Thursday, February 9, 2012

Violet Anderson and Kenneth Lehman will sing and play

This is one of the more obscure things that I've posted, but I love this little note.

Scrawled across the bottom of a page within the 1933 textbook "Contemporary Banking" (by H. Parker Willis, John M. Chapman and Ralph West Robey) was the following:
"If you want some enternainers [sic] you can get Violet Anderson from Emigsville and Kenneth Lehman from the Glades1 to sing and play for 5.00."
This singing-and-playing duo were also partners in marriage.

According to online genealogy records2, Violet and Kenneth were born and died here in York County, Pennsylvania:
  • Kenneth E. Lehman was born on August 3, 1916, in Hellam Township and died on May 11, 2002, in York.
  • His wife, Violet M. Anderson, was born on April 13, 1918, in Manchester Township and died in 1995 in York.
  • Both are buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery in Springettsbury Township.
  • They had one daughter.
It doesn't appear that either one of them made entertainment a primary career. According to her obituary, Violet worked at the former D&D Sewing Company in North York. And according to his obituary, "Mr. Lehman was a retired self-employed painter who also worked for York Safe and Lock."3

But, within both obituaries, there is a hint of how making music was a part of their lives. Kenneth's obituary states that he was a member of the Green Valley Ramblers Country Band. Violet's obituary states that she was a member of Green Valley Ramblers String Band.

Surely, those are the same band. But what is (or was) that band? I found that a group called The Green Valley Ramblers released an album titled "Bluegrass Dawn" in 1974. Neither Kenneth nor Violet is listed among the group's members. Other evidence online seems to indicate that the group was around until at least the early 1980s.4 Was the York County couple involved in this group at some point? In what capacity?

Time to do some more digging...

1. York Daily Record/Sunday News editor Jim McClure writes about "The Glades" area of York County in this York Town Square blog post. Here's one small excerpt, in which McClure quotes Springettsbury Township's 1991 centennial book:
"The name Glades was given to the village about 1800 by travelers going from York to the river because it was an open passage or space in what was then a forest for miles around."
2. The source for this genealogy information is "Descendants of John Henry Shermeyer (6/18/09)" on Anita's Hobbies, which is written by Anita Heisig. Her tremendously organized and detailed website is also the source of the obituaries cited and linked to in this post.
3. I turn once again to McClure's blog for some background on York Safe & Lock, which was located at the site that later became part of a Harley-Davidson plant. (Check out this previous Papergreat post on Harley-Davidson attire.)
4. In trying to find information about the Ramblers, I came across this Mandozine interview with mandolin player extraordinaire Tony Williamson (a former Rambler), which is fascinating in its own right.


  1. I'm always interested in stories about York County...

    It appears there were several "Green Valley Ramblers" around during the 1900s. I've found references to bands of that name in newspapers from the 1930s to the 1970s. The locations I came across via were:

    Hamilton, OH (1937)
    Frederick, MD (1938)
    Connellsville, PA (1951)
    Lebanon, PA (1967)
    Burlington, NC (1972-1977)
    Uniontown, PA (1976)
    Chester, PA (1977)
    Gettysburg, PA (1978)

    The Gettysburg listing mentioned that the "Green Valley Ramblers" playing there were from North Carolina, so it seems THAT particular band may have traveled quite a bit.

    Not much help, but perhaps a nudge in the right direction.

  2. A an excellent trail of breadcrumbs :)