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Alva Cleveland was born in Cherry Valley, New York, to Philo and Hannah (Miller) Cleveland, March 13, 1805. On January 24, 1831, he married Maria (Mary) Austin (b. 1809), in Skaneateles, New York. They had eight children: Elvira (Alvira) (b.1832), Edwin (1834-1835), Elvin (Alvin) (1836-1854), Mary (b. 1839), Henry Harrison (b. 1842), Emma (1844-1846), Sarah Maria (b. 1846), and George Washington (1849-1885). Between 1836 and 1840, the family moved to Cook County, Illinois. By 1849, they relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Cleveland appears to have worked for the United States Postal Service in Wisconsin.

Cleveland and his two sons enlisted for Union service in the first years of the war. Cleveland, at the age of 56, enlisted with Company E, 1 st Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry, on October 23, 1861. He served as an orderly. George Washington Cleveland, who figures prominently in his father's diary, enlisted as a drummer with the same company at the age of 12. Alva Cleveland and his younger son were both discharged on November 8, 1862, due to an unspecified disability. Henry Harrison Cleveland mustered in with the 10 th Independent Battery, Wisconsin Light Infantry, August 19, 1862. He mustered out on June 7, 1865. Following his discharge, Alva Cleveland returned home to Wisconsin. He died between 1880 and 1885.

The 1 st Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry organized at Camp Scott, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in October 1861. The regiment spent most of its service in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia. During the period Cleveland is writing, the regiment was predominantly around Nashville and Columbia, Tennessee. The regiment later went on to participate in a number of significant battles including Chattanooga, Chickamauga, and New Hope Church. Veterans and recruits transferred to the 21 st Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry in October 1864. The remainder of the unit mustered out.

For further diaries of the Cleveland family and information on Wisconsin and the Civil War, see the Wisconsin Historical Society Library and Archives . Wisconsin Historical has transcriptions of diaries belonging to Alva and Henry Harrison Cleveland.

From the guide to the Alva Cleveland Diary, 1862, (Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.)

In the early 1900s, "hillbilly" music was being recorded in studios in northern states. The distance from the mountains of Tennessee and Virginia made it difficult for musicians to record their music. Ralph Peer–a producer for Victor Talking Machine Company in Bristol, Tennessee–decided to take advantage of this booming genre of music by establishing a recording studio on the second floor of the Taylor-Christian Hat Company on State Street in Bristol. In 1927, Peer recorded several songs with musicians that, to this day, are still regarded as the mothers and fathers of country music. Ralph Peer is also credited with discovering Jimmie Rodgers–one of country music's legends–at the Bristol Sessions.

In response to Peer's call for musicians, Alvin Pleasant "A.P." Delaney Carter, his wife, Sara Doughtery Carter, and his sister-in-law, Maybelle Kilgore Addington Carter traveled to Bristol to record their music. The Carter Family recorded six songs and soon became known as the "first family" of country music. The Carter Family continued to grow in size and musical talent. Maybelle Carter and her husband Ezra (A.P's brother) were the parents of June (1929-2003), Helen (1927-1998), and Anita (1933-1999), who later performed as the Carter Sisters. Although Johnny Cash (1932-2003) was, arguably, one of the most influential country music artists of all time, his music broke the boundaries of traditional country music, spilling over into other genres including blues, gospel, and rock and roll. Since his marriage to June Carter in 1968, he has been considered a member of the Carter family musicians.

For additional information on the Carter and Cash families, see:

Birthplace of Country Music website .

Streissguth, Micheal. Johnny Cash: The Biography. Cambridge, MA: Da Cape Press, 2006. Newman Library 3rd Floor ML 420 .C265 S66 2006

Zwonitzer, Mark. Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone?: The Carter Family and Their Legacy in American Music. New York: Simon & Schuster, c2002. Newman Library 3rd Floor ML 421 .C33 Z86 2002/Special Collections Rare Book Collection ML 421 .C33 Z86 2002 c.2 Spec Large

From the guide to the Carter/Cash Family Collection, c.1940-2009, (Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Alva Cleveland Diary, 1862 Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.
referencedIn Techniques for Teaching Embroidery to Children, 1975 Randall V. Mills Archives of Northwest Folklore
creatorOf Carter/Cash Family Collection, c.1940-2009 Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Carter, Anita. person
associatedWith Carter, A. P. (Alvin Pleasant), 1891-1960 person
associatedWith Carter Family (Musical group). family
associatedWith Carter, Helen, 1927-1998 person
associatedWith Carter, Janette. person
associatedWith Carter, Joe, 1927-2005 person
associatedWith Carter, Maybelle, 1909-1978 person
associatedWith Carter, Sara, 1898-1979 person
associatedWith Cash, Johnny. person
associatedWith Cash, June Carter, 1929-2003 person
associatedWith Cleveland, Alva, b. 1805 person
associatedWith Cleveland family. family
associatedWith Mitchell, Sue Ann person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Country musicians--United States
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Diaries
Country musicians




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SNAC ID: 17990684