Nimrod Workman

Nimrod Workman ballad singer, coal miner, trade unionist Photo: David Holt©1989

Nimrod Workman

With a face like this and name like Nimrod Workman you know you are looking at a unique, intense and authentic mountaineer. Born in 1895 he was a traditional ballad singer, coal miner and dedicated union man. Although he was born in Inez, KY, he spent most of his life in West Virginia.

Nimrod was only 14 when he went to work in the coal mines in Mingo County, WV. He was a coal miner for the next 42 years. These were the days when United Mine Workers of America were organizing against their brutal bosses. Nimrod would regale us with stories about working with Mother Jones in the 1920s and could make your hair stand on end with the viciousness of the mine owners in the Battle of Blair Mountain, which he witnessed first hand.

As a singer and performer you couldn’t take your eyes off him. Angular, spidery and animated he sang the old ballads as well as the songs he wrote in a rough hewn voice that was clearly from another time.

Nimrod was fun loving too, always ready with a joke or a quip. He loved life. In his 90s he had more energy than most folks half his age. Even having black lung and smoking non-filtered Camels didn’t slow him down. He lived to be 99 years old.