Carrie Jacobs Bond
America’s Gallant Lady of Song
By Teresa Nguyen
"It was the necessity of supporting myself and my little son that made me a writer of songs. It is true that even as a little girl, when I thought of the future, I always thought of myself as a songwriter."
Carrie Jacobs Bond at the Piano
There are two markers for Jacobs Bond in Janesville, one for each of the houses where she lived. The house where she was born was, at one time, located near Bond Park. The (no longer there) where she wrote the song "I Love You Truly" was located on East Milwaukee Street, near the top of the hill, where a small parking lot is now located.
Sometimes good can be born out of hardship. Creativity is often an outlet for expressing deep emotions, and during challenges, it can thrive. We all know about her successful songwriting and publishing career, but her incredible inner strength and raw courage is what truly makes Carrie Jacobs Bond an inspirational woman of Janesville!
Carrie Jacobs Bond Marker of her childhood home on E. Milwaukee Street in Janesville, WI.
Photo by Teresa Nguyen
As a young child, Carrie could memorize difficult pieces on the piano. And though she had lessons, she never was trained in music theory. She went on to write and publish songs from the late 1800s through the 1940s, even selling over 1 million copies of her original song, “I Love You Truly”! That part of her story is remarkable in and of itself. What a gifted woman! But there’s another side of Carrie. She was a woman who suffered a life of incredible tragedy and loss.
At age 11, Carrie lost her enduring a youth of poverty with her mother, back in the day when life was made difficult for women, employment was challenging to find, plus women were underpaid.
Marriages, Motherhood, Making Ends Meet
Carrie then married at age 18. Her son, Frederick Jacobs Smith, was born on July 23, 1882. She and Edward Smith divorced only 7 years later, something rare and scandalous in those days. We don’t know what that relationship was like, but the experience must have been quite difficult for her.
Carrie remarried not much later to a wonderful man, Dr. Bond, who encouraged her in her songwriting. Only 7 years into her new marriage, he tragically fell on ice, hitting his head, which led to his sudden death.
Carrie Jacobs Bond and Her Son, Fred
Carrie was forced to care for her son as a single mother, again at a time when life was still much more difficult for women. She borrowed money and moved to Chicago, where she obtained a house and rented out rooms.
Having difficulties making ends meet, she was forced into a smaller place, making only $15 a month on the rentals. Yet, all the while, she was known to generously help the homeless looking for food, shelter or to shovel snow. What a beautiful spirit of compassion!