Apr. 25, 1822 Medford Middlesex County Massachusetts, USA
Aug. 5, 1893 Savannah Chatham County Georgia, USA
Musician. Composer of the world's most enduring song "Jingle Bells". James Pierpont was born in Medford, Massachusetts the second son of a Unitarian minister, poet and fervent abolitionist. At the age of 14, he joined the crew of a whaling vessel serving as a seaman until the age of 21. His travels before returning home to his home town have him prospecting in California during the Gold Rush in 1849. Returning East about 1851, he wrote the song for which he is known, "Jingle Bells." The tune was finally published and copyrighted in the year 1857 while living in Savannah, Georgia with his second wife and employed as an organist at the Unitarian church of his minister brother. With the outbreak of the Civil War, the brothers found themselves on the opposite side of the battle lines from their abolitionist father. For his part, he contributed a number of songs to the Confederate effort. He stopped writing songs altogether after the conclusion of the war. The family made very little money from "Jingle Bells" and it was a struggle to keep his credit on the song. To this day, however, the song remains one of the few songs known to practically everyone in the world. Impoverished and forgotten, he died at the age of 70 and according to his wishes was interred next to his brother at Laurel Grove Cemetery, Savannah.