Folk Songs from the Southern Highlands - online songbook

Southern Appalachians songs with lyrics, commentary & some sheet music.

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Ballads and Song
from Miss Mabel Hall, Taft, Texas, who had it from Clay Hurst, Heiner, Breathitt County, Kentucky.
With this "song-ballet" came the request not to print it for a few years. Some years have now passed. Moreover, another correspondent writes: "The newspapers helped to make the Hargis-Callihan feud in bloody Breathitt County widely known. It is interesting to know that, true to nature, the people have sung the story of the terrible feud until now it is one of their many song ballets." It, therefore, appears to be current enough in oral transmission. The story has been stated to be about as follows:
"Marcum killed a Hargis, fled to the country, went to Texas. He felt compelled to go back to settle some business. Upon his return, war was declared in Jackson. The governor sent troops to try to quiet things but they could do nothing. Marcum, it seems, had succeeded in settling all business and was leaving the courthouse expecting to take a train for the West that night, but Hargis's man got him Jett, you understand, was hired by Hargis to do the killing. Jim Hargis once ruled Breathitt County with an iron hand."
i. It was on the fourth of May, Half past eight o'clock that day;
J. B. Marcum was standing in the courthouse of his town, Where Curt Jett was lurking 'round Just to get a chance to lay him on the floor.
2. Thomas White, a friend of Jett's, No worse man was ever met,
Then came walking boldly through the courthouse hall. As he was passing by, he looked Marcum in the eye, Knowing truly that poor Marcum soon must die.
3. Judge Jim Hargis and his man, Sheriff Edward Callihan,
Were across the street in Hargis Bros.' store.
Some people knew the plot and were listening for the shot
And see Jett's victim fall there in the door.
4. Jett advances through the hall With his pistol, lead and ball,
And he killed poor Marcum on the spot.
B. J. Ewen, standing by, saw him fall and heard him cry:
"O Lord! O Lord! They have killed me now at last."

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III