“Behind These Stone Walls”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1941 (Randolph, Warner)
Keywords: orphan robbery trial prison warning
Found in: US(SE,So)


The singer, although "brought up by good parents," tells of being orphaned at ten. He soon went rambling to seek work; jobs were few, and he took to robbery. He was taken and tried, and sentenced to a long prison term. He warns others against his mistake

Supplemental text

Behind These Stone Walls
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

Court House

From Anne Warner, Traditional American Folk Songs from the Anne &
Frank Warner Collection, #111, pp. 277-278. From the singing of
Frank Proffitt, Watauga County, North Carolina, 1941.

In New York City I first seen the light,
Brought up by good parents in the pathway of right,
I became an orphan at the age of seven years,
On mother's grave I shed many tears.

I had scarcely reached manhood when I left my old home,
With a few of the fellows to the west we would roam,
Seeking employment, we scarcely could find,
The pay was so poor and the people unkind.

In St. Louis city we first met our fate,
We were arrested while walking the street.
The charges were burglary, the theft it was small.
They said, "We will place you behind a stone wall."

(4 additional stanzas)


As "Saint Louis, Bright City," this song is item dE35 in Laws's Appendix II. - RBW


  1. Randolph 165, "Saint Louis, Bright City" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Warner 111, "Court House" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. McNeil-SFB1, pp. 53-55, "Behind the Great Wall" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. ST R165 (Partial)
  5. Roud #2808
  6. BI, R165