“The Bounty Jumper”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1883 (Smith/Hatt)
Keywords: death execution money Civilwar
Found in: US(MA,MW) Canada(Mar)


"Friends and jolly citizens, I'll sing you a song... It's all about a jumper, Old Donald was his name." Captured at last, he prefers death to revealing where his money is hidden. The jumper is condemned, executed, and buried.

Supplemental text

Bounty Jumper, The
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Norman Cazden, Herbert Haufrecht, Norman Studer, Folk Songs
of the Catskills, #17, pp. 88-89. From the singing of George Edwards.

Friends and jolly citizens, I'll sing to you a song;
I'll compose a ditty, it won't detain you long,
It's all about a jumper, Old Donald  was his name,
He got captured at his last jump for doing of the same.

  He jumped in Philadelphia, he jumped it in New York,
  He jumped it all in Harrisburg, you've heard the people talk;
  He jumped it, yes, he jumped it all around the Yankee shore,
  He got captured at his last jump in the city of Baltimore.

(3 additional stanzas)


During the Civil War, the Union grew so desperate for men that it began to use drastic recruitment measures. One of these was the bounty -- paying a man a large sum (sometimes as much as $300) to enlist, and then giving him leave to go off and spend it. Naturally, a large number of men -- the "Bounty Jumpers" -- took the money and ran. The harsh punishment a captured jumper received did little to discourage the practice. - RBW


  1. FSCatskills 17, "The Bounty Jumper" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Smith/Hatt, pp. 92-93, "The Bounty Jumper" (1 text)
  3. Dean, p. 101, "The Bounty Jumper" (1 text)
  4. ST FSC017 (Partial)
  5. Roud #1976
  6. BI, FSC017