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Title: Tommyknockers-- Mining Folklore
Level: Middle School
Time: 90 minutes
KERA Goals: 2.35; 6.1

Background Information:

Tommyknockers are small, elfin creatures who came along as part of the folklore brought by the Cousin Jack miners when they moved to this country from their native Cornwall in southwestern England. The Tommyknockers live deep in abandoned parts of mines; they are never seen but are heard making sharp tap-tapping sounds in the walls of the rock passageways. If ignored or mistreated these little fellows become mischievous and are often blamed for the loss of small hand tools, misfires, and small cave-ins. Tommyknockers enjoy sampling stray lunch pails and they are especially fond of snatching homemade Cornish pastries. Most of the time, however, the little people watch over their miner friends and, with their persistent rap-taps, are credited with warning the miners of impending accidents.


Cornish Pastries

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vinegar
5 tablespoons cold water


(Quantities are for 1 portion of pastry)
1/8 lb. round steak in 1/3" cubes
1/8 lb. pork butt, cubed
1 small potato, cubed unpeeled
1 small slice rutabaga, shredded
3 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper
small slab of butter


  1. Mix, then roll between waxed paper in approximately 8-inch rounds.  (This will make 4-6  rounds, depending on desired thickness.)

  2. Arrange filling on half of pastry round, fold other half of dough over filling. Crimp edges together. Prick dough to allow steam to escape. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes.

Note: Delicious hot, even better cold!

Provided by The Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc.