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I always knew there’d be music…

August 17, 2008
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I happen to be very passionate about music–I absolutely love it. I can relate to most any type (with obvious exceptions), as long as it’s not too classical or too recent, although generally I lean toward classical. Most specifically I prefer instrumental and orchestra–and, of course, popular 19th and early 20th century songs. What else? For me, the essence of an era is deeply reflected in its music.

Well, apparently someone connected with my research had a love for music as well. According to very interesting files on Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music 1870-1885, several songs were written around 1877 and 1880 by one Eunice Parke Detweiler. As I’ve learned in my (mostly around the internet) research travels, Eunice Parke married John S. Detweiler, and was the mother of William Champlin Detweiler, first husband of Sarah W. Kulp.

The website lists her under three different names, E.P., Eunice P., and Eunice Parke Detweiler, at this page. She also had a daughter by the same name (and to make matters more confusing, the younger Eunice Parke Detweiler married somebody else by the name of Parke!), but from what I can find in census records this time period would have been too early for her daughter to have been the author.

Apparently, except in one or two cases, Eunice Detweiler wrote only the music–some of the works credit the lyrics to one Jean Ingelow, and another to F.A. Parke. Not sure who he/she was; a finding aid to the Parke family papers at the Emory University in Atlanta, GA (wish I could go there, but alas, it’s not possible), mentions a Frederick Huntington Parke, but no F.A. Frederick was also probably rather young at the time anyway.

A sample of the sheet music by Eunice Parke Detweiler.

If I had a piano, I would try to render these lovely old songs myself, but I don’t–and I probably wouldn’t be able to do justice to the music anyway! But isn’t this something? I believe I’d seen the site some time ago, but hadn’t really explored it in detail.

There’s not a lot of person-specific information here, of course, and it would have been better if the name of the city were mentioned to confirm the author’s identity, but who else could it be? Sounds like Eunice, too–I get the impression she was one of those classic Victorian ladies. Most of what I know about her I learned from that finding aid–yes, there’s a lot to learn, just in the finding aid! It mentions that she was very active in the affairs of the Episcopal church at Harrisburg, and seemed to have a lot of connections. There were clergymen, lawyers, and diplomats in her family. Very, very interesting.

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