“Maria Bewell”


Fifteen year old Maria's stepfather comes to her bed one night and asks to sleep with her. She begs him not to; he persists. Finally his desire is too strong; he lies in wait for her and kills her

Supplemental text

Maria Bewell
  Complete text(s)

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From Mary O. Eddy, Ballads and Songs from Ohio, #120, pp. 271-274.
From Mrs. S. T. Topper, Ashland, Ohio.

 1. Attend, young friends, while I relate
      In rustic verses Maria's fate;
    A lovely girl of fifteen years,
      In health and beauty she appears.

 2. She was a mother's fond delight,
      She was a charming beauty bright;
    Who would have thought she could so soon
      Be sent to moulder in the tomb?

 3. Her cloudless sky appeared serene,
      And not a cloud to intervene;
    Her hopes were high of happiness,
      She hoped to live and die in peace.

 4. But oh, alas, her hopes soon fled;
      A storm soon gathered around her head,
    And burst upon her in her bloom,
      Which sent her to the silent tomb.

 5. In silent hours of the night,
      He come to her bed with footsteps light;
    "Maria, let me lay with thee,
      From blood relations we are free."

 6. Unto her father she did say,
      "Return unto thy bed, I pray,
    Nor let such thoughts as those arise,
      Your maker's laws for to despise.

 7. "If blood relations we are none,
      You have adopted me your own;
    How can you then my bed defile,
      Since I am your adopted child?"

 8. Unto Maria then he said,
      "I will return unto my bed;
    If you forever silent be,
      I will come no more to trouble thee

 9. Those solemn words he soon forgot,
      His maker's laws regarded not;
    He plunged himself in misery,
      Ruined himself and family.

10. She told her mother her distress,
      And of her father's wretchedness,
    And that at home she could not stay,
      That she had better go away.

11. Her neighbors did her then protect,
      And kept him from this wretched act;
    He through persuasion homeward went,
      His wicked mind was not content.

12. In sin he was not satisfied;
      He went and lay by the wayside,
    Thinking she might pass that way
      By midnight hours or bright of day.

13. He there in kind and gentle mood
      Famed himself innocent and good;
    He wished her to return again,
      Her goods and clothing to obtain.

14. Her mother went to bring her home;
      With fear and trembling she did come;
    Her father met her at the gate
      Where he did so deliberately wait.

15. "Maria, can't you stay with me?"
      She answered, "No, that cannot be."
    He from his pocket drew a knife,
      He pierced her heart and took her life.

16. He pierced her heart, the blood did flow,
      And with sarcastic smiles said, "Go;
    You yesterday outwitted me,
      Today I have outwitted thee."

17. Oh, cruel father, how could you
      Your hands in innocence imbue?
    How could you (send) so lovely a fair,
      A blooming youth into the bar

18. Where you shall soon arranged (sic.) be
      To answer for your iniquity;
    Where you shall soon receive your doom
      For murdering a fair innocent in bloom!

19. Maria Bewell was her name,
      She was a girl deserving fame;
    But, oh, alas, she met her end
      By one that ought to have been her friend.

20. Ira West Gardner was the man
      That formed this bare and wicked plan;
    No fear of God before his eyes,
      Defied the ruler of the skies.

21. Ye guardians and stepfathers, beware
      Of those intrusted to your care;
    Treat them with kindness and respect,
      You will find a blessing in the act.

22. Yes, now, I must conclude my theme,
      'Tis but a thought and not a dream;
    It would take a nobler pen than mine
      This horrid act for to combine.


This song is item dF44 in Laws's Appendix II. - RBW

Historical references

  • 1832 - Murder of Maria Buell by Ira West Gardner. Gardner was later hung, though details of the sentencing were lost in a fire


  1. Eddy 120, "Maria Bewell" (1 text)
  2. ST E120 (Full)
  3. Roud #4116
  4. BI, E120


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1939 (Eddy)
Found in: US(MW)