Rural Missouri - March 2011 - (Page 10)

To order a print of this photo, see page 14. Donald Graves and his family have preserved the legacy of this unique Ozark instrument for more than a century According to the family’s oral history, John father, this three-stringed, teardrop-style dulcimer Mawhee was a Cherokee Indian who fought for the called a “walking cane” is unique to the Missouri Union during the Civil War as a member of the third Ozarks, as is the method in which it is played. regiment of the Indian Home Guard. This volunDonald represents the fourth tary infantry regiment organized in Carthage. generation of his family to play the Accomplished as a fiddle player and luthiwalking cane dulcimer. For the past er before the war, Mawhee would entertain decade, the 68-year-old has followed in his fellow soldiers around the campfire in his father’s and great-grandfather’s footLebanon the evenings, singing the old songs of steps, building the instruments by hand • home and family. It was while in the at his home outside of Lebanon. Today, Army that he devised the pattern for he’s also teaching his grandchildren — the his dulcimer. His instrument’s design sixth generation of the family — how to was probably as much about necessity play the old-timey instrument. as it was acoustics, according to a tale Donald tells. “My dad, Bill Graves, played it ever since I can “While he was in the war, he got a horse shot remember,” says Donald, a member of Laclede out from under him, and it broke his right leg,” he Electric Cooperative. “He learned to play it from my says. “When he got it set, instead of getting it back grandmother, and she learned from her father, John together right, they missed it, leaving his right leg Mawhee, my great-grandfather. Dad played it for 75 about an inch shorter than the other one.” years. When he passed away, I picked it up myself.” With the deft hands of a skilled musician, Donald Graves of Lebanon gently strums the three strings of a “walking cane” dulcimer he crafted from wild cherry and yellow pine. by Jason Jenkins lone, the dulcimer has no life of its own. Hollow and empty, its wooden body is a cold form, its steel strings and frets are icy to the touch. By itself, it can produce no music, no love, no life. But in the hands of a musician, the dulcimer is transformed. As skilled fingers begin to play a tune from days gone by, frets and strings warm to the touch. Once empty, the dulcimer’s wooden body now erupts with music, spilling out into the room. The musician has made the dulcimer come alive — along with everyone who hears the catchy melody. No one can say for certain when the first dulcimers arrived in Missouri, but in Donald Graves’ home, a distinctive variant of the instrument has been a lifelong fixture. Crafted by his great-grand- A 10 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - March 2011

Rural Missouri - March 2011
Docent of the Walking Cane Dulcimer
Out of the Way Eats
Mail Bag
The No-Dig (And Less Sweat) Gardening Alternative
Grow a Delicious Landscape
A Recycled Craft
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
The Gainesville Gunner
Around Missouri
Top Apps for Rural Missourians

Rural Missouri - March 2011