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Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton

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WABASH CANNONBALL


Related threads:
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Lyr Req: Hey Art! The Wabash Cannonball . (7)
Oldest publication(ca1910) of Wabash Cannonball (4)


18 Nov 98 - 07:43 AM
Barry Finn 18 Nov 98 - 08:04 AM
Gene 18 Nov 98 - 11:23 AM
Little Neophyte 18 Apr 00 - 07:59 PM
Art Thieme 18 Apr 00 - 08:36 PM
Little Neophyte 18 Apr 00 - 08:49 PM
Amos 18 Apr 00 - 08:50 PM
Amos 18 Apr 00 - 08:59 PM
Little Neophyte 18 Apr 00 - 09:00 PM
Little Neophyte 18 Apr 00 - 09:03 PM
catspaw49 18 Apr 00 - 09:25 PM
catspaw49 18 Apr 00 - 09:28 PM
Amos 18 Apr 00 - 09:31 PM
Little Neophyte 18 Apr 00 - 09:50 PM
GUEST,LDB 18 Apr 00 - 09:54 PM
Billy the Bus 19 Apr 00 - 03:13 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 19 Apr 00 - 04:12 PM
Hollowfox 19 Apr 00 - 06:09 PM
catspaw49 19 Apr 00 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,Gene 19 Apr 00 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,ajgoodkids 11 May 02 - 01:32 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 11 May 02 - 01:36 AM
SINSULL 11 May 02 - 01:41 AM
Greycap 11 May 02 - 02:59 AM
Mark Ross 11 May 02 - 04:05 PM
Mr Happy 11 May 02 - 04:18 PM
Dicho 11 May 02 - 05:42 PM
Jon Bartlett 12 May 02 - 03:57 PM
GUEST,Claxton Family Member in TX 14 Apr 07 - 11:33 PM
GUEST,mick 15 Apr 07 - 09:03 AM
GUEST,Sutter Lee 22 Jun 07 - 01:47 AM
GUEST,miscmore 17 Dec 08 - 02:10 AM
GUEST 31 Jan 09 - 04:50 PM
GUEST,KW Claxton 01 May 09 - 06:08 AM
GUEST,ADalton 26 Dec 09 - 04:42 PM
GUEST,ADalton 26 Dec 09 - 04:44 PM
open mike 26 Dec 09 - 05:31 PM
GUEST,Larry Cohran 06 Apr 10 - 06:30 PM
Mark Ross 06 Apr 10 - 08:57 PM
MikeT 07 Apr 10 - 08:59 PM
GUEST,Terry S. 29 May 10 - 09:01 PM
GUEST 24 Dec 10 - 09:16 PM
GUEST 07 Mar 11 - 05:26 PM
GUEST 07 Mar 11 - 08:36 PM
GUEST,Al Good in Oregon with kin in Tennessee 02 Apr 11 - 12:42 PM
GUEST,Matykol 05 May 11 - 07:11 PM
GUEST 05 May 11 - 07:14 PM
GUEST 06 May 11 - 09:56 PM
GUEST,Larry 26 Dec 11 - 01:45 PM
pdq 26 Dec 11 - 03:18 PM
GUEST 17 Feb 13 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,Jim Loewen 16 Jul 13 - 07:25 PM
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Subject: Who WAS Daddy Cleaton/Claxton?
From:
Date: 18 Nov 98 - 07:43 AM

Come on, guys - I've been trying for ages to find out who Daddy Cleaton or Claxton was in The Wabash Cannonball - SOMEBODY out there must be able to put me out of my misery!

Steve


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Subject: RE: Who WAS Daddy Cleaton/Claxton?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 18 Nov 98 - 08:04 AM

Roy Acuff's grandfather. barry


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Subject: RE: Who WAS Daddy Cleaton/Claxton?
From: Gene
Date: 18 Nov 98 - 11:23 AM

Roy Acuff is quoted as saying in
SING YOUR HEART OUT COUNTRY BOY
by Dorothy Horstman
That he was middle-named CLAXTON
by his father as a result of his father
attending a lecture by a visiting professor
by the name of CLAXTON...at a nearby college
the week Roy was born
Roy's father was so impressed by the man
that he middle-named Roy after him

Roy also says he recorded the song
EXACTLY the way he learned it years before


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Subject: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 07:59 PM

Hi guys,
I am learning the Wabash Cannonball right now and was wondering about a few things.
Who wrote the song? It just says Public Domain on the Pete Seeger & Arlo Guthrie Precious Friend album.

