads, consider this first stanza (from Eddy):
    In Greencastle, Indiana, a fair young maiden dwelled
    Beneath a mother's loving care, a father's lavish wealth,
    A mother's pride, a father's joy, by many friends esteemed,
    From out her young handsome face the pure innocence gleamed.
    Comparison with Eddy's other text (which also lacks a melody) would seem to imply that the two could be one -- but Laws separates them, so the Index does the same. - RBW
    File: E105

    Murder of Pearl Bryan, The (Pearl Bryan V)

    DESCRIPTION: The Setters take on the Peal Bryan story: "A horrible crime was committed Soon was brought to light; For parents to look on their headless girl, What a sad and terrible sight." Jackson's insanity plea fails; he is to be executed; Walling's trial awaits
    AUTHOR: adapted by James W. Day ("Jilson Setters")
    EARLIEST DATE: 1939 (Thomas)
    KEYWORDS: murder trial execution punishment
    HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
    Feb 1, 1896 - Discovery of the headless body of Pearl Bryan, killed along with her unborn child by Scott Jackson and Alonzo Walling, near Fort Thomas, Kentucky
    Mar 20, 1897 - Execution of Jackson and Walling
    FOUND IN: US(Ap)
    REFERENCES (2 citations):
    Thomas-Makin', pp. 131-135, "The Murder of Pearl Bryan" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Burt, p. 32, (no title) (1 excerpt)

    Roud #500
    CROSS-REFERENCES:
    cf. "The Jealous Lover (I), The (Florella, Floella) (Pearl Bryan II) (Nell Cropsey II) [Laws F1A, B, C]" [Laws F1], particularly the "B" subgroup of Pearl Bryan ballads
    cf. "Pearl Bryan I" [Laws F2]
    cf. "Pearl Bryan III" [Laws F3]
    cf. "Pearl Bryan (IV)"
    Notes: Thomas's version is rather a curiosity, since she learned it from Jilson Setters decades after the murder but he never updated the song. There is no evidence that it ever circulated in tradition.
    Roud lumps this with Laws F1(B). But while it's just possible that that song inspired Jilson Setters, this is not a version of the Laws ballad. But my guess is that the song was inspired by the piece which Burt excerpts, since both songs end with a stanza about Pearl and her head being reunited in heaven. - RBW
    File: ThBa131

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2004 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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    Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan (murder ballad)
    From: Mrrzy
    Date: 15 Sep 04 - 11:36 AM

    I have this by Paul Clayton, same record as the one about Lula Viers (another thread, there). I don't agree that it has "no tune" really... but I love the punny ending. There is another murder ballad that ends in a pun on that record, wish I could remember which one.


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    Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan (murder ballad)
    From: Q (Frank Staplin)
    Date: 15 Sep 04 - 04:57 PM

    Interesting that in Cox, five of the six versions with enough words to identify the weapon specify a knife and one only one mentions beheading. Although put together, as Joe suggests, "The Jealous Lover" (and other titles inc. Blue-eyed Ella) existed independently of "Pearl Bryan." Jackson, Willie, etc. killed because of jealousy. This song seems to be based on "The Murder of Betsy Smith," a 19th c. British ballad.

    As the story about Pearl Bryan spread, beheading crept into the song and the name changed from Betsy, Ella, Florilla, Nellie, Nola, Edna, etc. to Pearl. The singers either did not know the whole story of Pearl Bryan, or did not want to put abortion in the song, but they did, at least, use her name. Closely related versions in Cox ("Folk-Songs of the South," pp. 197-202) show the change in the last verse-

    "The birds sang in the morning, but mournful was their song;
    A stranger found her body [Ella] in a cold and lifeless form."

    "White flowers growing about her, close by a grassy mound
    A stranger found Pearl Bryan, cold, lifeless, on the ground."

    And finally,
    "While farmers plowing o'er her, shrill was the tempest sound;
    A stranger found poor Pearl, cold, headless, on the ground."

