Musicians Off the Record: 1800s

Folk and religious music of Native Americans flourishes.

1831. Mary Austin Holley, a cousin of Stephen F. Austin, writes the first folk song composed in the colony, “Brazos Boat Song.”

Prints and Photographs Collection, Mary Austin Holley file, The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin; CN 00165 / Believed to be in the public domain

Tag: Photo of Mary Austin Holley

1858.“The Yellow Rose of Texas,” the story of a woman who helps win the battle of San Jacinto, is composed (possibly) in the m1980onths following the battle by an unidentified slave of Texan Col. William Morgan. Emily West is a black woman from Connecticut contracted to (“indentured to”) Col. Morgan to work in his hotel. Captured by the Mexican Army, her story becomes the story of a slave/prostitute called Emily Morgan who distracts Santa Anna while the Texians attack. When the song is published in 1858 in New York, the author is identified only as “J K.” The song and the story last.

Sheet music of “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” Music Collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Tag: Sheet Music of “The Yellow Rose of Texas”

1899. Texarkana native Scott Joplin, the “King of Ragtime,” creates a living language for jazz, R&B, and rock ‘n’ roll with the publication of his “Maple Leaf Rag.” Within a decade, a half-million copies are sold. Seventy-two years after its original circulation in 1902, his tune “The Entertainer” charts at #3, a testament to his genius and staying power.

Believed to be in the public domain

Tag: Photo of Scott Joplin