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James Lord Pierpont
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Songwriter
    (April 25, 1822-August 5, 1893)
    Born in Boston, Massachusetts
    Songwriter and organist
    Uncle of J.P. Morgan
    Wrote 'Jingle Bells' (published in 1857)
    He ran away from home at age 14 to join the crew of a whaling ship.
    He left his first wife and their three children behind with his father when he went off to open a store in San Francisco during the Gold Rush.
    After the store failed, he got a job in Savannah, Georgia, as organist and music director for a church where his brother John happened to be minister.
    When he settled in Savannah, he again left his wife and kids with his dad.
    Although his father and brother were ardent abolitionists, he joined the Confederacy during the Civil War, serving as company clerk in a cavalry unit, and wrote three battle songs for the South.
    He wrote a ton of songs, but 'Jingle Bells' is the only one people remember.
    Medford, Massachusetts, and Savannah, Georgia, have a running feud over which city Pierpont was living in when he wrote 'Jingle Bells.'
    He wrote 'Jingle Bells' for Thanksgiving, not Christmas, and originally titled it 'The One-Horse Open Sleigh.'
    'Jingle Bells' eventually became one of the most popular of Christmas songs.
    'Jingle Bells' was one of the most recorded songs of the first half of the 20th century, placing ahead of 'The Stars and Stripes Forever,' 'Georgia on My Mind,' 'My Old Kentucky Home' and 'I Got Rhythm.'
    He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1970).
    'Jingle Bells' was the first song performed in space, as Gemini 6 astronauts Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford played it on harmonica and bells (December 16, 1965).

Credit: C. Fishel


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