I would also like to know a bit more about this train Seeger & Guthrie are singing about.

And one more thing.......Who is Daddy Claxton?
Would anyone be able to tell me more about the following lyrics....
Now here's to Daddy Claxton, may his name forever stand
And always be remembered through the courts throughout the land
His earthly race is over, now the curtains round him fall
We'll carry him hom to victory on the Wabash Cannonball

I would appreciate your help
This girl is full of questions eh?
Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: Art Thieme
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 08:36 PM

Neo,

There was a thread on this a while ago. Hope you can find it...

In the version I did for years Daddy Claxton isn't there. It's MONTANA WHITEY in the version I got from Paul Durst in 1961.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 08:49 PM

Thanks Art, I found it.
I should have checked the filter first.

Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: Amos
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 08:50 PM

Howdy Bonnie, Art,

The earlier thread can be found here. Hope this helps.

A


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: Amos
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 08:59 PM

The 1905 version sung by the Carter family has this verse instead:

Oh, here's old daddy Cleaton, let his name forever be
And long be remembered in the courts of Tennessee
For he is a good old rounder 'til the curtain round him fall
He'll be carried back to victory on the Wabash Cannonball.

Ya gotta wonder why this old rounder was renowned in the Tennessee courts? And, who changed the line to honor Claxton instead?

A


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 09:00 PM

Thanks Amos,
I was just over at the More HTML Practice thread trying to figure out how to do that blue clicky thing so I could add the link but all I did was make a mess.

I think I am going to have to hire a FAQ


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 09:03 PM

tutor.
I wasn't even finished my posting and it posted.
Failure can have a great affect on someones performance.

Well, I guess I'll just keep trying.
Amos, what did you type to make that happen?

Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 09:25 PM

Glad you found the thread BonnAmi which has some excellent postings on it. And talk about the "folk process" at work.........

About Daddy Claxton-------Ealier renditions and printed copies of this song make no mention of him and refer to others as being renownned by the 'boes throughout the land, meaning hoboes. AP Carter had copyrighted in 1929 a version referring to Daddy Cleaton and the "'boes." The next year or thereabouts, Roy Acuff had a copyright on it using "Daddy Claxton" and referred to the courts and not the hoboes. Acuff's middle name and his father's too was Claxton and at various times throughout his life he said this was or was not where it came from. It would make sense in this respect: Why the courts line? Well, Acuff's Dad (Neill Claxton Acuff) was a preacher and A LAWYER and this was an "inside" line to pay a bit of homage to Dad. Roy also said at other times, this was the way he learned it, so who knows? But it does make the line about the courts make sense, otherwise what's the point in a train song?

Say Bonno, why not stuff the whole thing and use Woody's "Grand Coulee Dam" to the tune instead? I like it better anyway since WC has gotten kinda' folk processed to death.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 09:28 PM

BTW Amos, AP had both courts and hobos in different versions. There is a story associated with that, but I forget what the hell it is!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: Amos
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 09:31 PM

Guess he used different versions in dinner salons than he did at that 'bo camp under the opverpass. A double life and a cross-singer!


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 09:50 PM

Thanks Catspaw, sounds like a good idea.

Art, how did you get to meet Paul Durst?
He sounds like a real interesting character.

A 'good read' this Wabash Cannonball thread

Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST,LDB
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 09:54 PM

There was a link about this a while back, and that renewed my interest in the song. I've been searching for some *difinitive* information for more than 30 years, and I firmly believe that this song is about 'railroads' but NOT 'a railroad.' By the way, *very* old versions refer to Daddy Klaxton. Following are some illustrations you get when you do a major search. Each paragraph is a different source.

Authorship uncertain. First appeared in print in 1904 copyrighted by William Kindt. But this version was based on an existing train song.

Made popular by the Carter Family and many subsequent version give writing credits to A. P. Carter.

