John Henry too ambitious for N.C. mountains?

“Finally, after the turn of the century had seen the song of John Henry preserved among miners, convicts and trackliners, the ballad appeared to scholars….  In 1909, Louise Rand Bascom, a Wellesley student home for the summer in Highlands, North Carolina, published in a folklore journal a couplet of a song she had heard… ‘Johnie Henry was a hard-workin’ man / He died with a hammer in his hand.’

“Bascom may have heard of the tune from the family’s white maid, whose two sons were mountain fiddlers. Bascom quipped then that a song about hard work could not really be native to the mountains of North Carolina.”

— From “Steel-Drivin’ Man: John Henry, the Untold Story of an American Legend” by Scott Reynolds Nelson (2006)

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