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A Serious Warning to Young Men

The confession below comes from a broadside sold the day of M’Affee’s hanging.  The verses were reproduced here as they appeared on the broadside, including any misspellings. For more information on this, Dayton’s first execution, see “Life and Confession of John M’Affee” on the Dayton History Books Online web site.


A serious warning to Young Men, or

The Life and Confession of John M’Affee

[March 28th, 1825]

Written in the true “Old Ballad” style and to be sung

to the mournful tune called “Logan Water”


DRAW near young men and learn from me

My sad and mournful history;

And may you ne’er forgetful be

Of all this day I tell to thee.

     Before I reached my fifth year,

My father and my mother dear,

Were both laid in the silent grave

By Him who them their being gave.


No more a mother’s voice I heard;

No more a mother’s love I shar’d;

No more was I a father’s joy.

I was a helpless orphan boy.

     But Providence, the orphan’s friend,

A kind relief did quickly send,

And snatch’ed from want and penury

Poor little orphan M’Affee.


Beneath my uncle’s friendly roof,

From want and anger far aloof,

Nine years was I most kindly rea’d,

And oft’ his kind advice I heard:

     But I was thoughtless young and gay,

And often broke the Sabbath day.

In wickedness I took delight,

And often did what was not right.


And when my uncle would me chide,

I’d turn from him dissatisfied,

And join again my wickedness,

And Satan serve with eagerness.

     But at length arriv’d the fatal day

When from my home I ran away;

And to my sorrow since in life,

I took unto myself a wife.


But she was kind and good to me,

As any woman need to be,

And now alive would be no doubt,

Had I ne’er seen Miss Hetty Shoup.

     Ah, well I mind the very day,

When Hetty stole my heart away.

‘Twas love for her controul’d my will,

And caused me my wife to kill.


‘Twas on one pleasant summer’s night,

And all was still – the stars shone bright –

My wife was lying in her bed –

When I approached her and said:

     Dear wife here’s medicine I’ve brought,

Which for you this day I bought;

My dear I know it will cure you

Of the vile fits – pray take it, do.


     She gave to me a tender look,

And into her mouth the poison took.

Then by her baby on the bed,

Down to her last long sleep she laid.

     But fearing that she was not dead,

Upon her throat my hands I laid,

And there such deep impressions made,

Her soul soon from her body fled.


Then was my heart fill’d full of wo;

I cri’d “Ah, wither shall I go –

“How shall I quit this mournful place,

“The world again, how shall I face.

     “I’d freely give up all my store,

“If I had a thousand pounds or more,

“If I could bring again to life,

“My dear my darling murder’d wife.”


Her body’s now beneath the sod;

Her soul, I hope, is with God –

And soon into eternity

My guilty soul will also be.

     Young men, young men be warn’d by me,

Pray shun all evil company;

Walk in the ways of righteousness,

And God your souls will surely bless.


The minute now is drawing nigh,

When from this world my soul shall fly,

To meet Jehovah at his bar,

And there my final sentence here.

     Dear friends, I bid you all adieu,

No more on earth I shall see you,

But on Heaven’s bright and flow’ry plain,

I hope we all shall meet again.


March 28th, 1825


Printed by R. J. Skinner, and for sale at the Miami Republican office.