Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 24 November 1965

A dose of mountain dulcimer history throughout the year

Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 24 November 1965

Postby dbennett » Fri Nov 24, 2017 6:41 am

Frank Proffitt, Sr. (1913-1965) died in/near Vilas, Watauga County, North Carolina. Frank was born in Laurel Bloomery, Tennessee and was raised in the Reese area of Watauga County, North Carolina. Frank lived on a farm growing tobacco, worked as a carpenter and in a spark plug factory. He was known for his carpentry skill. Frank was a noted dulcimer maker and player and according Ralph Lee Smith in “Appalachian Dulcimer Traditions” Frank “achieved national recognition as a folk-singer.” In 1937, Frank Proffitt met folksong collector Frank Warner who was searching out a dulcimer builder and thus began a 30-year friendship and song swapping. Warner collected his songs and shared them with Alan Lomax. Frank helped popularize the song “Tom Dooley” a song he had learned from his aunt Nancy Prather. Nancy Prather had learned it from her mother Edy Adeline (Pardue) Proffitt, who had known both Dula (locally pronounced “Dooley”) and Laura Foster. Frank and Bessie Mae Hicks (1914-1997), the daughter of Nathan Hicks (1896-1945) eloped to Johnson County, Tennessee and were married on April 20, 1932. Frank and Bessie Mae had six children, Oliver, Ronald, Franklin (also a noted dulcimer maker and player), Eddie, Gerald and Phyllis. Frank made dulcimers and apparently needed help keeping up with demand so he enlisted the help of Leonard Glenn to make dulcimers in the Nathan Hicks pattern.
Proffitt Frank Sr 2.jpg
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