Uncle Rufe Armstrong and his Coon Hunters were a popular act on the old
WMMN Sagebrush Roundup in Fairmont, West Virginia in the early 1940s.
Uncle Rufe as he was known had spent a few years on the vaudeville circuits
with the Keith circuit as it was known. He was a native of Bern, North
Carolina, and in the WMMN Family Album of 1941, admitted he was 38 years
old at the time.
Another member of the troupe was Uncle Rufe's wife, "Petunia" who
was born in Jacksonville and dropped out of school when she was in the
11th grade so she could tour with the WSM Grand Ole Opry road show. They
said she started off as a "toe dancer" but later she turned to "eccentric
dancing" because she grew a bit tall.
"Hill Billy Bill" Kirby was another member of the troupe and was a
West Virginia native and had started at WMMN in 1932. He also did time
as an announcer, engineer and entertainer.
Earl Sampson was born in Moundsville, WV on a farm in 1917 and was known
as Little Sampson with the group. He joined the Coon Hunters in 1940
and was known as "The World's Biggest Little Fiddler".
Then there was Mary Elizabeth Minner who they called "Boots". She was
the newest member of the Coon Hunters back in 1941 and played what they
coined a "...wicked bass fiddle". She also handled some vocal chores.
Credits & Sources
- WMMN Family Album 1941; Publishers Unknown, but probably