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 Broughton Band - A Cold Case

24 January 2014

Though they don't look very cold, they are still standing in snow. There is not much left after a thaw, but it's still enough snow to think that the musicians of the Broughton Band were not playing for the 4th of July. Blowing on a brass instrument in the winter is not a pleasant pastime. With freezing temperatures it is not unlike the schoolyard challenge of touching ones tongue to a metal flagpole. That's why I believe this is either an early spring or late autumn concert photo.

The unnamed photographer of this large 9.25 x 5.5 inch sepia photo posed the band against what appears to be a white limestone wall. The 18 musicians are a mix of ages. The older men sport handlebar mustaches while the young men are clean shaven. There is even one boy age 8-10 (back right) who does not have a uniform. The uniforms appear new and are a simple style that imitates those of military cadets. It was a popular outfit with town bands in the 1900s. The caps have a music lyre badge but no letters. Though they look like a brass band there are three clarinets in the back row. My best guess is that the photo dates from 1895 to 1910.

It is the first photograph of a town band that I acquired for my collection.

It is also a cold case.

Written on the back are the names of some of the members of the Broughton Band.

Uncle Harry Sanders
Second Front Row Mr. Barth
       R.I. Station Master
Will Christ Chapman F.R.
Will Will          "                "
Matt Deitrick                   "

R. Neill Rahm

Roy Bauers   Back Row
Rod Schockinnney
Charlie Arnett

Ten names of musicians written in ink. The band's name stenciled on the bass drum. A photograph style from the turn of the century. All great clues to solve the question of who, where, and when.

Unfortunately this is a puzzle that refuses to unlock any answers.

Broughton is not a common name for an American town. There are only three tiny villages named Broughton in Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania but there is no Broughton Band recorded in the historic newspapers of those community's respective counties. The biggest place that has a single mention of a Broughton Band, presumably named after the bandleader, is in Aberdeen, South Dakota. But the Aberdeen city directory for 1903, 1905, and 1913 does not list the band. New Oxford, Pennsylvania near Gettysburg, had a Broughton Cornet Band in the 1890s but it does not seem to have lasted into the 20th century. It's also possible that the name Broughton came from a manufacturing plant and that this is a company band. But what did they make? Are they in front of the factory walls?

In a search of the census records at, none of the 10 names showed up for the Broughton villages in Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or for that matter the larger town of Aberdeen in South Dakota. Some surnames produced a few hits, but when the forenames were included the full names were not found in those counties. Removing the location filter for a general search did not produce any patterns either.

Is Uncle Harry Sanders the tall man with the helicon or the younger man with the trombone?

Mr. Barth is noted as the R.I. Station Master.  The initials R.I. could be an abbreviation for the state of Rhode Island or more likely the Rock Island Railroad which runs southwest from Chicago to Iowa, Kansas, and Oklahoma. But without a first name, Mr. Barth has too many relatives to make a useful search term. Is he the euphonium player on the left or the tenorhorn on the right? If this photo follows the conventional rules of the time, the cornet player in the center is the bandleader.

The correction on Will and Chris Chapman suggests the person making the annotation was unsure about their memory. Were they brothers? Father and son? Is there a resemblance behind the mustaches of the snare drummer and the bass horn player?

The other names like Rahm and Ristine are possibly incorrect spellings, and Schockinney gets no hits of any kind. Any attempt with alternate spellings makes little improvement.

Sometimes history lines up in little logical boxes like a Sudoku puzzle. But sometimes the numbers still don't add up in the right sequence and just cancel each other out. This photo puzzle defeats me, as I am unable to find any location in the United States where all these names are present at the same time. It is a mystery that now gets filed as a cold case, and the musicians of the Broughton Band, whoever, wherever and whenever they are, will just have to stand out in the snow for a bit longer. With any luck a great great nephew will one day do an internet search and recognize Uncle Harry.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
click the link for more snow stories.


Wendy said...

I guess turnabout is fair play in the world of "Stump the Band." I've never read a post in which Mr. Mike was stumped. I'm glad to know he's human. Welcome to the club!

La Nightingail said...

I never thought about trying to play a metal instrument in freezing cold temperatures being akin to sticking one's tongue on a frozen pole, but I can see where that might be a problem! Reminds me of worrying about singing in an amphitheater standing in front of a metal microphone on a wet cement floor in the middle of a lightning storm. My worry became moot when lightning struck a transformer somewhere & the power everywhere was suddenly out & that was the end of our sound system anyway!

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Well, since that was the first of your band collection, and has yet to connect to anyplace or people...I am glad to hear your techniques that you followed anyway. Maybe someday...and you've certainly had better luck in other posts!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful mystery, All those names and not able to find a place-name connection through births, deaths and marriages. There wss a band at Broughton but it looks a bit later and not in uniform.

Jo Featherston said...

A cold case in more ways than one, as you say. Intriguing!

Mike Brubaker said...

@boundforoz Thanks for the link but that was a band from Broughton, IL that was photographed at least 10 or even 20 years later. The webpage associated with Broughton, IL had lots of names and pictures but not one of the names on the back of my photo could be found in that community. In small towns, family names tend to stay put and it was frustrating to have a lead that did not link up. My latest theory is that Broughton was a company name.

Helen Bauch McHargue said...

Is this your only cold case? It looks like you've wrung everything you could out of the clues. A very interesting read as always.

Alan Burnett said...

Caught up in your mystery, for a time I played with the idea of it being Broughton Brass Band (there were a couple in England) but, no, it wouldn't fit - certainly not with those names. You write a fine mystery Mike.

Bob Scotney said...

We have a Broughton near us but never big enough to support a band. It will have to remain an American mystery.

Karen S. said...

Oh I love a good hunt with cold cases, and it's so darn fun to read about others and their mystery travels too!

L. D. said...

I have my older brothers bariton horn in my shed. It is in such bad shape but I saw them in your photo. Maybe someday you can find the questions you have for the photo of the traveling band.


It is odd that so much information provides no results at all. I can feel your pain!!! You've certainly done the work, considering locations, names, and the possibility of a company band. What else could there be?
I'm sure you'll [eventually] think of something...

Postcardy said...

A cold case of more than one kind!

Jill Buck said...

Mr. Mike, please check your email. I sent you an identification of the Broughton Band. Thanks, from

Ken Burgen said...

Mike, If I'm not mistaken, I believe this refers to Broughton, Kansas.
It was a small community that was bulldozed in 1966 to make way for Milford Lake.
It's location was just southeast of Clay Center, Kansas.
My Great-grandparents ran the general store there. You can reach me at

EKH said...

"Uncle Sanders" is Harry maxwell Sanders. I acquired a large lot of photographs of him and his family, including a smaller version of this one with the Broughton Band. He is the man on the far left.


  © Blogger template Shush by 2009

Back to TOP