“Claude Allen”


Claude Allen is placed on trial and, due to the Governor's indifference, is handed over for execution, leaving his mother and sweetheart to mourn


For a bit of background to this song, see the notes to "Sidney Allen." Although the whole tragedy occurred in the twentieth century, it appears very little is known of this family.

Clarence Ashley said that he taught the ballad to Hobart Smith c. 1918, but that's a bit tenuous to assign an earliest date. - PJS

Even more curious are Burt's notes. Her source was one Dragline Miller of Ely, Nevada, who from her description sounds to have been born in 1875 or earlier. He said he learned this *before* his prospecting days. Given that the shooting occurred in 1912, when Miller was at least 37, something odd is going on. Though the strongest likelihood is simply that Miller's memory was bad. - RBW

Historical references

  • 1912 - Trial of the Allen family. While in court, Sidney Allen shot the judge, and the rest of the family was soon shooting too. Sidney was sentenced to prison, but Claud and Floyd Allen were sentenced to death

Cross references


  • Clarence Ashley & Doc Watson, "Claude Allen" (on Ashley02)
  • Hobart Smith, "Claude Allen" (on FOTM) (on LomaxCD1705)
  • Ernest V. Stoneman and His Blue Ridge Cornshuckers, "Claude Allen" (Victor, unissued, 1928)


  1. Laws E6, "Claude Allen"
  2. BrownII 246, "Claud Allen" (2 texts plus mention of 2 more)
  3. Burt, pp. 253-254, "(Claud Allen)" (1 text)
  4. DT 771, CLAUDALN
  5. Roud #2245
  6. BI, LE06


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1917 (Brown)
Found in: US(Ro,SE)