The Old Battered Trombone and the Community Band

“If music be the food of love, play on.” Twelfth Night, Shakespeare.

Although we usually talk about food that reminds me of family, this time it is music. The community band, to be exact.

Here’s how my week went so far.

Clifford Kaser

Clifford W. Kaser, probably about 1928 or 1929.

  • Found an old newspaper article telling about a 19th and early 20th century band in Clark, Ohio that had several Kaser members, including Clifford Kaser.
  • Ran across a postcard picture of my Grandfather Anderson playing in a similar band in Killbuck, Ohio. My mother, Harriette Kaser remembered how proud she was as a little girl seeing her daddy marching through town with his shiny horn.  

The church in the picture is the Killbuck Church of Christ. My great-grandfather Dr. William Stout helped raise funds to build the building and the family  continued to worship, be married in and buried from that church for generations. It still stands at the foot of School House Hill–also the home of the cemetery. Unfortunately, the steeple was damaged in a windstorm and never replaced, so the church now lacks the grace of its earlier design.

Killbuck Community Band

Killbuck band at Killbuck Christian Church Circa 1910. Grandfather Guy Anderson played French Horn. Possible front far right.

  • Remembered the old battered trombone in the cupboard that was Clifford Kaser’s and got it out.

Community band Trombone ed

  • Spent an another couple hours polishing the old silver.

Community band Kaser trombone

Community Band inscription

Clifford Kaser Trombone inscription, American Perfection The Richards Co. Cleveland Ohio
  • Marveled at the dents and the way the silver plate is worn off to the brass underneath in those places that were handled.
  • Got curious about the inscription. Turned to Google. There goes another hour or two.  Nothing definitive on the Richards Co., although one listing says Richards Co. 1882-1922, with no other information. That would be about the right dates. I’ve written to one of the experts I ran into on the Internet, and will let you know what I learn.

It was common for villages and towns to have a community band around the turn of the 19th-20th century, and the tiny communities of Clark and Killbuck where my ancestors lived were no exception.  Many towns had bandstands. To my knowledge, Killbuck never had a bandstand for its band, but the newspaper article I found had a vintage photo of the Clark Bandstand which stood until 1938 according to the caption.

Clark Community Band Stand

Photo of Clark Band Stand. Given to newspaper by Mrs. Sanford Lowe of Clark.

According to the newspaper article, the community band was known as the Bloomfield Band, even after the community was renamed to Clark. One remaining band members says they practiced every Tuesday and “we played at reunions, picnics, homecomings and fairs.” The band members, in their “smart gold-braided uniforms” were even asked to play in other communities, but never charged. They played in Coshocton, the nearest big town and marched with eight other bands in the Labor Day parade.

Florenz Schiebe who was in the Bloomfield community band, the band provided the instruments as well as the uniforms. They traveled from town to town on a painted wagon and would play as they passed through a smaller community. They even took the train to big “gigs” like playing at Myers Lake in Canton and Silver Lake resort near Akron.  After the Bloomfield Band broke up, Scheibe played in the Killbuck band  after 1912 or so.

As to Kasers in the community band–much of this article was based on an interview with Bessie Kaser Lowe, daughter of Dave Kaser who was a brother of my paternal grandfather, Clifford Kaser.  Dave Kaser played tuba, Cliff Kaser played trombone [the one pictured above] Homer Kaser and possibly Ira Kaser ( sons of Dave and brothers to Bessie) also played trombone. Ed Kaser (Clifford’s younger brother) played 1st cornet. Austin Kaser( a cousin of Dave) played tenor horn or trombone. In this article, Bessie says that Cliff was the town barber.  That means he played in the band sometime between the 1893, when he was married and 1914 when he had a tin shop in Killbuck.

The article further says that Homer and Austin left to work at the rubber tire company in Akron.  A second band started that lasted until 1920, and Harry Kaser [Another son of Dave] played in that one.

Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of Clifford Kaser playing his trombone, but somehow thinking of him riding through the Ohio countryside in the community band gaily painted wagon pulled by draft horses while blasting away on a trombone, gives me a whole new picture of him. Would a villain play a trombone?

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13 thoughts on “The Old Battered Trombone and the Community Band

  1. Bro

    Those small communities gave more people a chance to join the bands and choirs, before everything was recorded by a distant corporation. Being brassy runs in the family. Bill Kaser played the trumpet in junior and high school and son David played (the same trumpet) in his high school band. We still have that silver-belled trumpet. We just liked making loud noises. The author of the above article, being (at least in those days) somewhat less brassy and more demure, played an excellent oboe and was named to the state-wide high school band.

    1. Avatar photoVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Wasn’t our sister a trumpeter as well? As I recall, I was drafted into playing the oboe because there wasn’t one in the entire county. But I started with saxophone and moved on to clarinet before oboe, which is much more of a challenge. BTW, I’ve tried to get some sound (let alone music) out of the old tombone with no success. Needs you windier guys, I guess.

  2. Edie Jarolim

    Okay, you get the synesthesia award (for some reason, your blog wants me to correct that spelling, but it’s a real word, spelled right) for crossover senses. And you addressed my this-isn’t-about-food concern in the first paragraph. Well done!

  3. Kerry Dexter

    I wonder if the trombone has any connection to Elkhart, Indiana? not that its’ exacttly close — it’s up on the Michigan border in northern Indiana — but Elkhart has been the home of several companies which make band isntruments for a looong time. just a thought in case it’d help with your research —

    1. Avatar photoVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Kerry: Yes, I know Elkhart was the big musical instrument supplier —certainly in the 50s when I was in the band, at least. But Cincinnati and Cleveland had big musical instrument makers and sellers, too. I heard back from the expert I wrote to, and he did not have any helpful information on what the name “Richlards Co., Cleveland” means.

      1. Sherri Smail

        Really…I didn’t realize that! So cool 🙂 This has been so much fun, I’m so glad I found you and your blog!


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