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Pop Stoneman
Background information
Birth nameErnest Van Stoneman
Also known asPop
BornMay 25, 1893
Monarat, Carroll County, Virginia, US
DiedJune 14, 1968(1968-06-14) (aged 75)
Genres Country
Occupation(s) Country artist
Instrument(s)Guitar, autoharp, harmonica
Years active1920s–1960s

Ernest Van "Pop" Stoneman (May 25, 1893 – June 14, 1968) [1] was an American musician, ranked among the prominent recording artists of country music's first commercial decade.


Born in a log cabin in Monarat (Iron Ridge), Carroll County, Virginia, United States, [1] near what would later become Galax, Virginia, Stoneman was left motherless at age three and was raised by his father and three musically inclined cousins, who taught him the instrumental and vocal traditions of Blue Ridge mountain culture. [1] He became a singer and songwriter, and proficient musician on the guitar, autoharp, harmonica, clawhammer banjo, and jaw harp. [1]

When he married Hattie Frost in November 1918, he entered another musically involved family. He and Hattie had 23 children, 13 of whom survived to adulthood:

  • Eddie Lewis (died 2001)
  • Irma Grace (died 2003)
  • John Catron (died 2001)
  • Pattie Inez "Patsy" (died 2015) [2]
  • Joseph William (Billy) (died 1990)
  • Jack Monroe (died 1992)
  • Gene Austin (died 2005)
  • Dean Clark (died 1989)
  • Calvin Scott (Scotty) (died 1973)
  • Donna LaVerne
  • Oscar James (Jimmy) (died 2002) [3]
  • Veronica Loretta (Roni) (died 2024) [4]
  • Van Haden (died 1995) [5]
Record label of "Sinking of the Titanic" by Ernest Stoneman, Edison Diamond Disc 51823-R, released October 1926.

Stoneman worked at a variety of jobs, in mines, mills, but mostly carpentry, and played music for his own enjoyment and that of his neighbors, but when he heard a Henry Whitter record in 1924, he determined to better it and changed his life. [1] Stoneman went to New York City in September 1924 and cut two songs for the Okeh Records label. [1] The record was shelved and he had to return for another recording session in January 1925. The resultant debut single release, "Sinking of the Titanic," went on to become one of the biggest hits of the 1920s. [1] One historian noted that the recording sold over two million copies. [6] Ralph Peer directed him through several sessions for Okeh and Victor, and he freelanced on other labels such as Edison, Gennett and Paramount Records. In 1926, he added family musicians to his group for a full string band sound. [1]

In July and August 1927 , Stoneman helped Peer conduct the Bristol sessions that led to the discovery of the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. [1] He continued to be active in recording through 1929. Between 1925 and 1929 Stoneman recorded more than 200 songs.

Falling on hard times during the Depression, the Stonemans and their nine surviving children moved to the Washington, D.C. area in 1932, after losing their home and most of their possessions. [1] There they had four more children and struggled through dire poverty, with Stoneman taking whatever work he could find and trying to revive his musical career. [1]

In 1941, Stoneman bought a lot in Carmody Hills, Maryland, where he built a shack for the family, and eventually obtained a more or less regular job at the Naval Gun Factory. [1] In 1947, the Stoneman Family won a talent contest at Constitution Hall that gave them six months' exposure on local television. In 1956, Pop won $10,000 on the NBC-TV quiz show The Big Surprise and sang on the show. [1] That same year, the Blue Grass Champs, a group composed largely of his children, were winners on the CBS-TV program Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, and Mike Seeger recorded Pop and Hattie for Folkways.

