The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #4018   Message #520665
Posted By: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
03-Aug-01 - 04:47 PM
Thread Name: Origins: John Henry
Subject: RE: The origins of john Henry
What "literature" is IanC talking about? There was much interest in "John Henry" in the 1920s-early 1930s. Perhaps the best book of that time was Johnson's "John Henry." Several writers have referred to the Negro RR workmen of the late 19th century; one suggested that a prototype could be buried at a VA prison site where a number of railroad workers were buried (all without names attached). The Britannica indicates that there "could" be a factual basis to John Henry; the Big Bend tunnel in West Virginia dates are 1870-1873, near the end of the steel-drivers day since the steam drill was "introduced to the South in 1870.". Dr. J. H. Cox, one time archivist of the W. Va. Folklore Soc., wrote in 1925 that the version collected by Prof. Combs in Kentucky was wholly about the steel driving incident, thus may have been composed before John Hardy committed the murder, and could be the oldest.