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Origins: Frozen Charlotte / Young Charlotte

04 Oct 99 - 01:45 PM (#120560)
Subject: Lyr Add: YOUNG CHARLOTTE [Variation]
From: Gene

This variation of YOUNG CHARLOTTE [Frozen Girl]
was sent to me recently



Young Charlotte lived by the mountainside, in a wild and lonely spot
No dwelling there for three miles around, except her father's cot
And yet on many a winter's night, young swains would gather there
For her father kept a social board and she was very fair

Her father like to see her dressed, as fine as a city belle
For she was the only child he had and he loved his daughter well
It was New Year's Eve, the sun had set, why looks her anxious eye
So long from the frost window forth, as the merry sleighs pass by?

At the village inn, fifteen miles off, there's a merry ball tonight
The piercing air is as cold as death, but her heart is warm and light
But, ah, how laughs her beaming eye, as a well known voice she hears
And dashing up to the cottage door, young Charles with sleigh appears

"O daughter dear!" her mother said, "This blanket round you fold
For it is a dreadful night abroad and you'll get your death of cold"
"Nay, mother, nay" fair Charlotte said and she laughed like a gypsy queen:
"To ride in blankets muffled up, I never can be seen"

My silken cloak is quite enough, it is lined throughout you know,
Besides I have a silken scarf, which around my neck to throw"
Her gloves were on, her bonnet tied, she jumped into the sleigh
And away they ride by the mountainside and o'er the hills away

There is life in the sound of the merry bells, as o'er the hills they go
What a creaking noise the runners make, as they bite the frozen snow
With muffled faces silently, o'er five long miles they pass
When Charles with these frozen words, the silence broke at last

Such a night as this I never saw, the reins I scarce can hold
When Charlotte, shivering, faintly said, "I am exceedingly cold"
He cracked his whip and urged his team, more swiftly than before
Until five other dreary mile, in silence were passed o'er

"O see," said Charles, "How fast the frost is gathering on my brow"
when Charlotte in a feeble voice said, "I am growing warmer now"
And on they ride through the frosty air and the glittering cold starlight
Until at last the village inn, and ballroom are in sight

They reached the inn and Charles jumped out and held his arms to her
"Why sit you like a monument, without the power to stir?"
He called her once, he called her twice, she answered not a word
He called her by her name again, but still she never stirred

He took her hand in his, O God, 'twas cold and hard as stone
He tore the mantle from her brow and on her the cold stars shone,
And then into the lighted hall, her lifeless fore he bore
For Charlotte was a frozen corpse and words spoke never more

He sat himself down by her side and the bitter tears did flow
And he said, "My young intended bride, I nevermore shall know"
He threw his arms around her neck and kissed her marble brow
And his thoughts went back to where she said, "I'm growing warmer now"

He bore her out into the sleigh and with her he drove home
And when he reached the cottage door, oh how her parents mourned
They mourned the loss of their daughter, dear, while Charles mourned o'er their gloom
Until with grief his heart did break and they slumber in one Tomb

I moved this message here from another thread on the same topic.
-Joe Offer-

13 Aug 02 - 08:37 PM (#764815)
Subject: Frozen Charlotte
From: Beer

My mother use to sing this very old folk song. Would like lyrics if anyone out there knows them. Also, would anyone know if the song was ever recorded and by who?
Thanks for your time.
Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index.
-Joe Offer-

Young Charlotte (Fair Charlotte) [Laws G17]

