Ruth Ann Musick—The Show-Me Mountaineer:
A Missourian Adopted by West Virginia
Missouri Folklore Society Journal (v. 8-9, 1986-87)
I was just a child when I first met Dr. Ruth Ann Musick, who came to my home
to collect the folktales of my family, especially as told by my grandmother
and mother. Her enthusiasm and encouragement ignited my interest in folklore
scholarship. Through her example, I became dedicated to the continuation
of her work and efforts—the preservation and perpetuation of West Virginia’s
In 1983 I was asked by the West Virginia Women’s Commission to submit
a biographical sketch of Dr. Musick for inclusion in Missing Chapters
II: West Virginia Women in History. I entitled it “Ruth Ann Musick:
The Adopted West Virginian,” for even though Dr. Musick left a considerable
mark on the cultural and folklore history of West Virginia, she never forgot
her Missouri background. In fact, her Missouri heritage often directed her
responses to the West Virginia folklore she collected.
This salute to Ruth Ann Musick contains most of the information from the
above-mentioned publication, as well as a further examination of her Missouri
roots. And, speaking of roots, when asked exactly from where she came, Dr.
Musick would cup her chin in her hand and snap, “Why, I’m from Show-Me Missouri.”
Then, with an added twinkle in her eyes, the light of which seemed to come
from within, she'd reflect, “But, I have adopted West Virginia or the Mountaineers
have adopted me. They’ve taken me in as kin because my people [Musicks] originally
came from the part of Virginia that is now central West Virginia. Plus,
I’m distantly related to ‘Devil Anse Hatfield’.” Could it be that Ruth Ann
Musick was a real “Show-Me Mountaineer”?
editor's note: in this edition, footnotes numbers appear in parentheses:
(#). MFS thanks Ms. Tatyana Sydorenko for editorial assistance.
* * *
Ruth Ann Musick left a significant mark on the history
of West Virginia by fully recognizing, appreciating, and distinguishing the
vast wealth West Virginia possesses in its cultural heritage. She was the
first and primary female scholar to work toward the preservation of West
Virginia’s folklife, mainly through the recording of the folktales. She became
West Virginia’s folklore ambassador, tireless and ever enthusiastic in her
efforts to gain recognition for West Virginia folkore as an integral component
of the state’s history. She dedicated the last thirty years of her life toward
the accomplishment of this goal. She revived the state’s folklore society
and edited the state’s folklore journal. She collected, researched, and published
four major folklore collections, all the while promoting folklore as an important
part of West Virginia education from elementary to and including college
levels. She made radio broadcasts and television programs and wrote newspaper
columns promoting the importance of our folk culture. She also became a storyteller
and public speaker on folklore and brought national recognition and attention
to West Virginia’s folklore by being an active member of the American Folklore
Society, by publishing articles in its Journal of American Folklore, and
by attending and delivering papers at a number of its national conferences.
Apart from her work in folklore, Dr. Musick contributed
to West Virginia as an outstanding educator, a creative writer, and a public
humanist: as a social critic and reformer on the issues of preserving wildlife,
protecting domestic animals and curtailing strip mining, as well as a promoter
of the community arts in theater groups and poetry societies.
Her dynamic and outstanding contributions to West Virginia,
given unselfishly and with fierce loyalty, are traced in this biographical
sketch, divided into four important parts of her life. Part I is “The Preparing
Years”—her childhood and learning experiences in the Midwest that prepared
her for her life’s work in West Virginia. Part II is “The Adopted West Virginian”—a
tracing of her significant contributions to West collage of examples and
comparisons of Missouri folklore to West Virginia folklore as presented in
West Virginia Folklore, which Dr. Musick founded and edited from 1951
to 1966. Part IV is “Future Visions”—a living legacy for the continuation
of her work and efforts.
I: The Preparing Years
Ruth Ann Musick was born September 17, 1897, in Kirksville,
Missouri. Her parents, Levi Prince Musick and Zada Goeghegan Musick, earned
their livelihood from a five-acre farm on the outskirts of the town. There,
Ruth Ann spent her childhood as the only girl between two brothers, Archie
Leroy and Ace Irl. (1)
Early experience on this midwestern farm strongly contributed
to various attitudes and beliefs Ruth Ann later developed as an adult. The
gentle green and rolling hills of the northern Missouri countryside imprinted
a deep respect for nature in the young girl’s mind. Later, as a resident
of West Virginia, she wrote poetry that deplored strip mining in her adopted
mountain state. (2)
Ruth Ann also grew to love the animals on the farm.
She was only eight years old when she first witnessed the butchering of farm
livestock for market. The dull thump of the hammers again and again as the
farm helpers slaughtered the pigs left a horrifying impression on Ruth Ann.
Then and there, she decided never to eat meat again, much to her mother’s
initial anguish over the well-being of her young daughter. (3) But her aesthetically
sensitive mother, whose strength and understanding Ruth Ann later emulated,
finally accepted with great patience her daughter’s decision to become a
vegetarian at the age of eight. (4)
The entire Musick family was regarded as talented by neighbors and townspeople
in Kirksville. (5) Many of the family members were drawn to the fine
arts. Ruth Ann’s father was an enthusiastic reader. His older brother, Ace,
became a commercial printer while Archie, the younger brother, became a
professional artist. (6) Later Archie Musick became a significant contributor
to West Virginia arts as the illustrator of three of Rugh Ann’s folktale
collections: The Telltale Lilac Bush and Other West Virginia Ghost
Tales; Green Hills of Magic, West Virginia Folktales from Europe; and
Coffin Hollow and Other Ghost Tales. Having studied under the guidance
of both Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students’ League in New York and S.
McDonald Wright in Los Angeles, Archie’s bold style of rustic romanticism
was exemplified in the black and white scratchboard drawings he created
to illustrate the characters and settings at the heart of these West Virginia
Ruth Ann herself began writing as a child and received
her first literary award at the age of twelve for a Christmas short story
entitled “St. Nicholas.” The contest was sponsored by the Kirksville Daily
Express. (8) Later, while she was an undergraduate at Kirksville State
Teacher’s College, now Northeast Missouri State University (and now
Truman State University [ed]), she wrote the college’s daily news in a
column of the Kirksville Daily Express. (9)
Ruth Ann Musick entered Kirksville State Teacher’s
College in 1916 and in 1919 received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education.
