“Come All You Virginia Girls (Arkansas Boys; Texian Boys; Cousin Emmy's Blues; etc.)”

Alternate titles: “California Boys”; “East Virginia Girls”; “Missouri Boys”; “Hello Girls”; “Mississippi Gals”; “The Mormon Boys”; “Free Nigger (title used in the 1841 sheet music)”; “De Free Nigger”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1841 (sheet music)
Keywords: courting hardtimes warning humorous
Found in: US(Ap,Ro,So)


"Come all you (Virginia) girls and listen to my noise; Don't you court no West Virginia boys; If you do, your fortune will be Johnny cake and venison and sassafras tea." Concerning the dangers of courting and marrying boys from (somewhere)


Randolph's "Old Leather Bonnet" text at first appears independent of the other versions of this song. But if one simply assumes that it has lost the first verse, the rest fits well.

The Fifes offer deep psychological explanations for some parts of this piece. I incline to believe it means what it says. - RBW

Same tune



  1. Belden, pp. 426-428, "Texan Boys" (1 text plus a fragment probably not part of this song)
  2. Randolph 342, "The Arkansas Boys" (3 texts, 2 tunes); also (perhaps with some mixture) 466, "The Old Leather Bonnet" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 277-278, "The Arkansas Boys" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 342A)
  4. BrownIII 328, "The Carolina Crew" (1 fragment, thought by the editors to be this song); 336, "If You Want to Go A-Courtin'" (1 text, clearly mixed; the first three stanzas are this song, the next four something completely unrelated about a fight and a very bad meal)
  5. Sandburg, pp. 128-129, "Hello, Girls"; "Kansas Boys" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  6. MHenry-Appalachians, p. 95, "The Hunter's Song" (1 fragment)
  7. Lomax-FSUSA 11, "When You Go A-Courtin'"; 12, "The Texian Boys" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  8. Fife-Cowboy/West 9, "Johnny Cake" (4 texts, 1 tune, though the "B" text is clearly "Little Fight in Mexico" and the "C" text is also quite distinct)
  9. LPound-ABS, 81, pp. 175-176, "Cheyenne Boys" (1 text)
  10. JHCox 58, "The Tucky Ho Crew" (1 text -- a very mixed version which is only partly this song, but the rest doesn't look like anything I know. It may be a conflation with an otherwise lost ballad)
  11. SharpAp 75, "If You Want to Go A-courting" (4 texts, 4 tunes)
  12. Silber-FSWB, p. 173, "Kansas Boys" (1 text)
  14. ADDITIONAL: Fred W. Allsopp, Folklore of Romantic Arkansas, Volume II (1931), p. 207, "The Old Leather Bonnet" (1 text, fairly full but missing the opening verse)
  15. Roud #4275
  16. BI, R342