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John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops

DigiTrad:
SUSANNA MARTIN
THE RIFLEMEN'S SONG AT BENNINGTON


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Suzannah Martin / Susanna Martin (17)
Bennington Rifles (15)


Jeri 16 Feb 02 - 08:47 PM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Feb 02 - 09:39 PM
Jeri 16 Feb 02 - 09:58 PM
dick greenhaus 16 Feb 02 - 11:07 PM
Jeri 16 Feb 02 - 11:28 PM
Malcolm Douglas 17 Feb 02 - 01:11 AM
Jeri 17 Feb 02 - 09:49 AM
Sandy Paton 17 Feb 02 - 01:03 PM
georgeward 18 Feb 02 - 02:09 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 25 Feb 06 - 01:00 PM
Janet Elizabeth 01 Mar 10 - 11:30 AM
Thomas Stern 01 Mar 10 - 09:26 PM
GUEST,Doug Bennett 17 Jul 10 - 02:45 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 18 Jul 10 - 09:42 AM
Thomas Stern 18 Jul 10 - 11:06 AM
GUEST 19 Jul 10 - 08:53 PM
GUEST,William Allison McGee 30 Jan 11 - 11:29 AM
GUEST,ALPHEUS L. ALLISON 25 Jun 11 - 10:10 AM
Joe_F 25 Jun 11 - 06:46 PM
Joe Offer 27 Mar 18 - 05:39 PM
Joe Offer 27 Mar 18 - 05:48 PM
GUEST,DrewG 08 Apr 18 - 11:17 AM
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Subject: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: Jeri
Date: 16 Feb 02 - 08:47 PM

We recently had a thread on the song "Susanna Martin." I have a Folkways record I bought used, with no cover, several years ago and the song is on it. Other songs are:

Side A
1. Lookie There!
2. Death of Goodie Nurse
3. Lowell's Indian Fight
5. The Gloucester Witch
Side B
1. Giles Corey
2. Bloody Brook
3. Old Mammy Redd
4. Flud Ireson
5. Robin Goodfellowe

The record says they are "early New England ballads, collected and sung by John Allison." I'm curious about who John Allison is/was. I live in New England, and this album is my first contact with him or his work. Anything you could tell me about him would be appreciated.

Also, did he ever publish the songs he collected?

Thanks.


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Feb 02 - 09:39 PM

Basic information about the record can be seen at Smithsonian/Folkways:  Witches and War Whoops

I don't recognise any of the song titles, though some appear to refer to historical events or people belonging to New England.  I suspect that they were not traditional, but written by Allison himself; I'd be interested in hearing more about it.


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: Jeri
Date: 16 Feb 02 - 09:58 PM

Malcolm, I do think it's possible he wrote the songs. I hadn't heard of Allison except for this album, but I also haven't heard any of the songs elswhere that haven't traced back to him. The songs do sound traditional to me, but it's not hard to write traditional-sounding songs.


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 16 Feb 02 - 11:07 PM

John took for-real broadsides and wrote music for them, generally appropriate ones. He sang in the 40s, originally with his wife Lucy; later by himself. Recorings were, by most of today's standards, over-arranged.

John lived in Old Lyme, CT. Probably his best-known songs are Rifleman's Song at Bennington; Tarrytown (Wild Goose Grasses); Bowery Grenadiers. A good scholar.


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: Jeri
Date: 16 Feb 02 - 11:28 PM

Thanks Dick. I'm not overly fond of the tunes or the arrangements, but that just comes down to my personal preferences. As I recall (and I really should listen to the album again), there's just one guitar, although it seems a bit showier than many people like these days.

This record says ©1962, but I suppose it was a re-release.


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 17 Feb 02 - 01:11 AM

That's interesting.  Susanna Martin certainly seems to be a modern composition, though, and the only useful reference I can find at the moment to what might be any of the other titles is this:

The Lamentable Ballad of the Bloody Brook by Edward Everett Hale.

