The U-Nee Man Polka.




Evening Record, May, 1972

The anthracite folk song tradition was strong in the East End of Schuylkill County, in the PANTHER VALLEY. This was the domain of the LEHIGH NAVIGATION COAL COMPANY ( formerly the LEHIGH COAL AND NAVIGATION COMPANY ). The tradition was carried on by the WELSH and IRISH MINERS and by some of PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH DESCENT. Outstanding bard and folk ministrel JOE GALLAGHER of LANSFORD who contributed three of his songs to MINSTRELS OF THE MINE PATCH. One of these ballads was " THREE JOLLY WELSHMEN, " in a light vein. ALBERT " ABBY " MORGAN, a retired miner \ of TAMAQUA, used it as a model for his ballad, " THREE MEN CAME TO COALDALE. " Technically it is a variant of GALLAGHER'S ballad, but MORGAN has put so much of himself in it that it could be said to be a new song by him. Both the tune and the text are his own.

When I told MORGAN that he might not become part of this book because it was all about the PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH, he wrote me a oong letter, dated MARCH 26, 1960. in which he listed all the PENNSYLVANIA DUTCHMEN who had worked with him in the mines and who were part of his musical life. What clinched it for him, however, was the fact that he married his wife, CLARA, whose father, THOMAS BARTON, was an early PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH settler in TAMAQUA.

On AUGUST 27, 1957, ABBY sang six mining ballads for me in the NEWKIRK TUNNEL mine near TAMAQUA, and " THREE MEN CAME TO COALDALE " was one of them. It is the same place where I recorded his SLAVIC dialect song, " UNION MAN, " in 1946 for the LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. Now part of the ARCHIVE OF AMERICAN FOLK SONG ALBUM XVI, this song is also on a commerical record \ label as " UNEE MAN. " In 1920 ABBY joined a quartet, and in 1944 he organized an octet, " THE OLD COMPANY SINGERS, " for whom he wrote many topical mining ballads. The octet disbanded when the OLD COMPANY shut down its mines.


1. Three men came to COALDALE to work in the mines,

John Jenkins, John Morgan, John Jones;

A job they did look for, oh ! so many times,

John Jenkins, John Morgan, John Jones.


John Jenkins, John Morgan, John Jones,

John Jenkins, John Morgan, John Jones.

To give up, no never; these men were so clever,

John Jenkins, John Morgan, John Jones.

2. A job they did get; it was their one desire,

John Jenkins, John Morgan, John Jones;

Next mornin' the found out the mines was on fire,

John Jenkins, John Morgan, John Jones

3. " Now what shall we do ? " said those coal miners three,

John Jenkins, John Morgan, John Jones.

" Let's all go to SCRANTON " ; this they did agree.

John Jenkins, John Morgan, John Jones.

4. They went to MAUCH CHUNK there to board on a train,

John Jenkins, John Morgan, John Jones;

And when they got there is was pouring rain,

John Jenkins, John Morgan, John Jones.

5. A corner saloon was the right place to go,

John Jenkins, John Morgan, John Jones.

How they got to SCRANTON is more than I know,

John Jenkins, John Morgan, John Jones.

SUBMITTED BY : Richard C. Rehatchek

The U-Nee Man Polka.


VOL.30, NO.4, June 1987


In case you aren't convinced that human beings are fascinating and unpredictable,

a new two-record set called " Work's Many Voices " could change your mind.

This excellent double album, consisting of 32 songs once released as 45-rpm discs,

was compiled by Archie Green, a former shipbuilder.

"These songs I thought were representative of a variety of different trades,

different styles, and different regions," says Green. "There are one or two pro-

fessional artists, but it's mostly rank-and-file people."

"Work's Many Voices" presents many musical traditions. The most popular style

is country and western. We are also treated to some driving Detroit blues, including

"Please Mr. Forman" by autoworker Joe Carter, who puts a bouncing beat behind

the classic factory refrain: I don't mind workin', but I do mind dyin'."

"Work's Many Voices" includes two haunting Spanish-language ballads about labor

battles in the West and Southwest, and it features a slightly more humorous strike

song, the the form of " U - NEE MAN " ( UNION MAN ), an upbeat polka recorded

by a singing group called the " SHORELINERS " ( LANSFORD, PA. ) who use

immigrant English to illustrate the power of the COAL MINERS :

U-Nee Man, U-Nee, He must have full dinner can...

Contract miners dig for coal: Every day go down hole.

Something happen he don't like, Have big meeting - - -

calling strike !

"Work's Many Voices " will probably be hard to find in record stores, but it can be

ordered from Down Home Music,

10341 San Pablo Ave.

El Cerrito, CA 95430

Submitted By : Richard C. Rehatchek