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Re: [RedHotJazz] Jelly Roll Morton's birthdate

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  • Howard Rye
    The certificate itself is reproduced in Storyville 127 and shows 20 October 1890. It is hardly an estimate. It is unambiguously given as the birth date on a
    Message 1 of 18 , Sep 4, 2008
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      The certificate itself is reproduced in Storyville 127 and shows 20 October
      1890. It is hardly an estimate. It is unambiguously given as the birth date
      on a certificate of a baptism on 25 April 1891.

      Gushee discovered that baptismal entry (by his own account in his ³Would You
      Believe Ferman Mouton? (a second look)², Storyville 98) and he gives a lot
      of detail about how he came to look at the baptismal register for St.
      Joseph¹s Church.

      It therefore comes as a bit of a surprise to find that the reproduced
      certificate in Storyville 127 is not credited to Gushee, nor is what is
      reproduced an entry in a register. I therefore deduce that a certificate has
      been generated at a much later date from the register entry. Gushee however
      claims unambiguously as far as I can read it that he has seen the register
      entry (in Storyville 98).

      And there is something weird, already noted by Phil Pastras in ŒDead Man
      Blues¹, which is that Gushee appears to state in the accompanying article in
      Storyville 127 that the certificate establishes that Morton¹s surname was
      ŒLamothe¹, whereas the reporduced certificate does nothing of the kind. It
      says ŒLemott¹. This is very weird, or rather it would be if he did not quote
      ŒLemott¹ in the Storyville 98 article, which Pastras has obviously not
      noticed. All that has happened is that Gushee is saying in the later piece
      that he believes that the name in the register is wrong.

      As far as I can see there is not much scope for Gushee to change his mind
      about this unless he was misreporting in the first place, which doesn¹t seem
      very likely, unless he now believes this Ferdinand Joseph Lemott is not
      Morton but some other guy and the whole thing is an extraordinary
      coincidence. It is not likely that a priest would have agreed to baptize a
      6-year old child and make a register entry for a 7-month old baby. Nor is it
      likely that a Catholic family would have delayed baptism so long.

      Both Gushee and Patras note at length that Morton¹s family went to huge
      lengths to obscure his origins, setting up false trails, probably to conceal
      illegitimacies and multiple families and such, and are completely unreliable
      witnesses, discounting Frances¹s apparent evidence.




      on 04/09/2008 14:16, Michael Rader at Rader.Michael@... wrote:

      >
      >
      >
      > I was recently able to obtain a cheap copy of the Reich/Gaines book on
      > Jelly Roll Morton. While I did spot a number of factual errors (Bernie
      > Young described as a saxophonist) and I believe the book has been
      > severely criticised for plagiarism (not crediting Alan Lomax), it is
      > quite adamant that Jelly was born in 1885 and not as thought more
      > recently 1890. It quotes Jelly's sisters, in particular Frances, who
      > thought that Jelly was a lot older than herself and also claims that
      > Larry Gushee is no longer sure about the 1890 estimate which was based
      > on baptism records. Mike Meddings' site with research by Peter Hanley
      > also concludes 1890.
      >
      > Does anyone know the background to the statement that Gushee no longer
      > thought that it was 1890?
      >
      > Michael Rader
      > Karlsruhe, Germany
      >
      >
      >


      Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
      howard@...
      Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098




      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Michael Rader
      Gaines/Reich devote an entire annex to the issue of the birthdate. In brief, their points are: 1. The certificate of baptism was issued in 1984. 2. Interviews
      Message 2 of 18 , Sep 4, 2008
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        Gaines/Reich devote an entire annex to the issue of the birthdate. In brief, their points are:

        1. The certificate of baptism was issued in 1984.
        2. Interviews with Jelly's two half-sisters: Amide told William Russell that she thought Jelly was born 11 years before her (1897, making a birthdate of 1885 possible); Frances told Russell that Jelly was born in 1885.
        3. Bunk Johnson is quoted by Lomax as having heard Morton in Storyville in 1902

        Gaines/Reich claim Gushee conceded that there was much to contradict the 1890 finding, but also said that researching the truth of this matter was not high on his own agenda.