Robin Goodfellowe could be anything, of course. There was a ballad of that name printed by Henry Gosson in the first half of the 17th century, set to an older tune, Dulcina, and other songs were later printed with Robin Goodfellow prescribed as tune; for example, at  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

The downfall of dancing; or, The overthrow of three fidlers, and three bagg-pipe-players  Printed between 1671 and 1704 for J. Deacon, at the Angel in Guilt-spur-street, without Newgate [London].

Is there any information available about any of Allison's textual sources?


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: Jeri
Date: 17 Feb 02 - 09:49 AM

Malcolm, all I have is the record in a sleeve. There was no jacket with it. Maybe Dick or someone else has more information. I wrote down the words to a couple of songs years ago, but I'm not sure what I did with them. I intend to listen to the album today. (Have to move things off the turntable first!)


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 17 Feb 02 - 01:03 PM

I think John Allison also wrote "Hudson River Steamboat" and I know he wrote "Nantucket Lullaby." K.C. King leads the Hudson River song on The Boarding Party's first Folk-Legacy recording: 'Tis Our Sailing Time (CD-97). Good song!

Sandy


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: georgeward
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 02:09 AM

Sandy's right about "Hudson River Steamboat." If memory serves, John (sometimes called "Jack" by friends) was from a family of Hudson river folk who worked on the river. He lived in Pound Ridge, NY in his later years. A grad student of mine (who can declare herself, if she sees this) spent some time with him. This would have been around 1980 - give or take a couple years. I believe he was over 80 then, and more inrerested in painting than in singing.

Somewhere, I have ( or had) a 78 from the 1940s of John and Lucy doing "The Riflemens' Song at Bennington". Very uptempo. Not to my taste either, Jeri. Although I did get a kick out of the accordian. Different time, different aesthetic.

-George


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 25 Feb 06 - 01:00 PM

Four years later, not a bad time to revive this thread.

By the way, the Folkways link has bitten the dust, and I cannot find any copy of Witches and War Whoops for sale.

John Allison is underrated, I think. Somebody in Old Lyme or Pound Ridge should root around, see what's available. It would be nice to know more of his biography, performing history, friendships (how did Pete Seeger get "Wild Goose Grasses," did they know each other? You might get good data from Pete, who despite his recent admission to ailment, does faithfully answer his mail), and list of composed and/or arranged songs.

A websearch turns up next to nothing. Beware, there is a more modern John Allison out there, in fact several, but one who is a noted musician and thus gets lots of Google hits.

I should think there might be an Allison archive somewhere, a deposit in a local museum, files, data, something...?

Maybe "In Tarrytown / Wild Goose Grasses" is his most widely sung song, but there is much more to him, and while his and his wife Lucy's musical aesthetic runs closer to the Frank Luther and Zora Layman / Marais & Miranda mold than to what we think of nowadays as folk style, he had a nice way with a tune, and a great love for the musical history of the Northeast.

Yes, he did adapt older stuff, and the contents of the FW album suggest that.
He and Lucy also did an earlier album, 78s, during the 1940s, "Songs of the American Revolution and the War of 1812." Not sure if it was an RCA VIctor original?? All I know is the custom dubbed version sold by Stinson in the 1950s.

Apparently this was a 12-inch 78 album, and the songs are largely arranged as medleys. I add my guesses at attribution. "Trad" stands in for any song that preceded Allison, including such well-known composed numbers as "Free America." "Broadside/Allison" indicates songs he found as broadsides, put tunes to, and arranged.

