I obtained the bank note from Gosport from a coin dealer in Chicago. I wanted something to use as a class exhibit, and this note was one of the few in the dealer's inventory that was both inexpensive and from an Indiana bank.

There is not much left of Gosport today, but one of its claims to fame is that it was the birthplace of John Stark, who was an important publisher of ragtime music at the turn of the century (19th into 20th). Though born in Indiana, he migrated to Missouri and made his name and fame there.

Here is a QuickTime clip of obscure ragtime tunes. (You need Apple's QuickTime software to play them. It is a big clip and plays for quite a while--about 20 minutes.)


These tunes are computer generated from the notes of the score. Some musically talented people complain that midi files are not performer quality, and that is certainly the case with these, which were entered by a musical illiterate. However, these scores were published for amateur piano players at the turn of the century, so the sound quality is probably not much worse, and maybe better, than what one would heard in homes ninety years ago.

Scott Joplin is by far the most famous of the ragtime composers, and much of his music was published by Stark. However, thousands of other pieces were published, and much of that music never sold very well. It is ironic that almost a hundred years later the music may be more accessible than it was when it was published.

Here are some notes on the composers on the QuickTime clip.

May Aufderheide (1888-1972) wrote a half dozen or so rags, and most were published by her father's Indianapolis publishing company, which he started to publish her works. Aufderheide may not have been able to write music--the actual scores may have been written out by Julia Niebergall from the tunes May composed at the piano

Julia Niebergall (1886-1968) wrote several rags and most were published by the Aufderheide publishing firm. It may seem unusual to have women composing ragtime, but there were actually quite a number of women who composed.

Paul Pratt (1890-1948) not only had his early rags published by Aufderheide, he was the manager of the firm.

William Morrison was another of the Indianapolis composers who was published by Aufderheide. Sometime in the teens the Aufderheide company sold its catalog to the Mentel Brothers in Cincinnati. Perhaps this explains why in 1912 Morrison self-published his rag entitled Sour Grapes.

Duane Crabb was another Indianapolis composer who was tied to the Aufderheides. He published the first of May Aufderheide's rags, Dusty Rag. Its success was what prompted May's father to get into the publishing business.

Russell Smith was an Indianapolis composer who was not published by Aufderheide. Rather he was published by another Indianapolis music publisher, I. Seidel.

Clifford Adams was apparently a Nebraskan because his publisher was located in Omaha.

The piece by Harry Jones included here was published by a completely obscure Chicago publishing company that was not even incorporated.

We live in a culture that encourages us to believe that most of what is worth keeping from the past was done by a handful of geniuses. I doubt that proposition. I think that a great many people in the past have done useful things, and that many of the insights we attribute the "giants" are actually borrowed from the obscure people. I think the music of these forgotten and obscure composers has merit, and I am pretty sure that in most other fields the work of forgotten and obscure individuals may be worth rediscovering.