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Song of a 300-year-old Ghost Legend: PETIT JEAN, a French girl who disguised herself as a boy; secretly accompanied her sweetheart, an early French explorer, to the New World; and sadly died at her namesake - Petit Jean Mountain. SEE SONG STORY:
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#106 in subgenre today Peak #6
Peak #75
Robert Morrissey and Vesna Zafirovic
September 18, 2021
MP3 10.3 MB, 320 kbps, 4:29
Story behind the song
SOURCE: ARKANSAS STATE PARKS.COM Legend of Petit Jean and French Exploration "The Legend of Petit Jean, and how the mountain received its name, begins in the 1700s with the story of a young French Nobleman, Chavet, who lived during the period of the French exploration of the New World. He requested permission to explore a part of the Louisiana Territory, and for a grant to claim part of the land. The King granted Chavets approval. Chavet was engaged to be married to a beautiful young girl from Paris, Adrienne Dumont. When told of his plans, she asked that they be married right away so she could accompany him. Thinking of the hardship and danger on the journey, Chavet refused her request, telling her upon his return if the country was good and safe, they would be married and go to the New World. Adrienne refused to accept his answer, and disguised herself as a cabin boy and applied to the captain of Chavet's ship for a position as a cabin boy, calling herself Jean. The girl must have been incredibly clever in her disguise, for it is said that not even Chavet recognized her. The sailors called her Petit Jean, which is French for Little John. The ocean was crossed in early spring; the vessel ascended the Mississippi River to the Arkansas River, to the foot of the mountain. The Indians on the mountain came to the river and greeted Chavet and invited the sailors to spend time on the mountain. Chavet, Petit Jean, and the sailors spent the summer atop Petit Jean Mountain until fall approached and they began preparations for their voyage back to France. The ship was readied and boarded the evening before departure. That night, Petit Jean became ill with a sickness that was strange to Chavet and his sailors. It was marked with fever, convulsions, delirium, and finally coma. Her condition was so grave at daylight that the departure was delayed. During the illness, Petit Jean's identity was, of course, discovered. The girl confessed her deception to Chavet and begged his forgiveness. She requested that if she died, to be carried back to the mountaintop that she had spent her last days on, and be buried at a spot overlooking the river below. The Indians made a stretcher out of deerskins and bore her up the mountain. At sundown, she died. Many years later a low mound of earth was found at the point we now call Petit Jean's Grave. Her death, and the legend that followed, is said to give the mountain and the overlook an enchanting quality that draws visitors back again, and again." ANOTHER VERSION OF PETIT JEAN - SOURCE ARKANSAS STATE PARKS.COM: Legend & Ghost of Petit Jean "An old Arkansas legend holds that the sad spirit of a beautiful young woman lingers among the rock formations and boulders atop the east face of Petit Jean Mountain. The mountain is the scene of spectacular scenery, waterfalls, ancient Native American art and a wide array of historic sites. Among these is the traditional grave of the woman for whom the mountain is named. One of Arkansas' best-loved legends, the story of a young French girl named Petit Jean is part of the romance of Petit Jean Mountain and is also one of the best known stories in the Natural State.
(Continued From Above): "According to the legend, Petit Jean was a young girl who stowed away on a French ship so she could follow her true love to this explorations up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers. So clever was her disguise , that her true identity went unknown to either his fiance or his men. At Petit Jean mountain, however, the young girl contracted a serious fever. Her true identity was discovered, but the best efforts of Chavet and his men could not save her. Her final request was that she be carried back to the top of the mountain. What is said to be the grave of Petit Jean can still be found atop the mountain. The small mound of earth and stone lies in a cove of the rocks and is now surrounded by an iron fence. Interpretive panels along an adjacent boardwalk tell the story of Petit Jean and the early French exploration of the Arkansas River Valley. Legend holds that her spirit still lingers atop the mountain. According to local folklore, the young woman's ghost can be seen moving silently at night on the top of Petit Jean Mountain. Strange lights have been reported in the area of her grave. The true story of Petit Jean is not known and perhaps that is just as well. Some recent historical research suggests that Petit Jean was not a girl at all, but a French trader. That may be, but the legend is one of the most fascinating in the South and hopefully will remain attached to the mountain for many years to come. Regardless of the source of the legend, all agree that the name of Petit Jean Mountain is a relic of the days of early French settlement and exploration in Arkansas. Fur traders used the Arkansas River to range northwest from Arkansas Post into mountains."
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