How Jack Got A New Shirt

Reprinted in AppLit with permission from the James Taylor Adams Collection
U of Virginia's College at Wise/Blue Ridge Institute of Ferrum College

Collected by James M. Hylton,
Wise, Virginia

NOTE: This text was recopied directly from a typewritten copy in the archives of the Blue Ridge Institute. James Taylor Adams (1892-1954) kept typewritten copies of the folktales he and others collected during the last thirty years of his life, while he lived in Wise County, VA. No date is given on this page but similar pages with Hylton's name are from 1941 and 1942. Apparent typographical mistakes in the archive manuscript have not been altered. See below for an edited version with typographical corrections, and a few changes in punctuation and wording to enhance readability. For details on other Jack Tales and Appalachian tales with animal helpers, see AppLit's Annotated Index of Appalachian Folktales.


Related to this Writer by Mary M Thompson, aged 25 years, and who is a daughter of Mrs. J.W. Thompson, Big Stone Gap, Virginia. She says that in hearing this Writer mention the "Jack, Tom and Will Tales" so much that she recalls a Tale that her Fourth Grade teacher, Louise Morgan, of the Eastern part of the State told to the Class where she was going to School in that Town. She says that what made it impress her at the time was the mention of carding wool. However it had slipped her mind until recently when she heard me inquiring for Jack Tales. She says that the Teacher, Miss Morgan, told them that it was a Folk Tale and that she did not know where the Tale started

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Once there lived a widow with seven little children. She was forced to work for them in order to keep food on the table and would only have time to sew for them at night when she was home. She was so tired then that she could not spend as much time as she would have liked to. The youngest of the seven children was a little boy, Jack by name. He was a good child and never fretted in the least. But when the eldest had a new shirt made and his was passed on down the line to the next one and by the time Jack got a shirt it would almost be too worn to stay on his frail little body. Nevertheless he was a happy child and never did anything to cause his mother worry. In turn he was trying to do something for somebody else most of the time in his humble and childish way. At nights when the mother had the chance she would spin wool and make the shirt for them, and each had only one at a time. When Jack saw a sheep he would feed it a bunch of grass he pulled. When he found a bird on the ground he would place it back into it's nest. He would not kill a spider but stand and wonder at the skill with which it wove it's web. One day after his shirt had become so ragged it had fallen from his body he was walking by a berry bush. The weather was warm and his mother had decided to let him roam around without anything on as she had not a shirt for him to wear. He heard a voice and looked around to find a sheep by him, the sheep asked him where his shirt was and Jack told him the circumstances as best he could in his childish manner. The sheep told him he would give him some wool and pulled off his coat of wool and gave it to him and Jack went toward home with the wool in his arms. As he passed a thorn bush the child heard a voice asking him where he was going and Jack told it that he was going home to see about his shirt. The thorn told him to hand it to it and the thorn drew it thru the briars to card the wool and soon it was carded in a beautiful way. Jack went on to see what must be done to finish his shirt. He saw nearby a spider web and the old spider in the center of the web. The spider to Jack to give the carded wool to it and it would spin it into thread, he did and soon Jack had enough of the beautiful thread to make a shirt. On he went toward home and as he went near a brook he almost stopped upon a crab. The crab asked where he was going and when Jack told him he said for him to give him the cloth and he did and the crab cut the cloth into a shirt pattern with his big pincers. The Jack was very sad for he had everything but to sew the shirt together and he too knew that his mother would be so tired and busy at night that she would not be able to sew it for him. But just then a bird in a bush close-by saw him and asked where he was going and Jack told it his story. The bird took the pattern and a straw in it's bill and flew back and forth until the shirt was sewed together and there his shirt was. He had been paid for his kindness to the creatures and he had one of the finest shirts that could be had by any little fellow.

(Folk Tale) Folklore 500 Words

[JTA-1171]

Replaced Copy Made by the Blue Ridge Institute to Replace Unstable Original April, 1991


How Jack Got A New Shirt

Edited by Tina L. Hanlon

Once there lived a widow with seven little children. She was forced to work for them in order to keep food on the table and would only have time to sew for them at night when she was home. She was so tired then that she could not spend as much time as she would have liked to. The youngest of the seven children was a little boy, Jack by name. He was a good child and never fretted in the least. But when the eldest had a new shirt made, and his was passed on down the line to the next one, by the time Jack got a shirt it would almost be too worn to stay on his frail little body.

Nevertheless, he was a happy child and never did anything to cause his mother worry. In turn he was trying to do something for somebody else most of the time in his humble and childish way. At nights when the mother had the chance, she would spin wool and make a shirt for them, and each child had only one at a time. When Jack saw a sheep, he would feed it a bunch of grass he pulled. When he found a bird on the ground, he would place it back into its nest. He would not kill a spider, but stand and wonder at the skill with which it wove its web.

One day after his shirt had become so ragged it had fallen from his body, he was walking by a berry bush. The weather was warm and his mother had decided to let him roam around without anything on, as she had not a shirt for him to wear. He heard a voice and looked around to find a sheep by him. The sheep asked him where his shirt was and Jack told him the circumstances as best he could in his childish manner. The sheep told him he would give him some wool, and pulled off his coat of wool and gave it to him, and Jack went toward home with the wool in his arms.

As he passed a thorn bush, the child heard a voice asking him where he was going, and Jack told it that he was going home to see about his shirt. The thorn told him to hand it to it, and the thorn drew it through the briars to card the wool, and soon it was carded in a beautiful way.

Jack went on to see what must be done to finish his shirt. He saw nearby a spider web, and the old spider in the center of the web. The spider told Jack to give the carded wool to it and it would spin the wool into thread. He did, and soon Jack had enough of the beautiful thread to make a shirt.

On he went toward home and as he went near a brook he almost stopped upon a crab. The crab asked where he was going and when Jack told him, he said for Jack to give him the cloth. Jack did, and the crab cut the cloth into a shirt pattern with his big pincers.

Then Jack was very sad, for he had everything but to sew the shirt together, and he knew, too, that his mother would be so tired and busy at night that she would not be able to sew it for him. But just then a bird in a bush close by saw him and asked where he was going, and Jack told it his story. The bird took the pattern and a straw in its bill and flew back and forth until the shirt was sewed together, and there his shirt was.

Jack had been paid for his kindness to the creatures and he had one of the finest shirts that could be had by any little fellow.

copyright 2005 U of Virginia's College at Wise/Blue Ridge Institute of Ferrum College/Tina L. Hanlon
all rights reserved


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