SONGS FROM NEWTON COUNTY collected by Brenda Jo Upton
Arkansas Folklore Spring 1962INTRODUCTION
In this course I have found that an interest in folklore, or old beliefs, customs, songs, and games, is common to all people. It seems as if in all the groups I have come in contact with this semester, when I said I was taking folklore the conservation became stuck on that topic. I have got material from college professors, fellow students, family, and older friends. I have found material in all age groups—from my cousin who is seven to my grandmother who is 85.
All the songs in this collection are sung by people from my home town because a tape recorder was only available there. I spent the entire Easter vacation getting these songs, and to my surprise it was fun. I worked hard all week but when I returned to school I felt as relaxed as if I had spent the week in leisure pursuits.
Let me tell you some of my experiences during that "Song Week". I don't own a tape recorder, so my mother had asked a fellow teacher if I could borrow his. He was most willing, but when I went to pick it up it was being repaired. He tried to help me think of somebody else to borrow one from, but we were unable to come up with a lender. I was very upset—
I had to have a tape recorder! The next day my daddy sent me to Harrison to get some supplies for the Cafe. I asked him if he thought I might rent a tape recorder in Harrison. He said "Go in and see Joe Keeling at the Home and School Supply.
He might have some used one's he'd let you rent." So I proceeded to plead my cause to Mr. Keeling. He didn't have a used one, but when I convinded him I was experienced in the operation of a tape recorder, he let me have a brand new one. When I told him that I was Brenda Upton,he asked if I was related to Ted Upton. I said, "He's my father." Mr. reeling said, "I guess you're all right then—take it on."
I hurried back home and my grandmother, Mrs. Montie Martin, sang me six songs that afternoon. The next morning bright and early, before I was ready to get up, she was ready to sing some more. I think she really enjoyed "helping Brenda with her lessons", as she described it. She would sing for awhile and then she would have to stop and catch her breath, so we would talk about old times. SheINTRODUCTION, page 2
would start reminiscening as to where and when she first heard that song. Some of the songs she learned from her mother (The House Carperter), some from a friend in Olkahoma (Silver Dagger), some from her husband (Bung a Lung), and some, "I've known that so long, honey, I can t remember where I first heard it."
My other grandmother, Mrs. Mary Upton, lives with us also. Of course, she had to sing some songs, too. One thing I noticed—my grandmother's songs (Mrs. Martin) were old love songs and story telling ballads. My granny's songs (Mrs. Upton) were silly songs that had lots of nonsense syllables. Does this have something do to with their personality or their early associates?
About four o'clock that afternoon I had recorded all the songs they could remember. I had about 10 minutes of tape left and I wanted to fill it up. I was going to a music party at Gene Waters' that night and I wanted to start with a new tape. My mother came in from school and she suggested I see Mrs. Lora. Moore, who might know some old songs. We carried the tape recorder up there and she sang two songs. My mother, Mrs. Elsie Upton, sang some play party songs at Mrs. Moore's house. We still had some tape left and Mrs. Moore suggested we go see Paul Raney. He was a good sin or and ought to know some good songs. We went down there and he sang three songs. He really liked to hear it played back and he was haveing a ball—as you can tell be his comments on the tape, She wasn't very interested in having his name put in a paper, however, so I wasn t able to get much information for his biography.
About 6:30 we left for the music arty. My mother and daddy went with me. We arrived at the Waters' late and Hr. Waters' greeted us at the door with, "We'd already give you out a'coming. The musicans were playing in the kitchen and the ladies were watching television in the living room. There were Mr. and Mrs. Horrace Wallace and their two son, Buddy and Eddie; Mr. and Mrs. J.V. Waters and Gene and Troy Lee and his daughter. Mr. Wallace and Mr. Lee took turns playing the fiddle. Eddie and Buddy Wallace played uitars, and Bene played a mandolin. They moved into the living room and I set up the recorder. From then on it was just music, music and laughter. Everyone had to have his favorite tune played and recorder. Of course they had toINTRODUCTION, page 3
hear each one played back to hear how it sounded. They had all sorts of suggestions as to where I should place the mike to get the best tones from the fiddle. When they got tired of fiddling, Gene and Waters sang for me. Mr. Waters'is the worlds worst, or best, cut-up and he just had more fun than anyone. About one o'clock the party began to break up.. My mother and daddy just had so much fun. They want to go again sometime and so do I.
I spent the remainder of the week transcribing the songs and letting people listen to them. The people who work in the Cafe had heard so much about my songs that I had to take the recorder down there and let t hem hear every one. All the people who were drinking coffee there came back in the kitchen and listened too. When I had heard those songs for the upteenth time and was still writing down the words—that was when I wished I had not recorded quite so many songs.
After all that work, I simply could not bear to turn in all those beautiful songs. I made another trip to Harrison and bought another tape and dubbed one tape full of the best songs. Now if I ever get a tape recorder the first thing I hear will be my grandmother singing "The Blind Girl".
When I started to come back to school my grandmothers asked if I would be getting more old songs when I came home again. They were all ready to try to remember some more songs. They seemed so disappointed when I said I would be interested in their songs just for myself and not for a class.
