Daniel D. Emmett collection  1859-1908
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Biography

Daniel Decatur Emmett ("Dan") was born in Mount Vernon, Ohio, on October 29, 1815. His father, Abraham Emmett, was a blacksmith, and his brother Lafayette became the first Chief Justice of Minnesota. Daniel Emmett was an apprentice for the Huron Reflector and Western Aurora newspapers, and served as a drummer and fife player with the United States Army for several years. After his discharge in July 1835, he toured as a circus performer and fiddle player, and in 1842 he organized the Virginia Minstrels in New York City. He continued to travel with minstrel shows throughout the 1840s and 1850s, and moved to Chicago in 1867, where he lived until retiring to Mount Vernon, Ohio, in 1888. He married Catherine Rives in 1853 and, after her death, Louise Brower Bird in 1879; neither union produced children. Daniel Emmett died in Mount Vernon on June 28, 1904. He achieved fame for his musical compositions, such as the folk tune "Old Dan Tucker," and is generally considered the composer of "Dixie," though its authorship is disputed.