Tennessee music box
History, Mystery and Revival
Sandy Conatser, Nashville, Tennessee
David Schnaufer, Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University
When one thinks of an Appalachian dulcimer, the vision is usually of a light, delicate, and graceful instrument featuring hourglass or teardrop curves and made of thin hardwoods such as walnut or cherry. These may have been the common styles in the mountainous regions of West Virginia, Virginia, and Kentucky, but the farming communities of southern Middle Tennessee produced an instrument that found its grace in the sound it made rather than its outward appearance. While the reasons for this development are still in part a mystery, the instruments themselves speak of the ingenuity of the builders and the importance of music in the everyday life of Tennessee's pioneers.
Most often called music boxes boxes by the people who created and played them over 100 years ago, these dulcimers have striking commonalities although they appear to have been made by various builders. They are folk instruments, made from materials at hand. Forty-eight music boxes, in addition to the eleven catalogued in L. Allen Smith's Catalogue of Pre-Revival Appalachian Dulcimers in 1983, have been located with the majority of them found in southern Middle Tennessee. Giles, Lawrence, Wayne and Perry Counties have supplied a large number. Family histories indicate that the music boxes were most likely built between 1870 and 1940 with the majority of them coming from early in that time frame.
Of the forty-plus instruments which we have observed, most were constructed of yellow poplar, and a small number were made of pine, chestnut, maple and oak. The lumber used was 3/8" to 1/2" thick to construct a soundbox 10"-14" wide, 27"-28" long with a depth of 3" to 4". The raised fingerboard is generally 11/2" tall and 11/2" thick and is solid, not hollowed out like most mountain dulcimers.
Most boxes have a vibrating string length of 261/2" which shows that they probably all had a common ancestor. The soundboxes are generally nailed and glued and feature either butt joints or carefully mitred corners depending on the skills and the tools of the individual builders. Most of the music boxes have been painted which has helped preserve them from the elements. We have observed little cracking or warping, and most of the instruments can be strung up and played without any repairs even after one hundred years.
One of the most unique characteristics of the music box is the tinwork that forms the nut and bridge (supports the strings at each end) and also covers the end grain of the fingerboard from the weather to prevent "checking" or cracking. The metal also extends over the top of the fingerboard to protect the wood in the area used for strumming. The metal covering the ends also provides a solid screwplate for the four 2" long eye screws used as tuners as well as the nails at the other end used to anchor the strings. Oral history tells us that at least one builder used old snuff cans for the tinwork because "everybody dipped snuff back then." It is interesting to note that the tuners are located at the bottom end of the instrument to be manipulated with the right hand as opposed to most other dulcimers which feature tuners at the other end of the fingerboard. On some instruments, even though the holes have been wallowed out with use, the eye screws hold tune extremely well. A nail could be inserted through the eyescrews to add leverage for tuning. One music box had two of the eye screws replaced by an old door latch, but the hook was not removed. This unique feature adds a special character to the box as well as a handle for tuning!
The fifteen frets, pieces of metal used to shorten the string length to make the various notes of the scale, are made of fence staples approximately 1/4" wide. Only the first string is fretted, and the other three provide a continuous drone. Occasionally the frets were made of bent bailing wire, and one box has a nail added to provide an extra note. At least three of the builders fretted the instruments by ear. One man remembers watching his father touch a nail to the string and pluck it, moving the nail until the sound was correct. Another builder enlisted his wife's help. She was the player, and he would wait until she told him the sound was right.Then the spot was marked with a pencil, and the fret was installed.
Many of the instruments have three small feet attached to the back. With three balance points, the box would sit level if placed on a table for playing. Also, the feet raise the back from the surface and allow it to vibrate more freely thus increasing the resonance.
Soundholes in the tops of the instruments vary, but the most common pattern is ten 3/4" holes, five on each side of the fingerboard. We have found two instruments that share a lyre pattern with curved cutouts radiating from a central soundhole. Many of the solid fingerboards feature indentations or scallops along each side, not only for design, but to lighten up the top for more resonance. The scallops are usually aligned with the soundholes.
Playing & Tuning
To many observers the music box is a crude and primitive version of the dulcimer. The wood is too thick, the frets are staples, and the tuners are screws. What kind of music could so simple an instrument make? One only has to hear it played to dispel all preconceptions. It has a wonderfully full, rich tone and mellowness not usually found in other dulcimers. It can delicately accompany a ballad or provide a driving, powerful rhythm and melody for a dance tune. Played with a bow, it can sound almost like a pump organ or a bagpipe to play hymns or a lonesome Scotch-Irish lament.
