Historical marker #2250 in Winchester (Clark County) commemorates the life of Homer Ledford, a musician and craftsman who founded the Cabin Creek Band.
Born in Alpine, Tennessee, on September 26, 1927, Homer Ledford began making musical instruments at an early age. His first instrument was a “match stick” fiddle. At the age of 18, he received a scholarship to attend the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina, which was founded to nurture and preserve the folk arts of the Appalachian Mountains. Ledford made his first dulcimer at the school.
He later came to Kentucky to attend Berea College. However, Ledford transferred to Eastern Kentucky University, where he graduated in 1954. After graduating, he began teaching industrial arts for 10 years in both Jefferson and Clark Counties, including at George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester, KY. Ledford retired from teaching to begin building instruments full time.
Musicians from all over the world sought Ledford’s instruments, including dulcimers, banjos, mandolins, guitars, and ukuleles. According to his wife, Colita, at the time of his death (2006), Ledford had crafted over 6,000 dulcimers, 475 banjos, 26 mandolins, 26 guitars, 18 ukuleles, 13 dulcitars, 3 dulcijos, 4 violins, and 1 bowed dulcimer. The Smithsonian Institution houses a sample of his instrument collection, including a fretless banjo, an Appalachian dulcimer, and a dulcitar, an instrument Ledford created and patented.
Ledford founded the Cabin Creek Band in 1976 and led it for 30 years, The band recorded 6 albums, performed on 4 continents, and entertained 5 governors of Kentucky. In 2004, Ledford published an autobiography titled See Ya’ Further up the Creek. He received an honorary doctorate of humanities from Eastern Kentucky University in 2006.
Ledford died from a stroke at the age of 79 in Winchester, Kentucky.
This marker was dedicated on May 31, 2008. It reads:
Homer Ledford (1927-2006) was a master craftsman, musician, and teacher. Born in Tennessee, he came to Kentucky to attend Berea College & graduated from Eastern Ky. University. Ledford founded the Cabin Creek Band in 1976 & led it for 30 years, entertained on four continents, and performed for five of Kentucky’s governors.
(Reverse) Ledford crafted thousands of musical instruments. His banjos, violins, guitars, mandolins, and dulcimers are sought by musicians worldwide. The Smithsonian Institution houses three of his creations— a fretless banjo, an Appalachian dulcimer and a dulcitar, which he copyrighted. He played 13 musical instruments.