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Brainerd City Bands

Almost from the year of its birth, the city of Brainerd had a city band. About 1874, Ben Hazen, a musician of rare accomplishments—”being perfectly at home on any instrument, from a piano down to a three-tined fork,” started a string band. From 1882 to 1900 the city band was led by William M. Dresskell. It played at numerous parties and dances, at the skating rinks, on the steamboats, at picnics, parades and funerals—anywhere music was needed to enhance the occasion. The Dresskell band was particularly noted throughout the state for its professionalism and award-winning performances. In the late 1890’s the Northern Pacific band was led by William Graham. Later, in 1907, the city band was led by William P. Bartsch who also conducted private music lessons and was credited with doing more for the musical training of the youth of Brainerd than almost anyone else. On November 4, 1924, Winifred B. Cronk Ziebell organized and directed the Brainerd Ladies’ Band, which won second prize at the Minnesota State Band Contest in St. Paul in 1929. She later organized the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps. Here are just a few of the bands’ exploits throughout the early years of Brainerd.

Ann M. Nelson


THE BALL OF THE SEASON.—The Masonic Ball at Bly’s Hall on the evening of Dec. 26th, was even more of a success than was anticipated, and was one of the very grandest affairs that ever occurred in the New Northwest, in its every detail. There were eighty couples present,—many from abroad—the music was charming, the regulations for ladies and gents hat and cloak rooms, complete and comfortable, and the supper spread by Mr. and Mrs. T. C. Bivins, was an endless feast of all that was good, rich and delicious. The Masons of Aurora Lodge, certainly did themselves proud; everything was in order, and passed along during the night without the slightest interruption of any kind, everybody danced their fill to the splendid ball music furnished by the Brainerd Band, and in short, the whole affair was one where everyone was made to enjoy themselves. There was not a bit of that foolish false style to be noticed, no outlandish or ‘consumptive’ dresses, no airs of stiff dignity; all joined hands and circled to the left, till you couldn’t rest, in the good old rollicking way; eight sets at a time in the spacious hall, beneath the brilliant glare of beautiful chandeliers did they trip the light fantastic toe, till the wee sma’ hours on the morning side of twelve o’clock, and the boys went home with the gals in the morning. (Brainerd Tribune, 10 January 1874, p. 4, c. 2)


The Brainerd String Band dished up some inspiring strains Thursday evening, for the good folk at the Fort. A good time all round. Lyle blistered his fingers badly by picking hot music off the strings. Uncle John forgot all about any late unpleasantnesses, and Fletch hung “threads of gold” upon his shoulder, and softly the inspired notes thrilled from under his bow till the wee sma’ hours o’ the morning’. (Brainerd Tribune, 13 January 1877, p. 1, c. 7)


Why cannot Brainerd have a brass band? Who will start it? One can be well supported, if properly handled. (Brainerd Tribune, 19 April 1879, p. 4, c. 1)

We are pleased to notice, as our citizens will be glad to learn, that an effort is at last being made towards the organization of a brass band in Brainerd. Ten to a dozen good players have been found ready and willing to join and take instruments provided an organization can be effected and instruments procured, and we have been requested to call a meeting of those interested in the undertaking at the county auditor’s office, in the railroad office building, on Saturday evening next, July 12th, for the purpose of organizing and starting the ball a-rolling. We hope all who desire to see a good band in town will turn out to the meeting. (Brainerd Tribune, 05 July 1879, p. 4, c. 1)

We were prevented by other engagements on Saturday evening last from attending the meeting called for the organization of a band association, but learn the interest manifested was not strong. We hope our musical friends will not allow the scheme to flag. (Brainerd Tribune, 19 July 1879, p. 4, c. 1)


Brainerd Brass Band.

Is to be a success? That is what we are all anxious about just now. There is no town in the Northwest with more musical talent distributed through it than Brainerd. The citizens are willing and ready to contribute sufficient funds to purchase the instruments. This will be done just as soon as an organization is perfected, so that they can know just what to do.

