The original inhabitants were naturally drawn to the enormous expanse of the valley. Elijah McCallister laid claim to all the acreage that was Roam not too long after its founding. Other original settlers were granted parcels of land as the first crop of mulberry trees were planted and silk production began. Americanization further expanded in the area after completion of the transcontinental railroad and its connection to points beyond.

The exact derivation of the name Roam is uncertain, but could possibly relate to the artesian well and its parklike grounds once located at the current intersection of Artesia and Mullberry Blvd. (formerly Grand Silk Ave.).

Rare first edition of Elijah McCallisters "A Life Of Silk." Click to view larger.

The Roam Historical Society is a non-profit (501 c3) organization of individuals and institutions who are concerned with and working for the preservation of their community's heritage. The Society believes that this legacy must not be lost and does in fact provide the basis and continuity for all aspects of community growth.

Contact the Society if you would like to receive an informational glossy brochure. Pictured below are some of the photos you will find in our illustrated story book on the history of Roam. All of the historical photos can also be found on our Photo Album page. Be sure to check out the information about touring the Elijah McCallister Estate and the Silk Worm Hot House, along with how you can support the Historical Society by becoming a member.

Replica Pocket Watch

You can own a timeless piece of history. We now offer this lovely replica watch modeled after the original in our collection.

The history of Roam is revealed in this rare original set of period postcards. Click on any card to see them larger.

The "Roam Silk Rag" put Roam in the hearts of Americans.
Click on the image below to see this original first-edition printing larger.

Oh! Susanna, Dixie, The Camptown Races, Buffalo Gals, and The Roam Silk Rag are but a few of the very popular songs known from the minstrel era. It is the music which is the source of bluegrass, country and old-time music of today as mentioned in the book, "Bluegrass Breakdown" by Robert Cantwell. Minstrel music itself is composed of Celtic music and Afro American music technique. Minstrel music was established in the late 1830s with the development of the five-string banjo by Joel Sweeney of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. This new form of music became very popular as the performers, working usually in pairs, toured from town to town or traveled with the circus. In the 19th century, Dan Emmett's "Virginia Minstrels" performed the first minstrel show with banjo, fiddle, bones, and tambourine. From this point, "minstrel mania" swept the nation as hundreds of minstrel troupes toured throughout the country. Roam Silk Rag was among the songs performed by this troupe.

The banjo was the foundation of the minstrel show, and was always played with the back of the fingernail in the "stroke" or "banjo" style. Today, a simplified version is called "frailing or "clawhammer". The banjo went to California with the forty-niners and out west with the cowboys. After the Civil War, soldiers returning to the mountains brought the banjo and minstrel music back with them where it was preserved.

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