“Nell Cropsey (I)”


One night Nell's former lover Jim (Wilcox) calls on her. She disappears for three months, then her mother sees her body on the river. Her lover winds up in prison

Supplemental text

Nell Cropsey (I)
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From W. K. McNeil, Southern Folk Ballads, Volume II, pp. 82-83.
Collected in May 1927 from Bessie Wesctorr Midgett of Manteo,
North Carolina.

On the twentieth of November,
  A day we remember well,
A handsome girl was coldly murdered,
  Of her story I will tell

She had scarce passed sixteen summers
  With eyes of blue and sunny curls,
Perfect were each handsome feature,
  With red lips shutting over pearls.

One night the lover called to see her,
  But they hardly spoke a word,
FOr they'd had a lover's quarrel,
  So the neighbors all had heard.

(Stanzas 1, 3, 4 of 10)


This song is item dF45 in Laws's Appendix II, but should certainly have been listed higher; he did not know the Brown version.

There are extensive historical notes in Brown, which concur with the song in saying that she was very pretty but list her age as 19, not 16 as in the text of the song.

Chappell has four songs associated by title with Nellie Cropsey, but only two (I and IV) mention her name: This one and the Nell Cropsey subfamily of "The Jealous Lover."

To tell this from the Jealous Lover version, consider this first verse:

On the twentieth of November,

A day we all remember well,

When a handsome girl was murdered,

Of her story I will tell. - RBW

Historical references

  • 1901 - Murder of Ella Maude "Nellie" Cropsey, presumably by her former lover Jim Wilcox

Cross references


  1. BrownII 307 "Nellie Cropsey" (2 texts)
  2. Chappell-FSRA 61, "Nell Cropsey, I" (1 text)
  3. McNeil-SFB2, pp. 82-84, "Nellie Cropsey" (1 text)
  4. ST MN2082 (Partial)
  5. Roud #4117
  6. BI, MN2082


Author: credited to Bessie Wescott Midgett
Earliest date: 1912 (Chappell)
Keywords: homicide
Found in: US(SE)