John Henry


“John Henry,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed July 23, 2024,

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John Henry


This item is part of the I. G. Greer Folksong Collection which consists of more than 300 individual song titles and their variants as collected by Isaac Garfield Greer (1881-1967) from informants, primarily in Ashe, Wilkes and Watauga counties. The collection includes manuscripts, typescript transcriptions produced by Dr. Greer’s clerical staff, and handwritten musical notations. Songs range from traditional Child Ballads, traditional English and Scottish ballads as well as their American variants, to 19th century popular music to musical compositions of local origin.


Hammers--Songs and music
Ballads--United States
Railroad construction workers--Songs and music
John Henry (Legendary character)--Songs and music

Alternative Title

The Yew Pine Mountains, I Been a Miner, Johnie Henry, Take This Hammer, Captain, I'm Drivin', Asheville Junction, Swannoa Tunnel


W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University


Greer, I. G. (Isaac Garfield), 1881-1967








Nine Pound Hammer

Nine pound hammer, nine pound hammer
Little too heavy, little too heavy
Swinging from my side, swinging from my side,
Aswinging from my side------

Roll along Buddy, Roll along Buddy,
Don’t you go so slow , don’t you go so slow
Babe, how can I roll, Babe how can I roll
When the wheels won’t go----

Going long the mountain, going long the mountain
For to see my darling, for to see my darling
And I ain’t acoming back, and I ain’t a coning
And I ain’t acoming back----

Take this hammer, take this hammer
To the Captain, to the Captain
Oh tell him I’m gone, oh tell him I8m gone,
Oh tell him I’m gone-----

Take this hammer, take this hammer
And dip it in gold, Babe, and dip it in gold, Bab
And dip it in gold-----

This old hammer, this old hammer
Killed John Henry, killed John Henry,
Ain’t agoin to kille me, ain’t agoin to kill me
Ain’t agoin to kill me----

Roll on Buddy-------ect.

Scholarly Classification

Brown, Native American Ballads - 270 Laws, I 1 Combs, 81 256

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