john henry newman feast day – The Legend Of John Henry

He was then a steel worker working on a railway that challenged a new machine that was supposedly faster than humans. Johnson also was an excellent pass receiver with 186 receptions for 1,478 yards.

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John HenryJOHN, HENRY J. (5 Mar. The African-American folk hero John Henry worked on a railroad construction crew in the 1870’s. According to legend, Henry won a contest against a steam-powered drill but died when his heart gave out after the race. His story is immortalized in one of America’s most famous folk songs.

I’m smack dab in the middle of my research into Woody Guthrie’s iconic This Land is Your Land,” arguably one of the most recognizable songs in the American folk song catalog or the whole of American music for that matter. We all know it. It is as pervasive in our culture as it is catchy. And while I dig and sift through biographies of Guthrie and articles addressing the dissentious message of the song, I’m reminded of something Scott Nelson mentioned in his John Henry piece: Historians tend to regard music as background rather than raw material. Appropriated for book titles by countless historians, music itself is seldom seen as a primary source.” 1 I believe he is right. But obviously the role of music in memory is more complex, permeating almost all of our lives.

By 1933 Guy Johnson, Louis Chappell, and a few others had obtained over sixty versions of “John Henry” and a great deal of personal testimony. Nothing in this mass of data can be assumed to be reliable. Testimony and ballad versions vary wildly and are rife with contradictions. He died in at least ten states and Jamaica! Received wisdom, from Johnson and Chappell, says he passed away in West Virginia. MacEdward Leach writing some thirty years later said Jamaica. In this decade Scott Nelson has asserted death occurred in Virginia. I say Alabama.

A less plausible story suggests that John Henry was the only man who would hold a hammer in each hand and swing them straight and true without a break in his rhythm. Since the sledges used at Big Bend were commonly four feet long and weighing 10 pounds, this possibility seems doubtful.

One of these was Banks Terry, a lifelong resident of Talcott, who died some years ago on his 100th birthday. Terry as a young boy was employed at many odd jobs in the tunnel, and often told of watching John Henry. Terry said John Henry could drive steel straight ahead or down into the “bench” or core of the tunnel, or straight into the roof while standing on a powder keg, never tiring, never missing a stroke, singing all the while and wearing out drills as fast as they were brought to him for $1.75 a day.

John Henry is an African American folk hero He is said to have worked as a “steel-driving man”—a man tasked with hammering a steel drill into rock to make holes for explosives to blast the rock in constructing a railroad tunnel.

His practice focuses on guardianship, special needs trusts, probate and estate administration, estate planning, and elder law. Mr. Henry’s experience with these areas of law began with his work in the non-profit arena where he continues to devote his volunteer time to increasing access to justice for low-income Texans.

And as frustrating as the two games against the Yankees might have been Saturday and Sunday, in which the Red Sox were outscored 29-21 in two losses, it is Henry’s team’s overall lot in life that offers the true frustration. That much was clear when the Sox’ owner spoke with on the London Stadium field just prior to the series opener.

Rodgers almost took Liverpool to their first Premier League title in over 20 years during the 2013-14 season , however, following poor performances in the subsequent season and a bad start to the 2015-16 season saw Henry sack Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool manager on October 4, 2015. 35 On October 8, 2015, Henry appointed Jürgen Klopp as the new manager of Liverpool F.C. 36 The move was praised by Liverpool supporters and seen as a show of Henry’s ambition for the club. 37 Klopp led Liverpool to two finals during the 2015-16 season In 2018 Liverpool reached the Champions League final for the first time in 11 years. In 2019 Liverpool reached the Champions League Final for the second consecutive year in a row and won it, beating fellow English club Tottenham Hotspur 2-0.


John Henry went to work as a steel-driver for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, or C-and-. The company asked him to lead workers on a project to extend the railroad into the Allegheny Mountains. The workers made good progress on the project until they started working near Big Bend Mountain in West Virginia.

Nelson stated that I give no evidence of steam drills” used in the construction of the C & W extension. In Steel Drivin’ Man” he dismisses Big Bend Tunnel because no steam drills were used there. This is not an adequate reason. Both Johnson and Chappell knew that steam drills were not used at Big Bend Tunnel but they persisted in favoring it as the site of John Henry’s contest because they imagined the possibility that a steam drill was brought there for evaluation, as more than one informant testified. Similar testimony says that the steam drill was being tested against John Henry in Alabama, so the question whether or not steam drills were actually used in construction, at either place, is irrelevant. As a matter of fact, however, after Chasing John Henry” was published my attention was drawn to a printed account in which someone states that an ancestor provided wood for the steam drills used in building Oak and Coosa Tunnels.

To construct a railroad tunnel, the folk hero John Henry hammered a drill bit into rock to make holes for explosives. According to legend, Henry won a hammering contest in the 1870’s against a steam-powered drill but died when his heart gave out after the race. His story is immortalized in one of America’s most famous folk songs.

