New Information on Eibel Banjos!

I recently had the following email exchange with Ann Eibel McNees, the great grandaughter of A.F. Eibel.  She, along with her sister Brenda Eibel Maruca, have provided valuable new information on the maker of Eibel banjos, Adolf. F. Eibel.  I am very grateful to both of them for sharing this information with those of us who love vintage banjos.  One important conclusion we can draw from this new information is that Eibel was most likely an individual maker who probably made banjos himself without the aid of any kind of manufacturing operation.  This helps to explain the limited number of Eibel banjos extant, the fact that they all seem to be different in design and execution, and the fact that he appears to have obtained some of his hardware from A.C. Fairbanks or Fairbanks & Cole, or at least from the same supplier they used at the time.  Another conclusion seems to be that the Eibel banjos made in Malden, MA, may be later in manufacture than the Reading banjo in my collection, which is the reverse of my previous assumption.  I have changed the approximate dates of origin on my Eibel banjos accordingly.


Dear Mr. Destler ---

It was with great interest and delight that I found your web site today and saw the "Eibel banjos". I knew immediately by the name and the location that these were made by my great grandfather, Adolf F. Eibel. To confirm, I e-mailed my sister, Brenda, who is the family genealogist. What I have forwarded to you is the e-mail she sent to me this evening with the information on Adolf Eibel. I thought you might enjoy receiving further information on him. It was a wonderful experience seeing what a talented craftsman our great grandfather was.

Please respond to my e-mail so I know that you have received this information. I am so pleased that these instruments are with someone who obviously cares for them and keeps them safely.


Ann Eibel McNees

Subject: Eibel banjos

Hi, Ann called my attention to this. These were made by our father's grandfather who was born in Germany. Although born and christened Joseph Friederich Wilhelm Adolf Eibel, he was known as Adolf F. Eibel in this country. He was born 28 June 1857, at Motthausen, Westfalia christened. 19 July 1857 at Gelsenkirchen, Westfalia (Germany) and died 9 October 1897 at Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts the son of Johan Christian Eibel (he was a blacksmith but several of his first cousins were musicians) and Julie Weitz. Adolf F. immigrated on the ship "City of Washington" in 1872 to NYC with his mother and siblings. His father had preceded his family in 1868. He married Nellie Grace Derrick on 23 October 1878 at Seymore, Connecticut. The family moved to Massachusetts about 1881 and lived in Malden, Somerville, and Reading (the latter for a very short time). Adolf F. was employed in Charleston and Lynn as a rubber turner. The family lived in Reading in 1889 as the couple's fourth child, Eva Irene was born there in January 1889. Adolf became a US citizen while living in East Somerville on 16 June 1888 (USCC, Boston, Massachusetts). By 1891 the family was living in Malden when our grandfather, Carl Derrrick Eibel was born there on 4 November 1891. When Adolf died in 1897, his oldest child, Nellie Louise, in order to help her Mother make ends meet took out an advertisement offering BANJO lessons.( from her book Triumphant Living, copyright 1945). In 1898 she (Nellie Louise)married Victor Friend who became a prominent businessman The couple (Victor and Nellie) died in the early 1950's and it may have been from her estate or belongings that the banjos came from. I know that our uncle Adolf Edward Eibel enjoyed woodworking as a lifetime hobby and may well have learned the basics from his father..


From: William Destler

To: Ann Eibel McNees

Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2005 7:01 AM

Subject: Re: Fw: Eibel banjos

Ms. McNees:

How wonderful of you to write! There are a number of us who are interested in antique banjos, and the whole community will be thrilled to learn more about your great grandfather. To date, all that was known could be put into a single sentence! With your permission, I will add the information below to my web site.

Bill Destler


Dear Mr. Destler--

Of course you may use the information. If you wish to attribute the information to a source I would like you to attribute it to my sister, Brenda (Eibel) Maruca. While she is our family's genealogist Brenda has also done work assisting others, especially in doing New England and Eastern Canada genealogy research. She is known for her attention to detail and accuracy. If in the future someone was searching for information on Adolf Eibel I believe having her name noted would assure them of the accuracy of the data.

Again, finding your site was such an unexpected gift. As we were "Army Brats" my sister and I did not grow up with our relatives so we appreciate any and all family information. Thank you.


Ann (Eibel) McNees



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