Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

As most of you know, Joel Hooks and I made a pilgrimage to the Frank Converse gravesite in Elmira, Ny last Thursday. He is buried in his in-laws plot, the Maxwell family. His wife Harriet's father was Thomas Maxwell, a Vice-President of the Erie railroad. He died in 1864 and left Harriet (and Frank) a considerable sum. Also, she had "pile of dough" from her first, short marriage.

So why is Frank's headstone so small and cheap? A clue might be found in the preface to Harriet's "Myths and Legends of the Iroquois Nation," published posthumously in 1908. Arthur C. Parker, who had been her secretary and executor of her will, said upon her death that "her fortunes had dwindled almost to nothing." She had spent all the money in philanthropic enterprises, often "putting herself in embarrassing positions."

So this could be why Frank has such a cheap little headstone.

As to the misspelling of his initials (F.P.C.), I can only surmise that as Harriet was "prostrate with grief," she did not attend the funeral, and someone mistook the B for a P and it got on the headstone that way.

A picture on the headstone: http://classic-banjo.ning.com/photo/frank-and-tubs?context=latest

Views: 19

Comment by Tim Twiss on September 3, 2010 at 6:56pm
I have a relative buried in Andersonville. Alexander Sloan. His grave read A. Alown. When I see the cursive writing , I can understand it. It took a long time to find him, given this mistake.
Comment by Ian Bell on September 3, 2010 at 7:00pm
Carl is too modest to mention the sensational videos he and Joel made there. Check Youtube.
Comment by Tim Twiss on September 3, 2010 at 8:21pm
Oh yea, you mean that fretted fingerstyle stuff???
Comment by Rob MacKillop on September 4, 2010 at 12:43am
Carl, do you know if our Frank has any living descendants? They might well be interested in all this.
Comment by razyn on September 4, 2010 at 7:47am
Carl doesn't mention that if you go to that classic-banjo link he posted, and scroll either forward or back (Prev or Next), there are more good photos -- including the Maxwell family monument, and S.S. Stewart's headstone.


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