The fifteen frets of the box provide a diatonic musical scale (like the white keys of the piano) on the first string. The other three strings provide a continuous drone. There are many ways to tune the instrument to provide various scales and keys for particular songs. One of the simplest and most useful would have been to tune all strings to the same note (probably the pitch of A). This would provide two different scales and keys. From open A to the seventh fret would give the Mixolydian scale, do,re,mi,fa,sol,la,ti-flat,do. This flatted seventh note is integral in much Appalachian music - "Old Joe Clark," "June Apple." Or the player could start on the third fret and play the regular major scale from there to the tenth fret. This would give the key of D major and the drones in A would provide a harmony. A common variation on this would be to tune the outside drone string up to D to provide a more complete harmony in the key of D.
Many different string gauges have been observed on these old instruments, and personal histories have provided the knowledge that they were strung with piano wire or much thinner wire thread available at dry goods stores in the 19th Century. The gauges of the strings used would greatly affect what keys would be possible. A wound or wrapped guitar string for the outside drone would provide a lower or bass harmony.
Oral histories and old photographs tell us that the music boxes were played with a noter in the left hand and were either plucked with the fingers of the right hand or strummed with a plastic plectrum or a turkey feather. The first music box which Schnaufer acquired in Lawrenceburg had rosin residue under the strings indicating that it had been played with a fiddle bow. All of these techniques are traditional Appalachian dulcimer playing styles.
Mrs. Ocie Pulley Burns of Wayne County and Lawrence Gamble of Lawrence County are traditional players. Ocie learned from her grandmother and Lawrence from his mother. Their playing styles are identical.Each used a noter in the left hand and anchored the right hand on the side of the fretboard with the ring finger and little finger. The strings were plucked and strummed with the thumb and index finger. Additional evidence of this playing style exists in an 1894 family photograph of the George Washington family of the Poplar Springs community. Mattie Crownover, a neighbor, is pictured with the family. She is holding a music box in her lap in this same style - noter stick in the left hand and right hand anchored and poised to play. Also, Miss Ida Sharp of Savannah, TN, was photographed by researcher Donna Roe Daniell in 1973, and she is playing the music box in the same way as Mattie Crownover.
Lawrence uses a noter which he calls a "chording stick" carved from hickory. A noter carved from mountain laurel was retrieved from one box which originated in Hickman County. The deep playing groove worn in the end and the owner's assurance that the box hadn't been touched in 60 years are evidence of the early noter style of playing. This particular noter was carved in the traditional style of noters common in the Galax area of western Virginia. Picks were also used for strumming and increasing volume.The boxes were also strummed with turkey quills, another traditional Galax style of playing.
The strings on some of the instruments were placed so high above the frets that it would be difficult to press the strings down to fret them in tune. Also, there was little wear on the fretboards. Atlas Qualls of Perry County is a third generation builder who provided an answer to this mystery. "My dad and grandad would just lay them across their lap and play and they used a steel bar like a Hawaiian guitar that they would slide up and down....They didn't necessarily push it down on the frets, just slide it back kind of like a violin....You could push it down on the frets, but you didn't necessarily have to. I can remember how they could do it that a way and make it quiver, you know."
Another example of this playing style came from Lynette Williams of Giles County who remembers her mother, Sarah Ellen Skeets Kieff (born January 6, 1890) , using a pearl handled knife in her left hand to play the music box. She used a plastic pick in her right hand. Sarah Kieff built the music box which she played and was the only woman builder whom we have identified. Almus Crowe of Milan, Tennessee, built a music box in the 1950's patterned after a 100 year old box which was in his uncle's family. A newspaper article about Mr. Crowe described the box as a forerunner of the Hawaiian guitar. This is likely a reference to the fact that the sound produced by playing the music box with the metal slide was similar to the sound of that instrument.
Many of the music boxes have some special decoration. This particularly striking box from Wayne County was painted red and decorated with primitive carvings including a bird, shamrock, and figure 8. This music box originated in the family of Mrs. Ocie Pulley Burns of Waynesboro. It was built by her great grandfather for her grandmother, Sarah Josephine Ford Pulley (born January 9, 1870) while they lived in Hardin County. Mrs. Burns believes the box to have been built in the 1880's.