LP contents:

1. Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier (trad) / Bennington Riflemen (trad/Allison, see DT thread)
2. Major Andre (broadside/Allison?)
3. Nathan Hale (broadside/Allison?) / Cornwallis' Country Dance (trad to tune of Pop Goes the Weasel)
4. Constitution and the Guerriere (trad) / Betty Martin (trad)
5. The Hunters of Kentucky (trad) / Ye Parliaments of England (trad)

1. Free America (trad) / Unhappy Boston (??uncertain) / White Cockade (a song, not the same as either of the two traditional fiddle pieces, and thus probably not traditional, but by Allison)
2. Yankee Doodle (trad) / Boston Tea Tax (broadside/Allison)
3. The Chieftain's Bride (trad...very interesting. One of the great early American broadsides, one of a very small group dealing with Americans and Native Americans living side by side and often hurting each other. Parallel texts in Belden and other sources. Tune perhaps Allison, thus "broadside/Allison")
4. Bombardment of Bristol, R.I. (unknown, perhaps Allison)
5. The Ballad of Bunker Hill (trad/Allison), Death of Warren (uncertain)

The album is tuneful and fun, though thoroughly pop, in the sort of style later familiar from, say, John Langstaff - - - tolerable if not at all authentic.

But the man had a way with a song.

I would be interested in postings from anyone who can add details of John and Lucy Allison's life as performers and people. They had a unique feel for the archaic New England, if nothing else, and deserve to be better known.

Sounds like a good historical task for DTers to tackle. Anyone have a copy of Wtiches and War Whoops they'd like to copy the notes booklet from? Lyrics to the songs, and the usual good Folkways biographical information, would be a fine and worthy addition to this thread.

Bob


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: Janet Elizabeth
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 11:30 AM

Thanks for the thread, everybody ... :-)

The Witches and War Whoops album is now available for download from iTunes.
It's subtitled Early New England Ballads. 10 tracks. Sadly no sleeve notes.


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 09:26 PM

I also would like to know something of JOHN & LUCY ALLISON's background. Anyone have birth/death dates for them??
Below is a list of the recordings I am aware of.
Thanks for any information.
Best wishes, Thomas.

John & Lucy Allison

radio: The Jubileers'
Sawyer's Minute Men
The American Folk Singers
The Allisons
The Connecticut Folk Singers


RCA Victor Set P-11 Ballads of the American Revolution and the War of 1812
                      Folk Song Series Vol.1
A program of Early American Songs taken from the Collection of John Allison

John and Lucy Allison and Sawyer's Minute Men
(Dick Sawyer, John Mitchell and Bill Mitchell)

Victor (black label, gold print) 26458-26462 5-10" 78rpm
insert booklet of notes by John Allison, texts

P 11-1 26458-A
1.Free America
2.Unhappy Boston
3.The White Cockade
John and Lucy Allison
with Sawyer's Minutemen
Singing with accordion, bass and guitar

P 11-2 26458-B
1.Yankee Doodle
2.The Boston Tea Tax
John and Lucy Allison
with Sawyer's Minutemen
Singing and whistling with drums, accordion, bass and guitar

P 11-3 26459-A
The Chieftain's Bride
John and Lucy Allison
with Sawyer's Minutemen
Singing with accordion, bass and guitar

P 11-4 26459-B
The Bombardment of Bristol, R.I.
John Allison
with Sawyer's Minutemen
Singing with oboe, accordion, bass and guitar

P 11-5 26460-A
1.Ballad of Bunker Hill
2.The Death of Warren
John and Lucy Allison
with Sawyer's Minutemen
Singing with accordion, bass and guitar

P 11-6 26460-B
1.Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier
2.Riflemen's Song at Bennington
John and Lucy Allison
with Sawyer's Minutemen
Singing with drum, accordion, bass and guitar

P 11-8 26461-A
1.The Capture of Major Andre
John Allison
with Sawyer's Minutemen
Singing with accordion, bass and guitar

P 11-8 26461-B
1.Nathan Hale
2.Cornwallis's Country Dance
John and Lucy Allison
with Sawyer's Minutemen
Singing with piano, accordion, bass and guitar

P 11-9 26462-A
1.The Constitution and the Guerriere
2.Hey Betty Martin
John and Lucy Allison
with Sawyer's Minutemen
Singing with drum, fife, accordion, bass and guitar.

