Death of Harry Simms, The

DESCRIPTION: Harry Simms is nineteen and "the bravest union man That I have ever seen." The singer worked with Simms; one day in 1932, after they separate, Simms is killed for his union activities. The singer says "The thugs... cannot kill our spirit"
AUTHOR: Aunt Molly Jackson (Jim Garland listed as second author in some sources)
KEYWORDS: homicide labor-movement death mining
Feb 1932 - Killing of Harry Simms
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Greenway-AmericanFolksongsOfProtest, pp. 271-273 (plus notes on p. 261), "The Death of Harry Simms" (1 text, 1 tune)

Pete Seeger, "The Death of Harry Simms" (on PeteSeeger13, AmHist1) (on PeteSeeger39, possibly the same recording as on PeteSeeger13)
NOTES [121 words]: Richard Polenberg: Hear My Sad Story: The True Tales That Inspired Stagolee, John Henry, and Other Traditional American Folk Songs, Cornell University Press, 2015, p. 210, connects this to the long, sad story of coal mining, unionism, and labor strife. "As late as February 1932, a sheriff's deputy who also worked for the coal company shot Harry Hersch (who used the surname Simms), a twenty-one-year-old radical labor organizer from Massachusetts."
Greenway claims this song has gone into oral tradition and developed variants. I have no supporting evidence for this -- but without counter-evidence, it goes into the Index. - RBW
Seeger lists authorship as "Words: Jim Garland; Music: As sung by Aunt Molly Jackson." - PJS
Last updated in version 6.0
File: Grnw271

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.