How Jack Got Tom To Do Will's Hard Work

Reprinted in AppLit with permission, from the James Taylor Adams Collection
U of Virginia's College at Wise/Blue Ridge Institute of Ferrum College

Collected by James M. Hylton,

Wise, Virginia

NOTE: This text was recopied directly from a typewritten copy in the archives of the Blue Ridge Institute. James Taylor Adams (1892-1954) kept typewritten copies of the folktales he and others collected during the last thirty years of his life, while he lived in Wise County, VA. Notice that the introduction gives background on Wise County natives working in the West and hearing tales such as this one there. Apparent typographical mistakes in the archive manuscript have not been altered below; the title above the tale itself, "How Jack Got TomeTo Do Will's Hard Work," contains an obvious error in typing Tom's name. For details on other Jack Tales, see AppLit's Annotated Index of Appalachian Folktales.


Told to me on August 27th, 1941, Wise, Virginia, by Claude Carter aged 33 years and a son of Owen C. Carter, Deputy Sheriff, Wise County and who was reared in Wise County from Childhood and has made his home at Wise and Glamorgan since. He is employed now as a miner but has travelled around a good deal before he married several years ago and it was the luck of the Writer to be with him upon his first hearing this Story or Tale as it was told to him on the Range of Colorado. He was riding the Range there for W.H. Bauman, about 65 yrs. of age and who was owner of the Ranch. He was of German descent and a fine old Gentleman who was want to do everyone just and honest in every way. Although he believed in hard work and good pay at night when a fire felt good in the old big heater in the front room and the boys had all gathered around, he would often take time to tell them old Tales of the Fatherland in Germany and they were very much appreciated too. Work started at 5:00 A.M. in the morning and with the time out for dinner and supper they all worked until sometimes into the long night in order to get work done before too late. However they men were well paid and on the Ranch it was known that the work never was too long and hard for anyone of the boys from Virginia. If you were looking for work in the West and you stated you were from Virginia it wasn't long until you had work and with good people at that too. Mr. Bauman was the father of several children, one boy named Roy was with us on the Plains a lot and we learned to think a good deal of him and the old men. We would listen to him tell of the early days in the West when he first come to this Country from Germany and before we knew it it would be almost morning or time to go back to work again. We didn't mind though but many of his tales corresponded with Stories we had read in Papers and Magazines in the East. I don't remember just all the Tales he told us but I do recall this one after you have freshened my memory a bit.

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"How Jack Got Tom[e]To Do Will's Hard Work"

Jack and Tom and Will was all brothers and liked to go huntin' and fishin' down on the river but for some reasons known to themselves Jack and Will wanted to go theirselves on this trip I'm telling you about and they had to figure some way for to get away from him and yet they had been told by their Pap to get that big pile of wood moved form out on the section to the shed at the barn place and today was the time to do it and when their Pap said today was the time he meant within that day and before darkness fell too. Tom had a wheelbarrow he'd made from some fine new strips from a stove crate and he's a bit proud of it and was always trying to show it off to everybody. Well, Jack winked at Will an' told him to say nuthin' which he didn't an' he went to the wheelbarrow an' looked down at it an' said to Tom, "Tom I don't believe that a wheelbarrow like this will stand up to any long haulin' an' if it would it is a good 'un. I heard Will say that it wasn't no good anyhow an' he didn't think it'd haul much at a time an' all that stuff. I'm startin' to think the same my self too. We figure it'd hold up a load or trip or two but not for long." It made Tom splutter an' move about an' he told them to show him the thing that it wouldn't haul. Whereupon Jack said he couldn't haul the wood to the shed and he went off to get the barrow an' said, "he'd show 'em". Well they left an was gone all day laughin' how Tom had hauled the wood and here they was on a river bank fishin' an' havin' a good time. But Tom's Pap showed up a little while after they'd left and when he saw the trick they'd played on him he an Tom had a few words together an' waited on Jack and 'Will to come home. When they did Pap told them that Tom had been such a good boy haulin' the wood he was goin to take him on a weeks fishin' trip with him and that Jack an' Will would have to take care of the place an' do all the chores around the place. They liked to killed theirselves the next week workin' then Pap told them he had give up the idea as it was too late in the season, an' Tom got a laugh".

(Folklore Tales) 400 Words

Replaced Copy Made by the Blue Ridge Institute to Replace Unstable Original April, 1991

copyright 2005 U of Virginia's College at Wise/Blue Ridge Institute of Ferrum College/Tina L. Hanlon
all rights reserved


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