Merit, Not Sympathy, Wins: The Life and Times of Blind Boone

Truman State University Press
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Foreword by Max Morath
In post-Reconstruction America, John William "Blind" Boone, an illiterate, itinerant musician, overcame obstacles created by disability, exploitative managers, and racial prejudice to become one of the country’s most beloved concert performers. This book includes Melissa Fuell-Cuther's out-of-print biography, Blind Boone: His Life and Achievements, which relates the highlights of Boone's harrowing journey and also testifies to the struggles of many African Americans during the Jim Crow era.
     With the initial publication of the Boone biography in 1915, Fuell-Cuther broke ground as the first American black author to write about the life of a black musician. As a member of Boone’s concert company, she provided firsthand knowledge of Boone's early years, his career performing tours across the country, and perhaps most importantly, his professional and personal relationship with John Lange, whom many at the time considered the best entertainment manager, black or white, in the country.
     The story of Blind Boone is revitalized in this annotated edition of the biography, accompanied by essays describing the Missouri environment in which the artist lived, his place within the landscape of American music, and his achievements after publication of the second edition of Fuell’s biography. Early black performers faced barriers of discrimination with perseverance, resilience, and courage to carve a path for future generations.
 
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About the author

Mary Collins Barile, PhD, is a theatre historian and author of books about Missouri history, the Santa Fe Trail, and the history of acting in nineteenth-century America. Her most recent publication is The Haunted Boonslick: Ghosts, Ghouls & Monsters of Missouri’s Heartland. She lives in Boonville, Missouri.

Christine Montgomery is a grant writer for the University of Missouri and worked as the photograph specialist at the State Historical Society of Missouri, where she wrote the Blind Boone essay for the society’s Historic Missourians website. She served as a contributing writer and coeditor for Images of Our Lives, a history of Columbia, Missouri.
 

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Additional Information

Publisher
Truman State University Press
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Published on
Sep 23, 2015
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9781612480664
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Composers & Musicians
Music / Genres & Styles / Jazz
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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For nineteenth-century travelers, the Santa Fe Trail was an indispensable route stretching from Missouri to New Mexico and beyond, and the section called “The Missouri Trail”—from St. Louis to Westport—offered migrating Americans their first sense of the West with its promise of adventure. The truth was, any easterner who wanted to reach Santa Fe had to first travel the width of Missouri. This book offers an easy-to-read introduction to Missouri’s chunk of Santa Fe Trail, providing an account of the trail’s historical and cultural significance. Mary Collins Barile tells how the route evolved, stitched together from Indian paths, trappers’ traces, and wagon roads, and how the experience of traveling the Santa Fe Trail varied even within Missouri. The book highlights the origin and development of the trail, telling how nearly a dozen Missouri towns claimed the trail: originally Franklin, from which the first wagon trains set out in 1821, then others as the trailhead moved west. It also offers a brief description of what travelers could expect to find in frontier Missouri, where cooks could choose from a variety of meats, including hogs fed on forest acorns and game such as deer, squirrels, bear, and possum, and reminds readers of the risks of western travel. Injury or illness could be fatal; getting a doctor might take hours or even days. Here, too, are portraits of early Franklin, which was surprisingly well supplied with manufactured “boughten” goods, and Boonslick, then the near edge of the Far West. Entertainment took the form of music, practical jokes, and fighting, the last of which was said to be as common as the ague and a great deal more fun—at least from the fighters’ point of view. Readers will also encounter some of the major people associated with the trail, such as William Becknell, Mike Fink, and Hanna Cole, with quotes that bring the era to life. A glossary provides useful information about contemporary trail vocabulary, and illustrations relating to the period enliven the text. The book is easy and informative reading for general readers interested in westward expansion. It incorporates history and folklore in a way that makes these resources accessible to all Missourians and anyone visiting historic sites along the trail.
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