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 }

Mr. Kellogg's Keyed Bugle

28 March 2014

This old gentleman in his fine frock coat is playing an unusual horn. His name is Collins Kellogg, and though his instrument looks like a large trumpet or cornet, it has no piston or rotary valves and is in fact a Keyed Bugle. This hybrid design combined a bugle with the tone hole mechanisms found on early woodwind instruments in order to produce chromatic scale notes than are not possible on the simple bugle. It was used in brass bands from 1800 to the 1850s. But when this photograph was taken in the 1870s, the keyed bugle had become an old fashioned musical instrument and was very uncommon.

So why is Mr. Kellogg playing one? His clothes show that he is no military bandsman. And yet he is not a professional musician either, since when this photo was taken, he was actually employed as a milkman.

Instead his photograph celebrates the occupation he was most proud of.

A boatman on the Erie Canal.

This is the story of Mr. Kellogg and his keyed bugle.

Keyed bugle, ca. 1835–50
Graves and Company
Winchester, New Hampshire
Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art

The keyed bugle is a conical brass instrument that was first devised in Britain around 1800. They were often made of copper with nickel trim like the one pictured above, though some are found in brass and even silver. It is played with a trumpet type mouthpiece and sounds like a bugle, but arranged along its length are between 5 and 11 large tone holes covered by keyed flaps that allow it to change pitch. The design makes it a member of the ophicleide family of brass instruments in that the keys remain closed until opened by pressing a key. This is the opposite way from how flutes, clarinets, and saxophones work. Therefore the fingering system of the keyed bugle does not resemble the keywork patterns of woodwind instruments. This addition of tone holes to the bugle offered military brass bands a novel solo instrument that could play more melodic tunes than what natural trumpets could then produce, since those early brass instruments were limited to a short series of notes in only one musical key.

In the 1830s piston and rotary valves were first attached to brass instruments and it revolutionized music. Now only 3 valves were needed to play a full chromatic scale on a horn or trumpet. The sound became louder and more uniform. Craftsmen focused on changing the length of musical plumbing and introduced many new brass instruments in different sizes from small treble-pitched cornets to large bass tubas. These new sonorities inspired composers of the Romantic era and music was never the same. 

The awkward fingering and softer tone of the keyed bugle never offered a sustaining reward for musicians as the new valve instruments had easier and faster fingerings and produced a more colorful sound. It quickly lost favor in orchestras and bands and was replaced by various instruments like saxhorns and cornets which had valves.

So what did Mr. Kellogg's keyed bugle sound like? 

Here is a YouTube recording featuring the keyed bugle as performed by the Chestnut Brass Company, a brass quintet that specializes in performances on historic brass instruments. The tune might very well have been a favorite of Mr. Kellogg, whose bugle is in B-flat, a common size like the ones pictured here.
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Mr. Kellogg's carte de visite photograph was made by:

N. E. A. McLeod,
176 Pearl Street, West Side
Cleveland, OH.

And on the back is written in ink:

Collins Kellogg   father
K. C. Kellogg    1st
Halsey  "
Albert   "

My research on the name Collins Kellogg offered up several  entries in the Cleveland city directory. In the 1871 edition he was listed as milkman, and in 1873, milk depot. But in following years that description was left out, no doubt because he was getting too old to make the rounds of a milk wagon.

The 1870 census for Cleveland gave his age as 68, birthplace - Massachusetts, trade - Keeps milk depot. His wife was named Anna, age 56. No one else shared their home and the other Kellogg names on the photo did not appear to be living in the Cleveland area. 

By interesting coincidence, I found the name K. C. Kellogg in Lowville, New York which is the location of another musician I have been doing research on. He was a prominent Lowville businessman often mentioned in the local newspapers as K. Collins Kellogg. His full name was Kinsley Collins Kellogg, and he and his younger brother Halsey Kellogg had established themselves in this part of upstate New York along the Black River.

