Vance Song, The [Laws F17]
DESCRIPTION: [Abner] Vance is charged falsely with murder. Recalling his beautiful home, he castigates those who have caused his unjust condemnation. He bids his family farewell
EARLIEST DATE: 1918 (Cox)
KEYWORDS: homicide execution farewell
FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE,So)
REFERENCES (9 citations):
Laws F17, "The Vance Song"
JHCox 41, "The Vance Song" (3 texts)
Lomax-Singing, pp. 322-323, "The Vance Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hudson 107, pp. 246-247, "The Vance Song" (1 text)
Combs/Wilgus 67, pp. 163-164, "The Vance Song" (1 text)
Finger, pp. 81-83, "The Vance Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Burt, pp. 222-223, "The Vance Song" (1 text plus an excerpt Burt thinks might be of another Vance song)
Cohen-AFS1, pp. 187-188, "The Vance Song" (1 text)
DT 738, VANCESNG
NOTES [228 words]: This is one of the few "confession" songs that Laws believes was actually written by the narrator. Abner Vance was hanged for murder after shooting Lewis Horton (for seducing Vance's daughter). Laws does not offer a precise date; it was probably in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Some further details, including those surrounding the trial and murder, are found in Cox, but again, no date. Burt offers a date c. 1910.
The inscription on Cox's "A" text, which seems to be the original broadsheet slip of the song, is dated 1897. This would seem to give us a rough date for either the song or the murder. However, Lyle Lofgren points out an item from the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum (probably on their web site somewhere, although he didn't give me a link) that says that Vance murdered Lewis Horton in 1817 -- apparently because either Horton or Horton's brother Daniel had been involved with Vance's daughter. Vance was hung in 1819 in Russell County in southwestern Virginia. (Russell County is a rural area north and west of Clinch Mountain, almost due north of Bristol on the Virginia/Tennessee border; the county has no large towns)
This is the most circumstantial account I have seen, but even it is far from complete. At least some mystery remains; probably someone will have to do a detailed search of early newspapers to find out more. - RBW
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