In 1920 she continued her education at the State University of Iowa in Iowa
City. (10) Even though her natural forte was English and literature, her father
influenced her to earn a Master of Science Degree in 1928 with a major in
mathematics and a minor in English. (11)
Ruth Ann Musick, 1916; that's a basketball uniform she's wearing
After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree and during and
after her work for the Master’s Degree, Rugh Ann taught English and mathematics
in various high schools. From September 1919 to June 1921 she was a member
of the faculty at Luana High School, Luana, Iowa. She moved to Garwin, Iowa,
in 1921 and taught at Garwin High School until June 1922. Then, for eight
years, from 1923 to 1931, Ruth Ann was on the faculty of Logan High School,
LaCrosse, Wisconsin. In 1931 she left the Midwest for five years and taught
at Phoenix Union High School, Phoenix, Arizona, from 1931 to 1936. (12) She
then returned to the Midwest, and in 1938 she began doctoral study at the
State University of Iowa,emphasizing her natural inclination toward English
and literature coupled with a new interest in folklore and folk literature.
In 1943 she received a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in English with an emphasis
in creative writing. (13)
Dr. Musick’s family, of Scottish, Irish and English
lineages, handed down their oral traditions in the household as she was growing
up. Her father and mother sang their individual family folk songs and demonstrated
playparty games, and her mother and aunts told folktales. On her father’s
side, the Musicks were English. Some members of the family migrated directly
from England to Missouri while others came first to Virginia, where many
of them stayed. Ruth Ann’s paternal grandfather moved from Virginia to St.
Louis County, Missouri, where he met and married her grandmother, Mary Prince.
Her great-grandfather, Levi Prince, was a Dutch-Jewish peddler who was believed
to have been murdered for his money and wares, since he left home with his
pack and never returned. He had married Grizella Fugate, whose family was
French and had lived in Bath County, Kentucky, before moving to St. Louis
County. Grandfather Musick moved his family to Adair County, Missouri, about
On Ruth Anns’ mother’s side, the Geoghegans migrated
from Ireland, some to New York and some directly to Kentucky. Her grandfather,
the Reverend James Geoghegan, was a Baptist minister who came from Bourbon
County, Kentucky, to Hancock County, Illinois, where he married her grandmother.
Later, in about 1881, the family settled in Adair County, Missouri. Ruth
Ann’s grandmother, Nancy Ann Dye Goeghegan, from whom most of her mother’s
songs seem to have come, was the daughter of Suzannah Cameron Dye and the
granddaughter of Elizabeth Lee Cameron, who was General Robert E. Lee’s aunt.
Her father had migrated directly from England to Virginia. The Camerons were
Scottish, but the Dyes were German and had come from Germany to Ohio. Later
they moved to Hancock County, Illinois. Both Ruth Anns’ parents and most of
her forebears were Baptists, but she preferred the Episcopal Church all of
her life. (14 )
It was not until her doctoral studies that an affinity
for folklore began to blossom. Her dissertation director and doctoral committee
encouraged her to use folklore as they guided her writing of a creative dissertation,
a novel entitled Hell’s Holler, which incorporated folklore from
the Chariton Hills of Missouri. (15) As part of her doctoral work, she also
collected the folk songs of her family in Missouri.
Professor Edwin Ford Piper, folklore professor at the
State University of Iowa, first interested Ruth Ann in folklore and encouraged
her to remember and set down songs she had heard during her childhood. As
a member of Professor Piper’s last folklore class, Ruth Ann collected her
family’s songs, many of which had been brought over from Scotland and England
and preserved orally. Professor Piper had hoped originally to use her family
songs in his extensive Midwest collection. Unfortunately, however, he died
before the semester was over. Later, when it became evident, after a fire
had destroyed much of his material, that no one would use the recordings
and texts Ruth Ann had given him, Dr. Musick revised and enlarged this collection
into a book-length manuscript, “Folk Songs From Missouri and the Ozarks.”
It was selected for the 1947 Memoir of the American Folklore Society, and
co-edited for publication by J. W. Ashton of Indiana University, but it was
never published due to lack of funds. Later, in 1950, after Dr. Musick had
moved to West Virginia, she reorganized and re-edited the manuscript, adding
a rather large number of Missouri folk songs she had later collected or
acquired, many of which were given to her by Vance Randolph, eminent American
regional folk scholar, who had already completed his four volume work,
Ozark Folksongs , and planned no further publication in this field. Dr.
Musick dedicated her completed manuscript to Vance Randolph and the memory
of her mother and Professor Edwin Ford Piper. (16)
Dr. Musick began college teaching in 1942 at William
Penn College, Oskaloosa, Iowa. In 1942-1943 she taught college algebra and
trigonometry in a World War II V-12 program at William Penn College. In
1945, from March until September, Dr. Musick worked for the government at
the University of Iowa’s Physics-Engineering Development Project. During
this time she was sent from Iowa City as a research assistant in mathematics
to Inyokern, California, for three months, and later to Clinton, Iowa, where
the University of Iowa was conducting experiments. Before coming to West
Virginia, Dr. Musick taught briefly at Iowa Wesleyan College, Mt. Pleasant,
Iowa, in the early spring of 1946. (17)
During these teaching years in the Midwest, Dr. Musick
was briefly married to an artist, who became an alcoholic and was committed
to an institution for a number of years. Her mother had never approved of
the courtship and refused to attend the wedding, (18) and after much unhappiness,
the marriage ended in a divorce in the late 1940’s. Ruth Ann maintained her
family name of Musick. She never spoke of her marriage, but seemed greatly
saddened by the experience. Years later, her ex-husband visited her once
in Fairmont, West Virginia, but no reconciliation occurred. Neither ever married
Dr. Ruth Ann Musick’s early life outside of West Virginia
could be considered a background for her years ahead as an adopted West Virginian.
During this time her formal education was essentially completed. She had
gained valuable and varied teaching experiences in both secondary and higher
education. From her family she had inherited a respect for tradition. And,
through folklore she had found a means to preserve and perpetuate our cultural
heritage. All of this living and learning helped to prepare her for the significant,
seemingly destined, role she would play in West Virginia’s history.
II: The Adopted West Virginian
Ruth Ann Musick came to West Virginia partially through
luck, but mainly by careful consideration. Through her research she realized
that this area of Appalachia was virtually untouched by folklore scholarship.
She conjectured that a vast wealth of folk traditions survived that should
be recorded and preserved, and saw her professional life directed toward
accomplishment of this worthwhile mission. Her vision was not to be an idle
dream, for in the fall of 1946 she accepted a teaching position at Fairmont
State College. (20) During her post-interview meeting at the college, she
eagerly outlined her desire to record the folklore of West Virginia, and beseeched
President George H. Hand to allow her to develop folklore and folk literature
at the college. (21) At that time neither subject was prominent on any college
campus in the state. Even though Dr. Musick was originally appointed to teach
college mathematics and did so for a few years, gradually she began to teach
one of two classes in the English Department and continued until her retirement
in May 1967. In 1948 Dr. Hand allowed her to start a folklore class at the
college, English 371, Folk Literature, a class still popular in the English
Dr. Musick easily adipted West Virginia as her home.
In fact, she considered it her real home. She loved every aspect of West
Virginia: its friendly people, its unbridled naturalness, its majestic hills.
