“Old Jesse”


"One cold and frosty mornin' Just as the sun did rise, The possum roared, the raccoon howled, 'Cause he'd begun to freeze... Old Jesse was a gentleman among the olden times." Remaining verses are floating stanzas about a Black's learning and life

Supplemental text

Old Jesse
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Dorothy Scarborough, On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs,
pp. 71-72. From Reverend J. G. Dickinson of Evergreen, Alabama.

One cold an' frosty mornin'
  Just as de sun did riz,
De possum roared, the raccoon howled,
  'Cause he begun to friz.
He drew hisse'f up in a knot
Wid his knees up to his chin,
An' ev'rything had to cl'ar de track,
When he stretched out agin,

  Old Jesse was a gemman
  Among de olden times.

Nigger never went to free school,
  Nor any odder college
An' all de white folks wonder whar
  Dat nigger got his knowledge.
He chawed up all de Bible
An' den spat out de Scripter,
An' when he 'gin to arger strong,
He were a snortin' ripter.

(1 additional stanza)


This is one of those impossible items. Roud lumps Scarborough's text with "On a Cold Frosty Morning," presumably on the basis of the first line. But the next two verses ("Nigger never went to free school Nor any odder college..." and "Nigger used to pick de banjo, He play so berry strong...") are typical of "Walkin' in the Parlor."

The chorus, about Old Jesse (the father of David) is unique.

What's more, I have a recording of George and Gerry Armstrong, with the first verse and the Old Jesse chorus, combined with "Bye and Bye."

I really don't know what to make of the result. Separate song, or just a conflation? When in doubt, we split. If I had to file it somewhere, I would probably go against Roud and file it with "Walkin' in the Parlor" rather than "On a Cold Frosty Morning." - RBW

Cross references


  1. Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 71-72, "Old Jesse" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. ST ScaNF071 (Partial)
  3. Roud #3439
  4. BI, ScaNF071


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1925 (Scarborough)
Found in: US(SE)