NameBascom Lamar Lunsford
Birth21 Mar 1882, Mars Hill, Madison Co., NC
Death4 Sep 1973
FatherJames Bassett Lunsford (~1838-~1912)
MotherLuarta Leah Buckner (-~1902)
Misc. Notes
Source: Jo Dunne
Source: Web and Musical CD

Recorded 3 commercial albums. Hobby was recording others and resultantly, is the biggest oral archive in the Smithsonian. He recorded over 3000 songs for the Library of Congress and the Columbia University Library. Wrote the song Good Ol Mountain Dew, for which the soft drink was named. He sold the rights to the song to Scott Wiseman, in 1928, for $25 to buy a bus ticket. Wiseman revised the lyrics. It is said that he wrote the song after one of his court cases (a lawyer by trade). He defended a moonshiner. He argued a sample of the "dew" into evidence, for the defense, and got the Judge to taste it. The Judge promptly dismissed the case, it is said, noting that anyone who can make dew that good, should not be in jail. "He sut up his mug, when he filled up his mug, with that good ol mountain dew." Mars Hill College (Mars Hill, NC) has a museum dedicated to him in their library. He promoted "buck dancing," which is known as clogging, today. He started the "Mountain Dance & Folk Music Festival," in 1928, which is still an annual event in Ashevile, NC at the Thomas Wolfe Audatorium. Loyal Jones wrote a book about Bascomb, called "Minstrel of the Appalachias" (ISBN 0913239119). He was also featured in the PBS series called THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE in an episode called "Portrait (or Ballad) of a Mountain Man." He can be seen, briefly, in a film called "Times Aint What They Used To Be" (c1930's/40's). He once performed at the White House for President Roosevelt, Queen Elizabeth and King George IV. Fruit tree salesman, honey-bee promoter, teacher McDowell Co., deaf at Morganton, Rutherford College), publisher (Old Fort Sentinel, The McDowell Sentinel), lawyer, solicitor for Burke Co., auctioneer, sold war bonds, agent for US Justice Dept., and reading clerk at the NC House of Representatives. Had a stroke in 1965.

Bascom Lamar Lunsford was a famed performer, fruit tree salesman, democratic political campaign manager, auctioneer, special agent, publisher, honey bee promoter, lawyer, federal worker, reading clerk, teacher, amateur folklorist/collector, festival organizer and recording artist. He organized the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in 1928,†which is still an annual event in Asheville, North Carolina. He also helped organize many more similar festivals, nationwide. He was big on folk dance, including "buck dancing" (clogging). He played the fiddle and banjo. He recorded his first songs, "Jesse James" and "I Wish I was a Mole in the Ground," in 1924. Many of his works were released commercially between 1924 and 1935, on many labels (OKeh, Brunswick, Columbia, Coral and others). His most famous recording was "Old Mountain Dew" (1928, Brunswick Records),†for which the soft drink is now named and the inspiration for the name of this newsletter. He sold the rights to that song to Scott (Scotty) Wiseman at the 1937 National Folk Festival in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Wiseman bought the song from Bascom for the price of a bus ticket home ($25). Scott Wiseman revised the lyrics and†it has since become one of, if†not THE most famous folk songs ever.†His collection of songs (not just his own) make up the largest oral archives in the Library of Congress (The Archive of Folk Song). He performed at the White House in 1939, for President Roosevelt and the King and Queen of England. He was 91 years old when he died. There is a Lunsford College Fund, created in Bascom's honor, at Mars Hill College, Mars Hill, North Carolina. They also have a room, in their library, dedicated to him as a museum. Mars Hill is his birthplace. Bascomís father, James Bassett Lunsford (b1838), was from East Tennessee. Jamesí family moved to Texas where he later joined an artillery battery (Confederate 4th Texas Brigade) during the Civil War. His unit saw a lot of major and minor battles in his four years of service -- all across the south. After the war James settled in Madison County, NC (Mars Hill) to care for his mother and sisters. He then married Luarta Leah Buckner. From what I can find out, Bascom had one brother, Blackwell Lunsford. He also had two or more sisters, one of which was Kern. Bascom married Nellie Triplett in 1906. She died in 1960. They had 7 children I know of: Sara Kern Lunsford, Ellen Chapman Lunsford, Lynn Huntington Lunsford, Blackwell Lamar Lunsford, Nellie Triplett Lunsford (she married Loyal Jones, who wrote Bascomís biography), Merton Lunsford and Josefa ìJoî Bell Lunsford (married Lew Herron). Bascom married a second time, to Freda English. They had no children that I know of.
Last Modified NewCreated 22 Aug 2009 using Reunion for Macintosh