Now, then, organize! There are men enough here who have been connected with some of the best bands in the country, and who, we learn, are willing to join our band. Then where is the necessity for any further delay.

Organize! That is the first thing to do. In it there is a moving force, and that is what we require. A moving force! For our own GREAT jollification next Fourth of July we want home talent, a home brass band, home oratory, home dinner, home music, and a good time right here at home.

Organize! (Brainerd Tribune, 21 February 1880, p. 1, c.’s 2 & 3)

The brass band is a success. (Brainerd Tribune, 28 February 1880, p. 4, c. 1)

Monday evening quite an enthusiastic meeting was held at Mr. C. F. Kindred’s office, for the purpose of organizing a brass band association. The following named gentlemen signed the roll, and will take an instrument: Walter Davis, Frank Schmeltz, A. Mahlum, Henry Schmeltz, H. Clark, P. Schwendeman, J. Jacobs, Joseph Beckman, John Denis, E. T. Congdon, Fred Clark, W. A. Bradford, C. H. Congdon, and A. Peterson.

Committees were appointed to get price lists of necessary instrument and to confer with competent instructors, and report at an adjourned meeting. A committee was also suggested consisting of Mr. C. F. Kindred, W. W. Hartley, F. B. Thompson and C. B. Sleeper, to solicit contributions with which to purchase the instruments. It is thought $300 will be sufficient. It is intended to raise this fund, and the instruments when purchased shall belong to the city and be held in trust for the use of the band and its successors. This seems to meet the wishes of our citizens, and there is no reason why it should not be a success. Keep your shoulder to the wheel, gentlemen, and we can furnish native music to re-echo among our jack pines such melodious strains as never yet charmed the world. Everything for melody, is the watchword. (Brainerd Tribune, 28 February 1880, p. 4, c.’s 1 & 2)

When will the members of the brass band meet, and receive reports about instruments, teacher and other matters! There isn’t likely to be much “music in the air” unless some “blowing” is done. Therefore, blow, but get the horns—we mean the brass horns—first. Come; up and be doing. (Brainerd Tribune, 06 March 1880, p. 4, c. 1)

A Word is Sufficient.

Do the people of this community want a Brass Band? That is the question. Fourteen gentlemen have organized a band under the impression that the citizens of Brainerd would purchase instruments. A competent teacher has been secured, and the 14 instruments can be had for $350. If the people of this city would save up for just one week what they ordinarily spend in superfluous and unnecessary purchases and contribute to the Band fund, we could have the instruments, and in two months music in our public parks as in other civilized communities. Many of our people have been saying, “Why does not someone get up a band? There is talent enough here to do it, and if some of our citizens would start the enterprise we would all help.” Get out! “Some of our citizens” might talk and persuade, tease, coax and cry to get a nickel out of “many of our people,” and they would not give it. Yet, when generous, public-spirited men have contributed the means, and the band is a fact, and discoursing sweet music in public places, “many of our people” and their children would insist on occupying front seats, and pointing with pride to the hypocritical assumption that “we” purchased the instruments and they belonged to the town. Out, say we, upon such penny-ante attitudes in public matters. If you can give a dollar, give it—or say you want the Band but want other people to pay for your and your children’s amusement, and that you would not enjoy it if you had to think it cost you a cent. Urge others to start into public enterprises, and when started begin to kick and grumble and find fault with this and that detail, as an excuse for not doing anything. Oh, but this is fine, isn’t it? And you think people do not know what the matter is? Well, they just do. And there won’t be any Band either to blow cornet tones into your ears without paying for it. Mind now. Other people are not so anxious to furnish amusement of those who always pull back and kick, when they should push and fondle. Tisn’t human nature. And we are not to have a band as a consequence. Are you satisfied.? (Brainerd Tribune, 20 March 1880, p. 1, c. 2)

Brainerd’s Cornet Band—O Where!

