“Devil Winston”


[George] "Devil" Winston (an unusually vile specimen even by murder ballad standards) sets out to confront his woman Vinie [Stubblefield]. He finds her, kills her after an argument, is taken, and is hanged

Supplemental text

Devil Winston [Laws I7]
  Complete text(s)

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From Mary Wheeler, Steamboatin' Days, pp. 105-109. From the singing
of Uncle Joe Robinson.

Devil lef' Nine Hundud, wringin' wet with sweat,
"Goin' to hunt fo' Vinie, ef I don't I'm goin' to fall dead."

    Devil, oh Devil, what's that in yo' grip?
    "Piece uv Vinie's shoulder, an' I'm goin' to take a trip."

Devil lef' Nine Hundud, wringin' wet with sweat,
An' Devil killed po' Vinie, about a Duke cigarette.

Devil lef' Nine Hundud, the boys heered him say,
"I'm goin' to Biederman's Alley, to kill Vinie dead."

"Devil, oh Devil, see what you have done,
You have killed Vinie an' now you got to be hung."

When Devil walked on the gallus, he nevah said a word,
"Now you've killed Vinie, you got to leave this worl'."


Wheeler does not give dates for the life of George "Devil" Winston, but notes that he "began life as a cabin boy on the Mississippi. He was later an Ohio River rouster... His career of reckless lawlessness culminated when he was thirty-two years old, in the vicious murder of Vinie Stubblefield, his sweetheart.

"The murdered Negress was said to have been half-witted and repulsive-looking. She have made several efforts to sever her relationship with Winston, and this was the indirect cause of her death: Devil was apparently a victim of helpless bondage where she was concerned.... When he was not on the river he was often serving time on the 'chain gang' for beating the woman, and the murder occurred just following his release from jail for this offense." - RBW


  1. Laws I7, "Devil Winston"
  2. MWheeler, pp. 105-109, "Devil" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. DT 810, DEVWINST*
  4. ST LI07 (Full)
  5. Roud #4176
  6. BI, LI07


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1944 (Wheeler)
Keywords: homicide execution
Found in: US(Ap)