(23) She commonly referred to the hills as "green hills of magic" and in
1970 used the phrase as the title of her third collection of folktales,
Green Hills of Magic, West Virginia Folktales From Europe. In the book’s
introduction she wrote:
[T]here they were—hills upon hills—billowing up like waves from a sea
of moss-green velvet. Something had happened. Were were in another world—a
world of magic! Someone said it was West Virginia. All I knew was I was
under a complete spell. I had never seen anything like the grandeur of these
hills. There was something mystical about it all—something supernatural
She had a natural affinity for West Virginia. Her native
Missouri was also rolling and green, with the Ozark Mountains to the South.
Descendants of the Anglo-Celtic and Germanic populations that had migrated
into Appalachia in the early 1700’s later moved on west through Kentucky
and Tennessee, settling along the major waterways and in farmlands of Missouri
and Illinois. Her English and Irish lineage mixed with Scottish and German
traces were predominant in the bloodlines of many West Virginians. She knew
the Scotch-Irish folk songs, games, and dances, dulcimer and fiddle music,
and quilting bees and other mountain activities and crafts found in Appalachia.
But, unlike Missouri and other places where early settlers represented a
mixture of folk cultures, West Virginia’s folk life held a unique fascination
for Dr. Musick because of the predominance of Anglo-Irish traditions. The
hills were filled with ghost tales never before collected. And the southern
European and Asia Minor populations who later migrated into the hills at the
turn of the nineteenth century to work the railroads and mine the coal possessed
traditions very different from the Celtic stock who had settled there before
them. To record and preserve this rich public cultural treasure Dr. Musick
dedicated the rest of her life.
She was a salient force, a female dynamo, in the recognition
and preservation of West Virginia folklore. William Hugh Jansen, Folklore
Professor at the University of Kentucky, eulogized Dr. Musick in his “In
Memoriam, Ruth Ann Musick” as one of the …fine but lonely scholars who have
personified West Virginia folklore both within and beyond the boundaries of
that state. During her many years in the English Department of Fairmont State
College, she was practically a public relations agent for folklore in West
In 1950, two years after Dr. Musick began teaching
her folklore class, she revived the West Virginia Folklore Society. The
society had been originally founded by Dr. John Harrington Cox, English
Professor at West Virginia University in Morgantown, on July 15, 1915, and
remained active until June 28, 1917. From its membership Dr. Cox gathered
the material for Folk Songs of the South. Dr. Musick became the renewed
society’s archivist. The following year, in 1951, she founded West Virginia
Folklore and served as its editor and main writer until her retirement
in 1967. (26) The quarterly journal was the official publication of the West
Virginia Folklore Society, and she was solely responsible for the actual
organizing, typing, stenciling, mimeographing, and mailing of the journal
to many of the larger universities and public libraries in the United States
and Canada. Even though this endeavor took a great deal of time, Dr. Musick
stated, “I feel this is a very important project, and should be continued
to be carried out.” (27) Indeed, the journal was revived in 1974 in the memory
of Dr. Musick and remained in print until 1980.
From numerous contacts with her students and other
informants in West Virginia, especially the north central area, Dr. Musick
collected a wealth of folklore. Her major interest was the folktale, mainly
the ghost tale, a folk genre that had barely been recorded in West Virginia
before her work. Even though Dr. Musick utilized all collecting methods to
record folklore, she felt indebted to her former students at Fairmont State
College for many of her folktales: “I would say that some ninety percent
or more of all my ghost tales were brought in by my students, who got them
from their parents, grandparents, or older neighbors in most cases.” (28)
She credited the size of her collection of ghost tales to her students who
shared her great enthusiasm for the ghostly. She observed that even though
“older people may very well object to telling any supernatural experiences
to outsiders…they usually have no objections whatever to telling such happenings
to younger relatives or neighbor youngsters whom they have watched grow up.”
From her fieldwork and contributions from her students,
Dr. Musick published four West Virginia folklore and folktale collections:
Ballads, Folk Songs, and Folk Tales from West Virginia (Morgantown:
West Virginia University Library, 1960); The Telltale Lilac Bush, and
Other West Virginia Ghost Tales (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky,
1965); Green Hills of Magic, West Virginia Folktales From Europe
(Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1970), which won the
first literary award to be given by the West Virginia Library Association
in the fall of 1972; Coffin Hollow and Other Ghost Tales (Lexington:
The University Press of Kentucky, 1977). The fourth book was published
after Dr. Musick’s death, but one week before she died the press notified
her that this folktale collection was soon going to be in print. All four
published collections were enthusiastically received by West Virginians at
the time of her publication and still retain their popularity around the
state, especially in the schools. Critical acclaim also came from other
Dr. Musick’s dedication to West Virginia’s folk life
was not limited to collecting and publishing. She was also a public spokesperson
for West Virginia folklore both within the state and beyond its boundaries.
Nationally, Dr. Musick maintained active membership in the National Folk
Festival Association and the American Folklore Society. She presented papers
on West Virginia folklore at four National Conferences of the American Folklore
Society held in El Paso, Texas; Washington, D.C.; Bloomington, Indiana; and
Chicago, Illinois, and at seasonal meetings held at Duke University and in
New York City. (31) Her addresses covered such topics as ghosts, witchcraft,
and werewolves. (32) She befriended and collaborated with a number of nationally
recognized folk scholars: Stith Thompson, Richard Dorson, Kenneth Goldstein,
and of course Vance Randolph. Her voice also echoed through the pages of the
Journal of American Folklore and respected regional folklore publications,
such as Hoosier Folklore and Southern Folklore Quarterly ,
all of which published numerous tales and articles and essays on folklore.(
33) She held membership in the folklore society of a neighboring state, Ohio,
and attended the meetings and presented various papers there. In 1963 she
gave a talk on West Virginia ghost stories at Dennison University in Granville,
Ohio. She also attended the meetings of the Council of the Alleghenies.
(34) In 1971, a few years after her retirement from college teaching, she
was a featured guest on the nationally televised Marie Torre Show
in Pittsburgh, discussing the West Virginia folktale.
