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Origins: Poor Ellen Smith

DigiTrad:
POOR ELLEN SMITH
POOR ELLEN SMITH (2)
POOR ELLEN SMITH (3)


Bill D 04 Mar 97 - 11:02 AM
rich r 04 Mar 97 - 11:56 AM
04 Mar 97 - 01:46 PM
Bill D 04 Mar 97 - 08:48 PM
rich r 08 Mar 97 - 03:08 PM
Joe Offer 09 Aug 06 - 04:15 AM
Goose Gander 26 Sep 08 - 11:07 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Sep 08 - 01:36 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Sep 08 - 01:50 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Sep 08 - 01:56 PM
Goose Gander 27 Sep 08 - 05:19 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Sep 08 - 06:21 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Sep 08 - 06:33 PM
Goose Gander 27 Sep 08 - 06:53 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Sep 08 - 09:16 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 28 Sep 08 - 02:16 PM
Charley Noble 29 Sep 08 - 11:40 AM
12-stringer 29 Sep 08 - 02:36 PM
Charley Noble 29 Sep 08 - 03:52 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Mar 14 - 01:39 PM
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Subject: "Poor Little Ellen"...(Poor Ellen Smith)
From: Bill D
Date: 04 Mar 97 - 11:02 AM

Many years ago, I heard a friend do an unusual version of "Poor Ellen Smith" (2 versions in DT)..I believe he said it came from a record by Walter Forbes, who made 2 records about 1962-3. ( ionce found hte record I wanted in a flea market, but by the time I got back with $2, it was gone...*sniff*).

Anyway, this line was used as the chorus

"Poor little Ellen, sweet as a rose; how I loved little Ellen, there aint nobody knows"

It began with something like."While drinking & gambling, and rambling around...." and included the verse.."They sent me to prison for 21 years.Each night I see Ellen thru my bitter tears."

I'd like to have the song, and needless to say, I'd also like to have the record, or a tape of it.(I carry $2 on me for emergencies these days!)


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Subject: RE: Poor Ellen Smith
From: rich r
Date: 04 Mar 97 - 11:56 AM

This request raises a question. I have a version of Poor Ellen Smith that is not like the 2 in DT. However, it does not match the version of the thread request either. This version was recorded by the Kossoy Sisters on their album "Bowling Green". It was also published in a book , "A Folksinger's Guide To Grassroots Harmony" edited by Ethel Raim and Josh Dunson. The question of etiquette then is, should I post these lyrics? The answer to that would seem to lie in the answers to two related questions. 1). How many versions of a song are enough? 2). Should one post lyrics that you know don't accurately respond to the original inquiry?

The general questions go beyond whether to post another version of "Poor Ellen Smith". If there is a general discussion or set of guidelines, I think they should go into a separate thread and not sidetrack this one.

Any comments? Dick? Susan? others?

rich r


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Subject: RE:Poor Ellen Smith
From:
Date: 04 Mar 97 - 01:46 PM

Answers: 1)I dunno. Lots, I guess. Depends on whether or not they're different, and I get to decide that Send 'em in.

2) You can always send in lyrics that don't directly fit the thread by E-mailing them to me at: digitrad@world.std.com.

We don' need no steenking guidelines! (but you can use these if you wish.)


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Subject: RE:
From: Bill D
Date: 04 Mar 97 - 08:48 PM

I have the Kossoy Sisters record, but post 'em for everyone else if you want..(lots of versions CAN be fun..)


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Subject: Lyr Add: POOR ELLEN SMITH
From: rich r
Date: 08 Mar 97 - 03:08 PM

POOR ELLEN SMITH
(Peter De Graff, 1863)

Poor Ellen Smith, how was she found?
Shot through the heart, lying cold on the ground.
Her body was mangled and all cast around,
And blood marks the spot where poor Ellen was found.
They picked up her body and carried it away,
And now she is sleeping in some lonesome old grave.

Who had the heart and who had the brain,
To shoot my little darlin' on this cold lonesome plain?
They picked up their rifles and hunted us down.
They found us a-loafing all around town.
The jury may convict me and God knows they can,
But I'll know I died as an innocent man.

I've been in this prison for seven long years.
Each night I see Ellen through my bitter tears.
I got a letter yesterday. I read it today.
The flowers on her grave have all faded away.
The warden has told me that soon I'll be free
To go to her grave 'neath that old hollow tree.

