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Coal Creek Troubles, song lyrics

Song: Coal Creek Troubles
Lyrics: James William Day(1)

Music: James William Day(1)
Year: circa 1937
Genre: Folk
Country: USA

My song is founded on the truth,
In poverty we stand.
How hard the millionaire will crush
Upon the laboring man.
The miner's toiling underground
To earn his daily bread,
To clothe his wife and children
And see that they are fed.

Some are from Kentucky,
The place known as my birth,
As true and honest-hearted men
As ever trod the earth.
The Governor sent the convicts here
And works them in the bank;
The captain and his soldiers
Are leading by in rank.
This song was originally posted on
Although the mines are guarded,
The miners true and fair
They mean to deal out justice,
"A living," they declare.
The corruption of Buchanan(4)
Brought the convicts here
Just to please the rich man
And take the miner's share.

The miners acted manly
When they turned the convicts loose.
You see, they did not kill them
And give them no abuse.
But when they brought the convicts here
They boldly marched them forward.
The miners soon was gathered
And placed them under guard.
This song was originally posted on
Soon the miners did agree
To let them take their place
And wait the legislature
To act upon the case.
The law had made no effort
To lend a helping hand,
To help the struggling miner
Or move the convict band.

Buchanan acted cruelly
To put them out to toil.
He says he has not room enough
For the convicts in the walls.
He has no law to work them, Only in the pen.
Why should they be on public work,
To rob the laboring man?

I'm in sympathy with the miners,
As every one should be.
In other states they work free labor,
And why not Tennessee?
The miners true and generous
In many works and ways,
We all should treat them kindly,
Their platform we should praise.

The Lord in all His wisdom
Will lend a helping hand,
And if we hold out faithful
God will strive with man.
He gives us happy sunshine,
A great and glorious light.
He'll give us food and raiment,
If we only serve Him right.


1 - Jilson Setters was the publishing name used by James William Day, "Coal Creek Troubles," Library of Congress AFS 1017.

2 - Work Songs by Ted Gioia, p.190

3 - Coal Creek War

4 - John P. Buchanan from Wikipedia