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parlor organ

Roll your cursor over the items on the organ's music stand... then click for more information. suddsorgan

Everything in the museum has a story to tell. The photographs and information card on the sheet music stand tell us the story of this parlor organ. (Roll your cursor over them and click for more information.) But what story do these objects tell? The more we learn... the more questions we have.

In the days before television and radio, day to day entertainment took many forms, often involving the ability to play musical instruments. There were music teachers in North Country towns before the turn of the century, but Gouverneur had the very famous W.F. Sudds, a fine musician and composer who taught music to several generations of local people. Sudds taught at the Gouverneur Seminary and was known as "Professor" Sudds. He became a nationally known composer and has over 200 pieces of sheet music in the Library of Congress.

Michael Hendron, Music Consultant for the Reed Organ Society, Inc., sent these links to performances of Professor Sudds’ compositions. We appreciate Mr. Hendron's interest in the Museum and in our collection of artifacts from the life of W.F. Sudds. If you would like to learn more about reed organs, visit the Reed Organ Society, Inc. online.

Soldiers' Funeral March
by W.F. Sudds
played on Karn chapel organ

Three Roses Waltz
by W.F. Sudds
played on Karn chapel organ

From Ocean to Ocean
by W.F. Sudds
played on Karn chapel organ

by W. F. Sudds
played on Berlin parlor organ

Moonlight and Waves
by W. F. Sudds
played on Cornwall parlor organ


William F. Sudds was born in London, England on March 5, 1843 and died in Gouverneur in 1920 at, according to his obituary, the "advanced age of 77." At the age of seven he came to Gouverneur with his parents and siblings. From early childhood, he had a love for music, but his family could not afford the luxury of music lessons until he was 15 years old. He practiced piano at a neighbors each day after his farm chores, walking one and a half miles each way. He mastered the violin, guitar, cornet and violoncello without an instructor.

He took a battered coronet with him when he enlisted as a private during the Civil War. His talent (and presumably his coronet) was noticed and he was ordered to report to duty as a musician. During the latter part of the war, he became quite ill and during the convolescence, took his first piano lessons from a women known as the finest French pianist in New Orleans. Nine years later he became a pupil at the Boston Conservatory of Music, studying the organ with Eugene Thayer, and the violin and composition under Julius Eichburg

He was a composer, a music dealer and a teacher, who kept a well appointed music store with studio adjoining. He was the organist of the First Baptist church of Gouverneur, and was, for a time, in charge of the musical department of the Gouverneur Seminary.

Daniel J. Maxfield, of Alpharetta, GA, writes:

I was searching for information on W.F. Sudds after finding an old reed organ method in a junk shop in Cumming, GA. It's the single best reed organ method I've ever come across. Most were just songbooks, something Montgomery Ward or whoever threw in as an extra with their organs. This is something special. You can really learn to play from this one.

The pressed cardboard front and back covers called it "The Carpenter Organ Instructor," with advertising and logos of The Carpenter Organ Company of Brattleboro, VT. However, inside it was called "Modern Method for the Reed Organ" by W.F. Sudds. There's no mention of The Carpenter Company other than the covers. It's likely that Sudds licensed his book to more than one company, each adding their own front and back covers to make it their own.

If it wasn't a best seller, it should have been. Sudds had talent as an educator.

After much taping and trimming, I was able to scan it into a PDF format.

NOTE: Mr. Maxfield's scan of "Modern Method for the Reed Organ: Embodying the Latest and Most Approved Systems Conducive to Rapid Progress and Artistic Interpretation," from 1897, has been prepared so that it is searchable with the Museum's web search tool.


Portrait of William F. Sudds

"Professor" Sudds and his wife, Elma, spent summers on Chippawa Bay in the Thousand Islands. The Professor died at home, on West Barney Street in 1920. He had heart trouble and his death was not unexpected, he fell unconscious on a Thursday and died on Sunday.


Professor Sudds' compositions include both vocal and instrumental music and some of his pieces became very popular. He also published "National School for the Piano-Forte" (1881) and several collections of music in book form, including "Anthem Gems" (Philadelphia, 1881) and "Modern Sacred Duets" (Cincinnati, 1888).

His Gouverneur music store was at the corner of William and Church Street in the old Union Hall block. Social gatherings of the day usually included singing, instrumental music and often a great variety of material was on hand in for recitations and readings.


Read the Professor's Obituary (PDF)
from the Gouverneur Free Press,
Wednesday, September, 29, 1920.

Click here to visit his
Riverside Cemetery monument




Mrs Sudds

Mrs. Sudds, formerly Elma Bond, 1841-1918

Elma lived her whole life in the house her father, Edwin Bond, built on West Barney Street. She graduated from Gouverneur Wesleyan Seminary. The last three years of her life were spent in ill health. On the day of her death, she was reading a book in bed, got up, fell, and never regained consciousness. It was determined that she died of "acute indigestion."

Visit her Riverside Cemetery monument.


older Mr sudds

Professor Sudds

Aeolian Organ: Tripping Thro' the Daisies Polka - W.F Sudds

More: Verset & March by W.H. Sudds, played on Shoninger parlor organ