Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Home Sweet Home: Life in 19th Century Ohio

As mentioned in a previous post, Thomas and Louisa (Shaffer) Bayles came to Illinois from Ohio. Thomas Bayles was born in (West) Virginia, and moved to Muskingum County at some time before 1849, when he married Louisa Shaffer. The Shaffer family settled in Jackson Township in Muskingum County in the 1820s, and Louisa was born and grew up there. Thomas, Louisa and their children moved west to Fayette County, Illinois in about 1859.

Another of our ancestors Edward Holben moved from Ohio to Illinois. The Holben family moved to Harrison Township, near Lodi in Medina County in the early 1830s. Edward moved west to Christian County, Illinois in 1862.

It is likely that the Shaffer and Holben families grew up with similar values - and may have enjoyed the same music.

To give a sense of life in Ohio in the 1800s, the Library of Congress has put together an on-line exhibit focusing on the music of the times, called Home Sweet Home. You can either look at the sheet music (often with nicely illustrated covers and, of course, supplying the lyrics) or listen to the recordings.

The exhibit emphasizes music published in Cincinnati in the 1840s-1860s, but the popular songs would likely have been familiar throughout Ohio.

You can either listen to the music for its own sake, or explore the exhibit to understand how the music expressed the values of the times.

For example "You never miss the water till the well runs dry" (recording,
sheet music) emphasizes both the "traditional habits of thrift" as well as "calculated risks in the persuit of self-advancement". Much lighter is "Galop", which sounds like it's strictly for dancing (Recording, sheet music)

Take a listen!

Links
Video from dance instructional manuals - scroll down to "Mid Nineteeth-Century" to see how they would have danced to the music in the Home Sweet Home exhibit.
•Additional mid-19th century sheet music: Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music and America Singing.

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