Three of the music boxes in the Lawrence County/Giles County area appear to have been built by the same craftsman. The workmanship is consistent, and the playability is the same. Two of these boxes are decorated with yellow and red free-form designs in each of the four corners and along the sides. The box from Lawrence County appears to have been signed on the back. Barely perceptible is "by Joe S." The third box has a red floral design also, but is more geometric and covers the entire top of the box. It was owned and played by Emma Petty Richardson, who lived in Giles County in the 1880's, and it is now in the possession of her granddaughter who remembers hearing her play.
A clever and unique decoration added to several of the boxes is a checkerboard painted on the back. When the music was finished, the box could be turned over and placed on the knees for a rousing game of checkers. In addition to a checkerboard, one McNairy County box has "July 8, 1828" written on the back, but there is no additional evidence to determine the authenticity of that date. The current owner of the box found it in the garage of a house he purchased. Although the instruments were most often called music boxes, two of them have the word "harmonica" written directly on the soundbox. Decorative elements on other boxes include notches on the side of the fretboard, notches in the tinwork, and Victorian stenciling. The sides of three of the boxes appear to have been made from beaded ceiling boards or from door or window casings. Clever craftsmen used what was at hand. Several boxes have numbers stenciled above the frets, and one box has shape notes drawn above the frets. Sacred music was often played on the music boxes, but none of the memories collected place the boxes within church services.
Several of the owners have active memories of the early players of these instruments. Joe Youngblood of Corinth, MS, has his mother's music box and remembers very vividly hearing her play on the front porch late in the evening as they came in from working in the fields. Among the songs he remembers are "Red River Valley," "Down in the Valley," Pass Me Not Oh Gentle Savior," "Redwing," and "Amazing Grace." She often sang as she played. The box was given to his mother in 1920 by Edna Garner of Wayne County. Gerald Young remembers his grandmother playing "Little Orphan Girl," "Old John Morgan," "Froggy Went A'Courtin," and "Going Down to Lynchburg Town to Lay My Banjo Down." The traditional reference in the Lynchburg song is "tobacco," but she often was accompanied by her brother, John Garrett, on banjo, so perhaps she changed this reference to begin her own tradition. "Black Jack Davie" was a favorite song which Atlas Qualls' grandmother played on her music box.
His mother kept the music box under the bed but pulled it out often to play. When asked what songs his mother played, Lawrence replied, "Anything she would hear. She'd hear one on the radio and she'd go pick this old box up and play it." She taught Lawrence to play, and he remembers winning $1 at a local contest about 50 years ago. He tells this story of the contest at Green Hill. "It's been years ago - way before I ever married. Nadine Williams, my first cousin, she wrote me a letter, a card, and told me, said 'Bring your music box and come over to Green Hill a certain night, we're having a fiddler's contest and I want you to enter it.' Well, I could play a little better then than I can now, and I got it and went down there and started in the door and had it in my hand, sort of like this you know (carrying it under his arm, against his body) ...I don't know what they was charging, but anyhow you had to pay so much to get in. '... Nadine Williams wrote me a letter telling me to bring it down here and enter the contest. She said 'Oooooooooh! you're the one that's got that box.' I said, Yeah, got it in my hand right here. I said if you don't believe it, I can set it down over here and sit down on it. I said it's just a box. She said stay right there just a minute. She hollered at somebody and they come up there and she wanted them to take up the charge, you know ,of getting in. She said. ' Come on, I want to hear that thing played. Nadine told me all about it and I couldn't believe.' So we went back in there in one of them rooms at the high school in Green Hill and I sat down and played her a tune. She said, 'That beats anything I ever seen'. Well, when it come time for me to go on stage, I went on and played mine and it didn't have nobody to play against....and when the thing was over with they brought me a dollar, a dollar contest. I won a dollar right there. I got to play mine, you know, and the judges called for the other man with a music box and nobody else had one so I had to win first prize!" Lawrence is pictured here playing his music box at a variety night at New Prospect, TN, in 1959. The performance was also recorded and that recording has now been preserved and archived. The songs he played that night were "Six Months Ain't Long" (the tune we know as "All the Good Times are Past and Gone"), "Red Wing," and "Billy Came Across the Wide Ocean." He told the audience that night that the music box came from his grandfather and had been in the family for over 75 years.(note 1)
The memories of Atlas Qualls span three generations. His grandfather built music boxes in the early 1900's, his father built in the 1930's, and he himself built a couple of music boxes in the 1940's. He completed two more boxes in 1996 and 1997. One memory of his father is particularly vivid. When asked about his father and the music boxes, he related this story. "I remember one my daddy made. He made me mad is why I remember it so well. It was an old weight clock -an old one, you know. It was an antique when he tore it up, but it was just about the right size and it had weights on it to make it run. All he done was took the door off and took the works out and just got him a piece of plywood or something and covered it over and he had him a music box.....That's all my daddy wanted to do....He worked every day, hard work, but when he come home he'd grab up a song book or a music book and study it. And when I got home, I'd have to do all the chores. I should have done it, but back then it made me angry. You know what I mean. He didn't do nothing, I thought, but play that music. I didn't understand it back then, but I do now."(note 2)
Four of the music boxes are labeled in some way. Louella Pyle of Tullahoma owns a music box which bears the following label:
Mfg. & Sold by
Echard & Goodman
Pat. 1881 Imp. 1886
This label has been typed and taped to the side of the box and does not appear to be an original part of the box. The box was purchased at an antique store by her late husband who was a dulcimer builder and player in Coffee County. There is no additional history on the instrument.