I'll go to her grave and I'll stay when I go.
On pretty Ellen's grave, fairest flowers I'll grow.
I'm free from the walls of that prison at last,
But I'll never be free of my sins of the past.

Poor Ellen Smith, how was she found?
Shot through the heart, lying cold on the ground.

recorded:
KOSSOY SISTERS - (Bowling Green)

THE KINGSTON TRIO (New Frontier) recorded a somewhat abbreviated version of these lyrics using the first 4 lines (Poor Ellen....Ellen was found) as a recurring refrain.

rich r


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Subject: RE: Origins: Poor Ellen Smith
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Aug 06 - 04:15 AM

Looks like this is another song that's worthy of exploration. The Traditional Ballad Index has two entries:

Poor Ellen Smith (I)

DESCRIPTION: "Poor Ellen Smith, how was she found? Shot through the heart lying cold on the ground." The singer briefly outlines the facts of the murder, then claims his innocence though he expects to be convicted. (He says he would put flowers on her grave.)
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1915 (Brown)
KEYWORDS: murder execution
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
1893 - Peter Degraph (sometimes spelled De Graff) is sentenced to die for the murder of Ellen Smith
FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
BrownII 306, "Poor Little Ellen, or, Ellen Smith" (1 text)
Shellans, p. 67, "Ellen Smith" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen/Seeger/Wood, p. 143, "Poor Ellen Smith" (1 text, 1 tune)
Darling-NAS, pp. 204-206, "Poor Ellen Smith" (2 text, of which the "A" text goes here and the "B" text with "Ellen Smith" [Laws F11])
DT, ELSMITH*

Roud #448
RECORDINGS:
Green Bailey, "The Fate of Ellen Smith" (Gennett 6702/Supertone 9372 [as Harvey Farr], 1929; rec. 1928; on ConstSor1, KMM) [2 diferent but successive matrices]
Estil C. Ball, "Poor Ellen Smith" (on LomaxCD1702)
Homer Cornett, "Poor Ellen Smith" (on USWarnerColl01)
Dykes Magic City Trio, "Poor Ellen Smith" (Brunswick 127/Vocalion 5143, 1927)
Theophilus Hoskins, "Ellen Smith" (AFS, 1937; on KMM)
Vester Jones, "Poor Ellen Smith" (on GraysonCarroll1)
New Lost City Ramblers, "Poor Ellen Smith" (on NLCR16)
Mollie O'Day and the Cumberland Mountain Folks:, "Poor Ellen Smith" (Columbia 20629, 1949)
Frank Proffitt, "Poor Ellen Smith" (on Proffitt03)
Hobart Smith, "Poor Ellen Smith" (Disc 6080, 1940s)
Pete Steele, "Ellen Smith" (on PSteele01, FMUSA)
Henry Whitter, "Ellen Smith" (OKeh 40237, 1924)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Ellen Smith" [Laws F11]
SAME TUNE:
George Davis, "Why Are You Leaving?" (on GeorgeDavis01)
Notes: To distinguish this from "Ellen Smith" [Laws F11], refer to the stanza quoted in the description. This, or something similar, seems to be found in all versions of this ballad.
For historical background, see the discussion under "Ellen Smith" [Laws F11]. - RBW
In several versions of this song, the singer (presumably Peter De Graff) states that he is innocent; in some versions, he is not condemned, but instead sent to prison for twenty years and eventually freed. - PJS
File: CSW143

Ellen Smith [Laws F11]

DESCRIPTION: Peter Degraph claims that he has been falsely accused of murdering his sweetheart Ellen Smith. He describes his apprehension and sentence. He will be hanged, but says "My soul will be free when I stand at the bar"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1936 (Brown)
KEYWORDS: murder execution
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
1893 - Peter Degraph (sometimes spelled De Graff) is sentenced to die for the murder of Ellen Smith
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,SE)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Laws F11, "Ellen Smith"
BrownII 305, (No title; in a section headed "Ellen Smith and Peter De Graff" (1 text plus mention of 3 more)
Hudson 67, pp. 193-194, "The Ellen Smith Ballet" (1 text)
Combs/Wilgus 65, pp. 188-189, "Ellen Smith" (1 text)
Fuson, p. 132, "Poor Ellen Smyth" (1 defective text, too short to classify with certainty; Laws places it here though I would incline to classify it with "Poor Ellen Smith (I)")
Darling-NAS, pp. 204-206, "Poor Ellen Smith" (2 text, of which the "B" text goes here and the "A" text with "Poor Ellen Smith (I)")
DT, ELLNSMT2*

