of Theodore Fontane
Theodor Fontane



The Poem

The Huberman Story

News stories

Research Articles

Origin of the Ship's Name

Prose Versions of the Story

Other Poetic Ver- sions of the Story

Relevant German Poems & Analyses

Norman's Cooper Corner

More Essays by Norman Barry

Other Related Materials





Fontane Commemorative Stamps

Bibliography and Links


John Maynard as a
children's book

Cover image

In 2008 Kindermann Verlag of Berlin published a beautiful version of "John Maynard" as part of their series, Poesie für Kinder. It is the text of the poem with engaging illustrations by Tobias Krejtschi.

Norman Barry kindly sent me a copy of the book. My granddaughter and I heartily recommend it. Norman also sent a copy of a review from Die Zeit that he translated into English. Follow the links below to see the review and an illustration from the book that accompanied the review.

A book review (in German) by Elisabeth Hohmeister from Die Zeit, No. 48, November 20, 2008

An illustration by Tobias Krejtschi that accompanied the review in Die Zeit, No. 48, November 20, 2008

An English translation by Norman Barry of the book review in Die Zeit, No. 48, November 20, 2008

A book on
the burning of the Erie


Book Cover

In 2011, Alvin F. Oickle wrote Disaster on Lake Erie: The 1841 Wreck of the Steamship Erie, a book about the disaster that is commonly thought to have inspired the John Maynard legend. It was published by The History Press of Charleston, South Carolina, as part of its "Disaster" series. Alvin Oickle asked permission to use information from this website during the writing of his book, and we were happy to have him do so.

The History Press website describes the book this way:

On August 9, 1841, the steamship Erie, one of the most elegant and fastest sailing between Buffalo and Chicago, departed carrying 343 passengers. Many were Swiss and German immigrants, planning to start new lives in America's heartland -- most never made it. The Erie erupted in flames during the night, and despite the heroic efforts of the crew of the Dewitt Clinton, 254 lives were lost. As news of this disaster spread, internationally renowned artists and writers, including Horatio Alger Jr. and possibly James Fenimore Cooper, wrote about "John Maynard," a fictitious heroic helmsman. Historian Alvin F. Oickle's minute-by-minute account weaves together the tragedy of the immigrant families almost at journey's end, the legend of John Maynard that developed in the aftermath and the fury of a fire on an oceanlike lake.

You can read more about the book and the author at the website. For additional information on the book's 36-page "APPENDIX," read Norman Barry's research article entitled "A QUESTION OF FIGURES: NEW MATERIAL ON CALCULATING THE ERIE'S LOST AND SAVED."

A book on
the burning of the Erie


Book Cover

In 2013, Charles Cassady, Jr., wrote Great Lakes Folklore: Legends of the Five Sisters, a book that contains our translation of the poem. It was published by Schiffer Publishing in Atglen, Pennsylvania.

The Schiffer Publishing website describes the book this way:

Over the years, the Great Lakes -- Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario -- have carried Native Americans, explorers, immigrants, bandits, miners, warriors, and entrepreneurs and have inspired great tales of life on and around the water. What secrets do the Great Lakes, also known as the Five Sisters, hold deep? With nearly 60 images and illustrations, Great Lakes Folklore aims to answer that question. Relive the saga and tragedy of maritime ships the Success and Griffin. Meet the nefarious Lake Erie monster. Learn the story of Oliver Hazard Perry and the Battle of Lake Erie. These stories and more await. May they take you to places you have never been before.

You can also read about the book and the author at the website.

interesting chapter


Book Cover

In 2017, Allison Guertin Marchese, wrote Hudson Valley Curiosities: The Sinking of the Steamship Swallow, the Poughkeepsie Seer, the UFOs of the Celtic Stone Chambers and More, a book in which Chapter 18 is entitled "The Wreck of the Steamboat Swallow." It was published by The History Press in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

The History Press website describes the book this way:

Hudson Valley is steeped in mysteries, from Celtic chambers resting in the deep woods of Putnam to Millbrook's abandoned Bennett College. In the Highlands, Iroquois chief Daniel Nimham gave his life for the cause of American independence. One strange night in the Catskills, a legendary playwright miraculously survived a midnight plunge off the suspended Schoharie Bridge. The great passenger steamship Swallow sank near the shores of Athens. Author Allison Guertin Marchese reveals a treasure-trove of curious tales recounting the most uncommon history of bad guys, bold girls, creepy colleges, missing mastodons and more in this wondrous region of New York.

Norman Barry has written brief review of Chapter 18 of this book, which he begins with this paragraph:

The tragedy of the steamboat Swallow on the Hudson on April 7, 1845, sparked not only the creation of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie" (first published in the Poughkeepsie Journal & Eagle, July 19, 1845) but was, together with the Erie tragedy of August 9, 1841, merged into all three German Lake Erie ballads. As such, Ms. Marchese 's treatment of the tragedy is of interest in John Maynard research into the origins of German Lake Erie ballads.

Here is the review. A Short Review of Chapter 18, "The Wreck of the Steamboat Swallow," in Hudson Valley Curiosities by Allison Guertin Marchese.

You can also read about the book and the author at the website.