This week's tune is Elzic's Farewell, and is based on the playing of David "French" Carpenter (7 January 1899--5 March 1965) of Clay Co., WV. Carpenter was the son of Thomas Benton Carpenter (1863-1942) and Mary Perkins (1877-1907), and was descended from Nathaniel Carpenter, who was born in 1667 at Long Island, NY. There is a discrepancy with the date of French's death. Ancestry and Wikipedia say 22 May 1965, but his grave says 5 March 1965. (source: Ancestry)
For generations, the Carpenter family was known for their musical ability. French learned most of his music directly from his father, Tom, a fiddling preacher, and Tom had learned from his father, Solly "Devil Sol" Carpenter. Sol is said to have been a very influential fiddler, and gained his freedom from a Union prision during the Civil War for his rendition of a tune that is now known as Camp Chase. More on that in a future installment of Old-TIme TOTW when we feature that tune.
Thie tune has been described as "an old bagpipe tune, " and Carpenter claimed his ancestor (the Elzic or Elzick of the title) played the melody as a farewell before going to fight in the Civil War. Wilson Douglas, who was distantly related to French Carpenter (his grandfather and Carpenter's father were half-brothers), thought that Elzic was from Wood County, WV. The tune's origins have been researched by Jim Comstock of Richwood, WV, and were published by him in the West Virginia Songbag (1974). Comstock says the tune was written by Harvey G. Elswick (more about him in a moment). Elswick fought in the Civil War, after which he returend to Pike County. In 1875 he and his family moved to Kanawha County, WV, to live on 80 acres in Malden and Elk districts, and it was there that he wrote the melody now known as Elzic's Farewell, in April 1889. Comstock cites the research of a descendent, Rev. Albert Elswick of Wallkill, NY, which states that Harvey Elswick played the tune at the request of his mother on her deathbed. (source for this paragraph of information: Traditional Tune Archive)
Harvey George Elswick (19 January 1838--10 May 1915) was the son of John Tike Elswick (1809-1882) and Mary Polly Hackney (1818-1889). His ancestor John Elswick (b. 1677 Lancashire, England, d. 1759, Hampshire, VA) settled in Maryland by 1712 and moved to Virginia by 1720. Harvey Elswick married Amanda B. Epling on 12 March 1859 in Pike County, KY. (source: Ancestry)
There seems to be many different interpretations of the tune, which can include up to four parts. French Carpenter's recording includes two parts: slippery-hill.com/recording/el...farewell. For our recording, we played four parts.
Joining me here is Stephen Rapp on banjo (Kent, OH).
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One of the additional parts comes from Doc White, though Doc also plays the ending of one the Carpenter parts differently, and one part, I believe, was made up by Sandy Stark (recorded by Primitive Characters, 1997).
Send me a message if you'd like to hear the Doc White version.
Great ol' tune, Paul. Nice fiddling and nice banjo playing too!
Thanks, Peggy! Hope you are doing well.
Thanks Paul. Hope you all are too.
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