I was asked if a publication were planned.
I think that Tributaries: Journal of the Alabama Folklife Association, will probably publish an article, "Chasing John Henry in Alabama and Mississippi," in the spring of 2002. The primary facts are:
(1) In about 1927 C. C. Spencer sent Guy Johnson a very detailed story about John Henry.
(2) I have confirmed a number of details of Spencer's story.
(3) Spencer's story is also supported by other informants, not only the two others who wrote Johnson, but also a long and strong local tradition in the vicinity of Leeds, AL. Citizens there can take you to the spot where "John Henry fell dead."
(4) The scenario I gave in my post is Spencer's story, corrected and augmented by a few facts and considerable speculation.