Lowville NY Democrat, April 2, 1881
In 1881 the Lowville Democrat newspaper (there was also a Lowville Republican which ran a shorter article) reported on the death of Collins Kellogg,  father of K. Collins Kellogg, in Cleveland, OH on March 31, 1881 at the age of 79.  It notes he is survived by his second wife (Anna), a daughter, Mrs. Emma Shay, and  two sons, K. Collins and Halsey Kellogg. The third name on the photo, may refer to a younger brother who died at an early age, as Halsey had two sons, one named Albert and the other K. Collins. 

The report places Collins' birthplace in Massachusetts, but mistakenly in West Winfield which is a town in New York. According to family records on he was born in Hampden, Mass. In 1824 Collins brought his family to Turin, NY, which is 12 miles south of Lowville, and lived there for many years before moving to Cleveland in 1846.

The obituary then adds this brief remembrance.

He was well known to the old inhabitants of Turin
who will remember his running a packet boat
between Albany and Buffalo in the summer season.

This is the clue that explains why Collins Kellogg posed for a photograph while blowing his bugle.

How did you get from Albany to Buffalo in the 1830s?

On the Erie Canal.

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Erie Canal

In the 1800s, the Erie canal was the grand idea for insuring the future  prosperity of America by connecting the Hudson River with Lake Erie and making a faster route to the new western states of the Great Lakes region. It was first proposed in 1802, though construction did not begin until 1817 after the settlement of the War of 1812, and it was finished in 1825. Built using only the labor of men and power of animals, this waterway cut through 363 miles of wilderness, and climbed 568 feet up from the Hudson River to Lake Erie by utilizing 18 aqueducts and 83 locks. Many Americans considered it the new 8th wonder of the world

When Collins Kellogg was a young man in 1825, the new canal was also a pathway to adventure and wealth. He found a job as the captain of a packet boat, the fastest and most direct way for people to go west in America.
Let's have a travel guide from 1825 describe how it worked.

Early Days of Rapid Transit
painting by Edward Lamson Henry

A Pocket Guide for the Tourist and Traveler,
Along the Line of the Canals.

By Horatio Gates Spafford
published 1825


Fare including board, lodging, and every expense, 4 cents a mile. Way passengers pay 3 cents a mile, exclusive of board, &c., and 37½ cents for dinner, 25 cents for breakfast, or supper, and 12½ cents for lodging.

These Packets are drawn by 3 horses, having relays every 8, 10, to 12 miles, and travel day and night, making about 80 miles every 24 hours. They are ingeniously and well constructed, (though there is yet room for some improvement,) have accommodations for about 30 passengers, furnish good tables, and a wholesome and rich fare, and have very attentive, civil, and obliging captains and crews. It is a very pleasant, cheap, and expeditious mode of traveling, where you have regular meals, pretty quiet rest, after a little experience, say of the first night; and find the time pleasantly employed in conversation, and the variety of incidents, new topics, stories, and the constantly varying scenery. The bustle of new comers, and departing passengers, with all the greetings and adieus, help to diversify the scene, and to make most persons seem to get along quite as fast as was anticipated. I found it so, while twice traversing the whole extent of the Erie Canal Navigation, taking notes for this little thing, which I hope everybody will find an useful, if not an agreeable companion.

Between Albany and Schenectady, 28½ miles, a day is employed, there being so many Locks to pass: but every person is well compensated for the time and expense, of at least one trip, passing 27 Locks, 2 Aqueducts, and an interesting variety of natural scenery.

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The Erie canal was only 4 feet deep and 40 feet wide with a single towpath, usually on the north side, that was 10 feet wide. The early locks were 90 feet long and 15 feet wide and meant to accommodate a typical canal boat that was 61 feet long and a bit over 7 feet wide. Packet boats, which could be 60-80 feet long and 14 feet wide, had priority on the waterway, as in addition to passengers, they also carried the mail. With boats traveling in both directions, the boatmen competed with each other to get through the locks as quickly as possible. This required an exchange of tow ropes and horses along with opening and closing the lock gates and became an exercise in efficient teamwork. Borrowing from the stage coach tradition, the boatmen used a coach horn or bugle to signal the lock keeper of their approach. 

