Bolivar Lee Shook, “Cabin on the Hill”

April 10, 2009 at 9:28 am 24 comments

Charles Noah Shook and Mary Martha Hallmark are my 3rd great-grandparents. Charles was born about 1843 in the Tishomingo, MS area, and Mary was born in November 1842 in Tishomingo, MS. Charles died June 11, 1863 in Cherokee, AL in the Civil War and Mary died after 1910. I descend from their daughter, Sarah Adline Shook who married John Decabb Cox. Sarah had a brother, Noah Washington Shook who married Mary J. Little, both who died in the Prentiss County, MS area of Booneville.

Noah Washington (my 2nd great grand-uncle) and Mary J. Shook had a son, Bolivar Lee Shook, my 1st cousin, three times removed. I found him to be a fascinating cousin to learn about. Bolivar was born February 11, 1896 in Prentiss County, MS, the 7th of 8 children born to Noah and Mary. Bolivar died about 1964 in Prentiss County, MS; he was buried in Cain’s Chapel Cemetery in Booneville, MS.

Bolivar became a songwriter and pianist. Donald Franks, Attorney writes, “In 1914, at the age of 18, Bolivar Lee Shook was stealing a ride on a freight train near his home in Prentiss County, Mississippi, and was thrown from the train. He injured his leg and remained a cripple for life. His disability kept him from manual labor, and he turned to music for a livelihood. He taught piano and singing and tuned pianos until his death in March 1964. He spent his childhood in a frame cabin on a hill located about six miles south of Booneville, Mississippi, overlooking a wide valley to the east and a wide valley to the west. In the west stands a low range of mountains. Knowing the setting of his childhood home, it is not difficult to determine the inspiration for this song. His songs were not fictional, but are a reflection of his life and experiences. “

“Cabin on the Hill” was one of Bolivar’s songs that received much acclaim. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs recorded the song along with other singers. When Flatt and Scruggs first recorded, they omitted that Bolivar wrote the song, but when contacted by Shook, they gave credit to him for his writing the song. In the notes to Flatt & Scruggs 1948-1959 (Bear Family 4-CD set), Neil V. Rosenburg writes:

“The session of April 5th, 1959 produced Flatt and Scruggs first big chart hit–one that would remain on the charts longer than any other Flatt and Scruggs hit. Cabin on the Hill was composed by Mississippi writer B.L. Shook, who was a popular and prolific writer for the James D. Vaughn songbook company; Cabin was first published in Vaughn’s 1943 songbook ‘Sacred Thoughts’. Recorded in 1949 for Rich-R-Tone by the Mullins Family, it had been in the repertoire of the late Red Rector. When he was a member of Hylo Brown’s band, Brown had learned it from him and had then featured it in performances with Flatt and Scruggs. The band received mail about it and so decided to record it, at which point Lester began singing it. This was their first song to feature a five part harmony and in fact there were six voices heard, since two bass voices were used.”

Here is the song I would like to share with you written by Bolivar Lee Shook:

Cabin on the Hill

There’s a happy child at home (there’s a happy child at home)
In my memory I can see (in my memory I can see)
Standing out upon the hill (standing out upon the hill)
In the shadow of a tree (in the shadow of a tree)
If I only had my way (if I only had my way)
It would give my heart a thrill (it would give my heart a thrill)
Just to simply wonder back (just to simply wonder back)
To the cabin on the hill (to the cabin on the hill)

Oh I want to wonder back (oh I want to wonder back)
To the cabin on the hill (to the cabin on the hill)
Neath the shadow of the tree (neath the shadow of the tree)
I would like to linger still (I would like to linger still)
Just to be with those I love (just to be with those I love)
Joy my heart would overfill (joy my heart would overfill)
And I want to wonder back (and I want to wonder back)
To the cabin on the hill (to the cabin on the hill)

But the sadness of it all (but the sadness of it all)
I could never more return (I could never more return)
To that happy child at home (to that happy child at home)
Matters not how much I yearn (matters not how much I yearn)
If I only had my way (if I only had my way)
It would give my heart a thrill (it would give my heart a thrill)
Just to simply wonder back (just to simply wonder back)
To the cabin on the hill (to the cabin on the hill)

Oh I want to wonder back (oh I want to wonder back)
To the cabin on the hill (to the cabin on the hill)
Neath the shadow of the tree (neath the shadow of the tree)
I would like to linger still (I would like to linger still)
Just to be with those I love (just to be with those I love)
Joy my heart would overfill (joy my heart would overfill)
And I want to wonder back (and I want to wonder back)
To the cabin on the hill (to the cabin on the hill

Entry filed under: Bellaonline, Carnival. Tags: , , , .

The Federation of Genealogical Societies 2009 Conference The Search for the Strother Mystery

24 Comments Add your own

  • 1. stacey  |  April 16, 2009 at 5:22 am

    I noticed you had your name on Ancestry.com under my grandpa’s name (Jackie Wayne Shipman? and I’m wondering if you are related to him. Maybe we could be family? My mom made a geneaology website many years ago, you could take a look at it. It’s http://www.angelfire.com/tx/debship/index.html

    Reply
  • 2. Brett Payne  |  April 18, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Mary Martha Hallmark, Bolivar Lee Shook, Noah Washington Shook, Sarah Adline Shook, John Decabb Cox, Mary J. Little, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Red Rector, Hylo Brown – I’ve never encountered so many wonderful names in one article since Dr. Seuss. Thanks for the great story, Tina.

    Reply
  • 3. islandroutes  |  April 19, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    What an interesting story. He certainly took a bad situation (his disability) then found his calling. Thanks for sharing the story!

