Ragtime · Blues · Hot Piano
Ferd “Jelly Roll” Morton

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Prologue  ·  Ancestry and New Orleans Days, 1890 — 1905
On the Road, 1905 — 1917  ·  California Days, 1917 — Spring 1923
Chicago and New York : Success, Prosperity,  April  1923 — 1931
Leaner Years in New York, 1931 — 1936
Washington, D.C. : Library of Congress, 1936 — 1938
Comeback in New York : Scuffling, Back to California, 1939 — 1941
Recordings and Discography  ·  Music Roll Recordings and Rollography
Library of Congress Recordings  ·  Library of Congress : Jelly Roll and Alan Lomax Narrative
An Essay in Genealogy  ·  Mabel Bertrand  ·  Portraits from Jelly Roll’s New Orleans
Portraits from Jelly Roll’s Early Travels, 1905 — Spring 1923
Portraits from Jelly Roll’s Later Travels,  April  1923 — 1941
Population Statistics of Cities and Towns in Jelly Roll’s Travels, 1905 — 1941
Copyrights & Compositions  ·  Baltimore Sessions Letters  ·  Surviving Correspondence
Anita Gonzales and Bob Kirstein Radio Broadcast  ·  WWI Draft Registration Cards and Essays
International Researchers  ·  Iconography Library  ·  Recommended Listening  ·  Appendix
Roy J. Carew  ·  Posthumous Articles  ·  Historic Buildings  ·  References  ·  Kudos

Background to the research

My interest in Jelly Roll Morton first began in the 1950s. Like many collectors and admirers of Morton, I was disappointed that there appeared to be no scholarly publications available, which included a full-scale discography and detailed documentation about his life and movements. The only serious work available at that time was the legendary book, Mister Jelly Roll by Alan Lomax, which Morton devotees acknowledge as a major pioneering work.

Alan Lomax’s book is based on his personal interviews with Jelly Roll Morton at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. during 1938, along with additional interviews with some of Morton’s relatives and musician colleagues. He was appointed assistant in charge to the Archive in 1937, and he went on to play a decisive role in setting up the widely-acclaimed Library of Congress recordings of Jelly Roll Morton.

The interviews and recordings took place in the Coolidge Auditorium, commencing 23rd May 1938 through to 12th June 1938, and concluded with a final session on 14th December 1938. The recordings of Jelly Roll Morton performing and reminiscing about his life, together with Alan Lomax’s book, provide a monumental personal insight into this much-admired legend. However, there still remains a gap in detailed knowledge about his recordings and life.

Lawrence Gushee, Professor Emeritus at the School of Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is the acknowledged leader of research on Jelly Roll Morton. He has provided new factual information, complete with an “afterword” to the updated 367-page book, Mister Jelly Roll : The Fortunes of Jelly Roll Morton, New Orleans Creole and “Inventor of Jazz”. The book, published by The University of California Press, reasserts the importance of this work of African-American biography to the study of jazz and American culture.

Since the 1950s, groups of collectors and researchers, including Laurie Wright, — one of the world’s leading Jelly Roll Morton specialists — have been quietly working away, determined to uncover, not just discography details, but to search out and provide fresh and sometimes unexpected detailed information about Jelly Roll’s remarkable life.

There have been several attempts at compiling accurate discographies of the recordings of Jelly Roll Morton. Notably, Jazz Music, ii, 6 and 7 by Albert J. McCarthy, © 1944; the New Hot Discography by Charles Delaunay © 1948; the 40-page booklet titled, Jelly Roll Morton : An Essay in Discography by Thomas Cusack, M.A. © 1952, and the Discography of Jelly Roll Morton, Vol. 1 (1922-29) and Vol. 2 (1930-40) by Jorgen Grunnet Jepsen (with biographical notes by Knud H. Ditlevsen) © 1959. Of course, these publications are skeletal by comparison with Laurie Wright’s book Mr. Jelly Lord.

