This Place in History: Old Country Fiddler

Vermont Historical Society


At ‘This Place in History‘, we’re in Newbury, Vt. with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.

“We’re going to talk about The Old Country Fiddler, The Man from Vermont, Charlie Taggart. We’re at the site of one of his homes, Elmbank. When he made his name in the music and entertainment industry, he bought this house in Newbury. He liked it because he could see the Connecticut River. He could be right next to the depot, so when he rode on the trains back and forth to Boston, and then on to the rest of the U.S., he could always make his way home,” explained Perkins.

“He wrote about his life in a Vermonter article in 1927, which was the precursor to Vermont Life, and then in a later unpublished article from the 1940s. Then, there’s a wonderful biography that was just written about him. So I encourage anyone to go check out the new biography for more information about him.”

“He was born in Washington, D.C., but his mother was from Topsham, Vermont. His father died actually right before he was born. So his mother moved back. He grew up in Topsham. He went to the academies around here. He went to the Northfield Mount Hermon School for one year, but it didn’t quite work out for him.”

“He ended up coming home, but he really had a love of music. He learned how to play the banjo, coronet and fiddle. He realized that he could hang a shingle up, metaphorically speaking and I suppose in reality, in Topsham Town Hall. He hung up a shingle and said that he could be an entertainer,” said Perkins.

“So he started off doing things like classical reviews. Soon, when he was picked up by the Lyceum Circuit out of Boston, he realized he had this knack for voices and for telling jokes. He really sort of became this great all-around entertainer and became very famous, traveling all around the United States, playing fun music on his fiddle and telling silly stories with this great persona as this guy from rural Vermont,” said Perkins. “He was in some early talkies and then recorded a large number of records.”

“He ended up leaving [Vermont] later on in life. He had kids and they lived in other parts of the country, so he spent time in North Carolina and then ended up in College Station, Texas. He played the circuits down there and ultimately the end of his life was in Maine. He’s buried in Maine. That’s where his kids were living at the time, but he’s always remembered as The Old Country Fiddler and The Man From Vermont.

At ‘This Place in History’!

For more from our ‘This Place in History’ series, click here.

To view a map of Vermont’s roadside historical markers, click here.

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