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Jan 16, 2022 - 6:24:28 AM
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506 posts since 7/31/2018

Old-Time TOTW #186 is Chase the Squirrel from the playing of Franklin Pierce "Frank" Wisehart (25 June 1860--10 April 1949). He was the son of Absalom B. Wisehart (1822-1901) and Mary Keisling/Keesling (1831-1914). He married Nora Burgett (1867-1929) on 16 February 1887. The Wiseharts had two daughters, Edith (1887-1960) and Ethel (1890-1973). (source: public documents found on Ancestry)

By looking at the Census, it seems Wisehart was an industrious man. His occupations listed were as follows:

1880 (age 20): farmer (along with his father and brothers)
1900 (age 40): huckster
1910 (age 50): janitor in a bank
1920 (age 60) janitor for a manufacturing company
1940 (age 80): department manager for a dry goods store

A huckster is a person who sells small items, either door-to-door or from a stall or small store. Wikipedia notes: "The huckster made his presence known by crying out loud what he had to offer. In old time Philadelphia dialect, to say "like a huckster" meant to be too loud in one's speech."

A short (partial?) interview of Wisehart's son-in-law, Alan Litton, gives us some information about Frank Wisehart. Wisehart learned to play at a young age. Litton said: "Best damn fiddler in the state of Indiana, and could play for hours without repeating anything" Litton related a story about Wisehart being asked to play a tune: "He [Frank Wisehart] says, 'I don't know whether I can do that or not, I haven't played that for YEARS'... [Wisehart] sawed a little bit...took off. Just as *smooth* as could be... And he liked to play, and he'd sit right over there where that TV is now, and played within three weeks of passing away...never got the least bit jiggly, never got off key...just..perfect. Many times in the evening when we were all here...he'd want to play and he'd just go off in the kitchen and close the door...set out there, maybe play for an hour, all by himself...we had lots of fiddle parties here...he went to any number of earlier years, he never failed to bring back home something from the contests..."
Litton also related that In 1928 Wisehart played in the Indianapolis State Fair in a contest and won second place because "his knees were bucklin' and he had to sit down...the man who got first couldn't even come close to him."

I'd like to thank Paul Taylor for broadcasting the interview with Alan Litton as well as a recording of Wisehart playing Chase the Squirrel (included at the end of this video) done at Wabash College in 1940. Paul played these selections on Indiana Hoedown. Interestingly, Wisehart dedicated the selection to his daughter Ethel Litton. She is playing the piano in the recording, and Jay Fritz is playing the banjo. Paul also provided the photo of Wisehart and another unidentified fiddler shown at the end of the video. We are not certain which man in the photo is Wisehart.

The tune was recorded by the Volo Bogtrotters in 1997 and Bigfoot in 2012. The tune is not related to other tunes of the same name, and the title is said to be a floating one.

Joining me are friends Stephen Rapp on banjo (Kent, OH), Jeanie Creamer on guitar (Hocking Hills, OH), and Nick Weiland on bass (Logan, OH).

Jeanie and Nick play (along with Mark Barsamian) in the band Jeanie and the Dreamers. Check them out at:

Old-Time TOTW is able to continue through your support. If you'd like to be a part of this journey, join my Patreon at:

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Jan 17, 2022 - 7:32:08 AM
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13160 posts since 9/23/2009

Nice tune...nice playing.

Jan 17, 2022 - 1:59:11 PM

506 posts since 7/31/2018

Thank you, Peggy!

Jan 19, 2022 - 9:13:37 PM
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343 posts since 1/16/2021

What an interesting history! We had hucksters also, I know from the stories of my grandmother. They were sellling stuff that was hard to get like fine fabrics and leather. They went door to door, had a suitcase with them filled with goods, opened it up and showed what they were offering.

I love the tune and playing <3 Very nice ensemble.

Jan 20, 2022 - 6:56:11 PM
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506 posts since 7/31/2018

Thanks, Anja!

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