Roud #448
RECORDINGS:
Henry Whitter, "Ellen Smith" (OKeh 40237, 1924)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Poor Ellen Smith (I)"
SAME TUNE:
How Firm a Foundation (Bellevue) (Original Sacred Harp/Denson Revisions. 1971 edition, p. 72)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
Poor Ellen Smith
Notes: The crime took place near Mount Airy, North Carolina. Folklore has it that DeGraph sang this song as he awaited execution. Richardson reports that "So great was the feeling, for and against Degraph, that it had to be declared a misdemeanor for the song to be sung in a gathering of any size for the reason that it always fomented a riot."
Paul Stamler notes that various versions of this song end with Degraph sentenced to prison rather than execution. This may be derived from the other ballad, "Poor Ellen Smith," which often ends before sentence is passed. The two often exchange verses.
To distinguish this from the other Ellen Smith ballad (which begins "Poor Ellen Smith, How was she found, Shot through the heart, Lying cold on the ground"), refer to these stanzas:
Come all kind people, my story to hear,
What happen'd to me in June of last year.
It's of poor Ellen Smith and how she was found,
A ball in her heart, lyin' cold on the ground.
...
I choked back my tears, for the people all said
That Peter Degraph had shot Ellen Smith dead!
My love is in her grave with her hand on her breast
The bloodhound and sheriff won't give me no rest. - RBW
File: LF11

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

The Ballad Index Copyright 2007 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: Lyr Add: POOR ELLEN SMITH
From: Goose Gander
Date: 26 Sep 08 - 11:07 PM

POOR ELLEN SMITH

Poor Ellen Smith, how she was found
Shot through the heart, lying cold on the ground
Her clothes were all scattered and thrown all around
Her blood marked the spot where poor Ellen was found

They picked up their rifles and hunted me down
They found me a-loafin' in Mt. Airy town
They picked up her body and carried it away
And now she lies sleeping in some lonesome old grave

I got a letter yesterday, I read it today
The flowers on her grave have all faded away
Some day I'll go home and stay when I go
On poor Ellen's grave pretty flowers I'll sow

I've been in this prison for twenty long years
Each night I see Ellen through my bitter tears
The warden just told me that soon I'll be free
To go to her graveside 'neath that old willow tree

My days in this prison are ending at last
I'll never be free from my sins of the past
Poor Ellen Smith, how she was found
Shot through the heart, lying cold on the ground

Source: Annadeen Fraley, Denton, KY (1995); on Meeting's a Pleasure, V.1-2 (Musical Traditions CD 341-2).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Poor Ellen Smith (non-DT version)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Sep 08 - 01:36 PM

"Poor Ellen Smith," a fiddle version by Henry Reed at American Memory. The tune used is an adaptation of the hymn, "How Firm a Foundaton."
Peter De Graff, the murderer(?) is spelled variously. He should not be listed as composer (DT2, etc.).

Brown, 1936, is the earliest listing in Traditional Ballads Index, but Brown refers to a version published in 1925 by Josiah H. Combs in "Folk-Songs du Midi des Etats-Unis," pp. 219-222, Paris, France (Brown, pp. 716-717, XX, vol. II, Folk Ballads from North Carolina, H. M. Belden and A. P. Hudson).

Any printings earlier than 1925 known?


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Subject: Lyr Add: POOR LITTLE ELLEN
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Sep 08 - 01:50 PM

Lyr. Add: POOR LITTLE ELLEN

1
Early one Monday Morning
So lonely and cold
To hear that sad story
The witness has told.
2
Oh, little Ellen Smith, she sleeps lonely
With her hands upon her breast,
And the high sheriff and bloodhounds
Will give me no rest.
3
I haven't been back home,
And I never intend to be,
Till a sweet apple grows
On a sour apple tree.
4
I didn't intend to marry her
Or to make her my wife,
But loved hear so dearly [her?]
To take her sweet life.
5
Little Ellen Smith
She was as true as a dove,
Oh where did she wander,
And who did she love?
6
The roads they were muddy,
And the rain was pouring down,
When a ball from my pistol
Brought Ellen to the ground.
7
They carried me to Winston
My trial there to stand,
But God knows my heart
And he knows every vow.
8
It's true that I am prisoner
And in the old jail house,
But the blood from her breast
Will give me no rest.