    Randolph collected only "The Jealous Lover" in the Ozarks.
    He says Barry (1909 considered the song a native American ballad, but later pointed out its relation to "The Murder of Betsy Smith,"
    published in England early in the 19th c.

    I will post "The Murder of Betsy Smith" in the "Jealous Lover" thread 73375: Jealous Lover .


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    Subject: Lyr Add: PEARL BRYAN (from Bascom Lamar Lunsford)
    From: Uncle_DaveO
    Date: 15 Sep 04 - 05:36 PM

    Bascom Lamar Lunsford sang it this way, which is in many respects different from the DT and what has been quoted above:

    Pearl Bryan

    In Greencastle lived Pearl Bryan
    Who is know this wide world o'er
    Beheaded by Scott Jackson
    Whom she really did adore.

    In a cab one rainy evening
    Just before the close of day
    Up rode Walling and Jackson
    And with Pearl they rode away.

    Little did poor Pearl think
    As she left her home so gay
    That the suitcase that she carried
    Would hide her head some day.

    The driver tells the story
    Of how poor Pearl did moan
    All the way from Cincinnati
    To where the cruel deed was done.

    Next morning the people were excited
    They looked around and they said,
    "Here lies a woman's body
    "But where, oh where is the head?"

    In came Pearl's little sister
    And she fell down on her knees
    Pleading with Scott Jackson,
    "Give me sister's head, oh please!"

    Jackson, he was so stubborn
    That this is what he said:
    "If you meet your sister in heaven
    "You will find the missing head."

    You girls who fall in love
    You still may be misled.
    Don't take any hasty actions;
    Oh, girls, don't lose your head!

    DRO
    From singing of Bascom Lamar Lunsford


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    Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan (murder ballad)
    From: Uncle_DaveO
    Date: 15 Sep 04 - 05:37 PM

    Incidentally, I really like the words of this song, but I seldom sing it because of the simple-minded, repetitive, boring tune!

    Dave Oesterreich


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    Subject: Lyr Add: PEARL BRYAN (from Paul Brewster)
    From: Joe Offer
    Date: 15 Sep 04 - 07:46 PM

    The Burnett and Rutherford recording is on the second disc of the Yazoo Kentucky Mountain Music box set, not that I can understand the lyrics on the recording. Great kazoo solo, though.
    A kazoo on a murder ballad?
    There's a recording of "Pearl Bryan" that seems to follow the first DT version, but not closely. It's on a Copper Creek CD by The Crooked Jades called Seven Sisters: A Kentucky Portrait, issued in 2001. The Crooked Jades say they learned the song from the Phipps Family. The Crooked Jades recording is very much like the Brewster "B" text (below), but the Jades get fixated on the missing head at the end.

    This is the "B" text from Paul Brewster's Ballads and Songs of Indiana.

    Pearl Bryan (Brewster #61B)

    Now, ladies, if you’ll listen, a story I’ll relate
    What happened near Fort Thomas in the old Kentucky state.
    ‘T was late in January this awful deed was done
    By Jackson and by Walling; how cold their blood did run!

    How bold these cruel villains to do this awful deed,
    To ride away Pearl Bryan when she to them did plead!
    The driver tells the story of how Pearl Bryan did moan
    From Cincinnati to the place where the cruel deed was done.

    But little did Pearl’s parents think when she left her happy home
    That their own dear darling daughter would ne’er return again.
    We know her dear old parents their fortune they would give
    If Pearl could just return home a happy life to live.

    The driver was the only one could tell her awful fate,
    Of poor Pearl far away from home in the old Kentucky state;
    A farmer passing by next day her lifeless form he found,
    A-lying......where her blood had stained the ground.

    Pearl Bryan left her parents on a dark and gloomy day;
    She went to meet the villain in a spot not far away.
    She thought it was the lover’s hand that she could trust each day;
    Alas, it was a lover’s hand that took her life away!

    Young ladies, now take warning; young men are so unjust
    It may be your best lover, but you know not whom to trust
    Pearl died away from home and friends, out on that lonely spot;
    Take heed! take heed! believe me, girls; don’t let this be your lot!

