"The Fate of Dewey Lee"

Dewey Lee main page | song & audio

On January 31, 1931, Dewey Lee was shot at a party in the Wise County community of Ramsey. Joe Jenkins was eventually convicted for the slaying. Newspaper reports say Lee pulled a gun while arguing with another man, and as Jenkins fought to disarm Lee, the gun went off. Other accounts gathered by folklorist Doug DeNatale mention competition between Jenkins and Lee over a woman, and some local folks thought the party was a trap for Lee. In any case Jenkins' claim of self-defense faild to sway the court, and he was sentenced to five years in prison.

"The Fate of Dewey Lee" was written by the famous Southwest Virginia country music performer and songwriter A. P. Carter. The Carter Family recorded the song in 1935 despite somplaints by the Lee family, and to a small degree it passsed into oral tradition.

Dewey Lee main page | song & audio

Deathly Lyrics:
Songs of Virginia Tragedies


Audio Credits


Breeding Mill

Caty Sage


Dewey Lee


Freeda Bolt

Great Kanawha

Kent Steffie

Mollie Tynes

Old 97

Poor Goins

Roanoke Riot

Rye Cove

Talt Hall

Vance Song

Wreck of the 1256