This 4.5" by 6.5" (11.43 by 16.51cm) photograph depicts composer Benjamin Russell Hanby (1833-1867), who was born in the small town of Rushville, Fairfield County, Ohio, southeast of Columbus. Hanby's father was a minister with strong abolitionist sympathies and their Westerville, Ohio home was a station on the Underground Railroad. Hanby was deeply affected by the story of a fugitive slave who took refuge in the Hanby home in 1842 while escaping from Kentucky. Before his death from pneumonia, he told about his sweetheart "Nelly Gray" who had been sold into slavery in Georgia. This was the inspiration for the song "Darling Nelly Gray" which Hanby composed in 1856 while attending Otterbein College in Westerville. The song became popular among Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War and has often been regarded as the "Uncle Tom's Cabin" of song. Hanby also wrote "Santa Claus, or Up on the House Top."
The Ohio Historical Society SC 2045
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