Saturday, July 16, 2011

HOUGHTON HISTORY and TALES by EUGENE

ENGLISH HISTORY and TALES

by EUGENE H. HALVERSON

Promises made by the Mormon Missionaries brought the Houghtons to America, a promise that no more children would die.  A promise that was kept.  The Halls, Burrows and the Houghtons were converts and brought here by the Elders.  They came with the knowledge, that their skills as miners would provide for them in this new land. 

English people are a little different, they have a love of tradition and occasions of pomp and ceremonious.  Many believe that the English are a little stuffy and don't have a sense of humor or fun but they do.  They seem to prefer subtle humor, understatement and wit to practical jokes.  Their aloofness is only a show of (Good Form) manners, but as a rule they are good natured, tolerant charitable and moderate. 

These three families came to Utah as experienced miners, mining had been a part of them for generation.  I used to think that all English Miners were "Cornish Miners", they were the best, now I find that there were mines and miners in all parts of England.  These miners soon became the supervisors running and operating the mines.  Never the less they all were superstitious and took no chances.  They were skilled miners who fearlessly went deep in the earth in underground mines.  Born from Celt or Saxon stock, their superstitious beliefs came from old world traditions dating back to Druid times. 

If one of these miners would see or thought he had seen an apparition of some dead miner, or hear one of these poor souls picking:  pick,--pick,--pick,--.  They would leave the mine immediately, never to return.  "The Ballad of the Tommy Knockers" is their story and it's the way many remember them.  The Ballad came from the old world but was told in all of our mining camps here. 


TOMMY KNOCKERS


'Av you 'eard of the Tommy Knockers
In the deep dark mines of the West
Which the Cornish miners 'ear?
An' tis no laughin' jest
For I'm a Cornish miner,
An I'll tell you of it today,
Of the "knoc--knoc--knoc" of a tiny pick,
As we work in the rock and clay.


We go down in the skips with our buckets,
With 'earts which nothing fazes
Each man with a light to light the way,
Through the tunnels, winzes an' raises,
An' the stale air smells of powder,
An' the mine is full of sound
But 'tis only the sound of the Tommy Knocker
Which makes our 'earts rebound. 


"Pick--pick--pick"
Someone be'ind us knocked,
Pick--pick--pick
(Tis souls of dead miners)


For they're locked in the earthen wall,
Those that found death down there.
An' 'tis the "knock--knock--knock"of their pick,
W'ich makes on end stand our 'air.


So we leave the 'aunted place,
(For we won't work where they be).
An' w'ere ever we 'ear them knocken'
We sure will always flee.
For it means w'o ever 'ears it
Will be the next in line,
The pick--pick--pick of the Knockers
Is a last an' awful sign.


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