“The Blacklegs”

Ole Sassafras John lit up his pipe,
An’ gazed up at the sky.
I knew ’at he wus dreamin’ up
A tale of days gone by.

I scooted over by his side
As quiet as could be,
Fer I liked to hear the stories
’at ole John would spin fer me.

He told about the settlers
Of the Indiana hills,
Of wagon trains, an’ Indian trails,
An’ creakin’ water mills.

He remembered when the stagecoach
Rumbled down the ole plank road,
An’ how a yoke of oxen
Could pull a heavy load.

He talked about the cabin loft
Where he would lay an’ dream,
An’ seemed as tho’ he still could see
The tallow candles gleam.

’Twus the days when Greg McDougal
Led his darin’ Blackleg band
Until the Regulators
Rose in strength to take a hand.

In the village, known as Northport,
Greg McDougal’s cabin stood.
He wus crooked like an ole rail fence,
But folks thought he wus good.

He would go to church on Sunday,
An’ would join in prayer an’ song,
But jist when folks would turn their backs
He’d allus do ’em wrong.

His gang would kill an’ plunder,
Strikin’ almost every place,
Then would vanish in the forest
An’ never leave a trace.

Then the Regulators gathered
Down at Col. Cochran’s Inn,
An’ vowed the Blacklegs had to pay
Fer every crime an’ sin.

They circled ’round by Northport,
Down to Kendallville an’ back,
They searched the gloomy forests
An’ the bogs of tamarack.

They caught up with the Blacklegs,
An’ at last the truth came out,
An’ the pious Greg McDougal
His innocence did shout;

But the justice of the settlers
Wus strong, an’ swift, an’ sure,
Fer the plague ’at had beset ’em
There was jist one simple cure.

So a caravan of wagons
Took the road to Diamond Lake.
The men had jist one purpose,
McDougal’s life to take.

The sky looked dark an’ stormy,
Yet the wind seemed sad an’ still,
When they strung up Greg McDougal
Frum a tree on Diamond Hill.

They buried him at Northport
Where his gravestone can be seen,
An’ old an’ dated slab of gray
Above the grass of green.

There’s a moral to this story
’at ole Sassafras has told,
“Don’t ever git to cravin’
Fer another feller’s gold,

’Tis better to be down an’ out,
An’ have a mind ’ats free,
Than to end up like McDougal
Hangin’ frum a big oak tree.”

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