“The Pretty Fair Widow (Lillie Shaw II)”


Pretty widow Lillie Shaw goes out one day but does not return. A search party fails to find her, but finally traces of blood are found, and then her body. "They searched the Preston house" and find her clothes; E.B. Preston is tried and hanged

Supplemental text

Pretty Fair Widow, The (Lillie Shaw II)
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Anne Warner, Traditional American Folk Songs from the Anne &
Frank Warner Collection, #115, pp. 284-285. From the singing of
Frank Proffitt, Watauga County, North Carolina, 1941.

As pretty a fair widow
As ever has been seen,
Was staying at the home
Of a man named Jim McGeen.
All the men would raise their hats
Every time they saw
That handsome fair young widow
That was known as Lillie Shaw.

(16 additional 4-line stanzas)


Although there are two songs on this subject, and this one at least spread enough to be collected three times, no one seems to have found details on the fates of Lillie Shaw and Jim Wilcox/E. B. Preston.

Frank Proffit, who supplied the Warner ballad, claimed the murder took place in the 1880s in Mountain City, Tennessee. - RBW

Cross references


  1. Warner 115, "The Pretty Fair Widow (or, Lillie Shaw)" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. ST Wa115 (Partial)
  3. Roud #4628
  4. BI, Wa115


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1941 (Warner)
Found in: US(SE)