Hamlet Wreck


“Hamlet Wreck,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed June 26, 2022, https://omeka.library.appstate.edu/items/show/31575.

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Hamlet Wreck


Two leaves glued together. The first leaf is typewritten in blue ink and glued to the second leaf, Frank C. Brown's North Carolina Folk-Lore Society letterhead. The document is in good physical condition. The document was laminated. The upper left corner was folded into the laminate. There is a minor tear at the upper left corner. There are two minor tears at the right upper edge. There are numerous stains of unknown origin throughout the document. There is a pushpin hole at each corner. The document was folded horizontally in half. The informant citation follows the song text. There are numerous textual corrections handwritten in pencil throughout the document. There are two textual notes handwritten in red ink, one at the upper left corner and one at the lower edge.


Ballads -- North Carolina Railroad accidents -- Songs and music Death -- Songs and music Grief -- Songs and music


W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University

Date Created



I. G. Greer


The images and audio files contained in the "So Mote It Ever Be: The Folksong Heritage of North Carolina's Northern Blue Ridge Mountains" collection are available for free personal, non-commercial, and educational use, provided that proper citation is used (e.g. I. G. Greer/W. Amos Abrams Manuscript Files Series, Folksong Files Subseries. W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection. Special Collections. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC). Any commercial use of the materials without the written permission of Appalachian State University is strictly prohibited. Please contact the Appalachian State University W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection with specific questions or with requests for further information.








Negro Songs and Ballads

The North Carolina Folklore Society.
Frank C. Brown, Secretary-Treasurer
Durham, North Carolina-
“The Hamlet Wreck”

“See the women and children going to the train,
Fare-you-well, my husband, if I never see you again,
The engineer turned his head
When he saw so many were dead,
So many have lost their lives.


Isn’t Ains it sad, isn’t ains it sad?
Ex/cur/si/on left Durham, going to Charlotte, North Carolina,
Isn’t it sad, isn’t it said?
So many have lost their lives.

Some of us have mothers a standing at the train,
Say Fare-well-well, my daughter, I may never see you again,
And the train began to fly
And some didn’t come back alive,
So many have lost their lives.

[illegible] The fireman said to the engineer,
“We are something late,
We don’t want to meet up with the local freight,”
The local was on the line
And theye could not get there on time ,
So many have lost their lives.

3 omit these 2 stanzas
When the news got to Durham, some said it was a lie,
But there was some in the hospital almost ready to die,
And their poor old mothers, you know,
They were running from door to door,
So many have lost their lives.

Now colored people I will tell you and tell you to your face,
The train that left Durham, was loaded with our race,
And some did not think of dying
When they rode on down the line,
So many have lost their lives.

They put the dead in their coffins and sent them back to town,
And then they were taken to the burying ground,
You could hear the coffin sound
When they let those bodies down,
So many have lost their lives.”

“(by Franklin Williams and William Firkins)”

This is the form of the song as it appears in a broadside published
by the Reform Publishing Company, a negro printer in Durham.
The song was almost surely not composed by Williams and Firkins,
who ran operations in the Liggett and Myers Tobacco Co’s factory in

Classification Title

Hamlet Wreck

Document Title

The Hamlet Wreck


Franklin Williams, William Firkins

Other Name(s)

Frank C. Brown

Geographic Location

Durham, Durham County, North Carolina

Scholarly Classification

Brown, North Carolina Ballads - 290

Dimensions - Original

202 mm x 266 mm

Upload Date


File name


Transcription Date


Transcribed By

Paul L. Robertson

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