In West Virginia Dr. Musick spread the word about folklore
by lecturing before a vast number of students and educators and at meetings
of P.T.A.’s and other professional, social, and civic organizations, both
statewide and locally in Fairmont and surrounding areas. Possessing a natural
gift for drama and language, she presented so many storytelling sessions
that her name became synonymous with the ghost tale, especially to the thousands
of West Virginia students who heard her tell stories from the 1950’s to the
1970’s. Since the West Virginia Folklore Society was affiliated with the
West Virginia Education Association, Dr. Musick, with her long-time friend
Dr. Patrick Gainer, prominent folklorist from West Virginia University, and
other society officers, conducted folklore workshops at the statewide annual
fall conferences of WVEA from the late 1950’s through 1967. (35) At the same
time, she wrote two folklore columns for West Virginia newspapers: “The Old
Folks Say” for the Times-West Virginian in Fairmont and “Sassafras
Tea” for the Allegheny Journal in Elkins and Marlinton. Periodically
Dr. Musick appeared on radio and television shows throughout the state, and
at the Mountain State Art and Craft Festival at Cedar Lakes in Ripley. (36)
In 1973, just one year before her death, she was the folklore consultant
and instructor at the newly established Augusta Heritage Arts Workshop on
the campus of Davis and Elkins College in Elkins. For all of her outstanding
contributions to the preservation of West Virginia culture, Dr. Musick was
posthumously granted “The Outstanding Mountaineer Award in the Arts” in October
Aside from her commitment to folklore, Dr. Musick had
other interests and concerns, which completely endeared her to all of West
Virginia and particularly to Fairmont, as an educator, a creative writer,
and a West Virginia humanist. On campus and around town she was a familiar
figure who captivated everyone she met with her own blend of charm and idiosyncrasy.
When walking outside, a common pastime and necessity, she could usually be
seen in a trench coat, boots (for her feet were always cold), and a hat tied
with a layered veil. On her route to and from college, she’d often carry
two heavy valises, one balanced in each hand, stuffed with student essays,
books, and folklore projects. Oblivious to the weight of her bags, she stepped
lightly, spryly down the steps or up the hill. Just a hint of a stoop in
her profile could be noticed in later years. She was a small woman with clear,
ivory skin, twinkling grey-green eyes and a laughing smile. Her closely cropped
brown hair, just slightly streaked with white, fluttered in the breeze,
as if it too were caught in the boundless energy and enthusiasm her whole
body exuded. She talked as fast as she moved, in crisp, precise tones, greeting
She was a beloved professor and a dedicated, competent
educator who enjoyed teaching people, especially her students. To them she
demonstrated an unselfish interest in their academic development along with
“unflagging dedication [to students] whose virtues she always discovered
with no difficulty whatsoever.” (39) In her twenty-one years at Fairmont State
College she served both the Math and English Departments, spending most
of her time in the latter. She greatly loved teaching literature, creative
writing, and of course folklore. Her intrigue with drama, opera, and the
writing, and the musical was evident as, often singlehandedly, she acted out
the Shakespearean plays while teaching them. It was not uncommon
for her to jump on a desk or hide behind a door to fully explain a scene
to the class. Her enthusiasm flowed over into professional organizations.
She held active memberships in the West Virginia Education Association, the
National Education Association, the Association for Higher Education, and
the West Virginia Association of College English Teachers. After her retirement
she supported the National Retired Teachers Association. (40) She may have
retired from the college, but she never left it. Her home at the Colonial
Apartments was adjacent to the college hill. She was a common sight on campus
or in the library taking notes, analyzing folklore research, or merely sharpening
the stack of pencils she carried in her purse. (41) She even taught part
time in the English Department in the late 1960’s after she retired. She
rightfully deserved the Professor Emeritus status that was awarded her soon
after her retirement.
Even though Dr. Musick had never aspired to be a playwright,
she had a special warmth for drama and wrote several plays. One of them,
The Goat Man, was presented at the West Virginia Folklore Society
meeting at Fairmont and the West Virginia Education Association meeting in
Charleston, and a three-act play, Jim Tittle’s Ear, was performed
at the State University of Iowa. (42) Dr. Musick also supported a community
theater group, the Marion County Little Theater, acted in a variety of its
productions, and served as its president in 1963-1964. (43)
Dr. Musick continued to write poetry and short
stories in her retirement years, an extension of an interest in creative
writing that had originated in her girlhood. She had eighteen short stories
published in literary magazines throughout the United States. Most of the
stories were narrative fantasies that projected folktale motifs, characterizations,
and situations, such as “The Man Who Could Ride Lighting,” published in 1957
in The Colorado Quarterly Magazine; “Miracle Man Steele,” published
in 1946 in the Prairie Schooner; “A Teamster and His Boss,” published
in 1970 in the Morris Harvey Publication; and “The Stranger From Cheat Mountain,”
published in the Laurel Review in 1956. (44)
Her love of poetry was inspiring, and she was instrumental
in starting the Marion County Poetry Society, of which she served as president
for a number of years. She was also active in the West Virginia Poetry Society,
which became a sponsor for the local society. For her efforts in enhancing
the appreciation of poetry among West Virginians and for her own poetic talents,
Dr. Musick was one of three regional writers honored at the Autumn Leaves
Fall Meeting of the Huntington Poetry Society on October 30, 1965. (45)
Unlike her short stories that drew on folkloric
settings and themes, Dr. Musick’s poems displayed her individual brand of
humanism and environmentalism. Through her poetry she voiced “her strong
convictions toward preservation of the land against strip mining, a humanity
toward animals, and the identification of the rustic beauty of West Virginia.”
(46) Two of her poems won first place in the West Virginia Poetry Society’s
Roy Lee Harmon, Poet Laureate Award: “You Who Take Bribes” (a protest against
strip mining) and “Harper’s Ferry” (an elegy to John Brown). Most of her poetry
appeared in either Panorama Magazine (part of the Sunday Edition of
Morgantown’s Dominion Post Newspaper) or in Echoes of the West Virginia
Poetry Society (the society’s annual journal). Two of her poems, however,
were published in Poet, an international poetry magazine. Dr. Musick
also wrote rhyming jingles for commercials and advertisements, several of
which were published. (47)
To demonstrate her social concerns, Dr. Musick was
also a member of the Marion County Humane Society and “belonged to almost
all of the Humane Societies in the United States.” (48) She was active in
the Defenders of Wildlife and in the early 1970’s collected thousands of
signatures in her petition to save the whales. (49) So loyal was she to the
preservation of animal life that she even refused to harm insects. All of
her pet dogs and cats came to her as strays. (50)
Her best known pet was a mongrel dog named Molly that
she found one morning on her way to the college. The dog was lying in a ditch
on Locust Avenue half dead in a puddle of her own blood. She had recently
delivered puppies, but her stomach had been slit open from side to side.
Dr. Musick wrapped the dog in her trench coat and carried her to Fairmont
General Hospital located on the other side of the college. After having her
life saved, Molly became Dr. Musick’s faithful companion, but resisted closeness
to any other human being ever again. (51)
So this was Dr. Ruth Ann Musick as I remember her and
as others who also knew her have generously helped me to convey in this biographical
sketch. She was my teacher, my friend, and my folklore mentor. She
was one of the greatest women and one of the most outstanding West Virginians
I shall ever hope to know. Her final days and eventual death were orchestrated
with the same courage, dignity, and conviction she had displayed throughout
her life. On November 8, 1973, Dr. Musick was diagnosed as having a spinal
cancer that quickly spread throughout her body. Aware that she had only
a few months to live, she “got her house in order.”