DESCRIPTION: Pretty Charlotte, going to a dance on a cold night, refuses to dress properly; warm clothes would hide her charms. First she complains of the cold, but then says "I'm growing warmer now." When they arrive at the ball, her escort finds her frozen to death
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1883 (Smith/Hatt)
KEYWORDS: courting death beauty
Feb 8, 1840 - The New York Observer publishes a story, "A Corpse Going to a Ball," describing a tragedy like this one which took place on Jan 1, 1840
FOUND IN: US(All) Canada(Mar,Newf,Ont)
REFERENCES (32 citations):
Laws G17, "Young Charlotte (Fair Charlotte)"
Belden, pp. 308-317, "Young Charlotte" (4 texts plus excerpts from 9 more and references to 2 more, 4 tunes)
Randolph 667, "Young Charlotte" (3 texts plus 5 excerpts, 2 tunes)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 528-532, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 667A)
Eddy 123, "Fair Charlotte" (3 texts, 2 tunes)
Gardner/Chickering 41, "Frozen Charlotte" (1 text plus an excerpt and mention of 1 more, 2 tunes)
Dean, pp. 56-57, "Young Charlotte" (1 text)
BrownII 209, "Young Charlotte" (1 text plus mention of 3 more)
Hudson 60, pp. 182-184, "Young Charlotte" (1 text plus mention of 2 more)
Brewster 30, "Fair Charlotte" (2 texts plus a fragment and mention of 2 more, 2 tunes)
Rickaby 37, "Fair Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Flanders/Brown, pp. 35-38, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Linscott, pp. 305-309, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Leach, pp. 723-725, "Young Charlotte" (1 text)
McNeil-SFB2, pp. 98-100, "Schaladi" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sandburg, pp. 58-59, "The Frozen Girl" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 48, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-AmFolklr, pp. 825-828, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Spaeth-WeepMore, pp. 142-143, "Young Charlotte" (1 text)
LPound-ABS 44, pp. 103-107, "Young Charlotte" (1 text)
JHCox 80, "Fair Charlotte" (2 texts plus mention of 5 more; 1 tune)
JHCoxIIB, #4A-B, pp. 126-129, "Fair Charlotte," "Young Charlotte" (1 text plus a fragment, 1 tune)
Cambiaire, pp. 110-110, "The Frozen Girl"; pp. 112-114,"Charlotte, the Frozen Girl" (2 texts)
Greenleaf/Mansfield 172, "Young Charlotte" (1 text)
Peacock, pp. 735-737, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Smith/Hatt, pp. 51-55, "The Frozen Girl" (1 text)
Creighton-NovaScotia 150, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-SNewBrunswick 64, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Mackenzie 60, "Young Charlotte" (1 text)
Darling-NAS, pp. 220-221, "Young Charlotte" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 210, "Young Charlotte" (1 text)

Roud #260
Delmore Brothers, "The Frozen Girl" (Montgomery Ward M-4458, 1934)
Warde Ford, "Fair Charlotte" (AFS 4203 A1, 1938; tr.; in AMMEM/Cowell)
I. G. Greer w. Mrs. I. G. Greer, "Young Charlotte" (AFS; on LC14)
Eugene Jemison, "Fair Charlotte" (on Jem01)
Pete Seeger, "Young Charlotte" (on PeteSeeger29)
Vern Smelser, "Young Charlotte" (on FineTimes)

cf. "The Shepherd on the Hill" (theme)
The Fair Sharlot
Notes: This ballad is widely considered to be based on an incident which took place on Jan. 1, 1840, when a girl froze on her way to a ball (the story was reported in the Feb. 8 New York Observer). In 1843 (? -- Botkin says 1884, but Smith died in 1868) the poem "A Corpse Going to a Ball" was published by Seba Smith in "The Rover"; the ballad is frequently linked to that lyric.
The matter remains controversial, though; others have linked it to the death of Charlotte Dills, frozen to death in Auburn, Indiana in 1862. And Barry credited the song to a William Lorenzo Carter of Virginia and dated it before 1833 -- though he later accepted the attribution to Smith.
For what it is worth, Laws accepts the attribution to Smith. - RBW
File: LG17

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

The Ballad Index Copyright 2009 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

13 Aug 02 - 08:57 PM (#764828)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte
From: Sorcha

I found something fairly new by Natalie Merchant; don't think that is it. Do you have any lyrics at all? Or any other clues?

