Jesse James Ballad Lyrics
This collection contains a version of the popular Jesse James Ballad written by J. T. Hill of Twinville, Tennessee, a town in North Knox County. The ballad is handwritten on both sides of a single sheet of paper and contains seven verses. The James ballad is dated as September 11, 1898 on the front sheet and September 13, 1898 on the back sheet. The ballad begins:
- Jesse James was the lad,
- who killed a many man,
- He robed the Danville Train.
- Oh! The dirty little Coward,
- who shot Mr. Howard,
- and they laid Jesse James,
- in his grave.
- 1898 September
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0.1 Linear Feet
This collection contains a version of the popular Jesse James Ballad written by J. T. Hill of Twinville, Tennessee, a town in North Knox County. The ballad is handwritten on both sides of a single sheet of paper and contains seven verses. The James ballad is dated as September 11, 1898 on the front sheet and September 13, 1898 on the back sheet.
Jesse Woodson James, the infamous nineteenth-century American outlaw, was born September 5, 1847 in Clay County Missouri. At the age of 15 he joined the Confederate guerrilla band led by William Quantrill and participated in the brutal and bloody civil warfare in Kansas and Missouri during the United States Civil War. In 1866, Jesse and his brother Frank became the leaders of a band of outlaws whose trail of robberies and murders led through most of the mid-western states. At first they robbed only banks, but in 1873 they began to rob trains. For more than fifteen years, the James brothers eluded law enforcement, gaining a popular following and mythic stature. The beginning of their downfall came in 1876 when, after killing two people and failing to secure any money in an attempted bank robbery at Northfield, Minn., they lost several members of the gang, including the Younger brothers, three of their most trusted followers, who were captured and imprisoned. The James brothers escaped and were quiet until 1879, when they robbed another train. The reward offered by Missouri Governor Thomas T. Crittenden for the capture of the James brothers, dead or alive, tempted one of the gang, Robert Ford, who caught Jesse (then living under the name of Thomas Howard) off guard and killed him on April 3, 1882. Frank James surrendered but was twice acquitted and lived out his life peacefully on his farm near Excelsior Springs, Mo.
The melodramatic style of the exploits of the James gang attracted wide public admiration, giving rise to a number of romanticized legends, the famous song The Ballad of Jesse James, and much popular literature. The ballad of Jesse James was written immediately after the outlaw's death by Billy Gashade. Its lyrics ran in major newspapers nationwide and the tune became a standard in vaudevilles and saloons. In the 1930s songwriter Woodie Guthrie rewrote the ballad to promote the 20th Century-Fox movie Jesse James. Both the ballad and the movie re-popularized the legend of the infamous outlaw.
Collection consists of a single folder.
This collection belongs to the University of Tennessee Libraries, Knoxville, Special Collections.
Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA