Journal-News, Monday, Aug. 2,1993
Isaac Anderson, early county settler, Indian prisoner after Lochry massacre
By Jim Blount
Isaac Anderson's life was in peril in August 1781, but that didn't stop the 22-year-old native of Ireland from noticing the beauty and apparent fertility of the bottom land along the Great Miami River.
Twenty years later, when the government began selling that land, a tract in Ross Township was purchased by Anderson, who, as a soldier, had seen most of the northern United States and part of Canada.
Events which brought him to Butler County began in County Donegal in Ireland, where he was born Sept. 15, 1758, the youngest of 13 children. He was orphaned at age 12 and three years later came to Philadelphia in the American colonies.
He entered the colonial army in the summer of 1776, seeing his first major action in September and October 1777 during an American victory at Saratoga, N. Y.
Dec. 10, 1777, during a scouting expedition, Anderson was severely wounded in a skirmish near Philadelphia.
A British musket ball hit him in one cheek and passed out the other, tearing away some teeth and part of his jawbone, impairing the sight in one eye, and leaving facial scars.
The British believed he was dead and took some of his clothing before leaving him on the frozen ground, but the next day a burial party found him alive and sent him to a British hospital in Philadelphia.
As the British evacuated Philadelphia June 18, 1778 Anderson pretended to be seriously ill and was left behind. The ruse enabled him to return to his regiment in time to take part in the Battle of Monmouth, N. J., June 28, 1778.
Later he moved west of the Appalachians to join the army of Gen. George Rogers Clark, who was anticipating an offensive against the British stronghold at Detroit in 1781.
Anderson was a lieutenant in a newly-formed Pennsylvania company led by Colonel Archibald Lochry (also spelled Laughery). The 107-man unit traveled from Fort Pitt down the Ohio River to join Clark at the Falls of the Ohio (Louisville, Ky.).
Disaster struck at approximately 10 a.m. Aug. 24, 1781, about 10 miles below the mouth of the Great Miami River.
"Colonel Lochry ordered the boats to land on the Indian shore, about 10 miles below the mouth of the Great Miami River to cook provisions and cut grass for the horses, when we were fired on by a party of Indians from the bank," Anderson wrote in his journal.
"We took to our boats, expecting to cross the river, and was fired on by another party in a number of canoes," Anderson wrote. Lochry was among the 41 men killed; Anderson among the 60 taken prisoner.
'They marched us that night (Aug. 24) about eight miles up the river and encamped," wrote Anderson, who said another eight miles were covered the next day, with the captives arriving near the site of Anderson's future land purchase.
The prisoners reached Detroit Oct. 11 and remained until Nov. 4 when Anderson was taken by boat to Niagara and Montreal. He escaped May 26, 1782 by scaling the fort's picket walls.
After the war, Anderson settled in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, marrying Euphemia Moorehead in 1788. During the winter of 1795-96 the family moved to Cincinnati where he operated a store and a tavern and manufactured bricks.
Government sale of land west of the Great Miami River began in April 1801 and Anderson bought riverside property in Section 23 of Ross Township, north of the mouth of Indian Creek.
In 1812 he moved his family from Cincinnati to that tract, where the last of their 11 children, named Euphemia after her mother, was born Dec. 18, 1813.
Anderson farmed the land and operated a ferry on the Great Miami River, connecting to a small community in Section 15 of Fairfield Township known variously as Fairplay, Black Bottom, Hart's Block and Graham's Mill.
He died in his Ross Township home Dec. 18, 1839, at age 81. His widow died there Aug. 26, 1851.
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Journal-News, Monday, Aug. 9, 1993
Johnny Black's 'Paper Doll' stood the challenges of time
(This is the first of a three-part series on songwriter Johnny Black)
By Jim Blount
Fifty years ago the words and music of Johnny S. Black were starting a rapid climb to the top of popular music charts. "Paper Doll," written by the Hamilton resident during World War I, became a hit during World War II.
By late 1943, many Americans were singing or humming "I'm goin' to buy a paper doll that I can call my own, a doll that other fellows cannot steal, and then the flirty, flirty guys with their flirty, flirty eyes will have to flirt with dollies that are real."
"Via the voices of Frank Sinatra and the Mills Brothers," Time magazine said in November 1943, "this musical tickler was mooning out of every radio and juke box in the U. S." Time said the song "was proving again that yesterday's flop may live to be today's smash."
The success of "Paper Doll," the magazine said, recalls "the story of a very woebegone resident of Tin Pan Alley" who wrote it "28 years ago, after an unhappy love affair. The song did not even find a publisher" in 1915 and "Black shelved it and went to work on another, the durable 'Dardanella,' which became the rage of 1919."
