I have been spending much of the last two years doing such research,
but more on the prolific composers of the era and the rag-centric ones
with small outputs but little information researched to date. It has
been a fun trip as I have uncovered not only some cool information
concerning these people but in deep library searches and other
resources, found pieces of theirs not listed in general lists.
The cumulative result is in my composers section in my Resources, and
one starting place is http://ragpiano.com/ragtime4.shtml
Note that this is an effort made possible by other researchers who
send me info as well, and in certain cases they are explicitly listed
at the bottom of each composer bio, as are some of the books if they
are a prescient source. Others have had very little or nothing written
on them, or little research done, so I have pulled together what I
could locate into their story.
As for resources, I use a number of them. Among them are the standard
texts by Berlin, Jasen, Tichenor, Jones, etc., plus some on the music
business of the early 20th century, and some on black composers.
Others are subscription sources like jstor, ancestry, and selected
others I pay for. The last, but often first, are the many online
archives like Levy, UCB, MSU, Indiana U, UCLA, NYPL, etc. They are
listed in my links at http://ragpiano.com/links.shtml starting around
One useful source for tunes and copyrights, although not too much for
ragtime, is Lissauer's three volume encyclopedia of popular song that
covers roughly 1888 to 2000. I have worn mine down.
Sometimes it is also intuition, or doing what one can with a lack of
evidence on one or another point, which can actually provide, given
occums razor, information and healthy speculation (which should be
couched as such) as well.
Healthy and focused google searches are also useful, as long as you
remember to put the name in quotes to cut down on results, and perhaps
a keyword, like:
"johnson rag" "guy hall"
which will keep results infinitely much smaller than:
johnson rag guy hall
(872 vs. 409,000)
In fact, a search on:
"henry kleinkauf" -"guy hall"
turned up less than 100 sites, most of them useless, since their names
are closely associated and trying to keep Hall's name out got the
Know that there is also a LOT of inaccurate information (I do all I
can to avoid putting it out but it happens on occasion). For example,
a number of sites say Johnson Rag was written in 1945, which is a
poorly researched falsehood since it clearly appears first in 1917.
In this instance, even general google searches were not of much use,
since it seems little has been written on these composers. To call
them "ragtime composers" is perhaps generous, since their ragtime
output was eclipsed (as far as I can find) by Clarence Woods and
Clarence H. St. John, who didn't do much. In fact, Lissauers lists
ONLY Johnson Rag for Hall and Kleinkauf (sometimes misspelled as
Kleinhauf so searches have to be done under both), so they didn't do
much in popular song as well. It may have been the only piece for both
of them that made the radar. I can't state that as a fact without a
lot more searching, but the 12 archives I checked plus googles taking
out Johnson Rag turned up NOTHING, so this is likely.
I'm not sure where to start other than draft cards, since I have to
conjecture on birth dates, can't even guess location, etc.
Here is what I could find:
Henry Kleinkauf, 5/28/1886
Born of German Parents John and Rosie Kleinkauf in Pennsylvania
Older brother Robert, younger brother Peter
1900 - hard to find without deep searching
1910 in Wilkes Barre, PA, no occupation.
1917 in Wilkes Barre Listed as musician/composer. The rest is blurry.
1920 in Wilkes Barre, listed as teacher still living with mother and
1930 in Kingston, PA, musician/teacher, wife Edna, daughter Jane
1942 in Wilkes Barre, Luzerne PA. Height oddly listed as 4'5" (should
be 5'4" or 5'5"?) - perhaps a dwarf? Weight 140. Self employed
It is evident that he considered himself a composer for only a very
short period, so I'm not sure what there was beyond Johnson Rag.
Given those demographics I tried for a Guy Hall:
There are a BUNCH of them. Hundreds.
But I still scored fairly quickly.
Guy Henry Hall, 12/13/1891 or 1892 (draft cards do not agree)
Born to Isabella Hall in Scranton, just across the valley from Wilkes
Barre, Pennsylvania (mother was only 18).
1900 - hard to find
1910 - same
1917 in Wilkes Barre. Single and supporting mother. No profession
1920 - living in Wilkes Barre with widowed mother. Orchestra leader.
1930 - living in Wilkes Barre alone as a roomer. Musician with an
1942 in Wilkes Barre. Wife, Mary Claire. 5'6", blue eyes, brown hair,
light complexion. Employed by Reuben Donnelly in Philadelphia - not
So in essence, they weren't close enough to Vandersloot in
Williamsport to take much advantage of them, and don't show up on
radar elsewhere (please, everybody, correct me if you can find more as
I only spent an hour doing this).
End assessment - until further info is available, they were local
musicians who had one hit which finally scored for them more than two
decades after it was written.
Hope that helps. Since they don't fit the demographics of the
composers I have been researching, I will have to stop here and go
back to my research.
SYNCerely, Bill E.