Archibald Flanagan

Quoting from the book, Mountain Memories, by Feaster Wolford, (Published by McClain Printing Company, Parsons, West Virginia 26287, 1975 - Standard Book Number 87012-225-8 - Library of Congress Card Number 75-21079), pages 55-56 and 60-61:

One other personality that I well remember was my friend, Jonathan Day, who occasionally worked on the farm for my father. He and I spent many days clearing newground in the spring. His hobby was making songs about events and the people involved in them. Sometimes he would offend people by what he said about them and then he would apologize to them. But the folks who knew him well got a big kick out of his songs. One of his most controversial songs was the one he wrote about the happenings around Bob Bradshaw's saloon at Elm Corner when the Red Creek Railroad was being built. He had an unusual talent for making rhymes and he also made his own tunes. When we were working and he was very quiet, I would notice his lips moving which meant he was working on a rhyme. In a little while he would say, "I feel a verse a comin' on." Then he would recite what he had thought out. After I had gone to school, I found myself helping him straighten out his rhymes so they would be more rhythmical. Of all the songs he wrote, I remember best the one he wrote about the gold diggers. This one was about the scheme a preacher worked out to get free board and lodging during a hard winter. Archibald Flanagan was a very good farmer and owned a considerable area of land near Flanagan Hill. He was the son-in-law of Solomon Cosner, the first permanent settler in Canaan Valley. The preacher came to convince Arch that his farm was underlaid with precious metal and he offered to give Arch half of all the silver and gold he found if Arch would let him open up a mine and would provide board and lodging for the preacher and his crew. Arch finally agreed and the preacher moved in. On warm days they would dig a little but on bad days they just stayed in and enjoyed Arch's good food. During the warm days of early spring they decided they were digging on the wrong farm, so they moved to Alf Flanagan's farm and started digging there. Jonathan put into verse the thinking of the people of the community. . . .

The Gold Diggers

It was still in the winter:
About the first of March
When the preacher came to visit
Our good neighbor, Arch;
He said, "Brother Arch,
From what I've been told
Your farm land covers
Both silver and gold.

"So I've brought legal papers
To get you to sign
That will give me permission
To open up a mine;
If you will furnish lodging
For me and my crew
Whatever wealth I find
I'll go halvers with you."

Although Arch had suspicions
about this treasure hunch,
He took in the preacher
And the whole hungry bunch;
The crew started digging,
Though the weather was cold;
You should have seen them grab
For the silver and gold!

The earth did quiver
And the trees did shake
To see what a hole
That preacher did make;
They fooled around digging
Until well in the spring,
But as everyone expected,
They didn't find a thing.

They kept right on pretending
Till the food all gave out
And there was nothing left
But a little sauerkraut.
Now that staying on with Arch
Seemed to offer no charm,
They sought to gain wealth
On another man's farm.

So they picked up their shovels
And they wiggled their shins
When they heard there was meat
At Alf Flanagin's
Of course no gold or silver
Was anywhere found
And all they left Arch
Was a hole in the ground.

--From the book Mountain Memories by Feaster Wolford.