John Putnam (c. 1818-1895) was an escaped slave, and a barber in Greenfield Massachusetts. He played the fiddle left-handed, and called square dances, and his dance orchestra (2 violins, corent, 2 clarinets, trombone, and bass) was the most popular in the Connecticut and Deerfield River valleys. Prior to 1865, his home was the local stop for the Underground Railroad, and he maintained a hidden basement where escaped slaves could hide en route to Canada. He played for blacks and whites throughout Western Massachusetts and, probably, southern Vermont, for at least 50 years.
I wish I could have known him.
And I wish I could have heard his band.