J. V. Johnson

DESCRIPTION: "'Twas on a gloomy Sunday night, When Johnson thought he was all right, A hundred hearts of an angry mob Did disobey the laws of God." A mob opens his cell and takes him out to hang him. He bids farewell and wonders what will happen to his soul
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1966 (Brundage);
KEYWORDS: murder execution death
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
Dec 27, 1905 - Guinn Johnson is murdered, probably by his sister's husband J. V. Johnson
Apr 16, 1906 - J. V. Johnson is tried for the murder. The jury cannot reach a verdict (11 are for conviction on a charge of second degree murder; one is for acquittal); a mistrial is declared. A second trial is scheduled for July
May 27/28, 1906 - A mob takes J. V. Johnson from prison and hung from a pine tree; the body is shot repeatedly after the hanging (source: Baker)
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
ADDITIONAL: Bruce E. Baker, "North Carolina Lynching Ballads," essay in W. Fitzhugh Brundage, _Under Sentence of Death: Lynching in the South_, University of North Carolina Press, 1997, pp. 233-234, "J. V. Johnson" (1 text)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Emma Hartsell" [Laws F34] (tune and form, according to Baker, who however does not print a tune)
NOTES [115 words]: Baker, p. 244 n. 19, says this was collected only once, from Novella Caudle Carpenter, Peachtree, North Carolina, in 1966. There is very little additional information available about it; I don't trust the history very much. But it is treated as traditional, so I'm including it. Baker thinks it is based on "Emma Hartsell," which is also about a North Carolina murder. The events took place in and around Morven, North Carolina, which is just north of the South Carolina border roughly ESE of Charlottesville. Concord, where Hartsell was murdered eight years before the events of this ballad, is not too far from Charlottesville, so Emma's song could well have reached Morven by then. - RBW
Last updated in version 6.1
File: BrJVJohn

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