Prince Carl Bernhard, (1792–1862), the seventh child of Charles Augustus, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach can tell us what it was like on his 1825 summer holiday in New York.


published 1828

During the night, as there was a want of births, the beds were placed upon benches, and as I was the tallest person, mine was put in the centre upon the longest bench, with a chair as a supplement. It had the appearance of a hereditary sepulchre, in the centre of which I lay as father of the family. I spent an uncomfortable night on account of my constrained posture, the insects which annoyed me, and the steersman, who always played an agreeable tune upon his bugle whenever he approached a lock.

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The packet boat trip from Schenectady to Buffalo took about 3½ days, but of course it stopped in every town and village along the way to pickup and drop off passengers. A good captain would want to alert waiting travelers that a stop was eminent. While a coach horn or bugle would do for signaling on an ordinary canal work barge, for a packet boat something more distinctive was needed. So I imagine the enterprising Captain Kellogg brought a keyed bugle that could not only announce his arrival at the locks with a personal flourish, but also play tunes for his passengers.


An excerpt from Remembering the Genesee Valley Canal, by Richard Palmer says:

... in 1892 Dr. Porter Farley, a Rochester physician, recalled:

The packet boat was a spectacle that never lost its charm to youthful eyes. As it swept through the town it was a sight which compelled attention. Its hull was white with green window blinds; its helmsman was furnished with a bugle which he was wont to blow upon in strains pleasant to hear and in sweet contrast to the hoarse shriek of the locomotive which now resounds throughout the land. 

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Source: Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly, Volume 29

In the 21st century, floating along the Eire canal seems a quaint and idyllic way to travel. In the 1870s, Collins Kellogg must have thought so too, as the iron horse of the steam train had pulled far ahead of the horsepower of a packet boat. Though the canal remained practical for many decades as a way of transporting material and goods, the railroads must have greatly diminished passenger traffic on the canal by the mid-1840s when Kellogg moved to Cleveland.


Notice that this last illustration is entitled Before the Days of Rapid Transit, while the first canal image was titled Early Days of Rapid Transit. It was all a matter of perspective. 
In my research to find references about this use of bugles and horns by boatmen on the Eire canal, I am indebted to a fantastic website - There you will find many more details about the engineering on the canal and its history. 

Another website that I often use is the Internet Archives, which is where I uncovered this delightful poem by W. R. Freeman from a kind of illustrated children's book that he published in 1894. You can read the original in the embedded viewer below. But I reprint the poem in full because it captures the pastoral quality of living next to the Erie canal and the way that sounds can be part of memory. I think that is what Mr. Kellogg was trying to convey in his photograph. 

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In Western New York, Seventy Years Ago


published 1894


'Twas about this time the canal waterway
Was finished all through the State of New York.
From the great Western lakes to the Eastern bay.
And all were rejoicing over the work.

Rejoicing, the people from afar would come,
On foot and on horseback, to celebrate
(In procession with music of fife and drum)
The great achievement of the Empire State.

Now, this great waterway ran near to our farm,
And I used to run down to the towpath inn
(Although I was so little I feared no harm
In going to see the packet come in.)

As I stood there waiting for the packet boat,
Looking into the wood so dense and dark.
From out came the sound of a clear bugle note,
And out flashed the form of the little barque.

On came the bright pageant with uncommon speed.
On a brisk trot — a three-horse tandem team;
The bugler was mounted on the hindmost steed
As they came rushing down the sluggish stream.

The people, all curious, came far to see
The wonderful new rapid-transit boat.
And though how strange it could possible be
To ride from the lakes to New York afloat.

To travel in this way became all the rage.
To glide on all day and sleep through the night —
Such an improvement on the old jolting stage.
This mode of travel was hailed with delight.