13 Aug 02 - 09:19 PM (#764840)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte
From: Beer

The Song starts by:

Young Charlotte lived by the mountain side in a cold and weary spot.
No village near for for 10 long miles, except her fathers cot (cottage).
Many a cold cold winter nights, young swans would gather there. etc. etc.

13 Aug 02 - 09:23 PM (#764843)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte
From: Malcolm Douglas

Kenneth Peacock (Songs of the Newfoundland Outports, 1965) states that this appeared in 1843 in The Rover, credited to one Seba Smith, a journalist. Helen Creighton (Songs and Ballads from Nova Scotia, 1932) comments, "The author of this song is given in various sources as William Lorenzo Carter, a blind poet of Benson, or Bensontown, Vermont. It is widely current in the United States and Canada."

Helen Hartness Flanders (The New Green Mountain Songster, 1939) goes into considerable detail as to the claims regarding both alleged writers, and seems to decide on Smith as the original writer, with Carter perhaps responsible for some additions and for its association with a shortened form of the Irish tune Fainne Geal an Lae. Be that as it may, there is a text with two tunes in the DT:


13 Aug 02 - 09:24 PM (#764845)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte
From: Sorcha

Thank you Malcolm.

13 Aug 02 - 09:35 PM (#764856)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte
From: Beer

Thank you ever so much Malcolm. and you to Sorcha. Beer

14 Aug 02 - 12:33 AM (#764938)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte
From: masato sakurai

This is "Young Charlotte (Fair Charlotte)" [Laws G17].

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

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

Recordings listed at Folk Music Index are:

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

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

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

See also The Traditional Ballad Index: Young Charlotte.


14 Aug 02 - 04:50 AM (#765001)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte
From: nickp

Pretty sure there's a version by Cordelia's Dad but it may have been on a limited edn cd

14 Aug 02 - 05:31 AM (#765009)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte
From: masato sakurai

"The Frozen Girl" is on Cordelia's Dad: Comet [LIVE].

14 Aug 02 - 06:17 AM (#765022)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE FROZEN GIRL (Delmore Brothers)
From: masato sakurai

The Delmore Bothers' "The Frozen Girl" is on the list of the Folk Music Index (see above), but it is a different song. Sound clip is HERE.

THE FROZEN GIRL (Delmore Brothers)

No home, no home, pled the little girl,
At the door of a rich man's home,
As she tremblin' stood on the polished step,
And leaned on the marble wall.

Her clothes were thin and her feet were bare,
And the snow had covered her hair,
Oh, give me a home, she feebly said,
A home and a bit of bread.

My father I never knew, she said,
Through the tears in her eyes so bright,
My mother sleeps in a new-made grave,
'Tis an orphan that begs tonight.

The night was dark and the wild storm blew,
But the rich man shut the door,
With a frowning face, he scornfully said:
No home or bread for the poor.

The rich man passed as she shrank on the steps,
And strove to rub her feet,
In a tattered dress all covered with snow,
Yes, covered with snow and sleet.

The rich man slept on his velvet couch,
And dreamed of his silver and gold,
But the little girl on a bed of snow,
She murmured: so cold, so cold.

The hours rolled on and the midnight dawn,
Rolled on like a funeral bell,
The earth seemed wrapped in a winding sheet,
And the dropping snow still fell.

The strom rolled on and the little girl,
Still lay at the rich man's door,
But her soul had gone to a home above,
Where there's room and bread for the poor.

(From: Ethel Raim and Josh Dunson, Grass Roots Harmony, Oak, 1968, pp. 68-69; with music)


14 Aug 02 - 08:11 AM (#765053)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte
From: kendall

Young Charlotte was also recorded by Granpa Jones.

14 Aug 02 - 08:50 AM (#765065)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte
From: masato sakurai

"Fair Charlotte" sung by Warde Ford (recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Central Valley, California on December 27, 1938) is also at California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties (see the link above).