It wasn’t until 1968 that the first full-scale work listing Morton’s recordings appeared, when Laurie Wright and John R. T. Davies compiled and published Morton’s Music. A print run of 1000 copies — now collector items — quickly sold out. Laurie did not pretend that this small booklet was the end of the story; indeed in 1980, he commented that “researchers had barely scratched the surface of this field”.
[MJL intro]

Laurie knew that time was running out to contact surviving musicians who had played and recorded with Jelly Roll Morton. Appreciating the urgency, he decided to re-establish contact with every major collector, researcher and expert associated with Morton’s music. Over a period of many years, Laurie accumulated a vast amount of material and information about Jelly Roll Morton, including articles and pictorial adverts culled from archived African-American newspapers, principally The Indianapolis Freeman, The Chicago Defender, The Baltimore Afro-American, The California Eagle, The New York Age and The Pittsburgh Courier.

Laurie, and his wife Peggy, obtained additional rich new material, when they hosted at their home, or personally visited surviving musicians who knew Morton. Other researchers, including the Storyville magazine team working on Laurie’s behalf, tracked down and interviewed musicians whose names were previously only known to us from record sleeve liner notes. Armed with all the fresh information that was continuing to arrive almost daily, Laurie realised that a new book would have to be compiled and written. This resulted in the publication of Mr. Jelly Lord, a full-scale 256-page book devoted to Jelly Roll Morton’s recordings and his movements.

Morton’s family and early environment

Prof. Lawrence Gushee and Dr. Charles Nolan, Archivist of the Archdiocese, send details of an entry from the Baptismal Register of St. Joseph’s Church, 1802 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, which records that Ferdinand Joseph Lemott (LaMothe) was born on 20th October 1890 and baptized on 25th April 1891. His parents were Edward Lemott (Edward J. LaMothe) and Louise Monett (Monette) and his Sponsor (godmother) was Eulaley Haco (Eulalie Hécaud). The Certificate of Baptism states: “A true extract from the Baptismal Register of this Church — Date 6/22/81, Vol. 7, Page 1” and is courtesy of Lawrence Gushee.

Lawrence points out that Ferdinand’s parents were united in a common-law marriage and therefore were not legally married.
[C 16]

Additional dates, principally that of 20th September 1890, for Jelly Roll Morton’s birth have been examined, and these should be given due consideration. It is strongly recommended that readers consult the appropriate section of Peter Hanley’s in-depth, An Essay in Genealogy. However, until Morton’s birth certificate surfaces, the information from his baptismal certificate remains, for the time being, the best evidence of his birth date.

Many researchers have been uneasy with the name La Menthe, LaMenthe or Lamenthe that is quoted in nearly all references to Jelly Roll Morton. I raised this point with Laurie Wright in July 1999, and he agreed that the names La Menthe, LaMenthe or Lamenthe derived solely from Lomax’s book. Roger Richard, who holds one of the largest private collections of Morton memorabilia, has found no trace or reference to the surnames La Menthe, LaMenthe or Lamenthe in the New Orleans telephone directory, or the French Minitel electronic telephone directory.
[OMJ 698]

Along with other senior researchers, I believe that Alan Lomax noted Jelly Roll’s name incorrectly when he was transcribing Jelly Roll Morton’s dialogue. Listening carefully to the Library of Congress recordings, which relate to his narrative on his ancestry, early life and first music lessons, you will hear Jelly distinctly say, “my real name is Ferdinand LaMothe”.
[AFS 1640-A]  To support this further, in Mister Jelly Roll, Alan Lomax has noted, in error, Artie Matthews as Audie Mathews. [MJR 148-149]  Listen to Jelly Roll and he clearly says, “Artie Matthews”. [AFS 1654-B]  I make this point to illustrate just how easily the spoken word can be misinterpreted. Even J. W. Downing, the curate of St. Joseph’s Church, has entered Morton’s name as “Lemott” on the baptismal certificate, which is dated 25th April 1891. [C 14]

Lawrence Gushee has examined the 1900 New Orleans Federal Census records and Soards New Orleans City Directories and they indicate that young Ferdinand LaMothe probably lived at his father’s house at 141 1/2 Perdido Street for the first four years or so of his life.

