Berta Hart Nance (1883-1958), a charter member of the Poetry Society of Texas, wrote the poem "Cattle," which is read at the opening of each performance of the Fort Griffin Fandangle.
Growing up in Fort Griffin, Nance learned to play the violin at a young age. When she was in her early teens, her father ‘Dutch’ Nance, purchased her a better violin for $50 from a traveling theatre player named John Hervey, who had become ill while visiting the town and needed the money. Hervey related to the family that he had purchased the violin from a German immigrant down on his luck in Galveston.
Nance owned and played the violin for 60 years, and, after her death in 1958 her great nephew, Jack Reynolds, cared for it for a number of years before it came to the musem.
While readying the violin for display this summer, OJAC staff noted that the instrument is labeled as a Stradivarius from 1723. Though it has been retrofitted with modern parts, the body could be authentic. We are hopeful and excited to potentially have this information confirmed in the future!