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The era before high school bands

Bluffton Merchants Band - all men and all brass (except for the drums)

Meet members of the Bluffton Merchants Band from the early 1890s. Did they play tunes by John Philip Sousa, the march king? Most certainly.

Front row from left, Albert Benroth (drummer) and Charley Fenton.

Middle row from left, Will Ranson, Turley Cornwell, Al Swinehart, Chris Klay and Will Zehrbach.

Back row from left, Jasper (or Casper) Hall, John Nicholson, Ira Troxel, Bert Mann, Albert Niswander and Butch Flick.

A couple notes: This was not the first Bluffton band, as an earlier one was known to exist. Take time to study the member’s uniforms. They are very distinctive.

Here's Bluffton High School band director, David Syck's description of the instruments:

Row 2 (L to R): Tenor Trombone, Eb Horn (played parts more like the French horn but looked like a mini-baritone), Eb Cornet (soprano cornet), Baritone and Bbb Tuba.

Row 3 (L to R): three Eb horns, Bb cornet and, can't tell if the last one looks like another Bb cornet or another Eb cornet.

In brass bands of those days: • the Eb cornets played what would be our clarinet/flute parts,

• Bb cornets played cornet/trumpet parts of today, • Eb Horn played what would be our French horn parts of today, • and trombone/baritone/tuba played their similar counterparts of today.



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