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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
raredance Lyr Add: Ballad of Frankie Silver (25) RE: Lyr Add: BALLAD OF FRANKIE SILVER 06 Apr 03


The long set of lyrics above cannot be McCrumb's since they are identical except for one word to the lyrics collected by Brwon and published in the FCBCNCF. The Brown text says these lyrics were contributed by M I Pickens, a student at Trinity College, in 1922. Tradition has it that the words were written by Frances Silver and delivered by her from the scaffold. Brown indicates that this tradition is "persistant and, it would seem, undisputed" The correction made by McCrumb is to change the name of the judge from "Daniels" in the Pickens text to "Donnell" who was the actual judge. This error in the Pickens text was noted by Brown. There is no musical transcription in the Brown collection. Brown also collected a version called "Susie Silvers" which was essentially the same as the Pickens text but minus the last three verses. A somewhat different version noted by Brown was contained in "The Serpent Slips into a Modern Eden" by James A Turpin (1925). Turpin's "chain of facts" as it were goes to an article in the Waynesville "Courrier" which was based on an older clipping from some local paper that was given to the "Courrier" editor. The older clipping, in turn, purported to quote Alfred Silver, "half-brother of the murdered man....living today...eighty seven years old". Alfred Silver is reported to have said "It was hoped that she [Frankie] would make a public confession of the scaffold and she seemed prepared to do so, but her father yelled our from the crowd, 'Die with your secret, Frances.'" However, Turpin goes on to say that the verses "were printed on a strip of paper and sold to people who assembled at Morganton to see Frances Silver executed. It is claimed that she composed them and gave them out as her confession." Robert Menzies and Edmond Smith had an article, "The Scarlet Enigma of Toe River" in "True Detective Mysteries" in 1935 that included the father's call for silence, but follows it with response by Frankie that "I have...a lot to say". Returning to the Turpin verses that he printed, the first six "correspond with verbal differences" (Brown) to the first six of the Pickens version. The last two verses are different:

In that last calm sleep I see him now,
The beautiful peace on his handsome brow;
Our winsome babe on his heaving breast
The crimson blade and the dreamless rest.

Now, that I can no longer live
Oh, pitying Lord, my crime forgive.
When I hear the call of judgment roll
May I appear with a bloodwashed soul!


rich r


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