Nearby is buried Joel Walker Sweeney (ca. 1810-1860), the musician who redesigned this African instrument into the modern five-string banjo that is known today. Although slaves apparently added the fifth string to what had been a four-string instrument, Sweeney popularized the new form on the minstrel circuit. He toured with his two brothers, Sam and Dick, in minstrel shows from 1831 until his death in 1860. During the Civil War, Sam Sweeney served as Maj. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart's personal banjo picker until Sweeney's death in the winter of 1863-1864.
Geographic Location: Appomattox County
Physical Description of Location: Appomattox River, VA 24522. Located on Old Courthouse Road (Route 24), 0.5 miles south of the intersection of Old Courthouse Road (Route 24) and State Route 656. Marker is on the right when traveling south on Old Courthouse Road (Route 24).
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