BLIND TOM, PIANIST, DIES OF A STROKE
Old Negro with Strange Mastery of Music Ends His Days in Hoboken.
A CHILD ALL HIS LIFE
Cared for in His Declining Years by the Daughter of His Old Master.
Thomas Wiggins, the "Blind Tom" whose strange mastery of the piano without teaching or scientific knowledge of the instrument made thousands wonder, died on Saturday at the home of a daughter of his old master and one-time owner, Col. James N. Bethune of Georgia.
Mrs. Albert J. Lerche, who was Miss [Mrs.] Eliza Bethune before her marriage, had cared for the old blind negro musician for many years past, keeping him happy and comfortable in her home, at 60 Twelfth Street, Hoboken. It was there that he died suddenly of apoplexy.
"Blind Tom" was twice erroneously reported dead, one in 1903, and prior to that a body was identified as his after the Johnstown flood, was buried as his, and a tombstone put over it, marked with his name.
This time the famous old musician is really dead. His body lies in the Frank Campbell Company's funeral chapel, at 241 West Twenty-third Street, and today after the last services "Blind Tom's" funeral march, composed by himself and in a way said to be typical of his own life, will be played on the chapel organ.
In this composition, which many musicians have declared to be of uncommon merit, a passage of great sonority is immediately followed by a passage of such lightness and gayety that the effect produced is one of pathos. The negro, weak-minded all through his life, was as much of a child in middle age as at 7, and his pleasures were those of a child.
He applauded himself after the performance of every number, laughed lightly and with little provocation, and always needed a guardian. The sadness of a blind life and the gayety of a child's nature are shown in the funeral march which was played publicly at the funeral of his old master a number of years ago.
The fear of death was strong in Blind Tom in his later years. If he f...