From Miss Isabel Rawn, Hampton (now Rutherford Co.), NC, coll. 1915 from unnamed informant.
F. C. Brown, North Carolina Folk-Lore, vol. II, pp. 716-717, XX.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Poor Ellen Smith (non-DT version)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Sep 08 - 01:56 PM

Score not given in vol. 3, Brown, North Carolina Folklore; The Music of the Folk Songs, J. P. Schinhan.


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Subject: Lyr Add: POOR ELLEN SMITH
From: Goose Gander
Date: 27 Sep 08 - 05:19 PM

POOR ELLEN SMITH

Poor Ellen Smith, Lord, how was she found?
Shot through the heart, lying cold on the ground
Lying cold on the ground. Lord, how was she found?
Shot through the heart, lying cold on the ground.

Poor Ellen Smith. Lord, how as she found?
Shot through the heart, lying cold on the ground.
Her clothes were all torn and thrown on the ground,
The blood spot where Ellen was found.

They rounded up the rifles and they hunted me down.
Found me a-loafing in Youngun's Town.
They handcuffed me and they took me to jail.
He locked up and planned Ellen's pall.

I got a letter yesterday, and read it today.
Said young man you're free to go
Go to the grave where Ellen lies.
Go to the grave beneath the willow tree.

Poor Ellen Smith. Lord, how was she found?
Shot through the heart, lying cold on the ground.
If I could go home and stay when I go,
Flowers on Ellen's grave I will plan to sow.

Source:
Pap Brewer (1993); 'Finley J. Brewer Sr. from Roan Mountain, TN,' June Appal Recordings (JA0071CD).


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Subject: Lyr Add: POOR ELLEN SMITH^^^
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Sep 08 - 06:21 PM

Lyr. Add: POOR ELLEN SMITH^^^

1
Come all kind people, my story to hear,
What happened to me in June of last year.
It's of poor Ellen Smith and how she was found,
A ball in her heart, lyin' cold on the ground.
2
It's true I'm in jail, a prisoner now,
But God is here with me and hears every vow.
Before Him I promise the truth to relate
And tell all I know of poor Ellen's sad fate.
3
The world of my story's no longer a part,
But knows I was Ellen's own lovin' sweetheart.
They knew my intention to make her my wife,
I loved her too dearly to take her sweet life.
4
I saw her on Monday, before that sad day
They found her poor body and took her away;
That she had been killed never entered my mind
Till a ball through her heart they happened to find.
5
Oh who was so cruel, so heartless, so base
As to murder poor Ellen in such a lonesome place?
I saw her that morning so still and so cold
And heard the wild stories the witnesses told.
6
I choked back my tears, for the people all said
That Peter Degraph had shot Ellen dead!
My love is in her grave with her hand on her breast
The bloodhound and sheriff won't give me no rest.
7
They got their Winchesters and hunted me down,
But I was away in old Mt. Airy town.
I stayed off a year and I prayed all the time
That the man might be found what committed the crime.
8
So I could come back in my character safe
(and my character save?)
Ere the flowers had faded on poor Ellen's grave.
So I come back to Winston my trial to stand
To live or to die as the law might command.
9
Ellen sleeps calm in the lonely church yard
While I look through the bars-- God knows it is hard!
I know they will hang me-- at least, if they can,
But I know I will die an innocent man.
10
My soul will be free when I stand at the bar
Where God tries his cross, then, there, like a star,
That shines in the night, with an innocent shine
Oh, I do appeal to the Justice of time!

"From Ether Park Richardson's book- American Mountain Songs. Possibly closer to the original than Hobart Smith/Molly O'Day version: see also ELLNSMITH
"Peter Degraph really did shoot and kill Ellen Smith (according to the verdict) near Mt. Airy, NC. He was executed for the crime, and while he waited for him to take him to the chair he called for a guitar, and this song was composed and sung by him. So great was the feeling, for and against Degraph, that it had to be declared a misdemeanour for this song to be sung in a gathering of any size for the reason that it always fomented a riot." (IBID.) (also sic) RG

Poor Ellen Smith

The story attached here is probably largely nonsense. S. Spaeth edited the book by Richardson, and he was not particularly reliable. The book was published in 1955 (with Spaeth's editing) by Greenberg, a collection of 63 songs. There may have been a previous edition.

