Sheet Music Collection (1836-1920)

Finding Aid Completed by Susan Stessin-Cohn, February 21, 2006
Volume: 3 cu. ft., app. 275 items
Acquisition: Unknown.
Access: Unrestricted.
Copyright: Request for permission to publish materials from these records should be discussed with the Archivist and Director of Historic Huguenot Street.

Special thanks to Nedra Henderson for processing this collection.

Provenance Statement

The collection is comprised of sheet music owned by several individuals and families from the towns of New Paltz, Gardiner, and Shawangunk in Ulster County, New York, the most prominent of which is the immediately family of Hector Sears (1843-1924).

Hector Sears was born in the town of Rochester, Ulster County, NY on July 27, 1843. He was the son of Dr. Samuel James and Clara Gertrude Sears. Hector was educated at the Montgomery Academy and went on to become a store clerk in New York City. In 1861, he joined the 71st Regiment in New York City and served until he was mustered out the same year. During that time he fought in The Battle of Bull Run. He returned to his job in New York until September of 1862. He then joined up with the 131st Regiment, NY Volunteers. He fought in The Battle of Irish Bend and the first Red River Campaign. He was wounded at Port Hudson and subsequently received a promotion to Captain. After returning to Ulster County in 1869, he became editor and publisher of two local newspapers, The Gardiner Weekly and The Highland Post, and owned and operated a law firm until his death in 1924. [1]

Hector Sears married Margaret Collins of New Orleans, LA, on July 20, 1865, by whom he had at least five children. [2] Two of Hector Sears' daughters and one of his sisters are identified as owners of specific items of sheet music in the collection.

Ida Frances Sears was born to Hector Sears and Margaret Collins on February 4, 1883. After spending her childhood in Gardiner , New York, she moved to New Paltz, where she spent the rest of her life. She married Albert Schoonmaker, a New Paltz station master in 1918. Her last residence was at 24 Plattekill Avenue in the village of New Paltz. She died on March 3, 1977 at the age of 88. [3]

Edith Sears, file clerk, was born in 1877 to Hector Sears and Margaret Collins, at Gardiner, New York. Edith moved with her widowed sister Stella to New York City and took a job as a file clerk for a pattern company. She died in 1957 in Montgomery , Orange County, New York, at the age of 80. [4]

Stella G. Sears, nurse, was born December 16, 1877 to Hector Sears and Margaret Collins of Gardiner, New York. By the age of 31, Stella moved to Essex, New Jersey and worked as a nurse at the Newark City Hospital. She married Wilbur Woolsey and was widowed before she turned 52. In 1930, Stella and her unmarried sister, Edith resided together in New York City, where she worked as a nurse for a private family. Stella died on September 4, 1964 at the age of 87. [5]

Carrie White Sears, newspaper editor, legal clerk, and librarian, was born in the town of Gardiner , NY on March 17, 1862 to Dr. Samuel J. and Clara Sears. She shared business interests with her brother, Hector Sears, first as the co-owner and editor of T he Highland Post, and subsequently as an assistant in his law office in Gardiner, where she worked until his death in 1925. In her later years she resided in the neighboring town of Lloyd with her sister Alice Sears Johnson and worked as a librarian until her death (date unknown).

Other names mentioned in this collection are A. M. Askew, Helen Lyons and Cornelia Hasbrouck. The four items inscribed by A. M. Askew are believed to have belonged to Mrs. Annette Askew, the daughter of William and Margaretta Brinkerhoff. She was born in New York City c. 1890 and eventually married William Askew. They resided at 19 Huguenot St. Annette Askew died at the Kingston Infirmary on July 12, 1977, at the age of 87. [6]

Helen Kimble Lyons, schoolteacher, was born to James H. and Ida Perry Lyons in the town of Rosendale, NY on September 8, 1895. She later moved to Wallkill, where she held a teaching position in the Wallkill Central School District. She was a member of the Wallkill Reformed Church, the Shawangunk Historical Society and the New York State Retired Teachers. Ms. Lyons died on January 23, 1990. [7]

One large unpublished collection dating from 1836 belonged to Cornelia Hasbrouck, however, it has not been possible to determine her exact identity.

