Fate of Talmadge Osborne, The
DESCRIPTION: Talmadge Osborn does not get out of the way of a backing train in time, has his hands cut off, and dies. The company is not liable according to the "Johnson Law." Singer warns listeners to walk carefully, lest they be killed by a train
AUTHOR: unknown, but probably Ernest Stoneman
EARLIEST DATE: Late 1920s (recording, Ernest Stoneman & Kahle Brewer)
LONG DESCRIPTION: Talmadge Osborn, a man who behaves oddly, does not get out of the way of a backing train in time, has his hands cut off, and dies. The company is not liable according to the "Johnson Law." He is taken home; people say "Many a man's been murdered by the railroad/And laid in his cold, lonesome grave." Singer warns listeners to walk carefully, lest they be killed by a train, and that their high-living ways may put them on the county road for six months
KEYWORDS: disability warning train death railroading drink injury hobo floatingverses
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Lyle-Scalded, pp. 200-201, "The Fate of Talmadge Osborne" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sandburg, p. 371, "There's Many a Man Killed on the Railroad" (1 fragment, 1 tune, with only the "There's man been killed on the railroad" stanza, which could be from this, or "The C. & O.," or others)
[Ernest Stoneman and] The Dixie Mountaineers, "The Fate of Talmadge Osborne" (Edison 52026, 1927) (CYL: Edison [BA] 5369, 1927); Ernest V. Stoneman, "The Fate of Talmadge Osborne" (OKeh 45084, 1927)(Victor 20672, 1927) (one of these is on RoughWays1, misspelled "Talmedge")
cf. "The Wreck on the C & O" [Laws G3] (floating verses)
The Death of Talmadge Osborn
NOTES: Stoneman, who knew Osborn(e), remembers that he used to hop freights while drunk, probably the cause of his fatal accident.
The "Many a man killed on the railroad" verse seems to have been spliced into this song as a bridge, having been collected from tradition earlier.
The "Johnson Law" absolved a railroad from liability for accidents occurring on its right-of-way. - PJS
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