Aunt Lou Brookshire

Dublin Core


Aunt Lou Brookshire


Folk singers--North Carolina--Biography


This is a handwritten biography of Aunt Lou Brookshire, Lula Holsclaw Brookshire.


Bobby McMillon


Bobby McMillon Collection, Southern Appalachian Archives, Mars Hill University


Southern Appalachian Archives, Liston B. Ramsey Center for Appalachian Studies, Mars Hill University


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Aunt Lou Brookshire

Lula Holsclaw Brookshire was born into a bootlegging,singing family on Duck Creek, near Draco in Caldwell County. Her father and uncle sang many old songs and when she was young her and her sisters would sing the old ballads while on the look out for revenuers. Her sister Mary who knew most of the older ballads died several years ago, yet Aunt Lou as we call her was one of the most singing persons I ever knew. Only a year or so ago she had a stroke which paralyzed her left side so she'll never pluck an instrument again. In 1933 she won a great banjo pickers contest in Washington State. She's one of the singing Holy Rollers that ever lived. Besides being a folk singer, she is a poet and composer in her own right. Her brother Henry wrote two songs years ago which were eventually published in N.C. Folklore "Blockaders Trail" (which had an erroneous history of Henry) and a fragment of another composition of his about the 1916 flood in the Brushy Mts. He also wrote of the death of Florence Sutphin a girl murdered by Charlie Walker near the Lower Creek community on Highway 90 (the murderer was 1st cousin to the father of a girl I once went with). But Lou remembers many songs she heard as a child such as "The Little Mohee," "The Wreck of Old Ninety-Seven" (which she learned from her uncle in the 1st ten years of this century, being the longest, truest version I've found). "The Golden Willow Tree," "Three Little Boys," "Jews Daughter," "Gypsy Davy-O"

[second page of entry]:
She remembers part of "Edward" known as "Blood On Your Shirtsleeve," but adamantly declares there is a verse before the usual beginning "How come that blood on your shirtsleeve." She thought the tune to it was one way & decided it went to something else. It was the tune of the Yancey County version of "Fair Ellender" but she doesn't know that song, yet remembers a snatch of
"He took her by the lily white hand
And led her from the Hall.
And with his sword cut off her head
And kicked it against the wall."
She remembered the 1st verse of "Jimmy Randolf" ("Lord Randall")
"Oh where've you been rambling Jimmy
Randolf my son. Oh where've you been a
rambling my handsome young one
I've been to the wildwood, mother
make my bed soon, for I'm weary with
hunting and want to lie down."
I believe she must have known two versions at one time of "Sailor Boy" for at different times I've heard her sing certain stanzas 2 ways, coming up with an inconsistency when confusing the two. One: "Oh no kind miss, he sails not here. He got drowned in the deep I fear." "Oh no he does not sail with me. For he got drowned in the deep blue sea."

She also knows scores of American folk songs, hymns, and cowboy songs which she learned over many journeys and staying all over the West and in California. Mrs. Brookshire has composed many songs and poems of her own.

Her brother Henry needs a word as he is

[third page of entry]:
represented in the N.C. Folklore. Although I'm sure written in good faith, the article was erroneous in several details. His birth date was not 1878 as stated in the article, but 1891 on Duck Creek near Draco in Caldwell County in the Brushy Mts., not Dutch Creek. The details of the arrest were not erroneous altho the reason for the arrest was true. Although Mr. Holsclaw is a very upright, kind and religious man, in those days he was a blockader. At that time money was hard to come by and when stilling had to have a federal stamp and be taxed, the poor man could not afford the price and make a living. Bootlegging wasn't considered a shady trade in those days. Those who didn't sot themselves kept whisky for medicinal purposes and after Prohibition they couldn't even get it from the government. Many made their own, but for the public as a whole it had to come from somewhere.

In the song, it wasn't a Taylor man, but a Naylor man concerned in the incident. In those days Mr. Holsclaw also wrote of the murder of Florence Sutphin and the ballad of Gladys Kincaid which took place in Lenoir and not Burke Co. (wrong--place was at Valmead beside Lenoir on the Blowing Rock road) but is not the version printed in N.C. F. Strangely enough ballads pop up from unlikely people. Rolf Ellison from Pottertown has known Mr. Holsclaws song and it is known in the mts of Watauga County. The N.C. Folklore version is evidently someones adaptation of name into a common folk lyrics showing how murders and incidents become so quickly diffused into folk tradition. Many people around Kings Creek still remember the 1916 flood and how many people were washed away and the family lost in the fresh, the subject of Mr. Holsclaws song which is still remembered.

Original Format

Handwritten text on the L and M pages of a blue double-entry ledger.


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Bobby McMillon, “Aunt Lou Brookshire,” Southern Appalachian Archives Mars Hill University, accessed May 20, 2024,