P 11-10 26462-B
1.Hunters of Kentucky
2.Ye Parliament of England
John and Lucy Allison
with Sawyer's Minutemen
Singing with accordion, bass and guitar.



BLUEBIRD RECORDS Made by RCA VICTOR BC-44 3-10" 78rpm            1941
SONGS OF THE ZOO (John Allison)
Sung by John and Lucy Allison with instrumental acc.
BC 44-1 B-618-A Songs of the Zoo-Part 1 The Elephant
      2       B                  -Part 2 1.The Buffalo 2.The Chamois
      3 B-619-A                  -Part 3 1.Mrs.Tall Giraffe 2.The Panda
      4       B                  -Part 4 1.The Camel 2.The Tiger
      5 B-620-A                  -Part 5 1.Little Mrs.Penguin 2.The Peacock
      6       B                  -Part 6 1.The Hippopotamus 2.Monkey Shines


From the VICTOR library of Children's Records
Songs of the Zoo Sung by John and Lucy Allison
color gatefold sleeve
deep blue label with silver printing
record is Bluebird with dog & horn His Masters Voice logo,
RCA Victor division of Radio Corporation of America Camden, N.J.

RCA Victor Y-309
(39-3029 A B 618 A)
Side 1 39-3029-A Y 309 SONGS OF THE ZOO-Part 1 The Elephant
(39-3029 B B 620 B)
Side 2 39-3029-B Y 309                  -Part 2 1.The Hippopotamus 2.Monkey Shines

RCA Victor Y-337 Picture Sleeve....                               1947
          45-5110
????



KEYNOTE K102 Early American Ballads    3-10" 78rpm
by John and Lucy Allison
booklet

K 102-1 533 A PATRIOTIC DIGGERS       (1103)
K 102-2 533-B THE GREENLAND FISHERY   (1110)
                NANTUCKET LULLABY

         534    Sir Peter Parker
                Ballad of Saratoga

         535    Unfortunate Miss Bailey
                Ballad Of The Tea Party & Escape Of Old John Webb




BILLBOARD MARCH 24 1958 lists Ficker Records as new label


FICKER (Old Greenwich, Conn) C100001
(XTV 26838/26839)
Heroes, Heroines & Mishaps
John Allison with the Connecticut Folk Singers

A1 Gypsy Davy
A2 The Riverman's Daughter
A3 The Titanic
A4 Peggy
A5 The Golden Vanity
A6 Slow Mule

B1 Wreck on the C&O Road
B2 The Wild Goose Grasses
B3 The Bowery Grenadiers
B5 Betsy From Pike
B5 The Cow Chase
B6 Waily, Waily


FICKER C 10008 Spaceway Ballads Folksongs of the Rocketmen (circa 2075 A.D.)
(XTV 27542/27543)
John Allison and the Connecticut Folk Singers

A1 Life On A Rocket
A2 Rocket Away
A3 The Heritage of Men
A4 The Pup That Rides The Sky
A6 The Maiden of Venus
A7 The Worlds of Space

B1 Der Yodel Von't Kom Oudt!
B2 Song To Venus
B3 The Crazy Dane
B4 The Missile That Missed
B5 Ol' Earth A-Rollin'
B6 Rookie Take-off Song
B7 The Ruddy Red Regions



FOLKWAYS FH 5211 WITCHES AND WAR-WHOOPS (1962)
Early New England Ballads Collected and Sung by John Allison
insert notes by John Allison, texts.
songs credited to Allison, except A2 Cooke-Allison, B4 Whittier-Allison

A1 Lookie There!
A2 Death of Goody Nurse
A3 Lovewell's Indian Fight
A4 Susanna Martin
A5 The Gloucester Witch

B1 Giles Corey
B2 Bloody Brook
B3 Old Mammy Redd
B4 Flud Ireson
B5 Robin Goodfellowe


June 4, 1941, Town Hall, NYC
CAVALCADE OF SONGS
Burl Ives, Tony Kraber, Earl Robinson, The Almanac Singers, Pete Bowers,
John and Lucy Allison, Aunt Molly Jackson, Starlite quartette, Joshua White, Leadbelly, Harold Ambeyen, Elsie Houston, The American People's Chorus, directed by Herbert Haufrecht with Arthur Alkins as soloist.


