Here are several of the ballads and poems written and sung about that terrible day in 1929 when Charlie Lawson murdered his wife, six of their seven children and himself. The first one recorded was by the Carolina Buddies in March of 1930. It was recorded by Columbia Records and was a big hit.
The Lawson Murder
It was on last Christmas Evening; the snow was on the ground. At his home in North Carolina, Where the murderer was found. His name was Charlie Lawson, And he had a loving wife. We shall never know what caused him To take his family's life. They say he killed his wife at first, While the little ones did cry, "Please, Papa, won't you spare our life? For it is so hard to die!'
But the raging man could not be stopped; He would not heed their call, He kept on firing fatal shots Until he killed them all And when the sad, sad news was heard It was a great surprise. He killed six children and his wife, And then he closed their eyes. He said good-bye kind friends and home; I'II see you all no more. Into my breast I'll fire one shot; Then my troubles will be o'er."
They did not carry him to jail; No lawyers did he pay. He' will have his trial in another world On the final judgment day. They were all buried in a crowded grave While angels watched above. "Come home, come home, my little ones To the land of peace and love."
From North Carolina Folklore, Henry Collected from J. C. Folger, NC, I937, DT #729 Laws F35
This poem was written by Lucien Wall, the same man who built the famous Lawson Family Tombstone.
On a hill beside a roadway stands a lonely cotage home, Where there once lived some people and they called it all their own. Looking outward from this doorway on the brook that runs below You can hear the trees a murmuring, as they're bending to and fro.
But this house is now deserted, and the people are away, For tis here occurred a murder, on a snowy Christmas Day. There the father, Charles D. Lawson, with his mind almost undone, Took the lives of all his people, save that of his eldest son.
There his wife was lying prostrate, in her blood upon the floor, And her baby in her cradle, whom she'll fondle with no more. And Marie was also lying, close beside her mother's head, So were James and Raymond victims, for they too were lying dead.
And Carrie and little Maybell, who were running up the road, Fell the victims of this madman, as his gun let out it's load: Yet he surely must have loved them, as he gently laid each head There upon a little pillow, for the sleeping of the dead.
How he did this awful murder, try to tell, there's no one can, For his actions were too mystic for the mind of any man, Yet we must concede him crazy, when he did this awful crime, For no man that's normal minded would have dared to kill his kind.
When he saw this awful murder, that he knew that he had done; How could he have had the courage there to face his only son, So he started out there running to some woods not far away, And he ended his own life there, on this snowy Christmas Day.
So now friends while you are passing by this house upon the hill Do not say that he just did it, of his own accord and will; But be sure in your decisions, have a kind forgiving mind, God alone can judge the actions of a madman of this kind.
In the poem by Elbert Puckett he sid the baby Marylou was shot just above the ear but of course we know that was not so, she was bludgeoned to death. I do like the line he wrote..."by the crack of the same old gun". That's unique.