Did you know that Statesville had a song written about it? To be honest, I did not either until recently, which just shows that you never know what you’ll discover among the thousands of Iredell-related photographs and other memorabilia at Dr. Steve Hill’s Statesville Historical Museum on North Center Street. The title of his collection is somewhat misleading, as he has objects, photos, etc., from all over the county, although as he grew up in Statesville, our county seat was, understandably, his first interest.
While visiting there recently, I spied a badly-wrinkled, though laminated, piece of piano sheet music, with lyrics, titled “Statesville, One Step Booster Song” by a Capt. C. M. Bower.
The sheet music originally cost 25 cents — Steve says he doesn’t remember where he obtained it or what he paid for it.
Besides being the composer and lyricist, the public-spirited Capt. Bower was also the publisher of the piece, his address being 212 Front Street in Statesville. The sheet music was printed by The Publishers Press of New York City; it was copyrighted in 1922, 97 years ago.
A booster song was evidently supposed to publicize the highlights, the best points of the town. Among the items and people mentioned in the three stanzas of “Statesville” are: “our college” (then known as Statesville Female College, now going by the name of Mitchell Community College), Judge Ben Long, the Wallace Herb House, Long’s Sanitorium, the Building and Loan, the First National Bank, Morrison Wholesale, Ramsey & Bowles Clothing, the Statesville Flour Mill, Police Chief Tom Kerr, the Crescent Theater and The Landmark newspaper.
The chorus is here given in full. Brace yourself, the rhymes are a little forced:
“Hurrah! For Statesville is our boast
For Statesville men come home to roost
For good will here greets hand or feet
Whether in store or street, you meet.
So if to the depot you would go;
In search of men you wish to know,
Drop in at the furniture factory so great
That wiped Sears Roebuck from Statesville’s slate.”
According to The Landmark, “Captain” Bower died on Nov. 17, 1931. However, the date on his headstone in the cemetery of Trinity United Methodist Church in northwestern Iredell County gives the date of his passing as October 25, 1931. Curious.
Perhaps a deeper look into the life of “Captain” Bower would be interesting. He was born, according to both his gravemarker and to his obituary in The Landmark, in 1838, so he would have been of prime age to have served in the Civil War. Perhaps the “Captain” preceding his name was the result of military service.
In my mind’s eye, I envisioned a kindly old man, something on the order of Colonel Sanders of KFC fame, decked out in a white linen suit with a black string bow tie, a gentleman, perhaps a little on the portly side, with a pleasant countenance and genteel disposition.
Also, did he have training as a musician? Was he an Iredell County native? Clearly, I need to do some research on Captain C. M. Bower, of 212 Front Street, Statesville.
Also, I really need to find a pianist who can do the music justice, and someone to sing it. I wonder, is it too late to get on “The Voice” or “America’s Got Talent”? Also, perhaps it could be arranged that meetings of the town council could begin with all the members standing and singing “Statesville.”
I get a chill just thinking about it.