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Author Topic: The Unmarked Grave of Armenter (Armetia) Chatmon, aka Bo Carter in Nitta Yuma  (Read 2646 times)

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Offline Rivers

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The site does not generate tags, you have to type them in. If you received a dropdown list when you clicked on your input box it was your browser retrieving them from its cache of tags you'd added on other sites. Don't feel bad! Several have made that same mistake.

I don't doubt your sincerity BTW. But you do need to read the thread I've linked below on tagging guidelines. A working group hashed this out when we first implemented tags on the site. Tags on here used for indexing. Like in a book, for grown ups. :} Quirky and redundant tags get deleted, see:

http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=3073.msg24088#msg24088

See also the the main tag index to get the idea (though it's overdue for a cleanup). Click on the Tags menu button directly below the site banner heading.

Offline mtzionmemorialfund

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I'm glad that didn't go sideways.  I thought it was weird all those tags popped up, but it makes sense now that its explained. I will likely become one of the more meticulous taggers, especially since the scope is already narrow in comparison to platforms covering everything imaginable.

Thank you Mr. Rivers, I'm getting the hang of these formatting tools and I'll get the etiquette down forthwith
T. DeWayne Moore
Executive Director, Mt. Zion Memorial Fund

Offline mtzionmemorialfund

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This video concerning the grave of Sonny Boy Williamson II outside Tutwiler, Mississippi concerns some the maintenance issues that I mentioned above.  The occasional grant becomes available for rural maintenance projects, but most sites rely on private groups and donations.  We constantly look for new avenues to maintain these sites.

https://vimeo.com/headstoneblues/seethatmygraveiskeptclean
T. DeWayne Moore
Executive Director, Mt. Zion Memorial Fund

Offline Rivers

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Not a problem, all of us welcome everybody with a passion for this strange subject area. I for one hope you will stick around, read, contribute and enjoy the site. It's been a long road to here, and there has been a lot of water under the bridge.

Offline Chezztone

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OK, since y'all are discussing my favorite musician, I'll jump in with a few more comments.

Some of the earlier posts in this thread ask why there isn't more appreciation of this great artist, and why there isn't more known about him. I think that needs a multi-part answer.

If you're talking about the lack of appreciation from the general public: Well, as Paul Oliver says, the general public only knows Leadbelly for pre-blues, Bessie Smith for classic or vaudeville blues, and Robert Johnson for country blues. That's it. There are dozens of other wonderful blues artists they don't know, so we don't have to parse Bo Carter's lyrics or anything else for clues about why they don't know his music.

If you're talking about people who are somewhat into blues: They like their country-blues artists tortured-sounding and somewhat obscure. And usually from the Delta and with direct influence on rock music. The ones who were commercially successful, sang  some uptempo or humorous material, came from other regions and didn't influence Cream or the Rolling Stones are not good candidates for blues-fan adoration.

If you're talking about country-blues obsessives: Yup, we all love Bo Carter! That's why DeWayne is here asking us to help with this project.

As for why there isn't much known about Bo Carter: Actually there is plenty known about him, and probably more to discover. Just a couple years ago, Steve Salter (from his home in Michigan, without traveling to Mississippi) found Bo Carter's draft card, which contained his correct birthdate, a different one from what we had thought. DeWayne finds great info every day on various blues artists by combing through old newspapers. When I was in Mississippi in the 2000s, I met Elaine Hughes and heard that story about Bo Carter from her; I tracked down Bo Carter's guitar and saw it and played it (and wrote about that experience for Acoustic Guitar, in case anyone wants to read the details); I hung out with one of Bo Carter's close musical associates and friends, Eugene Powell; and met others who knew little tidbits about him. And I sure tried to find his grave. I also studied all of his music very thoroughly -- and he recorded a lot of sides! I think if you listen to all of his music, read the liner notes on all the Yazoo and Document releases, read the Paul Oliver interview with Bo Carter in Conversation With the Blues, read various published and archived interviews with Sam Chatmon and Eugene Powell, read other articles and theses about him or with some reference to him, you will know a lot about Bo Carter! Probably as much as you can know about any other early blues artist. It might not all be laid out for you in one book or Wikipedia page, but it's out there. And you can try to do your own research. Shoot, someone managed to write a long New York Times Magazine piece on Elvie Thomas not long ago, talk about obscure artists....