George Milburn in The Hobo's Hornbook (1930) explains that "the Wabash Cannonball is for the hobo what the spectral Flying Dutchman is for the sailor. It is a mythical train that runs everywhere.."

Many people think of the Wabash Cannonball when they hear that we are from Wabash, Indiana. Really the Wabash Cannonball song was popular before the train was here. The Wabash Cannonball ran for years along the Wabash River from St. Louis to Detroit. It was a steam engine that carried people, supplies, and food. The last run of it was in March 1971.

"The youngest of the Bunyan boys, (Paul's family), Cal S. Bunyan, built the most wondrous railroad in the world: The Ireland Jerusalem, Australian & Southern Michigan Line. It took the largest steel mill in the country two years operating on a schedule of 36-hour days and a nine-day week to produce one rail for Cal. Each tie was made from an entire redwood tree. The train had 700 cars. It was so long that the conductor rode on a twin-cylinder, super deluxe motorcycle to check tickets. The train went so fast that, after it was brought to a dead stop it was still making 65 miles an hour. After two months of service, the schedule was speeded up, so that the train arrived at its destination an hour before it left its starting point. "One day Cal said to the engineer, "Give 'er all she's got!" That was the end of the I.J.A.&S.M. Railroad. The train traveled so fast that the friction melted the steel rails and burned the ties to ashes. When it reached the top of the grade, the engine took off just like an airplane and carried itself and the 700 cars so far into the stratosphere that the law of gravity quit working. That was years and years ago, but the I.J.A.&S.M. is still rushing through space, probably making overnight jumps between the stars.

"Old time hoboes had a name for this Flying Dutchman of a train. They called her 'The Wabash Cannonball', and they said there was no station in America that had not heard her lonesome whistle."

The Wabash Cannonball Trail runs on the two lines originally established by the Wabash Railroad. The southwestern leg was built in 1855, running from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Toledo, Ohio, making it one of the oldest rail lines in northwest Ohio. Passenger service ended in 1959, while freight service continued until 1969. The line had depots in Maumee, Whitehouse, Colton, and Liberty Center. Colton was once a bustling railroad town having a coal yard, hotel, saloon, and a pickle plant. Maumee's depot has been moved to the Maumee Valley Historical Society's Wolcott House Complex, and the Liberty Center Depot is currently being restored by the Liberty Center Historical Society. The Whitehouse Depot was purchased and moved to Michigan. The Norfolk and Western Railway purchased the Wabash line, and then consolidated with the Southern Railroad to form the Norfolk Southern Railroad. The east-west line of the Trail was a "new" railroad, having been built around the turn of the century. Some of the towns that sprang up along this line, lacked the ability to thrive when the railroad ceased to be the primary means of transportation. Is passed through the communities of Brailey and South Delta, where depots remain in private ownership. In continued on through Wauseon, Elmira, West Unity, and Montpelier. There is an historical museum at the Williams County Fairground in Montpelier, which contains railroad memorabilia, and an old Wabash caboose. Rail service ended on this line around 1990, less than 100 years after it was built. Did the famed Wabash Cannonball Engine run on these lines? On a hot shimmery, summer day, look down the trail and listen for the jingle...

LDB


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: Billy the Bus
Date: 19 Apr 00 - 03:13 AM

LDB,

I jist laid ma head on the rail, to hear the train a'coming and the Wabash Cannonball squished it (my head that is)..

Love the concept of "I.J.A.&S.M" but it should be extended to more terrestrial railroads, before we blast it off into space.

How about some of the long distance RR runs in Australia?

Or, the "hobos" riding the Trans-Siberian at the start of the "cold-whore"...;)

Over to Spaw...;)

Cheers - Sam


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 19 Apr 00 - 04:12 PM

Li'l Neo,

When I met Paul Durst he was living in the back room of little music shop on 57th Street in Chicago---The Fret Shop. The owner, Pete Leibundguth, had asked Paul to move in there rent free and this allowed him to get away from Madison Street's squalor. (Madison St. then was skid row---a hangout for many homeless 'bos---and sometimes a dangerous place to be -- especially if one was 93 years old like Paul.) I later taught a beginning guitar course at the shop. Jim Kweskin, passing through Chicago then, (1962?) taught an advanced fingerpicking course. I got some great solo tapes of Jim when he was on Ella Jenkins' Meetin' House radio show back then. A friend just put that show onto a CD for me.
Those rows of dilapidated store fronts (cold water flats) were left over concession stands from the World's Colombian Exposition in 1893.

