First Fiddler of Bluegrass was From Alleghany

Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys

The Bluegrass Boys in 1939, left to right: Art Wooten, Bill Monroe, Cleo Davis and Amos Garen.

Ever listen to Bluegrass Music? Well did you know that the father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe hired an Alleghany County boy when he got started back in 1939? And did you know that young man was named Arthur Wooten?

Years ago, T.J. Worthington told me- as he might well have told you- about Fiddlin’ Art Wooten. T.J. posted a very interesting blog post about Art at his site, Waterfall Road. In it he talked about how Mr. Wooten played alongside the greats: The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys; Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys and Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys.

Art Wooten is credited with helping to create some big hits. But you might not realize just how big.

One of the first hits from Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys- and arguably one of the biggest hits ever in the history of country music– was the Orange Blossom Special. Written by Ervin T. Rouse in 1938, it was recorded by Monroe and his band on October 2, 1941 in Atlanta, Georgia.

With Bill Monroe  on vocals and mandolin, Pete Pyle- vocals and guitar, Cousin Wilbur- vocals and bass and Art Wooten singing lead and playing the fiddle.

Listen carefully till the end when Art says, “Yeah Bill, where you gonna get off this train at?”
Bill says, “Yonder ’bout Atlanta, Georgia. Boy where’s you gwine?”
Art says, “I’m goin’ up ’bout Nashville, Tennessee. Where you goin’ Cousin Wilbur?”
Wilbur says, “I’m goin’ to Birmingham, Alabamy!”
Art: “What for?”
Wilbur: “Ain’t no ham like Birmingham!”
Art says, “Pete, Where you gonna get off at?”
Pete says, “Oh, I’m Memphis-bound, boys”

It could be argued that every version since has been a variation of that original session.

In a 1974 interview with country music historian Tom Wolfe, Bill Monroe said:

“Of course, Art Wooten was the first fiddler with me, from Sparta, North Carolina, and I found him in Asheville, got him in my group, come to Nashville. Art was a wonderful old-time fiddler, and he played numbers like the Mule Skinner Blues or Back Up and Push or Orange Blossom Special. The old-time fiddle numbers, he was hard to beat, man.”

 

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Engines From Irene Wagner

Here are two different engines backed up to the same load of logs. Both photos came from Irene Wagner in Whitehead, NC. The engine and the crew changes between shots, but the fellow with the dark shirt and vest is in both photos. He also looks like the man in the center of last week’s image, enlarged below. Could this be the big bossman?

 

BBlog

The Number 2 engine, looks to be the same one at far right in our photo posted last week.

CBlog

The Number 4 engine, looks to be the same one, second from left, in our photo posted last week.

Boss

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Ernest’s Wooly Booger Song

A song written for the Alleghany County, North Carolina Centennial in 1959. It features the beard-growing contest and other fundraising efforts. It was written and performed by Ernest Joines and his wife Agnes, long-time Mayor Pro Tem of Sparta, Alleghany’s county seat. Lead singer Bobby Carpenter and Harmonica player, G.C. Crouse round out the decidedly “Hillbilly-Style” band.

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Super Sharp Image From Irene Wagner

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This photo from a logging camp rail yard is from Irene Wagner’s family and was probably a contact print from a very well-focused, glass negative. We know it isn’t from Alleghany County, North Carolina, as Alleghany never had a railroad. The Elkin-Alleghany venture never made it up the mountain. It stopped at the base of the Blue Ridge escarpment at Doughton, NC in Wilkes County.
There are two more photos coming. One, we think, is of the engine at far right and the other is of the engine second from left.
Anyone have any ideas about time and place? Calling all old codgers, lend us your expertise!

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Alleghany Beauty On Display at the Historical Museum.

New Exhibit at Alleghany Historical Museum. Photography by W. Ray Scott National Park Concessions, Inc.

The new exhibit at the Alleghany Historical Museum will feature images by local photographers. Poster photography by W. Ray Scott National Park Concessions, Inc.

Alleghany County was formed from the eastern part of Ashe County. It is bounded on the south by Blue Ridge and Wilkes county line, west by Ashe County, north by the Virginia line and east by Surry County line. The county is divided into two valleys, Peach Bot­tom mountain passing through the county from east to west, valley of Little River on the south, New River and tributary streams, Prather’s Creek and Elk Creek on the north.
“The surface is uneven, ridges and valleys along the streams of water, beautiful springs gushing and gurgling from hills and dales, forests of trees such as oak, pine, poplar, ma­ple, ashe, hickory, chestnut, abundance of granite and fine species of soap-stone rich mines of iron, and copper. The productions are wheat, rye. corn, oats, buckwheat. sorgum­ cane, flax, potatoes and garden vegetables of great variety that mature in luxury and per­fection, fruits, such as apples, peaches, pears, quinces, plums, cherries, blackberries, straw­berries, currants, whortleberries and grapes.”

-Aras B. Cox in his book Footprints on the Sands of Time, a History of South-western Virginia and North-western North Carolina printed by the Star Publishing Company in Sparta, North Carolina in August of 1900.

 

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Alleghany Men – Selective Service in World War I

This is a roster of the first 199 men considered for service by the local board of Alleghany County, NC in World War I. The files are from the National Archives. Click the link or the image to open a  multi-page PDF file.Image

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Basin Cove Flood Centennial Commemoration

The Basin Cove Flood Centennial Commemoration is planned for Saturday, July 15, 2016, at the Primitive Campsite in Doughton Park. More info will be posted on the event’s Facebook page.

Get directions from the NPS Doughton Park Trail Map.DoughtonMap

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Sgt. Guy R. Torney – Called Out – April 12, 1917

 
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Sgt. Guy R. Torney, husband of Mildred Sturgill Torney.

Guy Ritchey Torney was born September 20, 1898 in Emlenton, Pennsylvania and enlisted in the National Guard April 16,1917. He was promoted to Sergeant, June 1, 1918 and was discharged June 28,1919. He died August 21, 1982 and was buried in Piney Creek United Methodist Church Cemetery.

Mildred passed away in 2014 and left the family papers to the Alleghany Historical – Genealogical Society, which she helped found. We are sharing Mr. Torney’s century-old account of his trip to France in honor of Memorial Day.
Click the images to enlarge.
Torneya Torney 1a Torney 2a Torney 3a Torney 4a
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Hanes Knitting Employees

Hanes Employees

Here is a 200 dpi, 8 x 10″ photo of the employees at Hanes in Sparta. The photograph is labeled 1966. Click the image to enlarge.

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Sparta-Alleghany Fire Department

Scan-7b

(left-to-right) Lawrence Tayson (#11), Homer Edwards (#10), Tom Truitt (#7), Eugene Higgins (#9), Paul Irwin (#3), Clarence Hendricks (#4), Oliver Sidden (#5), Web Miller (#6) and Clete Choate (#1).

c.1948 Photo from Margaret Crouse,  from a color slide shot by her father Cliff Evans.

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