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On Johnny Mitchell's Train, song lyrics

Song: On Johnny Mitchell's Train
Lyrics: unknown

Music: To the tune of "Molly Durkin" / "Muirsheen Durkin" from the mid-19th century
Year: 1902(1)
Genre: Irish folk song
Country: USA

I'm an honest union laboring man,
And I'll have you understand,
I'll tell you just the reason why,
I left the minin' land.
It was Baer(2) and Morgan(3) done it,
And for it they'll repent,
For I don't intend to work a tap,
Till I get the ten percent.
This song was originally posted on
(1st CHORUS:)
There's no use for Mr. Durkin(4),
In the coal mine to be workin';
We were a little shaky,
But no longer we're in pain.
So what's the use o' kickin',
When the top and bottom's stickin'?
I'll pack me grip and make a trip,
On Johnny Mitchell's(5) train.

I struck(6)(7) a place called Coatesville,
A flourishin' iron town,
Where politics were very strong,
And candidates goin' around.
I was invited to a party,
He says, "Phat are you doin', Dan?"
I says, "I'll tell you plumb and plain,
I'm a Johnny Mitchell man."

When I landed in New York City,
I a friend of course did meet,
I axed him if he would show me
The place they call Wall Street.
I met several operators,
Assembled in a mob,
Along with a Morgan prisidint,
I think they called him Schwab(8).

The small operators they were pl'adin',
And they wanted to give in,
And recognized the union -
But Baer said that's too thin,
So it broke up in a wrangle,
Put Baer near insane,
Then I took a side-door Pullman car
On Johnny Mitchell's train.

(2nd CHORUS:)
I'll bid you all adieu now,
Let you bid me the same,
The strike is nearly o'er,
With joy I'm near insane.
Here's health unto the union,
Which is very strong they say,
Likewise the conductors
On Johnny Mitchell's train.


1 - From Minstrels of the Mine Patch by George Gershon Korson, published by University of Pennsylvania Press, 1938, p. 237-239.

2 - George Frederick Baer (1842 - 1914), lawyer and president of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company who represented all the coal mining companies in the 1902 strike.

3 - Financier John Pierpont Morgan.

4 - Durkin probably refers to the 1895 lawsuit of Durkin versus Kingston Coal Company and Jones, which found that the mine owner was not liable for the deemed negligence of a foreman.

5 - In 1890 the United Mine Workers of America had been created for the bituminous coal mine workers and then spread to the anthracite coal mines. In 1899 John Mitchell became the union's President. Mitchell pledged to fight the wealthy and powerful who controlled the industry on behalf of the 150,000 miners and to unite the workering, with a particular focus on mending the mistrust between English-speaking and Slavic miners.

6 - The Greatest Strike Ever, by Scott Connelly, 2010, about the 1902 coal miners strike, from the Pennsylvania Cener for the Book, Pennsylvania State University.

7 - More information on the The Coal Strike of 1902: Turning Point in U.S. Policy, U.S. Department of Labor, plus from the Clarence Darrow Digital Collection on the The Anthracite Coal Strike, from the Law Library, University of Minnesota, USA.

8 - Charles Michael Schwab (1862 - 1939), in the steel industry, and in 1900 talked to J. P. Morgan about creating a steel monopoly. In 1901 Unitd States Steel Corporation ws created and J. P. Morgan made Schwab its first president. Of course huge amounts of coal were used in the making of steel, an iron alloy.