"As I sit by the fireside a-thinking Of my brother who's far, far away...." Anson Best is offered a paper and threatened with death if he doesn't sign. It is a confession to the murder of Vera Snyder. He is sentenced to death. His family mourns
Anson Best Partial text(s) *** A *** From Emelyn Elizabeth Gardner and Geraldine Jencks Chickering, Ballads and Songs of Southern Michigan, pp. 353-354. "Obtained in 1935 from Mrs. Clyde Best, West Branch... to the tune of 'The Red River Valley.'" As I set by the fireside a-thinking Of my brother who's far, far away In a lonesome cell at Marquette prison All these long, long years has had to stay. He never had a chance to read those papers, Never knew if they were false or true Till they told him it was his confession; "Vera Snyder's death is now laid to you." (Stanzas 1, 7 of 13)
This appears to be a family song: The author is listed as the Reverend Ben Best, brother of Anson Best, and the only known version is from Mrs. Clyde Best (whose relationship with Anson and Ben Best is not listed by Gardner and Chickering, but note the name).
The family maintained that Anson Best was innocent of the murder of Vera Schneider, and coerced into signing a confession he had not read. I know of no evidence either way. - RBW