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raredance Lyr Add: Ballad of Frankie Silver (25) RE: Lyr Add: BALLAD OF FRANKIE SILVER 06 Apr 03


Returning again to the notes in the Brown text for the following bits of information.

"Melinger E. Henry ("Songs Sung in the Southern Appalachians", 1934 p48-50)prints a version with a footnote from his informant stating: 'The above occurred about 1908. It is a true story. Mrs. Silvers lived at Morganton.... She composed the above while in prison and sang it just before she was hanged at Morganton."
This appears to be the source of the erroneous 1908 date. Brown indicates that the Silvers lived at the mouth of the South Toe River which is abut 30 linear miles from Morganton (much longer by road), so that would suggest another bit of misinformation by Henry's source. According to Brown, the Henry (and the Ervin) text is close to the Pickens text in the number, order and content of the stanzas, but "differs from them in a dozen or more particulars of wording and phrasal order." The Henry and Pickens text shared the wrong judge's name.

Brown also mentions the S J Ervin account although from a different source. Ervin, described as an attorney in Lexington wrote "Frankie Silver" which appeared in the Morganton News-Herald in April 1934. Ervin was of the opinion that the gallows reading was an "untrustworth tradition". Ervin also said, "Frankie Silver, it seems, was possessed of a higher degree of education than was common at that day." Brown doesn't say what evidence led to Ervin's opinions, but the latter would make it plausible that she could have penned the verses. That could become circular reasoning if the evidence that she was educated comes from believing she wrote the words.

Muriel Sheppard's version (see citation several posts above)is lacking the first two stanzas common to the PIckens, Henry and Ervin texts and apparently also has differences in the order of the stanzas. This is also from Brown

Ther is also a versdion with 14 stanzas cited from Davis "Folk Songs of Virginia" Anybody have access to that?


rich r


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