“The Vance Song”


[Abner] Vance is charged falsely with murder. Recalling his beautiful home, he castigates those who have caused his unjust condemnation. He bids his family farewell


This is one of the few "confession" songs that Laws believes was actually written by the narrator. Abner Vance was hanged for murder after shooting Lewis Horton (for seducing Vance's daughter). Laws does not offer a precise date; it was probably in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Some further details, including those surrounding the trial and murder, are found in Cox, but again, no date. Burt offers a date c. 1910.

We might note, however, the inscription on Cox's "A" text. This appears to be the original broadsheet slip of the song, and is dated 1897. I do not think this (quite) proves the date of the song, but it gives us a rough date for either the song or the murder. - RBW


  1. Laws F17, "The Vance Song"
  2. JHCox 41, "The Vance Song" (3 texts)
  3. Hudson 107, pp. 246-247, "The Vance Song" (1 text)
  4. Combs/Wilgus 67, pp. 163-164, "The Vance Song" (1 text)
  5. Burt, pp. 222-223, "The Vance Song" (1 text plus an excerpt Burt thinks might be of another Vance song)
  6. DT 738, VANCESNG
  7. Roud #2216
  8. BI, LF17


Alternate titles: “Vance's Song”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1918 (Cox)
Found in: US(Ap,SE,So)