Is Brainerd to have a Brass or Silver Cornet Band this summer? We are often asked the question, and would like to answer yes, but cannot without playing [Ignatius] Donnelly, and lying about it. Where is the boasted enterprise of our good people? Where the loud-mouthed assurances of support? Alas! Vanished before the approaching subscription paper! We cannot dance without paying the fiddler, and as we cannot pay we cannot dance. See? (Brainerd Tribune, 03 April 1880, p. 1, c. 1)


Gil Hartley [G. G.] presented to the city the band stand which stood for many years in the Depot Park on Front Street. He also gave band suits to the twenty-four members of Dresskell's Band. (Brainerd’s Half Century, Ingolf Dillan, General Printing Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota: 1923, p. 35)

The plans and specifications for a band stand to be erected in this place for the use of the Brainerd Cornet Band, may be seen at the office of J. F. Turner & Co., over Brainerd Bank. Parties desiring to bid on work are solicited to call and examine. (Brainerd Tribune, 20 August 1881, p. 5, c. 2)

The new band stand now in course of construction in the N. P. Park, will be a beautiful piece of workmanship when completed. (Brainerd Tribune, 10 September 1881, p. 5, c. 3)

Remember the Grand Ball.

To lovers of the Terpsichorean frolics, and dances of nowadays, the announcement of the grand ball to be given at Bly’s Hall on the eve of Thanksgiving will be greeted with pleasure. This affair is to be given under the auspices of the Brainerd Cornet Band, which is composed of energetic young men who are determined to make it one of the most successful features of the season’s amusements. No pains have been spared to procure good music, and every appurtenance which shall tend to enhance the festivities of the occasion. The supper will be served from the finest the land affords, and it will pay anyone to buy a ticket just for the supper, if nothing else, if we are to judge from reports which are constantly reaching this office. The TRIBUNE would advise everybody to go and take their wives, and give the boys a boost as well as have a glorious time. A band has been organized, instruments bought and paid for, and a band stand erected which would do credit to a much larger place, and now let the people take hold with a generous lift for the boys. Again let us advise everybody to go! (Brainerd Tribune, 19 November 1881, p. 1, c. 6)


...The most fun I ever had was when we first began band practice. We were living on a farm three miles south of town then and cold weather or hot, I used to tramp into town carrying my old alto horn. I played in the city band for forty-eight years. I am the oldest living member of the old original city band, under W. Dresskell. I played every brass instrument in the band at various times. Professor William Bartsch, a musician from Germany, played in that band. (Biography: March 1936; Joseph Kiebler, born 06 April 1860; Crow Wing County Historical Society)

Mr. Wm. M. Dresskell, one of the finest jewelry and watch repairers in Michigan, will locate here about the 16th of January, and will be ready to give his attention to watch repairing on short notice and guarantee satisfaction. He is also a fine musician and will take charge of the band, which he will drill up to a such a standard that the city will be proud of the organization. (Brainerd Tribune, 07 January 1882, p. 5, c. 5)

Coming to Brainerd.

William Dresskell, city band leader, orchestra leader, jeweler and electrician, ca. Unknown
Source: Crow Wing County Historical Society

The Lansing (Mich.) Republican of recent date contains the following complimentary notice of the new leader of the Brainerd cornet band:

Prof. Wm. M. Dresskell departed from this city last Monday evening for Brainerd, Minn., where he will make his future home and follow his avocation of jeweler and watch-maker, taking also the leadership of a fine band and orchestra at that place. Mr. Dresskell came to Lansing from Saranac a little more than three years ago, engaging in business, and took the leadership of the band, which was subsequently developed into the Knight Templar band and took and maintained the championship of the state until ruled out as professionals under the rules of the state tournament association, which Prof. Dresskell assisted in organizing, and was for three years its president. He also organized and has held the leadership of one of the best orchestras in Michigan, has been the leader of the eight o’clock club since the departure of Prof. Cabot, and is a member of the faculty of the conservatory of music recently established. Mr. Dresskell also had an orchestra of young amateurs, which he will leave under the able leadership of James Richmond, himself a finished musician and in many respects the peer of Prof. Dresskell as a teacher and performer. As a mechanic, he is one of the best—ingenious, accurate, and experienced; and while regretting his departure his friends will unite in congratulating the citizens of Brainerd upon their good fortune in securing a skillful musician, an excellent mechanic, and a courteous gentleman in the person of Prof. Dresskell. (Brainerd Tribune, 21 January 1882, p. 5, c.’s 3 & 4)

Prof. Dresskell comes well recommended and has brought with him a set of instruments that will compare favorably with any in the state. (Brainerd Tribune, 28 January 1882, p. 5, c. 2)


The cornet band is making good headway with their practice, and the toot-a-toot of the zealous members may be heard at all hours in various sections of the city. Following is a list of the members and the instruments they play:

Instructor—Prof. Wm. Dresskell.