Peggy Baird's music box belonged to her great grandmother. The family lived in Lauderdale County, Alabama, but the box was purchased in Lawrence County. It was catalogued by L. Allen Smith in 1983. A large label affixed to the back is badly worn but reveals this information:
. B. Goo
THE HARMONICA IS
most accurate instrument now
Vocal, Sacred and Instrumental
This instrument is d ly taki
nd g perfect
urchas from the inventor
to be ie an instrument
The "B. Goo" is likely another reference to Goodman, and the "oved 18" is probably a reference to the improved patent from the label on the Pyle dulcimer. Baird's music box also has the word Harmonica stenciled on the front.
A third box with similar information originated in Wayne County. This box has been in Reva Loyd's family for over one hundred years. Clearly and neatly stenciled onto the box is the following information:
New American Music Box
Pat 1886, Mfg & Sold by
T.R. Goodman Mfg. Co.
This box is skillfully decorated with red and black geometric designs. The first two lines of information appear to the left and above the fretboard and the third line appears on the right of the box below the fretboard.
The fourth label of interest is on a box pictured in Bonnie Carol's Dust Off That Dulcimer & Dance. Painted directly on the box is the following information:
Eckard & Goodman of Tennessee
.........Imp. 1886 350526
All of the labels bear the name Goodman. The Goodman family is one of two families identified in the 1970's by Richard Hulan as builders of the music boxes. In the mid 1800's, this branch of the Goodman family was centered in Lewis and surrounding counties. W. E. Goodman moved his family to Maury County where his son Dee (born around 1870) made and sold the music boxes. George Goodman, a cousin of Dee Goodman, traveled in southern Middle Tennessee and sold the boxes which Dee made. George Goodman also lived for a time on Little Beech Creek in Wayne County, just south of White Oak Creek where John Pevahouse, another builder, lived. Miss Ida Sharp of Savannah, Tennessee, owned a box which her sister bought from George Goodman for $4.00. The Goodman boxes were also called "Harmonicas," and Miss Sharp's box had "The Wonderful Harmonica" lettered on it. (note 3)
Terrell Robinson (T.R.) Goodman was an earlier Goodman builder. He was born in Perry County in 1840. In 1893 his application for a Confederate soldier's pension was denied, and he reapplied in 1900. In the 1900 application he stated that he "sold music instruments." His marriage records in 1858 place him in Lewis County; the 1860 Census places him in Perry County; the 1893 pension application places him in Henderson County; and the 1900 pension application places him in Lawrence County. He owned no property and listed his occupation as carpenter. His movement throughout southern Middle Tennessee is consistent with the location of many of the boxes.
John Pevahouse of White Oak Creek in Perry County is another music box builder identified by Richard Hulan. Rebecca Pevahouse Murphy says that her father was a carpenter and blacksmith and built square box-like instruments with eight holes, 4 to each side. His mother, whose maiden name was Scott, had a music box and played it. John wanted to make some, but his father disapproved. John married and left home around 1890 and within a week had made two of the boxes. He sold one each week in the years around 1900. "He made hundreds of them," Mrs. Murphy stated in a 1963 letter to Hulan. "Everybody on White Oak Creek came to him to get a music box and they came from Linden and Savannah to get one of his models." Pevahouse originally used wooden pegs for tuners but later changed to the eye-screws. His boxes were also put together with square nails, probably hand forged due to his skill as a blacksmith. (note 4)
Henry Steele of Keith Springs, TN, near Belvidere, built similar boxes as late as the 1960's. These dulcimers have many features of the music box but differ in size and hardware. His boxes are approximately 7 " wide, 32" long and 3" deep. His grandfather, Joe Steele, made a music box copied from an instrument owned by Ben Keller. Keller built in the early 1900's. The fretboard on Steele's dulcimer was modified to extend beyond the body of the box to accommodate mechanical tuners. John Putnam collected one of Henry Steele's dulcimers in the 1950's for the Brussels Museum of Musical Instruments in Belgium. Lily Steele, Henry's wife, is pictured playing the music box in De hommel in de Lage Landen with one of her sons and two of her daughters. Three of the Steele daughters still live on the mountain at Keith Springs, and two of them have dulcimers which their father made.