And I hope this campaign by the Mount Zion Fund, besides putting a stone on Bo Carter's grave and cleaning up the cemetery, will bring more attention to Bo Carter's life and especially to his wonderful music. That's really what it's all about. Thanks for any help any of you can give.

Offline mtzionmemorialfund

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Just a couple years ago, Steve Salter (from his home in Michigan, without traveling to Mississippi) found Bo Carter's draft card, which contained his correct birthdate, a different one from what we had thought.

If you already thought his most accurate birth month and year was January 1894, then you had it as correct as possible already.  One census enumerator on June 28, 1900 notes the information obtained from his parents that Armenter Chatmon was 6 years old and born in January 1894.  That is the earliest and therefore most accurate notation.  You certainly can't privilege the date--March 21, 1893--that his brother Sam Chatmon reported on his death certificate in 1964. 

But instead of privileging the earliest documented evidence of his correct birth month and year gleaned from his parents, we should toss it out and instead privilege the information he gave 17 years later on his civilian draft card--June 30,  1893--while away from Bolton in Coahoma County?  Not that it matters a whole lot, but this can't be more accurate than the information given by his parents shortly after his birth on Dr. Dupree's Plantation, Bolton, Hinds County, Mississippi.

I've gone over this issue again and again with every armchair research quarterback in the world.  Here is the substantial note 3 from the Frank Stokes online memorial, which I composed and meticulous researcher Bob Eagle checked for infelicities.  It passed mustard and we used the earliest record from the 1900 census on the marker.

  • Stokes? date of birth has been widely debated.  In 1967, Bob Groom published a brief biography of Stokes in Blues World titled ?the Memphis Rounder? after his 1929 song Memphis Rounder Blues.  Noting that his origins were ?shrouded in mystery,? Groom suggests Stokes was born ?around 1890? in the vicinity of Senatobia in Tate County.  His account is highly speculative and refuted in one 1973 article titled ?The Beale Street Sheik? by Memphis Blues author Bengt Olsson, whose interviews were very important to uncovering the history of Stokes and the ?Beale Street Sheiks.  Olsson goes on to present ?facts about Frank Stokes, picked up more or less by accident in various places,? one of which is that he was ?born around 1865,? making him one of the oldest blues musicians to make records.

    The twenty-five year difference is tough to reconcile, but the more recent commentary of blues scholar Elijah Wald provides some insight into discerning his actual birthdate.  In his review of the album The Best of Frank Stokes (Yazoo 2072), Wald argues that Stokes ?may well be the best example on record of what the great Mississippi blues musicians? heard in their childhoods, because he was born in 1887.  The source for most of the information relayed in the liner notes, however, was the musician?s daughter, Helen, several of whose recollections have been proven wholly inaccurate.  The errant statements of Stokes? daughter reflects both the young age and the short period in which she lived in his household as a child?as few as four years.

    In September 1918, the middle-aged blacksmith made his way down to the Central Police Station in Memphis to register for the draft during World War I.  He informed that he was 41 years-old, and the registrar wrote his birthdate as January 1, 1877.  The birth month and day listed on his draft card were the same as the ones given on his death certificate, which lists his date of birth as January 1, 1888.  The informant who provided the information on the certificate (Margaret) was at least his third wife, however, who likely had no real clue as to the musician?s true age.  Though it seems that Stokes may have been born on New Year?s Day, the first day of January was often assigned to immigrants and individuals who, for cultural or other reasons, did not know their exact date of birth.  In addition, the earliest record of Frank Stokes in the US Census was in 1900.  The 21 year-old musician and ?levee man,? one census enumerator noted, was born in June 1878.  It is the earliest document available that claims to know the month/year of his birth.  Three men named Frank Stokes got their marriage license in Shelby County from 1904-1908, but all of them (or none of them) may in fact be influential musician; see, Bob Groom, ?Frank Stokes: The Memphis Rounder,? Blues World 13:2 (March 1967): 5-6.
T. DeWayne Moore
Executive Director, Mt. Zion Memorial Fund

Offline Rivers

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Hey before we get too far off topic... may I suggest that Frank Stokes data is really interesting and warrants its own thread. Feel free to start it and repost the info there. You could then modify your post to link to that thread.