She called to her side a few of us who knew and loved
her and who understood the importance of her folkloric work in West Virginia.
She wished for this valuable work to be directed and continued. She outlined
and left a living legacy to West Virginia in the hope that her wish would
be fulfilled. She named me the principal executrix of her unpublished folklore
estate, with the charge to edit and publish and make it available for educational
and public programming.
Not forgetting her other humanistic concerns, Dr. Musick
bequeathed part of her estate to worthy causes: (a) the advancement of the
welfare of the American Indian; (b) the Humane Information Services, Incorporated;
(c) the Marion County Humane Society; and (d) the Student Loan Fund at Fairmont
State College. (52) For the advancement of cancer research she donated her
body to the West Virginia University Medical Center. Before her death she
allowed herself to be subjected to experimental treatments and was the first
patient at the center to be given chemotherapy. Dr. Musick died on July 2,
1974. She was seventy-six years old.
III: Reflections On Missouri Folklore
Ruth Ann Musick never forgot her Missouri roots and
frequently used her Midwestern heritage as a frame of reference for analyzing
the West Virginia lore she was collecting and editing. Since she was the
archivist for the West Virginia Folklore Society, Dr. Musick treated the
West Virginia Folklore Journal not only as a vehicle to showcase Appalachian
folklore, but also as a continual depository for folklore material. The
journal’s style, while being informal and chatty, was sufficiently scholarly
to reflect the serious mission of preserving and perpetuating regional culture.
One of the journal’s functions was to compare West
Virginia’s folklore to the lore of other regions and times, especially that
of the Ozarks and other parts of Missouri. Dr. Musick’s editorial comments
not only reflected her family background, her childhood memories, and her
long-time professional admiration of the work of Missouri folklorist Vance
Randolph, but also revealed her spunky wit, inexhaustible curiosity, and
constant thirst for exactness in folklore scholarship.
On a personal note, Dr. Musick once devoted an entire
issue of West Virginia Folklore to the Hatfield-McCoy Feud (Summer
1956, Vol. 6, No. 4). She had discovered that the Musicks were related to
the legendary Hatfield clan, and in the journal’s introduction under “Announcements
and Notes,” she wrote:
All the material in this issue was contributed by Donald White, a student
at Fairmont State College. Mr. White got much of his information from his
grandmother, Blanche E. White, and from a great uncle, Lloyd E. Powers. However,
Mr. White has also read much of the material published about the Hatfields
and the McCoys, and the information he has written up is a mixture of all
of this. He is trying to give a true picture of the story, and especially
of “Devil Anse” Hatfield and the other Hatfield leaders, since many people
have a biased picture of “Devil Anse.” ...Inasmuch as I found some
six or seven years ago, that my people (the Musicks) originally came from
what is now central West Virginia, and that I am distantly related to “Devil
Anse” Hatfield, I was especially interested in this material.
Virginia Folklore, 6.4 (Summer 1956), 53.)
Devoting another issue to the ballads and folksongs
of a single informant, Mrs. Howard Glasscock of Wetzel County, West Virginia,
she made thirteen comparative references to the variants of the songs in
the Ozark collections of Vance Randolph. These were “Lord Randall,” Child
12; “Lord Lover,” Child 75; “Hang Me, Hang Me On That Tree,” Child 95; “The
First Night That I Came Home,” Child 274; “There Was An Old Man Who Lived
In The West”; “A Pretty Fair Maid”; “Death Is A Melancholy Call”; “The Banks
of Brandywine”; “Yonder Stands An Irish Maiden”; “A Soldier’s Poor Little
Boy”; “John Hardy”; “Old Mr. Gumbler”; and “Jesse James.” (West Virginia
Folklore , 5.2 (Winter 1955), 22-40.)
When she published a collection of autograph verses,
she added a note from the Ozark authority on the subject:
(Sometimes, as Vance Randolph pointed out in his article on autograph
verses from the Ozarks, these verses containing hidden questions got a little
out of hand. At times, some young girl’s album, and she might not even be
aware of it at the time. No doubt he thought it was a great joke. I have
collected two such “shockers” from various parts of West Virginia, but both
contributors wish to remain anonymous. The article mentioned above was “Autograph
Albums in the Ozarks,” by Vance Randolph and May Kennedy McCord, and was
printed in the Journal of American Folklore, April-June 1948.
...According to Dr. Randolph, who is an authority on such things, of
course, the peak of autograph verse writing was probably in the 1880's.
However, autograph verses are still being written in some states, including
West Virginia. Ed.) (West Virginia Folklore, 8.2 (Winter 1958), 30-31.)
She also often noted when she had Missouri versions of ballads or songs
and when versions of children's games and chants she published in West
Virginia Folklore brought to mind versions she had heard in Missouri
and the Midwest. The West Virginia version of “Green Gravel” had two stanzas:
Green gravel, green gravel, the grass grows green,
All over creation it is to be seen:
O (Alice), O (Alice), your true love is dead;
He wrote you a letter to turn back your head.
Green gravel, green gravel, the grass grows green,
All over creation it is to be seen:
O (Alice), O (Alice), your true love is found;
He wrote you a letter to turn back around.
(West Virginia Folklore, 9.2 (Winter 1959), 33.)
In the “Editor's note” Dr. Musick commented that “[i]n Missouri and
Iowa, the second line seems to be 'Free Mason, Free Mason, ashamed to be
seen'--not that it makes much sense. We sang it so when we were children,
with only one stanza. I like this second line and second stanza.”
The chant “Fistock,” in which hands are built up by each child holding
to the thumb of another, contributed by a student in her Folk Literature
class, was “[s]imilar to the chant we said as children in Missouri. Evidently
this is known all over the United States, or at least in many parts, without
too much variation.” (West Virginia Folklore, 2.3 (Spring 1953), 52.)
Other Missouri variations were reported in “Hide-and-Seek Rhymes” ( West
Virginia Folklore, 8.3 (Spring 1958), 41), and as a note to the singing
game, “Three Dukes,” she commented:
“My father used to sing this, and I believe played it as a boy. His version
varied somewhat. He started out singing,
“We come three knights…
Pray what is your good will, sir?
Our good will is to get married.
Which one of us will you have, sir?
You are all too dirty and greasy.
We're good enough for you, sir.”
His refrain [was] “With a rance, and a tance, and a tit-i-my- tay.” (
My father was a Missourian. He grew up in Kirksville, but spent his early
childhood in St. Louis. The Musicks came from Kentucky to St. Louis, and
from the part of Virginia that is now West Virginia.) (West Virginia
Folklore, 8.3 (Spring 1958), 43-44.)
A version of the game “Needle's eye,” sung to about the same tune as “Weevily
Wheat,” was published in West Virginia Folklore, 9.3 (Winter 1959),33-34.