        Not much either way...

        Michael Rader


        > The certificate itself is reproduced in Storyville 127 and shows 20
        > October
        > 1890. It is hardly an estimate. It is unambiguously given as the
        > birth date
        > on a certificate of a baptism on 25 April 1891.
        >
        > Gushee discovered that baptismal entry (by his own account in his ³
        > Would You
        > Believe Ferman Mouton? (a second look)², Storyville 98) and he gives
        > a lot
        > of detail about how he came to look at the baptismal register for St.
        > Joseph¹s Church.
        >
        > It therefore comes as a bit of a surprise to find that the reproduced
        > certificate in Storyville 127 is not credited to Gushee, nor is what
        > is
        > reproduced an entry in a register. I therefore deduce that a
        > certificate has
        > been generated at a much later date from the register entry. Gushee
        > however
        > claims unambiguously as far as I can read it that he has seen the
        > register
        > entry (in Storyville 98).
        >
        > And there is something weird, already noted by Phil Pastras in ŒDead
        > Man
        > Blues¹, which is that Gushee appears to state in the accompanying
        > article in
        > Storyville 127 that the certificate establishes that Morton¹s
        > surname was
        > ŒLamothe¹, whereas the reporduced certificate does nothing of the
        > kind. It
        > says ŒLemott¹. This is very weird, or rather it would be if he did
        > not quote
        > ŒLemott¹ in the Storyville 98 article, which Pastras has obviously
        > not
        > noticed. All that has happened is that Gushee is saying in the later
        > piece
        > that he believes that the name in the register is wrong.
        >
        > As far as I can see there is not much scope for Gushee to change his
        > mind
        > about this unless he was misreporting in the first place, which
        > doesn¹t seem
        > very likely, unless he now believes this Ferdinand Joseph Lemott is
        > not
        > Morton but some other guy and the whole thing is an extraordinary
        > coincidence. It is not likely that a priest would have agreed to
        > baptize a
        > 6-year old child and make a register entry for a 7-month old baby.
        > Nor is it
        > likely that a Catholic family would have delayed baptism so long.
        >
        > Both Gushee and Patras note at length that Morton¹s family went to
        > huge
        > lengths to obscure his origins, setting up false trails, probably to
        > conceal
        > illegitimacies and multiple families and such, and are completely
        > unreliable
        > witnesses, discounting Frances¹s apparent evidence.
        >
        > on 04/09/2008 14:16, Michael Rader at Rader.Michael@... wrote:
        >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > > I was recently able to obtain a cheap copy of the Reich/Gaines
        > book on
        > > Jelly Roll Morton. While I did spot a number of factual errors (
        > Bernie
        > > Young described as a saxophonist) and I believe the book has been
        > > severely criticised for plagiarism (not crediting Alan Lomax), it
        > is
        > > quite adamant that Jelly was born in 1885 and not as thought more
        > > recently 1890. It quotes Jelly's sisters, in particular Frances,
        > who
        > > thought that Jelly was a lot older than herself and also claims
        > that
        > > Larry Gushee is no longer sure about the 1890 estimate which was
        > based
        > > on baptism records. Mike Meddings' site with research by Peter
        > Hanley
        > > also concludes 1890.
        > >
        > > Does anyone know the background to the statement that Gushee no
        > longer
        > > thought that it was 1890?
        > >
        > > Michael Rader
        > > Karlsruhe, Germany
        > >
        > >
        > >
        >
        > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
        > howard@...
        > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >


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      • Howard Rye
        So I was right about the certificate. It all comes down to whether Larry really saw the baptismal entry and if not to whether we trust, as he evidently did
        Message 3 of 18 , Sep 4, 2008
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          So I was right about the certificate.

