...since 5-string hoop banjos didn't become a norm until well into the 1800s after some professional white players reinvented the instrument in that form.
Riley's Flute Melodies, reprint 1973, was a book of common songs that was printed in 1814 and reprinted in 1820. Some familiar tunes found in it include: Money Musk
Come Haste to the Wedding
St. Patrick's Day
They all pretty much sound like the versions we know today as transcribed from Riley's. I used to play St. Patrick's day on the site's gourd banjo while on of the musician's played whistle when I worked at Historic Fort Snelling. You had to play the melodies pretty straight and only grab the 5th string if it was used as a melody note. None of this constantly on the 5th string that you hear today. It's only speculation on my part, but that may be why minstrel style is so sparing in it's use of the 5th string as a drone. You couldn't, if you wanted to play the popular music of the day.
If you can share PDF files on this site, I'll scan some of the transcriptions I made from Riley's. If I recall correctly, most of the tunes were in D, which sets well on a banjo tuned GCGBD. St. Patrick's Day is very close to the version found in George Weilich's book. I'll also share a link to a list of the tune's in Rileys on the next post.
This has already been addressed by Brent's interesting note about the Riley Flute book, (I'd love to see that sometime) but, as an unrepentant tune-hound I can't resist throwing in my two cents worth.
A number of the tunes in the old banjo books are Scots/Irish fiddle tunes that were popular in the 18th century on both sides of the ocean, although I suspect that it may not have occurred to anyone - black or white - to play them on the banjo in that era. Most of these tunes are still part of living fiddle traditions where I live (in Ontario) today.
Monymusk (aka Darkey Money Musk in Briggs)
Fisher's Hornpipe (aka Darkey Fishers Hornpipe in Briggs)
Bottle of Brandy (is called Bully For You in Converse '65)
Highland Fling (Monymusk again - under an alias in Winner's '83)
Robinson Crusoe or Rogues March (winner's '83)
The above is a real Rev. War tune - The British army at least, used this tune for drumming soldiers to punishment - the melody was later co-opted for an early 19th music hall song about "Poor old Robinson Crusoe"