Stanley Hicks / David Love dulcimer

Banjimer
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
one week ago
143 posts

Another issue in making such a chart would be defining what constitutes a dulcimer builder.  In some families nearly every son either assisted his father in dulcimer making or made a single dulcimer before losing interest.  Other dulcimer makers made multiple dulcimers and taught others how to build the instruments.

The lack of surviving instruments attributed to those recalled in oral history as dulcimer builders makes one question who did and did not build dulcimers.  The Hicks family is a good example.  Several members of the Hicks family were said to have made dulcimers: Ben Hicks, Roby Hicks, Nathan Hicks, Stanley Hicks, Floyd Hicks, Windsor Canada Hicks, James Brownlow Hicks, Edd Presnell, and Frank Proffitt.

But Ben Hicks had two sons: Nathan Hicks and Samuel Hicks.  Nathan Hicks was clearly a dulcimer builder, but what about his brother, Samuel Hicks.  Did he learn how to make dulcimers?  

There is also some question as to who made the dulcimers sold by Nathan in the 1930s and 1940s.  Obviously, Nathan made most of the dulcimers attributed to him.  But oral history suggests that his father, Ben Hicks; his uncle, Roby Hicks, his first cousin, Windsor Canada Hicks, and possibly others helped him fulfill orders.

The evidence suggests the number of dulcimer builders making more than a handful of instruments was quite small.  And the number of surviving instruments can be attributed to a small number of builders.  But there were many more dulcimer builders who built only a single or limited number of dulcimers.

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
one week ago
342 posts

OK, sir, them's yer marchin' orders!  (Just kidding).

Banjimer
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
one week ago
143 posts

I've got the relationships for most of the Watauga County, NC dulcimer makers, but there are so many marriages of first cousins, the chart becomes too complex as the same names repeat in multiple family surnames.  All of the well-known names can be traced through marriage or birth to the family of James Presnell and Susan Hartzel Benfield.  Suffice to say, all the Presnells, Hicks, Glenns, Harmons, and even a number of Proffitts and Testers are related in some way.

Due to the large number of names it would take multiple charts to even begin a complete listing.  And that's just for the NC dulcimer makers.

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
one week ago
342 posts

I think it would be interesting if somebody (not me) made a chart linking known, historic dulcimer-building-family members.  There would be Glenns, Hicks, Presnells, Proffitts, Meltons, Russells, Mawhees, Graves, etc. included, with dozens more, I would guess.  Just a little project to pass the time away...

Kate of the Hazlewood
Kate of the Hazlewood
@kate-of-the-hazlewood
one week ago
1 posts

Any relation to Dan Hicks who is so awesome?

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
6 months ago
2,027 posts

Whew!   That's a mouthful of names right there, Banjimer!

Banjimer
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
6 months ago
143 posts

In a previous post in this thread, I incorrectly stated a family connection between David Love and brothers Smith Oliver and Millard Oliver.  I have since discovered that David Love was the grandson of General Miles Love, who I had erroneously identified as being directly related to the Oliver's.  The half-brother of the Oliver's was Silas Jackson McGuire, not General Miles Love.

However, David Love's grandfather, General Miles Love, did have a direct connection to the Beech Mountain dulcimer tradition.  He was the son of Polly Presnell and his connection to the Beech Mountain dulcimer tradition was through Polly Presnell's son, Roosevelt Vance Presnell, and grandson, James Miles Presnell.  Polly Presnell, incidentally, was the younger sister of Beech Mountain dulcimer maker, Eli Taylor Presnell.  And General Miles Love and Roosevelt Vance Presnell were brothers.

Roosevelt Vance Presnell and his son, James Miles Presnell, were Beech Mountain neighbors of the Hicks family.  Their dulcimers follow the same pattern as dulcimers made by Leonard and Clifford Glenn.


updated by @greg-gunner: 08/23/22 06:12:17AM
Banjimer
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
9 months ago
143 posts

Most of the dulcimer makers in Watauga County, NC can be tied together in some manner.  The interconnections through a common practice of the late 19th and early 20 centuries (marriage of first cousins) makes family ties a complex web of who's related to who.  I'd estimate that 90-95% of Watauga County's dulcimer makers can be traced back to the common ancestors James Andrew Presnell and Susan Hartzel Benfield.  They had at least nine known children.  The descendants of those nine children make up the bulk of Watauga County's known dulcimer makers, including all the Hicks, Presnells, Wards, Glenns, Harmons, Testers, Proffitts, etc.  The dulcimer traditions of Watauga County, NC are truly a family tradition.


updated by @greg-gunner: 04/29/22 10:08:45AM
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
9 months ago
2,129 posts

Greg- that terrific information to read on this beautiful dulcimer's makers!

