Organization Which Held Rehearsals In Lewis Putnam's Harness Room
Front row (left to right)---Arthur E. Knight, Julius C. Timson, Frank G. Knight, Ed F. Leitsinger, Arthur D. Wyatt, Fred H. Holden, Fred C. Leitsinger, Julian R. Rand.
Back row (left to right)---Frank H. Brasor, Wallace W. Putnam, Fred A. Veet, William R. Stuart, Frank C. Williams, John A. Lindsey, Carlos K. Jones.
Fifty-five years ago the Brattleboro Boys' band, the forerunner of the Brattleboro Military band, was organized with Fred C. Leitsinger as leader. The Phoenix is indebted to John A. Lindsey of 14 Brook street, retired letter carrier, who was a member of the Boys' band, for a photograph of that organization, which included one or two older players, together with a history of the band and personal references to each member. Following is Mr. Lindsey's story:
Back in the year 1877 a few boys living on Prospect hill formed a drum corps. the father of one of the members bought him a cornet, and of course that made the other boys want some kind of a musical instrument, too. There was no band in Brattleboro at that time, so one of the boys, starting out with the writer's father's horse and buggy, covered the hills of Dummerston in search of band instruments. At that time there was no Dummerston band, but some instruments had been loaned to the Dummerston boys by the Brattleboro Cornet band.
I well remember that E-flat bass bellback horn nearly six feet tall that 'General' Wallace Putnam played. I think we borrowed a baritone in Guilford, and some of the boys had by this time a few more instruments. We started to practice in Lewis Putnam's harness room. Mr. Putnam's livery stable was located on Prospect street, where Clarence W. Reed's residence is now located.
I well remember the first time we played outside in the spring of 1878. We filled our lungs and blew with all our might (some of us), each trying to outdo the others. This was the beginning of what became the Brattleboro Military band, the First Regiment band of the National Guard of Vermont. Fred C. Leitsinger was the leader of all these bands; his continuous service since his boyhood is very unusual.
In keeping in touch with this sketch we could not pass without some of the funny sides. One time we were marching down Main street and there was in some way a mixup about the tune we were to play, with the result that we played different ones at the same time. Perhaps today we would have been called a very popular 'jazz' band. The story is told by one called 'Bob' that he used to come over during rehearsals and peek into the windows; of course we were 'some punkins', and he was driven away---too young to join. There was another story about a man from whom we borrowed a baritone horn, I believe. Sometimes people used to ask him, 'What kind of a horn do you play?' 'Brass horn' he would answer.
In drawing this sketch to a close, I should like to mention some of the well known players, who were very much interested, and played in the bands of later years. Among these was E. E. Bagley of Keene, N. H., the writer and composer of the famous march, 'National Emblem.' Ed has passed on, but his march will live forever. Another I would like to mention is our good Dr. E. L. Tracy, who toured the world with the famous Sousa, as the boy cornetist.
The accompanying picture is the original picture of the members of the band in 1878. The members, reading left to right, were as follows:
Frank H. Brasor---B-flat bass. Mr. Brasor is a well known bass singer, and at one time was supeintendent of the Estey Organ Co. He is now of the firm of Brasor & Barber of East Guilford, Vt.
Wallace W. Putnam---E-flat bass. Wallace W. Putnam was an organ manufacturer in Staunton, Va., at the time of his death. He was very much in touch with the religious work and welfare of the young people. The boys held rehearsals in his father's harness room.
Fred A. Veet---B-flat tenor. Mr. Veet has been with the Springfield Republican for nearly 50 years, and is now a proofreader.
William R. Stuart---Snare drum. Mr. Stuart is a well-known portrait and scenic painter. He grouped this original picture and made the negative from which the photograph was printed. Many of his scenes and drop curtains may be seen in this part of the country.
Frank C. Williams---E-flat alto. Mr. Williams was proprietor of a job printing office in Albany, N. Y., at the time of his death.
John A. Lindsey---E-flat alto. Mr. Lindsey was for many years a letter-carrier in Brattleboro, and is now retired.
Carlos K. Jones---Trombone. Mr. Jones was a member of the grocery firm of Scott & Jones before his death, and was at one time superintendent of the Brattleboro street railroad.
Arthur E. Knight---Clarinet. Mr. Knight was for 40 years an expert mechanic of the Estey Organ company, also a crack shot of the Brattleboro Rifle club.
