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Writer/Performer: James Pierpont


Song Title: Jingle Bells

Song Composition Date: 1857

Artist: James Pierpont

Performer: James Pierpont

Show: Holiday Song

Description: Songs have been written all over the world by many different people, many of which will stay alive forever. James Pierpont, a Medford native, (1822-1893 ), was the man who wrote the song Jingle Bells, originally entitled One Horse Open Sleigh a jaunty song which is sung around the Christmas holidays. This song was said to be written by James here in Medford, Massachusetts, sometime in the early 1850's, a time when there weren't as many people, houses, or establishments around. James lived with his young wife, Eliza Purse, with whom he had 6 or 7 children, the daughter of a Civil War mayor of Savannah, Georgia, and his father, Reverend John Pierpont, the pastor of the First Medford Unitarian Church, in his father's house found at 87 Mystic Street, where a lot of the sleigh races were held. On one very cold winter day James went to the home of Mrs. Otis Waterman, a woman whose house was remodeled and rebuilt where the old Simpson Tavern used to be, and played the song there. Since Mrs. Waterman owned the only piano in town, he of course went there to play the song. The piano actually did not even belong to Mrs. Waterman. It belonged to a man named William Webber, who was boarding at Mrs. Waterman's house. Mr. Webber ran the local singing school in West Medford. When James arrived, he said to Mrs. Waterman: "I have a little tune in my head."

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