Lament For Barney Graham Hedy West





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Published on Jun 6, 2010

Lament for Barney Graham
Hedy West
Old Times & Hard Times

Wilder and Davidson, Tennessee were tightly controlled company towns. The miners were paid in scrip which in turn they could only use at the company store. In 1932 wages were being cut again, union members were being fired. The United Mine Workers Union began a strike. The company turned off water and electricity to the town, and during the cold of winter took the doors off the people's homes.They also brought in strikebreakers from other areas of the state to work the mines. An expensive coal sorting machine went up in flames. A railroad bridge was destroyed by dynamite. Both union and non-union workers were shot at and some were wounded. The National Guard to restore peace in the city.

Barney Graham was the president of the United Mineworkers' Local 4467 in Wilder. He was shot and beaten by two mine guards.The guards were aquitted by a jury on the grounds of self defense, depsite the fact that Barney Graham was unarmed. The song Lament of Barney Graham was written by his daughter Della Mae Graham, a teenager at the time of his death. After his death the strikers lost heart, most of them giving up and moving away. The mines re-opened, but coal mining in the area never quite recovered. The last active coal mine closing in June of 1951.


On April the thirtieth,
In 1933,
Upon the streets of Wilder
They shot him, brave and free.

They shot my darling father,
He fell upon the ground;
'Twas in the back they shot him;
His blood come streaming down.

They took the pistol handles
And beat him on the head;
The hired gunmen beat him
Till he was cold and dead.

When he left home that morning,
I thought he'd never return;
But for my darling father
My heart shall ever yearn.

We carried him to the graveyard
There we laid him down;
To sleep in death for many a year
In the cold and sodden ground.

Although he left the union
He tried so hard to build,
His blood was spilled for justice,
And justice guides us still.


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