Tuesday, August 11, 2020


 Post by Doris McCraw, writing as Angela Raines

Photo property of the author

In 1864 the song 'Beautiful Dreamer' by Stephen Foster, was published. That same year "De Deitcher's Dog" (Where oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone) by Septimus Winner, was also published Both men were American born songwriters whose songs were a part of the public consciousness and are still remembered today. 

Stephen Collins Foster was born on July 4, 1826, in Lawrenceville Pennsylvania. Even at a young age, Foster showed an interest in music but any training he had was primarily self-taught. His love of music saw him performing in minstrel shows while still a young boy. He had his first song published at the age of eighteen. Although the first song was music set to a poem by George P Morris, almost all of the remainder of Foster's works had both the lyrics and compositions done by Foster himself.

Stephen Foster - Wikipedia
Stephen Foster - from Wikipedia

His first big hit published in 1847 was "Oh Susanna". According to the Library of Congress, this song became associated with the California Gold Rush of 1849 when the "49ers" used a parodied version of this song as their unofficial anthem.

In 1850, Foster married Jane Denny McDowell. Perhaps you remember the romantic ballad "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair"? This song was written for his wife.

By 1854 Foster and his wife separated. Due to a lack of copyright protection for his works, Foster dealt with financial problems, and in the 1860s with his health declining and alcoholism the output of music suffered. He had moved from the minstrel music genre to sentimental ballads. Of all the ballads written during this time, "Beautiful Dreamer" was the only one to match the popularity of his early minstrel work. On January 10, 1864, Stephen Foster died in a New York hospital of the "fever". He was penniless at the time of his death.

Septimus Winner was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania in 1827. His name Septimus came about because he was the seventh child of Eastburn Winner, a violin maker, and Marianne Hawthorne. Although Winner had studied music as a youth he was primarily self-taught.

Winner opened a music store at age twenty and shortly thereafter began writing music and lyrics. During his lifetime he composed some fifteen hundred works for chorus and instrument ensembles but his first success was in 1854 with the popular song "What Is Home Without a Mother". Perhaps the one most popular and the one people know is, "Listen to the Mockingbird".

Septimus Evans Winner (1827-1902) | WikiTree FREE Family Tree
Septimus Winner - from Wikitree.com

An interesting fact about Winner is during the Civil War he composed a song "Give us Back Our Old Commander: Little Mac, the People's Pride". Although Winner was said to have written the song as an appeal to President. Lincoln to return with McClellan to service it was branded and anti-union song. In 1862 as a result of this song Winner was court-martialed and jailed on a charge of treason. The charge was dropped after Winner agreed to destroy all the remaining copies of the song which had sold some 80,000 copies within a few days of its release.

One of the big differences between Foster and Winner is Winner created his own publishing company, Winner & Schuster. This allowed Winner to control his works which included music instruction books that were published under the title "Septimus Winner's Methods".

Winner also wrote poetry and other written works. He was a frequent contributor to 'Graham's Magazine' which is at the time was edited by Edgar Allen Poe. Winner died in Philadelphia of a heart attack on November 22, 1902. 

Music was and still remains an important part of our consciousness. Many were the songs the miners, cowboys, teachers, women, and men used to get them through life. Below are links to two of those popular songs.

Listen to the Mockingbird   

Beautiful Dreamer

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet


GiniRifkin said...

Thank you for the interesting post. Two gifted artists on such different life-paths. Music certainly does define each generation.

Renaissance Women said...

I appreciate your kind words. We do have different music for different eras, yet some music transcends time. I did find their stories fascinating. Doris