Jingle Bell Wars | NECN
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Jingle Bell Wars

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A plaque commemorates the writing of "Jingle Bells" in Medford, Massachusetts, but a Boston University professor thinks people should hold their one-horse open sleighs. (Published Friday, Dec. 9, 2016)

    For decades, the city of Medford, Massachusetts, claimed the song "Jingle Bells" orginated in its community, written in 1850 by James Pierpont in the old Simpson Tavern. There's even a plaque marking the occasion.

    But Boston University professor Kyna Hamill has started to wonder.

    "I've been doing a lot of reference of the 19th century, nobody in any letters, in any references, talks about James Pierpont," Hamill said.

    Hammill found documented evidence Pierpont was in San Francisco for the gold rush, not in Medford.

    "The story was embellished," said Hamill.

    What happens next to the story and the plaque remains unclear. No one from the city got back to necn. But John Anderson with the Medford Historical Society and Museum says it will always be a part of the area’s history and plans on keeping all the Jingle Bells memorabilia as a conversation starter.

    "It's a harmless myth," Anderson said.

    Hamill says she isn't 100 percent sure where "Jingle Bells" was actually written, but she says it was copyrighted by Pierpont in the late 1850s when he lived in Savannah, Georgia. That city also claims it was first written there.

    "I followed the playbill, he dedicated the song to John Ordway," Hamill said.

    Hamill is certain the piece was performed for the first time in Boston's Ordway Hall on Washington Street as part of a minstrel show where actors wore blackface.

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