“The Burial of Wild Bill”


Singer describes how he and his comrades buried their friend Wild Bill, reminiscing about his good character and talents. Characteristic last line of each verse: "As we covered him with the sod"

Supplemental text

Burial of Wild Bill, The
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Olive Woolley Burt, American Murder Ballads And Their Stories,
p. 194. Source not listed; probably from print.

Under the sod of the prairie land
  We have laid him down to rest,
With many a tear for the sad, rough throng,
  And the friends he loved the best.
And many a heartfelt sigh was heard
  As over the sward we trod,
And many an eye was filled with tears
  As we covered him with the sod.


The uncertainty over the name of the bandleader on the Pilot Mountaineers records stems from its listing as "Frank Jenkins & his Pilot Mountaineers" on the Yazoo reissue and in Gennett logs (the Conqueror issue used a Gennett master), but "Oscar Jenkins' Pilot Mountaineers" on the Paramount/Broadway issues.

On both records, the vocalist (uncredited, as he was under contract to Victor) was Ernest Stoneman. Notice that the succeeding record on Conqueror is the same song, listed as by Ernest Stoneman, while Frank Mares' catalog lists 7269 as a different song by Stoneman, with Jenkins' Mountaineers. Oy.

Oh, and it's quite hard to tell from the text, but it doesn't sound like the subject of this song was Wild Bill Hickok. - PJS

Burt claims it *is* Hickok (1837-1876), but she cites only one stanza -- though she says Crawford dedicated the song to Hickok's friend Charley Utter. - RBW


  • Oscar Jenkins' Pilot Mountaineers [or Frank Jenkins & his Pilot Mountaineers: Oscar Jenkins, Frank Jenkins, Ernest V. Stoneman], "Burial of Wild Bill" (Broadway 8249/Paramount 3240, 1929); Alex Gordon [pseud. for Frank Jenkins & his Pilot Mountaineers], "The Burial of Wild Bill" (Conqueror 7270, 1929) [One of these recordings, probably the Conqueror, is on WhenIWas2.]
  • Glenn Ohrlin, "Burial of Wild Bill" (on Ohrlin01)
  • Ernest V. Stoneman, "The Burial of Wild Bill" (Conqueror 7270, 1929)


  1. Burt, p. 194, "(The Burial of Wild Bill)" (1 excerpt)
  2. ST RcTBoWB (Partial)
  3. Roud #11542
  4. BI, RcTBoWB


Author: Captain Jack Crawford
Earliest date: 1929 (recordings, Jenkins' Pilot Mountaineers)
Keywords: burial death cowboy
Found in: US