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Pearl Bryan: Sources & Footnotes

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Pearl Bryan
Secret London
Murder Ballads

1) Cincinnati Post, April 28, 1930.
2) Cincinnati Enquirer, February 2, 1896.
3) Pieces of the Past, by Jim Reis (Kentucky Post, 1888).
5) Fifty years later, this neighbourhood was still wild enough for the local blues singer Walter Coleman to immortalise it on his 1936 disc I'm Going To Cincinnati. "When you come to Cincinnati, stop on Sixth and Main," he advises. "That's where the good-hustlin' women get the good cocaine."
6) Cincinnati Enquirer, February 3, 1946.
7) The Mysterious Murder of Pearl Bryan, author unknown (Barclay & Co, 1896). I was lucky enough to see an original copy of this booklet in Cincinnati's central library. It's about A5 in size, staped at the spine like a magazine, and 126 pages long. There's plenty of lurid engravings showing the key scenes from the story, plus a very delicate portrait of Pearl as its frontispiece. The paper's yellow and brittle now, but holding the thing itself in my hand was quite something.
8) Personal memoir by Dr Robert Carothers (unpublished typescript).
9) Judge NL Bennett, who'd visted the murder scene for himself on the morning the body was found, later testified that "two or three quarts" of blood had drained from the girl's body into the surrounding dirt.
10) Northern Kentucky Views (
11) Cincinnati Post, April 26, 1930.
12) Cincinnati Post, April 30, 1930.
13) Banner Graphic, February 2, 2009.
14) Cincinnati Enquirer, August 12, 1908.
15) Jackson and Walling's classmates at the dental college believed they'd disposed of Pearl's head in the building's furnace too. Lewis Ross and Sam Phister, two young men about to graduate there, confirmed this was the prevailing theory among all the students when questioned by reporters.
16) Cincinnati Enquirer, March 7,1896.
17) Cincinnati Post, May 1, 1930.
18) Albin surfaced in the case again when he told police Jackson had turned up at his barber's shop on the Saturday morning after Pearl's death. Jackson had a second valise of Pearl's with him, but refused to discuss its contents. He left it in Albin's care, and Albin later handed it in to police. This second valise seems to have held only Pearl's clothes, and should not be confused with the leather one discussed above.
19) There are at least three different cities called Lafayette in the US, but Jackson presumably means the one in Indiana, which lies about 60 miles north west of Indianapolis itself.
20) The Pearl Bryan Murder Story, by Anthony W, Kuhnheim (Campbell County Historical and Genealogical Society, date unknown). Kuhnheim produced this account while an undergraduate at Northern Kentucky University. His great, great uncle was John Hewling, the man who found Pearl's body.
21) Cincinnati Enquirer, September 11, 1949.
22) One of the nagging questions remaining in this saga is why Jackson and Walling thought they needed a hired driver at all. Either man was perfectly capable of driving the carriage for himself, and recruiting an outsider at this point seems only to create an unneccessary witness. It's sometimes suggested that George was needed because neither Jackson nor Walling knew the route they'd have to follow on the other side of the river, but that hardly squares with George's account of Walling giving him directions. Perhaps they thought hiring a driver was worth the risk because it would allow them both to stay in the back of the carriage for most of the trip, and hence control Pearl more easily.
23) Cincinnati Post, May 3, 1930.
24) Poor Pearl, Poor Girl, by Anne B. Cohen (University of Texas Press, 1973).
25) Murder In All Ages, by Matthew Pinkerton (AE Pinkerton & Co, 1898).
26) Cincinnati Post, May 5, 1930.
27) Pearl Bryan Murder, by Albert Stegman Jr (Stegman Volumes, Campbell County Historical Society, date unknown).
28) Murder is My Business, by William Foster Hopkins (The World, 1970).
29) As I typed up this section of Debbie's interview, I couldn't help but picture the dozens of busy souvenir stands I saw lining the streets around New York's Ground Zero in the aftermath of 9/11. More than 3,000 people had died there just a few months earlier, but that didn't stop me and the thousands of other visitors buying photographs of the planes' impact or key-rings they assured us had been cast from the melted girders. Human nature doesn't change much, and I suspect we're really just as ghoulish today as we've always been.
30) "Scarcely noticable". Really?
31) Cincinnati Post, May 2, 1930.
32) Sleevenotes from The Art of Field Recording Vol II, compiled by Art Rosenbaum (various artists, Dust-to-Digital, 2008). Parks' account of the murder in his recorded interview here gets one or two of the details wrong, but it's worth quoting anyway just for the colourful way he phrased it. "Scott Jackson got that woman Pearl Bryant fixed up, y'know, and they took her over to Cincinnatah to get an abortion made on her," he told Dunsford. "You know what that means, I suppose? And when they got her there, she died. [...] They were getting in muddy water there, y'know, and rode her down there somewhere and dumped her out down the Ohio River. [...] They dumped her out there , and they cut her head off. Thought nobody wouldn't know her, you know, then."
33) Cincinnati Enquirer, March 7, 1896.
34) New York Times, March 8, 1896.
35) Cincinnati Enquirer, March 8, 1896.
36) This recalls the old joke about sharks refusing to attack lawyers because of "professional courtesy". Perhaps the rats in Jackson's cell felt the same way about him.
37) Cincinnati Enquirer, March 9, 1896.
38) Cincinnati Post, May 6, 1930.
39) New York Times, May 15, 1896. The NYT and Barclay both give extracts of this speech, which I've used to assemble the composite version here.
40) New York Times, May 17, 1896. Jackson was big news throughout the US now, and news of his death sentence made page one of the NYT.
41) New York Times, June 20, 1896.
42) Cincinnati Post, May 7, 1930.
43) New York Times, February 28, 1897.
44) Cincinnati Enquirer, March 4, 1897.
45) Cincinnati Enquirer, February 5, 1946.
46) New York Times, March 20, 1897.
47) Images of America: Newport, ed. Judy L Neff & Peggy Wiedemann Harris (Arcadia, 2004)
48) Kentucky Post, date unknown.
49) New York Times, March 21, 1897.
50) Cincinnati Post, May 8, 1930.
51) A Dictionary of Superstitions, ed Iona Opie & Maria Tatem (Oxford University Press, 1989).
52) Cincinnati Enquirer, October 15, 1928.
53) Cincinnati Enquirer, June 21, 1905.
54) Cincinnati Post, July 10, 1954.
55) Northern Kentucky Views (
56) Folk Songs of the South, by John Harrington Cox (Portfolio Press, 2001).
57) I'm always struck by the fact that this line puts Walling's name before Jackson's - an order of priority which now looks as odd as "Robin and Batman" or "Watson and Holmes". This may mean the chorus updates an earlier version composed very soon after the arrests, when it wasn't yet clear which man would emerge as the lead villain.
58) Cincinnati Post, February 27, 1946.
59) Cincinnati Post, February 2, 1946.
60) Cincinnati Enquirer, February 2, 1946.
61) Cincinnati Enquirer, May 8, 1947.
62) Cincinnati Times-Star, May 30, 1947.
63) Cincinnati Post, February 3, 1953.
64) Cincinnati Post, April 28, 1954.
65) Cincinnati Enquirer, April 28, 1954.
66) No Rest for the Wicked, by Troy Taylor (Whitechapel Productions, 2001).
67) Banner-Graphic website (
68) Pearl's Find A Grave page (
69) If I'm wrong about this, please let me know. I'd love to find some more recorded versions of Pearl's ballad - in any of its forms - and tell people about them here.
70) San Francisco Bay Guardian website, May 3, 2011 (
71) Financial Times website, August 12, 2010 (