© words & music by Annie Wilson
from CD Tallgrass Express Comes Back

Album Note: This is the true story of my great-great-great-great-great grandfather - who perished at the hand of river pirates in the Kentucky frontier, while attempting to market his "value-added" corn.  Interestingly, one of the men who helped him build his raft was neighbor Peter Sibert, best man at the marriage of Abe Lincoln's parents in 1806.  Like many Flint Hills families, ours has roots in nearby states to the east - Missouri and before that Kentucky.

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Stiller Ben grew his corn in the bluegrass meadow lands 
In Pleasant Run, Kentucky ‘tween the oak and hickory stands 
In the year of eighteen-nineteen at the age of forty-four 
He staked his life and all he had to give his family more 

There were no towns or markets in that fertile land so wild
To make life better for his children--ten and wife with child 
The only way to sell his corn was ride the waters down 
To the Ohio and Mississip’ on to New Orleans town 

          Through whirlpools, snags and storms
          His craft must float through clear 
          But the gangs of river pirates 
          Was the threat they most did fear 

He turned his corn to whiskey so in barrels it would ride 
For barrels float in case his boat would take a turn too wide 
He found a crew of four to help him build and steer his raft 
A tiny cabin was their only shelter on that craft 

They loaded up the boat on their small creek of Pleasant Run 
And waited anxious for the flooding rains of spring to come 
To lift their raft and float it down the creek and on beyond 
For three months on the rivers and down to New Orleans town 

          Nowhere to hide
          On that flatboat river run
          He must be wise to stay alive 
          And make his way back home 

His wife was fraught with worry that her Ben should go away 
And leave her with ten children and another on the way 
But the big rains came, the men jjumped in, she kissed her Ben goodbye 
And prayed with all her might naught on this trip should go awry 

She did not hear until the fall when maple trees turn red 
That pirates on the Ohio had killed her dear Ben dead 
The raft, the whiskey, all her love, forever would be gone 
Her children’s father and his dreams had left her there alone 

          Stiller Ben grew his corn
          In the bluegrass meadow lands 
          In Pleasant Run, Kentucky 
          ‘Neath the oak and hickory stands