Poor Ellen Smith (I)

DESCRIPTION: "Poor Ellen Smith, how was she found? Shot through the heart lying cold on the ground." The singer briefly outlines the facts of the murder, then claims his innocence though he expects to be convicted. (He says he would put flowers on her grave.)
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1915 (Brown)
KEYWORDS: homicide execution
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
1893 - Peter Degraph (sometimes spelled De Graff) is sentenced to die for the murder of Ellen Smith
FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
BrownII 306, "Poor Little Ellen, or, Ellen Smith" (1 text)
Rosenbaum, p. 19, "Ellen Smith" (1 text, 1 tune, mislabelled Laws F2)
Shellans, p. 67, "Ellen Smith" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sulzer, p. 20, "Ellen Smith" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen/Seeger/Wood, p. 143, "Poor Ellen Smith" (1 text, 1 tune)
Darling-NAS, pp. 204-206, "Poor Ellen Smith" (2 text, of which the "A" text goes here and the "B" text with "Ellen Smith" [Laws F11])
DT, ELSMITH*
ADDITIONAL: Frances H. Casstevens, _Death in North Carolina's Piedmont: Tales of Murder, Suicide, and Causes Unknown_, History Press, 2006, p. 114, "Poor Ellen Smith" (1 text, possibly adapted by Tom Sauber)

Roud #448
RECORDINGS:
Green Bailey, "The Fate of Ellen Smith" (Gennett 6702/Supertone 9372 [as Harvey Farr], 1929; rec. 1928; on ConstSor1, KMM) [2 diferent but successive matrices]
Estil C. Ball, "Poor Ellen Smith" (on LomaxCD1702)
Homer Cornett, "Poor Ellen Smith" (on USWarnerColl01)
Dykes Magic City Trio, "Poor Ellen Smith" (Brunswick 127/Vocalion 5143, 1927)
Theophilus Hoskins, "Ellen Smith" (AFS, 1937; on KMM)
Vester Jones, "Poor Ellen Smith" (on GraysonCarroll1)
New Lost City Ramblers, "Poor Ellen Smith" (on NLCR16)
Frank Proffitt, "Poor Ellen Smith" (on Proffitt03)
Hobart Smith, "Poor Ellen Smith" (Disc 6080, 1940s)
Pete Steele, "Ellen Smith" (on PSteele01, FMUSA)
Henry Whitter, "Ellen Smith" (OKeh 40237, 1924)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Ellen Smith" [Laws F11]
SAME TUNE:
George Davis, "Why Are You Leaving?" (on GeorgeDavis01)
NOTES: To distinguish this from "Ellen Smith" [Laws F11], refer to the stanza quoted in the description. This, or something similar, seems to be found in all versions of this ballad.
For historical background, see the discussion under "Ellen Smith" [Laws F11]. - RBW
In several versions of this song, the singer (presumably Peter De Graff) states that he is innocent; in some versions, he is not condemned, but instead sent to prison for twenty years and eventually freed. - PJS
Last updated in version 4.0
File: CSW143

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