E flat cornet—P. Mertz, Clint. C. Neal, T. R. Congdon, Fred Clark, W. W. Havens, and D. M. Dermelya [sic].

B flat cornet—Fred Davenport, S. Foster, Fred Seriver [sic], John Vennam, A. C. Benham and Archie Babcock.

Solo alto—N. McFadden.

First alto—R. H. Hartley

Second alto—John Osborne.

B flat tenor—Charles Sumner.

First Baritone—W. E. Martin.

Second baritone—S. E. Harmon.

Tenor trombone—L. Hendricks and F. L. Mattason.

Tuba—James Dewar and Henry Leland.

Tenor drum—James Clark and F. Foley.

Bass drum—George Perley

Cymbals—Bert Harmon.

(Brainerd Tribune, 28 January 1882, p. 5, c. 4)


One of the latest additions to Brainerd’s amusements is the new roller skating rink which will be opened November 19th or 20th by L. E. Armstrong. Mr. A. has rented Hartley’s Hall [Bly’s Store] for one year and will at once commence arrangements to fit the same up. The partitions will all be taken down and a new floor laid. The room will be 40x70 feet and when completed will be one of the finest in the northwest. The proprietor has already ordered 150 pairs of regular rink skates and several pairs of club skates. The band will be engaged to play two evenings each week, and every thing for the comfort and accommodations of those attending will be provided. The rink will open each day from 9 to 12 in the morning, 1:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon and from 7:30 to 10:30 at night, and the charges will be fixed at 25 cents to join the skaters, or 10 cents for spectators, except on the evenings when music is in attendance, when the charges for spectators will be 25 cents and for skaters 40 cents. Saturday mornings will be devoted exclusively to the children. This will offer a healthful and pleasant amusement for the lovers of the graceful art, and will undoubtedly be well patronized. (Brainerd Dispatch, 08 November 1883, p. 3, c. 4)

On New Year’s Eve a grand ball will be given at the roller skating ring for the benefit of the Catholic Church.—Prof. Dresskell’s orchestra will be in attendance and a general good time may be counted on. Tickets will be sold at the low price of $1.00. (Brainerd Dispatch, 20 December 1883, p. 3, c. 2)

Dresskell’s orchestra will give a dance at the roller rink on New Year’s Eve, and invitations have been issued. The price of admission has been fixed at 75 cents. (Brainerd Dispatch, 27 December 1883, p. 3, c. 2)


Brainerd City Band.

It may be of interest to the citizens of Brainerd to know in what manner our excellent City Band is supported and maintained. That we have a good band is certain; how we came to have it is not always a matter of consideration with everyone, or how we are to continue to keep in our city an institution from which we all derive so much pleasure.

In the first place a teacher has to be engaged by the year, which costs about $800. Last year a uniform complete was purchased, costing over $1,100, of which amount, one of our citizens well known to you all; gave $800. Other enterprising citizens came to the front in a twinkling with the balance needed. The leader’s salary has for the last two years been raised by what is known as the annual subscription list. This list is circulated once a year for new subscriptions, which are paid in quarterly installments. It is expected that a least once a year each citizen will have an opportunity to subscribe for the support of the band. The members of the band receive no pay except when they play an engagement that takes their time from business, and not always then, for they do not always get pay for playing on the street, but generally expect it.