14 Aug 02 - 01:16 PM (#765239)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte
From: Charley Noble

I think you're "gettin' warmer now"!;~)

Charley Noble

14 Aug 02 - 01:21 PM (#765246)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte
From: Lonesome EJ

I think that Tim Eriksen referred to Frozen Girl on the Comet CD as another example of the folk genre known as "Death due to insufficient apparel".

15 Aug 02 - 01:16 AM (#765619)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE SNOW STORM (Seba Smith & L. Heath)
From: masato sakurai

Seba Smith wrote another ballad whose subject is the death in snow (sheet music at Levy).

Title: The Snow Storm. A Ballad.
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: The words by Seba Smith; Music by L. Heath. Arranged for the Piano Forte by George Hews.
L. Heath George Hews Publication: Boston: Oliver Ditson, 115 Washington St., 1843.

(Seba Smith & L. Heath, 1843)

The cold wind swept the mountain's height,
And pathless was the dreary wild,
And mid the cheerless hours of night
A mother wandered with her child.

As through the drifted snows she pressed,
The babe was sleeping on her breast,
The babe was sleeping on her breast.

And colder still the winds did blow,
And darker hours of night came on,
And deeper grew the drifts of snow--
Her limbs were chilled, her strength was gone.

"O God!" she cried, in accents wild,
"If I must perish, save my child,"
"If I must perish save my child."

She stript her mantle from her breast,
And bared her bosom to the storm;
As round the child she wrapped the vest,
She smiled to think that it was warm.

With one cold kiss, one tear she shed,
And sunk upon a snowy bed,
And sunk upon a snowy bed.

At dawn, a traveller passed by,
And saw her 'neath a snowy veil--
The frost of death was in her eye,
Her cheek was cold, and hard and pale--

He moved the robe from off the child;
The babe looked up, and sweetly smiled,
The babe looked up, and sweetly smiled.


29 Jan 03 - 12:10 PM (#877675)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte / Young Charlotte
From: masato sakurai

Three versions ("Young Charlotte") are at the Wolf Folklore Collection (Click here). Texts only.


30 Jan 03 - 08:39 AM (#878369)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte / Young Charlotte
From: GUEST,Redhorse at work

I've heard Sara Grey sing a version of this, but I don't know if she's recorded it.

30 Jan 03 - 08:48 AM (#878375)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte / Young Charlotte
From: masato sakurai

Link to "Fair Charlotte" (at Max Hunter) ha been fixed.

3. Fair Charlotte
Cat. #1498 (MFH #727) - As sung by Lula Davis, Fayetteville, Arkansas on February 14, 1963

19 Jan 07 - 09:38 PM (#1942131)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte / Young Charlotte

Frozen Charlotte became a very popular doll during Victorian times. A white bisque lady.

20 Jan 07 - 12:24 AM (#1942206)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte / Young Charlotte
From: Barry Finn

I found this while searching something else

The Frozen Girl

and then go here to find out where it came from

Thomas Raddall Selected Correspondence


20 Jan 07 - 12:27 AM (#1942212)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte / Young Charlotte
From: Barry Finn

I'm on a roll! Two successful links tonite & this one's a double.


20 Jan 07 - 12:36 AM (#1942214)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte / Young Charlotte
From: Stilly River Sage

I have the Ed McCurdy "Frozen Charlotte" version on his Sin Songs Pro/Con album. What is it about a song where a young girl dies because of her silly vanity that is so appealing? It's good for didactic purposes!

06 Apr 10 - 11:25 PM (#2881128)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Frozen Charlotte / Young Charlotte
From: Beer

This may not go far but I just thought I would refresh it in case there are new members that are interested.