Stoneman retired from labor and the Champs went full-time to become the Stonemans. [1] They recorded albums for Starday in 1962 and 1963 and in 1964, went to Texas and California, cutting an album for World Pacific, playing at Disneyland, on some network shows and at several folk festivals. This included an appearance at the Monterey Folk Festival in 1964. [7] Ernest appeared at the 2nd Annual UCLA Folk Music Festival in 1964. [8]

In 1965, the Stonemans went to Nashville, where they signed a contract with MGM Records and started a syndicated TV show. [1] They received CMA's "Vocal Group of the Year" in 1967. They appeared in the 1967 film Hell on Wheels and in The Road to Nashville (1967).


Pop Stoneman died in 1968 at age 75. [9] He is interred in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.


On February 12, 2008, Ernest "Pop" Stoneman was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and in 2009 he and his wife Hattie Frost Stoneman were enshrined in the Gennett Records Walk of Fame.

The first major retrospective of his musical career, Ernest Stoneman: The Unsung Father of Country Music 1925–1934 (5 String Productions) was issued in 2008 by the Grammy award-winning reissue team of Christopher C. King and Henry Sapoznik and was nominated for a 2009 Grammy award for "Best Album Notes."

The Stonemans discography


Year Album US Country Label
1962 Bluegrass Champs Starday
1964 Big Ball in Monterey World Pacific
1966 Those Singin' Swingin' Stompin' Sensational Stonemans 39 MGM
1967 Stoneman's Country 13
1968 All in the Family 42
The Great Stonemans 45
Pop Stoneman Memorial Album
Stoneman Christmas
1969 Dawn of the Stonemans' Age RCA
1970 In All Honesty
California Blues


Year Album US Country Label
1986 With Family And Friends Vol. I Old Homestead
1985 With Family And Friends Vol. II Old Homestead


Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country CAN Country
1924 "The Face That Never Returned" The Face That Never Returned / The Sinking of the Titanic
1924 "The Sinking of the Titanic" The Face That Never Returned / The Sinking of the Titanic
1926 "When the Work's All Done This Fall" 5188: Edison Blue Amberol

11054: Edison Record

1926 "Wild Bill Jones" 5196: Edison Blue Amberol

11056: Edison Record

1927 "Two Little Orphans" 5338: Edison Blue Amberol 11464: Edison Record
1928 "The Old Maid and the Burgler" 5531: Edison Blue Amberol

E18442: Edison Record

1962 "Talking Fiddle Blues" Bluegrass Champs
1964 "Ground Hog" Big Ball in Monterey
1966 "Tupelo County Jail" 40 Those Singin' Swingin' Stompin' Sensational Stonemans
"The Five Little Johnson Girls" 21 Stoneman's Country
1967 "Back to Nashville, Tennessee" 40
"West Canterbury Subdivision Blues" 49 All in the Family
1968 "Cimarron"
"Christopher Robin" 41 17 The Great Stonemans
"Travelin' Man" single only
1969 "Tecumseh Valley" Dawn of the Stonemans' Age
1970 "Get Together" In All Honesty
"Who Will Stop the Rain"
"California Blues" California Blues


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Ernest V. Stoneman | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
  2. ^ Thanki, Juli (July 24, 2015). "Patsy Stoneman, member of pioneering country music family, dies at 90". USA Today. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  3. ^ "Jimmy Stoneman, 65; Bass Player and Singer With Family Act". Los Angeles Times. September 28, 2002. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  4. ^ Novak, Lauren (February 22, 2024). "Roni Stoneman, The First Lady of the Banjo & 'Hee Haw' Star Dies at 85". Retrieved February 26, 2024.
  5. ^ "Stoneman Family Collection, 1924–2008 | Archives of Appalachia". Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  6. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p.  14. ISBN  0-214-20512-6.
  7. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (1993). The Guinness Who's Who of Country Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 396/7. ISBN  0-85112-726-6.
  8. ^ Interview with Ernest V. Stoneman at the Second UCLA Folk Festival in 1964
  9. ^ "ERNEST STONEMAN". Reno Gazette-Journal. Reno, Nevada. June 15, 1968. p. 14. Retrieved December 20, 2017 – via

External links