Bio: O'Leary, Wilson (Fiddler - 1933)

Contact: Coralee Delong

Surnames: O'Leary, Luck, Bryan

-------Source: Clark County Press

Boy is Fiddle Winner at 13

Humbird Player Takes Championships Though He can’t Read Notes

Humbird, Wis. - Wilson O’Leary, 13-year-old fiddler who never took lessons and cannot read notes, won his fourth fiddler’s contest in two years as he met Charles Luck, Wood County champion, at Clark-Wood-Marathon County playoff at Neillsville recently.

Wilson, who lives on a farm near Humbird, was obliged to walk nine miles in order to appear at the contest, roads being impassable, from his home, to a point seven miles west of Neillsville, where he got a lift.

The boy won a contest for Clark County fiddlers held at Neillsville a year ago and then took first honors at a tri-county contest at Marshfield.

Beats Left Hander

At the annual Clark County context at Neillsville in February, young O’Leary triumphed over six other contestants, all of them adults, despite the exceptionally formidable competition offered by Mrs. Leo Bryan, Neillsville’s locally famous left handed fiddler. Charles Luck, who lost to the boy at the last contest, had previously beaten the best fiddler of Wood and Marathon counties in a contest at Marshfield. O’Leary will meet him again in Luck’s home town, Marshfield, in the near future.

The boy fiddler began playing at the age of 6 and it is his boast that he has "picked up" what he knows about fiddling by himself. He readily "picks up" new pieces as he hears them played but says that he can learn them most quickly when he hears them played on a violin. Prefers to Play Moue Wilson is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas O’Leary, farmers, and has three brothers and four sisters. Only he and one brother, who sometimes accompanied him by "pickin" a banjo" are musically inclined, he says. He uses no accompaniment in winning contests, however preferring to play by himself, and stamp his foot to keep time.

Small in stature for a boy of his age. Wilson is freckled of face and shy by nature. "I got kind o’ flustered the first time I got up on the stage to play but I got over it pretty quick," he said.

Freckled Fiddler

Wilson O’Leary at, 13, is the champion fiddler of Clark, Wood and Marathon Counties, having won that honor after walking nine miles to Neillsville from his home near Humbird for the tri-county contest. The modest, freckled farm boy cover had a violin lesion in his liver and cannot read a note, but he manages many pieces with case.

Through the courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal we print the above likeness of that violin celebrity, Wilson O’Leary, thirteen year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Thos. O’Leary, who is winning fame as the "Freckled Fiddler." During the month of February, he participated in the annual Clark County old fiddler’s contest, wining the event over six others, all of whom are experienced adults. Wilson’s last victory was the tri-county contest, at Marshfield, when he met the champions of Marathon and Wood Counties, followed by a playoff at Neillsville against a semi professional from the other counties. Wilson has been a master of his own violin for several years. He can not read notes but learns new pieces by hearing them played. He is a pleasant, gentlemanly youth, and will no doubt be soon seeking more musical holds to conquer.



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