Over the years and through several generations, there’s been music along the Creek. In the days before radio and recordings, you had to make your own music and the homesteading family did that. But even in later years, people continued to make and enjoy music. That effort extended upstream to bring families together from two different neighborhoods.
When I was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, my mother sang solos at weddings and funerals. But, she also made music in our home; she played piano to accompany an old man who played a violin. He was my grandma’s cousin and he lived on the farm that his father homesteaded in the neighborhood of Civil War veterans located several miles north east of our farm. Another farm in that neighborhood was sold to Margaret’s great-grandparents and that set the stage for sharing more music and musical instruments.
In the 1920s, my aunt was a child recovering from an illness that kept her indoors. Her parents bought her this old piano to help pass the time. After she was grown and gone, the piano moved with grandma’s retirement into Ellsworth. After she died, it was sold to Margaret’s aunt who had married into a family in the Civil War veteran’s neighborhood. So it got moved back out to Kanaranzi Creek. The date stamp is from much later when we had the piano restored. That’s why the back is off in this photo. My brother and I used Mom’s old piano (not this one) for music lessons; eventually that piano was donated to a local charity. Meanwhile, piano lessons skipped a couple of generations in Margaret’s family and her grandmother’s piano (not this one) came to live with us in St. Cloud where our kids used it for lessons. But, that piano stayed behind with one of Margaret’s teacher friends when we moved back to the Farm more than twenty years ago.
During that same time, the original Lone Tree Farm piano was being used for music lessons by several generations in another part of Margaret’s family. It had been moved away from Kanaranzi Creek during those years, but eventually it ended up stored out in our garage after we moved back. So, after about sixty or seventy years the piano was back where it started. But, not for long. We had it restored and moved to our daughter’s home in Vermillion, South Dakota. This is a photo of the “new” old piano in it’s current home where yet another generation took music lessons. Most of the many generations of kids who took piano lessons only lasted a few years on the instrument. I’m not sure that there are more than one or two people who still play! But after at least four generations spread over about a hundred years, who cares? This original piano is still in good shape and kids and adults in both extended families all enjoy music.
There’s another musical connection between Lone Tree Farm and the enclave of Civil War veterans up the Creek. Charlie Barnes was the grand old man who played the fiddle back while my mother accompanied him on piano. (At least I thought he seemed really old, but he died at age 90 in the early 1960s. That means that he was about the same age as I am right now!) This is NOT a photo of Charlie’s fiddle. This fiddle is from Margaret’s family who were his neighbors about three generations before we were married. It’s really remarkable and fortunate that we weren’t related!
This is our daughter and her “littles” back when the Lone Tree piano first arrived at their house more than a decade ago. These folks are some of the fifth and sixth generations beyond the homesteaders, but the interest in music continues on. The second, third, and fourth generations all had members of male gospel quartets. The fourth and fifth generations had participants in high school and college choirs. And, the most recent sixth generation includes a mandolin player in a high school orchestra and a voice in a high school show choir.
Last night we went to a concert in Sioux Falls that included a friend who is a singer-songwriter and there were several ties to music along Kanaranzi Creek. His wife is the archaeologist who did the geophysical study of the site where we’ve found artifacts; one of the songs that he did was about the 2017 flooding in northwest Iowa that eroded out those artifacts. But, wait….there’s another connection. He’s also working on a song inspired by the post on lilacs from several weeks ago. It’s great to know that there’s going to be some original music associated with stories from along the Creek.
Thanks to Margaret again for finding these photos in her archive and for the fiddle picture.