I am raising here in this community several direct research related issues on the pursuit of the various individuals using the title Picayune Butler. I am not interested in unsupported conjecture, opinion, or blather, but in searching down supported facts for academic publication.
The search began in the spring of 2013 when Oxford University Press asked me to write a biographical piece on Picayune Butler to African American Autobiography a database of biographical material they and Harvard's W.E.B. Dubois Center maintain, followed by work for a presentation on this issue at the November 2013 Banjo Collectors Gathering in Knoxville, followed by a presentation on this issue at this year's Early Banjo Gathering.
The issue I would raise here is if there is any other published version of the song "Picayune Butler's Coming to Town" that mentions an early gourd banjo other than the version published on page 33 of Phil Rice’s Method for the Banjo: With or Without a Master, Boston: Oliver Ditson & Co.1858.
I have downloaded a bunch of published version dating from the 1840s on, but Phil Rice's version appears to be the only one referring to a gourd banjo or any sort of banjo.
Some have used this verse as a claim that this version represents an historical picture of the early gourd banjo definitely connected with a real Picayune Butler.
Is there any ground for thinking this in Phil Rice's background or history. Could this simply be Phil Rice's imagination or that of the writer of this song that otherwise has standard minstrel verses save its chorus.
What is the best set of sources about Phil Rice?