Young Charlotte (Fair Charlotte) [Laws G17]

DESCRIPTION: Pretty Charlotte, going to a dance on a cold night, refuses to dress properly; warm clothes would hide her charms. First she complains of the cold, but then says "I'm growing warmer now." When they arrive at the ball, her escort finds her frozen to death
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1883 (Smith/Hatt/Fowke-SeaSongsBalladFromNineteenthCenturyNovaScotia)
KEYWORDS: courting death beauty
Feb 8, 1840 - The New York Observer publishes a story, "A Corpse Going to a Ball," describing a tragedy like this one which took place on Jan 1, 1840
FOUND IN: US(All) Canada(Mar,Newf,Ont)
REFERENCES (57 citations):
Laws G17, "Young Charlotte (Fair Charlotte)"
Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety, pp. 308-317, "Young Charlotte" (4 texts plus excerpts from 9 more and references to 2 more, 4 tunes)
Randolph 667, "Young Charlotte" (3 texts plus 5 excerpts, 2 tunes)
Randolph/Cohen-OzarkFolksongs-Abridged, pp. 528-532, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 667A)
High-OldOldFolkSongs, pp. 32-33, "A Song... Young-Shelottie" (1 text)
Morris-FolksongsOfFlorida, #56, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore2 209, "Young Charlotte" (1 text plus mention of 3 more)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore4 209, "Young Charlotte" (6 excerpts, 6 tunes)
Hudson-FolksongsOfMississippi 60, pp. 182-184, "Young Charlotte" (1 text plus mention of 2 more)
Burton/Manning-EastTennesseeStateCollectionVol1, pp. 52-53, "Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Moore/Moore-BalladsAndFolkSongsOfTheSouthwest 157, "Fair Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-TexasFolkSongs-1ed, pp. 98-100, "Young Charlottie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-TexasFolkSongs-2ed, pp. 66-68, "Young Charlottie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Bronner/Eskin-FolksongAlivePart1 23, "Fair Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sulzer-TwentyFiveKentuckyFolkBallads, pp. 10-11, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Eddy-BalladsAndSongsFromOhio 123, "Fair Charlotte" (3 texts, 2 tunes)
Gardner/Chickering-BalladsAndSongsOfSouthernMichigan 41, "Frozen Charlotte" (1 text plus an excerpt and mention of 1 more, 2 tunes)
Dean-FlyingCloud, pp. 56-57, "Young Charlotte" (1 text)
Peters-FolkSongsOutOfWisconsin, pp. 219.220, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Stout-FolkloreFromIowa 37, pp. 51-53, "Young Charlotte" (1 text plus 2 fragments)
Brewster-BalladsAndSongsOfIndiana 30, "Fair Charlotte" (2 texts plus a fragment and mention of 2 more, 2 tunes)
List-SingingAboutIt-FolkSongsInSouthernIndiana, pp. 315-324, "Young Charlotte" (2 texts, 2 tunes, plus a broadside pring)
Rickaby-BalladsAndSongsOfTheShantyBoy 37, "Fair Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Rickaby/Dykstra/Leary-PineryBoys-SongsSongcatchingInLumberjackEra 37, "Fair Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Flanders/Brown-VermontFolkSongsAndBallads, pp. 35-38, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Flanders/Ballard/Brown/Barry-NewGreenMountainSongster, pp. 111-115, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 2 tunes)
Linscott-FolkSongsOfOldNewEngland, pp. 305-309, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gray-SongsAndBalladsOfTheMaineLumberjacks, pp. 94-97, "Fair Charlotte" (1 text)
Shoemaker-MountainMinstrelsyOfPennsylvania, pp. 75-78, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Leach-TheBalladBook, pp. 723-725, "Young Charlotte" (1 text)
McNeil-SouthernFolkBalladsVol2, pp. 98-100, "Schaladi" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sandburg-TheAmericanSongbag, pp. 58-59, "The Frozen Girl" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hubbard-BalladsAndSongsFromUtah, #33, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FolkSongsOfNorthAmerica 48, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Thompson-BodyBootsAndBritches-NewYorkStateFolktales, pp. 374-377, "(The Frozen Girl/Fair Charlotte)" (1 text plus a few stray lines)
Botkin-TreasuryOfAmericanFolklore, pp. 825-828, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Spaeth-WeepSomeMoreMyLady, pp. 142-143, "Young Charlotte" (1 text)
Pound-AmericanBalladsAndSongs 44, pp. 103-107, "Young Charlotte" (1 text)
Cox-FolkSongsSouth 80, "Fair Charlotte" (2 texts plus mention of 5 more; 1 tune)
Cox/Hercog/Halpert/Boswell-WVirginia-B, #4A-B, pp. 126-129, "Fair Charlotte," "Young Charlotte" (1 text plus a fragment, 1 tune)
Bush-FSofCentralWestVirginiaVol2, pp. 41-45, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gainer-FolkSongsFromTheWestVirginiaHills, pp. 137-139, "Fair Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Boette-SingaHipsyDoodle, p. 47, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cambiaire-EastTennesseeWestVirginiaMountainBallads, pp. 110-110, "The Frozen Girl"; pp. 112-114,"Charlotte, the Frozen Girl" (2 texts)
Greenleaf/Mansfield-BalladsAndSeaSongsOfNewfoundland 172, "Young Charlotte" (1 text)
Peacock, pp. 735-737, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Smith/Hatt/Fowke-SeaSongsBalladFromNineteenthCenturyNovaScotia, pp. 51-55, "The Frozen Girl" (1 text)
Creighton-SongsAndBalladsFromNovaScotia 150, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-FolksongsFromSouthernNewBrunswick 64, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Mackenzie-BalladsAndSeaSongsFromNovaScotia 60, "Young Charlotte" (1 text)
Guigné-ForgottenSongsOfTheNewfoundlandOutports, pp. 136-138, "Frozen Charlotte (Young Charlotte)" (1 text, 1 tune)
Finger-FrontierBallads, pp. 119-123, "Young Charlotte, or The Frozen Girl" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen-AmericanFolkSongsARegionalEncyclopedia1, pp. 104-106, "Young Carlotta" (1 text)
Shay-BarroomBallads/PiousFriendsDrunkenCompanions, pp. 66-69, "Young Charlotte" (1 text, 1 tune)
Darling-NewAmericanSongster, pp. 220-221, "Young Charlotte" (1 text)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 210, "Young Charlotte" (1 text)

