Saturday, August 17, 2013

John Jacob Niles on mountain dulcimers; predicts his legacy when he is laid to rest in "some shady little dell (where the blackbirds whistle and the flowers smell)" ** UPDATED 2x ** w/ info on Hicks-Gentry-Presnell family

In Ron Pen's I Wonder as I Wander: The Life of John Jacob Niles (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2010): 178-78 ... he learned dulcimer making from Jethro Amburgey and Nathan Hicks of Beech Mountain, N.C., and
... started teaching local residents to building and learn to play the dulcimer [at the John Campbell Folk School]. There was no prvious history of dulcimers in the area, so Niles, with the best of intentions, sought to inculcate the fork instrument into the local tradition, in much the same way that the dulcimer was being spread to the outside world through the Hindman Settlement [/] School woodshop under the direction of Jethro Amburgey. In a letter to Rena Lipetz, he wrote: "Years from now, long after I am put in some shady little dell (where the blackbirds whistle and the flowers smell) Dulcimers will be made and played all because I showed them how to ... to ... to ... God knows what." [parentheses and elipses in the original] 178.

no 109 indicates the letter was written July 8, 1934. JJN later married Rena Lipetz.


Pic in University of Oregon website identifies JJN w/ same 3 guys at Brasstown, N.C. (outside Keith House?) on Old Timers Day, July 4, 1934 Appears to be same pic w/ tighter crop

Obit of Howard E. Taylor, "H.E. Taylor Dies From Pneumonia." The Eastern Progress [student publication of Eastern Kentucky State Teachers College, Richmond, Ky., Oct. 31, 1934.

business manager of Berea College 1909-1934.

"Mr. Taylor, who retired from private business pursuits in the east before going to Berea, viewed his work at the college in the light of a hobby and was proud of the school and the opportunities it offers young men and women of the southern mountains.

"He is credited with having been largely responsible for securing the business basis of the college, which has holdings of more than 15 million dollars."

d. Oct. 30 at age 65. stricken ill Sept. 30 while practicing on the organ at Union church in Berea. Developed into pneumonia.

[George Leamon -- ID'd in subject index of DU's photographic subjects in as a farmer of Gatlinburg, Tenn., in Appendix 5 of Philip Mayer Jacobs, "The Life and Photography of Doris Ulmann" p. 258. Available in Google books. 2005 obit by Lois Hornbostel of Frank Profitt Jr. lists members of the Hicks family of dulcimer makers, musicians and storytellers -- "His father, Frank Proffitt, Sr., became nationally known as a folk singer in the 1940s through folk song collectors Frank and Anne Warner. His father’s version of “Tom Dooley” was later made into a popular hit by the Kingston Trio. Frank Jr.’s mother was Bessie Hicks, daughter of early dulcimer builder Nathan Hicks of Beech Mountain, NC. His uncle was storyteller Ray Hicks, and he counted among his cousins builder/musician Stanley Hicks, dulcimer player Nettie Presnell, and storyteller Orville Hicks."

RootsWeb profile of the Hicks family has a section on "Story Tellers and Singers" that goes into Council Harmon and the Jack Tales, Jane Gentry and Cecil Sharp, Frank Profitt (Sr.) and Ray Hicks.

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