The superstition survived the explanation for at least half a century and even now – if one is sufficiently hyped on John Henry – it is difficult to convince oneself that one is alone in the Big Bend, even though there is no question of it, as they say.

By The Time the surveyors reached the Big Bend of the Greenbrier River, where the stream dashes against Big Bend Mountain and turns sharply aside to meander around the ridge for 10 miles before returning to within a mile of the starting point, they probably were willing to try anything to shorten the trackage, even a tunnel project more than bold than any ever attempted by Americans, Nineteenth century builders had boundless faith in the ability of science to overcome obstacles.

Many of those who died – including, some say, John Henry – were dumped into the huge fill at the east portal, along with mules that succumbed from pulling heavy cars loaded with the rubble mucked out after each round of black powder or dualin, an early form of dynamite that was only a little less “tetchy” than pure nitroglycerin.

Prison records for John William Henry stopped in 1873, suggesting that he was kept on the record books until it was clear that he was not coming back and had died. Nelson stresses that John Henry would have been representative of the many hundreds of convict laborers who were killed in unknown circumstances tunneling through the mountains or who died shortly afterwards of silicosis from dust created by the drills and blasting.

Henry and Werner met in 2001, the year Henry (who had made his fortune in futures trading) was considering purchasing the Anaheim Angels. When he lost interest in that deal, he contacted his friend Larry Lucchino, whom Henry had gotten to know while the owner of the Florida Marlins. Lucchino was at the time working with Werner to bid on the Red Sox. Henry sat down with Lucchino late one night in New York to discuss the Sox, then flew to L.A. to talk with Werner.

The character later appeared in a Walt Disney Feature Animation short film, John Henry (1999). Directed by Mark Henn , plans for theatrical releases in 2000 and 2001 fell through after having a limited Academy Award qualifying run in Los Angeles, 24 a shorter version was released as the only new entry in direct-to-video release, Disney’s American Legends (2002). It was eventually released in its original format as an interstitial on the Disney Channel , and later as part of the home video compilation Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection in 2015.

On June 18, Henry and Pizzuti happened to attend the same event at the new Renaissance Hotel on the waterfront. Pizzuti was immediately approached by Henry’s Circus comrades, armed with questions out of a ninth-grade playbook: Did she like Henry? Why didn’t she return his e-mails? Taken aback, Pizzuti pulled no punches. She told them she was scared of Henry’s public persona.

lars were trying to find out if this story was true or not. One individual that I thought was interesting was Louis Watson Chappell. He wrote an article that on how John Henry was a real person and that he has proof of it. What made this even more outrageous was that he used his own connections, largely among whites near Talcott” (59) as his main source of information for his findings.

As Mr. Nelson tells it, the contest between worker and machine was less than equal. A smoothly coordinated human team had an advantage over the early drills, which constantly broke down. The machines were highly efficient, however, at generating clouds of silicon dust. Contrary to the picture presented by the ballads, John Henry would have died not of exhaustion or a burst heart, but of silicosis, a fatal, fast-moving lung disease that took the lives of hundreds of railroad workers.

Up close, one can see that John Henry’s face is battered and disfigured,and that his chest, upper arms, and shoulders are pitted. Rifle bullets? Pickaxe holes? Impact damage from being dragged along Hwy 3? John Henry has on occasion suffered the indignity of being doused with white paint – a vandalism whose message frankly escapes us.


American composer Aaron Copland arranged the traditional “John Henry” for orchestra or chamber orchestra in 1940, a composition that appears on the soundtrack for the Spike Lee film He Got Game (1998), among other recordings.

The horse was named after the folk hero John Henry As a colt, John Henry had a habit of tearing steel water and feed buckets off stall walls and stomping them flat. This reminded his owners of the legendary John Henry, who was known as a “steel-drivin’ man”. citation needed 2 He was gelded both for his temperament as well as his lack of good breeding, which meant that he would have been unlikely to be in much demand as a breeding stallion. John Henry was a Golden Chance Farm foal. His sire, Ole Bob Bowers, was sired by Prince Blessed and his dam, Once Double, was sired by Double Jay , a graded stakes race winner.

A friendly, wonky-eyed guy in a nearby Bob Evans told us things were looking up for John Henry – that the barbed wire that once surrounded him has been removed, and that there are plans afoot to move him down the mountain and into a park in town. We hope that it happens soon. His current location, atop the entrance to the Big Bend Tunnel, may be geographically meaningful – but the tunnel has been abandoned for years, and, frankly, there’s nobody around up here. John Henry would fare better with street lights and traffic to discourage his foes and encourage his fans. The steel drivin’ man needs company.

