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 }

The Boys Band of Mooseheart

06 April 2012

Much of American social history has been shaped by the efforts of mutual aid societies. When times were hard, ethnic and immigrant groups, trade unions and craft guilds, religious denominations and fraternal organizations developed membership societies with a principal mission that they would provide security for their members against tragic loss. Many of the first insurance companies and credit unions were designed by these societies to protect property and life. And in the past century, when poverty and death were more prevalent in society, the most important warranty these societies could provide was safeguarding the fate of orphaned children. 

This postcard image shows the Mooseheart Student Band from around 1915-16. They are boys who all lived at the Mooseheart children's home, which was established in 1913 by the Loyal Order of Moose in a purpose built village near Aurora, IL just west of Chicago. It was planned to be much more than just an orphanage, but also a school, farm and home for the children of deceased members. Last year I wrote about a similar orphan boys band from the I.O.O.F in Mason City, Iowa.

What makes this a special card like the one from Mason City, is that someone has recorded the names of the 28 young musicians in the band. The writing is in ink but there is later annotation in pencil that adds some question marks and the phrase:

Not in order
Bert La Flamme
Loyde Jenkins
Jim Jenkins
Harold Taylor
Martin Sheeley
George Linde
Merton Sheeley
Louie? Baxter
Grier? McClenan
Jim? Magiaer
Henry Garrett
Thomas Jones
John Williams
Albert Patterson
Frank La Flamme
Jerome Theelan
Thomas Laughlin
Walter Thompson
Olints Washburn
Gerald Shigley
Bert Guitar
Howard Lord
Bruce Taylor
William Andrews
John Meikle
Wm Ayrman
Charlie Ayrman
Paul Di Bona

Many of these names are found in the 1920 census for Mooseheart. Several have brothers and sisters also in the institution. In fact there were 15 pages just for the wards of the home, making over 750 children from ages 2 to 18. Another three pages listed around 150 adults living in Mooseheart, many of an elderly retired age.

The school was started just before America's involvement in WWI but there was probably an effort to instill military discipline or certainly patriotic values in the young wards. This second postcard shows the Mooseheart Band and Cadets on Dress Parade, presumably on the institution's grounds.

Postmarked Aug 6, 1918 from Aurora, IL the postcard was addressed to
Mrs. May A Hart at the Buena Vista Hotel in Belmar, New Jersey.

Dear Wife
Splendid Convention
Vice Presedent of US
here today. Hope you
are enjoying yourself

Thomas Riley Marshall
28th Vice President of the United States
The second line was a puzzle to figure out but it refers to Thomas Riley Marshall (1854 –1925), the 28th Vice President of the United States (1913–1921) under President Woodrow Wilson. On the webpage for Mooseheart history it describes how Vice President Marshall, who was from Indiana, was the guest speaker at Mooseheart’s dedication ceremony on July 27, 1913. He returned five years later, for the 1918 International Loyal Order of Moose convention which is the event that Ed refers to. At that time, the Vice President confessed he had been very skeptical on that hot day in 1913 as he spoke beneath a circus tent rented from Ringling Bros. Circus for the occasion.  "I felt that . . . it was only a circus performance and when the tent went down, the show would be over. Thank God that today...all that I hoped for on that interesting occasion has come to pass at Mooseheart."

The next postcard is undated but I believe it dates from the late 1920s or early 30s. Perhaps some of the younger boys in the first band are now in the Mooseheart High School Concert Band. There are trumpets now instead of cornets. No mellophones that I can see, but two horn players. And three different styles of sousaphones.  Note their jodhpurs which were a strange trouser for a marching band, but popular in the the 1920's. Perhaps Hollywood had an influence on uniforms.

And now a special treat, a souvenir folder booklet of Mooseheart, The School that Trains for Life. This collection of 22 colorized images of the children's school and home was no doubt produced in the school print shop, which you can see here along with pictures of the many school facilities and activities including two photos of the band. Given the size and number of buildings, I would date this from the 1920s or early 1930s.

There are so many pages, that rather than sprain anyone's scrolling fingers, I have put them together in a presentation file, courtesy of Google Docs. Click the play button for a slide show and the little rectangle button to see a full screen enlargement for best effect.

 Please let me know if this viewer doesn't work for you.
You may have to refresh the webpage for it to load.

For anyone using Windows Internet Explorer who can not see this viewer.
Try adjusting your Privacy Settings Slider to Low  under Internet Options.

Today the Mooseheart campus continues with the same mission started nearly 100 years ago. The curriculum may be more sophisticated now, but it still includes music with both a band and a choir. Children are accepted from anywhere and offered vocational training and educational opportunities that would be unavailable to their families. Not every child is an orphan, and I suspect that was true back in 1913 too. Some parents have financial conditions or other challenges that force them to put their children into the school. It is a credit to the Loyal Order of Moose that they have maintained this benefit for their members for almost a century.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where the theme this week was either sleep or libraries, or both,
(or in my case neither.)
 Click the link to see what other photo enthusiasts have chosen.



Postcardy said...

I have a later postcard from Mooseheart that is a collage of various scenes. I loved seeing your folder of Mooseheart. Too bad they didn't show their library.

Wendy said...

Such a proud and noble history of this school. I always appreciate the work you put into your posts.

Bob Scotney said...

I'll bet there's a library somewhere in that Mooseheart school. Great pictures and slides.

Alan Burnett said...

I always look forward to your posts, whether they are on theme on not doesn't matter in the slightest, for I know they are going to be fascinating. This one doesn't disappoint - I was almost tempted to go out and join the Mooses immediately. Just for the sake of feedback, I couldn't get the viewer to work, but that might have been my computer settings.

Coloring Outside the Lines said...

Very informational post- loved my visit this morning- thanks for sharing!

barbara and nancy said...

This was an interesting post for me since my father went to a similar school/orphanage in Il. probably in the 1920s. I think it was called Glenwood Academy. I wonder if they had a band.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

How did I miss this post? I learned about Mooseheart 8 years ago when we joined the local Moose Lodge. They still do wonderful work with children and it is amazing that they have been in business for so long.

Thanks so much for all of these pictures and info.

Kathy M.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mike .. so glad you had a happy time with Alan Burnett and his wife in Yorkshire recently.

I'm looking forward to reading more on your blog - so I've RSSd it .. it looks really interesting ..

Thanks so much - cheers Hilary


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