Jack Rogers

Come, all you tender Christians, I hope you will lend ear,
And likewise pay attention to those few lines you’ll hear,
For the murder of Mr. Swanton I am condemned to die,
On the twelfth day of November upon the gallows high.

My name it is Jack Rogers, a name I’ll ne’er deny,
Which leaves my aged parents in sorrow for to cry,
It’s little did they ever think, all in my youthful bloom,
That I would come unto New York to meet my awful doom.

My parents reared me tenderly as you can plainly see,
And constant good advice they used to give to me,
They told me to shun night walking and all bad company,
Or state’s prison or the gallows would be the doom of me.

But it was in play houses and saloons I used to take delight,
And constantly my comrades they would me there invite,
I oft times was told by them that the use of knives was free,
And I might commit some murder and hanged I ne’er would be.

As Mr. Swanton and his wife were walking down the street,
All in a drunken passion I chanced them for to meet,
I own they did not harm me, the same I’ll ne’er deny,
But Satan being so near me, I could not pass them by.

I staggered up against him, ’twas then he turned around,
Demanding half the sidewalk, also his share of ground,
’Twas then I drew that fatal knife and stabbed him to the heart,
Which caused that beloved wife from her husband there to part.

It was then I went to Trenton, thinking to escape,
But the hand of Providence was before me, indeed I was too late,
It was there I was taken prisoner and brought unto the Toombs,
For to die upon the gallows, all in my youthful bloom.

I am thankful to the sheriff, who has been so kind to me,
Likewise my worthy counsellors [sic], who thought to set me free,
And also to the clergyman, who brought me in mind to bear,
For to die a true penitent I solemnly do declare.

The day of my execution it was heartrending to see,
My sister came from Jersey to take farewell of me,
She threw herself into my arms and bitterly did cry,
Saying, “My well beloved brother, this day you have to die.”

And now my joys are ended, from this wide world I must part,
For the murder of Mr. Swanton I’m sorry to the heart;
Come, all you young ambitious youths, a warning take from me,
Be guided by your parents and shun bad company.

Gordon, Robert Winslow, 1888-1961
Date Recorded: 
September, 1924
Track Duration (h:m:s): 
Original Medium: 
wax cylinder
American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
Call Number/Physical Location: 
AFS 19011A: G77 Misc 128

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