With the "Nose Flute Pioneers" series, Noseflute.org enters a little cycle of research. I hope it won't be too arid for a blog, but I really think that the facts I found have to be published. The sources : Google patents, US Census and an access to newspaper archives. But also, depending on the topic, correspondence by e-mail with descendants. Let's better say : internet searching tools available for a Frenchie not able to access US real paper archives.
Nose Flute Pioneers: The Stivers - Part I
The Stivers: The King of Fakirs
Writing an historic article about the Stivers family is not an easy task. For sure, as usual, there is not much info easily available and more than that, the name "Stivers" is not rare enough to be sure that this or that event is related to the "right one". Not so difficult regarding James Stivers, because there were very few of them, but horribly difficult for George Stivers, which have been legions! Even in the same area. And worst: in the same family, there were several "George W. Stivers" living at the same time. In fact, I found that it was the tradition in that family to name the first son by the name of its father, including the middle initial). So, there are generally 3 perfect homonyms to deal with in the same family, and when the age is not mentioned... Or when the middle initial is not, you may add other individuals to the list.
So, I hope I made not too many mistakes in what follows. I erased from my research any info "only possible".
So, my Story begins with... George W. Stivers. Let's call him « George W. I », because as I wrote, we have to deal with a « strain » of fathers and sons wearing the same name. And George I has a lot to do in the Humanatone story.
George Washington was born in May 1854. His first appearance in NYC directory dates of 1891. George is already married since 1873 with Frances, an English girl born Aug. 1856, with whom he'll have 11 children, with only 6 surviving in 1900. In 1891, they are the tenants of a billiard room (or store?), at 221 Bowery st., in Manhattan. They live not far, 46 Pike st., near the Manhattan bridge.
221 Bowery :
They have 6 children left : Ellen (Jun. 1874), George W. (Jan. 10, 1876) [let's call him George W. II already], Frances (Jan. 1880), James Joseph (Jul. 11, 1881), May (Mar. 1886), Kathryn (Apr. 1890).
The next year, the billiard activity moves to number 19 of the same street, then disappears from the addressbook... In 1896, George W. II marries Kathryn, and they have their first child, a girl called May (Apr. 1896). Geo II is clerk.
In 1898, George I has become « merchant ». This is the beginning of a long story. In fact, George Washington has opened a store at 15 Ann St. (and has moved his home to 93 Concord), with an annex at 108 Nassau, dedicated to selling « Novelties ».
Indeed, George Sr. was made to be a merchant. He immediately has a feeling for what will sell, and uses some very modern marketing techniques, calling for agents.
First a bit shy with a novelty that he manufactured (Aug 1899):
« How'd you like to be the iceman » was a huge musical success of 1899. The song was written by Helf and Moran (1898) and performed by Will F. Denny. You can hear it here: