THE BRASWELL BOYS
Contributed to the Tennessee Folklore Society by D. P. Glenn
(Mr. Glenn stated that the identity of the author was obscure.
Several changes had been made over the years.
Thus, several authors may be due credit.)
Come my friends and near relations,
Come and listen to my song,
I will sing about the Braswell’s,
About the men who were hung.
On the twenty-ninth of November,
Eighteen and seventy-five,
Was the night they done the murder
For which they had to give their lives.
They said, dear father and dear mother,
I hope will remember me,
When we are dead and gone forever,
And our faces no more you’ll see.
When I rise and fly to glory,
I will meet my Savior there;
I shall live and reign forever,
Shall we know each other there?
We have lain long in prison,
In our attempt we never fail,
God will aid and assist us
For to break the Nashville jail.
When they started from the prison,
And the guards surrounded them,
Teek said, “Joe we are lost forever,”
“For our escape is very slim.”
Dear parents and sister and brothers,
For my soul do understand,
I am bound for to acknowledge
That I am a guilty man.
I want you all to go to meeting,
Lead new lives from this day,
For I expect to go to Heaven,
I can with you no longer stay.
Bohannon placed them in a wagon,
They were neat and very young,
Their coffins were seats for them
To the place where they were hung.
They had a sister and a brother
That seemed so very nigh,
They followed down to the hollow
Where they soon did see them die.
When they ascended the scaffold,
And the guards surrounded them,
They were joined by McFerrin,
Who opened up their prayer for them.
The third chapter of Romans,
It was read to them there;
And is a private conversation
They poured out their souls in prayer.
Death, you know, is the wages
You receive for your sins,
You must learn that in the future
You have to lose all you win.
Do not drink a drop of wiskey,
Do not kill or rob a man,
For it was the love of money
That I do on the gallows stand.
We know they committed murder
By taking other lives away,
So, now upon this solemn hour
We must take theirs today.
Then Joe said, in a cool voice
Gentlemen and ladies, too,
If you will give you your attention,
I will speak some words to you.
I am here upon the scaffold
Before you all today;
And what’s it for? It is for murder,
Was the words he did say.
What caused me to do this murder?
It was whiskey and money, too,
And if you drink a drop of whiskey
Whiskey then might tempt you.
Teek said: “It is a solemn hour
It’s told me that I must die,
I am ready and awaiting,
Prepared and willing to die.”
Then Isbell came upon the scaffold
Shaking heads with them there;
They were delighted at his presence,
Seemed very glad to meet him there.
He said, “Joe was you at my house
The night the murder was done?”
“I was there and I am guilty,”
Was the answer Joe made him.
Teek was low and fair complected,
Joe was tall and very neat,
They were pale and very silent
When their lips did seem to meet.
They listened to the death sentence,
It was there read to them,
Then they tied their wrists and ankles
And placed white capes upon them.
One said, “Jesus do have mercy
Will you be with me today?”
The other said, “Lord, have mercy
On them that swore my life away.”
The door fell and left them swinging
Betwixt the earth and the sky.
It was for a dreadful murder
These two men did have to die.
They were cut down, put in their coffins,
Delivered over to their friends,
That was there for the purpose
To receive them at the end.
Read this song while you are adorning
When you before the judgment stand,
You by this might take warning,
Live only a sober man.
Do not keep any bad company,
I advise you not to drink dram
Or you might be like the brothers
That did on the gallows stand.
Source: "Lore and Legend of the Upper Cumberlands" by E. G. Rogers
Printed in the Herald-Citizen
Date: To be added later