The Ashland Tragedy
Dear father, mother, sister, come listen while I tell
All about the Ashland tragedy, of which you know full well.
'Twas in the town of Ashland, all on that deadly night,
A horrible crime was committed, but soon was brought to light.
Three men who did the murder, was Craft, Ellis, and Neal;
They thought the crime they had concealed, but God the same revealed.
George Ellis, one of the weakest, who could not bear the pain,
To J. B. Powell, trembling, revealed the horrid stain.
Ellis Craft, who was the leader, and had an iron heart,
Caused a son and two lovely daughters from their mother's embrace to part.
Poor Neal, he may be innocent, but, from what George Ellis tells,
The crime he has committed will send his soul to hell.
He dragged poor Emma from her bed and threw her on the floor,
Crushed her head with an iron bar, her blood did run in gore.
In my own imagination I can see her little hands
Upheld, crying for mercy, murdered by cruel hands.
Those little white hands so tender, upheld in prayer to him,
Falls useless at her bleeding side, her eyes in death grow dim.
Craft committed the same offence, and murdered the other two;
While their forms were cold in death, Craft says, "What shall we do? "
Then Neal proposed to burn them up, to hide their bloody stain,
While some other three might arrested be, and them not bear the blame.
Then, in tones of thunder, Craft told Ellis to get to camp,
And pour oil on the children, while they stood with bloody hands.
Then Craft he lit a match and touched it to their clothes,
The flame loomed up with melting heat, and away the wretches goes.
Then off they went, I have no doubt, as fast as they could go,
And thought no one their bloody crime would ever, ever know.
Then early the next morning the town in mourning wept,
To see the children's burning forms, the sight they can't forget:
Such screams and bitter weeping of friends that stood around,
Their heart strings torn and bleeding, tears falling to the ground.
Poor little Robert Gibbons, a helpless orphan child,
Died in defence of his sister; to her he was loving and mild.
For their three forms are buried, they sleep beneath the sod,
Murdered while defending their virtues, and their souls are at rest with God.
At rest in the golden dty, where God himself gives light,
Where crystal streams are flowing, in the city where there is no night;
They're with the white-robed angels, whose harps are made of gold,
Whose crowns are set with brilliant stars, forever in the dear Lord's hold.
There is one thing yet I do remember well:
Major Allen with his bloody hounds caused tears and tide to swell ;
They hovered round those dreadful fiends that sent death knell through town,
Caused other friends from friends to part; for hell such men are bound.
The people df Mt. Sterling, who rate themselves so high,
Ought to be in favor of justice and say that he should die.
I suppose they have forgotten that they have d
And law and right should be their aim, to protect their children too.
May law and justice be dealt out, and spread from plain to plain,
And in the future day enjoy a moral land again!
Now all dear fathers and mothers, a warning take by this,
Stay at home with your children, and guard against crimes like this.
Remember the advice I give you is from a true and loving heart;
I hope you'll talke its earnest heed, from its teachings never part.
Remember the world is wicked, no mortal you can trust;
Trust God, who is all wisdom and doeth all things just.
From Folk-Songs of the South, Cox
Collected from Hannah Bradshaw, 1918