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Music in Equality (1878-1928)
By MRS. IDA B. COYLE
Gallatin Co. ILGenWeb

[Page 2]

In appreciation, and as a loving tribute to the art of music and to the talent in Equality, these few pages have been prepared.

That these facts may be preserved and that they may be handed down through the years as a part of the town's History is the express wish of the writer.

[signed] Ida B. Coyle

I.B.C.

 

[Page 3]

For many years Equality has been recognized as having more musical talent than any of the small towns in this part of the country. Music in Equality, no doubt, dates back to the very early days, for we cannot even imagine the town being without good voices, band, orchestras and other musical organizations.

The first band was organized in the year 1878 by Charles Stein, with the following charter members: George W. Moore, C.C. Smith, Charles Stein, Fritz Wiedemann, William Miller, Dan Helm, a Mr. Whitney, Marshall R. Moore, Mac. Baldwin, James Windsor and William Clark. They had as an instructor, Mr. Gene Sisson.

After eight months of hard and tireless practice this band participated in a three-corner contest at Galatia, Illinois, embracing McLeansboro, Harrisburg and Equality. The result of this contest was the carrying away off of first honors by the Equality Band., The first prize being a fine silver plated E Flat cornet.

This gave the band ready recognition and a short time afterward they were asked to play for the first fair held in Eldorado.

Their second engagement was to furnish music for the McLeansboro Fair. This band was active and though the organization suffered many changes and losses, new blood was added and it remained in existence until a few years before the present Home Band was organized in 1904.

Equality had known a number of able teachers of music. Among those of earlier days are Mrs. Ed. Dupler, who was a teacher [Page 2] of both piano and voice and was a singer of rare ability. Mrs. T. B. Guard will always have a place in our memories, both for her beautiful voice and for her ability as a teacher. She filled the place as organist at the Presbyterian Church for a number of years, and appeared as a soloist in all the better programs presented in this and other nearby towns during her life time.

Mrs. Ella I. Strickland, Mrs. May Smith Burtis, Mrs. Kate Adams-Stein and Mrs. Cliff McHenry-Taber were all good teachers of music in Equality for a number of years.

Mrs. A.C. Rodgers is another of Equality's former musicians, who besides being a musician and a teacher of music, was the mother of a large family, all of whom are credited musicians.

Mrs. E. R. Beverly is a member of this family and has the distinction of having instructed more pupils than any one in the town. Mrs. Beverly began teacher music when only sixteen years of age, when she rode horse-back three miles, three times each week to reach her first pupil -- Emma Nave -- for which she received the sum of five dollars per term of twenty-four lessons.

Since this that time she has instructed more than 150 pupils in the town. Mrs. Beverly has taught pupils on most every instrument, with the exception of the banjo, and has organized and conducted orchestras and other musical clubs, among both the young and older people of Equality.

The town has had known a number of splendid orchestras. The Moore-Smith Orchestra with George W. Moore as director, was one of the first and best musical organizations the town, ever had has known.

Since that time Equality has not been without one or more orchestras and at one time -- just before the World War -- the town [page 4] could boast of five complete orchestras and two bands.

The Equality Home Band was organized in the fall of 1904 with eighteen charter members. They were Earl Helm, Al. Beltz, Matt. Wathen, D.W. Grimes, Henry Baldwin, Victor Pearce, A.C. Pickering, Jess Turner, Frank Flanders, O.C. Breeze, Orval Purcell, James McLain, E.V. Baldwin, J.C. Coyle, C.O. Dempsey, Carl W. Wright, James Dixon and Roland McHenry - - - - Mr. Marshall R. Moore was their first instructor and was an ever faithful member until his death.

The Band has known a number of directors since. Those remembered are J.B. Smith, Harry G. Moore, Victor Pearce, Lee A. Stader and Guy E. Malin.

This Band was organized at the suggestion of J.C. Coyle following a visit of the Carrier Mills Band which was engaged to furnish music for the first Equality Industrial Exposition, in (1904). No doubt the bright red uniforms and shiny brass instruments did much to arouse the enthusiasm of the citizens and to promote the idea.

It is interesting to know that one year from the date of the organization of this band, only nine of the original eighteen members remained, but the membership still remained eighteen or more.

 

FIRST PUBLIC APPEARANCE

The Band's first public appearance was on the following March 17th when a musical program was rendered at the Turner Opera House, and we are happy to remember that it was a full house that greeted the new organization on this St. Patrick's Day.

Since that time St. Patrick's Day has virtually belonged [Page 4] to the Equality Home Band and a number of splendid programs have were been presented on that date.

The Band became connected federated with the American Federation of Musicians about the year 1912, and has since remained a Union Band. This organization reached its height just before the war when there were twenty-seven members. The Service Flag displayed but fifteen starts, which left the band rather small, however, some younger members were added and all during the war this band did splendid work playing for Red Cross and Liberty Loan drives and escorting groups of the boys on their leave-taking in this and in adjoining counties.

