Saturday, November 7, 2009

Poor Ellen Smith

The 19th century popular murder ballad, Poor Ellen Smith, recounts the tale of a woman named Ellen Smith, who was shot through the heart by a former lover. When Ellen was found, her ragged clothes were scattered all about the ground around her body. A group of townspeople got together and began a murder hunt which led to the apprehension of the murderer, Peter DeGraff, who was captured while he was loafing around the area.

As is the case with many Appalachian Mountain Ballads, "Poor Ellen Smith" is based on real events. In this case, the locale was Mount Airy, North Carolina.

For more of the story and two versions of the ballad: Click Here.

Mount Airy has, unfortunately, just recently been the scene of a contemporary murder tragedy.

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Josiah Combs, of Knott County Kentucky, collected a version of Ellen Smith from Dan Gibson ca. 1915 in Hindman, Kntucky. I believe this may have been the earliest recorded version of the song. George R. Gibson