John Castle, pioneer and farmer in Harrington County, Conn., was the father of 12 children by two marriages. He moved to Canada during the War of 1812, refused to fight for the British, and returned to the village of Fairfield in Franklin County, Vt.
He served his country by fighting in the Battle of Plattsburg, 1814. In 1844 the family moved to Ashtabula County, Ohio, and suffered the hardships and heartbreaks of the pioneer life.
Stanley Castle, the third of 10 children born to John and Clarissa Castle, was born in the Franklin County home on May 25, 1811. Reared on the farm, he received a limited education and became a carpenter when he was twenty years of age.
In May 1837 Stanley married Fanny Woodruff, and they had three children: Helen, Frederick, and Charles. They moved to Lake County, Ind., in 1847, where Stanley acquired nearly seven hundred acres of good farmland. Stanley Castle died in 1888 at age 76; his wife Fanny passed away in 1894.
Son Charles (1843-1919), a long time resident of Cedar Creek Township, married Hattie Miller (1847-1927). No information about daughter Helen is available.
Frederick Castle was born in Vermont in 1840 and came to Lake County with his family in 1847. He studied in an old log school house, common in pioneer days, and went on to Valparaiso College, where his studies were interrupted by a call to enlist in the Union Army at the time of the Civil War.
He was a member of Company G, 12th Ind. Cavalry in 1863, having joined as a private and advancing to orderly sergeant. He saw active duty until the end of the war in 1865.
After his return to Lowell, he was in business for a short time, and also taught music in the public schools. He went on to higher education and graduated from the Michigan School of Medicine at Ann Arbor in the class of 1869.
He practiced medicine for 10 years at Caledonia, Houston County, Minn., but was forced to leave his practice due to rheumatism.
He returned to Lowell to farm 350 acres, probably half of his father's original 700-acre farm.
Dr. Castle was very active in his community and was a member of the Burnham Post, Grand Army of the Republic at Lowell.
All through the years he had a great interest in music, both vocal and instrumental, and enjoyed teaching the subject, his greatest interest being the violin. For many years he experimented and studied both the production and playing of the instrument.
He wanted to share his experience with the violin, so decided to write a book on the subject. His book, Violin Tone-Peculiarities, a paperback of 307 pages, was published in 1906 by The Lowell Tribune publisher. He wrote: "To me, the superior violin appears as a product of superior mechanical skill combined with superior musical sense and intense application, all directed upon superior material--nothing more--nothing less."
For several years, a copy of Dr. Castle's book has been in the Lowell Public Library, donated by Mr. and Mrs Thomas Alyea, and just recently another copy turned up in Illinois.
James E. Parsley, a retiree living in Hammond, Ill., (near Decatur) found a copy of Dr. Castle's book at a sale near his home and became very interested in it, since he is a member of the Old Time Fiddler's Assn. of Illinois. He became so interested that he has spent many days in his effort to have this fine book about violins reprinted.
Parsley was born in Glasgow, Ky., in 1931 and soon moved with his parents to Tompkinsville, "where I grew up eating biscuits and gravy for breakfast, corn bread and beans (at) noon, and (for the) evening meal."
This was an area where talented neighbors entertained with the guitar, banjo, mandolin and the fiddle. He loves the music of the violin, though he never learned to play it. He learned to play a guitar at age 16, and has accompanied several winners in the official Illinois State Fiddle Contest. He plays in the musical group "The Kentuck Echoes," who keep up the tradition of old-time music.
Parsley has been to Lowell several times to research Castle's book and was skillfully aided by Nell Fabish and Judy Vamos of the Lowell Public Library staff, and some history work by the Old Timer, who had the pleasure of spending a morning guiding Jim on a historical tour of the Lowell area.
His aim is to have the book reprinted, with a hard cover this time, and to have the valuable information it contains available to students and musicians once again. He hopes that a low selling price will pay the expenses for the reprinting of the publication, but still allow mass circulation through libraries.
Another interesting quote from the book: "Than the art of violin making I know of no human activity possessing equal temptation for fraud. Within the violin lies much of the work upon which value depends; and because much of its interior is hidden from view, fraud steps in. None can look only upon the exterior of a violin and determine that fraud does not sit within; yet every purchaser believes that the violin always improves with age and use.
"The Universal belief is this delusion makes my heart ache -- Such belief is an ignis-fatuous, daily leading its victims into the slough of despond; and the procession there to is a multitude, all around the world, in daily increasing volume, the tenderest feelings of human hearts are poured out at the feet of beautiful music. The fraud permitted to thrive upon such tender feelings makes the devil wild with joy."
Dr. Frederick Castle passed away Apr. 7, 1910, at the age of 70, four years after the printing of his book. No doubt his dream of helping musicians and violin builders was always in mind. Now, many years later and with Jim Parsley's help, his dream will come true.
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