Musician Edwin ‘‘Edden’’ Hammons (February 28, 1875-September 7, 1955) is remembered as one of the finest traditional fiddlers to have come from West Virginia. Hammons was a subsistence farmer and hunter, like many others at the time, who relied on his wits and music to earn a few dollars. Tales are told that he would rather fiddle than work.
Edden was born in Pocahontas County. He was a member of the extended Hammons family, known for its music and traditional ways, which had migrated into the Webster-Pocahontas area just before the Civil War. Family recollections say the Hammons clan is descended from an Edwin Hammons who emigrated from Belfast, Northern Ireland, in the 18th century.
Edden and his wife, Betty Shaffer Hammons, raised seven children. Folklorist and West Virginia University professor Louis Chappell recorded Edden in a Richwood hotel room in 1947. The resulting 52 tunes document a frontier fiddling tradition with links to the Old World. Most of these tunes were released as record albums by West Virginia University Press.
This Article was written by Paul Gartner
Last Revised on November 29, 2012
Milnes, Gerald. Play of a Fiddle. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1999.
Cuthbert, John & Alan Jabbour, eds. Edden Hammons Collection vols. 1 & 2, compact disc. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 1999-2000.