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9 > Image 9 of The southern harmony songbook

Part of Kentucky Works Progress Administration Publications

l V . ;= PREFACE ii-- The American wilderness has become a land of farms, towns, and cities. The oxcart has been j< superseded by the railroad, the automobile, and the airplane. The packhorse messenger has been dis- carded for the telephone, telegraph, and radio. The log cabin has been replaced by frame house, brick lf; mansion, and service apartment. The well and the old oaken bucket have given way to plumbing fed by tested water from a central tank or reservoir. These and other changes wrought by modern science have ' come to Benton, Kentucky. But in this old western Kentucky town there lingers undisturbed a traditional i ji. . festival known as the Benton`s Big Singing." Only recently has its existence been threatened by the exhausting of the last edition of the Southern Harmony songbook, published in 1854. The few remain- ing copies, worn and brown with age, are guarded with care. Unless this old songbook could be repro- 1 duced, the probability was that the younger generation would lose interest in the festival that meant _ j much to their fathers and mothers, from whom they learned their traditional mode of community j Slflglflg. l While the Federal Writers` Project was gathering material for Kentucky, a Guide to the Bluegrass [ State, its editors became interested in the Bentons Big Singing as an unique custom that deserved pres- ervation. To this end the Young Mens Progress Club of Benton adopted as one of its major projects l the reproduction of the old Southern Harmony songbook. Through the united efforts of this club and the Federal Writers` Project, this reproduction of the Southern Harmony songbook, with an illustrated story of the festival and its background, is made possible. Special thanks are due to Dr. George Pullen jackson, of Vanderbilt University, for information on j William Walker and the Southern Harmony songbook and for permission to publish the picture of William Walker and his tuning fork. The sketch of R. Lemon, founder of the festival, is by George Joseph, of the art department of the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times. The sketch of the old courthouse, which burned in 1914, is by Orville A. Carroll, of the Federal Arts Project. We are particularly grateful for the cooperation of official representatives of the co-sponsor, The Young j Men`s Progress Club of Benton, Kentucky, without whose enthusiastic effort this work could not have [ been completed. U. R. BELL, State Director