Louise Monette married William Mouton on 5th February 1894, in a possible joint wedding ceremony with Joseph Adams and Laura Péché (known also as Laura Monette). A copy of the marriage certificate shows that William Mouton made his mark with an “X” and Louise is entered as Louisa. The ceremony was witnessed by Emile Péché, Paul Hécaud, Amelia Péché (her signature on the matrimonial certificate is shown as Amelia Péchér), and Alex Johnson.
[C 15]

The Mouton family lived together with the Adams, Monette and Péché families at 1443 Frenchmen Street, 7th precinct, 7th ward, New Orleans, Louisiana. They are all listed in the 1900 U.S. Census. [E 165] Alan Lomax in his book Mister Jelly Roll incorrectly noted this as “Frenchman and Robinson”. [MJR 10]

Lawrence has also discovered evidence from the 1900 U.S. Census that young Ferdinand’s name has been entered as Ferman by the enumerator.
[E 164]

New Orleans researcher Daniel Meyer sends the following information about Jelly Roll Morton’s childhood home, 1443 Frenchmen Street, New Orleans. Included in this detailed article are four photographs of the house.

Click on photograph to enlarge view of 1443  Frenchmen  Street, New Orleans

1443 Frenchmen Street

Jelly Roll Morton’s Childhood Home

The 1443 Frenchmen Street address refers to the left half (lake side) of the building. Since the streets of New Orleans were laid out in relation to the twists of the Mississippi River rather than the compass, many New Orleanians refer to directions as towards the river (in Morton’s time also known as Front of Town), away from the river being called towards the lake (in Morton’s time also known as Back of Town or sometimes towards the woods), up or up-river, and down or down-river. Thus in local parlance the Morton house is on the downtown river corner of Frenchmen & North Robertson.

Picture 1 — Looking at front of the house from across Frenchmen Street; N. Robertson Street to the left.

Picture 2 — View diagonally across N. Robertson & Frenchmen intersection, showing side and front of house and two neighboring houses.

Picture 3 — Looking lakewards back Frenchmen Street. A small commercial building, now a corner grocery, across N. Robertson Street, is visible past Morton’s house. The characteristic doorway on the corner strongly suggests that the building was intended for commercial purposes when built.

Picture 4 — Side and back of house as visible across N. Robertson Street.

The Type of Building

The building is typical, not only for the neighborhood, but for much of the sections of New Orleans built in the 1800s. It is a wooden “double”, the most common type of New Orleans residential architecture from early 19th to early 20th century. Such buildings are divided down the middle by a center wall making two separate living spaces, mirror-vision duplicates of each other.

Like most 19th century New Orleans residences, it is raised above street level to prevent damage from the periodic flooding produced by semi-tropical downpours.

The rectangular addition to the back of the house visible in picture 4 is also fairly common on 19th century homes; it usually indicates where indoor bathrooms were first added to houses originally built without them.

The Neighborhood

The building is in the neighborhood known as the Faubourg Marigny, the old Third Municipality of New Orleans. It was laid out in the first decade of the 1800s by eccentric Creole millionaire developer Bernard de Marigny on land that had been his family plantation just down river from the old city limits of New Orleans. The portion of Marigny closer to the river was built up first, the area around the Morton house perhaps a couple of decades later. In the early 1800s the area on and in back of Good Children Street, now St. Claude Avenue, was where white Creole gentlemen set up households for their colored mistresses (and their offspring) in the tradition of “plaçage”.