The Equality Home Band has filled engagements far and near. The most distant and probably the most interesting and enjoyable trip was in May 1907 when the Band was invited by Captain Chrider of the "J.B. Richardson" to be his guests on an eight day boat excursion on the Ohio River from Shawneetown to Nashville, Tennessee and return. This date has been marked in red letters on the band's calendar.

An orchestra known as the Red Cross Orchestra also did good work during the war period. It appeared on a number of programs in the interest of the cause.

Of the eighteen original charter members of the equality Home Band only three remain with the organization. They are Earl Helm, James C. Coyle and Victor Pearce. But Equality still has one of the best bands in this part of State.

The management was quick to take advantage of a law passed two years ago by the Legislature granting a vote of a tax of not exceeding two mills for the maintenance of municipal bands in the [Page 5] State. This measure was voted upon at the following spring election and carried. Thus showing the interest of the people.

All of our churches have at all times supported good choirs.

Perhaps Mrs. Pet. M. Turner and Victor Pearce have sung for more funerals than any others in the town.

Equality has had from time to time a number of good quartets. Among those appearing in the earlier quartets were Mr. And Mrs. J.B. Smith, Dr. Frank Jones, Mrs. Geo. Helm, Mr. A. J. Sisk, Mr. E. G. Wathen, Mrs. C. H. Davis, Mrs. Plummer (who was formerly Miss Minnie Turner), Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Turner and Mr. Victor Pearce.

A Ladies' Quartet named by Mr. C. W. Turner "THE BROWN EYED QUARTET" stands out as one of the best. Members of this quartet were Isla Guard, Mabel Pearce, Margureite Coyle and Mrs. Pet M. Turner. Special mention is here made of Isla Guard who is now Mrs. De Bord of Berkley, California, Isla G. [name unrecognizable] of Los [unreadable], as being a musician of rare ability both as a pianist and singer. Mrs. DeBord She is a graduate from a number of schools of music and is also a graduate of the University of California. She has a voice of unusual sweetness, and many are the delightful programs on which she appeared both as a soloist and in other musical roles. She has taught both bands and orchestras since moving to California, and still does.

Mrs. Turner has a contralto voice of unusual beauty, unequaled in this part of the country. Mr. Turner often spoke of the musical quality of the Brown Eyed Quartet and said, had his health permitted, he would have liked nothing better than to have accompanied them on a tour.

Another quartet having delighted a number of audiences, and which is deserving of mention was the boys' quartet composed of John Brewner, Ray Colye, Arch Wathen and Leonard Wathen.

[Page 6]

The town has always excelled in the number of good male voices. Mr. John Burtis* [footnote: Mr. Burtis died July 29, 1922], E. G. Wathen, Dan Jones, Dr. Herbert Ferrell, J.E. Brannon and Frank White are among those whose bass is very good.

Victor Pearce, as a tenor, leads as a singer and musician and is considered one of the best musical critics the town has had known. He knows good music and knows how to produce it.

Eugene A. Turner is also worthy of mention as a singer, having delighted his hearers on many a number of occasions. Mr. Turner's His whistling solos have always been a source of enjoyment. On many programs he Mr. Turner has done was his own accompanying accompanist.

Arthur Smith and Burtis Montgomery are former tenors of note, both having appeared in vocal parts with the Equality Home Band.

Here we will mention Cedric Wathen, whose memory we cherish on account of his ability as a fine singer and his always willingness to appear on any program for any occasion. He perhaps was more appreciated and has delighted his listeners more times in his short life than any of our younger singers.

Ray Coyle is another of our young men who has appeared as a tenor in numerous programs in later years.

 

Music in Public School

Music was introduced in the Public School of Equality in 1910. The first instructor employed was Miss Winefred Fouts, who later became Mrs. Lee A Stader. ---- Mrs. Stader excelled not [Page 7] only as a singer and teacher of music, but she was also an accomplished instructor of painting and other arts and one of the best musicians Equality has known.

The town and school surely took a backward step when they allowed music and art to be dropped from the curriculum of the Public School. We feel sure that the patrons and the Board of Education have realized this fact, and music was again made a study in the school term at the beginning of the 1928-29 term with Miss Neva McLain, one of Equality's own girls, as teacher.

Through the efforts of the Parent-Teachers Association a new piano was placed in the school a short time before, which, no doubt proved the direct incentive to this worth while move.

Miss Mildred Smith stands apart as one of the best instructors of music the High School has had known. She too, was is an excellent singer, having a beautiful soprano voice.

Miss Smith is also loved for her interest and willingness to assist in community affairs and the results of her school work stands as proof of her ability as a teacher.