Collection Description

he Huguenot Historical Society Sheet Music collection consists of over 270 publications of American popular songs and instrumental pieces owned by individuals and families who resided in the towns of Gardiner and New Paltz, Ulster County, New York. Other items include music catalogs and sheet music found in popular journals and newspapers. The collection spans the years 1836 to 1920, but the bulk of the collection is comprised of music published during the four decades between 1880 and 1920.

The single-song sheets in the collection were published by a variety of individuals and companies from throughout the United States. Among the most prominent publishers represented in the in the collection are Richard A. Saalfield, Charles K. Harris, Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co., Irving Berlin Inc., Jerome H. Remick & Co., Leo. Feist Inc., M. Witmark and Sons, Union Mutual Music Co., Oliver Ditson & Co, and Sol Bloom. The majority of the items were published in major cities such as New York , Boston , Chicago, and Philadelphia, although others came from Ohio, Detroit, Indiana, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Virginia , New Bedford, and New Orleans. At least thirty of the items are extracted musical supplements taken from The New York World between 1899 and 1904. There were also two items published locally. Anthony. A. Shafer (A.A. Shafer), a New Paltz resident known as the Elderberry King, published "The Elderberry March". Shafer is noted as being the discoverer of elderberry wine. Milo E. H. Deyo, a Poughkeepsie resident, published "Enchantment" in 1891. [8]

Most of the publications in the collection contain the music and lyrics of only one song, printed on one or both sides. Some are folios containing up to ten pages of music. Others include published collections of numerous songs, and there is one series compiled and bound by a private collector. In addition, a majority of the sheet music covers in the collection are adorned with highly decorative illustrations. The scenes depicted in these illustrations provide an important source of information for popular contemporary ideas on politics, patriotism, race, religion, love, fashion, and sentiment.

The physical condition of the items in the collection range from poor to good. Even those in good condition show yellowing of pages and many have lost their bindings. Several show evidence of damage by rodents. There are a number of items labeled, War Edition, printed in smaller version. Many items have turned brown with crumbling along the side edges.

The subject content of the songs varies throughout the collection and can be described in terms of the following genres: patriotic and political songs, "Tin Pan Alley" songs, love songs, songs about family and home, dance and instrumental music and religious songs.

There are 45 items in the collection relating to politics and patriotism. Major publishers of this genre include the Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co., Irving Berlin, Inc., Meyer Cohen Music Pub. Co. and Leo Feist, Inc. The major place of publication was in New York , although a small number were published in Detroit and Dayton, Ohio. Subheadings in this category consist of marches and military music including melodies from WWI, patriotic and historical music, and temperance songs.

Thirty five songs deal specifically with WWI. Titles include Waterson, Berlin & Snyder's, "Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning" (1918), Bryan, Hess, and Leslie's, "When Alexander Takes his Ragtime Band to France" (1918), Leo Feist's, "K-K-K- Katy" (1918) and George M. Cohen's, "Over There" (1917), one of the most famous war tunes ever written. Other patriotic songs include "On the Banks of the Hudson Brave General Grant Sleeps" (1897), written by a war widow, "The Star Spangled Banner" (1882), and Juliet Norton's, "Our New President" (1896). There is also a pamphlet written for children titled "Marching Songs for Young Crusaders - Temperance Songs for the Cold Water Army," published in 1885 by the Woman's Temperance Publishing Association.

Also in this genre are songs that celebrate specific states or geographical regions. These pieces were published by a variety of companies including Charles B. Ward Music Company, Richard A. Saalfield, and Legg Brothers. Almost all of these companies ere located in New York City. Examples include "Dreams of Old Kentucky" (1897), "My Old New Hampshire Home" (1898), "Down In Sunny Alabama" (1901), "Summer Time In Dixie" (1899), "When You Come Back To Georgia" (1899), and "Once More Take Me To Old Virginny" (1899).

