CASEY JONES - the COMPOSERs

From Early on  authorship of Casey Jones had a black  attribution. (Norm Cohen in his cornerstone Long Steel Rail, quotes a 1908 letter to Railroad Man Magazine attributing authorship to Saunders. In a September 10, 1911 St. Louis Dispatch feature on “Casey Jones,” (reproduced on "Casey Jones: The Man") Seibert and Newton write: “we wrote Casey Jones from an old negro song....as near as we can learn an old darky named Wallace Saunders working in a roundhouse  started the first of the ‘Casey Jones’  song (sic.)"

Outside of this, nothing else is known about Saunders. 

Little more is known about Siebert and Newton than about Saunders outside of mentions in press and ads for the published song and of Siebert's vaudeville work.  Nothing linked them before or after Casey Jones, both unsuccessfully tried to capitalize on their song  hit and both died prematurely and within a couple of years of each other and,  despite the financial success of "Casey Jones" (estimated  to be over a quarter million dollars each in today's value) they both died penniless.   

T. Lawrence Seibert (1877-1917) 

  

Born Taliaferro Sibert near Bloomington, Indiana.  A 1900 census shows he changed his family name to “Seibert” and lists his profession as “artist-theater.” In 1907, Seibert is living in San Francisco and working as a musician. In 1911, Seibert, billed as “the man who wrote Casey Jones,” made a stab at vaudeville in two acts: first with "Siebert, Tennison and Shubert," and then with his wife, Jim Lorenz.

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The Sioux City Journal    Sunday April 2, 1911

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Albuquerque Journal 

August, 18, 1912

The Bakersfield Californian Thursday May 30, 1912 

The Vancouver Daily World

Saturday, February 24, 1912 

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The Washington Post 

Monday December 6, 1915

Eddie Newton (1870 -1915) 

In a tiny two line Variety death notice, Newton is described as “one of the best known cabaret men in the country.”  Newton is known to only have written one other song also for Southern California: “Jerry Moran, the Fearless Fireman” a throw back to the Mose the Bowery B'hoy fantasias of 1880's Harrigan and Hart.  

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San Francisco Examiner  Saturday May 20, 1905 

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San Francisco Examiner  Saturday May 28, 1905 

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Southern California Music Company, 1911

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Variety September, 1915

The St. Joseph Union Observer (Mo.)

Friday, September 17, 1915

© 2020 by Henry Sapoznik

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