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: GUEST,Doug Bennett
Date: 17 Jul 10 - 02:45 PM

If your interested in biographical backgtound on John Allison, he was my great uncle and son of William Otis Allison, who was my great-great grandfather. John Allison was an accomplished painter and singer. There is considerable information on W.O.A. that can be found through a google search "William Otis Allison" he was a very successful publisher, hotel owner and realestate investor who was also the first mayor of Englewood Cliffs NJ. His roots go back to about 1640 with allison relatives coming to America on one of the boats that accompanied the second trip of the Mayflower. Other family relatives included American Revolution vets, successful furniture makers in mid 1800s New York City.


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 18 Jul 10 - 09:42 AM

Anyone interested in the background info on and lyrics to these ballads about the Salem trials, can download a (free) PDF of the liner notes from Smithsonian Folkways:
http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid=938


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 18 Jul 10 - 11:06 AM

Hello Doug Bennett,
Thanks for the information about John Allison.   I wonder if
you have any more detail about John Allison's life, marriage,
birth/death dates. He seemed to "disappear" from the 'folk' scene,
wondered if he did concerts or other public performances (there seem
to be a number of radio appearances).
Also, details of the geneology.
Dick Greenhaus provided the information that his papers
are a special collection at the NYPL R&H collection - I'd like to go through that if/when I have time, and if it can be arranged - particularly to document the extant recordings (not included in my listing previously posted).
The only concert reference I found was the 1941 Cavalcade of Songs
at Town Hall - would be quite interesting if it was recorded.
If you wish to PM me, I'll send my e-mail address.
Thanks again!
Best wishes, Thomas.


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jul 10 - 08:53 PM

Thomas- he was born on Jan 13, 1893. his full name was John Blauvelt Allison. He was the youngest of I believe five children. My grandmother was the oldest, born July 13, 1885. John was known by me as uncle Jack. I remember him from the 1960s. Friendly, and I recall he always had a guitar and liked singing when visiting. The famous ancester was his father. There is a lot on the web, do a google search on "william o allison" he was born poor at the base of the palasades and became wealthy and left a trust for his children. This allowed them to follow their artistic interests. My grandmother was a poet, well published but not a lot of info on the web. Uncle Jack pursued music and painting. He was an archiver of the family history. Family rumor is that Burl Ives once approached him to partner. Another rumor was that he was asked to invest in a salad dressing by a guy whose name was Helman. Uncle Jack did neither. I have no facts to substantiate either- but quite possible. Uncle Jack lived in New York State. I remeber a white hose with a unused well in the backyard.


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: GUEST,William Allison McGee
Date: 30 Jan 11 - 11:29 AM

Grandpa Jack is how we knew him but we lived on the west coast he on the east and he did not like to fly, did it once to see us and never again after that. I have fond memories of him sending a big package every Christmas season wrapped with brown paper and a white twine tied as well. I have original copies of Witches & War-Whoops and Spaceway Ballads. His works are archived at the Smithsonian and I'm told in Montclair at the NJ Art Museum but have not confirmed that. I still live on the west side of the country but some day will take up the challange of going east and doing lots of research.
Bill


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: GUEST,ALPHEUS L. ALLISON
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 10:10 AM

WILLIAM OTIS ALLISON WAS MY GREAT UNCLE
HE HAS A LARGE PARK IN ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS
ALLISON PARK ON ALLISON ROAD
MY FATHER WHEN HE WAS A BOY, LIVED WITH HIM ON THE HILL
AND TOLD US ABOUT THE FAMILY AND THAT W.O. WAS ALSO PRESIDENT
OF CORN CHEMICAL BANK
I ONLY HEARD OF JOHN AND HIS SISTER WHO MARRIED A HOLLWOOD STAR
AND MOVED WEST.