I'll be sending you a private message about this soon.

All the best,

Art


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: Hollowfox
Date: 19 Apr 00 - 06:09 PM

Utah Phillips once said that the name mentioned in that verse would have formerly been the name of the most recently deceased prominant hobo that the singer knew about. (Not grammatical, but I hope you know what I mean.)


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: catspaw49
Date: 19 Apr 00 - 06:19 PM

Yeah, I heard the Utah story too and I always thought it made sense, especially when done locally and not by Acuff. But in one of the newsgroups awhile back, this came up and somebody crapped all over Utah's story with their own "facts." Always sounded plausible to me though!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST,Gene
Date: 19 Apr 00 - 07:24 PM

Previous thread on Wabash Cannon Ball
Reflections by Roy Acuff in Dorothy Horstman's
Sing Your Heart Out, Country Boy book...

* CLICK HERE * (Story Behind the Song)


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Subject: Wabash Cannonball: Who's Daddy Claxton?
From: GUEST,ajgoodkids
Date: 11 May 02 - 01:32 AM


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Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball: Who's Daddy Claxton?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 11 May 02 - 01:36 AM

Good Question:

PLEASE elaborate and give a snippet of the lyric you questioning?


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Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball: Who's Daddy Claxton?
From: SINSULL
Date: 11 May 02 - 01:41 AM

From "Ask Mr. Music" by Jerry Osborne:

"Here's to Daddy Claxton, may his name forever stand
Long to be remembered in the courts throughout the land
His earthly race is over, and the curtains round him fall
We'll carry him home to victory on the Wabash Cannonball"

Slight variations in the lyrics can be found, depending on whose version is being heard. Some, for example, sing His earthly "reign" is over, while others substitute Daddy Claxton with Boston Blackey.

"The Wabash Cannonball" first became a hit in 1938 for Roy Acuff (Vocalion 4466) — the follow-up to perhaps his best-known tune, "The Great Speckle Bird."

As originally written, with several additional verses, Daddy Claxton is the engineer of the Wabash Cannonball. Still, we know of no authenticated, real-life events involving anyone named Claxton and any train named Cannonball. I'd rate it as railroad fiction.

Coincidence no doubt, Roy Acuff's middle name is Claxton and some historians believe that is why the name is respectfully included in "The Wabash Cannonball."

Those who disagree contend that a man named Claxton was a friend of the Acuff clan, and that is where Roy's middle name came from. If so, there would be no connection to the use of the name in the song.

Though he may not have known anything about Daddy Claxton, I'm a bit surprised he didn't mention the connection to his middle name when you and he spoke.


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Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball: Who's Daddy Claxton?
From: Greycap
Date: 11 May 02 - 02:59 AM

See the excellent book ' Scalded to death by the steam'-covers all good ( i.e songworthy trainwrecks )in vast detail.Out of print, I think. See 'abebooks' on the internet to buy a second hand copy at very reasonable rates. That's your weekend reading covered. Have a good one,
I combined three threads, so there may be some duplications.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: Mark Ross
Date: 11 May 02 - 04:05 PM

The song dates from the 1880's(probably)& was originally the GREAT ROCK ISLAND ROUTE. The Delmore Brothers version(on the RR IN FOLKSONG, RCA c. 1960's)is probably closer to the original than the Acuff version.

CHO; ....hear the merry hoboes call, as they ride the rods & brakebeams on the WABASH CANNONBALL.

