America’s First Country Music Star Buried In Bridgeport

Cool story by Davis Dunavin for WNPR about country music artist Vernon Dalhart.

Who kickstarted the country music industry in the 1920s, even before big names like Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family? And why is this Texas musician buried in Bridgeport, Connecticut?

… Dalhart’s record sales slowed. He lost of lot of money in the Depression. He sold his mansion and moved to Bridgeport around 1940. He worked as a night clerk in Bridgeport’s Barnum Hotel, and died less than a decade later, largely unknown.

He’s buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery, in the heart of Bridgeport. It’s the same cemetery where P.T. Barnum and Tom Thumb are buried. But Dalhart’s not easy to find. For one thing, Vernon Dalhart wasn’t his real name–it was Marion T. Slaughter. He took the stage name of Vernon Dalhart by slapping together the names of two small Texas towns.

In 1981, Vernon Dalhart was finally recognized by the Country Music Hall of Fame–as one of the first to introduce this genre to a national audience. And his greatest hit, “The Prisoner’s Song” has been covered by musicians from Johnny Cash to Loudon Wainwright III.

Full story here.

Nick Novia
Bluegrass musician Nick Novia plays at the grave of Marion T. Slaughter–known professionally as Vernon Dalhart–in Bridgeport’s Mountain Grove Cemetery. Photo by David Dunavin, WSHU


  1. I’m not sure if anyone is going to comment on this. Obviously,this does not compare with some of the present day political maneuvering in Bridgeport BUT Vernon Dalhart is ONE reason that Bridgeporters can be proud of Bridgeport. We need things to be proud of to turn our city-Bridgeport- around.


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