MAKER: Family history has always attributed this piano to piano maker David Prichard (ca. 1788-1884). Prichard was born in NC and married Rachel Correll (1789-1868) ca. 1818. Their son John Clinton Prichard was born in 1819. David was probably making pianos as early as 1820 when he was listed in the Iredell County Census as “engaged in manufactures.” He and his family lived in the part of Iredell County that became Alexander County in 1847, near the town of Hiddenite. In the 1869 and 1872 Branson’s North Carolina Business Directory, David and his son J.C. Prichard were listed as being in the “piano forte” business in Taylorsville.
David died in 1884 at age 96. Among the items allotted to his second wife, T.C. Prichard, in his estate file were the following: mechanics tools, 1 broad ax. 1 lot wire, 1 piano, 1 work bench. When David’s son John Clinton Prichard died two years later in 1894, included in his estate file were the following: 1 old piano, mechanical tools, 1 piano unfinished, 1 lot of lumber, and 1 turning lathe.
That there were piano makers in this rural region of Alexander County, NC, attests to the desire, even in the NC Backcountry, for luxuries such as pianos. Granted, their parts were made of local materials–bone instead of ivory and poplar painted black instead of ebony–but they were desired products nonetheless.
Family members say that when John Alexander Correll died, Sophia’s sister Amaline (Mary Emeline, 1824-1899) got the piano as part of her father’s estate, although it is not listed in her father’s will or estate papers. Amaline married David Frieze (Freeze) on April 23, 1855, in Rowan County. Their two daughters, Eugenia E. Freeze (1858-1942) and Mary Emma Freeze (1862-1953) never married. These two inherited the piano from their mother.
In 1941, their second cousin Elma Sloop Beaver wrote, “On June 30, 1941 (Monday) I went to Eugenier (Genie) Frieze and her sister Emmer Margarete (sis) Freeze’s house northeast of Mooresville just over the Rowan County line for the old spinet piano that was my great grandfather John Alexander Correll’s, who was born in 5-1-1790, his wife Mary Keever Correll, 1-6-1797 [possibly Mary Lewis Correll]. I paid $100.00 for the old piano which I believe is 125 years old. . . . This piano was given to the Freeze girls’ mother for her part of the Correll estate.” Elma Sloop Beaver was the granddaughter of Amelia Correll Sloop (sister of Sophia and Amaline Correll) and Henry O. Sloop. Elma’s parents were Amelia’s son Charlie Locke Sloop and Margaret Louisa Brown Sloop. Once she bought the piano, Mrs. Beaver had it restored and passed it on to her son Guy Beaver’s daughter, her granddaughter, Louise Beaver Ripple. Louise and her family very generously donated the piano to MESDA “in memory of Mrs. Guy M. Beaver, Sr.”