Black didn't witness the 1943 success of "Paper Doll." He had died in Hamilton seven years before his song broke into Billboard's top record list at No. 10 in the Aug. 7, 1943 edition. It remained there 29 weeks, until Feb. 26, 1944.
"This is undoubtedly one of the big novelty songs of the year and a surprise click, considering the age of the song and the recording. What has turned it into a bonanza, Billboard observed Sept. 11, "is the affection and loyalty displayed the song by boys in uniform."
By the end of September it had climbed to No. 2 in Billboard, behind Bing Crosby's "Sunday, Monday or Always," and ahead of "You'll Never Know" by Frank Sinatra; "Pistol Packin' Mama" by Al Dexter; "In the Blue of the Evening" by Tommy Dorsey; and "I Heard You Cried Last Night" by Harry James.
By that time more than 700,000 records and 450,000 copies of the sheet music had been sold, and soon it would be No. 1 in both those categories, plus tops in jukebox requests.
Billboard ranked "Paper Doll" the No. 1 record for 12 weeks (Oct. 30 through Jan. 15, 1944), and it was No. 1 on radio's "Your Hit Parade" for 23 weeks. "Paper Doll" also was included in two 1944 movies— performed by Lena Home in "Two Girls and a Sailor" and the Delta Rhythm Boys in "Hi, Good Lookin'."
In the 1930s it had been "featured in night clubs by Tommy Lyman," according to Robert Lissauer, a pop music historian. Lissauer said "It didn't catch on with the public until the Mills Brothers' colossal record hit in 1942," eventually selling more than six million copies.
The group — including John Mills Sr. and his four Piqua-born sons — recorded "Paper Doll" for Decca Feb. 18, 1942, but it took more than a year to attain popularity.
"Anybody can cut a paper doll, but few can do such a successful job as the Mills Brothers did on this one," said Billboard Aug. 28, 1943.
"Paper Doll" was the Mills Brothers' biggest hit in a career which spanned 1922-82, including live performances on WLW radio in Cincinnati in the mid 1920s and an estimated 2,490 songs recorded.
One story of the song's origin is that Black tried to supplement his piano-playing and song-writing income as a boxer. As he prepared to enter the ring at Madison Square Garden, the woman he loved announced she was leaving him because she was in love with a songwriter, not a fighter.
After his defeat in the ring, Black expressed his feelings in "Paper Doll."
Another version places its origin in Chicago in an adaptation of "My Doll,"— a song written by a young show girl who became Black's first wife. A federal court accepted this story in the 1940s after "Paper Doll" became a hit and awarded a share of the royalties to Black's first wife.
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Journal-News, Monday, Aug. 16,1993
Johnny Black sang financial blues
(This is the second of a three-part series on songwriter Johnny Black)
By Jim Blount
His "Paper Doll" was a hit song during World War II, but Johnny S. Black regarded "Dardanella" as his "gift to the musical world." In 1919 the 24-year-old Black, who considered Hamilton his home, saw "Dardanella" become an artistic success and a financial mistake.
By mid 1920 its publisher claimed "Dardanella" would be heard by more Americans than any previous popular song. A local newspaper report said the song had been "acclaimed as the greatest musical hit since 'Smiles' by music critics."
The tune, recorded on the Victor label by Ben Selvin's Novelty Orchestra, sold more than a million copies. About two million copies of the sheet music were sold by early 1920, and demand also was high for the piano roll version.
"Dardanella" would reappear later in two movies, "Two Girls and a Sailor" in 1944 and "Oh, You Beautiful Doll" in 1949."
It is agreed that the words for "Dardanella" were written by Fred Fisher with the music by Black and Felix Bernard, but that's where agreement ends.
Robert Lissauer, a pop music historian, says it was "originally a piano rag entitled 'Turkish Tom Tom' by Black. Fisher, as publisher, wrote a lyric with a new title, after which Bernard claimed that it was his melody. A settlement was made and both composers received title credit, said Lissauer in his Encyclopedia of Popular Music in America.
Another explanation of "Dardanella" was offered in a June 1920 article by Harry V. Martin.
In June 1915, while Black was part of a vaudeville show at Chester Park in Cincinnati, he decided his career was stalled and he had to go to New York to seek a show business break.
By then, Black had written several songs, but none had become hits. His songs lacked something "because he had never been really in love," observed Martin.
In 1917 Black fell in love with an oriental dancer appearing at the Winter Garden on Broadway. According to Martin, she asked Black to create a new oriental number.
"That very night," said Martin, "in his kitchenette over a ballroom, with the photograph of the girl he loved in front of him, he wrote at the top of the bare music sheet the title, 'Dardanella,'" completing it in about an hour.
Black took the composition to Felix Bernard, a vaudeville partner, "and together they worked it over until it was a finished product," said Martin.
