This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

A Girls Band from Mount Gilead, Ohio

29 January 2011


This cabinet card photo of a Ladies Band comes from Mount Gilead, Ohio, a small village just north of Columbus. It may have been promotional material for advertising the band, as it looks like a professional group, but there are no names attached. The girls wear trim military-like dresses with matching hats. The man on the right, undoubtedly the leader, sports a fancy embroidered coat but a hat that seems one size too small. My guess is that the girl next to him is his daughter. Compare this band to Mr. Gierk's Ladies Band. Ladies Band of Richmond, MI

As brass bands go, it is pretty small with only 6 brass instruments and two drummers. The girls hold piston valve instruments, which are probably a matched set. But the bandleader holds a high pitch solo cornet - a side action rotary valve cornet in Eb, which was a style popular in 1860-1870s. You can find a similar one here at the National Music Museum. Pollmann SARV Cornet

The photo is badly faded and was never in good focus, so I have used photo software to improve the image. But fortunately on the back is the trademark of Theo. Brown, Photographer, Mt. Gilead, Ohio.

The 1880 US Census for Mount Gilead lists Theo. Brown photographer, age 33 with wife Anna Brown, age 22.  A photographer of the same name appears also in the 1870 census, but for Mt. Vernon, Ohio, which is in the next county just east. There are no census records found for this particular Theodore Brown for 1890 or 1900. But it seems safe to date this photo to around 1880-85.

One of the curious features of the 1880 census is the requirement that census-takers should record the health of each person, and whether they can work. So after each name comes their age, birthplace, occupation, and a remark about how they are feeling today. Mr. Jones - broken leg, still working; Mrs. Smith - at home, bronchitis; Mr. White - retired, rheumatism; etc. But people were listed as deaf, blind, or with other handicaps too. Several farmers are noted as Wore Out; and a few sons - Not Bright.

My contribution to Sepia Saturday

5 comments:

Christine H. said...

Not bright? That's hilarious. You'd want to make sure the Census didn't catch you on a bad day. This is a wonderful photo, by the way. I love seeing old photos with musical instruments, especially if there are accordions.

Tattered and Lost said...

Oh let's do hope that the sound they made was melodic and not just noise. I'm wondering if their heritage is German, Swiss, or???

Great shot.

Alan Burnett said...

Oh welcome to Sepia Saturday : that is a brilliant contribution. The photograph is so full of history and you distill so much of it in your write-up.

Karen S. said...

Oh I love the comment, Not Bright! How cute is that?! Great photo and the hats are amazing! Thanks!

TICKLEBEAR said...

OH MY!!
to go down in history as "not bright"!!! the shame!!!...
:D~
HUGZ

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