Jonathan E. Spilman

Born 15 April 1812. Died 23 May 1896
Jonathan E. Spilman
Jonathan E. Spilman

Jonathan E. Spilman Biography (Wikipedia)

Jonathan Edwards Spilman (15 April 1812 – 23 May 1896) was a Kentucky lawyer, minister, and composer.

Jonathan Spilman was born in Greenville, Kentucky to Benjamin Spilman, and graduated from Illinois College in 1835. While at Transylvania Law School, 1837, he wrote the music for Robert Burns' "Flow gently, sweet Afton", best remembered of his seven melodies. An adaptation of this music was used in one of the tunes to "Away in a Manger"; and also "We Hail Thee Carolina", the alma mater of the University of South Carolina.

He was married to Mary V.J. Menefee, who died prematurely in 1843. Two years later, on 10 April 1845, he married Eliza Sarah Taylor (1822–1866), a niece of U.S. President Zachary Taylor. To them were born ten children, of whom six survived: Charles, Louise, William, Byrd, Clara, and Lewis. His wife Eliza died on 10 August 1866, as the result of a fire aboard the steamboat "Bostona No. 3" in Maysville, Kentucky.

Working as a lawyer for 18 years, he became Presbyterian minister at the age of 46. A Historical Marker was erected in the city of Greenville in his memory.

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Away in a manger
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