Churches, societies and citizens generally have had frequent occasion to call upon the band to help them in some speculation to raise money, the too prevalent opinion sometimes existing that to merely snap the fingers and say, “Say come and play for us and we will tell everybody we know how well you can play.” Of all things, the great pride of the members is to play well to please those who may chance to hear them. Now many of us citizens who justly take pride in this band do not interest ourselves enough for their welfare, consequently the burden falls upon a few, when if each one would give a little, the band would be amply supported and a few would not have it all to pay.

Now we ask what do we get in return for the money paid into the band? We get our regular out-door concerts once a week in the park, from June to October, besides the other occasions at which the band is required to play. During the summer months we have music almost daily, and this is a benefit to everyone and to the city at large. Do we know what it costs to be a member of a band in the way of loss of time, etc.? We will follow them up and see what they are doing. Two night rehearsals and one afternoon rehearsal each week, is the tax Mr. Dresskell imposes and insists on its fulfillment, two hours and a half each night rehearsal, and three and a half hours each Sunday afternoon is equal to 8 1/2 hours, per week. With an average of twenty men each time would be 170 hours, in a year would be 368 3/4 days over a year’s time for one man, or more than eighteen days for each man. If each citizen does one-eighth as much it will never go down.—[Pap Thomas Post Gazette. (Brainerd Dispatch, 01 May 1884, p. 3, c. 5)

The band surprised and serenaded the citizens Wednesday from the cupola of the Villard. This makes a fine place for the band and the whole town gets the benefit of their fine music. (Brainerd Dispatch, 08 August 1884, p. 3, c. 2)

Take It In.

The steamer Fawn, ca. Unknown
Source: Aitkin Historical Society

The Brainerd band has chartered the Fawn and will give an excursion down the Mississippi river on Saturday. The boat will leave the west end of the wagon bridge at 1 o’clock p.m. and will return at 7 p.m. stopping an hour for refreshments and a good time. The band are making every arrangement for the occasion and it cannot help but be a success. Good music will be one of the leading features, and as only a limited number of tickets will be sold it will not be too crowded to be enjoyable. Secure your tickets at Cable’s drug store, which will be sold at 50 cents, children 25. (Brainerd Dispatch, 15 August 1884, p. 3, c. 3)

The excursion down the river on Sunday was not as largely attended as it would have been had not the impression got out that it was “free for all,” which of course diminished the number. This was not the case, though, and had the public generally known it there would have been a large attendance. (Brainerd Dispatch, 15 August 1884, p. 3, c. 3)

The heavy rain of last Saturday interfered with the excursion down the river which the band boys had arranged, and consequently it was postponed for one week and will take place on Saturday of this week. The boat will leave at one o’clock and return at 7 in the evening. The price of tickets is 50 cents and 25 cents for children. Music by the band and everything necessary for a good time will be provided. (Brainerd Dispatch, 22 August 1884, p. 3, c. 2)

The band excursion was not a financial success although very enjoyable. (Brainerd Dispatch, 29 August 1884, p. 3, c. 2)

Work on the roller rink is being pushed with remarkable rapidity. The band stand has been removed to the opposite end of the room, and so arranged that the skaters will pass under it, thus utilizing every inch of the room. The rink will reflect much credit to the town and also to the proprietors, Messrs. Slipp & Spaulding. (Brainerd Dispatch, 10 October 1884, p. 3, c. 2)

Bicycle Riding.

Slipp & Spaulding have engaged Geo. A. Johnsen, a celebrated bicycle rider for an entertainment at their rink next week Thursday and Friday evenings Nov. 27 and 28. The gentleman is said to be a daring expert, and his exhibitions consist of tricks and fancy riding. There will be an admission fee of 25 cents charged, with 15 cents extra for skates. The Brainerd band will be in attendance. The entertainment is unlike anything ever given in the city before and doubtless the rink will be crowded both nights. (Brainerd Dispatch, 21 November 1884, p. 3, c. 3)


“On the last day of January, 1885, the teachers and pupils of the Sixth Street School formed in procession headed by the city band and school board, marched over with band playing and flags flying, and took possession of the new high school building just completed. Principal J. A. Wilson...and others made speeches. That day was an epoch in the progress of education in Brainerd. Everybody was proud of the fine new building. It was the most complete and finest furnished school building in Northern Minnesota.” (J. A. Wilson) (Brainerd’s Half Century, Ingolf Dillan, General Printing Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota: 1923, p. 31)

Masquerade Skating Party.


