Collection date: Oct 1912
Thomas Elmer of Poppleton sword dance: On 17 October 1912 Sharp met 5 men from Poppleton who had last danced about 18 years ago (c1894). They used wooden swords, made of ash, and had trouble remembering the dance. The best recall of the figures was by Tom Elmer (Sharp wrote ‘Almer’ but there was nobody with that surname, only ‘Elmer’). Sharp transcribed his notes (Folk Dance Notes 2/178-182 but did not publish the dance in his ‘Sword Dances of Northern England’ books.
Tom Elmer was born in Upper Poppleton in October qr 1860, 2nd son of John Elmer, farmer of 20 acres, and his wife Nancy (née Snowball). Tom became a railway labourer and was living with his widowed mother Nancy in both 1901 and 1911 censuses. It seems that he was married in 1892 to Hannah Dutton but she must have died soon afterwards.
Tom’s older brother Samuel (b27/6/1859) was another of the dancers who met Sharp and he became a market gardener. He married Olivia Leadley in January qr 1886 and they remained in Upper Poppleton, raising 3 children. Tom Elmer died in July qr 1933 aged 72 and Samuel in October 1939 aged 80.