Folktales and Songs

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Entries - Entry Category: Folktales and Songs - Starting with S


In the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri, the Snawfus is a mythological creature of regional folklore. Described as an all-white, deer-like creature, but much larger, the Snawfus is usually reported to have plum or dogwood branches in full bloom growing from its head instead of antlers. Most of what is known about the Snawfus was collected and recorded by the folklorist Vance Randolph, who related the various stories he heard about the creature in the animals and plants chapter of his book, We Always Lie to Strangers: Tall Tales from the Ozarks. The blue haze that hangs over the Ozark Mountains in the fall and winter is attributed to the exhalations of the Snawfus, which is believed to emit spirals …

Springer, Andrew (Lynching of)

Andrew Springer, a white man, was lynched in Powhatan (Lawrence County) on May 21, 1887. His is the only lynching recorded as happening in Lawrence County and occurred during a decade when whites and African Americans were lynched in relatively equal numbers. That would change the following decade as lynching violence became more exclusively anti-black. The lynching of Springer became the subject of the October “Ghost Walk” held at the Powhatan Historic State Park each year and is a significant component of local folklore. The event was mentioned by newspapers as far away as Perth, Australia. The exact identity of Springer remains a mystery. Some newspapers reported that he was originally from Cook County, Illinois, but the four possible matches …

State of Arkansaw, The

The ballad, or narrative folksong, usually titled “The State of Arkansaw” has been a principal exhibit in Arkansas’s recurrent laments about its disreputable image. It is a clear example of the expressive culture of the late nineteenth century that depicted Arkansas pejoratively. The story, which the ballad relates in first person, has its protagonist—known by several names, including “Sanford Barnes” and “John Johanna”—leave his home, most frequently “Buffalo town” or “Nobleville town,” to seek employment. He hears of job opportunities in Arkansas, sets out by railway, and arrives in an Arkansas community, variously identified as Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Van Buren (Crawford County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), or Hot Springs (Garland County). There he meets a “walking skeleton” who conducts …