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GUEST,Kathryn Origins: Little Bessie (18) RE: Origins: Little Bessie 02 Sep 11


Joe,
For historical purposes, the lyrics for the Ricky Scaggs version of "Little Bessie" were written by America Spurlock Bowling Couch Wilson Bowlin. America wrote the song lyrics, after the death of her four year old daughter Bessie Couch, sometime during 1923-1224. America's daughter had been tragically and fatally burned from the homes wood burning stove. My grandfather French Bowling (born in 1917), recalled being about 6 yrs. old. at the time, remembers putting his baby sister Bessie on the train in Typo, Kentucky, to go to the nearest hospital on the lines from Typo (probably Harlan, Ky.). He never saw his baby sister again.
French Bowling's mother was said to have had a beautiful high soprano voice. One of French's fondest memories of his mother is of her singing this song she had written. Our family knows nothing of who, when or where the music arrangement came from, just the lyrics.
More history on America and her family was that she was musically gifted of voice and the ability to play the pump organ and did so for the little church on the side of the mountain in Typo, Kentucky. French Bowling, her fourth child from her first husband "Willie" William Bowling, was as equally talented as his Mother and Father. Willie was an accomplished banjo player well known in Typo. French could and would play anything he could get his hands on. It was said, he would even play music with a comb and tissue paper. He would play instruments that some didn't even know what they were. Unlike his older brother who chose to work in the Kentucky coal mines, French left to join the army at fifteen years of age, of which his mother signed for. He joined the United States Army and became a bugle and trumpet player in the band. His early music roots were playing banjo, guitar, and anything else to play Kentucky Bluegrass music to soothe his soul. A portion of his personally recorded music collection he donated to the University of Florida.
America Spurlock Bowling Couch Wilson Bowlin, being God fearing survived a very tough life, the depression with a strong heart and mind, and all with the loss of a child, inspired her to write a song so very dear to her heart about the loss of her little girl, deserves to have her name remembered. Many depression era surviving Americans, living in the Appalachians, hugely impacted the music in our American history, binding us all together like a quilt, also deserve to be remembered. Thankfully some have written it down or recorded it before there's no one to remember how it was told, sung or played. Thank you.
Regards,
Kathryn-


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