While the Morton house is at the intersection of two small residential streets, it is near two major thoroughfares, Claiborne Avenue and Elysian Fields. The broad Claiborne Avenue is one block back; it had a streetcar line running on it. The Claiborne Line was originally mule-drawn, and then on 10th October 1896 (10 days before Morton’s 6th birthday) the mule cars were retired, and were replaced by new electric streetcars, (painted olive green with cream trim). The Claiborne line provided the neighborhood with easy transit to Canal Street, the commercial hub of New Orleans, with connections to lines running to the rest of the city.

The avenue called Elysian Fields is down on the opposite end of the square from the Morton house. Elysian Fields, named after the Champs Elysées in Paris, was the main avenue of the Faubourg Marigny. It was the first street in New Orleans to extend all the way from the riverfront straight to Lake Pontchartrain 5 miles away. In 1830-31 the Pontchartrain Railway was built with tracks down the center of wide Elysian Fields. The steam railway was still actively carrying freight and passengers in Morton’s day. By that time many of the passengers were making excursions out to the resort camps of Milenburg at the railroads lakefront terminus. At the time, much of the land along the route in between the city riverfront and Milenburg on the lake was pasture for dairy cows. The land is still subject to periodic flooding.

Recommended reading:

Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children, and other Streets of New Orleans by John Churchill Chase, Collier Macmillan 1949, 1979.

A Short History of New Orleans by Mel Leavitt, LEXIKOS, 1982.

Special thanks to Michael Mizell-Nelson for providing the date for the electrification of the Claiborne Avenue streetcar line.

 played by Jim Turner

About 1901 young Ferdinand, who by this time had adopted the surname of his stepfather (Mouton), left home and lived with his godmother Laura Hunter (Eulalie Hécaud) in the uptown tenth and eleventh wards. He also stayed with other relatives in the downtown Creole section.

The 1900 U.S. Census shows that Laura (Mrs. Edward Hunter) was living at 2706 South Robertson Street, New Orleans. At that time she was 36 years old and had borne nine children, none of which survived. This may possibly explain the special bond that existed between her and her favourite godson.
[F 58]

Mrs. Mamie Desdunes is listed at 2328 Toledano Street, New Orleans, in the 1901 Soards New Orleans City Directory. Edward Hunter, labourer is listed at 2621 4th Street, New Orleans.
[C 13]

On the Library of Congress recordings, Morton talks about his piano teacher Mrs. Moment. “Mrs. Moment was no doubt the biggest ham of a teacher that I’ve ever heard or seen, since or before. . . .”
[AFS 1640-B] She is listed in the 1903, 1907 and 1910 Soards New Orleans City Directory as Mrs. Rachel D. Moment, 3231 South Franklin Street. [C 13]

Prof. Alan Wallace sends the following article from The St. Louis Palladium, dated Saturday, 27th February 1904, Vol. 20, No. 11, page 1, column 2.

The St. Louis Palladium

The Rose Bud Ball.

On Tuesday last the Rose Bud club gave its third annual ball and piano contest at the New Douglass hall, corner Beaumont and Lawton avenue, and it was one of the largest, finest and best-conducted affairs of the kind ever held in St. Louis. The hall was packed and jammed, many being unable to gain admission, and the crowd was composed and well-dressed, good-looking and orderly people, from all classes of society. A great many of the best people in town were present, among them being The Palladium man, to enjoy the festivities and witness the great piano contest.

