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Pioneer music in Beaumont contained lots of brass horns

By W. T. Block

Reprinted from Beaumont Enterprise, Saturday August 28, 1999.

Very little is recorded about pioneer musicians and brass bands in early Beaumont, but it must be acknowledged that the many early square dances and local concerts required musical accompaniment.

Tom Russell once wrote of a stranger in Beaumont before the Civil War, who heard violin refrains emanating from the courthouse one Saturday night. The fiddler at the square dance, name unknown, was also the person who was Sunday school superintendent and who delivered the Sunday sermon there the next day.

In Dec., 1858, a weekend before the district court convened, H. R. Green, a news correspondent, wrote that "there is dancing on hand everywhere..." In Dec. 1857, Green noted that there was "fiddling and dancing" at the Christmas celebration in the home of McGuire Chaison of Beaumont.

Between 1859 and 1873, James C. Clelland was both a dance master and featured vocalist in Beaumont.

During the Civil War, a Confederate brass band from Houston probably visited Beaumont by rail infrequently. Dr. E. A. Pye wrote in Aug. 1864, "there was a great ball in Beaumont tonight for the benefit of the soldiersí home..."

By 1873, gala parties and weddings, each accompanied by a night of dancing, were back in vogue, with string music furnished by Caswell and Sapp. Jack Caswell a Beaumont steamboat captain, and A. J. D. Sapp, a Beaumont grocer, furnished the musical accompaniment for all Beaumont socials during Reconstruction years.

In 1873 J. E. Jirou organized the Beaumont Brass Band, also known as the Lumbermenís Band, which entertained social groups and gave brass musicales in the park for 3 decades. On July 4, 1876, the "sweet strains" of the brass band entertained rail passengers during Beaumontís celebration in the country.

In March 1881, the Enterprise reported that "the Beaumont Brass Band were out tooting their little horns Tuesday night..."

By 1884, there were other brass ensembles in the city. When Beaumontís baseball team, flush with victory, paraded down Pearl Street in June, the parade was led by "Prof. Hicksí Cornet Band." In September, Hicksí Cornet Band led the parade that dedicated Beaumontís first fire engine house.

During 1892, the Lumbermenís Silver Cornet Band, led by A. Ashold, presented many concerts in the opera house or at the park pavilion.

In Dec. 1895, the Beaumont City Band, led by Prof. F. J. Cutter, had twelve members, namely, Lee Blanchette, Ed Eastham, Jim Minter, Sid Levy, Oscar Hille, Abe Solinsky, Byron Wiess, P. Green, Dorr Chapin, Ray Wiess, and C. G. Conn.

Two neighboring brass bands often played here as well. The Olive Brass Band, from the Olive sawmill near Kountze, furnished dance music for Beaumontís Leap Year Ball of Jan. 1892. In March 1892, the First Regimental Band of Orange Rifles played one performance at Goodhue Opera House followed by one at the Firemenís Masquerade Ball.

So should anyone be calling Beaumont a "cow town" during the 1890s, it appears that there about as many brass horns in town as there were cow horns.

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