Ballads and Songs of Indiana - online book

A collection of 100 traditional folk songs with commentaries, historical info, lyrics & sheet music

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes



Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
Brewster: Ballads and Songs of Indiana           283
61 PEARL BRYAN
The following song, though telling of a murder committed in the neighboring state of Kentucky, may lay claim to being an Indiana ballad, as the victim was a native of this state. It was well known in Indiana twenty-five or thirty years ago, and has been found (often mingled with stanzas of "Florella") by collectors in many other states. Eight texts and two airs have been recovered in Indiana.
The story told of the tragedy is this: Pearl Bryan, the daughter of a well-to-do farmer near Greencastle, was seduced by a William Wood (Woods). Becoming pregnant, she left home, ostensibly for Indianapolis. Instead, however, she went to Cincinnati, where she appealed to an acquaintance, Scott Jackson, at the time a student in the Ohio College oi Dental Surgery, to give her medical attention. On January 29 she left the Indiana House, where she had registered under an assumed name, in com­pany with Jackson and a fellow-student of his, Alonzo Walling. She was never again seen alive. On February 1, 1896, her body, minus the head, was found near Fort Thomas, Kentucky. Her death was the result of a criminal operation. Identification was made through her shoes, purchased in Greencastle, and by her feet, Miss Bryan being web-footed. Jackson and Walling were tried in Newport, Kentucky, on a charge of first-degree murder. Each accused the other of the murder, Walling denying acquaint­ance with the girl. They were found guilty, and were hanged on March 20, 1897.
For other texts, see Combs, p. 203; Cox, p. 197; Journal, XXVIII, 168; XXX, 344 (list of versions); XLII, 280, 302; Pound, No. 43; Shoemaker, p. 49; Cambiaire, East Tennessee and Western Virginia Mountain Ballads, p. 109; Neely, Tales and Songs of Southern Illinois, p. 158.
A
"Pearl Bryan." Contributed by Miss Larue Smith and Miss Frances Hunt, of Oakland City, Indiana. Gibson County. Obtained from Mrs. Flos­sie Blythe. January 8, 1935.
1. Young girls, if you'll listen, A story I'll relate That happened near Fort Thomas In the old Kentucky state,
2L On January the thirty-first
The dreadf ul deed was done By Jackson and by Walling;
How cold PearPs blood did run!








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