Mr. Tom Turpin presented an elegant gold medal to the successful contestant, Mr. Louis Chaurin (Chauvin). Messrs. Joe Jordan and Charles Warfield were a tie for second place. Mr. Mann Reynolds, Mr. Conroy Casey and Ed Williams were all close up in the contest, and were well received by the crowd. Music was furnished by the matchless World’s Fair band. Mr. Tom Turpin was general manager, ably assisted by Messrs. Tom Watkins, John H. Clark, George Isabell, Lonnie Johnson, Charles Warfield, Sam Patterson, Willie North, Alonzo Brooks, Howard Anderson, Dick Curry, Louis Chauvin, Richard Kent, George Kinsey, Mr. Helms, E. J. Bruner, and several others. The bar was presided over by Messrs. Charles Turpin, Charles Weinstock, Ed Isabell, Walter Nevels, Dave Young, Henry Taylor and “Fatima.” Messrs. Ike Commodore and “Nubbs” Watson sold tickets. The union waiters promise to do better next time. The club desires to thank their many friends for their very generous support, and promise on the occasion of their next annual ball to see to it that every piano player of note in the United States enters, and will give an elegant diamond medal to the winner, and hold the contest at the Exposition coliseum, where there will be plenty of room, and all can hear and see to the very best advantage. Among those present The Palladium man noticed: D. H. Siegles, Jos. Brown, E. Arnett, Nimrod Jackson, Charles Overton, W. T. Curtis, Bobby Reynolds, Tim Bresnahan, Jimmy Hopkins, Geo. W. Holt, George Washington, Henry Allen, Ed Grimes, John Flannery, J. McGivley, John Nelson, Ed Angelica, Tom Broady, Charles Thompson, Len Swink, Mike O’Donnell, Allie Jackson, Lee Marion, Frank Phelps, “Sam” Pendleton, Wm. Schoefeld, Frank Beard, Dave Lewis, “Bill” Lindley, John Armour, Burrell Armstead, Clarence Gains, Charles A. Hunter, George Jones and wife, Pitman, the barber, and others.

Mr. Samuel Patterson came from Chicago just to attend the Turpin ball.

Clarence Goins (Gains) danced with every girl that would look pleasant at him. He went out of his cravat, but still held on to his half-smoked cigar.

Note: Jelly Roll was the first to tell of the Storyville professors in the first decade of the 20th century, and his spoken dialogue on the Library of Congress recordings spins out a fascinating story of the accomplishments of these fine, yet obscure musicians. One of the professors he mentioned was Alfred Wilson, and he said that Wilson had won the piano-playing contest at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904. Searches of African American newspapers of this period have not turned up anything about Alfred Wilson in St. Louis, but the 27th February 1904 issue of the St. Louis Palladium (above) carried an important article on a piano contest held at The Rose Bud Ball on Tuesday, 23rd February 1904. Alfred Wilson might not have been there, but many of the famous ragtime pianists of the day were, including Tom Turpin, Joe Jordan, Charles Warfield and the winner of the Gold Medal, Louis Chauvin. The St. Louis Exposition commenced on 30th April 1904, and we shall continue our search for information about Alfred Wilson in St. Louis. Like Wilkins Micawber, we are confident that something will turn up. [PH]

Prof. Alan Wallace sends the following article from The Indianapolis Freeman, dated Saturday, 23rd April 1904, page 5, column 1.

The Indianapolis Freeman

1904 – ROUTE – 1905

BILLY KERSANDS’ Big Colored Minstrels. — Webb City, Mo., April 25; Carthage, 26; Galena, Kan., 27; Joplin, Mo., 28; Ft. Scott, Kan., 29

BLACK PATTI TROUBADOURS. (Voelckel & Nolan) Youngstown, O., April 25 to 30.

A RABBIT’S FOOT Co. — W thville, Tenn., April 25; Pulaski, 26; East Radford, 27; Salem, 28; Rockmond, 29; Winston-Salem, N. C., 30.