      Contributed by Mrs. Dora McAtee, of Oakland City, Indiana. Obtained from Mrs. Jesse N. Engler of Pike County (Indiana), March 11, 1935.


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    Subject: Lyr Add: PEARL BRYAN (from Crooked Jades)
    From: Joe Offer
    Date: 15 Sep 04 - 08:58 PM

    OK, now take a look at what the Crooked Jades do with it.


    Pearl Bryan

    Now, people, if you listen, a story I'll relate
    That happened near Fort Thomas in old Kentucky state.
    How bold these cruel villains to do this awful deed,
    To ride away Pearl Bryan when she to them did plead!

    The driver was the only one to tell her awful fate,
    Of how they murdered Pearl Bryan in old Kentucky state;
    A farmer passing by the next day her lifeless form he found,
    Lying on a cold dark spot where blood had stained the ground.

    The message was brought back to her home that poor Pearl Bryan was dead;
    Killed by Walling and Jackson, and they took away her head.
    Then in came poor Pearl's mother and turning to Jackson said,
    "You have killed my daughter. Please tell me, where's her head?"

    Please tell me, where's her head? Please tell me, where's her head?
    Pearl Bryan's dead, can't find her head. Please tell me, where's her head?
    Please tell me, where's her head? Please tell me, where's her head?
    Pearl Bryan's dead, can't find her head. Walling and Jackson are hung.

      Transcribed by ear from the CD recorded by The Crooked Jades in 2002, Seven Sisters: A Kentucky Portrait

    I told you they got carried away on the missing head....

    In The Viking Book of Folk Ballads of the English-Speaking World, the chapter where "Pearl Bryan" is found is called Tabloid Crimes. Fits, doesn't it?

    -Joe Offer-


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    Subject: ADD Version: Pearl Bryan (murder ballad)
    From: Joe Offer
    Date: 15 Sep 04 - 09:33 PM

    Before we lay poor Pearl in her grave, I think we need at least one more. This is version "C" from Brewster, quite different from the others.

    Pearl Bryan (Brewster #61C)

    Way down in yonder valley
    Where the violets fade and bloom,
    Our own Pearl Bryan slumbers
    In a cold and silent tomb.

    She died not broken-hearted,
    Nor lingering ill befell,
    But in an instant parted
    From the one she loved so well.

    One night the moon shone brightly,
    The stars were shining too,
    When to her cottage window
    Her jealous lover drew.

    "Come, Pearl, and let us wander
    In the valley deep and gay;
    Come, Pearl, and let us ponder
    Upon our wedding day."

    Deep down into the valley
    He led his love so dear;
    She said, "'T is for you only
    That I have wandered here.

    "The way seems dark and dreary,
    And I'm afraid to stay.
    Besides, I'm worn and weary;
    I would retrace my way."

    "Retrace your way? No, never!
    These woods you'll roam no more.
    No one on earth can save you;
    Pearl Bryan, you must die !"

    Down on her knees before him
    She pleaded for her life;
    Deep in her snow-white bosom
    He plunged a fatal knife.

    "What have I done, Scott Jackson,
    That you should take my life?
    You know I've always loved you,
    And would have been your wife.

    "Farewell, my loving parents,
    My happy peaceful home;
    Farewell, my dear old schoolmates;
    With you no more I'll roam.

    "Farewell, my dear, dear sister,
    My face you'll see no more;
    Long, long you'll wait my coming
    At the little cottage door."

    And while the birds were singing
    So gaily all around,
    A stranger found Pearl Bryan,
    Cold, headless, on the ground.


    from Ballads and Songs of Indiana, Paul G. Brewster, 1940, 1981


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    Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan (murder ballad)
    From: Steve Parkes
    Date: 16 Sep 04 - 11:31 AM

    As near as I can recall the Phipps Family's version (scroll down to PEARL BRYAN for recording details & other discography), it's the same as the Crooked Jades'.

    As far as laying poor Pearl to rest goes, if Earl's random walk theory is correct, I should think she'd have fallen down that old well in the basement by now.

