The Bounty Jumper

Singer: 

Michael Cassius Dean

Recorder: 

Robert Winslow Gordon

Recording Date: 

Sep. 1924

Location of Recording: 

Canton, St. Lawrence County, New York, USA

Duration: 

1:01

Transcription: 

Soldiers, pay attention and I'll sing to you a song,
It's about a bounty jumper and I won't detain you long,
He was a bold, undaunted youth, James Downey was his name,
He was taken at Alexandria for the doing of the same.

He jumped it in Malone and he jumped it in New York,
He jumped it in old Ogdensburg, at least that was the talk,
He jumped it everywhere, my boys, along the Yankee shore,
He was taken on his last retreat from the city of Baltimore.

Rights: 

Duplication of sound recordings may be governed by copyright and other restrictions.

Language: 

en-US

Type: 

Music Recording

Format: 

mp3

Publisher: 

Brian Miller, Emma Dowd, Diane Giebink-Skoglind

Original Format: 

Wax Cylinder

Is Part Of: 

AFS Preservation Reel: AFS 19010A
G53
Misc. 86

Folk Song Index Numbers: 

Roud #1976

Song Summary: 

James Downey is on the run after accepting a bounty (perhaps multiple bounties) to join the Union Army and thereafter fleeing with the money. Captured at last, he prefers death to revealing where his money is hidden. Downey is condemned, executed, and buried. Dean's version is localized to include place names near his birthplace in northern New York state.

Tags: 

First Line: 

Soldiers, pay attention and I'll sing to you a song

Full Song Text: 

Soldiers, pay attention and I’ll sing to you a song,
It is about a bounty jumper and I won’t detain you long;
He was a bold, undaunted youth, James Downey was his name,
He was taken at Alexandria for the doing of the same.

He jumped it in Malone and he jumped it in New York,
He jumped it in old Ogdensburg, at least that was the talk;
He jumped it everywhere, my boys, along the Yankee shore.
He was taken on his last retreat from the city of Baltimore.

Downey he was taken and the judge to him did say,
“Where is that money, Downey, or where have you it put away?”
“That money I have taken, it is out of your command,
And before I will surrender it you can shoot me and be damned.”

Poor Downey knelt on his coffin, boys, and unto us did say,
“Now, soldiers, do your duty and your officers obey;
Now, soldiers, do your duty, and it is all point at my heart,
For it is out from of this wide world, boys, we all have got to part.”

We dug poor Downey’s grave, my boys, we dug it wide and deep,
We dug it in the valley where Downey had to sleep;
We dug it in the valley and we carried him along,
And every soldier dropped a tear for the bounty jumper is gone.

Full Song Text Source: