Saturday, March 14, 2009

Abner D. Stevens Drum from Finney Family

eBay seller cjetti( 225) describes this Abner Stevens drum, eBay item no. 220374723734, as follows:

Up for auction is an Authentic Civil War Military Drum that has been passed down through one family. This is a beautiful U.S. Regulation drum that is in nice condition. [cjetti( 225)] purchased this from the descendants of Colonel William Finney, a Confederate Officer from the Civil War and a co-founder of the Western Portion of the Pony Express. It has the original makers label inside of “A.D. Stevens Pittsfield Drum Factory” from Massachusetts. ...

This Civil War drum was owned by Colonel William Wood Finney of the Confederate States of America of Virginia. It was passed down through his family and has been in the possession of the Finney Family continuously from Col. Finney’s death in 1910 until 2008 when [cjetti( 225)] purchased it. The original owner was Colonel Finney, a Civil War Confederate Officer, and a co-founder of the Western Portion of the Pony Express. His estate was located in Powhatan County Virginia and named Elioch. Colonel Finney was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute in the class of 1848. He was the son of Captain William Finney and Elizabeth Crichton Wood and was born at "Prospect Hill," in Powhatan County, on May 16, 1829. During the American Civil War he served under Colonel Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson at Harper's Ferry, and later under his successor, General Joseph E. Johnston. He was later commissioned by President Davis a Lieutenant-Colonel and was assigned to the 50th Regiment of Virginia Infantry. He participated in the battle of Lewisburg West Virginia where he was taken prisoner and three months later he was exchanged at Vicksburg and returned to Richmond Virginia. He passed away January 26th 1910 and is buried at Saint Luke’s Cemetery in Powhatan County Virginia with his wife Constance Williams Finney. [cjetti( 225)] will provide a notarized letter of provenance signed by me stating the history of ownership of this drum including the direct lineage of family members the drum was passed down through starting with Colonel Finney CSA. The Great, Great, Granddaughter of Colonel Finney did not know for sure if the drum was used in her Great, Great, Grandfather’s Rebel Army or if it was a war relic Colonel Finney acquired.

Abner D. Stevens started business in 1794 in Massachusetts and his company produced drums at least through the Civil War years. He made Bass, Military and children’s drums. He sold military drums to the U.S. Government during the war years and “made a handsome fortune”. According to a book titled “THE HISTORY OF PITTSFIELD MASS.” “Mr. Stevens made a good rattling instrument”. In 1809 Abner Stevens moved his drum making business from Hancock Massachusetts to a shop he built on North Street in Pittsfield Massachusetts. Several of his drums are in museums and collections across the country with dates in the early 1800s going through 1864. [cjetti( 225) has] never seen any of his drums that were dated after the Civil War.

The drum itself could not be nicer! It was made by A.D. Stevens, address 103 North Street Pittsfield Massachusetts and bears his label inside the body of the drum. It measures 14 ¾ inches high and is 16 ½ inches wide with red painted rim hoops on both ends. It still has the rope that keeps tension on the heads of the drum and has 9 original leather tensioners still attached to the tension rope. Both heads are still intact but show much wear and age but no rips or tears. It is all original and has had no repairs or alterations to my knowledge. It has the standard military colors for a drum for the War. The body appears to be made of ash or maple and is stained a tan color. It has a “lap’ joint to it where it is secured by about a dozen tacks or nails per hoop. It also has the vent hole in it’s side that you can look through to see the original makers label. Both rims have a “lap” joint where they come together and two little tacks to hold it secure. They are both painted the military red color and when examined closely you can see the original paint has a crackled look to it. Tuning adjustments were made using the 5-string snare strainer on the bottom head. The original strainer is still in place and one end is still secured with two little wooden pegs that [cjetti( 225)] tried to show in the pics. [cjetti( 225)] can not tell for sure if the tension rope is original or a very, very old replacement. The wear pattern on the rope conforms to the rest of the drum but someone with more knowledge than me on drums would have to say for sure. It still has 9 of it’s original leather tensioners on the rope that were used to pull the two heads together when playing the drum and would be loosened up when the drum was not in use. That way it spared the heads from unnecessary strain. It is only missing one leather tensioner. The drum has all of the wear marks and dings and stains that you would expect to see on a drum from the Civil War era and it sure displays [w]onderfully!

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