 

It is interesting in so small a place to note the number of whole families that have unusual musical talent. Here we record the George W. Moore family, the C.C. Smith family who five sons were musicians, the C.A. Guard family, whose six children are all musicians of note. All five of the Guard brothers have appeared in concerts with the Equality Home Band. (And I am especially proud of my own four boys who have been members of this Band.)

[Page 8]

Guy and Alma Malin are among Equality's present day musicians and are almost indispensable as no musical program is complete without them.

Mr. Malin is a soloist of violin and cornet and for several years he has been the leader of the Home Band. He is also the organizer and director of the Egyptian Aces, a well known dance orchestra.

Miss Malin is exceptionally good in orchestra and as an accompanist.

 

MAKING GOOD IN THE WORLD

Of Equality's musicians who have gone out into the world and are making good in a musical way, we recall Mrs. Isla Guard De Bord, Lawrence Guard, who has played with a number of leading orchestras of the country such as Paul Whitemen's Orchestra and The Victor Recording Orchestra. Lawrence is now a member of an orchestra distinguished for having played at the Inaugural Ceremonies of President Hoover.

Lee A. Stader, who for some years was director of a symphony orchestra in Pontiac, Michigan and who now has an orchestra of his own; Geo. W. Moore Jr. who commands a good salary for his services with one of the big orchestras in Los Angeles, California; Virgil Coyle, who entered the service of the United States Army as a first class musician and played with one of the leading Military Bands of the country for almost six years; James McLain, now playing with the Detroit Wolverine Band and who frequently [Page 9] assists the 182nd Michigan Artillery Band in parades and concerts; John E. Ferrell who for a number of years has been a member of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Kelly and Murray Smith who are connected with the Stewart-Warner Radio Station (WBBM) in Chicago, Ill. The former is manager of the station and a violinist of note. He was also on the Chautauqua platform as a musician for a number of years, employed by one of the best Chautauqua Companies.

Murray Smith is a member of the entertainment staff of the Stewart-Warner Station. He sings and plays the saxophone.

Newell and Charlie Wiedemann, former members of the Equality Home Band, are now residents of Beaumont, Texas. The former was the organizer of the first High School Band in Equality, the latter conducting the first High School Orchestra. Later, while in the service of Uncle Sam's great Army during the World War, both distinguished themselves as members of the 334th Field Artillery Band. Charles Wiedemann serving served in the capacity of as Band Master and Newell as Assistant Band Master.

This Band was selected from a number of bands to tour France during the War, visiting all the larger cities.

Halton P. Siddall, one of Equality's younger musicians, was a member of the famous Sousa's Navy Band an was selected with twenty-one other members of the 100 piece organization to form a band to go to France during the World War. This band was stationed at Brest, France, and was distinguished by being selected to lead the great parade held in Paris following the signing of the Armistice.

Lonnie Brannon was another of the Home Band boys who served [Page 10] as a musician overseas during the World War. He was attached to the 81st Field Artillery Band. - - - For a number of years Lonnie has played with the Carmi (Ill.) Band.

Mrs. May Smith Burtis, who plays pipe organ in one of Chicago's largest theatres, and Mrs. Lela Rodgers Votaw, playing pipe organ in a large theatre in Windber, Pennsylvania.

 

No doubt, on account of his talent others musicians have been attracted to the town. Some to make their permanent home and others to pass on after a time, but we may be truly proud of what Equality has accomplished in a musical way.

We are assured by the results of our recent meet and by this delightful program this evening that our young people are carrying on and striving to uphold the high standard in music that Equality has known so long. But we wonder, having lived our lives in such an atmosphere, if we fully appreciate what we have. What we have gratis at all times that many other much larger town pay good money to enjoy.

 

THE END

 

[Page 11]

 

NOTE: This history was read by Mrs. Coyle as a number on a program during National Music Week at the Equality Township High School, Equality, Illinois, on the evening of Wednesday May 8th 1929.

 

Webmaster's Notes and Genealogical Information: The preceding text came from a photocopy of Mrs. Coyle's presentation donated by Cindy. The text has been typed as it appears on the photocopy of the original. Someone later edited the typed copy for publication, such as in a newspaper. Text that appears in italics is what has been added in that editing process. Text that has been struck through is what was marked for deletion in that process. Text within [brackets] has been added in the process of developing the page for the Internet.

According to information submitted by Cindy Pegg, Mrs. Coyle was her uncle's grandmother. Born on Feb. 3, 1876 to Ferdinand and Barbara (Bennett) Brazier, Ida Brazier later married James Charles Coyle, born on Oct. 17, 1873, to Charles and Sarah (Blake) Coyle. Thirty-five years after her presentation in Equality, Mrs. Coyle died on May 17, 1964, ten years after her husband passed away on March 9, 1954. They had four children: Anna Velma Coyle who married a Brewner, Virgil Blake Coyle, James Raphal Coyle who married Elizabeth Marie Stapenhorst, and Lawrence Coyle.

 



©1999 Jon Musgrave
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