Here's to Daddy Claxton, may his name forever stand He's a brakeman that's respected by the hoboes 'round the land When his earthly race is over and the curtain 'round him falls, May his spirit ever linger on the WABASH CANNONBALL.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: Mr Happy
Date: 11 May 02 - 04:18 PM

ibid

there's no word in any of my dictionaries which includes 'claxton'

however, it's a constant mispronunciation of 'klaxon'

- a loud hailer/ alarm


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: Dicho
Date: 11 May 02 - 05:42 PM

Norm Cohen, in the "Long Steel Rail," p. 377, (University of Illinois Press, 1981) says the "Daddy Claxton of Acuff's last verse has yet to be identified with any historical character." In many early versions, the person has a different name, including Clark, Clarkston, Greenwood, Cleaton- as well as Boston Blackie and Long Slim Perkins.
Originally a hobo song, many changes have been made by various singers. One notable one was the change from "'boes accommodation" to "regular combination" or some such. (Norm Cohen


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 12 May 02 - 03:57 PM

re: using the name of the most prominent dead 'bo: Alex Campbell on one album of his used "Derrol Adams", which seems appropriate.


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST,Claxton Family Member in TX
Date: 14 Apr 07 - 11:33 PM

My name is Brandon and my grandfather name is Buin Claxton. He was a fiddle player. The story I have always heard, growing up, was that my grand dad did ride the trains and befriended many people. The part of the song "Here's to Daddy Claxton" was of him. Not sure how true the story is...my grand dad passed before i was born. I do know that my grandmother has a picture of my grand dad & Roy Orbison together in a hospital ward. I've always heard from many local musicians that my grand dad was a great fiddle player that just floated around. I live in a small West Texas town called Snyder TX.


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST,mick
Date: 15 Apr 07 - 09:03 AM

Whatever about who he was ,where he lived or how he died can we at least all agree that Daddy Claxton was in the end cremated. I had always wondeed about the origins of the phrase " It's curtains for him"


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST,Sutter Lee
Date: 22 Jun 07 - 01:47 AM

Good to get some answers on Daddy Claxton. I like the father/grandfather theory. I've only seen one version, from a friend's typed up version, where Woodie Guthrie's name was used instead.
A current group called The Mammals (banjo player Pete Seeger's grandson) does a version, and some old man (86) apparently told them they did the only version he'd ever heard that was accurate, but haven't seen their version in writing or listened to it other than at a recent festival.
I was only able to find one version where "Boe's accomodation" was used, which I like, but it's likely the "combination" versions are the originals.
Because I'm an early boomer, I've always realized the jungle referred to hobo jungle(s).


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST,miscmore
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 02:10 AM

I like the breakman theory as to who Daddy Claxton is, but a favored person as Roy sings it is right too. Also I like the merry hobos riding the rods and the breakbeams. That makes the song even much more excieting.


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Jan 09 - 04:50 PM

"copied from my grandfathers papers writern by him sometime in the late 1960's. Grand dad was born in 1873 died 1976. My father's middle name was Claxton and so is mine, but dad said he though he was named for a preacher by that name. My grandfather could tell some tall stories, but most were based on a true story."

                     Daddy Claxton
A short stocky man, balding with a round face and white beard. He looked like a grandfather rather than a cracker-jack lawman. Local children always swarmed round him whenever he neared the general store. He had a sweet tooth himself and always bought penny candy all the children. His name: "Daddy" Claxton soon stuck.
As a young man Claxton first gained some fame as a railroad man (detective). He then became a small time politician. Finding he was no match for the lawless element as a politician, he turned his hand to studying law, becoming a lawyer and then a judge.
Several arguments ensued between Judge Claxton and the local marshal. Claxton said the lawman was maudlin (to slow) bringing criminals to trial. He appealed to the governor and had himself appointed marshal. Speedy capture, trial, and execution when needed; became his hallmark.
During a trail robbery that occurred while the Judge/Marshal was aboard, a guard was killed. Daddy Claxton killed one robber and hogtied the other. The Judge held court there on the moving train, making the passengers jurors. The man was found guilty and hanged at the next water stop. Daddy Claxton paid the station man $2 to plant the robber. It was said the train passengers took up a collection to repay him.
"Now here's to Daddy Claxton may his name forever stand
and always be remembered in the courts though out the land
his earthly race is over and the curtains round him fall
we'll carry him back to Tennessee, on the Wabash Cannon Ball"


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST,KW Claxton
Date: 01 May 09 - 06:08 AM

I have been told by my father that we are somehow related to this man that is mentioned in the Wabash Cannonball,... the final verse. The ancestry of the Acuff's knew Daddy Claxton (as he was called) quite well, and had a lot of respect for him. I am still looking in to finding out more about the history of this though. My dad is 72 now. I am going to pick his brain some more to see if he can tell me more and how & why he was told this... and by whom... in the Claxton tree.