Offline mtzionmemorialfund

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Hey before we get too far off topic... may I suggest that Frank Stokes data is really interesting and warrants its own thread. Feel free to start it and repost the info there. You could then modify your post to link to that thread.

I thought I did start a Frank Stokes Online Memorial thread.  It contains a link to the entire online memorial.  I may have done it wrong, or that may not be a thread.
T. DeWayne Moore
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Offline Rivers

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I must have missed it due to life on the farm. In that case your Stokes bio above was redundant, by which I mean you could have just put a link to it in the post above. PM me if you'd like to know in detail how to do that.

It would make tagging, and discussing, easier. One topic at a time, s'il vous plait.

Sorry for the surfeit of moderation. I hope you will take my comments in the spirit in which they are made; a desire to make the site as useful as possible for everybody, including yourself.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2017, 06:08:48 PM by Rivers »

Offline mtzionmemorialfund

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I must have missed it due to life on the farm. In that case your Stokes bio above was redundant, by which I mean you could have just put a link to it in the post above. PM me if you'd like to know in detail how to do that.

It would make tagging, and discussing, easier. One topic at a time, s'il vous plait.

Sorry for the surfeit of moderation. I hope you will take my comments in the spirit in which they are made; a desire to make the site as useful as possible for everybody, including yourself.

Above I posted an example of a footnote detailing the myriad of sources claiming to know the birthdate of Stokes.  The point of posting was to demonstrate how convoluted and varied birth dates can be for blues artists, such as Stokes and Bo Carter.  In his excellent breakdown of Bo sources, Chezztone informs that the Michigan politician found the "correct birthdate." The "bio," as you refer to it, is one footnote on all of Stokes' alleged birthdates.  "Correct birthdate" is an oxymoron in many a blues artists' case.  We have to acknowledge all of them, but the earliest and most accurate must be the one engraved on the marker.  Our duty as scholars is to be thorough as well as consistent in our conclusions.  The best way to do all that is with a cogent and rigid methodology, if you please...

 ;)
T. DeWayne Moore
Executive Director, Mt. Zion Memorial Fund

Offline tinpanallygurl

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"money we might have made off the backs of blues men who themselves and their families never saw a dime."  Oh I forgot, all of the money in royalties, music, books, articles, residuals, use of images, promotional material for catalogs, liner notes, box sets, re-issues, and other forms of money making opportunities was redirected to (when they were living) the artists who made the music and to their decedents after they died.  My bad, what was I thinking.  I know that Steve Levere and Dick Waterman made sure those families received a cut of some of those opportunities but something tells me that Rosetta Patton and the other Patton decedents didn't receive much.  Interesting that there is a gold record of Blind Willie Johnson flying through the stars yet his family never say a penny for anything he did.  He didn't receive much either. 

Offline mtzionmemorialfund

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"money we might have made off the backs of blues men who themselves and their families never saw a dime."  Oh I forgot, all of the money in royalties, music, books, articles, residuals, use of images, promotional material for catalogs, liner notes, box sets, re-issues, and other forms of money making opportunities was redirected to (when they were living) the artists who made the music and to their decedents after they died.  My bad, what was I thinking.  I know that Steve Levere and Dick Waterman made sure those families received a cut of some of those opportunities but something tells me that Rosetta Patton and the other Patton decedents didn't receive much.  Interesting that there is a gold record of Blind Willie Johnson flying through the stars yet his family never say a penny for anything he did.  He didn't receive much either.

The Mt. Zion Memorial Fund sent a portion of the donations made for the Charley Patton marker to Ms. Rosetta Patton, and we continued to send a potion of each year's donations to her until her passing, at which time Euphus "Butch" Ruth, a member of the board at the time, attended her funeral and represented the MZMF.  I am currently working to get Kechia Brown, the great granddaughter of Charley Patton, to come on board and hopefully take my place one day.  Her first event representing the MZMF will be the dedication of the marker for Mamie "Galore" Davis in Greenville later this month.  She recently moved back to the Delta and is eager to come on board.  You can see her standing behind her grandmother at the dedication of Patton's marker in 1991 in the attached photo.

