Some say this version dates back to the late 1700's during the whiskey rebellion.

Run Johnny Run!

Johnny came down to the mooshine still in the bottom of the holler at the foot of the hill;

He woke up about the break of day and he thought he heard his grandpa say:


Run, Johnny, Run, the Federals'll get you,

Run, Johnny, Run, you'd better get away.

Johnny stopped at the top of the hill and he saw them Federals around his still;
They busted his coil and his boiler too, started drinking his mountain dew.


The Feds caught Johnny makin' a run and they took him up to Washington;
Set him to work for the government makin' moonshine for the President.


Johnny got rich at the government stills and he run away to his home in the hills;
Now the Federals are on his tracks, he still owes a dollar on the whiskey tax.


This is not a version you will hear today nor would I suggest singing it.

Run Nigger Run!

I've been told this tune dates back prior to the American Civil War, 1820's or 30's.

Also seen as "Run, Johnny, Run," "Run, Boy, Run," "Run, Smoke, Run," "Pateroller'll Catch You."

Jumped over the fence as slick as an eel,
White man grab nigger right by the heel;

Run, Nigger, Run the patteroler catch you, Run, Nigger, Run you better get away.

The following lyric appears in African-American collector Thomas Talley's Negro Folk Rhymes (reprinted in 1991, edited by Charles Wolfe):

Run, Nigger, run! De Patter-rollers'll ketch you
Run, Nigger, run! It's almos' day.

Dat Nigger run'd, dat Nigger flew,
Dat Nigger tore his shu't in two.

All over dem woods and frou de paster,
Dem Patter-rollers shot; but de Nigger git faster.

Oh, dat Nigger whir'd, dat Nigger wheel'd,
Dat Nigger tore up de whole co'n field.

Charles Wolfe (1991) finds the tune/song appears in older collections such as White's Serenader's Songbook (1851, pg. 66), Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus and His Friends: Old Plantation Stories, Songs and Ballads (200), and E.C. Perrow's Songs and Rhymes of the South (1915, pg. 138).