In Western New York, Seventy Years Ago
by W. R. Freeman, 1894

Nothing is ever certain when reconstructing a life from the whispers of history. The full story of Collins Kellogg is impossible to know, and beyond my telling. There might be other reasons for him to pose for a photograph holding a keyed bugle, but I think the clues make my conjecture a good explanation. In 1872, which is about the year when this kind of cdv photo was still made, Mr. Kellogg would have reached the significant age of 70. Surely on such an occasion he would want to give his friends and family back in New York a photo to remember him by. What would be a better gift than a bugle tune from the good old days.    

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where all the boats are afloat this weekend.

In the video of the Chestnut Brass there was a brief glimpse of some of the other keyed brass instruments. Click these links for my other posts showing keyed brass:
Serpent and the Ophicleide; Oh Ophicleide, Ophicleide; and Monsieur le Curé and his Ophicleide.


Postcardy said...

Great post! You found a lot of interesting information on Kellogg, bugles, and Erie canal boats.

La Nightingail said...

What an interesting occupation to be the captain of a packet boat on the Erie canal. Being out in the fresh air, meeting all sorts of people, & being able to play a favorite instrument at the same time. He probably thought it couldn't get any better! Nice photo, great story, & I enjoyed listening to the Chestnut Brass Company. In the passing pictures of unusual instruments while listening to the music, there was one that looked like an eel & I do wonder what sort of instrument it is & what it sounds like???

Anonymous said...

It must have taken you an age to prepare this well researched contribution, I loved the idea of blowing the bugle as you approached a lock. The item from the Chestnut Brass Band really made my day. My grandfather was a a bandmaster of several Brass Bands in his lifetime, and it is in my blood. He played a valve trombone from time to time as well as a cornet.

Rosie said...

Enjoyed your post, no doubt the people welcomed the floating trip as opposed to the juggling around in a coach. Good to hear the band too!

Brett Payne said...

An instrument of delight, both to look at and to listen to. Having spent a very eenjoyable three weeks piloting a narrowboat along the canals of the English Midlands, I think I could be quite partial to a similar trip along the Erie Canal, particularly to the accompaniment of a keyed bugle. AND I see it goes right through Rochester, the home of the Eastman-Kodak museum. What an exciting holiday that would be!

Wendy said...

Ever since my own little blog post about my grandaunt's ride on a canal boat, I perk up every time someone writes about longboats, or in your case, the packet boat. I'm fascinated by them! Now this connection with the bugle is just very interesting too. After listening to keyed bugle, I have to wonder why it fell out of favor. It seems to be a logical and versatile addition for a band.

Deb Gould said...

What an amazing instrument! Still, it can't hold a candle to his chin hairs!

Anonymous said...

Bugles on the barges. Wonderful. There's something to be said for the leisurely way of life, the time to smell the roses instead of all this rush, rush, rush, But it was great to hear those old instruments in action. Such a sweet sound. I'n going to listen to some more of Chestnut Brass's recordings. Sepia Saturday points us in such interesting directions.

Alan Burnett said...

"Nothing is ever certain when reconstructing a life from the whispers of history". But some people have the ability to take the slightest whispers and build them into a satisfying crescendo of sound. A thoroughly enjoyable read - perfectly balanced between words, sounds and images.

Jackie van Bergen said...

Interesting how the Prince complains about the bugler on one hand but seems to enjoy the music anyway!
Amazing how you can always twist the SS themes!

Alex Daw said...

I roared with laughter when I read the Duke's account of his journey on the packet boat. It's a wonder the steersman wasn't murdered that night. I always wondered what a packet boat I know. Mike you always impress me with the depth of your research and your marvellous presentation of subject matter. Thanks for a very engaging always.

Tattered and Lost said...

Absolutely fascinating! Everything about the post was wonderful. And I am hoping that somewhere in a relatives closet Mr. Kellogg's bugle sits quietly waiting to once again sing. The music was wonderful!

Brett Payne said...

Thought you might be interested in a canal excursion along the Erie: here

Mike Brubaker said...

Thanks Brett. Sounds like a great holiday adventure. After my research on this photo, I've since been bookmarking travel companies that book narrowboat trips on the Erie canal. Have to wait for the snow and ice to melt.


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