Yellow Hammer Origins
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Since: Sep 11

Location hidden

#1 Sep 15, 2011
Over the past 30 or so years, I have heard a handful of different stories as to the origin of the term "Yellow Hammer" to describe people from Wilmington. I have heard the term used as an insult, and I've seen people who are proud to consider themselves Yellow Hammers.

What I want to know is, what is the story you've heard of the origin? Does anyone have any documented proof of any of the stories?
what Ive been told

United States

#2 Sep 16, 2011
The definition of the phrase 'yellow hammer or yalla hammer' is where inbreeding occurred. While I wasn't raised in Wilmington, my mom was. When I was growing up in the late 50's-early 60's there was an area of Wilmington called Brody Woods. All rundown shacks and anyone living there was considered a yella hammer.
What really saddens me is, even though those woods are long gone, but the names still live on. People who move to this area have no idea of it's sad history but yet they hear people from local towns refer to people from Wilmington as that.
I grew up in Coal City, then lived in Wilmington for over 10 years as an adult. Although I no longer live in either, I'd choose Wilmington in a heartbeat. The people I know there are good people, good character and good hearts.

Since: Sep 11

Location hidden

#3 Sep 16, 2011
I've heard that story as well. The problem with it is this... even if the part about Brody's Woods is true, Where does the Yellow Hammer come in? You always hear "Yellow Hammers are those inbreeders from Brody's Woods." I hear it from my own generation, and I doubt that more than 10% of them ever knew the location of Brody's Woods. By then it had become legend. But no one who has ever said this to me can give me a rational explanation of how a redneck inbreeder becomes a "Yellow Hammer".
jack be nimble

Yorkville, IL

#4 Sep 16, 2011
i've heard that when the paper mill was still running some real "hills" type people moved north to fill the jobs in wilmington. these people brought with them their "ways" of running families where the father had rights over the daughter, if ya know what i mean. for whatever reason they dipped the handles of their hammers(for work in the mill) in yellow paint for whatever identifiable reason. these people congragated and mostly associated amongst themselves and become known as the "yellow hammers." also heard that a "yellow hammer" is a southern bird this was could also be the reason to call the "hills" type people this name to identify them as different from the rest of local people. take your pick of which story because who really knows. would have to get a hold of an old person around at the time to really know
Hammertime

Reddick, IL

#5 Sep 17, 2011
Thanks for the explanation, I've often wondered about that myself. I still have one question though....If a couple from Wilmington gets divorced are they still brother and sister?
Old Guy

Joliet, IL

#6 Sep 17, 2011
Hammertime wrote:
Thanks for the explanation, I've often wondered about that myself. I still have one question though....If a couple from Wilmington gets divorced are they still brother and sister?
Old joke!
whatever

United States

#7 Sep 17, 2011
Proud Outcast wrote:
I've heard that story as well. The problem with it is this... even if the part about Brody's Woods is true, Where does the Yellow Hammer come in? You always hear "Yellow Hammers are those inbreeders from Brody's Woods." I hear it from my own generation, and I doubt that more than 10% of them ever knew the location of Brody's Woods. By then it had become legend. But no one who has ever said this to me can give me a rational explanation of how a redneck inbreeder becomes a "Yellow Hammer".
So it sounds like the people that lived in Brody's Woods, were not up to the high standards that the rest of the fine citizens of Wilmington. hahaha!!! I believe the people of Brodys Woods were just poor.
cocdaddy

Moline, IL

#8 Sep 17, 2011
jack be nimble wrote:
i've heard that when the paper mill was still running some real "hills" type people moved north to fill the jobs in wilmington. these people brought with them their "ways" of running families where the father had rights over the daughter, if ya know what i mean. for whatever reason they dipped the handles of their hammers(for work in the mill) in yellow paint for whatever identifiable reason. these people congragated and mostly associated amongst themselves and become known as the "yellow hammers." also heard that a "yellow hammer" is a southern bird this was could also be the reason to call the "hills" type people this name to identify them as different from the rest of local people. take your pick of which story because who really knows. would have to get a hold of an old person around at the time to really know


Well thats close. The fact is that the local workers refused to use the same tools that the folks from the south used so tools were identified by marking them with yellow paint and the marked tools were not touched by locals. Sad deal
miner

Joliet, IL

#9 Sep 18, 2011
In the coal mining days here, the rookie miners, the miners that weren't "just right", or were just plain slow, were given hammers with yellow handles, so they could be easily identified in the shaft mine. It was a safety issue.
Right

Joliet, IL

#10 Sep 18, 2011
I heard it was during the wildcat strikes in the mines. Most of the workers were Sicilian, Italian or German. During the strike, bohemian workers (yes, from what was once Bohemia, then Yugoslavia/Croatia and finally the Czech republic) were willing to work during the mine strikes. They were looked down upon and given mining hammers painted yellow to differentiate them from others. Thus the term "yellow hammer".