Note: The minstrel and vaudeville companies operated under a hectic itinerary in the early years of the 20th century. They travelled all over the South and the Mid-West, often in a series of one-night performances in a succession of different towns. Jelly Roll appeared with a number of vaudeville companies on many such tours just a few years later than the date of the article. [PH]

Note: Regarding the W__thville engagement above, I noticed the next day they were in Pulaski, which is a town in west Tennessee. Knoxville is nearly 400 miles from Memphis and Pulaski is in that part of the state. It is much more deep south (such as Mississippi and Alabama) in terms of the land, accents, and culture than the mountains of east Tennessee. However, I could find no town close to the name of W__thville. There is a Whiteville, not too far from Pulaski, but that is not it. I searched local maps and found that Wyethville is in Virginia — JUST over the state line from Tennessee. I thought that perhaps they were traveling from Wyethville to Pulaski, but that would have been a long train ride back then for an overnight job. I noticed that the next stops were in North Carolina, which, like Virginia, is east of Knoxville. Looking at a map of Virginia, I see that there is a Pulaski, Virginia, which is very close to Wyethsville. So, I will guess that in this instance, the paper had it wrong. [AW]

Prof. Alan Wallace sends the following article from The Indianapolis Freeman, dated Saturday, 23rd April 1904, page 5, column 2.

The Indianapolis Freeman

Notes from New Orleans Minstrels. — We are in the Indian Territory and doing well. Four of the boys made a flying trip Saturday night after the show to Ft. Smith returning on Monday. We go from here to the state of Kansas. Our first part is a screamer. H. S. Smith and Perry Black our first addition keeps the audience going, then comes Williams and Wise our second addition and clean up. The acme quartette gets their’s nightly. Clemo Harris, the man that people beleive (believe) has no bones, is still doing his daring tricks. J. T. Cox one of the oldest members of this show spent the winter in Portsmouth, Va., but is now with the show again handling traps as good as ever. Prof. J. H. McCamon is arranging for his concert band for the summer and can place good musicians. Regards to the Hendersons. H. S. Smith the coming performer doubles band and stages as “old man impersonator.” He is making a tremendous hit singing “I have got a feeling for you,” and “Chicken can’t roost too high for me.” He sends regards to Kid Lanford, A. R. Hutchins sends regards to Will Jones, Ralph Nichols and Tom Lewis. Williams and Stevens send regards to Scott Joplin, Mr. and Mrs. Kersands, Cook and Jones, Bailey and Spiller.

Note: This rare piece of history from the New Orleans Minstrels shows the amount of territory some of these companies covered. Albert Carroll, the New Orleans pianist who was said by Clarence Williams to have a profound influence on Jelly Roll, was the musical director of the New Orleans Minstrels. [TAPR 172]

Prof. Alan Wallace sends the following article from The Indianapolis Freeman, dated Saturday, 23rd April 1904, page 5, columns 2—3.

The Indianapolis Freeman

Notes from the Famous Billy Kersands Minstrels. — Our company is yet a mark of deserving success, having in the last few weeks met several of our leading shows and performers and they all dofted their hats to us in both honor and praise, claiming the show to be first class in every way a neat, clean and up to-date Minstrel show. A show that will open the eyes of minstrel lovers and give cheap and young aggregations rest, although the weather was unfavorably. While in St. Louis we cleaned up for the minstrel field there, and are begged for a return date of 2 weeks which is quite probable we will accept in a near future, during their great World’s Fair season, we had the pleasure of meeting a very exclusive set of show people in St. Louis, namely Mr. and Mrs. McClain who are in business there at 1309 Chesnut street. P.G. Lowery’s entire company was there en-route to Philadelphia, Pa[.,] to resume their regular job with the Forepaugh-Sells Bros., Co. Both McClain and Lowery were overwhelmingly suprised (surprised) by our show, and both vociferously proclaimed that they knew our show was good from a mere glance at the the [sic] poster, but had not the most distant idea of it being so neat and complete they in short, claim it to be the best genuine colored Minstrel show on the road for many years also the most refined. Mr. McClain and Lowery, both acknowledge the superiority of our show over all other minstrel shows in speaking of it being closed with an act or with some of the best talent with the show. The “Alabama Quartette,” thus doing away with the general way of closing with the entire company on the stage, and some of them really scared to death with stage fright. Space will not allow us to mention the comment these two people gave Mr. Lacy on his band and orchestra and his idea of the kind of timber (timbre) needed for a first class minstrel show, such an effort has never been shown by the most successful Colored shows of thirty and thirty-five years experiences and to speak of the Hounsley’s and Craig’s wonderful acts would be seemingly boagadocia (braggadocio), or an effort to bring in foreigners. Regards to all.

