I was still thinking about Nora today when I saw a meme entitled 'Music Monday', and wondered, "What kinds of music would Nora have heard in 1904, around Galena, Kansas and Joplin, Missouri?" That one question has taken me on a daylong internet search; some of it was for fun, some was very educational.
As soon as I thought, "Joplin", I thought, "Ragtime Music." In fact, Ragtime was popular between 1897 and 1918. And Scott Joplin was the most famous of the Ragtime composers. A Wikipedia article names Joseph Lamb and James Scott along with Joplin as the "three most sophisticated Ragtime composers." While its popularity waned after 1917, there have been revivals - I remember the one in the 70's when The Sting was released. I was hooked and spent many hours learning The Entertainer as well as The Maple Leaf Rag. That was great stuff.
Here's a YouTube recording of Valery Lloyd-Watts performing The Cascades, by Scott Joplin.
Wikipedia's article on the Music of Kansas, stated that Home on the Range was written there in 1870, and music from the area remained in a "similar folk, or old-time music style". Now I know what I mean when I say old-time music, but I wasn't sure it was the same thing. So I took a trip to YouTube and found a most extraordinary young woman, Ashley Hull, Old Time Fiddler. She talks about the old-time-fiddler, and how his primary purpose during those early days, was to provide music for dancing. She goes on, "To some it was the welcomed (and necessary) escape from the rigors of pioneer life." I don't think I would say 1904 was a 'pioneer' time, but the fact that Old-Music continued through to that time is undeniable. If you want a quick escape, here's a fine example of music that Nora might have heard.
Ashley Hull playing Salty River Reel at the Ozarks Heritage Festival
Wikipedia led me to Charlie Walden's web site, Missouri Old-Time Fiddling which has loads of historical information about the genre. At his other web site, CharlieWaldon.com, you can hear some of the tunes he's learned over the years at his Project page. Certainly worth the time, if you can spare it.
So life wasn't all dreary hard work; there were times to dance and listen to music too. You never know, Nora and George might have met at one of those Old-Time Music dances.