Hawco The Hero (Maurice A Devine)

You say you don't know Hawco?
Well, chum, that's comin' it strong,
Unless indeed, you're a furner,
and don't to those parts belong;
For there's nair' a man from Topsail,
clear up the whole South Shore,
Who has not heard of Hawco,
the last two months or more.
Hawco, the brave and valiant -
the man from Harbour Main -
And how he strove and struggled
to save the evenin' train.

Yes, Jim is a high-line here,
as sure as e'er you're barn -
A small nip ou' that flask, sir -
I don't mind tellin' the yarn.
Do you see that blue smoke
curlin' under the birchy ridge,
Down where the brook comes purlin' -
where Woodford built the bridge?
For nigh on forty years, sir,
Jim lived in that white-washed cot,
And all he had in the world, sir,
was what by his arms he got.

'Cept the road he built to his garden,
for which he got three pound,
And a dollar or two for poll-clerk
when the members com'd around;
And that's not much, sir,
as you'll tell me when I state,
That time of the last election
he voted the ticket straight;
But I'm sailin'off my bairin's,
and if you'll 'scuse my whim,
I'll drop the wanderin' talk, sir,
and tell this tale of Jim.

Throughout the live-long summer
he fished and he tilled the ground,
And he got in his wood for the winter
when fall time com'd around.
To the brow of the hill where he pitched it,
across the railway track,
He cut his wood o'er yonder,
then lugged it on his back;
But he never pitched that wood, sir,
till danger wasn't nigh,
Till the blue smoke of the evenin' train
had towards St John's passed by.

One evenin' in late September,
Jim came to the top of the hill,
'Twas after the usual train-time,
and all was quiet and still;
And he threw his wood right over,
not thinkin' of any harm,
When the call of Number Ten, sir,
comes howlin' 'round the Arm.
Jim stopped for a moment only,
then thought of the hundred lives
Aboard that train, and their children,
and broken-hearted wives.

Then he offs with his coat and wescot,
and ties his braces 'round,
And clears that hill like a deer, sir,
almost at a single bound;
And he worked like a very devil,
to throw that timber clear,
And never turned for a moment
to see if the train was near.
"Clear the track!" the brakesman shouted,
and then a wild effort made,
To slow the pace of the ingin',
as she snorted down the grade.

Jim made one more endeavour,
though he risked his life's last chance,
And he just had the last stick over,
when the cow-catcher fanned his pants;
Then he sprang to a place of safety,
and heaved a thank-God sigh,
And he saw the danger over,
and the train go whistling by;
But how do you think they served him,
when they to town got back?
Why they sent a man to arrest him,
for 'peding the railway track.

And early in the mornin'
he was summoned before the Judge,
And lawyers and policeman
and all their legal fudge;
And he prayed in his soul of souls, sir,
to be tried by Mister Prowse,
For the Judge, when he's out a-shooting,
he stops at Hawco's house.
But when he entered court, sir,
he bid good-bye to joy,
For there on the bench afore him
was the form of Judge Conroy.

The witnesses took the stand, sir,
they kissed the book and swore;
The lawyers tangled 'em up, sir,
and then they swore some more;
The Judge he listened quietly,
the lawyers fired away,
Till the swearin' all was over,
and then he had his say:
"They brought you here as a scoundrel,
to prove you such I'm told,
I read the matter different,
I think you're a hero bold.

"Of course, you acted unlawful,
when wood on the track you'd thrown,
But to save the lives endangered,
you bravely risked your own.
And viewin' your case all over,
in every way I can,
I must say, though you erred, sir,
you acted like a true brave man.
And through all the circlin' ages,
your name it shall go down,
With the man that fired Dina's temple,
and the man what burnt the town."

####.... Maurice A Devine [1859-1915] Kings Cove, Bonavista Bay, NL ....####
See more songs by the Devines.

Printed in St John's in 1904 on pp.73-77 of the Old Colony Song Book, Newfoundland, published by James Murphy [1867-1931].

Also published in Gerald S Doyle's Old-Time Songs And Poetry Of Newfoundland: Songs Of The People From The Days Of Our Forefathers (1st Ed pp.43-45, 1927; 2nd Ed p.75, 1940).

Gerald S Doyle noted:
This account of the Jim Hawco story is set to the swing of Jim Bludso and makes a splendid recitation. Many will remember the incident which occurred over twenty years ago [c.1905], and created a good deal of interest which these verses helped to keep alive.

From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online 1911-1920 (Volume XIV) by G M Story © 2000 University of Toronto:
Daniel Woodley Prowse [1834-1914] - lawyer, politician, essayist, historian, judge, office holder and avid hunter, born in Port de Grave. Author of History Of Newfoundland published in 1895.

GEST noted the following from the will of James Hawco, Sr [died Oct, 1915] - merchant from Chapels Cove in the district of Harbour Main. His heirs included his third wife, Cecilia; his son, Thomas; daughter, Annie Burke; and grandsons Louis and Richard Hawco. His previous wives were Johanna, and Ann who died in 1901 at the age of 59.

An abbreviated, seven-verse variant was recited in 1950 by Charles Dawe [1875-1957] of Flatrock, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada ©2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

From Wikipedia:

Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville [1661-1702] - soldier, ship captain, explorer, colonial administrator, knight of the order of Saint-Louis, adventurer, privateer, trader, founder of the French colony of Louisiana of New France, and known in Newfoundland for ruthlessly burning towns and villages. In November of 1696, he sailed to Placentia, the French capital of Newfoundland, and began the Avalon Peninsula Campaign. On this expedition he captured St John's and ruined most of the English fishing villages. During four months of raids, Iberville was responsible for the destruction of 36 settlements. The Newfoundland campaign was one of the cruelest and most destructive of his career. But before he could consolidate his hold on Newfoundland, he was diverted north by sea to capture the settlement and trading post of York Factory located on the southwestern shore of Hudson Bay in northeastern Manitoba during the summer of 1697. Soon after his departure, the English arrived in Newfoundland with 2,000 troops and restored their position. Hostilities ended with the Treaty of Ryswick in September 1697.

Temple Of Artemis, also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to a goddess Greeks identified as Artemis and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was located in Ephesus (near the modern town of Selçuk in present-day Turkey), and was completely rebuilt three times before its eventual destruction in 401 BC. The second or Croesus Temple was destroyed on July 21, 356 BC, probably very soon after its completion, in a vainglorious act of arson: one Herostratus set fire to the roof-beams, seeking fame at any cost, thus the term herostratic fame. The Ephesians were outraged, sentenced Herostratus to death, and forbade anyone from mentioning his name under pain of death.


Index Page
GEST Songs Of
Newfoundland And Labrador

(AD 1628 through 2020)


~ Copyright Info ~

~ Privacy Policy ~

Pro-Sitemaps details created:
1 January 2022, 12:53
Processing time: 0:25:28s
Pages indexed: 4030
Images sitemap: 198
Video sitemap: 2774
Broken Links - None

Email the Webmaster: gdgest@yahoo.ca