W.C. Peters

W.C. Peters (1805-1866)
cover 1852
Eclectic piano cover 1855



William Cumming Peters (1805-1866) arrived in the US in 1820. He was a music teacher and choir leader in Pittsburgh from 1825, and started a music store with John Mellor and W.D. Smith named “Smith, Peters & Company" in Pittsburgh in 1831. It was renamed the John H. Mellor Company, when W.C. Peters left Pittsburgh for Louisville in 1832. From 1863 to 1944 it operated as C.C. Mellor.

In Louisville Peters first ran a music school and music library. Then in 1840 he started a music publishing company Peters & Co which prospered as a result of selling Stephen Foster's songs. Peters next moved to Cincinnati in 1851 and started W. C. Peters & Sons a publishing firm which later had branches in Baltimore, New York, and St. Louis. (Peters & Co. used "W.C. Peters" as an imprint even between 1830 and 1849, however.)

Peters' most successful items were piano tutors, especially the Eclectic Piano-Forte Instructor ("Arranged from the works of the best European composers ... with selections from popular American authors.") (WC Peters & Sons, 1855) and Burrowes' Piano Forte Primer(1849 and 1869). Peters' Catholic Harmonist (1848) and the Catholic Harp (1862) were also important. After his death in 1866 his brother and sons J.L. Peters and A.C Peters continued the business.


Imprints, Agencies, Addresses


  • Cincinnati (1846-61)
  • Louisville, KY (1832-49?)

Plate Numbers

Sources Consulted

  • Pittsburgh Music History
  • Frontier Musicians on the Connoquenessing, Washbash, and Ohio - Richard D. Wetzel
  • Oh! Sing No More That Gentle Song: The Musical Life and Times of William Cumming Peters, 1805-66 (Detroit Monographs in Musicology) - Richard D. Wetzel
  • Peters History (in Cincinnati) (PDF)