As you know, almost all of the songs we write tell stories. We want to share those stories with you. We’ll post the story behind the story for each song on 13 here for you to read. The plan is to feature one song each week for the next 13 weeks.
Here is the story behind Laura Lou as related by Allen Kitselman.
The song “Laura Lou”
My wife Laura’s Great Grandmother was an amazing woman named Laura Lu Scherer Copenhaver (1868-1940). She lived in Marion, Virginia. Born into a prominent local family instrumental in founding Marion College for Women, saving local records during the Civil War, and produced strong women who were Progressive back when being Progressive could get you into trouble, she became mother-in-law to Sherwood Anderson when her equally amazing daughter, Eleanor, married him. We’re not sure if she was bitter about her Progressiveness or not.
Laura Lu (yeah, we know we spelled it wrong in the song title) was also famous for writing Lutheran pageants. One of her hymns, “Heralds of Christ,” is still in most Protestant hymnals to this day.
At the turn of the century and into the depression years, cheap cotton killed the local wool market. Without the sustaining agricultural backbone of the region, the local folks found themselves in serious financial peril. Laura Lu, seeing this all unfold, created a company called Rosemont Industries. Her vision was to form a means for the local people—mostly mountain people and dirt poor—to make a living by selling wool textiles and hand crafts made in the traditional patterns and by traditional methods.
Laura Lu nurtured the business until it was a worldwide phenomenon. The Queen of England herself bought products from Rosemont Industries!
I fell in love with the story of this strong caring woman. It inspired me to write the song.