The next genre includes "Tin Pan Alley" or "Coon" songs, which contain strong racist content directed primarily towards African-Americans. Although there are only a few of these songs in the collection, the current interest in the subject of racism and discrimination in scholarly and popular cultural circles makes them particularly noteworthy. Titles include F. Heiser's, "Climbing Up De Golden Stairs" (1884), Ellis G. Berg's, "The Laughing Little Red-Head Coon" (1889), G. L. Lansing's, "The Bugaboo Man" (1889), G. O. Lang's, "Dreams of Old Kentucky" (1897), and Nicol and Barnet's, "The Darkies Dream" (1900). Publishers included Harry Tillmann & Co., Arthur W. Tams both of New York City and S.W. Blair of Boston .

The next genre is comprised of approximately thirty-five love songs and ballads, most of which were published by Jerome H. Remick and Richard A. Saalfield of New York City, and Charles K. Harris of Milwaukee, WI. Titles include "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" (1909), "We're in Love with the Same Sweet Girl" (1916), "Kiss Me Good-Bye Sweetheart" (1904) and "The Girl in the Hammock's the Girlie for Me" (1909).

There are also about sixteen songs relating to topics of family and home published by Meyer Cohen Music, Myll Bros., or E. G. Coleman. These publishers were predominantly located in New York, although some were based in Kentucky and Chicago. Within this genre, titles such as "Your Mother is Loving You Yet" (1898), "The Greatest Little Mother in the World" (1918), and "Just a Word for Father" (1904) pay tribute to parenthood, while others such as "Rock-A-Bye Baby" (1874), "Sunny Days of Childhood" (1879), and "Mother's Darling Yet" (1899), celebrate childhood.

The final genre found in the collection is comprised of a small number of songs focusing on religious themes, the most popular of which are "A Hymn of Thanksgiving" and "Calvary" (1897). Publishers of this genre include Richard A. Saalfield and De Luxe Music Co., both located in New York City.

In addition to vocal songs, the collection also contains a small number of pieces of dance and instrumental music. Among these are polkas, gallops, waltzes, as well as two schottisches, which is a combination of a polka and a hop. Publishers of dance music included Oliver Ditson & Co., New York Musical Record Company, and Charles W. Harris. These publishers were located in Boston, and New York City, and Troy, New York, respectively.

Box List

The collection has been arranged chronologically or by type. The following box list provides A list of song titles is available by request.

Box # 001 : Single Songs (1862-1893)

Box # 002 : Single Songs (1894-1899)

Box # 003 : Single Songs (1899-1904)

Box # 004 : Single Songs (1904-1918)

Box # 005 : Single Songs (1918-1920 and undated)

Box # 006 : Compilations (1836, 1885)

Box # 007 : Magazines (1897-1917)

Box # 008 : Single Songs and Catalogs (with either no dates or no titles)

Box # 009 : Single Songs and Compilations (undated)


[1] Biographical information for Hector Sears is drawn from the following three obituaries kept at the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection, Elting Memorial Library, New Paltz, NY: Obituary, Hector Sears. New Paltz Independent and Times, October 4, 1924; Carrie White Sears, unidentified obituary, c. 1926; Stella Woolsey Sears. The Newburgh News, September 5, 1964. Unless otherwise noted, all biographical information for the Sears family is taken from these sources.

[2] Hector's obituary lists only those who survived him. It is unclear whether his wife gave birth to any other children.

[3] Biographical information for Ida Francis Sears Schoonmaker is drawn from the following obituary kept at the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection, Elting Memorial Library, New Paltz, NY: Obituary, Mrs.Schoonmaker, New Paltz Independent, March 3, 1971.

[4] Biographical information for Edith Sears is drawn from the 1910 and 1930 United States Federal Census Records.

[5] Biographical information for Stella G. Sears is drawn from the 1910 and 1930 United States Federal Census Records..

[6] Biographical information for Annette Askew is drawn from the following obituary kept at the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection, Elting Memorial Library, New Paltz, NY: Obituary, Annette Askew. unidentified obituary.

[7] Biographical information for Helen Kimble Lyons is drawn from the following obituary kept at the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection, Elting Memorial Library, New Paltz, NY: Helen Kimble Lyons, New Paltz News, January 31, 1990.

[8] Biographical information for Anthony A. Shafer is drawn from the following obituary kept at the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection, Elting Memorial Library, New Paltz, NY: Obituary, Anthony A. Shafer, unidentified newspaper, August 28, 1918.