    Reply
  • 4. Jennifer Shook  |  May 25, 2009 at 6:33 am

    My husband’s grandmother is the daughter of Maggie ‘Shook’ Pierce and his grandfather was Austin Shook. Your story was very interesting to me and I would like to learn more about his family. Thanks for the great story. Jennifer.

    Reply
    • 5. Kathy Shook Wallace  |  March 28, 2011 at 12:33 pm

      If anyone has pictures of my grandfather, Bolivar Shook, I would love to get a copy. Also, I would like to have pictures of his family and his children’s families. Anyone know of a family reunion going on this summer?

      Reply
  • 6. Initia Doherty  |  July 21, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    I believe we are probably related. My grandfather was Jesse Alexander Shook. He had a brother named Noah Shook. We have relatives in Calhoun City Mississippi.

    Reply
    • 7. Kathy Shook Wallace  |  March 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm

      I understand that Booneville, Mississippi is having a 150th year celebration. A person from the Banner Independent newspaper was asking for information and pictures of of my grandfather Bolivar Shook. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

      Reply
      • 8. gtownma  |  March 28, 2011 at 1:07 pm

        HI Kathy, I will look to see if I happen to have any pictures. My email is gtownma@yahoo.com. Tina

  • 9. Kathy Shook Wallace  |  January 26, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Bolivar Lee Shook was my grandfather. I would love to hear more about him if anyone can share. I was born in 1959 so I only remember a small amount. I teach at Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville, Mississippi.

    Reply
    • 10. GAIL SHOOK DUNN  |  March 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm

      My grandfather was Oscar Shook—-Brother of Bolivar L. Shook….. I remember uncle Bolivar coming to our house and tuning
      the piano…when I was a small girl…..my father was Daniel R. Shook born and died in Booneville, ms. Buried at Hodges Chapel
      in wheeler Ms.

      Daniel had 7 children….i am the oldest born in 1945

      Reply
      • 11. Kathy Shook Wallace  |  March 28, 2011 at 12:39 pm

        Would love to get together and share what you remember. Did you every know my daddy, James Finley Shook (nickname Spot)?

  • 12. regena shook moreland  |  May 2, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    bolivar shook was my grat grandpa. my grandpa was clyde shook.
    i was glad to run across this…my email is yesiprey2000@yahoo.com would love to hear from others that may be related “kin” to me.

    Reply
  • 13. Cory Shook  |  June 19, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Bolivar Shook is my great grandpa & his son Billy Shook is my grandpa.

    Reply
    • 14. Kathy Shook Wallace  |  March 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm

      Hello. So that would make your grandpa Billy Shook and my daddy brothers. Maybe they are half or step brothers. My daddy was James Finley Shook (nickname Spot).

      Reply
      • 15. Cory Shook  |  April 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm

        Hi, my dad said that Grandpa Billy and Uncle James were half brothers.

  • 16. Tim Barnes  |  July 24, 2010 at 4:40 am

    I read all the posts with interest. My G-grandmother was Parza Kimbrell, who I think was related to Bolivar Shook. I’ve started to research the family tree and any information would be appreciated. I have the following so far and hope it is correct.
    Parza Kimbrell married Thomas B. Barnes ( my G-grandfather), she was widowed and remarried two times. Her last being John Taylor.
    Parza and Thomas Barnes are buried at Old Bucksnort Cemetary, I think. Any information would be appreciated.

    Reply
  • 17. Roy Cox  |  November 24, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    I have published a book about Pleasant G. Alfred Cox and his children. Anyone interested in this book can contact me. I would love to hear from anyone who is interested in the Cox and Shook family. Roy Cox email cornbreadfedwisdom@yahoo.com

    Reply
    • 18. debbie (cox) diltz  |  May 9, 2011 at 4:11 pm

      I’m interested in the book about Pleasant G. Alfred. Please respond. My father’s name was Roy Vance Cox.

      Reply
      • 19. gtownma  |  May 11, 2011 at 8:29 am

        Debbie, I’ll make sure Roy got your request. Tina

    • 20. Wanda Armstrong  |  April 8, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      I am very interested in the book about Pleasant G. Alfred Cox and his children. He is one of my ancestors.

      Reply
  • 21. Bruce Thorne  |  April 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I think we’re related through Cox line. My name is Bruce Thorne and my line is from Colbert/Franklin Co., AL. Most of my line lived in the Freedom Hills. My grandfather, Richard Humphrey Thorne added the E because his birth certificate had the E on it. He was afraid if he changed it his benefits would be affected.
    My wife wrote a book about the Thorn(e)’s in Colbert and Franklin Counties, AL.

    Reply
  • 22. Tim Barnes  |  April 15, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    I’ve been talking to my one surviving uncle about the family. According to him the Barnes & some of the Shook family came from the Thrasher community near Booneville. Does anyone know if that is correct. He’s in his eighties but has very good recall. Also I’ve often wondered if Flatt & Scruggs ever paid Bolivar royalties for their cover (recording) of “Cabin on the Hill”?

    Reply
  • 23. gtownma  |  May 11, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Tim, Thrasher is in the area where a lot of them live so probably true. Not sure of the royalties, but my Uncle might know, I’ll ask him. Sorry for the late reply.

    Tina

    Reply
  • 24. GARY EMILY  |  December 17, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    I AM THE SON OF JOHN CHAFFIN WHO WAS THE SON OME (MAY NOT BE THE RIGHT SPELLING) SHOOK HE HAD A BROTHER VERNON,A SISTER MAXSINE.WHO MARRIED BUD GALOR DOES ANYONE KNOW OF THEM OME LIVED TO BE 104 YEARS OF AGE

    Reply

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