Meet Seth Kinman, a hairy-chested, hairy-faced frontiersman who liked to make chairs out of entire stuffed bears. He also made a fiddle out of the skull of his favorite mule and gave it to Abraham Lincoln.
California hunter whose presentation of an elkhorn chair to the President on November 26, 1864 attracted wide publicity. Kinman, with a penchant for western buckskin clothes and eastern publicity, Stanley Kimmel wrote that after presenting the chair and explaining the seven years of hunting that went into its production, Kinman told "the President that he had another little keepsake with him in the form of a fiddle made from the skull of his favorite mule, which, when alive, appeared to have music in his soul, for he would always look around the camps on the plains when he heard music. After the mule had been dead for some time, he passed his bleached bones one day and the idea struck him that there might be music in the bones, so he made the fiddle. Later he took a rib, and some hairs from the tail, and made the bow. Much to the amusement of Lincoln and other spectators, he played 'Essence of Old Virginia' and 'John Brown' on the bones of the mule. Lincoln said that if he could play the fiddle he would ask him for it, but since he could not, the fiddle would be better off in Mr. Kinman's hands."
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