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


Other poetic
versions of the story of John Maynard


The story of John Maynard inspired not only Theodor Fontane but also many other poets. The best-known "other" version is probably Horatio Alger's "John Maynard: A Ballad of Lake Erie." Norman Barry, a retired Gymnasium teacher from Bad Schussenried, Germany, has found thirteen (!) more poetic versions of the John Maynard story, twelve in English and one in German. These versions are listed below, and texts are available for all but one of them. Norman has so far been able to find only the linked references to the one by Murdoch. Since these references refer to it as "unpublished," we may never find it.

Here is the story of a recent addition to this list. When Anne Huberman's ten-year old granddaughter, Emma Skennerton, visited her in New Hampshire in the summer of 2015, Emma and her mother, Julie, found Anne's copy of the beautiful book about John Maynard illustrated by Tobias Krejtschi. While looking at Krejtschi's illustrations, Julie read Emma the translation of the poem that she and her sister had made many years ago. When Emma returned to her fifth grade class in Brisbane, Australia, her teacher assigned a project -- to write a narrative poem based on a story she knew. Emma chose the story of John Maynard as she remembered it.

There is also in this list is a poem written about a survivor of the 1841 burning of the Erie who had his own life preserver.



"JOHN MAYNARD" by Horatio Alger, Jr. in Gems for the Fireside, New York : S.G. Mead, 1880

Alger's ballad published anonymously in The Troy Weekly Times (Troy, New York), February 19th, 1868. (vol. XII, No. 35, p. 4, c.1).



Transcription of "THE HELMSMAN OF LAKE ERIE" by B. B. French, from Barre Gazette, October 10, 1845

An image of the front page of the Baltimore Sun of September 5, 1845, showing the publication of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie" by B. B. French.

An image of a page of the Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer of September 10, 1845 (Vol. I, No. 134), showing the publication of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie" by B. B. French, followed by the anonymous prose version.

The Road to Baltimore in the Lives of James Fenimore Cooper and Benjamin Brown French: An Investigation of the First Place of Publication of a Lake Erie Sketch and Ballad



Transcription of an untitled poetic version of the story attributed only to "Josephine," in The British Workman, No. 107, November, 1863



An image of Ada Linden's "John Maynard" in Deutschlands Dichterinnen and an image of the title page of that book.

Transcriptions, noting textual variations, of two printed German versions of Ada Linden's poem, "John Maynard," one published in 1896 and the other with an uncertain publication date.

Norman Barry's translation into English of Ada Linden's "John Maynard."



An image of Epes Sargent's "The Helmsman of Lake Erie," published in the Salem Register, Salem, Massachusetts, August 11, 1873 (with an obituary of Epes Sargent).

A transcription of Epes Sargent's poem from the Salem Register, Salem, Massachusetts, August 11, 1873.



A scan of "John Maynard, Pilot. A Fact." by C. E. Bourne and an engraving of the burning steamboat from Cassell's Family Magazine January 1, 1877. This scan was generously contributed by Simon Harbord of the UK, who owns a copy of the magazine.

A transcription of "John Maynard, Pilot. A Fact." by C. E. Bourne as published in Cassell's Family Magazine January 1, 1877.



A transcription of "John Maynard" by Fred Emerson Brooks as published in Old Ace and Other Poems by Forbes & Company, 1901.



A copy of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie" by John Collett as printed in his book of poetry, City of the Dead, published by Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts in London in 1860.



This is Norman Barry's collection of newspaper articles (1881-1887) that mention James E. Murdoch's recitations of "John Maynard: The Pilot of Lake Erie," written by his nephew, Frank H. Murdoch. If we find the text, we'll post it right away.



The Burning of the Erie" was composed by "W.V.W." in New Brunswick, Aug. 21, 1841. The ballad was printed on Sept. 9, 1841, in the Jamestown Journal.



A Poem about a Survivor of the Erie and His Life Preserver.



"John Maynard, The Hero of Lake Erie" -- another poetic version of the story found in The Cambrian (Wales), 6th May, 1892, page 5, column 6.


A. S. P????

"The Hero of Lake Erie" -- another poetic version of the story found in the Daily Commercial Register (Sandusky, Ohio), April 6, 1861, p.2, c.4



"The Pilot" -- another poetic version of the story found in the San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California), Jan 16, 1876, p. 7, c. 4



"John Maynard," written by Emma Skennerton (age 10) in her fifth grade class after she had learned the story of John Maynard.






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