Come All You Virginia Girls (Arkansas Boys; Texian Boys; Cousin Emmy's Blues; etc.)

DESCRIPTION: "Come all you (Virginia) girls and listen to my noise; Don't you court no West Virginia boys; If you do, your fortune will be Johnny cake and venison and sassafras tea." Concerning the dangers of courting and marrying boys from (somewhere)
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1841 (sheet music)
KEYWORDS: courting hardtimes warning humorous
REFERENCES (33 citations):
Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety, pp. 426-428, "Texan Boys" (1 text plus a fragment probably not part of this song)
Randolph 342, "The Arkansas Boys" (3 texts, 2 tunes);
Randolph/Cohen-OzarkFolksongs-Abridged, pp. 277-278, "The Arkansas Boys" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 342A)
High-OldOldFolkSongs, pp. 12-13, "To Go Asparking"; p. 28, "The Misouri Girls" (sic.) (2 texts)
McNeil-SouthernMountainFolksong, pp. 186-188, "The Arkansas Run" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 328, "The Carolina Crew" (1 fragment, thought by the editors to be this song); 336, "If You Want to Go A-Courtin'" (1 text, clearly mixed; the first three stanzas are this song, the next four something completely unrelated about a fight and a very bad meal)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore5 328, "The Carolina Crew" (1 tune plus a text excerpt)
Brwone 81, "Want to Go A-Courting" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Moore/Moore-BalladsAndFolkSongsOfTheSouthwest 144, "Mississippi Girls" (1 text, 1 tune)
Abernethy-SinginTexas, pp. 3-4, "Texas Boys" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-TexasFolkSongs-2ed, pp. 110-112, "Come All You Mississippi Girls" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Sandburg-TheAmericanSongbag, pp. 128-129, "Hello, Girls"; "Kansas Boys" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Stout-FolkloreFromIowa 69, pp. 92-93, "A Married Woman's Lament" (3 fragments, with "A" and "B" probably being "I Wish I Were Single Again (II - Female)" and "C" being perhaps "Come All You Virginia Girls (Arkansas Boys; Texian Boys; Cousin Emmy's Blues; etc.)")
Henry-SongsSungInTheSouthernAppalachians, p. 95, "The Hunter's Song" (1 fragment)
McIntosh-FolkSongsAndSingingGamesofIllinoisOzarks, pp. 25-26, "Illinois Gals" (1 text); pp. 41-43, "If You Want to Go A-Courtin'" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax/Lomax-FolkSongUSA 11, "When You Go A-Courtin'"; 12, "The Texian Boys" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Fife/Fife-CowboyAndWesternSongs 9, "Johnny Cake" (4 texts, 1 tune, though the "B" text is clearly "Little Fight in Mexico" and the "C" text is also quite distinct)
Hubbard-BalladsAndSongsFromUtah, #227, "Don't Marry the Mormon Boys" (1 fragment)
Pound-AmericanBalladsAndSongs, 81, pp. 175-176, "Cheyenne Boys" (1 text)
Welsch-NebraskaPioneerLore, pp. 54-55, "Kansas Boys" (1 text)
Cox-FolkSongsSouth 58, "The Tucky Ho Crew" (1 text -- a very mixed version which is only partly this song, but the rest doesn't look like anything I know. It may be a conflation with an otherwise lost ballad)
Bush-FSofCentralWestVirginiaVol4, pp. 42-44, "West Virginia Boys" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sharp-EnglishFolkSongsFromSouthernAppalachians 75, "If You Want to Go A-courting" (4 texts, 4 tunes)
Cohen-AmericanFolkSongsARegionalEncyclopedia1, pp. 189-191, "De Free Nigger" (1 text plus the first lines of many localizations of the song); p. 214, "West Virginia Gals" (1 text); pp. 361-362, "Arkansas Sheik"; Cohen-AmericanFolkSongsARegionalEncyclopedia2, p. 583, "Cheyenne Boys"; pp. 635-636, "Alsea Girls" (1 text)
Coleman/Bregman-SongsOfAmericanFolks, pp. 26-27, "Kansas Boys" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 173, "Kansas Boys" (1 text)
Zander/Klusmann-CampSongsNThings, p. 74, "On the Road to Californy" (1 text, 1 tune)
Zander/Klusmann-CampSongsPopularEdition, p. 43, "On the Road to Calforny" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Fred W. Allsopp, Folklore of Romantic Arkansas, Volume II (1931), p. 207, "The Old Leather Bonnet" (1 text, fairly full but missing the opening verse)
Richard M. Dorson, _Buying the Wind: Regional Folklore in the United States_, University of Chicago Press, 1964, p. 530, "Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys" (1 short text, in which the girl finds that "Johnny cake and babies is all you'll see")
Suzi Jones, _Oregon Folklore_, University of Oregon/Oregon Arts Commission, 1977, p. 11, "Alsea Girls" (1 text, 1 tune)
Tom Nash and Twilo Scofield, _The Well-Travelled Casket: Oregon Folklore_, Meadowlark Press, 1999, p. 14, "Alsea Girls" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #4275 and 2977
Al Hopkins & his Buckle Busters, "West Virginia Gals" (Brunswick 318, 1929; rec. 1928)
Cousin Emmy, "Cousin Emmy's Blues" (also issued as "Come All You Virginia Gals") (Decca 24213, 1947)
Riley Puckett, "The Arkansas Sheik" (Columbia 15686-D, 1931; rec. 1928)
New Lost City Ramblers, "The Arkansas Sheik" (on NLCR14)
Pete Seeger, "Texian Boys" (on PeteSeeger07, PeteSeeger07a)

cf. "Go A Sparking" (theme, structure, tune)
Ballad of Harriet Tubman (by Woody Guthrie) (Greenway-AmericanFolksongsOfProtest, pp. 90-92)
California Boys
East Virginia Girls
Missouri Boys
Hello Girls
Mississippi Gals
The Mormon Boys
Free Nigger (title used in the 1841 sheet music)
De Free Nigger
NOTES [180 words]: The Fifes offer deep psychological explanations for some parts of this piece. I incline to believe it means what it says.
The original publication appears to be the version printed by Cohen, "De Free Nigger." Happily, that version seems to be extinct in tradition. McNeil says that it did not list an author, which is probably just as well (although McNeil points out that this might mean that the publishers took it from tradition rather than it being a composed piece. The counter-argument is that there are no reports of it from tradition until John A. Lomax published his "Texian Boys" version).
Most versions of this are warnings to women; a few, like McIntosh-FolkSongsAndSingingGamesofIllinoisOzarks's "If You Want to Go A-Courtin',", are either warnings to men or gender-neutral. Roud splits these; #4275 is the women's version and #2977 seems to be the men's. The distinction is probably formally valid; someone rewrote the song. But when fragments turn up, there is no way to classify them with one or the other. So I've lumped them, although it's a tricky decision. - RBW
Last updated in version 6.3
File: R342

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