“Gladys Kincaid (I)”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1932 (Henry, collected from Hazel Winters)
Keywords: abduction rape homicide death punishment
Found in: US(Ap)

Description

"Little Gladys Kincaid" is talking with a friend. Her brother finds he rbody, and instantly concludes that Brodus Miller killed her. A reward is offered. The community is outraged that a "Negro beast" could do such a thing causes him to be hunted down

Notes

To tell this song from Gladys Kincaid (II), consider this opening stanza:

Little Gladys Kincaird,

A girl we all knew well,

She started back to her home

To where her mother dwell

And on on her way she met a girl

And stopped her for a talk

And while they was a-standing there

Up Brodus Miller walked.

It sounds to me as if this version is based on "The Knoxville Girl" or something like it. Henry's version -- the only one extant -- seems to have lost at least one crucial verse describing her abduction, and presumably her rape. The racism of the text is palpable; in the song, it appears that the only evidence against Brodus Miller was that he was Black.

Although this murder inspired two ballads (this one and one in Brown, neither widespread), the editors of Brown were unable to determine anything about the story behind the ballad.

A correspondent who signs herself "Amanda" tells me the murder took place in Morganton, North Carolina. Her grandmother apparently knew Gladys Kincaid, and sang one of the songs (probably Gladys Kincaid II).

This is item dF41 in Laws's Appendix II (Gladys Kinkaid II is dF42). - RBW

References

  1. MHenry-Appalachians, pp. 57-58, "Gladys Kincaid" (1 text)
  2. BI, MHAp057