Roud #260
Charlotte Decker, "Young Charlotte" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
Delmore Brothers, "The Frozen Girl" (Bluebird B-5338/Montgomery Ward M-4458/Sunrise S-3419, 1934; rec. 1933)
Warde Ford, "Fair Charlotte" (AFS 4203 A1, 1938; tr.; in AMMEM/Cowell)
I. G. Greer w. Mrs. I. G. Greer, "Young Charlotte" (AFS; on LC14)
Red Ingle and the Natural Seven, "Git Up Off'n the Floor, Hannah" (Capitol 15123, 1947)
Eugene Jemison, "Fair Charlotte" (on Jem01)
Pete Seeger, "Young Charlotte" (on PeteSeeger29)
Vern Smelser, "Young Charlotte" (on FineTimes)

cf. "The Shepherd on the Hill" (theme)
The Fair Sharlot
NOTES [242 words]: This ballad is widely considered to be based on an incident which took place on Jan. 1, 1840, when a girl froze on her way to a ball (the story was reported in the Feb. 8 New York Observer). In 1843 (probably) the poem "A Corpse Going to a Ball" was published by Seba Smith in "The Rover"; the ballad is frequently linked to that lyric (Botkin places the poem in 1884, but Smith died before that).
The matter remains controversial, though; others have linked it to the death of Charlotte Dills, frozen to death in Auburn, Indiana in 1862. And Barry credited the song to a William Lorenzo Carter of Virginia and dated it before 1833 -- though he later accepted the attribution to Smith.
For what it is worth, Laws accepts the attribution to Smith.
Smith almost certainly should be credited with a similar piece, "Stratton Mountain Tragedy" [Laws G18], which also involves a young woman dying in a blizzard (only, there, she dies while saving her child from freezing); one wonders how much Smith's ideas cross-fertilized. For more on him, see that song.
A Washington Post story dated December 8, 2019 claims that, when porcelain dolls began to be marketed in the nineteenth century, they were called "Frozen Charlottes" because they were white and stiff. If the article is right that the term goes back to the 1850s, and is connected to this song (and I have no reason to doubt either claim), then the connection to Charlotte Dills seems impossible. - RBW
Last updated in version 6.4
File: LG17

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