ALPHEUS L. ALLISON


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: Joe_F
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 06:46 PM

I have the Folkways LP, including the jacket, which however has no information on it, and an insert, which explains a good deal. According to it, Allison did not write any of the songs, and only two are of known authorship. However, he "had recourse to expansion or contraction wherever it seemed necessary".

In particular, the one called "Flud Ireson" is an abridgement of John Greenleaf Whittier's poem "Skipper Ireson's Ride", which (as noted there and elsewhere) is widely held to be inaccurate & unfair not only to Mr Ireson, but to the women of Marblehead.


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Mar 18 - 05:39 PM

Folkways now has the album and notes at this URL: https://folkways.si.edu/john-allison/witches-and-war-whoops-early-new-england-ballads/american-folk/music/album/smithsonian.

Anybody have new information about Allison and his recordings?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Mar 18 - 05:48 PM

for the record, here's Tarrytown:

Thread #131049   Message #2953535
Posted By: Bill D
27-Jul-10 - 08:16 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Why is a low apron desirable?
Subject: RE: Origins: Why is a low apron desirable?

♫"*In Tarrytown* (John Allison)

This is a Hudson Valley version of the old English/Irish/Scots ballad "The Butcher Boy". From the singing of John Allison, this song dates back to the U.S. colonial era.

In Tarrytown, there did dwell
A lovely youth I knew him well
He courted me my life away
And now with me he will no longer stay

Refrain:
Oh, wide and deep, my grave will be
With the wild goose grasses growing over me

When I wore, my apron low
He courted me, through ice and snow
Now that I wear, my apron high
He walks right down the street and passes by

Oh, wide and deep, my grave will be
With the wild goose grasses growing over me

There is an inn, in Tarrrytown
There my love goes and sits him down
He takes another, girl on his knee
And she has gold and riches more than me

Oh, wide and deep, my grave will be
With the wild goose grasses growing over me
Oh, wide and deep, my grave will be
With the wild goose grasses growing over me."♫



and Jean Redpath sang: (from memory)
"When my apron did hang low,
He'd follow after thru wind & snow,
But now that my apron's to my chin,
He passes my gate...but he won't come in."

"I wish, I wish, though I wish in vain,
I wish I was a maid again.
But a maid again I can never be
Till apples grow on an orange tree"

I wish, I wish that my babe were born
And sitting on my mother's knee
And I, poor girl, were dead & gone;
Green grass growing over me"


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Subject: RE: John Allison/Witches & War-Whoops
From: GUEST,DrewG
Date: 08 Apr 18 - 11:17 AM

Hello, I have just started researching John Allison. I got interested in him and his paintings when I came across the March 25, 2018 offerings through the Butterscotch Auction Gallery.   I believe you can still access the link online.   They offered approximately 30 lots, including artwork, a collection of his albums as well as his personal victor gramophone, and some personal items. I did manage to win a few lots including a file of writing and photos, which I hope to receive in the coming weeks. It is curious they use Williams as his middle name, but my research indicates Blauvelt is/was his middle name as indicated in an earlier post.   I found an article entitled "John Allison- The Collector as Folk Artist". Published by New York Folklore Vol 9 Issue 3 (1983) pages 27-36. It is copyright protected and as such I cannot post it here. It can be purchased for $3 and I found it very informative, well worth reading.   You can access the link and see a preview for free.   

I am still searching for other information but to date have not found much...either in the way of obituary or other documents. It appears John died October 1, 1981.. I did find through the 1920 and 1930 census he had two children, John D born 1934 and Joan born 1927. I hope to have more to post after I do a bit more research. I welcome any other information that might com to light.


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