“Grandmother's Chair”


After the singer's grandmother died, her will was found to grant large sums to several siblings, but to the singer, only granny's old armchair. He is far from content, but takes the chair home -- and eventually discovers a fortune hidden inside

Supplemental text

Grandmother's Chair
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

Grandmother's Old Armchair

From Dorothy Scarborough, A Song Catcher in Southern Mountains,
pp. 373-374. Collected from a manuscript made by Polly Morris of
Yellow Branch, Pirkey, Virginia.

Oh, my grandmother, she died at the age of eighty-three
  Was taken very sick one day and died,
And after she was dead, the will of corse was red (sic.)
  by the lawyers as they all stood by her side.

To my brothers it was found she had left one hundred pounds
  The same unto my sisters I declair (six.)
But when it come to me, the lawyers said, I see
  She has only left to you one old arm chair.

(6 additional stanzas plus a final "chorus")


Warner notes that this piece was printed twice in 1880 -- once, under the title "Grandmother's Chair," credited to John Read, and the other, "Grandma's/Granny's Old Arm Chair," attributed to Frank B. Carr. No definitive information about the author has been forthcoming.

Cohen, however, notes sheet music from 1841, credited to Eliza Cook (words) and William Clifton (music), but cites Spaeth to the effect that it was composed by Henry Russell (credited with singing it in the Cook/Clifton printing) in 1840.

Scarborough claims that it is of "British origin," but cites no evidence. - RBW

See one version of "Grandma's Old Arm-Chair" [Sheet Music: digital id sm1880 02996], published in Boston in 1880, attributed to Frank B Carr, at the Library of Congress American Memory site.

There are three versions of an entirely different song as "The Old Arm Chair" beginning "I love it, I love it, and who shall dare, To chide me for loving that old arm chair." This is probably the Cohen reference since the words are attributed to Eliza Cook in two cases and the music is attributed to William Clifton and sung by Henry Russell ([Sheet Music: digital id sm1841 380380], published in New York in 1841), music attributed to Henry Russell ([Sheet Music: digital id sm1840 370920], published in Boston in 1840) and with no music attribution ([Sheet Music: digital id sm1842 381990], published in Baltimore in 1842); all three are at the Library of Congress American Memory site. This is also the song in three "[The] Old Arm[-/ ]Chair" broadsides [America Singing: digital id as110050/sb30397a/as110060] at the Library of Congress American Memory site.

As to Frank B Carr, here is a note from John Hill in the DigiTrad discussion of "Fields of Athenry": "Finding the published song isn't always the end of the story. Someone recently asked if I could find the words to 'Granny's old arm chair'. I found them in the collection of the Library of Congress. Written by Frank B. Carr 'America's Motto vocalist' (whatever that was) published in 1880 in Boston. Then about 3 weeks later (by accident) I found the same song in the same collection written by John Reid. pub 1881 Boston. There were other songs by John Reid but no other by Frank B. Carr. So was the later Publication the real writer and maybe the earlier one only the performer (Although he claimed to be the writer) What was odd was they were both published in the same town... " - BS


  • [Clarence] Ashley & [Gwen] Foster, "The Old Armchair" (Vocalion 02647, 1934)
  • Crockett's Kentucky Mountaineers, "Granny's Old Arm Chair" (Crown 3188/Montgomery Ward M-3026 [as Harlan Miner's Fiddlers], 1931)
  • Frank Crumit, "Granny's Old Arm-Chair" (HMV [UK] B-4059, 1932)
  • Pete Daley's Arkansas Fiddlers, "Granny's Old Armchair" (Varsity 5078, n.d.)
  • Charlie Parker & Mack Woolbright, "The Old Arm Chair" (Columbia 15694-D, 1931; rec. 1927)
  • Williamson Bros. & Curry, "The Old Arm Chair" (OKeh 45146, 1927)


  1. Randolph 467, "Granny's Old Arm Chair" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  2. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 360-362, "Granny's Old Armchair" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 467A)
  3. Warner 100, "My Grandmother's Chair" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 373-374, "Grandmother's Old Armchair" (1 text; tune on p. 457)
  5. Ives-DullCare, pp. 123-125,252, "The Old Arm Chair" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Spaeth-WeepMore, pp. 204-206, "The Arm Chair" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. ST R467 (Partial)
  8. Roud #1195
  9. BI, R467


Alternate titles: “The Old Arm Chair”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1880 (sheet music)
Keywords: money death hiding
Found in: US(MW,SE,So) Canada(Mar)