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Bacon, Thomas (1700?–26 May 1768), clergyman and musician, is traditionally said to have been born on the Isle of Man, but his earliest records come from Whitehaven, Cumberland County, England. His parents are unknown. His brother Anthony Bacon, M.P., may have been the same Anthony Bacon who graduated from Trinity College in 1739. Thomas Bacon was in charge of a coal depot in Dublin early in the 1730s. Since his son John Bacon was a lieutenant in the Independent Maryland Foot Company in 1754, he must have been at least eighteen then. Therefore, Thomas Bacon was probably married by 1735. Nothing is known of his wife except a statement by Rev. ...

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Bliss, Philip Paul (09 July 1838–29 December 1876), hymnodist and musical evangelist, was born in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, the son of Isaac Bliss and Lydia Doolittle, farmers. As an adolescent, he worked on farms and in lumber camps. Bliss proclaimed his personal conversion to Christ in 1850 and joined a Baptist church. After attending a select school in East Troy, Pennsylvania, in 1855 and working on a farm during the summer, he taught school in Hartsville, New York, during the winter of 1856. The following year he received his first formal instruction in music at J. G. Towner’s music school in Towanda, Pennsylvania. During 1858 Bliss taught school in Rome, Pennsylvania, where he boarded with the Young family. In 1859 he married Lucy Young, the oldest daughter of his hosts; the couple had two children. In the early 1860s Bliss taught music at Pennsylvania schools during the winter months, worked on his father-in-law’s farm during the summer, and attended occasional normal academies of music in Geneseo, New York....

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Bradbury, William Batchelder (06 October 1816–07 January 1868), music teacher, composer, and publisher, was born in York County, Maine, the son of David Bradbury and Sophia Chase. When Bradbury was fourteen years old the family moved to Boston, where William began the study of harmony and decided to become a professional musician. He attended the Boston Academy of Music, sang in ...

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Campbell, Lucie E. (1885–03 January 1963), gospel composer and teacher, was born in Duck Hill, Mississippi, the daughter of Burrell Campbell, a railroad worker, and Isabella Wilkerson. Her mother was widowed several months after Lucie’s birth, and the family soon moved from Carroll County to Memphis, the nearest major city. Lucie and her many siblings struggled to survive on their mother’s meager wages, which she earned by washing and ironing clothing. Given the family’s insubstantial income, it could afford a musical education for only one child: Lucie’s older sister Lora. Lucie eventually learned to play piano, however, through her own persistence, a gifted ear for music, and a little help from Lora....

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Peter, John Frederick (19 May 1746–13 July 1813), minister of the Moravian church (Unitas Fratrum), composer, and church record keeper, minister of the Moravian church (Unitas Fratrum), composer, and church record keeper, was born Johann Friedrich Peter in the Moravian settlement of Herrndijk, Holland, the son of Johann Friedrich Peter, the Moravian minister there, and Susanna Jacksch. Following Moravian custom, young Johann was sent to Moravian boarding schools in Haarlem and Zeist, Holland; Niesky and Gross Hennersdorf, Saxony; and the Moravian Seminary at Barby, Saxony, between the years 1750 and 1769. The school at Gross Hennersdorf and the seminary at Barby were well known for their excellent music programs. It is likely that Peter received his musical training there under composer Johann Daniel Grimm. Meanwhile, in 1760 his father was transferred by the church to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania....

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Sankey, Ira David (28 August 1840–14 August 1908), singing evangelist and gospel songwriter, was born in Edinburg, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, the son of David Sankey and Mary Leeper. Sankey’s father was a Pennsylvania state representative, collector of internal revenue, member of the State Board of Equalization, and newspaper editor. During Sankey’s childhood his father also farmed in West Central Pennsylvania, near the Ohio border. The family attended King’s Chapel near Western Reserve Harbor, where Sankey was converted during revival meetings in 1856. In 1857, when Sankey’s father accepted the presidency of a local bank, the family moved to New Castle, Pennsylvania, where Sankey joined the New Castle Methodist Church. By 1860 he was Sunday school superintendent and choir director....

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Ira D. Sankey. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-108534).

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Shindler, Mary Dana (15 February 1810–08 February 1883), songwriter and advocate of reform, was born Mary Stanley Bunce Palmer in Beaufort, South Carolina, the daughter of Benjamin Morgan Palmer and Mary Stanley Bunce. In 1814 her father, a Princeton graduate, became co-pastor of Charleston’s Independent (Congregational) Church. Mary attended a prestigious school for girls in Charleston and received a lady’s education at seminaries conducted by clergymen in Connecticut and New Jersey. Some of her juvenile poems were published in a periodical that was edited locally. Through family connections she met many of antebellum America’s leading clergymen, foreign and domestic missionaries, and women involved in church work and charities....

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Smith, Samuel Francis (21 October 1808–16 November 1895), editor, Baptist clergyman, and author, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Smith and Sarah Bryant. Young Smith was educated at both the Eliot School and the Boston Latin School, where he received the distinguished Franklin medal in 1825. At Harvard College, Smith became part of the famous class of 1829, which also included ...

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Swan, Timothy (23 July 1758–23 July 1842), hat maker and composer, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of William Swan, a goldsmith, and Levina Keyes. By age eleven he was apprenticed to a merchant in nearby Marlborough then moved to Groton, Massachusetts, to assist his brother in the same business. There he attended a singing school for three weeks in 1774. This experience, some fife instruction during a brief army stint in Cambridge later that year, and an article on music that he read in the 1797 ...

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Thompson, Will Lamartine (07 November 1847–20 September 1909), composer and publisher, was born in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, the son of Josiah Thompson and Sarah Jackman. His father was self-educated and worked for a time as a clerk on the wharf in Pittsburgh. He became a successful merchant and, about the time of Will’s birth, moved to East Liverpool, Ohio, where he established the mercantile firm of J. Thompson and Company. Three of his sons, including Will, were to be partners in the firm, and Will also served on the board of directors of the East Liverpool Bank, which his father established in 1873. The Thompson family was highly regarded in the East Liverpool area, and Josiah Thompson was elected to the fifty-eighth (1868), fifty-ninth (1870), and sixtieth (1872) sessions of the Ohio legislature....

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White, Anna (21 January 1831–16 December 1910), Shaker eldress, author, and songwriter, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Robert White, a businessman and farmer, and Hannah Gibbs, an almoner (a distributor of goods to the needy) for the Quakers. White was educated at Mansion Square Seminary, a Quaker school, in Poughkeepsie, New York. When she was seventeen she learned the tailoring trade and helped her mother distribute alms from the Quakers to the poor of New York City. Her father had become a Shaker and divided his time between living with his natural family and residing with the Shakers. His decision to become a Shaker angered his wife and alienated all his children except Anna who also became interested. Every effort was made to dissuade her from Shakerism, and an uncle even proposed to settle $40,000 on her if she would give up thinking about it....

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Woodbury, Isaac Baker (23 October 1819–26 October 1858), composer and music educator, was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, the son of Isaac Woodberry, a merchant and justice of the peace, and Nancy Baker. From an early age Woodbury preferred this spelling of the family name. His forebears, in Massachusetts since 1624, were solidly yeoman and middle class. In 1828 his father died, and his mother managed the property and took in boarders to support her eight children. In 1832 Woodbury was sent to Boston where, contrary to his mother’s wishes, he studied music under ...