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Origins of Mason Dixon Border Morris


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This is the fundmental work describing the Origins of the Mason Dixon Border Morris Team, the most famous and longest continusously active morris team in North America. This work was presented at the 23 and 6/8ths conference of the Professional Academic Journal of the American Musicology Association.

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Origins of Mason Dixon Border Morris

  1. 1. Dr. Brad Graham George Mason University Origins and History of the Mason-Dixon Border Morris Men, the Oldest Morris team in the Americas
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Mason-Dixon Origins </li></ul><ul><li>Team history </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sidebar Genealogy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Modern Team Practices </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Inter-dependent relations with Team History </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Civil war origins of Mason-Dixon <ul><li>Two wounded confederate soldiers met while laying in a union field hospital in Gettysburg after the battle, they had refused to reveal their names; </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One was found saying, “I’ve just been shot.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The other said, “I’ve been shot to bits.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thereafter they were called Jess Ben Shot and Benshot Tubits. (people thought they were brothers, they may have been) </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Benshot and Jess Ben’s recovery <ul><li>Meet toothless Fred Thorn the grave digger </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assigned to help bury dead </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Toothless played fiddle, was tired of dirges, learned jigs and reels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Met “observer” British artillery officer from Hampton; teach figures and stepping </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They form the team (Mason-Dixon Border Morris); it take them a decade before they start dancing in public (1880-1881 is the claimed start date) </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. White Mountain Folk Festival 1935 Byrd Shot of Mason-Dixon as Hobby-Chicken Pine Mountain Settlement School Sword Team
  6. 6. Dance Interpretations <ul><li>The team, since it’s founding, has had a fascination with the Abbot’s Bromley Horn Dance </li></ul><ul><li>Slow vs. fast dancing debate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If you are a deer being hunted you run away- fast </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If you are a deer and are comfortably munching grass and leaves, you take your time and go slow </li></ul></ul>Another interesting note about Mason-Dixon Border Morris’s interpretation of Abbots is that near the end of the dance the final deer will fall over “dead”; some claim this started when Just Shot was shot in the butt by Ida Shot two months before they were married, but Great Grandpa Byrd said he used to dance it that way when he was young and the team always did it that way even in his great grand father’s day.
  7. 7. Team Genealogy
  8. 8. The Shot family tree Byrd Round Shure Bess Ida Jess Slapp Buck Lucky Grape Mist Team members in blue Long Sling Total Lee Nora Goode Crack Hot Distant cousins Bank Ben Pop Jess Ben Dear Mary Lee Bowled Lee Barrel Lee Dam Chuck Hed * Source Shot family Bible Trick C Gona B
  9. 9. The Thorn family tree Haw Prickle I Rosen Team members in blue Poynt E Aygooda Fred Emmet A Shew Sharpe Barry Andrew A Black Barry Barry Barry Sharpe * Source Thorn family Bible Darby A
  10. 10. The Tubits family tree Jess Maya Maya Blaine Git Mae Eustace Team members in blue Lub ya Yore Jess Shot Heaven Les N Shay Anna Hercutt Own Lee Torn Total Lee* * Source Tubits family Bible Bett * Now using his maiden name Shot-Tubits Les N Tuppence Devon Chwar
  11. 11. Modern team <ul><li>Practices on Tuesday at the Coons lodge, next to Contrivance River in Gettysburg </li></ul><ul><li>The Shot family homestead is in a trailer park outside of Gettysburg. (the Tubits clan lives there as well, the Thorn family live in real houses in town) </li></ul><ul><li>Current kits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blue and Gray Rag coats for border, they use ketchup stains to simulate blood stain that their ancestors had from the Battle of Gettysburg. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Whites with Blue and Gray baldrics for the occasional Cotswold gig. (ketchup stains on hankies to remember their ancestors) </li></ul></ul>Note: there is a claim that Over the Water to Charlie was a contrived dance invented when Chuck Shot fell into the contrivance river and named for him, but they could have named the dance contrivance river dance or everyone would have thought it was a made up dance instead of a “traditional” dance, this dance has been reportedly danced the same way for over a hundred and twenty years.
  12. 12. The Coons Lodge * Sorry photo taken with my cell phone camera, it’s a little grainy
  13. 13. Dancing with Foggy Bottom Morris Men, Arlington, VA 2007 Zak (FBMM) Mason Dixon
  14. 14. References <ul><li>David E. Whisnant, “All That Is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Region ” </li></ul><ul><li>Primary sources, discussions of team origins with Byrd Shot (1984) and Round Shot (2006), Prickle Eye Thorn (2004) </li></ul><ul><li>Linda Oatman High, “The Cemetery Keepers of Gettysburg”, page 68. </li></ul><ul><li>Shot, Thorn and Tubits family Bibles. </li></ul><ul><li>John M. Archer ,“East Cemetery Hill at Gettysburg “The Hour Was One of Horror” “. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Additional Back Ground Info <ul><li>Don’t dance during hunting season </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Source of the fogg’s antlers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>All like NASCAR </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dream of being on a professional pit crew (one of them [Hed Shot] is in a Class B NASCAR pit crew) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Don’t dance at dawn on Mayday </li></ul><ul><ul><li>because that’s when the trout run but they join us mayday afternoon after the creekers are done dancing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Some have trouble with the internet (Lucky “helped” Brad with his spelling in school) </li></ul><ul><li>Lucky knew Brad and Joe in Harrisonburg VA </li></ul><ul><li>One of the MDBM is a plumber (and out house distributor; it’s where the porta-potties we get for some of our previous ales come from) </li></ul><ul><li>Lucky is on a “Quest” to prove that the Foggy Bottom Morris Men Really Do Exist. (check out squireluckyshot on </li></ul>
  16. 16. Other team members <ul><li>Sparky </li></ul><ul><li>Bub </li></ul><ul><li>Jebediah </li></ul><ul><li>Shaney Don Shute (son of Larry Shute) </li></ul><ul><li>Roderigo Hernadez </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Works with Just, Buck and Sparky at the Autobody shop </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Peter, Lucifer and Gabriel (the twins) </li></ul>