    Steve


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    Subject: ADD Version: Pearl Bryan (murder ballad)
    From: Joe Offer
    Date: 16 Sep 04 - 06:06 PM

    Good Old Dale sent me a copy of the Phipps Family version, and it is indeed very similar to the Crooked Jades. The Jades CD is very, very good.

    Here's one more from Brewster. It's only one verse, but it actually has a tune. Can't say that I like the tune all that much - the one from the Crooked Jades is the best I've found, but I can't transcribe by ear so I can't post it.

    -Joe Offer-


      Pearl Bryan (Brewster #61F)

      Young ladies if you'll listen, a sad story I'll relate
      It happened in Fort Thomas in the old Kentucky state.
      Twas January the thirty-first that dreadful deed was done
      By Jackson and by Walling; how cold Pearl's blood did run!


      sung by Miss Edith Del Hopking of Boonville, Indiana, June 23, 1935. Learned from her grandmother.

    Click to play


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    Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan (murder ballad)
    From: GUEST,Terry M Wabnitz
    Date: 12 Mar 05 - 02:52 PM

    If anyone needs help with the newspaper (Ky Post) accounts of the events of Pearl Bryan you can contact me.


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    Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan (murder ballad)
    From: masato sakurai
    Date: 12 Mar 05 - 06:06 PM

    Contemporary newspaper accounts are included in Poor Pearl, Poor Girl!: The Murdered-Girl Stereotype in Ballad and Newspaper, by Anne B. Cohen (University of Texas Press, 1973).


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    Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan (murder ballad)
    From: Goose Gander
    Date: 12 Mar 05 - 07:05 PM

    Masato-

    Thanks for the reference, I've been looking for contemporary newspaper accounts and other related information regarding this ballad.


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    Subject: RE: Origins: Pearl Bryan (murder ballad)
    From: masato sakurai
    Date: 13 Dec 07 - 12:17 AM

    Cohen's Poor Pearl, Poor Girl! is available online at Digital General Collection. Click here.


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    Subject: RE: Origins: Pearl Bryan (murder ballad)
    From: Rapparee
    Date: 13 Dec 07 - 02:49 PM

    Poor Pearl is still remembered in Campbell County, Kentucky where the murder took place. Heck, I used to drive by the spot where her body was found almost every day. It's recounted in "Crime in Cincinnati" (at least I think that's the title) and I'll try to remember to check it when I get home.

    Most folks there believe that Pearl's head was put into a weighted "Gladstone bag" and tossed into the Ohio River when "the boys" returned to Cincinnati from Ft. Thomas. One of the mysteries that still exists is why no one saw them crossing back, since they would have had to take the ferry out of Newport as they had a carriage with them (from the tracks found at the scene).


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    Subject: RE: Origins: Pearl Bryan (murder ballad)
    From: Stewie
    Date: 13 Dec 07 - 06:43 PM

    Meade has two references for 'Peal Bryan'. At page 41, he gives 'Pearl Bryan II' (Laws F1b) as related to 'The Jealous Lover'. Recordings cited are: Burnett & Rutherford 1926 (Co 15113-D 1927); Roy Harvey, Bob Hoke & Nth Carolina Ramblers 1927 (Silvertone 5181, 8147); and Bradley Kincaid 1929 (Gnt 6823).

    At page 92, he gives 'Pearl Bryan I' (Laws F2) and cites 3 recordings, all by Vernon Dalhart, in 1926 and 1927. He notes that the words to this version were by 'Carson & Carson' 1926. For his subsequent ballad, 'Little Mary Fagan', Meade cites 'John & Rosalie Carson' as responsible for the words. I presume these are the same 'Carson & Carson' referred to in respect of 'Pearl Bryan I'.

    --Stewie.


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    Subject: RE: Origins: Pearl Bryan (murder ballad)
    From: GUEST
    Date: 02 Oct 10 - 04:53 PM

    i am in so much shock i just wathced this huanting on ghost adventures last night oct.1 2010!!!


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