Artists and Musicians with a Cortland County Connection


David Harum Francis Bicknell Carpenter(1830-1900) was a Homer farm boy who became a prolific portraitist and lived six months at the White House while painting an historic commemorative of Lincoln presenting his cabinet with a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. He later wrote a book about his experience. This painting hangs in the United States Senate Art Gallery in the US Capital.

 carpenter painting

hannum David Harum was written by Syracusan Edward Noyes Westscott who patterned his character after a shrewd but lovable horse trader/banker named David Hannum (1823-1892) of Homer, New York. Hannum was also linked to the exhibition of the Cardiff Giant.
gillette Cortland was the beginning locale of Theodore Dreiser's novel An American Tragedy in which Chester Gillette, nephew of the owner of the Gillette Skirt Co., fell in love with Grace Brown, a simple country girl who worked in the family factory. Their ill-fated romance, Chester's trial for her murder and his execution still capture the reading public as evident by two new works on the subject in 1986.
Henry Randall Henry S. Randall (1811-1876) came to Cortland as a young boy from Madison County, NY. Agriculturist, author, and educator, he characterized himself as a "practical farmer" with a special interest in merino sheep. He wrote extensively for agricultural periodicals and also wrote the sheepman's Bible, Sheep Husbandry. His foremost literary contribution was The Life of Thomas Jefferson. His three volume work has been considered the most complete and authoritative ever written, for he was the only biographer permitted to interview Jefferson's immediate family.
Dio Ronnie Dio was a vocalist in the heavy rock band Rainbow from 1975 to 1978. He was also the vocalist in Black Sabbath from 1980 to 1982 and again from 1992 to 1993. In 1982 he formed his own group called simply Dio. Ronnie was the man behind the 1986 project Hearn Aid, which was the heavy rock verson of the famous Live Aid project from the year before.
Wickwire Jere R. Wickwire (1883 - 1974) was a lifelong resident of Cortland. He was a well-known portrait artist and had a studio and home in New York City in addition to his Cortland home. He is buried in the Cortland Rural Cemetery.
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