Two of the four labeled music boxes bear the name Eckard/Echard. This connection remains a mystery. Tennessee census records for 1900 list one Eckard and one B. Goodman living in the state. Both lived in Memphis. Henry F. Eckard, age 48, was a barber and Benjamin Goodman, age 33, was a merchant, and they worked within one block of each other on Main Street. Eva Goodman Quillen of Hohenwald, a great niece of Dee Goodman, remembers her father visiting cousins in Memphis in the 1920's suggesting a possible connection with the Lewis County Goodmans.
The patent numbers which appear on all four boxes are another unexplained feature of the instruments. The 1881 patent (Number 239,303) is for a mechanical music box and was issued to William H. Allen of Washington, Indiana. The improved patent of 1886 (Number 350,256) is also for a mechanical music box and was issued to A.A. Lateulere, a French citizen residing in London. One suggestion is that the soundboxes of some of the instruments were actually shipping boxes used to ship these patented mechanical music boxes. The placement of the lettering on the Loyd box, however, seems to indicate that it was stenciled after the fretboard was positioned. The suggestion may also be made that perhaps the patent numbers were added to deter others from making and selling copies of the instrument. Since the instruments were called music boxes, and the patent was for a music box, anyone checking the patent number could think the patent was genuine.
Some of the boxes are still within the original families. The histories accompanying them have both given insight into their development and created new mysteries. Gerald Young of Giles County states that his grandmother, Mamie Garrett Moore, told him that a music box was purchased for her from the gypsies in 1885 when she was 6 years old. This may be a reference to the Irish Travelers who traveled through southern Middle Tennessee during that time. The Irish Travelers came to this country from Wales in the early 1800's and settled in New England. They were tinkers who lived a sedentary life during the winter and traveled to trade and sell their wares during the summer. They moved south after the Civil War. While there is no evidence to indicate that the Travelers were builders, their presence throughout the area could easily have put them in contact with the Goodmans and Pevahouses. Their trade practices could have been instrumental in the spread of the boxes throughout Middle Tennessee. Also the decoration on several of the boxes is reminiscent of the Irish tinker's trade.
The instrument which Young's grandmother owned was burned in a house fire, but she talked about it so often that Gerald went in search of one to replace it. He found two sisters in Pulaski who had one which he was able to purchase for his grandmother. She played it and assured Gerald that it was almost like the one she had lost. Young still has this box which is decorated in the tinker style.
The Tennessee music box has been silent for half a century, collecting dust in barns and corn cribs or under the beds of relatives who hung onto the memories of their grandparents' old tunes. Due to this research and David Schnaufer's career as a recording artist, the music box is enjoying a revival not only in folk music but popular, rock and classical music as well. He states, "In 1996, during the Tennessee Bicentennial, I featured the music box on a solo dulcimer recording that showcased the various styles of playing - fingerpicking, quill and noter, and bowing. This recording begins with "All the Good Times are Past and Gone," the first tune which Lawrence Gamble played for us. During the time of this recording, I was visited by Cyndi Lauper, also a dulcimer player, who was charmed by the sound of the box and wanted me to play it on a song she was recording for a new album. The bowed music box provided a very ancient bagpipe drone to her dulcimer and vocal rendition of the song "Fearless" on the album, "Sisters of Avalon." Cyndi has a huge following all over the world, and sales of this album are introducing millions to the unique voice of the music box. She will be acquiring a box of her own soon, and the combination of the traditional sounds and her considerable composition skills will provide new music from this instrument for years to come.