The evidence for the West Virginia story is full of inconsistencies and contradictions (see Chasing John Henry” and Johnson’s and Chappell’s books). Johnson admitted that there was a mountain of negative evidence” against his conclusion favoring Big Bend Tunnel. Chappell’s summary is mostly speculation. Neither investigator adequately addressed the Alabama testimony.

When I was younger, I got myself a record player. The first record I bought for myself was a Joan Baez album. It featured old folk songs, rendered beautifully in her soprano voice. One song on the album that always stood out to me was Engine 143.” The song is about a train wreck tragedy, and based upon a real event. After doing the readings for the week I revisited it and researched it. Much to my surprise, one of the first lyrics references the C & Railroad, the very same company John Henry worked for.

Like Paul Bunyan, John Henry’s life was about power – the individual, raw strength that no system could take from a man – and about weakness – the societal position in which he was thrust. To the thousands of railroad hands, he was an inspiration and an example, a man just like they who worked in a deplorable, unforgiving atmosphere but managed to make his mark.

Today we tell a traditional American story called a tall tale.” A tall tale is a story about a person who is larger than life. The descriptions in the story are exaggerated – much greater than in real life. Long ago, the people who settled in undeveloped areas of America first told tall tales. After a hard day’s work, people gathered to tell each other stories.

The leading historians who delved into John Henry’s career included Dr. Louis W. Chappell of West Virginia University. By searching records, and interviewing contemporaries of John Henry, they have been able to form a sketch of the real man.


Cora played a major role in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal during his time as their bench coach in 2017. His dismissal from the Red Sox came on the heels of the Astros firing manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow.

The C & W bored tunnels through Coosa and Oak Mountains. John Henry ‘s visage was used in the 2006 The Transformers: Evolutions comic-book series Hearts of Steel. MF DOOM references John Henry in the track “Batty Boyz” off his 2009 release ” Born Like This ” rapping “He work harder than a steam engine like John Henry, Turn dirt to dollars like Don Henley”.

Talcott – The John Henry of whom Americans sing was no black Paul Bunyan but a real man who drove steel here a century ago to build what was then the longest tunnel in North America. Through his sire, John Henry was inbred 4 × 4 to Bull Dog, meaning that this stallion appears twice in the fourth generation of his pedigree.

Whatever his strength, there is no doubt that John Henry’s job was extremely dangerous – uninsurable in the terminology of today. 3 Scott Nelson, Who Was John Henry?” (Oxford University Press, 2006). Nelson, S. Who Was John Henry? Railroad Construction, Southern Folklore, and the Birth of Rock and Roll.” Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas 2.2 (2005): 53-80. Print.

Keats, Ezra Jack (1965) John Henry, An American Legend. New York: Pantheon Books. The contest between John Henry and the steam drill is believed to have taken place early in 1870, at the east end of the tunnel. The folklore is expanded upon with an investigation into John Henry’s death in a 12-page comic strip by Jesse Mesa Toves and Gerimi Burleigh in the Iconic trade paperback by members of the Comicbook Aritsts Guild.

On the left side, toward the top, is a link entitled “John Henry in Leeds: Celebrating a Local Legend.” Click on this to bring up a page devoted to the September 15 event. Mark Knopfler ‘s song “Song for Sonny Liston”, from the album Shangri-La (2004), compares Sonny Liston ‘s left jab to that of Henry’s hammer.

Sales and performance of the album were somewhat of a paradox. John Henry peaked at No. 64 on the Billboard 200, and was the band’s highest placement on that chart until Join Us debuted at No. 32 in July 2011, though it only spent four weeks on the chart. At the time, this was the shortest span for which any They Might Be Giants album had charted, with the exception of Pink , which failed to chart.

There are two John Henrys, the actual man and the legend surrounding him. Defining the first is a matter of assembling facts. He was born a slave, worked as a laborer for the railroads after the Civil War, and died in his 30s, leaving behind a young pretty wife and a baby.

The plot — which distractedly follows John Henry’s attempts to protect a Honduran woman from his former gang — is burlesque and the dialogue is a trip. Ken Foree, as John Henry’s salty, disabled father, has a blast delivering a sentimental paean to his character’s once-legendary penis, and a pair of bangers debate the relative merits of being the front, back or center victim in The Human Centipede.” Gritty home video from the 1990s outlining John Henry’s back story interweaves with scenes of bad guys talking trash and playing cards, while dazed-looking women hang out in the background like dessert. For some reason, all the gang members wear impractical snow-white sweatsuits, probably to enhance our appreciation of the gore when they inevitably get plugged.

But could John Henry have beaten a steam drill? The most common version of the story is that the contest lasted 35 minutes. Now the all time record for handdrilling was set at Butte, Mont., in 1912, when the Tarr Brothers, a double-pack (two-man) team, drove 59 inches through gunnison graphite in 15 minutes. If they had kept the same pace for 20 more minutes they would have driven 11 feet.

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