Hillbilly-Music.comThe People. The Music. The History.
About The Artist
Arlie Kinkade was born in the hills of Monroe County, Ohio in 1900. They wrote his early youth was typical. He found a love for music and seemed to be a natural born musician as he seemed able to quickly learn any stringed instrument.
The winter of 1914 changed his life. A disease termed infantile paralysis (or Polio) was common in the country back then and he was one of those stricken. It meant he would never be able to use his right hand again. And he began to think playing music again might be out of the question.
With a few prayers and the encouragement of his parents, he learned to play the violin by holding the bow steady and running the violin (fiddle) up and down over it to make the music. He then won the One-Hand Fiddler championship on the stage of the Hippodrome in Marietta, Ohio in the early 1930's.
The Kinkade family seemed to have been a large one. We have seen small articles that mention their gatherings. One such event was August 14, 1927 in Woodsfield, Ohio at the fairgrounds. Nearly 200 people attended and from just about all states. Speeches were given by Hon. J. F. Clift of Sycamore Valley, Rev. H. H. Adamson of Woodsfield and J. I. Bodkin of Chillicothe. The clan elected officers for the coming year and Arlie, then living in Graysville, was elected treasurer.
Arlie actually got his start on the radio around 1929. One of his friends bet him he could not get a program on the air without an audition. Arlie took his friend up on the bet and wrote a station asking for a 15 minute sustaining program. He actually got a response from the program director who said he would give him a spot if they accepted him. Arlie and his pal went to the station and got to the studio just five minutes before air time. That kind of ticked the program director off and he threatened he would yank them off the air if they were off key. They went on the air and did several shows and the listeners began to write and ask to put them back on the air. That was when he organized the Cherry Hill String Ticklers.
One article said the group was the "Cherry Hill Boys"/ The group played over radio stations in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia. Arlie told readers they appeared over WALR, WWVA, WMMN and also WPAR. The group disbanded, but Arlie went on to appear over WLW on such shows as the Renfro Valley Barn Dance. But by 1938, he was no longer performing. We learn in later feature articles on Arlie that he had appeared with such folks as Salt and Peanuts, Hugh Cross, Shug Fisher, Red Foley, The Girls Of The Golden West, Big Slim, Frankie More, Merle Travis and the Drifting Pioneers, Pa and Ma McCormick, the Delmore Brothers and the Callahan Brothers.
In the mid-1930's, we start reading of Arlie in the WLS Stand-By publications, namely in the "Notes From The Music Library", a feature that John Lair started. Marjorie Gibson introduced the new section in August of 1935. WLS at that time had amassed quite a music library that contained over 12,000 songs, many which were contributed by listeners.
John Lair started his column in the August 24, 1935 issue of WLS Stand-By and introduced the staff - Edith LaCrosse was the librarian. She also played the part of "Miss Sally" of the "Coon Creek Social" and "Renfro Valley Folks" sketches. Louis E. Marmer was in charge of orchestrations. He was a violinist with the staff orchestra at WLS. Sophia Germanich who could be heard singing on many WLS shows supervised the section of the artists of the numbers which they submitted for their daily programs. John felt his staff ran things so well that all he had to do was stay out of their way. Thus, a publishing tradition of song lyrics of folk or country music had begun, though John mentioned that other music weeklies may have done this in the past but we have not seen such publications.
In January 1938, Sophia Germanich was writing the "Notes from the Song Library" column. She tells readers that J. G. Jones of Adolphus, Kentucky and Arlie Kinkade of Graysville, Ohio were organizing a song club. The annual dues would be 35 cents. The noted that the more paid subscriptions they got, the bigger the annual books would be.
But in March 1938, Sophia writes that Mr. Jones and Mr. Kinkade were disappointed by the fact that they only had 50 people pony up with their dues and needed more people to step to get their Song Exchange Club up and running.
Following the saga of the roots of this club, Ms. Germanich writes in early May 1938 that a complete set of rules and regulations for the Song Exchange Club would be ready for the next issue. Two new recruits had been added from the Chicago area to get folks signed up - Mr. A. E. Heath and Mr. Mac MacAdory.
As she had promised, the May 14, 1938 issue of WLS Stand-By contained the rules and regulations of the Song Exchange Club. Among the highlights were an annual fee of 35 cents paid in June. All membership fees would be given to the Club's Treasury to be used for club expenses. A financial report would be issued at each Annual meeting. There would be only three officers - President, Secretary and Treasurer and they were not exempt from paying dues nor would they receive any compensation.
By 1940, Arlie was trying to get back into entertainment. He put an ad for himself in the Song Exchange News noting that he was offering himself to any troupe who needed a novelty act - he was a champion one-handed fiddler. He would provide photos and details, but asked anyone writing to include the weekly salary they would be willing to offer. He wanted to join a troupe for the summer and fall seasons.
When World War II began, Arlie moved to Canton to work at a war plant. But he kept up his musical endeavors by writing patriotic songs and hymns. He also created a small music company that he named "Kinkade's Log Cabin Songs" that published mostly folk songs and hymns.
You could not help but admire how he got his name published in the various publications. He would be found in the letters to the editor sections of new publications such as Cowboy Music World that was published by Texas Frank or the National Hillbilly News published by Orville and Jenny Via.
Arlie was also kind of reporter of happenings and would write to or for various publications over time. Frank Baker wrote in his "Fanfare" column in WLS Stand-By that Arlie was reporting that Mac and Bob were again working together as part of Cowboy Loye's Bluebonnet Troupe heard over WMMN in Fairmont, West Virginia.
In 1946, Arlie Kinkade began writing a regular column for National hillbilly News - "This That 'n' The Other" - a sort of compilation of what entertainers were doing at the time - from east to west coast. But it also contained some shameless plugs for songs he had published, either by himself or with others as was common back then.
In 1947, Arlie was part of the "It Is Written" radio program that featured gospel music songs over WCMW in Canton, Ohio. It was led by Paul Corednor with a choir of eight singers; Arlie sang bass in the group.
Late in 1948, National Hillbilly News in a short feature article indicated that Arlie was not playing music but would if he could get his business affairs in order.
A 1948 article mentions some of the hymns he had written:
That same article also mentions some of the patriotic songs he had written:
He wrote tunes with such folks as Flavil Hall, Pearl Mullins, Murray Lawyer, Lew Mel, Babe Proctor, Geraldine Murnen, Shel Fisher, Grace Schumaker, Belle Schragg, Irving Siegel, Carl Heademann and Raymond Knowlton among others.
We continued to see Arlie's efforts in publications in to the 1950's. In 1954, he was running small ads in Pickin' and Singin' News promoting a personal postcard business that he felt artists could take advantage of. In the spring issue of Country and Western Jamboree magazine in 1958, he wrote them to promote a couple of local Canton, Ohio acts and let them also know that Canton was about to get its own television station. One act was the Sunset Rhythm Boys and the other was Denny Dever and his group (Rustic Round-Up Band). Denny was a disc jockey on WCMW.
We learned from his sister's obituary in 1944 that he had three sisters and a brother. His sisters were Nellie, Florence and Pearl. His brother was Earl. His sister Nellie died of a stroke in 1944.
Mr. Kinkade passed away in a hospital in Canton, Ohio in 1962. He was employed at Mercy Hospital in Canton. According to his obituary, he was a member of the Walnut Street Church of Christ in Canton. He never married.
Credits and Sources