Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Musical Family

I always loved going down to my Grandpa Carl Clare's house.  "Pops" as we affectionately called him had some odd and interesting things in his home (a jeweled tree! metal detectors! old wooden teeth!) all which were very enticing to a school kid.  Pops house was only a block from my own.  I would stay there after school sometimes or just wander down on the weekend to say hi.  I loved to swing on his porch swing, pet his cats and above all else, listen to him and my step-grandmother Thelma play their music.

Pops would play a song on the guitar or pluck his banjo and Thelma would play the organ. She always let me tinker on the organ. They played several functions together every year, entertaining the good people of Kansas and they kept on playing until Thelma left this world.  Pops continued on with his music however, which I'm sure was very healing to him after Thelma's passing. One of my last memories of Pops was when Charlie and I took my Grandma (Duesing) for a ride on the DCF&B train and Pops provided the music.  What a surprise that was to take one grandparent for a ride, only to discover another on the same train!
 Pops (on guitar) and Bob Love (fiddle) entertained passengers during their ride on the DCF&B railroad.

I have a story from Pops about being the entertainment on the railroad that I will post in a followup blog.  For this blog entry I want to focus on what I discovered about my grandfather's musical heritage.  In researching my grandfather's maternal line, I discovered that music was a big part of the Roth family life.  Not only music, but stories and poetry too. 

My great grandmother, Pops' mother, Glen Coe Roth, was a violin player.  She must have been good as she played different venues and functions. Here is a photo of her holding her violin:

And here is a flyer announcing one of her performances:
It reads in part "Good violin music and songs will be interspersed throughout the entire program by Glen Roth Clare."  Notice the name of the Entertainment Co. "Evans-Roth".  I haven't figured out yet if that was Glen Coe herself or another musical Roth that was partners with "Evans".

Glen Coe must have passed her love for music down to her children, thus my grandfather probably had music in his life from an early age. And the same was probably true for Glen Coe as well since her father, my great great grandfather Webster Tyler Roth was a drummer.  He drummed in the Civil War for Company H, Iowa 26th Infantry Regiment from August 14th, 1862 until June 6th, 1865, from the age of 20 to 23.  Here is a Civil War Reunion picture of him and other members of his regiment.  I have no idea when it was taken, but most likely, at least 20 years after the war. My great great grandfather is seated in the middle row, third from the left:
Webster and his wife Annie had 10 children who lived and I'm curious now to find out how many of Glen Coe's siblings also enjoyed music and maybe if Annie herself was musically inclined and if it also came from her side of the family (Wright).  At least some of it rubbed off on me as I played piano, guitar and flute as I was growing up and still, today plunk on the piano every now and again
Will I find more musicians in my family tree? Stay tuned! (No pun intended!)

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