          It all comes down to whether Larry really saw the baptismal entry and if not
          to whether we trust, as he evidently did when he got the certificate, that
          the priest or verger, or whoever was responsible, had correctly copied the
          register.

          I know only too well that even legally certified certificates are not always
          accurate copies of the record they purport to copy. In most public archives
          this is work done by lowly and low-paid members of staff who have little
          understanding of what they are doing and less reason to care.

          Nonetheless, most birth, marriage, death, etc. certificates are accurate
          copies, and in this case two dates (birth and baptism) would have had to be
          copied incorrectly, which would I think amount to an allegation of
          deliberate fraud by the church.

          If Larry is really conceding that the ancient data quoted in '2' and '3' is
          "much to contradict the 1890 finding', I think I can interpret the true
          meaning of his reply without difficulty. Assuming all is as it seems, and I
          certainly think it very unlikely that Larry has misrepresented anything, it
          is probably the answer I would have given!

          The Bunk Johnson evidence is completely worthless. Much ink has been
          expended on the relationship between Bunk's memories and actual dates and
          the only safe conclusion is that there isn't one.

          Clearly Gaines/Reich have chosen to ignore what previous researchers have
          concluded about the family's agenda, but that evidently is a matter for
          interpretation.


          on 04/09/2008 17:55, Michael Rader at Rader.Michael@... wrote:

          > Gaines/Reich devote an entire annex to the issue of the birthdate. In brief,
          > their points are:
          >
          > 1. The certificate of baptism was issued in 1984.
          > 2. Interviews with Jelly's two half-sisters: Amide told William Russell that
          > she thought Jelly was born 11 years before her (1897, making a birthdate of
          > 1885 possible); Frances told Russell that Jelly was born in 1885.
          > 3. Bunk Johnson is quoted by Lomax as having heard Morton in Storyville in
          > 1902
          >
          > Gaines/Reich claim Gushee conceded that there was much to contradict the 1890
          > finding, but also said that researching the truth of this matter was not high
          > on his own agenda.
          >
          > Not much either way...


          Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
          howard@...
          Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
        • Michael Rader
          ... Gaines and Reich have their own agenda expressed clearly in the sub-title of their book, namely to redeem Jelly, in particular to show that he was not
          Message 4 of 18 , Sep 4, 2008
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            >
            > Clearly Gaines/Reich have chosen to ignore what previous researchers
            > have
            > concluded about the family's agenda, but that evidently is a matter
            > for
            > interpretation.


            Gaines and Reich have their own agenda expressed clearly in the sub-title of their book, namely to "redeem" Jelly, in particular to show that he was not the liar as whom he is often stereotyped. The "study in geneaology" incidentally give a date-of-birth for Jelly's mother, which would make an 1885 impossible.

            Michael Rader
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          • Howard Rye
            I think we can forget getting any nearer to a birth certificate than a baptismal certificate for someone in Jelly¹s social stratum at that time and date.
            Message 5 of 18 , Sep 4, 2008
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              I think we can forget getting any nearer to a birth certificate than a
              baptismal certificate for someone in Jelly¹s social stratum at that time and
              date.

              Normally a baptismal certificate is regarded as a perfectly adequate
              substitute, especially when it gives a birth date.

