Friday, March 3, 2017

Born Today March 3: Sanford Faulkner (Not So Silent Edition)


Sandford C. "Sandy" Faulkner (first name sometimes spelled "Sanford") was born on this day in Scott County, Kentucky.  He was an iconic figure in the early statehood of Arkansas.  His earliest childhood history is shrouded in mystery, due in part to his birth on what was then the frontier.  Some sources have even suggested that his first name was actually "Sanderson" and that the "C." in his middle name stood for "Clinton," but evidence doesn't support these claims (for example, the census and his own grave marker).  His family must have been wealthy, because they were able to establish two plantations on the western side of the Mississippi, and was said, for a time at least, to owed the largest number of slaves in the territory.  Faulkner joined the Confederate army via the Arkansas Militia during the Civil War; this lead to him later in life to be known as "Colonel Faulkner," though he never actually attained that rank.  He got involved the territorial and state politics, though not very successfully.  He was also a bank president at one point.  What he was known for was as a lively teller of tall tales and as an avid fiddler.  It is for his fiddle composition and tale entitled "The Arkansas Traveler" that he is known for today. It is this tune that has been used in various films over the decades.  The first of these came in 1927 in a partial sound film:  Uncle Tom's Cabin starring Margarita Fischer (it would be her last film). The music and sound effects were provided by MovieTone.  The first full mono film to use the tune, came in 1931 with the animated short And The Green Grass Grew All Around.  The first full length feature film to have the music as part of it's soundtrack dates from 1932, in the Barbara Stanwyck vehicle The Purchase Price, directed by William Wellman.  The most recent use of the tune came in 2013 with the Civil War reenactment documentary film The Battle of Pea Ridge.  Faulkner died in his home in Little Rock on August 4th at the age of 68.  He is buried in Little Rock's Mount Holly Cemetery.

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