Frank W. Meacham

Frank White Meacham was born in Buffalo, New York in 1856 to John Horace Meacham and Mary Emma Page Meacham. He was the middle child of at least five siblings. In the 1865 census, John Horace’s profession was listed as broker and in the 1875 census when Frank was 19, John Horace’s profession was listed as (possibly carriage) manufacturer. Five years later in the 1880 census, Frank was living with his family at age 24 and his profession was listed as musician. Little appears to be documented about his musical training.

Frank married the former Cora B. Collins. In the 1892 New York census, he was 36 and she was 26. His profession was listed as musician. No children were listed. Frank Meacham lost both parents as a result of a buckboard/train accident on November 20, 1894. The buckboard in which they were riding was hit by an oncoming train at an at grade crossing in Germantown, Pennsylvania where they were residing. Mr. Meacham was killed instantly. A railroad flagman and Mrs. Meacham died shortly thereafter from their injuries.

Frank is known to have composed a number of songs, beginning with “Come Over the Sea” which is said to have been composed when he was only 10 years old. The Library of Congress contains images of a number of his compositions including “Come Over the Sea” published in 1877 by Chandler Brothers, “The Tar’s Farewell” also published by Chandler Brothers in 1878, a collection including “My Little Bouquet,” “Locust Grove Waltzes,” “Woodland Nymphs Galop,” “Esopus,” “Tarantelle” and “Rosenvik Waltzes” published in 1880 by George Molineaux of Brooklyn and “Celestial Waltzes” also published by Molineaux in 1881. He is also believed to have arranged and ghost written songs for others.

His most enduring composition has been “American Patrol.” Originally a piano piece, it was copyrighted in 1885. The first band arrangement is believed to have been published by Carl Fischer in 1891 and published again in 1919 by his widow Cora Meacham. In an interesting cross-genre application, the melody and basic themes were again arranged for swing band by Jerry Gray and later by composer Morton Gould. The swing band arrangement was recorded and made popular by the Benny Goodman band.

Image credit: umaine.edu

Meacham died in 1909 and is interred along with his parents at Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, New York.

Frank W. Meacham’s American Patrol – Youtube

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