              All that is at issue is the bona fides of this one and I would be more
              impressed by these nay-sayers if instead of criticizing Larry they had
              themselves looked at the St. Joseph¹s records, assuming they survived
              Katrina of course. I cannot think of any other reasonable basis on which to
              dispute the existing evidence.


              on 04/09/2008 19:44, Bob Mates at bluesbob@... wrote:

              >
              >
              >
              > The problem with oral evidence is that, sometimes, the memory is
              > faulty. For instance, in the blues research, you have many
              > bluesmen giving dates that, when you checked them out, couldn't
              > have worked. I think that, unless and until someone comes up
              > with a birth certificate, Jelly Roll's date of birth is going to
              > be one of those mysteries, which make being a jazz and/or blues
              > fan so much fun. Bob
              >
              >


              Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
              howard@...
              Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098




              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • john schott
              Obviously there is a sort of standard version of reality where a person was born at a specific time and place. But I also think it valuable to hold on to
              Message 6 of 18 , Sep 4, 2008
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                Obviously there is a sort of "standard version of reality" where a person was born at a specific time and place. But I also think it valuable to hold on to multiple truths, and to consider what each testimony's "truth" is, whether from a person or document.

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Bob Mates
                The problem with oral evidence is that, sometimes, the memory is faulty. For instance, in the blues research, you have many bluesmen giving dates that, when
                Message 7 of 18 , Sep 4, 2008
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                  The problem with oral evidence is that, sometimes, the memory is
                  faulty. For instance, in the blues research, you have many
                  bluesmen giving dates that, when you checked them out, couldn't
                  have worked. I think that, unless and until someone comes up
                  with a birth certificate, Jelly Roll's date of birth is going to
                  be one of those mysteries, which make being a jazz and/or blues
                  fan so much fun. Bob
                • john schott
                  On the subject of Reich and Gaines, see Duck Baker s negative reviews of the book in JazzTimes and, I believe, Coda, where he finds numerous inaccuracies,
                  Message 8 of 18 , Sep 4, 2008
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                    On the subject of Reich and Gaines, see Duck Baker's negative reviews of the
                    book in JazzTimes and, I believe, Coda, where he finds numerous
                    inaccuracies, distortions, and non-attributions.
                    I would be sympathetic to a rethinking of Morton shorn of the "liar" label,
                    if it were more in line with the attitude I spoke of in my previous posts,
                    where multiple "truths" can be considered.


                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: "Michael Rader" <Rader.Michael@...>
                    To: <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com>
                    Sent: Thursday, September 04, 2008 11:35 AM
                    Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Jelly Roll Morton's birthdate


                    >>
                    >> Clearly Gaines/Reich have chosen to ignore what previous researchers
                    >> have
                    >> concluded about the family's agenda, but that evidently is a matter
                    >> for
                    >> interpretation.
                    >
                    >
                    > Gaines and Reich have their own agenda expressed clearly in the sub-title
                    > of their book, namely to "redeem" Jelly, in particular to show that he was
                    > not the liar as whom he is often stereotyped. The "study in geneaology"
                    > incidentally give a date-of-birth for Jelly's mother, which would make an
                    > 1885 impossible.
                    >
                    > Michael Rader
                    > _________________________________________________________________________
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                    > Nur 3,99 EUR/Monat! http://www.maildomain.web.de/?mc=021114
                    >
                    >
                    > ------------------------------------
                    >
                    > Yahoo! Groups Links
                    >
                    >
                    >
                  • Hugh
                    This is not an easy issue to address. In our society which evolved during the 20th century we have come to accept a scientific view of reality where
                    Message 9 of 18 , Sep 4, 2008
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                      This is not an easy issue to address. In our society which evolved during the 20th century we have come to accept a 'scientific' view of reality where ascertainable 'truths' emerge as 'reality'. However, this is not an eternal verity. The simple fact is that what people believe to be the truth is, to all intents and purposes, the truth. This holds as much for 'science' as for anything else.
                       
                      There are alternative views of the world upon which I will gladly expand but I do not feel the present forum apprpriate.
                       
                      As far as I am concerned, 1885 is the year of Jelly's birth, documentary evidence notwithstanding. 1890 is simply inconceivable. I am aware of all the dates in question - 1902 for New Orleans Blues, for example, cannot believe that the evidence points to a birth in 1890.
                       
                      I am gratified, however, to see such interest in the person whom I continue to believe is the King of New Orleans (and therefore by definition, all) Jazz.

