Poor Omie (John Lewis) (Little Omie Wise) [Laws F4]

DESCRIPTION: John Lewis, to free himself of his pregnant sweetheart, offers to marry her but instead plans to drown her. She begs for her life, promising to go begging, but he throws her in the river. The body is found and Lewis imprisoned. (He escapes into the army.)
AUTHOR: unknown
KEYWORDS: pregnancy homicide rejection prison drowning
1807 (some sources say 1808) - Drowning of Naomi Wise in North Carolina
REFERENCES (31 citations):
Laws F4, "Poor Omie (John Lewis) (Little Omie Wise)"
Belden, pp. 322-324, "Oma Wise" (2 texts)
Randolph 149, "Poor Oma Wise" (5 texts plus 2 excerpts and 1 fragment, 2 tunes)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 163-166, "Poor Oma Wise" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 149A)
High, pp. 37-38, "Poor... Oma" (1 text)
AbrahamsRiddle, pp. 56-57, "Little Lonie" (1 text, 1 tune)
BrownII 300, "Poor Naomi (Omie Wise)" (5 texts plus 1 excerpt and mention of 2 more; it appears that Laws places texts "A" and "D" here, but "H" is also this song, with "F" and "G" being "Naomi Wise" [Laws F31])
BrownSchinhanIV 300, "Poor Naomi (Omie Wise)" (2 excerpts, 2 tunes, both probably this)
BrownSchinhanV 786, "(no title)" (1 tune with no text, which Schinhan says is closely related to the tune in BrownSchinhanIV)
Lunsford31, pp. 28-29, "Poor Omia Wise" (1 text, 1 tune)
Morris, #38, "Naomi Wise" (2 texts, 1 tune, with the "A" text and tune, locally titled "Sweet William," being "Poor Omie (John Lewis) (Little Omie Wise)" [Laws F4], while the "B" text is "Naomi Wise" [Laws F31])
Hudson 63, pp. 187-188, "Poor Omie" (1 text)
Moore-Southwest 169, "Pretty Molly" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cambiaire, pp. 30-31, "Oma Wise" (1 text)
MHenry-Appalachians, pp. 73-75, "John Lewis" (1 text)
Burton-TNSingers, pp. 52-53, "Omie Wise" (1 text, 1 tune)
Leach, pp. 793-795, "Naomi (Omie) Wise" (2 texts)
Friedman, p. 202, "Naomi Wise" (1 text, 1 tune)
Warner 116, "The Ballad of Naomi Wise" (1 text, 1 tune)
Carey-MarylandFolkLegends, p.111, "Little Onie" (1 text)
Lomax-FSNA 138, "Omie Wise" (1 text, 1 tune)
LPound-ABS, 51, pp. 119-120, "Poor Omie" (1 text)
SharpAp 123, "Poor Omie" (7 texts, 7 tunes)
Burt, pp. 25-28, "Omie Wise" (1 text plus some fragments, 1 tune; also an excerpt from another Naomi Wise song, seemingly neither this nor Laws F31)
Cohen-AFS1, p. 232, "Poor Naomi" (1 text plus an excerpt of a second)
Leach-Heritage, pp. 143-144, "Omie Wise" (1 text)
Darling-NAS, pp. 200-201, "Omie Wise" (1 text)
Asch/Dunson/Raim, p. 42 "Ommie Wise" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen/Seeger/Wood, p. 149, "Deep Water" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 225, "Omie Wise" ; p. 227, "Deep Water" (2 texts)

Roud #447
Finley Adams, "Omie Wise" (AAFS 2796 B1)
Clarence Ashley, "Naomi Wise" (Columbia 15522-D, 1930; rec. 1929)
Clarence Ashley & Doc Watson, "Poor Omie" (on Ashley03)
Dock Boggs, "Little Omie Wise" (on Boggs3, BoggsCD1)
Mrs. W. R. Buchanan, "Little Omie Wise" (AAFS 2857 B3)
Ruth Clark Cullipher, "Little Onie" (AAFS 1031 A1)
Morgan Denmon, "Naomi Wise" (OKeh 45075, 1927; rec. 1926)
Minnie Floyd, "Naomi Wise" (AAFS 1301 A1)
Cleophas Franklin, "Omie Wise" (AAFS 2891 B2)
[G. B.] Grayson & [Henry] Whitter, "Ommie Wise" (Victor 21625, 1927; on AAFM1, GraysonWhitter01, ConstSor1)
Goldie Hamilton, "Little Omie Wise" (AAFS 2829 A1)
Aunt Idy Harper & the Coon Creek Girls, "Poor Naomi Wise" (Vocalion 04354 [or 04345], 1938)
Roscoe Holcomb, "Omie Wise" (on Holcomb1, HolcombCD1)
A. J. Huff, "Omie Wise" (AAFS 2877 B3)
Sarah Ison, "Little Omie Wise" (AAFS 2810 B1)
Aunt Molly Jackson, "Oma Wise" (AAFS 824 B2, 1935) (AAFS 3340/3341 A)
Polly Johnson, "Poor Omie" (AAFS 2760 A4)
Mrs. Esco Kilgore, "Oma Wise" (AAFS 2772 A2)
Alexander Kirkheart, "Naomi Wise" (AAFS 1700 A1)
Alec Moore, "Poor Omie Wise" (AAFS 57 B1)
Johanna Shepherd, "Omie Wise" (AAFS 1405 B2)
Lillian Short, "Naomi Wise" (AFS; on LC12)
Della Sibert, "Omie Wise" (AAFS 1486 A2)
Doug Wallin, "Omie Wise" (on Wallins1)

cf. "Naomi Wise" [Laws F31] (plot)
cf. "Tragic Romance" (tune)
Naomi Wise
NOTES [224 words]: Cohen, pp. 233-234, has notes on the history of this ballad I have not found elsewhere, including information on another "Nayomy Wise" poem and indications that her reputation may not have been very good. - RBW
Eleanor R. Long-Wilgus wrote an important monograph on this piece ,Naomi Wise: Creation, Re-Creation, and Continuity in an American Ballad Tradition. Chapel Hill: Chapel Hill Press, 2003. viii + 88 pp.
Dr. Long-Wilgus's monograph on Naomi Wise proceeds from the apparent original "True Account of Nayomy Wise" to show how both folksongs, "Poor Omie" (Laws F4) and "Naomi Wise" (Laws F32), grew out of this original under the influence of two broadsides (on other murders) from the 18th Century, both exemplifying the "murdered girl" narrative theme. The first printed version of "Poor Omie" was published by Braxton Craven in 1851, the second, "Naomi Wise," was recorded in 1925 by Carson Robison. But Long-Wilgus argues convincingly that the songs are older, modeled on the murdered girl theme (cf. Banks of the Ohio [Laws F5], the Wexford Girl [Laws P35], or Rose Conoley [Laws F6]), and while they show communalities with the eighteenth and nineteenth century broadsides, do not derive strictly from them, but rather increasingly fulfill the conventions of the "murdered girl theme" implied by that original "True Account." - DGE
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File: LF04

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