All well and good Bert. But lets make clear where facts end and speculation begins. As to old songs the oldest known is still the broadside printed in the early 1900 obtained by Guy Johnson. This is the first item in the 'A' section of references to song copies given by Norm Cohen. In all Norm gave about 13 pages of reference to other copies in 'The Long Steel Rail', pp 76-89, and many pages of references to "Nine Pound Hammer".
I asked Norm Cohen to take a look at this thread, in order to see if he had turned up anything new in the line of information since his book was published in 1981.