From Ohio History Central
Benjamin Hanby was a minister, abolitionist and American musician in mid-nineteenth century Ohio. He was born in 1833 in Rushville, Ohio. In 1847, his father, William Hanby, helped establish Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio. He moved his family to Westerville in 1853. William Hanby was a minister and then a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. Benjamin also joined the church and became a minister. The Hanbys were deeply religious, and their faith led them to actively participate in the Underground Railroad. Their homes in Rushville and Westerville provided shelter to many runaway slaves.
Benjamin Hanby attended Otterbein College. While a student, he began to compose music. He wrote his most famous song "Darling Nellie Gray" in 1856. It depicted some of the evils of slavery. He also wrote "Up on the Housetop" and "Who is He in Yonder Stall?" Hanby did not financially prosper from his music. He later took a job with the, music publishing company of Root & Cady in Chicago, Illinois.
The author of more than eighty songs, Benjamin Hanby died of tuberculosis in 1867. He was thirty-three years old.