Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

A Biography Of America's Folk-Song Composer By Harold Vincent Milligan

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44              STEPHEN COLLINS FOSTER
the rogue was glad to be allowed to depart unpunished." The copyright, however, was not taken out until 1848, by W. C. Peters.
In the meantime Stephen had given the manuscripts of this and others of his songs to W. C. Peters, the music-dealer who had arranged and published "Jump Jim Crow" in Pittsburgh fifteen years before. Peters had removed to Louisville, Ky., and had established a music business there. (Morrison Foster says that Peters had at one time been a music teacher to the Foster family.) Stephen had known him in Pittsburgh, and had sent the manuscripts to him at his request without any idea of their value. This fact is very significant, for it shows that neither Stephen nor, presumably, any of his family or friends, had as yet any inkling that his "strange talent for musick" could be anything else than a "weakness." Three of the songs presented to Peters were among Foster's most popular works; the publisher is said to have made $10,000 out of them, thereby establishing a pub­lishing business which flourished for many years.
The first of the songs to be published was "Louisiana Belle," which appeared in October, 1847. The copyright was taken out by W. C. Peters for " 'Louisiana Belle,' written for and sung by Joseph Murphy, of the 'Sable Harmonists'." No mention is made of the composer. The song was the first of five "Songs of the Sable Har­monists." The others were copyrighted and published in 1848, three by Stephen Foster, "O Susanna," "Uncle Ned," "Away Down South," and the last of the five, "Wake Up Jake, or the Old Iron City," by George Holman.
The records of the Copyright Office in Washington furnish some interesting testimony in support of Robert P. Nevin's statement that these songs had achieved great popularity before their publication, being spread about orally among the people in true folk-song manner. The authentic version of "Uncle Ned" was deposited for







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