"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


Last updated: February 18, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
P.O. Box 218

Appomattox, VA 24522


(434) 352-8987 x226

Contact Us