Murder of Pearl Bryan, The (Pearl Bryan V)
DESCRIPTION: The Setters take on the Peal Bryan story: "A horrible crime was committed Soon was brought to light; For parents to look on their headless girl, What a sad and terrible sight." Jackson's insanity plea fails; he is to be executed; Walling's trial awaits
AUTHOR: adapted by James W. Day ("Jilson Setters")
EARLIEST DATE: 1939 (Thomas)
KEYWORDS: homicide trial execution punishment
Feb 1, 1896 - Discovery of the headless body of Pearl Bryan, killed along with her unborn child by Scott Jackson and Alonzo Walling, near Fort Thomas, Kentucky
Mar 20, 1897 - Execution of Jackson and Walling
FOUND IN: US(Ap)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Thomas-Makin', pp. 131-135, "The Murder of Pearl Bryan" (1 text, 1 tune)
Burt, p. 32, (no title) (1 excerpt)
ST ThBa131 (Partial)
cf. "The Jealous Lover (I), The (Florella, Floella) (Pearl Bryan II) (Nell Cropsey II) [Laws F1A, B, C]" [Laws F1], particularly the "B" subgroup of Pearl Bryan ballads
cf. "Pearl Bryan I" [Laws F2]
cf. "Pearl Bryan III" [Laws F3]
cf. "Pearl Bryan (IV)"
NOTES: Thomas's version is rather a curiosity, since she learned it from Jilson Setters decades after the murder but he never updated the song. There is no evidence that it ever circulated in tradition.
Roud lumps this with Laws F1(B). But while it's just possible that that song inspired Jilson Setters, this is not a version of the Laws ballad. But my guess is that the song was inspired by the piece which Burt excerpts, since both songs end with a stanza about Pearl and her head being reunited in heaven. - RBW
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