"John Hardy" is a traditional American folk song based on the life of a railroad worker living in McDowell County, West Virginia in the Spring of 1893. The historical John Hardy got into a drunken dispute during a craps game held near Keystone and killed a man named Thomas Drews. Hardy was found guilty of murder in the first degree, and was hanged on January 19, 1894. Three Thousand people attended Hardy's hanging. The morning before his death, he requested to be (and was) baptized in the river, hoping to redeem his soul..