I believe I remember hearing that Daddy Claxton was indeed transported back to his homeland, or home town maybe, on this train after he died.

Like I said, I have more homework to do on this subject. Incidentally, even though Roy's middle name may be Claxton, I have consistently heard that the reference to "Daddy Claxton" in this song is to a man by the last name of Claxton. Maybe, as another commented on here, Roy was named his middle name after this man his father admired so much. More people did that kind of thing in the late 1800's & into the turn of the century. Middle names were given in honor of a person by using the honored person's last name as a middle name in a newborn.


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST,ADalton
Date: 26 Dec 09 - 04:42 PM

The book "Fireside Book of Favorite American Songs" copyrighted 1952, includes the following version of "The Wabash Cannonball", which it attributes to "Roger Truhart"
"From the calm Pacific waters, To the rough Atlantic shore,
Ever climbing hills and mountains, Like no other did before.
She's as graceful as a comet, Smoother than a waterfall,
It's the Western Combination, It's the Wabash Cannon Ball.

There is music in her jingle, There is music in her roar,
Like a will-o'-wisp she travels, On her way from shore to shore.
May her greatness last forever, May the glory never fail,
Of the Western Combination, Of the Wabash Cannon Ball."

It does not include a chorus, however the first line of the second verse shares characteristics with the one that is commonly used.


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST,ADalton
Date: 26 Dec 09 - 04:44 PM

The book also says that the song is "copyright 1949 by Bob Miller, Inc., 1619 Broadway, New York 19, N.Y.


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: open mike
Date: 26 Dec 09 - 05:31 PM

i have an image...of an old time pulp newspaper/magazine
that had an editor named claxton..

i see there is a modern journalist in georgia named claxton,
or a town by that name that has an eponymous newspaper,
but i recall a "dime novel" or western publication of some
sort connected with the name Claxton...

am i imagining this??!!

http://www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/dp/pennies/home.html

all i can find is Sara Claxton, Waverly library..


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST,Larry Cohran
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 06:30 PM

This is a very interesting thread. My mother, daddy, uncle,and three others had a "hillbilly" band in the 40s and 50s named"Willard Cohran and the Dixie Playboys". Their "concerts" at that time was called "show dates" and they would play at various schools and theaters. If they were lucky they would clear about five dollars each for a nights work. My uncles favorite songs to sing was "Wabash cannonball" and "Great Speckled Bird". He idolized Roy Acuff and could sound just like him. Things have changed a lot since then in the music field. I don't suppose we have any "hillbilly" singers anymore.

Not important, just thought I would throw it out for whatever it's worth.


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: Mark Ross
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 08:57 PM

The way I have been singing it these days is;

"Here's to Utah Phillips may his name forever stand.
He's a hobo that's respected on the rails across the land,
Now his earthly race is over and the curtain 'round him falls,
May his spirit ever linger on the wabash Cannonball."


Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: MikeT
Date: 07 Apr 10 - 08:59 PM

Love it Mark

Mike Taub


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST,Terry S.
Date: 29 May 10 - 09:01 PM

The song the, "Wabash Cannonball" was believed to be a hoboes "folk song" that originated somewhere around the time period of the 1880's. It is believed that the song was not about any train in particular, as the railroading term, "to Cannonball" means to "move very quickly" or go "very fast". However, the Wabash Railroad during the 1860's-1880's, on different parts of it's lines from time to time, did have an occasional short lived passenger/freight trains ending with the nickname "Cannonball" which may have something to do with the songs origins amongst the 'boes. Indeed, the song became so popular, that the Wabash Railroad in the late 40's, decided to capitalize on the popularity of the song and renamed their "crack" Detroit to St. Louis "Specials" to the "Cannonball". Thus, the famous "Wabash Cannonball" train came after the song. Just one of the many "oddities" associated with the history of the Wabash Railroad. Also, the Wabash depot in Maumee, Ohio was "razed" in the mid 1980's. The depot that was moved to the Maumee Valley Historical Society's Wolcott House Complex was the Nickle Plate Railroad's little Maumee depot, not the Wabash's Maumee depot.

