Sung by: Almeda Riddle
Recorded on 5/14/70

Click here to listen to the original recording

(Mrs. Riddle: “Before you turn it on, let's let me see if I can get the right . . . [sings a little]. I can’t . . . see if I’m getting some . . . [sings a little]. I’ve got to get it just as low as I can possibly get the low part if I ever reach it. I used to could run three octaves. Now I do well if I get one.”)

‘Twas in the town of Oxford,
Where I did live and dwell,
‘Twas in the town of Oxford,
I run my flour mill.
I fell in love with an Oxford girl,
Who had dark and darling eyes.
I asked . . .

(Mrs. Riddle: “Oh, let’s skip that key up a little bit more. Stop it, and let me get a better key than that.”)

I fell in love with an Oxford girl,
Who had dark and darling eyes.
I asked her would she marry me,
And me she nothing denied.

I called at her sister’s house
About eight o’clock one night.
I asked her, would she walk with me,
And we’d name our wedding day.

We walked along and talked along,
And we came to thicketed ground.
Then I picked up a hedgewood stick,
And I knocked that fair maid down.

She fell upon her bended knees.
“Oh, mercy,” she did cry.
“Willie, dear, don’t murder me here;
I’m not prepared to die.”

But I paid no attention to the piteous appeal,
But I beat her more and more,
‘Til all around where the poor girl lay
Was in a bloody gore.

Then I picked her up by her little white hand,
And I swung her body around.
I took her down to the riverside
And threw her in to drown.

(Mrs. Riddle: “Can you stand some more, Jim? He keeps flinching . . .”)

Then I returned to my mother’s home,
About twelve o’clock at night.
My mother, being worried for me,
Woke up in a fright.

“Oh, God, my son, now what have you done
That has bloodied your hands and clothes?”
And the answer I gave my mother
Was, “Bleeding at the nose.”

I asked her for a handkerchief
To bind my aching head.
I asked her for a candle, too,
To light my way to bed.

But I rolled and I tossed upon my bed,
And no rest could I find,
For the flames of Hell seemed all ‘round me,
And in my eyes would shine.

I tossed and tumbled all night long,
And still could find no rest,
But a burning, burning, burning hell
Was a-burning in my breast.

(Mrs. Riddle: “Oh, let’s see. Well, about two or three weeks after that, the Oxford girl was found floating down the river that ran through Oxford town.”)

Her sister swore my life away,
Without a thought of doubt.
Her sister swore that I was the man
Who led her sister out.

Oh, God, they’re going to hang me
Between the earth and sky.
Oh, God, they’re going to hang me now;
It’s a death I hate to die.

But I would not mind dying
If I thought t’would bring me rest
From this burning, burning, burning hell
That keeps burning in my breast.

Also found in Randolph, Vol. II, #150, "The Noel Girl"; Brown, Vol. II, #65, "The Lexington Murder"; Belden, p. 133, "The Oxford Girl."

All Songs Recorded by John Quincy Wolf, Jr., unless otherwise noted

The John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection
Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas
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