Ballads & Songs of Southern Michigan-songbook

A Collection of 200+ traditional songs & variations with commentaries including Lyrics & Sheet music

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This song is rather generally supposed by the people in and near Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, to have been written by Walter Goodwin while waiting in his cell to be hanged. However, his wife's sister, Mrs Rena Copley Carpenter, said it was written "by a woman in Brownlee just outside of Welkboro." Accord­ing to Mrs. Carpenter, Goodwin's wife was shot September 3, 1897, Goodwin was tried in October and hanged the next May. Mrs. Carpenter adds that "Since then we have found out that Gertrude Taylor, the girl in the case, did the shooting " A version of the song was printed in The Wellsboto Gazette, April 7, 1933; it is very similar to the Michigan text, but has some additions and omissions.
The present version was sung in 1934 by Mrs. Charles Muchler, Kalkaska. Mr and Mrs. Muchler said that this tragedy took place while they lived in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, Goodwin was hanged there, and they learned the song at that time.
1 In the little town of Wellsboro, Take heed to what I say, Close at death door a fair young wife On a bed of sickness lay. They took away her little babe, And when for it she cried,

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