Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ward Hill Lamon

One of the very best things about history is finding the wonderful characters hidden in its pages.

One of my favorites of the Lincoln coterie is Ward Hill Lamon. He was an early law partner of Lincoln's, riding circuit with him, accompanied by his banjo and an ever-ready glass of "cheer."

Lamon played clawhammer banjo, which is a picking style rather than a style of instrument, and is usually heard nowadays in old-timey bands. A modern practicioner of the clawhammer, however, is Eric Clapton.

There are at least two folks on line who post as Lamon. My favorite is the one at Twitter, @SavingLincoln.

In this version Lamon recounts stories of himself, and of Lincoln, from a book supposedly written by Lamon himself. I don't have the book--yet!--so I can't say for sure what this is all about, but it is fun. for sure!

The blogger mentioned a specific banjo tune and added a link, so I thought I'd pass it along. It is "Angeline the Baker" by Stephen Foster:

Apparently Mr. Lamon was a practitioner of the now-ancient art of the Hambone as well. I looked on YouTube for an enjoyable while, and found this clip to get you started:

Both links--if they don't work, just plug 'em into your browser--are just one of many enjoyable clips celebrating the past.

Enjoy! . . . and now you know what some Civil War reenactors do between battles.


  1. Mr. Lamon certainly looks differently in this picture than in the 1988 movie Lincoln. the actor portraying him was bearded, spoke with softened Southren accent. In fact , If I may share this observation, he was AL's bodyguard, along with Allan/Allen Pinkerton as security instead of EE. knowing about the music adds a nice touch. I will take a listen.

  2. That is how WHL is written into the movie.