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Page 30 of Mountain Life & Work vol. 31 no. 2 Summer, 1955

Part of Mountain Life and Work

30 A FORTNIGHT IN BALLAD A RFMARKABLE STORY FrV ONE OF THE FIRST B4LLAD COLLECTORS WHO CA ME INTO THE SOUTH- I! COUNTRY ERIN HIGHLANDS CONSCIOUSLY HUNTING THE _,~ ' FOLKSONGS THAT HAVE MADE THE REGION FAMOUS HAS JUST COME TO LIGHT AFTER BEING " LOST" FOR NEARLY HALF A CENTURY. II 0C N 9 ') KATHERINE JACKSON FRENCH LEFT LONDON, KENTUCKY, AND TRAVELED EAST INTO THE HEART OF THE KENTUCKY MOUNTAIN COUNTRY lIIKIITHF.f?INE JACKS(3N TAKING THREE DAYS BV WAGON OVER A ROUTE THAT CAN NOW BE DRIVEN BY CAR IN THREE HOURS. THIS IS THE STORY OF THE BALLADS SHE FOUND ON THAT TRIP. THE PIONEER-TYPE covered wagon, loaded with merchandise, started from London at dawn. My companion, known to her neighbors as Lizane, a care-free widow of sixty, with unusual vitality, freely offered me her friendship and assistance. She was unlike many of the mountain women who are timidly apologetic of their fondness for songs, and often refuse to sing before a stranger. The wagon was drawn by a team of three miles, with the driver mounted on one of them. He sat with his face casually turned toward us, listening and taking part in the conversation, until we met some other wagon or encountered some difficulty in the roadway, when he would face about and shout vociferously at the lazy animals. In three days we drove the sixty miles to Lizane's home, where I was made very comfortable. Two mules were procured for our use in this search for ballads, and we set off upon them the following day. They knew the trails and were accustomed to mountain climbing. Our first long trip was to "sister Marthy's," some fifteen miles back in the woods. We travelled the creek-bed, the only roadway in existence, I could see no sign of either house or garden, only the mountains, heavily freighted with magnificent trees. Finally we entered an open space, where the hillsides were barren of large growth, and where a new, double log cabin was situated, recently built by the energetic boys of the family. Other marks of civilization were a cluster of shrubs shading the spring of water, a garden "patch" of vegetables, some flowers and vines, a few stray fowls, a "coon" dog, and the little crop of perhaps two acres of corn. Above and below this cleared area the trees again

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