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From: "Randi Richardson" <>
Subject: Bloomington Bands: A History--Part 2
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 2004 07:22:35 -0500


Bloomington (Indiana) World, June 24, 1896, p. 4.

The band was reorganized in 1843 with John Seward still its leader. In addition to most of the old players, there were David H. and Edward Maxwell, Marion Blair and Jesse Kersaw (?Corsaw) The latter player was very versatile for when alone he played the violin and when in the band he did what all small boys would like to do--beat the bass drum. They had no tenor drum at that time. This band was used in marshalling troops for the Mexican war and the last thing that some of the soldiers ever heard of Bloomington was the thump of Kersaw's drum and the squeak of Seward's clarinet. This band also helped to elect Polk in 1844.

What was known as the Bloomington Silver Band was organized in 1850. James Seward, this time, with his E flat bugle was the leader. The new faces that took the places of some that had dropped out were Irvin and Albert Seward, James and Wicks Kettleman, Ed Maxwell, James Skidmore, George Voss and B. Harold. This organization continued until long after the Civil War and was the first band to adopt an uniform. The uniform consisted of a blue frock coat, blue trousers with gold stripes and a queer shaped hat with an immense red plume. Several members of this band went to the army as musicians. The instruments used by this band were of silver and were far superior to the instruments of any other band in this "neck of the woods," concerning which fact the members thereof were justly proud.

In about 1872 the first Mechanics' band was organized, and for the first time a Seward was not the leader, Charles Voss acting in this capacity. A few years later, however, William H. Seward, the present leader, took charge. This band continued until 1880. In the meantime, another crowd of musicians thinking there was a "good opening" in the band business formed the Empire band led by John Mack and taught by Daniel Schrader. This is the only band ever in Bloomington that failed to have a Seward in it. Some of the familiar names of the Empire band are: Alvin Hinds, William Blair--Billy played a tuba--Len Whetsell, Hillary Headley, John and James Waldron and Joe Paine, now deceased. The Empire band failed in 1881 and the Mechanics' band was appointed the receiver, receiving therefrom several of its leading players.

In 1884 and 1885 there was no organized band in Bloomington, and when music was to be had, some member of the old band went out and scared up a few of his former comrades. Our present band was established in 1886 and W. H. Seward again became its leader. He and Gene Adkins are the only present members who were identified with any of the old bands.

(to be continued)



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