It had three stanzas, ending with:
The needle's eye that does supply
The thread that runs so truly
Many a lass have I let pass
Because I wanted Julie.
The contributor remembered that her mother said “doth supply,” and Dr.
Musick remembered that “[i]n Missouri we said 'doth supply,' 'truly' and
A devoted fan of Vance Randolph and his scholarship, and his collaborator
on several occasions, Dr. Musick read all of his works with great interest.
She wrote reviews of each volume of his Ozark Folksongs for the
Journal of American Folklore. (See the list of her publications at
the end of this article.) Her high regard for Randolph can be seen in two
reviews she published in West Virginia Folklore.
The Talking Turtle, by Vance Randolph, with illustrations by Glen
Rounds, published by Columbia University Press, New York, price $4.00.
….This is the third collection of Ozark folktales by Dr. Randolph,
all of which are completely fascinating. Like the other Vance Randolph books,
this collection contains authentic tales as told by Ozark people with the
dialect, phraseology, understatement, and droll humor, more or less exactly
as it was recorded. It is hard to say which of the three collections is best,
since all are excellent. In my estimation (and I have read almost everything
Dr. Randolph has ever written) nobody equals Vance Randolph as a folklore-humorist,
or has done as much for a particular region. RAM (West Virginia Folklore
, 7.3 (Spring 1957), 52.)
Sticks in the Knapsack, by Vance Randolph. New York: Columbia University
Press, 1958. 171 pages. $3.75.
... This is Vance Randolph's fourth book of Ozark folktales and is
just as fascinating as the other three-maybe more so. (I have read Sticks
in the Knapsack several times, and have laughed uproarously at each reading.)
The book consists of ninety-seven tales, including versions of European
folktales, Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, and even an Americanized version
of Beowulf--not to mention tales of Ozark beliefs, reminiscences, ritual
practices, anecdotal accounts of events, and funny stories generally. Vance
Randolph is, in my opinion, not only an excellent folklorist, but the best
of humorists. I was particularly convulsed by “There's One Above,” “The
Yankee Militia,” “She Wanted a Whisk Broom,” “The Loss of Old Bugler,” etc.
I loved “Tobe Killed A Bear,” which as Ernest Baughman points out, seems
to be an Americanized version of the first part of Beowulf--the fight with
Grendel. Tobe is a wonderful character,--a stupid, strong man--who will
not use a gun against the bear, because “The bear ain't got no gun” and
he wants to “fight fair.” Also, I was delighted to find in “The Bear Ate
Them Up” a version of the cumulative tale similar to Dr. Walter Barnes'
story, “The Greedy Old Fat man,” appearing in West Virginia Folk- lore,
Vol. III, No.1, and reprinted in the Illustrated Book of American Folklore
by Ben Botkin and Carl Withers. I was very interested in “Folks Used to
Raise Flax,” of course, since I've collected material on ritual planting
in West Virginia. But, for that matter, I liked the whole book-and everything
Vance Randolph writes. RAM (West Virginia Folklore , 9.3-4 (Spring--Summer
In one of the early volumes of West Virginia Folklore, Ruth Ann
Musick cited a Randolph quote to emphasize the urgency of her mission in her
adopted state and at the same time revealed a dedication to her work which
rivalled that of her friend and mentor (while demonstrating the difficulties
facing the volunteer editor)
The first issue of WVF for the year 1951-52, Vol. II, No. 1
(incorrectly numbered Vol. I, since one mimeographed bulletin was issued
last spring) emphasized witch stories. The third issue, Vol. II, No.3, will,
we hope, include a number of hitherto unpublished snake stories, planting
lore, jump-rope rhymes, etc. This issue, Vol. II, No.2, emphasizes ballads
and folksongs which have been found in this state. Since this issue is already
over-due, and there seemed to be no time to include tunes anyway, I thought
I would include only texts for which I have no tunes, this time, earnestly
hoping that the original contributor, or someone, will, in some way, make
it possible for me to record these tunes, so that we--the members of the
West Virginia Folklore Society--can have the complete song. The importance
of recording old ballads and folksongs cannot be over-emphasized. Already
one contributor of two excellent texts died unexpectedly--so that now I never
can get the tunes. As Dr. Vance Randolph states in his Ozark Folksongs,
Vol. I, p. 33: “Too much emphasis can hardly be placed upon the importance
of recording a song immediately…. Old people are apt to die at unexpected
and inopportune moments, and the death of one of these ancient minstrels
may mean the loss of songs which nobody else can sing.” ...Although
I have recorded possibly 100 10-inch discs of ballads and folksongs, I still
have between 200 and 300 typed pages of tuneless texts which will never be
completed unless I can record the tunes. And for some of them, I'd be willing
to walk the width of West Virginia for the privilege of recording the tunes.
They may not all be unusual tunes of course--maybe none of them are. I'd
have to hear them to know. And I'd like to make a plea to record and save
them for the West Virginia Folkore Society Archives. RAM (West Virginia Folklore
, 2.2 (January 1952), 10.)
IV: Future Visions
Dr. Ruth Ann Musick lives on through the volumes of folklore she preserved
for West Virginia's history and through the living legacy she entrusted to
the state. Her published folklore is still extremely popular among the people,
especially the young, of West Virginia. Educators have adopted it as a salient
source for the folk culture background of our state.
Jodie Stalnaker, a sixth grade student at Jayenne Elementary School in
Fairmont, gave an hour-long report on Ruth Ann Musick and her importance
to West Virginia during April 1983. When she began to research her topic,
she found no official biographical report, such as this sketch, but enough
fragmented facts to weave an image of Dr. Musick's life and contributions.
She read many of her folktales, especially the ones her grandmother had told
to Dr. Musick. She listened to anecdotes about Dr. Musick told by her family,
especially her aunt, Rose Ilich, who knew Dr. Musick, admired her as a teacher,
and relished her storytelling ability. When Jodie gave her report, her classmates
were captivated by Dr. Musick's life. They too had heard their families talk
of her and had read her folktales in the school library. (53) Jodie Stalnaker's
experience is repeated again and again in West Virginia classrooms, especially
in this north central part of the state where Dr. Musick actually lived and
did most of her folklore research.
A number of fellow West Virginians are working towards the continuation
of her folkloric work. In the fall of 1980 the library at Fairmont State
College was named the Ruth Ann Musick Library. (54) It is my hope to activate
again both the West Virginia Folklore Society and its little journal, both
of which were very active from 1974 to 1980. 55 It is also my intent to have
Dr. Musick's remaining folklore estate edited and published and to establish
a Folklore Archive containing her papers at the Ruth Ann Musick Library.
The reactivation of the Society and establishment of the archive will encourage
future folklore preservation in West Virginia, as Dr. Musick requested in
her will. (56)
I am presently preparing her child lore collection for publication, to
be entitled “An Appalachian Mother Goose: Child Lore from West Virginia.”