                      --- On Thu, 9/4/08, john schott <john@...> wrote:

                      From: john schott <john@...>
                      Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Jelly Roll Morton's birthdate
                      To: RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
                      Date: Thursday, September 4, 2008, 7:44 PM

                      On the subject of Reich and Gaines, see Duck Baker's negative reviews of the

                      book in JazzTimes and, I believe, Coda, where he finds numerous
                      inaccuracies, distortions, and non-attributions.
                      I would be sympathetic to a rethinking of Morton shorn of the "liar"
                      label,
                      if it were more in line with the attitude I spoke of in my previous posts,
                      where multiple "truths" can be considered.


                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: "Michael Rader" <Rader.Michael@...>
                      To: <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com>
                      Sent: Thursday, September 04, 2008 11:35 AM
                      Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Jelly Roll Morton's birthdate


                      >>
                      >> Clearly Gaines/Reich have chosen to ignore what previous researchers
                      >> have
                      >> concluded about the family's agenda, but that evidently is a
                      matter
                      >> for
                      >> interpretation.
                      >
                      >
                      > Gaines and Reich have their own agenda expressed clearly in the sub-title
                      > of their book, namely to "redeem" Jelly, in particular to show
                      that he was
                      > not the liar as whom he is often stereotyped. The "study in
                      geneaology"
                      > incidentally give a date-of-birth for Jelly's mother, which would make
                      an
                      > 1885 impossible.
                      >
                      > Michael Rader
                      > _________________________________________________________________________
                      > In 5 Schritten zur eigenen Homepage. Jetzt Domain sichern und gestalten!
                      > Nur 3,99 EUR/Monat! http://www.maildomain.web.de/?mc=021114
                      >
                      >
                      > ------------------------------------
                      >
                      > Yahoo! Groups Links
                      >
                      >
                      >


                      ------------------------------------

                      Yahoo! Groups Links








                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Michael Rader
                      I haven t yet checked Storyville for the articles Howard mentioned, but the extract from the baptismal register seems to be a scan of the original rather
                      Message 10 of 18 , Sep 5, 2008
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                        I haven't yet checked "Storyville" for the articles Howard mentioned, but the extract from the baptismal register seems to be a scan of the original rather than a more recent transcript. The article says that Gushee obtained this photocopy later than the certificate of baptism, so that, contrary to Gaines/Reich's assertion, he did indeed pursue the matter further.

                        Since Jelly's mother was born in 1871, a 1885 date of birth seems unlikely. Even so, Peter Hanley admits the possibilty that Jelly's birthdate might have been earlier than 1890, depending on how worried his parent(s) were about having an unbaptised infant.

                        Michael Rader


                        > I understand that Prof. Gushee sent Mike Meddings some scans for the
                        > website of various documents to do with Morton's baptism. These can
                        > be viewed (you might have to copy and paste the URL) at,
                        >
                        > http://www.doctorjazz.co.uk/page10.html#ancest
                        >
                        > Further down that page is a link to a section of "An Essay in
                        > Genealogy" that might also be of interest. Thank you.
                        >
                        > Marco Romano.
                        >

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                      • Howard Rye
                        Hugh is certainly right that this is not the place for discussing the philosophy of alternative realities. All that the layman need notice is that Œtruth¹ is
                        Message 11 of 18 , Sep 5, 2008
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                          Hugh is certainly right that this is not the place for discussing the
                          philosophy of alternative realities. All that the layman need notice is that
                          Œtruth¹ is here being used with more than one meaning, which we acknowledge
                          in daily speech with such concepts as Œhome truths¹, Œreligious truth¹ and
                          so on, where we qualify the word precisely because we understand that these
                          things are not ³really true² but we are choosing to regard them as true.

