Monday, July 7, 2008

Letters from Readers: Isaac Judson Bass Drum

On 7/6/08 Rollin Shaw ( wrote:
"I have had 2 field drums -- one bass and one snare -- for over 40 years. They were reported to have been carried in the Civil War. Although snare drum has metal rope attachments, you can see holes where the ropes were originally attached. There are no regimental designs (see photos below). I last displayed them in 1965 for the 100th anniversary of the Civil War."

Rollin reports that the snare drum is 17-1/2" in diameter and 15" high; the bass drum is 23" in diameter and 18" wide.

Rollin added this information today: "A label inside the bass drum reads "I. Judson."

Harness[es?], Trunks, Valises, Whips,
Carpet-Bags, &c., &c.

I researched the name. Judson was from Conneaut, Ohio.
[Conneaut is on Lake Erie, at the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, about 25 miles southwest of Erie, Pennsylvania and about 65 miles north east of Cleveland, Ohio]. The Ashtabula County 1860 census records show Isaac Judson to have been a harness maker. The name was also listed in death records "Isaac Judson, 1820-1885". I know that trunk makers also made drums in the 1800's. Isaac Judson was born in New York. It appears that he was 45 in 1865 when the Civil War ended. He lived to age 65.

"I have not checked to see whether the red stain on the bass drum is dried blood. Now with all the testing equipment available I might just check that out. The bass drum skins are original but some of the ears have been replaced on the snare drum and on the bass drum. The snare drum skins were replaced when my granddaughter stood on the Drum when she was 6 to look out the window and fell through skins. I still have the original hanging here in my office.


Rollin provided links to the following additional information: lists an Isaac Judson, age 39, in the 1860 census for Ashtabula County, Ohio. Also, see 1860 Census, Borough of Conneaut Ashtabula County, Ohio, Roll 933 Book 1 which lists Isaac Judson as a harness maker, born in New York, holding real estate worth $500 and personal property worth $200.

Isaac Judson is buried in plot C01-029 of the City Cemetery, Conneaut, Ohio ( born Oct. 20, 1820, died April 25, 1885).

And, Judson's harness shop is mentioned in this retrospective "RETRESPECTIVE [sic, RETROSPECTIVE] GLANCE AT CONNEAUT’S MAIN STREET IN 1861, Highly Interesting Paper Prepared By Mrs. J.P. Reig And Read Before the 19th Century Club; Copied from the CONNEAUT NEWS-HERALD Of Saturday, February 1, 1908.": "Next came a wooden building occupied by Isaac Judson as a harness shop."

Can any readers help us in identifying the maker of the snare drum?
The snare drum looks something like (but not identical to) some Abner Stevens drums pictured elsewhere in this blog. E.g., see "Fredericksburg's Civil War Museum":

Also, see "The Painted Drums of Abner Stevens":

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