THE STATE OF ARKANSAS
(THE ARKANSAS TRAVELER)
Sung by: W.P. Detherow
Recorded in Batesville, AR, 6/25/52
(Mr. Detherow: "We're now going to sing a burlesque song on Arkansas. It will make you all mad and then I'll follow it with a song on Missouri written by an Arkansawyer that will make you in a good humor.
Now, these songs were written about something like sixty-five years ago when there was considerable ill feeling between the people of Arkansas and Missouri on the slave question. But that's all been changed now.
I slipped over the line into Arkansas and married an Arkansas girl and later on I let the people know that I was from Missouri, and it created considerable good feeling; and then I raised some girls and one of them went to Missouri and married a Missouri boy. And ever since then the people of Arkansas and Missouri has had a good feeling towards one another, friendly and get along fine.
This song was written by Sanford Barnes. He lived in Buffalo, Missouri, just a little ways out from Springfield, north of Springfield, Missouri. The other one [The State of Missouri] was written by a fellow by the name of Robert Howard, an Arkansas boy, on Missouri.")
My name is Sanford Barnes; I came from Buffalo town.
I've traveled this wide world over; I've roamed it 'round and 'round.
I've had my ups and downs through life, and better days I've saw,
But I never knew what misery was 'til I struck old Arkansas.
It was in the year of '82, in the merry month of June.
I landed in Hot Springs one sultry afternoon.
Up came a walking skeleton and handed me his paw,
Inviting me to his hotel, the best in Arkansas.
I followed my conductor unto his dwelling place.
There was misery depicted in his melancholy face.
He fed me on corn dodgers and beef I couldn't chew;
He charged me fifty cents a day in the state of Arkansas.
I got up early next morning to catch the early train.
He said I'd better work for him; he had some land to drain.
He'd give me fifty cents a day, my wash and board and all.
He thought I'd be a different man when I left old Arkansas.
I worked six weeks for this galoot, Jess Harrell was his name.
Six foot seven inches in his stocking feet, and as slim as any crane.
His hair hung down like rattails over his long lantern jaw;
He's a photograph of all the gents that was raised in Arkansas.
He fed me on corn dodgers as hard as any rock
'Til my teeth began to loosen and my knees began to knock.
I got so thin on sassafras tea, I could hide behind a straw.
You bet I was a different man when I left old Arkansas.
Farewell to the old swamp angels, the canebrakes and the chills.
Farewell to sage and sassafras tea and popcorn dodger pills.
If ever I see that place again--I'll give to you my paw--
It'll be through a telescope from "H" to Arkansas.
Also found in Randolph, Vol. III, #347, "The State of Arkansas"; Belden, p. 424, "The Arkansaw Traveler."