                          I don¹t know if there is a word for the kind of truth that oral history
                          provides. It seems surprising if oral historians don¹t have one. I am sure
                          we all have true recollections of events in our early lives which would not
                          be the true recollections of other participants in the same events. There is
                          no point in expecting musicians or other subjects of oral history to be any
                          different and as Hugh says all these accounts are true in one sense of the
                          word.

                          Show business people constantly revise their birth dates. At least, they did
                          before governmental obsession with identity obliged people to settle for a
                          set of data about themselves which is then enshrined unalterably in their
                          identity document. The world is full of people with identity documents
                          Œprove¹ invented identities with a finality denied to earlier people and
                          which will seem to later researchers, as they do to bureaucrats today, to
                          embody a truth to which in fact they have no relationship. The extent to
                          which these ³false identities² will really be ³true identities² should be
                          good for a few philosophy PhDs!

                          The most extraordinary example known to me is the clarinnettist Rudolph
                          Dunbar who swore at various times in his life to (at least) six different
                          birth dates, ranging from 5 April 1899 (true in the scientific sense in that
                          that is the day in the Gregorian calendar in the time zone at the place of
                          his birth ‹ important qualifications sometimes ignored ‹ on which he
                          actually emerged from his mother) to 1910. The truth behind the latter is
                          that he joined the British Guiana Military Band when he was aged 2, which I
                          suppose is ³ to all intents and purposes, the truth²! Or not, depending on
                          your beliefs about the nature of reality.

                          Morton and other early New Orleanians indulged in the much more unusual
                          process of trying to be older than they were because they wished to claim
                          primacy, and of course much of the pressure to show Morton a liar (a wholly
                          inappropriate word) has come from people who want to reassign the credit for
                          ³inventing jazz².

                          The 1902 date for New Orleans Blues is simply part of this process. If it is
                          not compatible with the 1890 birth this is because it is part of a different
                          reality in which Morton himself believed. There seems to be clear evidence
                          that he did not actually know his own birth date in the scientific sense and
                          probably believed what his sisters told him about the relationship between
                          their ages. Unfortunately the job description of a historian is to reconcile
                          these alternative realities into a single account.

                          Which said, I¹m not entirely sure why a precocious 12-year old (as Morton
                          surely was) should not have written New Orleans Blues, now I come to think
                          about it.

                          Getting back to the point, I also find, reading more deeply into what Larry
                          Gushee originally wrote, that he has always acknowledged that ultimate proof
                          that the Ferdinand Joseph Lemott, Edward Lemott, and Louise Manett of the
                          25 April 1891 baptismal certificate are Jelly and his parents is, given the
                          spelling uncertainties, lacking and likely to remain so. There are plenty of
                          people even in civilized countries serving long prison sentences on the
                          basis of far less compelling evidence, but that is another version of
                          reality and not perhaps an inappropriate reference point when dealing with
                          official documentation of this kind! This baptismal certificate would
                          certainly be accepted as a true account of Morton¹s birth in any court of
                          law. I think the agreement to regard what are appparently ascertainable
                          facts as truth goes back much further than the twentieth century.

                          I also realize that the copy of the baptismal certificate in Storyville 127
                          actually says it was made in 1984. The copy at
                          <http://www.doctorjazz.co.uk/page10.html#ancest> was made in 1981. The
                          transcriptions are signed by different church officials. So, as usual with
                          documents of this kind, we are not looking at originals.



                          on 04/09/2008 23:43, Hugh at hughphoric@... wrote:

                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > This is not an easy issue to address. In our society which evolved during the
                          > 20th century we have come to accept a 'scientific' view of reality where
                          > ascertainable 'truths' emerge as 'reality'. However, this is not an eternal
                          > verity. The simple fact is that what people believe to be the truth is, to all
                          > intents and purposes, the truth. This holds as much for 'science' as for
                          > anything else.
                          >  
                          > There are alternative views of the world upon which I will gladly expand but I
                          > do not feel the present forum apprpriate.
                          >  
                          > As far as I am concerned, 1885 is the year of Jelly's birth, documentary
                          > evidence notwithstanding. 1890 is simply inconceivable. I am aware of all the
                          > dates in question - 1902 for New Orleans Blues, for example, cannot
                          > believe that the evidence points to a birth in 1890.
                          >  
                          > I am gratified, however, to see such interest in the person whom I continue to
                          > believe is the King of New Orleans (and therefore by definition, all) Jazz.
                          >