This came from my grandmother whose parents came here in the late 1800s. However, people in Wilmington today would rather attribute it to seedy stories about inbreeding in Brodie's Woods.
walking through

Bettendorf, IA

#11 Sep 20, 2011
I grew up in Wilmington until 5th grade in 1971. I met someone 10 years ago and told him I lived in Wilmington for a short while and guess what? I was called a yellowhammer. Timeless.
coalcityswap

Round Lake, IL

#12 Sep 21, 2011
When the miners got bored and bred with their sisters, little flipper baby retards would be born and eventually grow to be old enough to work. Being inbred and of even lower intelligence than most Wilmington hicks they could not be trusted to do the more complicated jobs in the mines. To distinguish between the two was impossible by looks alone. The inbred ones were given yellow hammers to mine with so the mine foremen from CC could send them to do the really shitty and dangerous jobs. As you can imagine every one in town eventually had a yellow hammer and hence came the name.
Coal City Swinger

Chicago, IL

#13 Sep 21, 2011
coalcityswap wrote:
When the miners got bored and bred with their sisters, little flipper baby retards would be born and eventually grow to be old enough to work. Being inbred and of even lower intelligence than most Wilmington hicks they could not be trusted to do the more complicated jobs in the mines. To distinguish between the two was impossible by looks alone. The inbred ones were given yellow hammers to mine with so the mine foremen from CC could send them to do the really shitty and dangerous jobs. As you can imagine every one in town eventually had a yellow hammer and hence came the name.
I concur!
Hammertime

Joliet, IL

#14 Sep 22, 2011
Hammertime wrote:
Thanks for the explanation, I've often wondered about that myself. I still have one question though....If a couple from Wilmington gets divorced are they still brother and sister?
YES. And always will be.
On another note, the miner story is right on the money.

Since: Sep 11

Location hidden

#15 Sep 22, 2011
Right wrote:
I heard it was during the wildcat strikes in the mines. Most of the workers were Sicilian, Italian or German. During the strike, bohemian workers (yes, from what was once Bohemia, then Yugoslavia/Croatia and finally the Czech republic) were willing to work during the mine strikes. They were looked down upon and given mining hammers painted yellow to differentiate them from others. Thus the term "yellow hammer".
This came from my grandmother whose parents came here in the late 1800s. However, people in Wilmington today would rather attribute it to seedy stories about inbreeding in Brodie's Woods.
I recently spoke to a 70 year resident of Wilmington that was told a similar story in his youth. It was a little combined with the story of the paper mill hiring southerners. He had been told your story about the strikes with the variation that the mine companies hired people from southern states to work during them. The south is known for a little bird called a Yellow Hammer. The southern miners may have brought some of these birds with them for detecting gas pockets (a job common for canaries). And the name was then given to those miners, many of which had settled in Wilmington (Coal City wasn't the only mining town in the area whether they want to believe it or not).
UnionThug

United States

#16 Sep 22, 2011
The actual story is, When the coal miners went on strike there were people that crossed the picket line. These people were issued yellow hammers, yellow hard hats and other tools by the coal companies. The workers on strike had to buy their own tools "not yellow". They were called yellow hammers because the picket line crossers "scabs" were issued yellow hammers by the coal company.

The people known as yellow hammers were from wilmington and crossed the picket/strike lines in braidwood, braceville, coal city. People haven't forgotten the name "yellow hammer" but everyone forgot the meaning.
Local

Elk Grove Village, IL

#17 Nov 7, 2011
I live in Wilmington and have been here my entire life. My father who was born here and still resides here and my grandparents are also from Wilmington as well. What I was told is that when they were building the railroad tracks they needed cheap labor, so they recruited workers from very poor towns in Alabama. Alabama state bird is a Yellow Hammer. From what I was told they built shacks over in Brody's Woods and the cheap laborers that were recruited from Alabama lived there and were given Yellow Hammers to be able to know the difference between the local help and the southern from Alabama. When the job was done the workers from Alabama stayed in Brody’s wood and were inbreeding. Hence tying the word Inbred with Yellow Hammers.
Proud Outcast wrote:
<quoted text>
I recently spoke to a 70 year resident of Wilmington that was told a similar story in his youth. It was a little combined with the story of the paper mill hiring southerners. He had been told your story about the strikes with the variation that the mine companies hired people from southern states to work during them. The south is known for a little bird called a Yellow Hammer. The southern miners may have brought some of these birds with them for detecting gas pockets (a job common for canaries). And the name was then given to those miners, many of which had settled in Wilmington (Coal City wasn't the only mining town in the area whether they want to believe it or not).
Goose Knuckle

Round Lake, IL

#18 Nov 7, 2011
Local wrote:
<quoted text>I live in Wilmington and have been here my entire life. My father who was born here and still resides here and my grandparents are also from Wilmington as well. What I was told is that when they were building the railroad tracks they needed cheap labor, so they recruited workers from very poor towns in Alabama. Alabama state bird is a Yellow Hammer. From what I was told they built shacks over in Brody's Woods and the cheap laborers that were recruited from Alabama lived there and were given Yellow Hammers to be able to know the difference between the local help and the southern from Alabama. When the job was done the workers from Alabama stayed in Brody’s wood and were inbreeding. Hence tying the word Inbred with Yellow Hammers.
you are a lowlife scum.... People from
Alabama are way classier than anybody from Wilmington which ain't sayin much but still. Know your place on the totem pole you goat [email protected]
Brodys Woods

Phoenix, AZ

#19 Nov 22, 2011
I dont know of anyone from Alabama that lived there?
As far as the yellow hammer discourse, I dont lend much credibility to the stories?

Did you folks all live there also?
V
shannon

Joliet, IL

#20 Nov 22, 2011
Goose Knuckle wrote:
<quoted text>
you are a lowlife scum.... People from
Alabama are way classier than anybody from Wilmington which ain't sayin much but still. Know your place on the totem pole you goat [email protected]
Yellow Hammers did in fact paint there hammers yellow so they did not lose there tools to the yankees wich dubed them yellow hammers from arkansas and tennasee that did marry there brother and sister and it is well documented cause the state had to step in and help stop it cause dads were doing there daughters and so on. the last names involved were giess,crawford,redman,hooten,c alhoon,hall,these last names are well documented as incest familys. all you have to do is look at old papers from back then from the library and you will see the stories of the state of illinois stops incest in wilmington.And these familys still exist not sure if they still are doing the incest thing but they are for sure not clean blood cause thay are all still related somehow by incest so whats who you date in wilmington lol....

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