Note: Here we have a detailed picture of the performers in the Famous Billy Kersands Minstrels, one of the most experienced companies ever. Billy Kersands plied his trade from the late 1870s to World War 1, and many successful performers, including Jelly Roll Morton, started their musical career in his shows. The Kentucky-born P(erry) G. Lowery (1871-1942) was a cornet virtuoso and bandmaster in his time, and many New Orleans musicians played in his bands at various times in his lengthy career. He was the first African American to graduate from the New England Conservatory of Music. [PH]

Note: Scott Joplin dedicated A Breeze from Alabama (1902) to “P.G. Lowery. World’s Challenging Colored Cornetist and Band Master”. [KOR 110]

Prof. Alan Wallace sends the following article from The Indianapolis Freeman, dated Saturday, 23rd July 1904, page 5, columns 4—5.

The Indianapolis Freeman

The Whitman Sisters New Orleans Troubadours opened Jefferson Theater, Monday night July 11, to standing room only, benefit boys reformatory of this city. This is the first time in the history of Birmingham[,] Ala., that the colored people have been allowed seats in the dress circle and parquet. Credit is due, however, to the clever management of Mabel Whitman, who can safely say that she is the only colored woman managing her own company and booking them continously (continuously) in the leading southern houses. The program was of a high class vaudeville nature, consisting of comedy first part arranged especially to show the genuine comedy of Willie Robinson, the “Little Georgia Blossom”, and it was indeed funny. The singing of Tony Jackson was much appreciated, and Baby Alice the child prodigy, stormed the house. Mabel, Essie and Alberta Whitman are decided favorites throughout the Southland, and it would be useless to say that each speciality by these celebrated vocalists made more than good, and was encored many times. The choruses, in fact the entire show was good under the musical direction of Albert Carroll, of New Orleans[,] La. We played all the leading parks South, and after playing Bessemer and Easley, Ala., you will reach us at home, by mail, at 250 Hilliard St., Atlanta, Ga.[,] indefinitely. Albert Carroll sends regards to Tom Logan, Webster Williams, Florence Hines, Russell and Price, Dennis and Jones, Buddie Glenn, and Fred Johnson. The Whitman Sisters send regards to their old schoolmate Geo. Walker, and would like to know when he was in Lawrence, Kansas. Essie, Willie and May sends regards to Hatties Hopkins and Mamie Emerson.

Note: This is a priceless historical document about a group of exceptional performers. One can only imagine the impact of these two great pianists in the same show. According to Jelly Roll, Tony Jackson was “the world’s greatest single-handed entertainer” and Albert Carroll played with “a perfect perfection of passing tones and strange harmonies”. Alas, both these performers were never to record, and left no permanent legacy of their outstanding abilities. [PH]

Prof. Lawrence Gushee has discovered the identity of the proprietor of The Frenchman’s, the saloon at the corner of Villere and Bienville where Jelly Roll, Tony Jackson and other New Orleans pianists played after hours to charm and thrill the sporting crowd. With his customary thoroughness, Lawrence searched the 1910 U.S. Census sheets for the residents of Bienville Street, until he discovered a bar room and residence at 1533 Bienville, owned by John Laban, who was born in France, and migrated to America in the 1890s. (1910 U.S. Census, Louisiana, Orleans Parish, New Orleans, 2nd Precinct, 4th Ward) [LG 1]   See also Peter Hanley’s in-depth “portrait” of The Frenchman’s on the “Portraits from Jelly Roll’s New Orleans” page.

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