T. DeWayne Moore
Executive Director, Mt. Zion Memorial Fund

Offline Johnm

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tinpanallygurl,
I'm not sure what point you're trying to make by speaking in generalities about the behavior of people you don't know and have never met.  Perhaps that you would never behave in such an unprincipled way?  Well, congratulations on your superior moral fiber and rectitude.  If you have specific people and actions in mind, though, you should say their names and say exactly what terrible things they did rather than lumping everyone you don't name together and tarring them with the same brush.  And if you don't have specific people and actions in mind, you're just dealing in hearsay and innuendo, and you don't know of what you speak.  Artists being taken advantage of by people in the business of promoting art is not exactly a news flash.  For whatever reason, you seem to take it particularly hard.  Good luck with that. 
Johnm

Offline Rivers

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tinpanallygurl, I also am unsure of what may be behind your professed loathing of country blues discussion boards to which you contribute. Since it has become a recurring theme, my best theory is Shakespearean, Macbeth, Act III scene II

Anyway, thanks to all upright citizens for helping us to understand the slough of moral despond into which we have fallen. We had no clue and will immediately don sackcloth and ashes and begin self flagellation just as soon as you say the word.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program, discussion of country blues music, rigorously methodic or otherwise.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2017, 07:58:37 PM by Rivers »

Offline mtzionmemorialfund

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Well, im in.  After work I will donate.  Good luck on here though.  Unless there is something in it like a record, a pick from blind willies house, a box set, or the like I doubt you will get much traction here.  I hope I am wrong but judging from previous posts on blues forums trying to get something done for the good of the cause it will likely lead to disappointment and frustration.  If no one would give any money to help get Macks "monster" under control, dispute his asking for help; and other such things I have a hard time believing that this will go anywhere from people posting here, or the BBF, etc.  Only thing we cling to tighter than a rare 78 record is our money............................especially money we might have made off the backs of blues men who themselves and their families never saw a dime.

I can only assure you that I do not profit in the least financially from the work of the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund.  My position is not paid.  In fact, I have gone to considerable expense to litigate cemetery access cases in Copiah County and the Mississippi Delta.  I am a graduate student at the University of Mississippi, which provides a stipend of $12,000/year.  I can't even afford to live in Oxford.  I am also writing the civil rights narrative for the Burns Belfry African American History Museum in Oxford.  My immense compensation for this endeavor will be $2,000 total--of which I have only received $1,000.  I used a personal research grant of $800 for one of our headstone projects.  We actually might be really stupid.  Since we do not receive any funds any longer from record companies or famous musicians, the maintenance of the markers and abandoned cemeteries is done by a handful of dedicated preservationists who the MZMF simply can't afford to pay in full.  Not as much as they deserve for their work to keep the graves clean and visitable.

I never wanted or intended for this thread to guilt anyone into supporting our work.  We do this work, because we like to do this work.  I like to think we are pretty damn good at making sure all parties who should be involved are involved to the level of their desire.  I have always paid the musicians who perform at benefits at least twenty bucks for gas to the show.  I organize a local beer festival as well, which allows me to keep a bunch of beer in my house/closet to provide the musicians at shows.  I also get the descendants involved in our projects to the level they wish to involve themselves.  Once again, I direct your attention to the Frank Stokes memorial page - http://www.mtzionmemorialfund.org/p/frank-stokes.html.  The families of the musicians we honor are embraced and full participants, many of whom contribute to the cause themselves.  Stokes' grandson insisted on contributing financially to the project.

Please do not let the self-righteous rhetoric of one individual sabotage this thread's plea.  We have raised 66% of our goal for the project.  We have had several hiccups already in this campaign, which I realized early on would not be a cake walk.  Bo Carter and Nitta Yuma Cemetery are the focus of our efforts.  If you dig his records and his musical abilities (usually on guitar; but sometimes on banjo; fiddle; string-bass; clarinet; or mandolin), please help us honor a true "all-around man" in the musical world.


You can donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/chatmongraves or http://www.mtzionmemorialfund.org/p/the-unmarked-grave-of-bo-carter.html
« Last Edit: February 02, 2017, 11:10:21 PM by mtzionmemorialfund »
T. DeWayne Moore
Executive Director, Mt. Zion Memorial Fund

 


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