"In my concerts I usually play at least two numbers on the box, and in 1996 Paul Gambill, conductor of the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, heard the tune "Ten Thousand Charms" and had a vision to use the instrument in a concerto for dulcimer and orchestra. I collaborated with composer Connie Ellisor, and the concerto "Blackberry Winter" was born. The second movement features the music box playing "Ten Thousand Charms" in a setting of 28 other string players. It was recorded with the orchestra for a new Warner Brothers album "Conversations in Silence" and was played by my twenty-three-year-old student/duet partner Stephen Seifert. Also, the orchestra has an educational program we perform in schools throughout Tennessee, and the box is always a favorite among the children and teachers alike."
Information about the music box is spreading in many ways. As part of the Nashville Chamber Orchestra's education program, teachers are provided with historical information and class activities which will introduce a new generation of children to the music box. The music box has been featured on "Prime Time Country" (TNN), and on "Bulger's Backroads" (Nashville's WSMV, Channel 4). Also, presentations have been made at music and folk festivals in and outside of Tennessee. Newspaper coverage and presentations in the public libraries of five southern Middle Tennessee counties helped bring several boxes out of hiding. The official historian in each Tennessee county has been sent information about the boxes in an effort to make people aware of the important place this instrument has in the musical and folk history of Tennessee. A new generation of players has begun in at least two of the families. Ellis Truett of Madison County is a dulcimer player, builder and collector who shares his knowledge of the music boxes in special presentations. He has been instrumental in the discovery of many of the boxes. Henry Beckman, Gerald Young, and Donovan Carpenter have often pointed us in the direction of a new music box and a new discovery. Atlas Qualls of Perry County, who last built a music box in the 1940's built two more boxes in 1996-97. Other builders are now examining with interest this unique form and sound.
Though the music box has been silent for years, its voice is relevant again. The ease with which it has so quickly moved into pop, country, folk and classical recordings speaks of the timelessness and purity of its sound and assures it a place in the future of American music.
1. Lawrence Gamble, Interview, November 1995; November, 1997.
2. Atlas Qualls, Interview, May, 1997.
3. Donna Roe Daniell, "The Wonderful Harmonica, Middle Tennessee's Dulcimer," Student Research Project, Vanderbilt University, August 10, 1973.
4. Dr. Richard Hulan, Personal Correspondence, December 7,1963.
Ashley, Verdie Steele, Interview, April, 1997.
Baird, Peggy, Interview, September, 1997.
Boone, Hubert , De hommel in de lage Landen, Instrumentenmuseum en Musicological Research Association (MRA), Brussels, 1976.
Burns, Ocie Pulley, Interview, September 1997; October, 1997.
Charters of Incorporation, State of Tennessee, 1890-1920, Tennessee State Library and Archives.
City Directories, Memphis, Tennessee, 1890-1960, Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Confederate Pension Applications, Soldiers', Roll 11, Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Daniell, Donna Roe, "The Wonderful Harmonica, Middle Tennessee's Dulcimer," Student Research Project, Vanderbilt University, August 10, 1973.
DePriest, Geraldine, Interview, April 1, 1997.
Gamble, Lawrence, Interview, November, 1995; November, 1997.
Gamble, Lucille, Interview, November 1995; November, 1997.
Goodman, Ron, Personal Genealogical Records, Jacksonville, FL .
Hulan, Dr. Richard, "Music in Tennessee," Antiques, September, 1971, 418-419.
Hulan, Dr. Richard, Personal Correspondence, December 7,1963.
Loyd, Reva, Interview, August, 1997.
Pyle, Louella, Interview, November 16, 1993.
Qualls, Atlas, Interview, February, 1997; May, 1997
Quillen, Eva Goodman, Interview, January, 1997.
Sistler, Byron, Early Marriages in Tennessee, Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Smith, L. Allen, A Catalogue of Pre-Revival Appalachian Dulcimers, Columbus, MO. University Press of Missouri, 1983.
Smith, Ralph Lee, The Story of the Dulcimer, Crying Creek Publishers, 1986.
Truett, Ellis, Interview, November 1993.
U.S. Census Records, State of Tennessee, 1860, 1870,1900, Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Weaver, Patsy, Interview, November, 1995.
Williams, Lynnette, Interview, 1996.
Young, Gerald, Interview, September, 1993.
Youngblood, Joe, Interview, August, 1997.
The authors: Sandy Conatser is a dulcimer player and former educator. She is the primary field researcher for this project. David Schnaufer is a recording artist, author, and professor of dulcimer who brings to this project 20-plus years of studying, researching, and playing the mountain dulcimer.
The article appears in the 1998 edition of the Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin and is copyrighted. It is reproduced here by permission of the author.