Wabash Railroad Historical Society member Terry S.


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Dec 10 - 09:16 PM

when was it taken out of service


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Mar 11 - 05:26 PM

I too, after doing this in karaoke wanted to know about Daddy Claxton and after reading all the comments have come to the conclusion the name is honoring family members of Roy Acuff (second time song was copyrighted)
Maybe the change was make to allow it to be copyrighted again?
Any way future musicians and story tellers should feel free to adapt and change as appropriate and let the melody live on. It's a good song!


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Mar 11 - 08:36 PM

For Example: Heres to Chuck Kirkbride
             May his name forever stand
             And always be remembered
             'round the courts of Mich-I-Gan

I think I've gone to karaoke heaven!


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST,Al Good in Oregon with kin in Tennessee
Date: 02 Apr 11 - 12:42 PM

Such great posts. I still have my much worn 78 Roy Acuff's Wabash Cannonball, and Great Speckled Bird. I met the Giant in Seattle at radio station "Country" KAYO in the late 60's while he was there for a wonderful concert. I also have an old L&N passenger timetable with connections to the Wabash.


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST,Matykol
Date: 05 May 11 - 07:11 PM

Daddy Claxton was the train engineer


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST
Date: 05 May 11 - 07:14 PM

I will try to find out more from his Daughter or granddaughter.


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST
Date: 06 May 11 - 09:56 PM

Daddy Claxton was my great grandfather. He stoked the fires in the engines of the Wobash. :) I only know this because my mom sings it as 'poppy claxton'.


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST,Larry
Date: 26 Dec 11 - 01:45 PM

The story that I heard...and my bad memory says it was from a pre- or post-performance commentary by either Wild Bill Moses in Phoenix or Bill Monroe in Memphis, was that the "cannonball" term was a reflection of a faster-than-normal train, and that Daddy Claxton was, as I recall, either an off-duty or a retired engineer from that train who was asked to fill in because of an absence of the regular driver and a need to make the run because of some time crunch - he was like the Michael Jordan of trains who was the last, best chance for the run to be on time. Again, as I remember it, there was some sort of accident to the train as he was cannonballing and he was killed trying to do his job. The reference was that they were taking his remains back home.


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: pdq
Date: 26 Dec 11 - 03:18 PM

Roy Claxton Acuff was the man's full name.

We can assume that Daddy Claxton was a relative of Roy Acuff.

Trivia: Roy Acuff made 33rd degree Mason as did Burl Ives and Gene Autry.


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Feb 13 - 04:16 PM

I appreciate all the answers and guesses above. But I recently contacted the Roy Acuff Museum (did you know there was a Roy Acuff Museum?)down in Tennessee for the definitive answer to the question: "Who the heck is 'Old Man Daddy Claxton.'" The answer I got was, "We have no idea." -- Steve (same Steve as the
1998 post above)


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Subject: RE: Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton
From: GUEST,Jim Loewen
Date: 16 Jul 13 - 07:25 PM

Please see my article on the Wabash Cannonball and Daddy Claxton, at http://hnn.us/jim_loewen/articles/152354.html. There I suggest that Daddy Claxton was a farmer in Alabama; I think he was African American. Like many farmers at that time -- maybe 1890, maybe as late as 1910, I'm not sure -- he was hurting, because the railroad had a monopoly. Crops and livestock went to market by rail. Cars and trucks did not exist. Only one railroad served most counties. Even when two did, they did not compete; they agreed upon a common rate. That rate almost bled their customers -- farmers -- dry, almost bankrupted them.

The Farmers Alliance, an interracial organization that predated the Populist Party, protested, but usually to no avail. Not knowing what to do, Claxton took matters into his own hands. He stole a train! Of course, his was only a partial solution, since he had no tracks. Eventually they caught him, of course, charged him with theft, and brought him to trial. I think he got off owing to jury nullification, but I'm not sure. I also no longer remember where I read or heard this story. But it cogently explains the lyrics: of course he would be remembered 'round the courts of Alabam' for this escapade, which encapsulated and publicized the plight of so many people.

Comments?


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