Three music publishers rejected the piece before they took it to a new company, McCarthy & Fisher. Martin said one of the partners was Fred Fisher, "himself a song-writing genius," including 'Peg O' My Heart.' "
Fisher bought "Dardanella" and Martin said, "made haste to write words for the song and publish it." Fisher expected it to earn at least $500,000 for his publishing company.
Black's version of the publication of "Dardanella" was in a letter reprinted May 29, 1920, in the Journal. "I was playing it and a fellow came rushing over to the piano and said, "What is that you are playing?' I told him it was a composition of my own, and he told me he knew a man who would publish it for me. And so I went with him to the publisher and he took it on a royalty basis.
"Then I went on my way to play in vaudeville and while I was out in the little towns making a living," recalled Black, "my song became a big hit, but I didn't know it."
"In one of the little towns, a representative of the publisher came to me," Black said, "and I didn't know the piece was a hit, and I sold it outright for $100."
"And now they've made a quarter of a million dollars out of the song, and once in a while a big Packard that was bought with part of it passes me by and never even offers me a ride" said Black, who was then living with his wife in a "little two-room apartment" at 125 W. 49th Street in New York.
Later, Black sued Fisher, winning a $12,000 settlement while Fisher made more than a million on "Dardanella."
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Journal-News, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 1993
Bar argument claimed life of Johnny Black
(This is the last of a three-part series on songwriter Johnny Black)
By Jim Blount
He produced two hit songs, but bad luck and misfortune dominated the life of Johnny S. Black, who was born Sept. 30, 1895, in St. Louis.
Most of his life, Black and his parents resided in Hamilton and in Fairfield Township. He returned here during breaks from the vaudeville circuit and while recovering from personal problems and heartbreaks.
During his roller-coaster like career Black shared billings and was associated with Joe E. Lewis, Jimmy Durante, Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, Hoagy Carmichael and Ira Gershwin.
He died in 1936 in Hamilton, seven years before a song he had copyrighted in 1915, "Paper Doll," became a hit in 1943.
A publisher had prepared sheet music for another song with the chorus of "Paper Doll" as a filler on the back page. When the music began to sell because of the filler, the publisher withdrew the original copies and designed a new release featuring Black's composition.
Within a few months, it was No. 1 in sheet music and record sales and jukebox requests. By Nov. 1,1943, with royalties at 2 percent of gross sales, "Paper Doll" had earned $11,640.
Some of the income from the 1943 hit went to the song writer's father, 81-year-old John L. Black, who was residing in the 500 block of Sycamore street.
The elder Black also had been a musician and operated a music store. A traveling one-man band he brought his son into the show at age 14. Young Johnny played the drums, piano, violin and coronet, plus performing some magic tricks.
He left Hamilton at age 17, going to Chicago to team-up with comedian Joe E. Lewis, who was a favorite of Al Capone, the prohibition crime boss of the Windy City.
In 1919 Black joined Felix Bernard and Fred Fisher in producing "Dardanella," which became a top tune that year. It was the artistic peak of his lifetime, but he sold the song for only $100 and later realized only $12,000 in a settlement.
Black wrote more than 25 songs, including "Sheila," "Who'll Be the Next One to Cry Over You" and "Too Many Irons in the Fire." But by 1933, with Prohibition ending, Black was back in Hamilton, playing the piano at a former speakeasy at 1892 Dixie Highway. The club, managed by Bill Huey, was then known as Shadowlawn.
During 1934 Black performed at the Oasis on High Street, the Bismarck Cafe on Central Avenue in Hamilton, and at the White Villa on Winton Road, nine miles south of Hamilton.
Then Black rented and operated Shadowlawn, changing its name to the Club Dardanella after his 1919 hit song. To keep expenses down, he tended bar when not playing the piano.
On a Saturday night, June 6, 1936, the 44-year-old Black and a 20-year-old customer from Mount Healthy argued over change left on the bar, reportedly a mere 25 cents.
Witnesses disagreed about what happened, but Black was either hit, pushed or fell, striking his head on a cement step or pavement outside the club and briefly lost consciousness.
The next night — on the eve of a scheduled divorce hearing requested by his wife — he lapsed back into unconsciousness and was taken to Mercy Hospital. He died there at 2:58 a.m. Tuesday, June 9,1936.
His father died in Hamilton January 6, 1944, "Paper Doll" ranked at the top of all popular music lists — and as legal battles continued.
Black's contract with the Edward B. Marks Music Corp., publisher of "Paper Doll," had expired December 8, 1943, and law suits were pending, trying to force royalty payments to Black's estate.
The Club Dardanella later became Eaton Manor (between Dixie Highway and Erie Boulevard, opposite today's present Hamilton Crossings shopping center). It was closed in 1986 and was demolished about a year later.
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