                          Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                          howard@...
                          Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098




                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Bob Mates
                          This discussion of multiple dates of birth reminds me of a blues singer, named Alex Miller, who recorded as Sonny Boy Williamson II. He gave about 7 different
                          Message 12 of 18 , Sep 5, 2008
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                            This discussion of multiple dates of birth reminds me of a blues
                            singer, named Alex Miller, who recorded as Sonny Boy Williamson
                            II. He gave about 7 different dates of birth, from 1896 to 1909.
                            He also claimed his real name was Sonny Boy Williamson! Leadbelly
                            was another one for contradictory stories, as was Big Bill
                            Broonzy. Anyone who researches this stuff has to separate the
                            wheat from the chaff, as it were. Bob
                          • Tommer
                            I don t know about when the narrative of Buddy Bolden came into this Handy vs. Morton scene, but it does seems that Downbeat magazine of the time wasn t aware
                            Message 13 of 18 , Sep 5, 2008
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                              I don't know about when the narrative of Buddy Bolden came into this
                              Handy vs. Morton scene, but it does seems that Downbeat magazine of
                              the time wasn't aware of attempts to find the early history of Jazz.

                              Maybe the right way to look at it is to consider Morton's arriveal at
                              the Frenchman's where he saw birth of Jazz to be 1890 + 17 years old
                              Morton. I wonder whether there are any documents about the
                              Frenchman's place and whether circa 1907 they had some of the names
                              Morton mentioned. More than Morton wanted to change his date of birth
                              to an earlier one, I believe he was fighting the way W.C. Handy
                              narrated the history of Jazz and Morton might be putting the year
                              1902 and himself just in order to get rid of Handy's claims about him
                              encountering the Blues in 1903, and Morton picked the next early year
                              as a startup year, knowing that Handy's narrative is uncorrect anyway
                              he only had to face Handy's claims.

                              Tommer
                            • John O
                              In the hand-written Fragment of an Autobiography Morton gave to Roy Carew in 1938, Jelly stated he was about 14 when his mother died. According to Gushee s
                              Message 14 of 18 , Sep 5, 2008
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                                In the hand-written "Fragment of an Autobiography" Morton gave to Roy
                                Carew in 1938, Jelly stated he was "about 14" when his mother died.
                                According to Gushee's 2001 Afterword in 'Mister Jelly Roll', Louise
                                Monette "probably died in 1906."

                                Jelly's 1918 draft registration information states a birth year of
                                1884--the earliest "official" date we have, which may simply indicate
                                an attempt to avoid being drafted. On his 1921 Mexican visa, Jelly
                                himself apparently wrote his birth year as 1890 (pasted over, visible
                                through the opposite side, not quite certain).

                                According to his younger sister Frances, in 1925 he wanted to seem
                                younger, not older, than he was: when she visted him in Chicago that
                                year, he emphasized that she should keep her age secret and to agree
                                that he was 28(!).

                                I'm slightly partial to 1889, the year given by sister Amide and by
                                Anita (on his death certificate). It's not incompatible with a
                                Storyville professorship (at age 13) and "New Orleans (Blues) Joys"
                                authorship (with help, Jelly freely admitted, from a piano instructor)
                                in 1902.
                              • Hugh
                                I think this is fair enough. Let s face it - we are never going to know for certain and I am not sure we need to. I have had in my mind two years - 1885 and
                                Message 15 of 18 , Sep 6, 2008
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                                  I think this is fair enough. Let's face it - we are never going to know for certain and I am not sure we need to. I have had in my mind two years - 1885 and 1890 - for some decades and am prepared to believe either 'reality'. The real 'reality' of course, is that we will simply never know, and I think that's good enough, because what is really important is the wonderful, infinite and rich music that Jelly left for us. The tolerances of 1885-1890 are quite acceptable.
                                   
