Military Bands of Music.
Since the town was incorporated it has, at different times in its history, been the home of three separate and distinct military bands of music. The first of these was the old militia band, so called, which was associated with and furnished music for the old militia company. Originally, the company marched to the music furnished by a fifer and a drummer who were paid by the State. But, as years passed by, the fifer and drummer were joined by musicians who played upon musical instruments of other and different descriptions. In 1847, by reason of these additions to its ranks, the company's corps of musicians had increased to eight in number, and attained to the dignity of being called "The Band." The following is the list of the names of its members at that time and the kind of instrument played by each: George W. L. Hobart, E-flat bugle; William Wallace, clarionet; Lemuel Brooks, ophiclide; Moses Bohonon, trombone; Abner H. Bills, trombone; Kendall Shattuck, snare drum; Eliab Shattuck, bass drum. This band went out of existence with the militia Company in 1848.
The Brookline Brass Band.
The Brookline Brass Band was organized in the summer and fall of 1851. As originally constituted, its membership consisted of sixteen men, as follows: Wilkes W. Corey, John S. Daniels, Joshua J. Hobart, Fernando Shattuck, Luke Baldwin, N. Herman Shattuck, Orman F. Shattuck, William B. Rockwood, John Hall, William Wallace, Eliab Shattuck, Ira Daniels, George W. L. Hobart, Harvey M. Hall, David D. Rockwood, Benjamin Shattuck.
During the thirty or more years of its existence, in addition to its original members, there were enrolled in its ranks at various times eleven others of the town's citizens, as follows: Bela G. Cochran, Charles S. Willoughby, Albert W. Corey, Charles Coggin, Frank L. Willoughby, John E. French, Clinton Coggin, Leroy A. Wallace, J. Edgar Hobson, Charles E. Shattuck, Clinton Bohonon.
The band's first leader was George W. L. Hobart, who held the position for twenty-five consecutive years. For the first ten years of its existence it was under the instruction of Peter A. Clark of New Ipswich, who at this time enjoyed throughout this part of New England the reputation of being an excellent musician, both vocally and also as a performer on wind instruments; his favorite instrument being the E-flat bugle, in the playing of which, his admirers claimed, he was second to none, the celebrated Ned Kendall alone excepted. About 1865, Mr. Clark retired from his position as the band's instructor. He was succeeded by Alonzo Bond of Boston, Mass.
Musical Festival, 1866.
In 1866, while under Mr. Bond's instruction, and at his suggestion, the "Old Brass" as it had then begun to be called, issued invitations to several of the military bands located in the towns and cities in this vicinity to attend a musical festival to be holden in Brookline on the 6th day of September of that year. The invitation was accepted by the bands in Nashua, Milford, Wilton, Hollis, Dunstable, Mass., Townsend, Mass., Pepperell, Mass., and Groton Junction, Mass., each of which was present on the occasion.
The scene of the gathering was in the grove on the north shore of Muscatanipus pond. Besides the citizens of Brookline, who turned out en masse, there were present large delegations from neighboring towns. At ten o'clock the procession, having already been formed, marched from Main street to the grove in the following order: each band being followed by their respective delegations--Brookline Brass Band, G. W. L. Hobart, leader, including Prof. Alonzo Bond, leader of Bond's Band of Boston; Pepperell Cornet Band, Augustus Shattuck, leader, sixteen pieces; Townsend, Mass., Cornet Band, Stephen A. Tyler, leader, fourteen pieces; Hollis Cornet Band, W. A. Trow, leader, nineteen pieces; Milford Cornet Band, A. A. Nickles, leader, W. C. Kidder, director, including Walter Dignam, leader of Manchester Band, nineteen pieces; Wilton Cornet Band, Carl Krebs, leader, eighteen pieces; Nashua Cornet Band, B. F. Sargent, leader, E. T. Baldwin, director, fifteen pieces; Dunstable, Mass., Cornet Band, H. Spalding, leader, eighteen pieces; Groton Junction, Mass., Band, fourteen pieces.
On arriving at the grove the following citizens were elected as officers of the day: Rev. C. H. Chase, President; Charles A. Priest, Secretary; J. Alonzo Hall, Chief Marshal; David Hobart, James Clinton Parker, Charles A. Priest, Henry B. Stiles, Dr. David P. Stowell, William Wright, and Nathaniel Hobart, Assistant Marshals.
The estimated number of people present was three thousand. At eleven o'clock the meeting was called to order by Rev. Mr. Chase. The order of exercises was as follows: Music by the Brookline Brass Band; prayer by President Chase; addresses by President Chase and Henry K. Kemp. Esq., of Brookline, after which each of the bands present played select pieces of music.
At the close of the exercises more than eight hundred people, including the bands, partook of a most bountiful banquet, which had been provided for the occasion by the citizens of Brookline.
At the close of the banquet, the consolidated bands, consisting of one hundred and fifty pieces, played patriotic airs. The procession was then re-formed and marched back to the square in front of Tucker and Stiles store, where the consolidated bands, under the leadership of Professor Bond, by way of a finale, played several popular airs. The several bands then adjourned to and met in convention in the hall of Tucker and Stiles.
During the post prandial exercises at the grove, Professor Bond, in an eloquent speech, had suggested the idea of forming a musical association, to consist of the bands then present and of such other bands in the vicinity as could be induced to join with them in the enterprise.
The idea was enthusiastically received by the members of the bands; and at a meeting in the hall a motion to form such an association was carried unanimously. A committee of one from each band was appointed to nominate a board of officers. And upon the reception and adoption of the committee's report, the following gentlemen were elected as the association's first board of officers:
Wilkes W. Corey, Brookline, President; E. T. Baldwin, Nashua, W. C. Kidder, Milford, vice-presidents; E. A. Blood, Pepperell, Mass., secretary. The band leaders and the said board of officers were appointed as an executive committee.
In 1868, this Association held its second annual meeting, under the name of "Band Convention," at Nashua, on the 15th day of September; on which occasion, in addition to eight of the bands of which it was originally composed, there were also present bands from Hooksett, Franklin, North Chelmsford, Mass., and Leominster, Mass. The third and last convention of this Association was held at Leominster, Mass., in September, 1869.
This convention of military bands was the first of its kind to be formed in New England. To Alonzo Bond belonged the honor of originating the idea of forming it. To Brookline belongs the honor of being the place of the Association's birth and the scene of its first convention. An honor which is more highly appreciated because of the fact, as was claimed at the time and never since disputed, that from this musical festival in Brookline, Patrick Gilmore derived the idea which inspired him to undertake the work of holding the first "Peace Jubilee," which was holden in Boston in the fall of 1869.
In 1877-78, the "Old Brass," by the deaths of some of its members and removal from town of others, had become so diminished in numbers that it became apparent that its continued existence was dependent upon additional membership. Accordingly new members were taken in, and a re-organization of the band was effected. Under its re-organized condition the names of its members were as follows: Eldorus C. Shattuck, John B. Hardy, Henry A. Hall, Alpha A. Hall, Horace Richmond, Frank Cook, Francis Coil, Willie A. Hobart, Frederic G. Hobart, George Manning, Henry Bohonon, Clinton Bohonon, Charles L. Willoughby, Bela G. Cochran, Onslow Daniels, David D. Rockwood.
David D. Rockwood was elected leader. During the remainder of its existence it had, at various times, as instructors, James Lovejoy, of Hollis, and Augustus Cummings of Nashua. It continued to play until 1882; when it quietly disbanded. At the time of its disbandment, it enjoyed the distinction of being the oldest military band in the State, it having had a continuous existence of thirty-one years.