“The Hamlet Wreck”


"See the women and children going on the train, Fare-you-well, my husband, if I never see you again." The train runs late, and collides with a local (?). The rest of the song amplifies the repeated line, "So many have lost their lives"


The notes in Brown say that the passenger train involved in this wreck was a special carrying some 900 members of St. Joseph's African Methodist Episcopal Church on an annual outing (from Durham to Charlotte). The collision occurred near the town of Hamlet, and at least 8 people killed and 88 injured.

The piece apparently was first printed as a broadside credited to Franklin Williams and William Firkins, but Brown left a note expressing strong doubts about the attribution. I must say, though, it looks like a composed song to me -- and not one which circulated much in oral tradition. Had it been created orally, there would have been more personal stories included. - RBW

Historical references

  • July 27, 1911 - The Hamlet Wreck


  1. BrownII 290, "The Hamlet Wreck" (1 text)
  2. Cohen-LSRail, p. 273, "The Hamlet Wreck" (notes only)
  3. Roud #6634
  4. BI, BrII290


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1929 (Durham Morning Herald)
Found in: US(SE)