Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

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

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DRIFTING                                79
of generous encouragement from Washington Irving, dearly prized and carefully treasured until the day of his death. Similar missives reached him from overseas, from strangers and travellers in remote lands, and "he learned that while 'O Susanna' was the favorite song of the cottager on the Clyde, 'Uncle Ned' was known to the dweller among the pyramids."
Morrison Foster says that "from 1853 to 1860 Stephen lived at home" (home evidently being with his parents in Alleghany City). But this home was soon to be broken up and Stephen was to experience in reality those emo­tions of grief and sorrow which had so often been the burden of his song. His mother died suddenly in Janu­ary, 1855, and his father, who had been an invalid for four years, survived her only a few months, his death occurring in July of the same year. This double loss r must have been a terrible blow to a nature so affectionate and sensitive as Stephen's'. His love for his mother amounted to adoration. This is one point at least on which there is no conflicting testimony. The family letters are sufficient evidence, were any needed, of the unusual affection that characterized the relations of the different members of the family.
In the notices of Mrs. Foster's death which appeared in the Pittsburgh papers, she is spoken of as "the mother of Stephen C. Foster, the celebrated song-writer," indi­cating" that Stephen was accounted a celebrity. His name is mentioned before that of his father, twice Mayor of Alleghany City, or that of his brother, builder pf the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Early in the Spring of the following year (1856) another gap was made in the family circle by the death of Dunning Foster. The family Bible states that Mor­rison and Stephen were with him in Cincinnati at the time of his death.
During these years Stephen's musical productivity grew less and less. Five songs appeared in 1854, four

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