Happy Birthday Fiddlin’ John Carson!

Fiddlin’ John Carson was an old-time country musician born in Fannin County, Georgia and buried in East Atlanta’s Sylvester Cemetery. There is a “musical event” today marking his birthday, and it coincides with the Sylvester Cemetery tours taking place today as part of the Phoenix Flies tours.

2:30 PM
Held at the gravesite of Fiddlin’ John on the Clifton Road edge of Sylvester cemetery.

Even if you can’t make the musical event, take a gander at this guy’s life: Farmer, Railroad Worker, Horse Jockey, and Moonshiner, in addition to the fiddle playing. He was there for the advent of radio, including playing on Atlanta’s fledgling WSB radio back in 1922. Pretty interesting guy.

Phoenix Flies Tours:

Sylvester Cemetery:

Via Larry Felton Johnson

11 Comments so far

  1. patrick (unregistered) on March 25th, 2007 @ 9:46 pm

    Hey – not so fast idolizing ol’ “Fiddlin'” John Carson. He’s the one who wrote the maudlin tune “The Ballad of Mary Phagan” which was very popular among the peckerwood contingent of Atlanta and was responsible for inciting Leo Frank’s lynching in 1915 (which in turn led to the formation of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s – with Atlanta as the “Imperial Headquarters”).

    A man who should be remembered for his role in the city’s history, i guess, but maybe that’s about all.

    p.s. – a number of Brumbys from Marietta (home of the Brumby rocker) were there when Frank was strung up. For more info about the Leo Frank case in Atlanta check out Steve Oney’s great book, “And the Dead Shall Rise.”

  2. Annie (unregistered) on March 26th, 2007 @ 7:15 am

    Yikes! While I do know of the Leo Frank case, I was not aware of that connection with Carson. That is really disturbing. My apologies if I offended anyone.

    It is an interesting bit of Atlanta history, though.

  3. patrick (unregistered) on March 26th, 2007 @ 9:17 am

    Don’t worry – no offense taken or given. I just think that his authorship of the ballad is probably his biggest claim to fame at this point. Nevertheless, anytime we can highlight the city’s history (warts and all) is a good thing.

  4. Annie (unregistered) on March 26th, 2007 @ 1:52 pm

    Patrick, I think we are completely in agreement. Thanks for the heads up!

  5. abby (unregistered) on March 27th, 2007 @ 12:11 pm

    So we’re buying a house in cabbagetown, and i’ve been starting to poke through some online archives about the neighborhood trying to see if i can dig up some old info on or pictures of the house. I saw this today and thought “fiddling john carson. . . didn’t I just read something about him?”

    Yup. Thanks, Annie and Patrick. Look at these amazing photos! Apaprently he worked in the Fulton Cotton Mill too, and was evicted in the labor strikes. http://www.library.gsu.edu/spcoll/labor/wnp/pc_detail.asp?series=I&identifier=L1985-34_090a&info=details
    (unfortunately it doesn’t appear to have both photos described). It’s a great archive, though.

  6. Annie (unregistered) on March 27th, 2007 @ 1:39 pm

    Abby – Totally rad find! So, did you buy 59 Carroll St? Does it even exist anymore? I guess they all kind of looked the same back then, but the steps do look a lot like the places on Carroll st. across from the bakery and Village Pizza. Thanks for sharing!

  7. abby (unregistered) on March 27th, 2007 @ 2:31 pm

    nope, we’re buying down the street and around the corner. We’re still digging on “our” house (not ours yet), haven’t found anything so far. It might be a much longer-term project than we’re thinking — if anyone has any input as to archives or where to look for a specific historical residence, I’d love to hear it.

  8. Annie (unregistered) on March 27th, 2007 @ 3:51 pm

    Well, I think you can find information through the deed and plat (sp?) and then find out all the former owners, although I guess maybe the mill itself was the owner? You might be able to find information at the library on who lived there based on City Directories. Tech has archived the Fulton Bag company papers at http://www.library.gatech.edu/fulton_bag/history.html

    Good luck! We’d love to hear what you find.

  9. Patrick (unregistered) on March 27th, 2007 @ 10:43 pm

    Hey – could that photo been taken from one of the lost houses here?:


    I love the Atlanta Time Machine, btw. Also, check out Cabbagetown in the city’s Sanborn Maps at this location if ya’ll aren’t familiar with them already:


    Just know that the city’s address numbering system changed in 1926. A key to the modern system can be found in the City Directory from that 1927.

  10. Patrick (unregistered) on March 27th, 2007 @ 10:58 pm

    Yep, you nailed the location Annie. 59 Carroll was once located near the intersection of Carroll and Tennelle. Tennelle now deadends into Carroll although it used to carry through west behind the Mill – that area is all parking lot now. I think it is in the photo from Atlanta Time Machine however.

  11. Annie (unregistered) on March 28th, 2007 @ 11:55 am

    Patrick – Forgot about ATL time machine. Great site. And yes, in addition to being a brilliant Metroblogger, I have also memorized Atlanta houses in 1920s pictures. :-)

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