“The Orphan Son”

Wyatt Raney (1874-1934) was the son of Isaac “Ike” Raney (1848-1874) and Martha “Mattie” McLemore (1848-1874).  He was orphaned when his father murdered his mother because of jealousy.

After being orphaned, Wyatt moved in with his uncle, Ransom Raney (1847-1929), and spent most of his time with his cousin, August Raney (1875-1898). They hunted in the Fannin County, Georgia hills, until they were old enough at which time they both enlisted and fought in the 1898 Mexican-American War.  At the Battle of San Juan Hill both cousins were wounded, Wyatt losing a leg, but August dying from his wound.

Wyatt went home to Georgia and married his sweetheart, Belinda Barnes (1880-1902) and they had two children, Charles and Charlotte. When Charles was old enough he joined up to fight in World War I, but by that time Wyatt had seen the folly in war, and did not understand his son’s desire to run off and fight.  Wyatt’s fears were fulfilled when Charles was killed, and buried along with other Raney dead.

After losing his wife during the birth of his daughter, Wyatt retreated from the world, until his death in 1934, using his last words and breath to curse God.

(F.D. Leone, Jr.)

My name is Wyatt Raney
I’m an orphan son
They hanged my Pa for killing Ma
When I was a child of one
Raised by my uncle Ransom
Some said he was really my Pa
That talk made Pa angry
Was why he shot my Ma
I’m an orphan son

Grew up with my cousin August
In the Fannin County hills
Up and down the hollers
We honed our hunting skills
Spring we went for turkey
Deer in the fall
Summers we’d help wi’ th’ whiskey
Th’ most fun of all

I’m an orphan son
Orphaned by a gun
I am but one
An orphan son

1898 me and August
Fought at San Juan Hill
I lost my left leg
But August he was killed
I limped back to Georgia
To Belinda I’d left behind
Our first son Charles was born
In 1899
I’m an orphan son

Charles was just like Ransom
He was his grandpa’s son
Spending weeks out hunting
Always with his gun
That stubborn Raney streak
Just like Ransom and Pa
Brothers, fathers, ‘n’ bad blood
Like a natural law

I’m an orphan son
Orphaned by a gun
I am but one
An orphan son

Charles joined up in ’17
What was he was fighting for
After Vicksburg and Gettysburg
Where’s the glory in war
He’s buried there on the hill
Another Raney sacrifice
My forebears fought for honor
And were proud to pay the price
I’m an orphan son

When I came into this world
Death defined my life
When my daughter Charlotte was born
I lost my wife
1934 and I’m tired
Ready to leave this world behind
If there’s a god in heaven
He’s deaf, dumb, and blind

I’m an orphan son
Orphaned by a gun
I am but one
An orphan son

.© 2022 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). The songs and stories on the Highway 80 Stories website are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.