Julius C. Timson---Bass drum. Before his death Mr. Timson held the rank of major in the First New Hampshire Volunteers of the Spanish American war. He was later a lieutenant colonel of the Second Regiment Infantry of the New Hampshire National Guard.
Frank G. Knight---Cymbals. Mr. Knight was a reed maker at the Estey Organ company, and is now a resident of Hartford, Conn.
Ed F. Leitsinger---Baritone. Mr. Leitsinger is a well-known piano tuner, and for many years was a tuner at the Estey Organ Co.
Arthur D. Wyatt---B-flat cornet. Mr. Wyatt was for many years a local photographer, and many families of our town have specimens of his good work. Before his death he was one of the selectmen of the town, and his name is on the tablet of the Connecticut River bridge as such.
Fred H. Holden---B-flat cornet. Mr. Holden was for many years a well-known druggist, his pharmacy being located in the north portion of what is now the Vermont Peoples National bank. He is now retured, and living in New Rochelle, N. Y.
Fred C. Leitsinger---E-flat cornet, and leader. Mr. Leitsinger is well-known band and orchestra leader, and organist. His whole life has been given to music. He is now instructor of the Brattleboro High School band, the Bellows Falls High School band, the Kurn Hattin Home band, conductor of the Putney Community orchestra, and for many years has been organist of the Centre Congregational church of Brattleboro. He is a thorough and painstaking instructor.
Julian R. Rand---E-flat cornet. Mr. Rand at one time was proprietor of a machine shop located in the Harmony block, on the second floor, which is now occupied by E. L. Hildreth & Co. Mr. Rand is now retired and living in Springfield, Mass.
Herbert M. Wood was also a member of the band at one time. George H. Clapp, who played flute and piccolo for many years in the later bands, also played before the Boys' band was organized, is the oldest ex-member. Spencer W. Knight, who played bass drum and cymbals, is the next oldest ex-member.
Vermont Phoenix, September 23, 1932.
---A band and torchlight serenade of the successful candidates for Congress and the Legislature was deferred on account of the Tuesday evening shower, but it came off Wednesday evening. The boys proceeded first to the residence of Mr. Tyler, and after playing one or two pieces were invited to come inside, where good cheer was provided for all who chose to help themselves, Mr. Waite acting as master of ceremonies. More music followed, after which the procession marched to Dr. Rockwell's residence, where a similar welcome awaited them. Dr. Rockwell's speech was very short and to the point. The company was not a large one.
Vermont Record And Farmer, September 6, 1878.
The band rehearsed at the old melodeon shop on Elliot street.
---We hear it stated that there will be no difficulty in raising the funds for a band stand as soon as a suitable location can be secured. Several sums have already been offered for this purpose and the band, now in full working force and favoring the public from time to time with their really fine music, are deserving of a better place to play these summer evenings than the street or a narrow hall. The most desireable place in the village for such a stand is on the corner of Main and High streets. Mr. Howe not feeling quite willing to have a part of his front yard appropriated to such a purpose, we see no objection to having a stand erected over the sidewalk and hydrant, possibly extending a few feet into Mr. Howe's yard, if the consent of the owner could be obtained. The stand would be above and out of the way of those passing along the sidewalk and the posts would not interfere with travel. This is the opinion of a number with whom we have conversed. A good stand could be erected for $100, perhaps less. If such a town as Northfield, Mass., can afford a band stand, much more can this town, and it is earnestly desired that the bailiffs or the selectmen will favor the public demand by granting a suitable and central location.
Vermont Record And Farmer, July 31, 1879.
---The band stand question if still unsettled, but a number of the citizens are showing an interest in the matter. Dr. Holton suggests a balcony over the steps of the town hall. This would furnish a good place for the band to play, and be very convenient for many other purposes. It would also be an ornament to the building. The selectmen have the matter under consideration, and it is thought that they will appropriate a certain amount of the funds of the town for this purpose, the balance to be raised by subscription. If this plan should not be adopted, wer have left the Revere House corner, a very central and accessible locality where a large crowd of people could be readily called together any pleasant evening. A temporary stand could be erected, which would ornament the locality and could be removed to some other place if the lot should be sold for building purposes. We recommend that one of these places be adopted without unnecessary delay.
Vermont Record And Farmer, August 7, 1879.