Pat Musick, niece to Dr. Musick (Archie Musick's daughter), is illustrating
this lore. I am also in the process of recording six tapes on the Oral Literature
of West Virginia with Noel Tenney (director of Fort New Salem and the Folklife
Academy) and John Randolph (director of the Heritage Center at Jackson's
Mill), featuring Dr. Musick's collections. Also, I intend to organize into
complete sets the spare copies of West Virginia Folklore and make them available
to regional folklore societies and archives.
Professor Jansen ended his memorial to Ruth Ann Musick by hoping “that
other volumes will be quarried from Dr. Musick's literary estate. Nothing
could better serve her crusade for the recognition of West Virginia folklore.”(57)
We West Virginians who are striving to continue Dr. Musick's work in the
preservation and perpetuation of our cultural heritage agree wholeheartedly.
Our future vision holds no bounds! As I continue the folklore work of Ruth
Ann Musick, I'm delighted to know I have a friend in the Missouri Folklore
Please contact me with any suggestions:
The West Virginia Folklife Center
Dr. Judy P. Byers, Director
314 Jaynes Hall
The School of Languages and Literature
311 Jaynes Hall
Fairmont State College
PUBLICATIONS BY RUTH ANN MUSICK
The following is a partial listing of Dr. Musick's publications in folklore
1946. “A Missouri Dance Call.” Journal of American Folklore, 59,
1946. “Three Folksongs from Missouri.” Hoosier Folklore, 5 (March
1946. “Iowa Student Tales,” Hoosier Folklore, 5 (September 1946),
1947. “Folklore from West Virginia,” Hoosier Folklore, 6 (June
1947), 41- 49.
1947. “The Old Album of William A. Larkin.” Journal of American Folklore
, 60, 201-51.
1947. “A Snake Story from West Virginia.” Journal of American Folklore
, 60, 301.
1947. Review of Ozark Folksongs , Vol. I, by Vance Randolph.
Journal of American Folklore,
1948. “West Virginia Folklore.” Hoosier Folklore, 7 (March 1948),
1948. “The Tune the Old Cow Died On,” Hoosier Folklore, 7 (December
1949. Review of Ozark Folksongs, Vols. II-III, by Vance Randolph.
Journal of American
Folklore, 62, 453-55.
1950. “Children's Rhymes from Missouri.” (written in collaboration with
Journal of American Folklore, 63, 425-37.
1950. “Skeletons from a Homespunner's Closet,” From the Manuscript of
James S. Williams.
Hoosier Folklore, 9 (October-December 1950), 111-116.
1951. “Folksong Hunters in Missouri.” (written in collaboration with Vance
1951. “Juggin' Party Tales.” Southern Folklore Quarterly, 15 (September),
1951. Review of Ozark Folksongs, Vol. IV, by Vance Randolph.
Journal of American Folklore,
1952. “Indiana Witch Tales.” Journal of American Folklore, 65,
1952. “Omens and Tokens of West Virginia.” Midwest Folklore, 2,
1956. “European Folktales in West Virginia.” Midwest Folklore,
6, 27- 37.
1957. “Ballads and Folksongs from West Virginia: Part I.” Journal of
American Folklore, 70,
1957. “Ballads and Folksongs from West Virginia: Part II.” Journal
of American Folklore, 70,
1958. “West Virginia Ghost Stories.” Midwest Folklore, 8, 21-28.
1960. “The Trickster Story in West Virginia.” Midwest Folklore,
Editors' Note: Judy Prozzillo Byers is Associate Professor of English
in the Division of Language and Literature and Supervisor of English Education,
Secondary Level, at Fairmont State College in West Virginia. She studied
Appalachian Folklore with Dr. Ruth Ann Musick at Fairmont and Dr. Patrick
Gainer at West Vjrginia University and is the Literary Executor of the Folklore
Estate of Ruth Ann Musick.
Byers did graduate work at the International Folklore Institute at Indiana
University and received her doctorate in English Education with a major emphasis
on Folklore Studies from West Virginia University. She is a storyteller and
member of the National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation
of Storytelling, and she has served as instructor of West Virginia Folklore
at the Augusta Heritage Arts Workshop in Elkins, West Virginia, and as guest
professor of West Virginia Folk Literature at the Folklife Academy at Salem
College in West Virginia.
From 1974 to 1980 she was associate editor of West Virginia Folklore
Journal and she wrote the introduction to the new edition of Ruth Ann
Musick's The Green Hills of Magic, West Virginia Folk Tales from Europe
, published by the University of Kentucky Press. She is presently working
on “An Appalachian Mother Goose,” with Pat Musick, a well known artist and
Ruth Ann Musick's niece.
1 Judy Prozzillo, “Musick, Ruth Ann,” The West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia,
1974 ed. (Based on personal interviews with Dr. Musick during March and
April 1974. The interviews were conducted at Dr. Musick's home, 2 Colonial
Apartments, East Garden Lane, Fairmont, West Virginia.)
2 Prozzillo, “Musick, Ruth Ann.”
3 Personal interview with Eleanor M. Ford, Professor Emeritus at Fairmont
State College, at her home (453 Callen Street) in Morgantown, West Virginia,
19 July 1983. (Mrs. Ford was Dr. Musick's office partner and colleague in
the Math Department at Fairmont State College and a close friend.)
4 Prozzillo, “Musick, Ruth Ann.”
5 Personal interview with Ross Allen, Opera Director at Indiana University,
Bloomington Campus, 1 August 1982. (Mr. Allen, who is a native of Kirksville,
Missouri, is reflecting his sentiments and those of his family, especially
his aunt, who knew the Musick family quite well.)
6 Prozzillo, “Musick, Ruth Ann.”
7 Judy Prozzillo, “Musick, Archie Leroy,” The West Virginia Heritage
Encyclopedia, 1976 ed. (Based on personal interviews with Dr. Musick
during March and April 1974 to gather this information about her brother.
The interviews were conducted at Dr. Musick's home in Fairmont, West Virginia.)
8 Prozzillo, “Musick, Ruth Ann.”
9 Prozzillo, “Musick, Ruth Ann.”
10 ”Personal and Professional File on Ruth Ann Musick,” housed in the
President's Office at Fairmont State College. Observed 20 July 1983. (A
personal thank you to Emily Nichols, Executive Secretary, President's Office,
who provided access to the file for me. Ms. Nichols knew Dr. Musick quite
11 Personal interview with Ford.
12 ”Personal and Professional File on Ruth Ann Musick.”
13 Prozzillo, “Musick, Ruth Ann.”
14 Ruth Ann Musick, “Introduction,” “Folk Songs From Missouri and The
Ozarks,” pp. xiii-xiv. (An unpublished manuscript that Judy Prozzillo Byers,
Executrix of Ruth Ann Musick's unedited and/or unpublished folklore estate,
hopes to publish soon.)
