We have had this violin since 1983. It belonged to my great grandfather, Joe Kimsey.
The photo at the end of the story was taken at a coal camp in Rouse, Colorado, 1911. He was a US Marshall. Sitting on the front of his horse is my grandmother's sister, Gladys. My grandmother, Lillian is sitting in the middle. I have been told the person on the back of the horse is Charles (Red), their brother. The horse's name is Dan. Dan is an important part of the story so remember him. In 1913 they moved to Gallup, New Mexico. Eventually my grandmother found her way to California. In the early 1950s I have memories of helping my grandmother take care of her mother, Florence Kimsey. See was born in 1888 and passed in 1953. I was three when she passed. I have no memories of Joe Kimsey. He was born in 1876 and passed in 1938.
Back to the violin. My great grandfather, Joe Kimsey, made the violin in the late 1800s. He shaped the body of the violin with a piece of broken glass. The tailpiece, the pegs, and the bow he purchased. That brings us back to Dan, the horse in the photo. The hair used in the bow came from Dan's tail.
I cannot play the violin but I love to hear them played by those that can. Dora sent a violinist to my office one February 14th. It was a lovely surprise. I have only heard this violin played once, around 1969. My grandmother played it for me. It was such a sweet sound. Not only is the sound of this instrument or the ability to play it elusive to me, but I have tried to photograph it several times. I have never been able to put a photo together that I was happy with. Dora and I set this little still life up on our dining room table to give it another try. I think this photo came together nicely and I am very happy with it.
Joe Kimsey with Gladys, Lillian, Charles, and Dan the Horse
Behind the Scenes
Pulling back the curtain to reveal the setup for the violin photo. The scene was setup on our dining room table. Lighting was accomplished with a simple LED flashlight.