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.
The Sioux City Journal Sunday April 2, 1911
August, 18, 1912
The Bakersfield Californian Thursday May 30, 1912
The Vancouver Daily World
Saturday, February 24, 1912
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.
San Francisco Examiner Saturday May 20, 1905
San Francisco Examiner Saturday May 28, 1905
Southern California Music Company, 1911
Variety September, 1915
The St. Joseph Union Observer (Mo.)
Friday, September 17, 1915