15 Prozzillo, “Musick, Ruth Ann.”
16 Musick, “Introduction,” “Folk Songs From Missouri and The Ozarks,”
17 ”Personal and Professional File on Ruth Ann Musick.”
18 Personal interviews with Ruth Ann Musick at her home in Fairmont, West
Virginia, March and April 1974. (This detail has not been published previously.)
19 Personal interview with Ford.
20 ”Personal and Professional File on Ruth Ann Musick.”
21 Personal interview with Ford.
22 Prozzillo, “Musick, Ruth Ann.”
23 Personal interview with Ford and with Jo Ann Boram, neighbor and personal
friend of Dr. Musick, at Eleanor Ford's home in Morgantown, West Virginia,
July 19, 1983. (Both women reflected the same sentiments.)
24 Ruth Ann Musick, “Introduction,” Green Hills of Magic: West Virginia
Folktales From Europe (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1977),
25 William Hugh Jansen, “A Foreword, In Memoriam, Ruth Ann Musick (1897-1974),”
in Coffin Hollow and Other Ghost Tales, by Ruth Ann Musick (Lexington:
The University Press of Kentucky, 1977), p. ix.
26 ”The History of the West Virginia Folklore Society,” West Virginia
Folklore Journal, 17.1 (1974), 2.
27 ”Personal and Professional File on Ruth Ann Musick.”
28 Ruth Ann Musick, “Preface,” Coffin Hollow and Other Ghost Tales
(Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1977), p. xviii.
29 Musick, “Preface,” Coffin Hollow and Other Ghost Tales.
30 A few quotes from critics and publishers indicate the respect with
which Dr. Musick's work was received:
a. “The Telltale Lilac Bush will have a place on every shelf of
American ghostlore.” From New York Folklore Quarterly.
b. The Telltale Lilac Bush. “With its variety and extensiveness,
this collection forms a significant addition to the growing study of the
ghost tale as a type of folk literature.” From University Press of Kentucky
c. Green Hills of Magic. “The entertaining stories are excellent
examples of the diverse folk beliefs and cultural patterns of the immigrant
groups that have made their home in West Virginia.” From University Press
of Kentucky Publications.
d. Coffin Hollow and Other Ghost Tales. “A collection of ninety-six
Appalachian ghost tales that will appeal to the folklorist and the general
reader alike.” From University Press of Kentucky Publications.
31 ”Personal and Professional File on Ruth Ann Musick.”
32 Prozzillo, “Musick, Ruth Ann.”
33 Prozzillo, “Musick, Ruth Ann.”
34 ”Personal and Professional File on Ruth Ann Musick.”
35 ”The History of the West Virginia Folklore Society,” p. 2.
36 Prozzillo, “Musick, Ruth Ann.”
37 This award was presented during the homecoming game half-time ceremonies
at West Virginia University by Governor Arch Moore. It was received by the
executrixes of Dr. Musick's folklore estate, Dr. Judy Prozzillo Byers and
Catherine Faris, and is housed in the West Virginia Room of West Virginia
38 Personal interview with Rose Ilich, English teacher at North I Marion
High School, who knew Dr. Musick professionally and had observed her demonstrate
storytelling, at her home (1134 Bell Run Road) in Fairmont, West Virginia,
July 15, 1983. (This information is based as well on my remembrances of Dr.
Musick, as well as those of Mrs. Ilich, who greatly admired Dr. Musick.)
39 Jansen, p. iv.
40 ”Personal and Professional File on Ruth Ann Musick.”
41 Personal interview with Dr. Janet Salvati, Librarian at Fairmont State
College, at the library, June 6, 1983.
42 Prozzillo, “Musick, Ruth Ann.”
43 ”Personal and Professional File on Ruth Ann Musick.”
44 Prozzillo, “Musick, Ruth Ann.”
45 Prozzillo, “Musick, Ruth Ann.”
46 Prozzillo, “Musick, Ruth Ann.”
47 ”Personal and Professional File on Ruth Ann Musick.”
48 Personal interview with Salvati.
49 Personal interview with Ford.
50 Personal interview with Musick.
51 Personal interview with Musick.
52 “Last Will and Testament of Ruth Ann Musick,” State of West Virginia,
County of Marion, February 20,1974.
53 Personal interview with Jodie Stalnaker, student in sixth grade at
Jayenne School in Fairmont, West Virginia, at her aunt Rose Ilich's home
in Fairmont, West Virginia, July 15, 1983.
54 ”Musick Library,” West Virginia Libraries Association, Spring 1981,
p. 16. (Dr. Janet Salvati and Ruth Ann Powell, Fairmont State College Librarians,
initiated the request that the library be named in Dr. Musick's memory. Both
knew Dr. Musick was a frequent user of the library's facilities.)
55 Dr. Musick requested that the society and journal be revived. Both
were, through the efforts of Dr. Patrick Gainer, Margaret Pantalone, Catherine
Faris, Dr. Judy Prozzillo Byers, and Dr. Byron Jackson. All served on the
society's executive board and on the journal's editorial staff.
56 ”Last Will and Testament of Ruth Ann Musick.” (Dr. Judy Prozzillo Byers
and Catherine Faris were named executrixes of the Musick Folklore Estate
by Dr. Musick. Pat Musick, an artist and niece of Dr. Musick, has graciously
consented to illustrate her aunt's remaining folklore collections. She follows
in the footsteps of her father, Archie Musick, who illustrated his sister's
first four published books.)
57 Jansen, p. iv.
From the files of Ruth Ann Musick…
Autograph Verses Contributed by Mrs. S. P. Huff from old albums of relatives
92. White is love, blue is true,
Think of me, and I will you.
April 9, 1889
93. My love for you
Shall ever flow like the
Water down the tater row.
April 2, 1889
94. The taler the tree, the titer the bark
The pretir the boy the sweter to spark.
April 9, 1889
95. May you be happy each day of your life,
Get a good husband, and make a good wife.
96. The Cherry is red, the stem is green
Days haft past that I have seen
But better days I expect to see
If you and I can agree. - - 1891
97. May the angels twine for thee
A wreath of immortality. - - 1892
98. When you get old and ugly as people often do,
Remember you have a friend that's old and ugly too.
99. Summer may change to winter
And flowers may fade and die
But I will never forget you
As long as I can sigh. - - 1891
100. Forget me not, I only ask this
simple boon of thee;
And may it be an easy task
to think sometimes of me.
101. May thy pathway be strewn with rosebuds of love.
102. Gems of price are deeply hidden
Neath the rugged rocks concealed
What has ne'er come forth unbidden,
to thy search may be revealed. - - 1889
From West Virginia Folklore
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