• The village of Appomattox Court House from the west, the McLean House is on the right.

    Appomattox Court House

    National Historical Park Virginia

"The Sweeneys are indeed a wonder!!"

Joel Sweeney, resident of Appomattox who popularized the 5-string banjo.

Joel Sweeney, resident of Appomattox  popularized the 5-string banjo.

NPS Collection

The banjo has become the quintessential American musical instrument. It combines the traditions of the simple stringed gourd from African slaves with the ballads and tunes of the Scotch-Irish and English who settled Virginia. Appomattox County was the birthplace of Joel Sweeney, the man who popularized the 5-string banjo.

Group 1: Photographs of Joel Sweeney, Richard Sweeney, Sam Sweeney, and the Sweeney Banjo

Group 2: Banjos that are attributed to Joel Sweeney in the Appomattox Court House collection

Group 3: 4 string slave banjar (reproduction)

Group 4: Traveling trunk believed to have belonged to Joel Sweeney

 

Did You Know?

Thomas Tibbs

Confederate Thomas Tibbs, a lieutenant in the 34th Virginia Infantry, led troops across his family farm during the last battle of Appomattox Court House. He fought in the last battle on his property, located just beyond the village.