This week truly had been an experience—as much for them as for me. I'm sure that I will never forget the folklore Class at the University of Arkansas—especially my "Song Week".Mrs. Montie Martin Jasper, Arkansas
Mrs. Montie Martin was born Montie Jane Lawerence on December 7, 1881, at Woolum, Arkansas. That is on the Buffalo River not far from St. Joe. She lived in Searcy County, except for brief interludes, until she married a widower, A.Y. Martin in 1903. They honesteaded a farm outside of Western Grove and there she raised five children and two step-sons. They made two trips to Oregon and settled in Oklahoma for about a year. She learned some of the songs she knows from Dave Crews there. S^e said they used to go down to his house at night just to get him to sing songs for them. My grandfather died in 1939 and in 1943 my grandmother came to live with us. She has lived with us ever since. She sings a lot around the house and is continually saying, "I had a good voice when I was a young girl."Mrs. Mary Upton Jasper, Arkansas
Mrs. Mary Upton was born Mary Elizabeth Riggs near Jasper, She has lived near Jasper all her life except for several years in her early married life, when she lived in Little Rock. Her mother came from North Carolina as a child in a covered wagon. Mrs. Upton says her grandmother brought some of these songs she knows, for example the Sheep Song, from North Carolina. She says that traveler's used to spend the night at their house quite often and she learned some songs from them. Mrs. Upton married John Eldridge Upton, a carpenter from Nebraska who had been reared in New York. He was building a house for her father and stayed to marry the daughter. They had one daughter and adopted my father. Mr. Upton died about 1935 and Mrs.
Upton lived along until she came to live with us in 1960.Mrs. Elsie Upton Jasper, Arkansas
Mrs. Elsie Upton was born Elsie Vada Martin in Eufula, Oklahoma in 1908. They moved back to Western Grove when she was one year old and she was reared there. She knows a lot of the songs my grandmother knows. On the tape she sings play party songs. She says she used to go to play parties when she was a young girl.
She has taught school since she was 16 years old and graduated from Arkansas State Teachers College. She married Ted Upton in 1939 and they have two daughters.
She is a free lance writer and photographer and has written several articles on the Ozarks, especially Newton County.
At present she is teaching science and math at Jasper High School.Mr. Paul Raney Jasper , Arkansas
Mr. Raney didn't really want to have his name included, so I have very little about him. He is about 45 years old and his family has lived in Newton County for generations. His mother was a Kilgore and the Raney's and the Kilgore's are the old timers of Newton County. They are all good singers and you will find several in every church choir.
He lives in Jasper and works for Carrol Electric Co-Operative He has one son, three daughters and one granddaughter.
He had a good time singing and hearing the songs played back, as you can tell by the remarks he made on the tape.
His wife, Josephine, helped him sing "Froggy Went a Courting" He could remember part of the words and she could remember some more so they both sang and where one forgot the other would take the lead.AT THE MUSIC PARTY
Horrace Wallace Western Grove, Arkansas
Mr. Wallace is about 50. His family has lived in Newton County for generations and have all been music lovers. The fiddle he played was about 75 years old, and one could tell it had been taken care of with loving hands.
Buddy Wallace Western Grove, Arkansas
Buddy, the older son of Horrace Wallace, is about 21. He sang one song and played the guitar for all the fiddle tunes. You can surely see how the musical tradition of the Wallace's is being carried on by Buddy.
Eddie Wallace Western Grove, Arkansas
Eddie is about 15. He plays the guitar, too, for all the fiddle tunes. While they were playing he would set where he could watch Buddy and play as he did. He is learning to play an instrument as it seems as the Wallace s do.
Western Grove, Arkansas
Gene is in this class and you have his auto-biography whish is probably better than anything I could say. He played the mandolin for the fiddle tunes, played a mandolin solo, and sang one song. None of his family plays an instrument and his father says he just picked it up.
Western Grove, Arkansas
Veattle Waters, as he is known in Jasper, is almost a legend in Newton County. He knows more tall tales and can tell more jokes and stories than anybody I ever knew. He is about 55 and works for the Soil Conservation Service. He has been the Nation Turkey Calling Champion for several years and lastwon the Champion Turkey Calling (A contest of all winners of previous years). I was over in his office one day and he showed me his medals and then he said, "This is one they gave me here in the office and I'm really proud of it."
He held it out for me to see, and it was a dime store button that said Champion Bull Shooter!
He is an ardent hunter and fisherman, as well as turkey caller and bull shooter.
He has lived at Yardelle all his life. He has two sons.Mrs. Lora Moore was formerly Lora Davis of Jasper, She has lived in Jasper all her life, but she wouldn't tell me how old she was. I believe she is somewhere near sixty.
In her youth she was an aspiring composer but the songs she sang me are old songs she learned fromher mother. She married Dr. 0. A. Moore late in life and they have no children. I went up to her house late one afternoon to see if she had a picture I could have for this biography. She got out two big boxes of pictures and looked and looked.
She showed me old pictured of people I knew for about two hours. They had on long dresses, high button shoes and floppy hats. She would tell me what the occasion was and who the people were. I think she enjoyed it and I surely did. This was the only picture she could find. She must think a lot of others, because all the pictures she had were of others. One interesting thing she told me was that Abraham Lincoln's own cousin named her. Dr. LeGrande delivered her and Mrs. LeGrande, President Lincoln's cousin, named her.
Mrs. Lora Moore Jasper, Arkansas
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