Harvey Martin Snell Remembers Egbert Van Alstyne
- Students Together At Centenary School:
(Van Alstyne wrote "In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree")
Egbert Anson Van Alstyne (composer of "In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree" and other well-known songs of the World War I era) attended Centenary School and lived in Saverton township, Ralls Co, Mo., south of Hannibal, in his youth. Centenary School is located on the north bank of Fool's Creek approximately a half mile east of Centenary Methodist Church and cemetery. That is approximately 2 miles south of Saverton near Old Fort Mason and Clemens' Station.
Egbert "Bert" Anson Van Alstyne -
(b. March 6, 1878, Marengo, IL d. July 9, 1951, Chicago, IL
Van Alstyne was born on Washington Street on March 6, 1878, to Charles and Emma Rogers Van Alstyne, both descendents of early settlers in the Marengo, IL area.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers states he was born in Chicago on March 5, 1882. His birth record, on file at the McHenry County, IL Courthouse, shows he was born in Marengo, IL in 1878.
Egbert was named after his grandfather, a grocery merchant who also served as a minister at the Methodist church. Egbert attended Marengo United Methodist Church.
At age 7, this musical prodigy was already playing the organ in the Marengo, IL., Methodist Sunday School. He attended the Chicago public schools; Centenary School in the community of Centenary, Saverton Township, Ralls Co, Missouri and at Cornell College in Iowa. He also had a scholarship at the Chicago Musical College. Egbert or
"Bert" as he was called probably attended Centenary School in Saverton Township sometime between the time after his father's death in 1885 in Rockford, IL and his teenage years. Bert's mother married twice after Charles Van Alstyne's death.
Egbert probably attended Centenary Methodist Church at Centenary too due to his
family's Methodist background.
Harvey Martin Snell (born July 3rd, 1876 in Centenary died Nov. 12, 1956)
son of John Snell and Nancy Sinclair of Centenary, attended Centenary school with
Egbert Van Alstyne and were school friends. Harvey told his family about their
friendship and school days and later recalled the inspiration for Egbert's song
"In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree". Apparently, Egbert received his inspiration for
the song from an old apple tree that sat somewhere between Centenary School
(next to Fool's Creek) and the large hill sitting just to the south of Centenary School.
This story was told to Harvey's wife, Elsie May (McGee) Snell d. 1962, and their children
including Dora Margaret (Snell) Glascock (living), wife of Samuel Downing Glascock d.1990, both of the community of Centenary area in Saverton Township, Ralls Co, Mo.
Finished in 1905 "In The Shade of the Old Apple Tree" was one of the biggest hits of the decade. (Harry H. Williams, lyrics Egbert Van Alstyne, composer). Egbert wrote over
400 songs. Most of his big hits were not brilliant from a musical standpoint, but they always had a "hummable" quality to them. Egbert wrote the music everyman could understand and remember. He was an very average guy: born in the midwest, raised with strong family values, not a genius, behind the times. He loved to hunt and fish and hated jazz. He said so himself in 1922.
Most of all, he is largely thought of today (if at all) as being a great ballad writer.
He was much more. He wrote piano rags, marches, waltzes, intermezzos, comic songs and fox trots, even operettas. His classical training and musical ability, combined with his unique capacity for variety made him perhaps the most diversified composer of the time. He left us with a litany of serious music which is not only good, but largely unappreciated.
"In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree" has sold over 26 million copies.
Duke Ellington later recorded "In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree" in 1933.
IN THE SHADE OF THE OLD APPLE TREE
Egbert "Bert" Anson Van Alstyne
THE O-RI-OLE WITH JOY WAS SWEET-LY SING-ING,
THE LIT-TLE BROOK WAS BAB'-LING ITS TUNE,
THE VIL-LAGE BELLS AT NOON WERE GAI-LY RING-ING,
THE WORLD SEEM'D BRIGHT-ER THAN A HAR-VEST MOON;
FOR THERE WITH-IN MY ARMS I GENT-LY PRESSED YOU,
AND BLUSH-ING RED, YOU SLOW-LY TURNED A-WAY,
I CAN'T FOR-GET THE WAY I ONCE CA-RESSED YOU;
I ON-LY PRAY WE'LL MEET AN-OTH-ER DAY.
I'VE REAL-LY COME A LONG WAY FROM THE CIT-Y,
AND THOUGH MY HEART IS BREAK-ING I'LL BE BRAVE,
I'VE BROUGHT THIS BUNCH OF FLOW'RS I THINK THEY'RE PRET-TY,
TO PLACE UP-ON A FRESH-LY MOULD-ED GRAVE;
IF YOU WILL SHOW ME, FA-THER, WHERE SHE'S LY-ING,
OR IF IT'S FAR JUST POINT IT OUT TO ME,
SAID HE, "SHE TOLD US ALL WHEN SHE WAS DY-ING,
TO BUR-Y HER BE-NEATH THE AP-PLE TREE."
IN THE SHADE OF THE OLD AP-PLE TREE,
WHERE THE LOVE IN YOUR EYES I COULD SEE,
WHEN THE VOICE THAT I HEARD, LIKE THE SONG OF THE BIRD,
SEEM'D TO WHIS-PER SWEET MU-SIC TO ME;
I COULD HEAR THE DULL BUZZ OF THE BEE,
IN THE BLOS-SOMS AS YOU SAID TO ME,
WITH A HEART THAT IS TRUE, I'LL BE WAIT-ING FOR YOU,
IN THE SHADE OF THE OLD AP-PLE TREE.
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