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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Appomattox Court House in Appomattox County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Popularizer of the Banjo

 
 
Popularizer of the Banjo Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, April 18, 2010
1. Popularizer of the Banjo Marker
Inscription. Nearby is buried Joel Walker Sweeney (ca. 1810-1860), the musician who redesigned this African instrument into the modern five-string banjo that is known today. Although slaves apparently added the fifth string to what had been a four-strong instrument, Sweeney popularized the new form on the minstrel circuit. He toured with his two brothers, Sam and Dick, in minstrel shows from 1831 until his death in 1860. During the Civil War, Sam Sweeney served as Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's personal banjo picker until Seeney's death in the winter of 1863-1864.
 
Erected 1997 by Department of Historic Resources. (Marker Number M 68.)
 
Location. 37° 22.958′ N, 78° 47.366′ W. Marker is near Appomattox Court House, Virginia, in Appomattox County. Marker is on Old Courthouse Road (State Highway 24), on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Located at a highway pull-off in Appomattox Court House National Historic Site, near the bridge over the Appomattox River. Marker is in this post office area: Appomattox VA 24522, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. After the Surrender (within shouting distance of this marker); Appomattox River (within shouting distance of this marker);
Popularizer of the Banjo Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, April 18, 2010
2. Popularizer of the Banjo Marker
Lee's Apple Tree (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Grant and Lee Meeting (approx. 0.3 miles away); “Salute of Arms” (approx. 0.3 miles away); Lee and Grant Meet (approx. 0.3 miles away); Last Artillery Shots (approx. 0.4 miles away); Final Combat (approx. 0.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Appomattox Court House.
 
More about this marker. This marker replaced a marker numbered M-66 and titled “Inventor of the Banjo” near this location. It was renumbered because there was another marker elsewhere in Appomattox with this same M-66 number but titled “Eldon” about another topic. The original marker read “Nearby is buried Joel Walker Sweeney (circa 1810–1860), musician and developer of the five-string banjo. In 1831 Sweeney launched himself and his two brothers, Sam and Dick, on a series of minstrel tours that continued until his death twenty-nine years later.”
 
Also see . . .
1. Talented Sweeneys. Article looking at the
Sweeney Graveyard image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, April 18, 2010
3. Sweeney Graveyard
Seen from the highway, the graveyard is fenced in just north of the highway.
musical career of the Sweeneys. (Submitted on April 25, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

2. "Banjo" Sweeney. Photos from the National Park Service showing the Sweeneys. (Submitted on April 25, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicWar, US Civil
 
Joel Walker Sweeney image. Click for full size.
From Wikipedia Commons
4. Joel Walker Sweeney
Reconstruction Sweeney Cabin image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, April 18, 2010
5. Reconstruction Sweeney Cabin
About a mile further east on the highway is this cabin. The Sweeney family lived along the banks of the Appomattox.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,074 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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