Texian Stomping Grounds Page: 86
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TEXIAN STOMPING GROUNDS
dor ranch hands, was too religious to dance but not too
religious to fiddle for the better part of two nights and a day
while the others danced." And then there is Rev. A. McGary,
born in Huntsville in 1846. After fighting in the Civil War and
serving as sheriff of Madison County during its wildest days,
he became a minister of the Church of Christ, preaching all over
Texas, Oklahoma (then Indian territory), Old Virginia, Arkan-
sas, California, Oregon, and Washington. "I learned to fiddle,"
he said, "from a Negro slave belonging to my grandfather.
During my 25 years of preaching I did not touch a fiddle; not
that I thought there was a 'devil in every fiddle,' but because,
of my constant study of the Bible and my devotion to the work
of preaching. But after I began to feel old and dwelt much in
the past, I took to the fiddle again. I derive much pleasure
from it, and often drive away the blues with the bow."'"
Most fiddlers have never had a formal music lesson in their
lives and do not know a note from a cow-track. They usually
learn in boyhood by listening to their elders, gradually adding
to the repertoire. Bob Pyron, West Texas pioneer who was the
owner of the 81 Ranch in Scurry County, learned to play from
an old fiddler who had lost the index finger of his left hand.
The result was that Bob grew up without using that finger in
Like so many folk traditions, fiddling is often passed on from
father to son. There is Joe Robertson, who was among the great
fiddlers of his day. His son, T. L. Robertson, became a fiddler
of prominence as well as a Disciples pastor in Oklahoma. He in
turn had two sons, both of whom became outstanding fiddlers-
A. C. (Eck) Robertson, who has recorded some of the old fiddle
tunes for Victor," and Quince Robertson, who became one of
the most noted fiddlers ever in the Panhandle country before
he died at the age of thirty-six.
Though most tunes used at Texas dances can be traced back
to the British Isles, to the Southern mountains, to the planta-
tions, or to the minstrel stage, Texas has made its contribution
to fiddle tune lore.
'William Curry Holden, The bpur Ranch, Boston, 1934, 1i3.
1oKilman, op. ot.
"These recordings have been discontinued but some are available in special
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Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964. Texian Stomping Grounds, book, 1941; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc67663/m1/94/: accessed April 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.