Yellowhammer

An Alabama Tall Tale 

Once long ago, Sam, a young slave from Alabama, was sent to the market in Georgia with his master’s cattle. After delivering the cattle to market, Sam was given some free time as a reward for good service. Sam decided to explore the city.

Sam went walking along the streets, admiring the fine residences of the Georgia folk. He was passing a particularly fine-looking mansion when he heard something give a scream. Sam was startled. He looked around for the screamer. There, up in a tree, he saw a parrot.

"Hush," Sam told the parrot.

Well, that parrot didn’t hush. Instead, he started cussin’ and ragin’ something fierce. Sam didn’t like having a bird swear at him. He picked up a stick and tossed it at the parrot. A houseman was nearby. He saw Sam throw the stick at the bird and yelled out: "Don’t kill that bird. It’s valuable."

"Valuable?" Sam said. "Don’t talk crazy! We got millions of them yellowhammers in Alabama. And ours got more manners!"

Well, the story of Sam and the parrot spread like wildfire around Georgia. Ever since, folks in Georgia have been calling Alabama the Yellowhammer State.

 

You can read more Alabama folktales in Spooky South by .