Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

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

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72               STEPHEN COLLINS FOSTER
"Alleghany," and arrived in Pittsburgh on her. I had met them at Cincinnati and we were so well treated on the "Alleghany" that every­body on the boat joined in a complimentary card of thanks to Captain Batchelor. In those days the captains and other officers of the steamboats on the Western rivers regarded the passengers as their guests and treated them accordingly. These officers neces­sarily had to be gentlemen, or otherwise they could not continue long in the trade.
Wonderful men were these old-time river commanders, combina­tions of shrewd business management, daring seamanship, physical courage and manners fit for the most refined society. ' They are nearly all gone now. Before long the landing bell will sound and the gang-plank be run out for the last of them to take his place "among the silent sleepers."
As far as is known, with the possible exception of a visit at the home of Judge Rowan, in Bardstown, Ken­tucky, this trip to New Orleans is the only time that Stephen Foster, "the great Southern melodist," was ever in the South. The statement, frequently made, that on this voyage he observed many incidents of Southern life, which he afterwards utilized as points for poetical similes in his songs, is obviously untrue, because (as we have just pointed out) at this time he practically ceased to write about the South or the Southern negro.
I have been unable to ascertain exactly the date of the birth of Stephen Foster's only child, his daughter Marian. Robert P. Nevin says that she was twelve years old at the time of her father's death, which would indicate that she was born in the year of this trip, 1852.
The date of his first journey to New York is said to be "shortly after his marriage." If, as seems probable, he made only one trip during these years to New York, it must have been in 1853, as there is a letter to his brother Morrison written from New York in the summer of that year. It will be recalled that the letter from his sister Henrietta, making apparent reference to the un-happiness of his marriage and suggesting that he visit her in Youngstown, Ohio, was dated June 21st, 1853, a little over two weeks before the date of the New York letter. He may have gone to New York instead of to Youngstown.







E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III