I find this song very amazing in that it occurred in a time when folks collected these numbers by way of mouth and not thought the radio or today's fast media. My grand father was a lumberjack from Prince Edward Island who went to work in the lumbering woods of Main. There he heard a song that he memorized and brought back to P.E.I. It was passed on to my mother and I sang it last week in a coffee house.
Beer (adrien)

08 Apr 10 - 09:27 PM (#2882526)
Subject: Lyr Add: A CORPSE GOING TO A BALL (Seba Smith)
From: Jim Dixon

From The Rover: A Weekly Magazine of Tales, Poetry, and Engravings, edited by Seba Smith (New York: S. B. Dean & Co., 1844) Vol. 2, No. 15, page 225:

(Seba Smith)

The incident, from which the following ballad is woven, was given in the papers three or four years ago as a fact. It was stated, that a young lady in the country, while riding some distance to a ball on New Year's evening, actually froze to death.

1. Young Charlotte lived by the mountain side,
A wild and lonely spot;
No dwelling there, for three miles round,
Except her father's cot;

2. And yet on many a winter's eve
Young swains were gather'd there,
For her father kept a social board,
And she was very fair.

3. Her father loved to see her dress'd
As prim as a city belle,
For she was all the child he had,
And he loved his daughter well.

4. 'Tis New Year's eve—the sun is down—
Why looks her restless eye
So long from the frosty window forth,
As the merry sleighs go by?

5. At the village inn, fifteen miles off,
Is a merry ball to-night—
The piercing air is cold as death,
But her heart is warm and light;

6. And brightly beams her laughing eye,
As a well-known voice she hears;
And dashing up to the cottage door
Her Charley's sleigh appears.

7. "Now daughter dear," her mother cried,
"This blanket round you fold,
For 'tis a dreadful night abroad;
You'll catch your death a-cold."

8. "O nay, O nay," fair Charlotte said,
And she laugh'd like a gipsy queen,
"To ride with blankets muffled up
I never could be seen—

9. "My silken cloak is quite enough;
You know 'tis lined throughout;
And then I have a silken shawl
To tie my neck about."

10. Her bonnet and her gloves are on.
She jumps into the sleigh;
And swift they ride by the mountain side,
And over the hills away.

11. There's life in the sound of the merry bells,
As over the hills they go;
But a creaking wail the runners make,
As they bite the frozen snow.

12. How long the bleak and lonely way!
How keen the wind does blow!
The stars did never shine so cold—
How creaks the frozen snow!

13. With muffled faces, silently,
Five cold, long miles they've pass'd,
And Charles, with these few frozen words,
The silence broke at last—

14. "Such night as this I never saw—
The reins I scarce can hold;"
And Charlotte, shivering, faintly said,
"I am exceeding cold."

15. He crack'd his whip, and urged his steed
More swiftly than before,
And now five other dreary miles
In silence are pass'd o'er—

16. "How fast," said Charles, "the freezing ice
Is gathering on my brow;"
But Charlotte said, with feebler tone,
"I'm growing warmer now."

17. And on they went through the frosty air
And the glittering, cold star-light;
And now at last the village inn
And the ball-room are in sight.

18. They reach the door, and Charles jumps out,
And holds his hand to her—
Why sits she like a monument,
That hath no power to stir?

19. He call'd her once—he call'd her twice—
She answer'd not a word;
He ask'd her for her hand again,
But still she never stirr'd—

20. He took her hand in his—O God!
'Twas cold and hard as stone;
He tore the mantle from her face;
The cold stars on her shone—

21. Then quickly to the lighted hall
Her voiceless form he bore—
His Charlotte was a stiffen'd corse,
And word spake never more!

03 Mar 16 - 01:54 PM (#3776532)
Subject: RE: Origins: Frozen Charlotte / Young Charlotte
From: GUEST,DLee

I just want to say thank you!! I found this forum through looking for Andy M. Stewart but my grandmother sang this song and all I've ever been able to find is the poem - no song. Now I at least know it exists. She lived in Pa. and was born in 1882.

What I remember is that Charlotte was too vain to wear her coat to the ball and was frozen stiff in the sleigh when she got there.

(The solid Frozen Charlotte dolls were named after the ballad.)