                                  Regarding documentary 'truth' - there was a story recounted in a paper I read years ago which (as far as I recall) went like this. An old Mexican woman claimed Social Security in California, but as an illegal immigrant several decades before, she had no birth certificate. She asked the official what this was and was told that it was a piece of paper showing her date and place of birth, father's name etc. She went home and returned some time later with a piece of paper she had written herself, showing her date and place of birth, father's name etc.
                                   
                                  Hugh

                                  --- On Fri, 9/5/08, John O <spacelights@...> wrote:

                                  From: John O <spacelights@...>
                                  Subject: [RedHotJazz] Re: Jelly Roll Morton's birthdate
                                  To: RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
                                  Date: Friday, September 5, 2008, 10:37 PM






                                  In the hand-written "Fragment of an Autobiography" Morton gave to Roy
                                  Carew in 1938, Jelly stated he was "about 14" when his mother died.
                                  According to Gushee's 2001 Afterword in 'Mister Jelly Roll', Louise
                                  Monette "probably died in 1906."

                                  Jelly's 1918 draft registration information states a birth year of
                                  1884--the earliest "official" date we have, which may simply indicate
                                  an attempt to avoid being drafted. On his 1921 Mexican visa, Jelly
                                  himself apparently wrote his birth year as 1890 (pasted over, visible
                                  through the opposite side, not quite certain).

                                  According to his younger sister Frances, in 1925 he wanted to seem
                                  younger, not older, than he was: when she visted him in Chicago that
                                  year, he emphasized that she should keep her age secret and to agree
                                  that he was 28(!).

                                  I'm slightly partial to 1889, the year given by sister Amide and by
                                  Anita (on his death certificate) . It's not incompatible with a
                                  Storyville professorship (at age 13) and "New Orleans (Blues) Joys"
                                  authorship (with help, Jelly freely admitted, from a piano instructor)
                                  in 1902.


















                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                • Howard Rye
                                  Louis Armstrong¹s first passport application includes a sworn affidavit from his father certifying his date of birth. No joke. I have actually seen it. You
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Sep 6, 2008
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                                    Louis Armstrong¹s first passport application includes a sworn affidavit from
                                    his father certifying his date of birth. No joke. I have actually seen it.

                                    You can get documents to prove anything provided you can afford them.

                                    on 06/09/2008 09:12, Hugh at hughphoric@... wrote:

                                    > Regarding documentary 'truth' - there was a story recounted in a paper I read
                                    > years ago which (as far as I recall) went like this. An old Mexican woman
                                    > claimed Social Security in California, but as an illegal immigrant
                                    > several decades before, she had no birth certificate. She asked the official
                                    > what this was and was told that it was a piece of paper showing her date and
                                    > place of birth, father's name etc. She went home and returned some time later
                                    > with a piece of paper she had written herself, showing her date and place of
                                    > birth, father's name etc.
                                    >  
                                    > Hugh
                                    >
                                    >


                                    Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                                    howard@...
                                    Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098




                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  • Michael Rader
                                    While the chronology in Bill Russell s Oh, Mr Jelly rather half-heartedly sticks to the 1885 birthdate, acknowledging that many others are plausible, it
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Sep 6, 2008
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                                      While the chronology in Bill Russell's "Oh, Mr Jelly" rather half-heartedly sticks to the 1885 birthdate, acknowledging that many others are plausible, it paradoxically captions what it calls the first known photo of Jelly as having been taken in 1906, when he was 17 years of age.

                                      Michael Rader
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