Ellie Rhee (Ella Rhee, Ella Ree)
DESCRIPTION: The singer recalls Ella Rhee, beautiful and kind, with whom he used to live (before the war). (He wonders why he ran away; he is free but is no longer with Ella.) He wishes he were by her (grave). He laments, "Carry me back to Tennessee...."
AUTHOR: Septimus Winner ?
EARLIEST DATE: 1870 (journal of the Pacific); the Winner song was copyrighted 1865)
KEYWORDS: love separation death burial home slave freedom
FOUND IN: US(MW,SE,So)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 412, "Ella Rhee" (1 text)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore5 412, "Ella Rhee" (notes only)
Randolph 860, "Ella Rhee" (1 fragment)
Dean-FlyingCloud, p. 96, "Ella Ree" (1 text)
Peters-FolkSongsOutOfWisconsin, pp. 119-120, "Ella Rea" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
Huntington-TheGam-MoreSongsWhalemenSang, p. 302, "Ella Rhee" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen-AmericanFolkSongsARegionalEncyclopedia1, p. 266, "Sweet Allalee" (1 text plus a sheet music cover on p. 268)
Wolf-AmericanSongSheets, #558, p. 37, "Ella Ree" (1 reference)
ST R860 (Full)
Blue Sky Boys, "Sweet Allalee" (Bluebird 6854)
NOTES [219 words]: Randolph's informant, who knew only the chorus, says this is about an Indian girl. The other texts I've seen, Brown's, Dean-FlyingCloud's, Huntington's, and that in Wharton's War Songs and Poems of the Confederacy, allow but do not require this. The version in Brown looks like more propaganda: "Don't run away; see what you'll lose?" The fragment in Peters-FolkSongsOutOfWisconsin is too short to tell us anything, although it is noteworthy for having a tune.
Septimus Winter's 1865 song "Ellie Rhee" ("Carry Me Back to Tennessee") is said by Spaeth (A History of Popular Music in America, p. 128) to be based on Ella Ree, by C. E. Steuart and James W. Porter, published 1853.
Similarly Harry Dichter and Elliott Shapiro, Early American Sheet Music: Its Lure and Its Lore, 1768-1889, R. R. Bowker, 1941, p. 141, "There was an earlier song entitled 'Ella Ree (Carry Me Back to Tennessee)," Words by C. E. Steuart, Music by James W. Porter. Copyright 1852 by J. E. Gould & Co. Philadelphia. Both are evidently derived from the same source, but Winner's seems to be the accepted version."
Cohen amplifies: Charles E. Stewart (his spelling) and James W. Porter wrote "Ella Ree" in 1853, and Winner adapted it to a Civil War setting.
For more on Septimus Winner, see the notes to "Listen to the Mockingbird." - RBW
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