“Martha Dexter”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1910 (Belden)
Keywords: death river drowning horse mourning
Found in: US(MA,So)

Description

Young Martha Dexter and her niece set out to visit the niece's mother. When they come to the river, the water is high and Martha's excitable horse throws her. She drowns. When her body is found at last, the family mourns

Notes

This is item dG34 in Laws's Appendix II.

My first reaction, upon reading the first half-dozen stanzas in Belden, was that this is basically a variant of a "Marian Parker" ballad. It has that same cloying feel. But, of course, the song is based on an earlier event, and it takes a different direction at the end. The similarity is presumably due simply to the way semi-professional balladeers treat children. - RBW

Historical references

Cross references

References

  1. Belden, pp. 417-418, "Martha Dexter" (1 text)
  2. Roud #4134
  3. BI, Beld417