Springfield Mountain [Laws G16]

DESCRIPTION: A young man is out mowing a field. He is bitten by a poisonous snake. In "serious" versions, he dies because no one comes to his aid. In others, his sweetheart tries to draw the poison but instead is killed herself when the venom enters a "rotten tooth"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1836
KEYWORDS: death animal lover injury
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
Aug 7, 1761 - Death by snakebite of Timothy Myrick, often considered the inspiration for this song
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,Ro,SE,So)
REFERENCES (48 citations):
Laws G16, "Springfield Mountain" (sample text in NAB, pp. 35-36)
Belden, pp. 299-300, "Springfield Mountain" (1 text plus a reference to 1 more)
Randolph 424, "Springfield Mountain" (4 texts, 2 tunes)
High, p. 12, "The Stuttering Song" (1 text)
Moore-Southwest 186, "The Rattlesnake Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-1ed, pp. 257-259, "Joh-Woh-Wonny" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-2ed, pp. 108-109, "Dear John" (1 text, 1 tune)
Bronner-Eskin1 32, "Springfield Mountain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Eddy 109, "Springfield Mountain" (4 texts, 3 tunes)
Gardner/Chickering 38, "Springfield Mountain" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Peters, p. 207, "Young Johnny" (1 text, 1 tune)
Musick-Larkin 40, "Poison Serpent" (1 text)
Morris, #55, "Springfield Mountain" (2 texts)
BrownII 208, "Springfield Mountain" (3 text plus 3 fragments and mention of 1 more; the final fragment, "G," may perhaps be another song)
BrownSchinhanIV 208, "Springfield Mountain" (3 excerpts, 3 tunes)
Hudson 61, p. 184, "Springfield Mountain" (1 short text)
Brewster 76, "Springfield Mountain" (1 fragment)
MHenry-Appalachians, pp. 223-224, "Springfield Mountain (I), (II)" (2 texts)
Boswell/Wolfe 29, pp. 51-53, "Stuttering Johnny (Springfield Mountain)" (1 text, 1 tune)
Flanders/Brown, pp. 15-18, "On Springfield Mountain" (2 texts plus some scraps, 2 tunes)
Flanders-NewGreen, pp. 159-161, "Springfield Mountain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Linscott, pp. 285-286, "Springfield Mountain or The Black Sarpent" (1 text, 1 tune)
Beck-Maine, pp. 106-108, "Springfield Mountain" (1 text)
Leach, pp. 719-723, "Springfield Mountain" (4 texts)
Leach-Heritage, pp. 174-176, "Springfield Mountain" (2 texts)
McNeil-SFB2, pp. 53-54, "The Rattlesnake Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Friedman, p. 302, "Springfield Mountain" (4 texts)
Warner 23, "Springfield Mountain"; 65, "On Springfield Mountain" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
ThompsonNewYork, pp. 370-373, "(Springfield Mountain)" (3 texts plus 2 excerpts)
SharpAp 132, "Springfield Mountain" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Scott-BoA, pp. 44-45, "Springfield Mountain"; pp. 156-158, "The Pesky Sarpent" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Lomax-FSUSA 9, "Springfield Mountain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 3, "Springfield Mountain"; 212, "Springfield Mountain (Texas Version)" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 356-357, "Rattle Snake" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen-AFS1, pp. 81-82 "Springfield Mountain" (1 text)
Botkin-AmFolklr, pp. 828-829, "On Springfield Mountain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-NEFolklr, pp. 554-555, "The Pesky Sarpent" (1 text, 1 tune)
Arnett, p. 16, "Smithfield Mountain" (1 text, 1 tune)
JHCox 81, "Springfield Mountain" (1 text)
JHCoxIIB, #3A-3C, pp. 122-125, "Springfield Mountain," "The Venomous Black Snake" (2 texts plus a fragment, 1 tune)
Abrahams/Foss, pp. 146-147, "Springfield Mountain" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
LPound-ABS, 42, pp. 97-98, "O Johnny Dear, Why Did You Go?"; pp. 98-99, "Woodville Mound]"; pp. 99, "In Springfield Mountain"; p. 100, "Springfield Mountain" (4 texts)
Huntington-Whalemen, pp. 167-170, "Springfield Mountain" (1 text, probably rewritten, 1 tune)
Coleman/Bregman, pp. 18-19, "Springfield Mountain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Darling-NAS, pp. 218-220, "Springfield Mountain" (2 texts, one labeled a parody)
Silber-FSWB, p. 216, "Springfield Mountain" (1 text)
DT 314, SPRNMNTN* SPRNMTN2* SPRNMTN4*
ADDITIONAL: Henry Randall Waite, _Carmina Collegensia: A Complete Collection of the Songs of the American Colleges_ first edition 1868, expanded edition, Oliver Ditson, 1876, part III, p. 35, "Springfield Mountain" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #431
RECORDINGS:
Winifred Bundy, "Young Johnny (Springfield Mountain)" (AFS, 1941; on LC55)
Woody Guthrie, Sonny Terry, Cisco Houston & Bess Hawes, "Springfield Mountain" (on WoodyFolk)
Bascom Lamar Lunsford, "Springfield Mountain" (on BLLunsford02) (on AschRec2)
"Yankee" John Galusha, "Springfield Mountain" (on USWarnerColl01)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Fod" (words)
cf. "The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake" (plot)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
O Polly Dear
NOTES: Phillips Barry studied this ballad in depth, and concluded that it fell into four subfamilies: the "Curtis" type (serious), the "Molly" type (comic; see, e.g. DT SPRNMNTN), the"Myrick" type (serious; see DT SPRNMTN2), and the "Sally" type (comic; see SPRNMTN4).
Spaeth, for some reason, credits this to someone named Nathan Torrey (A History of Popular Music in America, p. 64), but offers no supporting evidence. He also believes that the comic type "The Pesky Sarpent" comes from the political season of 1840! (The notes in Brown support this to the extent that they credit it to the stage performers George G. Spear and George H. Hill. Boswell/Wolfe, p. 52, adds that those two portrayed "stereotyped Yankee farmers," which obviously makes this song an easy target for them.) - RBW
Last updated in version 4.0
File: LG16

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