“Henry Clay Beattie”


Beattie is convicted of murdering a girl, but denies his guilt. His family tries to get him to confess, lest he "go to [his] doom with a lie." At last he confesses. On a Friday morning he is executed in the electric chair


The use of the electric chair as a means of execution obviously dates this song to the few decades before Harrell's recording. This would seem to imply that it is based on actual events. But I found no references to Beattie until Paul Stamler found an online auction of a publication entitled _The Great Beattie Murder Case: Henry C. Beattie Jr., Life and Crime. Sensational story of the life of Beulah Binford, 'the woman in the case.'"_

How far one can trust anything with a title like that is an open question, but apparently Beattie (1884-1911) lived in Richmond, Virginia, with his wife when he took Beulah Binford as his mistress (supposedly she did not know he was married). Beattie then murdered his wife with a shotgun. He claimed she was killed by a highwayman, but was tried and executed. - RBW

Historical references

  • 1911 - Execution of Henry Clay Beattie


  • Kelly Harrell, "Henry Clay Beattie" (Victor 20797, 1927; on KHarrell02)


  1. Roud #13147
  2. BI, RcHCB


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1927 (recording, Kelly Harrell)