Other websites suggest Degraph served 20 years or some other sentence.

It would be interesting to find a newspaper report of the crime, which apparently took place in 1893.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Poor Ellen Smith (non-DT version)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Sep 08 - 06:33 PM

My source was the website of Sergey Ayukov, Moscow University (Astronomy prof.) Much of it seems to be closed because of legal reasons; the songbook was once carried by Univ. Wisc. Parkland.

The lyrics above are found at several eastern European websites (still there because copyright not observed?).
    In the early days of the Internet, before Al Gore invented it, the University of Wisconsin Parkside campus outside Kenosha had a wonderful online lyrics database. It was shut down because of copyright concerns - I'd guess in the early 1990's - but it remained available at various lyrics Websites. Most of the folk music that was on the UWP Website came from the Digital Tradition. You will find that the lyrics you obtained from Russia were submitted by "RG" - Richard Greenhaus. You will also find them here (click) in the Digital Tradition. There are lots of folk music Websites that got their lyrics from the Digital Tradition. I'd say "gotcha" - but I've been caught before myself.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Poor Ellen Smith (non-DT version)
From: Goose Gander
Date: 27 Sep 08 - 06:53 PM

Poor Ellen Smith by Henry Reed, from 'Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier' at American Memory, recorded by Alan Jabbour at Glen Lyn, Virginia (1967).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Poor Ellen Smith (non-DT version)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Sep 08 - 09:16 PM

Duncan Emrich, 1974, former Chief of the Folklore Section, Library of Congress, "American Folk Poetry," pp. 686-688, gives the words to "Poor Ellen Smith" as I posted them; from Ethel Park Richardson, "American Mountain Songs," 1927 (1955), Greenberg, NY. He gives the same comments about Peter Degraph.
Emrich mentions no date for the murder (nor did Laws). No tune given.

Emrich notes that "Poor Ellen Smith" was recorded by Herbert Halpert from the singing of Mrs. W. L. Martin, Hillsville, VA, 1939, Library of Congress AFS record 2745B (not listed in the Traditional Ballad Index).

As noted previously, "How Firm a Foundation" is mentioned as the tune for the Henry Reed fiddle version; Cyberhymnal provides a midi which seems unrelated to the Reed tune, but also lists several alternate tunes for that 18th C. hymn. I have not heard the shape note version.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Poor Ellen Smith (non-DT version)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Sep 08 - 02:16 PM

Somehow, I missed version 2 in the DT, from Richardson (+Spaeth), originally posted by R. Greenhaus. It is the same posting copied in Ayukov, and it is the version in Emrich, "American Folk Poetry."

I'll blame old age.


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Subject: Lyr Add: POOR LITTLE ELLEN SMITH
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Sep 08 - 11:40 AM

I first heard this song from the singing of Obray Ramsey in North Carolina in 1963 and he called it "Poor Little Ellen Smith." His verses went like this:

Poor little Ellen, sweet as a Rose,
How I loved little Ellen, ain't nobody know;
Ain't nobody knows,
How I loved little Ellen, ain't nobody knows!


Drinking and gambling, just loafing around,
A ball from my pistol knocked sweet Ellen down...(as above)

Poor little Ellen, how was she found?
Shot through the breast, lying cold on the ground...

On Monday I was arrested, Tuesday I was tried,
By the laws of this country I had to abide...

I've been in this prison twenty long years;
Every night I see Ellen through my bitter tears...

Some day I'll be out and it's home I will go;
On poor Ellen's grave pretty flowers I'll sow...

Clearly a case of involuntary manslaughter, with perhaps gross negligence thrown in with the charges.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: Lyr Add: ELLEN SMITH
From: 12-stringer
Date: 29 Sep 08 - 02:36 PM

Josiah H Combs, Folk-Songs of the Southern United States (American Folklore Society, 1967), an English translation of Combs' 1925 dissertation at the University of Paris, pp 188-189:

Ellen Smith
Contributed by Dan Gibson, Lackey, Knott Co, KY

Come all you young people, both far and near,
I'll relate you a history of June, last year.