The eagle peghead and two makers' labels puts me in mind of something else, having to do with dulcimer maker Keith Young-

Some of you may have seen some really gorgeous Young dulcimers that had an expertly carved clinging tree frog carved into the wooden peghead . When I was ordering my beautiful curly maple from Keith, I asked him about the possibility of getting it with the tree frog peghead. He told me that he himself had carved the first few frog pegheads, but that it became too much and that he had a woodcarver carve the frogs for him for a while. Eventually the carver no longer did the frogs and that's when Keith stopped offering the option altogether. So, my dulcimer has simply the elegant scroll peghead that Keith himself would carve.

This makes me wonder if the dulcimer in this thread was basically made by Hicks but perhaps David Love (as you said known for his woodworking and also making of wooden toys) carved the eagle peghead... thus resulting in the two makers' labels inside, giving them both credit for their hand in the instrument's creation?




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 04/29/22 08:12:29AM
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
9 months ago
947 posts

Greg, thanks for the information on the Hicks/Love connection. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge of the Watauga County dulcimer community.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."


updated by @ken-longfield: 04/28/22 05:52:00PM
Banjimer
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
9 months ago
143 posts

David Love's full name was Joe "David" Love.  Like many mountaineers he used his middle name as his given name.  He learned dulcimer and banjo making from Tom "Stanley" Hicks, more commonly known as just Stanley Hicks.  The dulcimer containing maker labels for both was very likely a collaboration between the two men.  David Love was a skilled woodworker, one who made dulcimers, banjos, and guitars, as well as wooden toys.  He sold his handmade crafts through a small shop at his home.

David Love's father, Edward Miles Love, was the son of General Miles Love, who was the half brother of Millard Colfax Oliver and Smith Talbert Oliver, two names frequently mentioned when discussing the origins of the Beech Mountain dulcimer traditions.

General Miles Love was known as an abusive husband and father.  He was shot and killed by his father-in-law and brother-in-law in 1932.  The two Presnell men were defending the wife of General Miles Love, Matilda Mae Presnell, and her children from a drunk and angry General Miles Love.

There is no evidence to suggest a dulcimer connection between David Love and his grandfather's half brothers, Millard and Smith Oliver.  The available evidence suggests collaboration and possible mentorship between Stanley Hicks and David Love.

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
5 years ago
342 posts

It really is a beautiful dulcimer, but it strikes me as a non-Stanley Hicks instrument.  It seems to me to be a dulcimer built in the Stanley Hicks style by somebody else (David Love).  The Stanley Hicks label inside the soundhole seems to be out of place somehow.  Maybe Stanley acquired it from Mr. Love, and put his label of ownership in it?   There is plenty of room inside the heart cutout to affix a label after the dulcimer was completed.  Just my musings...

Bob
Bob
@bob
5 years ago
86 posts

Thats an incredible dulcimer!!

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
5 years ago
1,344 posts

I can offer no information, William, but the dulcimer is a treasure! 

William Mann
William Mann
@william-mann
5 years ago
22 posts

Help me out, historians and collectors.  I just acquired a Watauga Co. NC dulcimer with the labels of two known craftsmen: Stanley Hicks and David Love.  The Hicks label was centered in a soundhole where you would expect to see a Hicks label, but the Love label was almost hidden toward the center of the back. 

Hicks I know, as does every Foxfire fan, but Love was a new one.  I've only found one other dulcimer with his name in it, and it did not have the Hicks label.  Love was a woodcarver, and the stylized eagle effigy pegbox was one of his hallmarks.  

My hypothesis on this dulcimer, which has Love's eagle peghead and a body that just screams Hicks: the instrument was a collaborative effort between the two craftsmen.  The two lived in the same general area--Watauga Co.--and Love's sister Dovie was married to a Hicks; so a sharing of ideas and even efforts would be easy to imagine.  Either Love supplied the pegbox and Hicks built the dulcimer, or Hicks made the component parts and Love assembled them using his pegbox.

Historians, collectors, and Watauga Co. music aficionados: can you confirm a hypothesis or share something I don't know?  (This is my first venture into the rich musical heritage of Watauga Co., so there's a LOT of stuff I don't know!)  Do you know more about Love, or about collaborations or any other professional or social relationship between Love and Hicks?

Thanks in advance!

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updated by @william-mann: 03/19/18 05:37:19PM