“Joseph Mica (Mikel) (The Wreck of the Six-Wheel Driver) (Been on the Choly So Long)”


Engineer Joseph Mikel is determined to remain on schedule. As a result, he runs too fast to avoid a collision with another train. The result was disastrous: "Some were crippled and some were lame, But the six-wheel driver had to bear the blame"


Laws says of this piece, "I have included 'Joseph Mica' not so much to establish its identity as a distinct ballad [as opposed to being a relative of 'Casey Jones'] as to emphasize the extreme instability and confusion which are characteristic of Negro balladry."

To put this in simpler terms, Laws has broken "Casey Jones" up into two ballads. The full forms are filed with G1; the fragments file here. How one establishes the dividing line is not clear; the "hero" of "Joseph Mica" may well be Casey Jones.

To make matters worse, Laws has garbled the entry and the information about Lomax and Sandburg. I did the best I could, but one should check "Casey Jones (I)" for additional versions.

To top it all off, Laws distinguishes "Jay Gould's Daughter" as a separate song (dI25), but ALSO files it here; given the things Laws files under "Joseph Mica" and their fragmentary state, I consider his distinction hopeless, or at least incomprehensible, and file those texts here. - RBW

I don't think it's hopeless at all to separate out "Jay Gould's Daughter/Milwaukee Blues" from "Joseph Mica". If it has a wreck in it, it's Mica; if it doesn't, it's Gould. - PJS

It should be noted that Furry Lewis' "Kassie Jones" is a fragmentary stream-of-consciousness incorporating a single verse from "Casey Jones" and many floating verses, including a couple from "On the Road Again." (Which is why I filed it here - RBW.) - PJS

Note: I *still* think we should split off, "Jay Gould's Daughter" from the other songs. - PJS

The correct answer, ultimately, is to have some system for filing floating fragments -- somehow there needs to be a way to track everything with the "Pretty Little Foot" verses, and the "Jay Gould" fragment, and so forth. A suggestion for the next generation Ballad Index, I suppose. - RBW

Historical references

  • 1836-1892 - Life of Jay Gould. He made his fortune in railroads, largely by stock manipulation, and was worth an estimated $100,000,000 when he died

Cross references


  • Furry Lewis, "Kassie Jones, Parts 1 & 2" (Victor 21664A&B, 1928; on AAFM1; Part 1 is on BefBlues3)
  • Roy Harvey & the North Carolina Ramblers, "Milwaukee Blues" (Supertone 2626, early 1930s)
  • New Lost City Ramblers, "Milwaukee Blues" (on NLCREP1)
  • Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, "Milwaukee Blues" (Columbia 15688-D, 1931, rec. 1930; on CPoole03, GoingDown)
  • Pete Seeger, "Jay Gould's Daughter" (on PeteSeeger16)


  1. Laws I16, "Joseph Mica (Mikel) (The Wreck of the Six-Wheel Driver) (Been on the Choly So Long) [Laws I16]"
  2. Cohen-LSRail, pp. 385-389, "Milwaukee Blues" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Friedman, p. 317, "Joseph Mica" (1 text)
  4. Sandburg, pp. 364-365, "Jay Gould's Daughter and On the Charlie So Long" (2 texts, 1 tune); 368-369, "Mama, Have You Heard the News" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 36-42, "Casey Jones," "The Wreck of the Six Wheel Driver," "Ol' John Brown," "Charley Snyder" (5 texts, 1 tune)
  6. Scarborough-NegroFS, p. 238, (no title) (1 fragment, beginning "Jay Gooze said befo' he died); p. 247, (no title) (a fragment beginning "Great big tie an' little bitty man, Lay it on if it breaks him down"; the form appears to be a member of this family); p. 250, (no title) (1 short text, about "Joseph Mica")
  7. Asch/Dunson/Raim, p. 64, "Kassie Jones" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Arnett, pp. 114-115, "Jay Gould's Daughter" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Botkin-RailFolklr, p. 456, "Been on the Cholly So Long" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. Darling-NAS, pp. 209-213, "Casey Jones"; "Casey Jones"; "Kassie Jones" (3 text, with the first two belonging here and the third being the full "Kassie Jones" text of Furry Lewis)
  11. Silber-FSWB, p. 103 "Jay Gould's Daughter" (1 text)
  13. Roud #3247
  14. BI, LI16


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1925 (Scarborough)
Found in: US(So)