Enlighting the Future
"Notes da Capo" by John L. Puffenbarger
In 1925, Marie Botte served as secretary of the music section of the State Education Association, one of several state positions she held during her career in music education. She was instrumental in the creation of the West Virginia All-State Chorus and Orchestra. In 1940, she began visiting the homes of people in central West Virginia to collect ballads and folk tunes. She published a book titled Singa Hipsy Doodle and Other Folk Songs of West Virginia.
Sometimes we are so involved with the activities of today's world that we fail to realize the importance of preserving history. Since 1985, WVMEA has been collecting documents, including pictures and recordings, from its affiliates. The material is placed on file in the West Virginia Archives in Colson Hall at WVU. The story below demonstrates how history enlightens future generations.
One Sunday after church during the summer of 2001, my wife and I were having lunch at C.J. Maggie’s in Buckhannon. A friend, Kathy Chandler St. Clarir, came to our table and told us that she had been searching the internet for information about Marie Botte when she discovered a Notes da Capo article I had written in September 1993. Kathy said that her great-great grandfather, Granville D. Sayre, was one of the people Miss Botte interviewed and recorded. She said that her aunt, Mabel Martin, remembers hearing her grandfather sing and would love to hear him sing again, so she wondered if tape recordings of interviews were still available. I told her that I did not know, but since Miss Botte was on the music faculty at West Virginia Wesleyan College, the college library might have the information she needed.
Kathy's interest in finding these recordings was aroused when her aunt received a copy of Dr. Roy McCuskey's book, All Things Work Together for Good To Them That Love God. Dr. McCuskey, who later served as president of West Virginia Wesleyan College, stayed in the Sayre home when he was a student pastor and made reference to Mrs. Martin's grandfather, Granville Sayre, in his book. Dr. McCuskey later introduced Marie Botte to Mr. Sayre when she began collecting songs for her book.
Mrs. Martin then received a copy of Miss Botte's book, which includes three songs composed by Granville Sayre: "Oh, Brothers Now Our Meeting's Broke," "While Wandering To And Fro," and "Give Me Jesus."
The search for recordings at West Virginia Wesleyan College was unfruitful. It seemed as though the search had hit a brick wall until the summer of when Mrs.
Martin’s nephew, Calvin Strader, came for a visit. Mrs. Martin showed him Dr. McCuskey’s book and Marie Botte’s Singa Hipsy Doodle. She told him about her search for recordings.
In a few days, Mr. Strader called his Aunt Mabel to tell her that the tapes had been found. His twin daughters, Dr. Rockelle Strader and Dr. Nicole Strader, both music faculty members at Ohio State University, had located the tapes in the West Virginia Archives in Colson Hall at WVU.
After learning the location of the tapes, Kathy St. Clair and her sister Judy Hall traveled to Morgantown. They found that Miss Botte's collection was contained on two reel-to-reel tapes, which included dialog, singing, and guitar and dulcimer performances.
The women spent several hours listening to tapes. The second tape, however, contained only eight minutes of music; the remainder was blank. As luck would have it, the eight-minute section contained the songs and voice of their great -grandfather Granville Sayre. They were elated. The staff at Colson Hall transferred the eight minutes to CD. Imagine the excitement as Kathy shared this with her aunt.
On a recent afternoon, my wife and I had a delightful visit with Mrs. Martin and Kathy. They played the CD, which was the culmination of their search. They shared additional information about their family. Mrs. Martin, now 90 years old, remembers when she and Kathy's mother, Cozbi, were in high school during the late 1920s. They used to spend Sunday afternoons singing with their grandfather.