Last Monday morning about the break of day,
They captured poor Ellen and carried her away.

Where was she shot, and where was she found?
She's shot through the heart, lying cold on the ground.

Who would be so brave, and who would be so bold,
To murder poor Ellen for a handful of gold?

Who would be so brave, and who would have the face,
To murder poor Ellen in such a lonesome place?

Now poor Ellen's dead, with her hands upon her breast;
The high sheriffs and bloodhounds will give me no rest.

Poor little Ellen, she's harmless as a dove;
She's always stayed at home, for home she did love.

O now I am married and roaming in the East,
The police and bloodhounds will let me see no peace.

O now I am married and roaming in the West
The sheriffs and bloodhounds will give me no rest.

O now I am married and living alone
The sheriffs and bloodhounds won't leave me alone.

They gathered their Winchesters, they hunted me down,
They found me a-sailing in Monterrey town.

It's true they have got me, and I'm a prisoner now,
But the Lord, He is with me and hears every vow.

O now they have caught me, they'll hang me if they can;
I'm sure if they hang me, they'll hang an innocent man.

O now I am a prisoner, and I'm confined in jail;
My friends all gathered round, but none was worth my bail.

Now I am a-praying, a-praying all the time,
A-praying for the man that committed this crime.

If I were a free man and back home today,
I'd scatter red roses on sweet Ellen's grave.

Sometimes I have a dollar, sometimes two or three;
My wife's off a-gamblin', she don't care for me.

Sometimes I have a dollar, sometimes five and six,
I want to be a-shooting, my pistol's out of fix.

D K Wilgus comments in his introduction that "apparently at the eleventh hour, Combs was not allowed to include any British or American song if 'one or more versions, sometimes quite different and inferior, had already been published in America'. The 'line' was not tightly held -- witness the inclusion of 'John Henry' -- but it shaped the collection." At any rate, this must be an early publication of the song. No date appears in the text or the appended list of songs from the Combs Collection, but it may go back to the 1910s.

As with other KY versions (cf Theophilus Hoskins and Pete Steele), Gibson's text of "Ellen Smith" has been cross-bred with other, unrelated jailhouse ditties. Combs doesn't mention whether Gibson was a banjo picker.

Frank Proffitt Sings Folksongs, Folkways 2360, recorded, I believe, in the very early 1960s, features a version with dulcimer accompaniment. Lyrics are quite different from the normal set and are largely concerned with establishing that Ellen was a slut who pretty much got what she was asking for. Liner notes don't say so, but I have wondered if Proffitt might have composed this alternate version himself. I don't have the full set at hand (my other computer is broken down), but among the verses are:

Many a heart she has broken, many a lie she has told
It all now is ended in her grave in the snow.

Ellen, poor Ellen, you've wasted your life
You might have made some man a very good wife.

Your friends tried to warn you, of your ending you was told
It all now is ended in your grave in the snow.

The men they will mourn you, their wives will be glad,
Such is the ending of a girl that is bad.

Perhaps she's in heaven, God only knows,
The Bible plainly tells us she's gone down below.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Poor Ellen Smith (non-DT version)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Sep 08 - 03:52 PM

Poor little Ellen certainly needed a better press agent!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Poor Ellen Smith (non-DT version)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Mar 14 - 01:39 PM

Lyr. Add: Ellen Smith (Ruby Vass)

Poor Ellen Smith,
Torn in half she was found;
Shot through the heart,
Lyin' cold on the ground.

Her clothes were all ragged,
And her purse on the ground.
The blood marked the spot
Where poor Ellen was found.

They picked up her body,
And off they did go.
To the lonesome old graveyard;
I'll see her no more.

They picked up their rifles, Lord,
They hunted me down;
They found me a-loafin'
Around through the town.

I got a letter yesterday,
I read it today;
Said the flowers on her grave
Had all faded away.

I'm leavin' today,
Back home I will go.
On poor Ellen's grave
Pretty flowers I will throw.

With musical score, p. 67.
Shellans remarks that in August, 1893, at Forsyth, NC, Peter De Graff was convicted of the murder of Ellen Smith.

Herbert Shellans, 1968, Folk Songs of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Oak Publications.


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