We are informed by Manager Slipp that the details and arrangements for the Masquerade skating party to take place at the roller rink on the evening of the 29th have been completed. There will be no prizes given, but the maskers will be given admission to the rink, and skates free. To spectators the charge will be 25 cents. After 9 o’clock skating can be indulged in by parties not masked at the usual price, 15 cents extra. The Brainerd Band will be in attendance, and as this is the opening night of the rink after having been closed for two months, it is expected that a most enjoyable occasion will be had. Mr. Slipp desires us to say in this connection that on and after Monday, Aug. 24th, parties who own skates can have them repaired at the rink as there will be a man there for that purpose. (Brainerd Dispatch, 21 August 1885, p. 3, c. 5)

The dance given by Liberty Hose Co. No. 3, of East Brainerd, at the Mahlum house, Friday evening, was a very pleasant occasion, and the managers have reason to feel proud of their success in getting out so select a party. The room on the floor was all occupied, and the music by Dresskell’s orchestra was fully appreciated. We have not learned how much the boys realized out of it. (Brainerd Dispatch, 23 October 1885, p. 3, c. 4)


The band stand has been removed from the park to a more central location in front of the Villard hotel. This will make their open air concerts more interesting to the general public. (Brainerd Dispatch, 16 April 1886, p. 3, c. 3)


The Brainerd Toboggan club are being drilled in military tactics by C. L. Spaulding. With fifty uniformed members well drilled and the celebrated Brainerd band in their new uniform the boys will be liable to take the honors as being the finest club in line when they visit the St. Paul Carnival on the 27th, which is the occasion of the storming of the Ice Palace by the Fire King. (Brainerd Dispatch, 14 January 1887, p. 4, c. 3)

Moccasin Dance.

This evening a dance will be given at the roller rink, the proceeds to be given to the band to pay for their new uniforms. The Brainerd band is an institution that we are all proud of and it is hoped that they will be greeted by a large attendance. The rink will be warmed by extra stoves and it is guaranteed that the room will be comfortable. Ladies and gents having toboggan suits will appear in uniform, but all are invited whether in uniform or not. The music will be furnished by the brass and string bands. (Brainerd Dispatch, 14 January 1887, p. 4, c. 4)

...The Pioneer Press was the pleased recipient of a fine serenade yesterday afternoon by the splendid Brainerd Band of forty pieces. The members of the band are among the well known and respected citizens of the city which is their home, and their visit to St. Paul has been one not only of pleasure to them, but has provided a delightful musical treat to all who have been so fortunate as to listen to their praiseworthy playing. The maintenance of such a large and finely equipped band in a city of the size of Brainerd is proof of the excellent taste and good judgment of the citizens of that city. The Brainerd band is not only a credit to its home as to appearance but as to its musical abilities as well. (Brainerd Dispatch, 28 January 1887, p. 4, c. 5)

The Brainerd band will give a second moccasin dance at the roller rink next Thursday night, Jan. [sic] 10. The object is to raise funds to complete the payment on their winter uniforms. It is hoped and expected that the dancing capacity will be entirely taken up. Brainerd’s band is an institution that every citizen is proud of, and every encouragement should be offered them. (Brainerd Dispatch, 04 February 1887, p. 4, c. 3)

Best the State Affords.

The Brainerd City Band is one of the best known interior musical organizations in the state, and is composed of the following members. Prof. Dresskell, (leader), Frank Thorpe, M. Graham, P. Mertz, Joseph Kiebler, S. S. Huntley, Julius Kiebler, Art Wilson, O. Tilquist, C. Thompson, J. Osborn, J. W. Porter, W. A. Nichols, Wm. Bartsch, George Hastings, Geo. Ames, A. L. Nutting, F. L. Mattason, L. D. Mattason and James Dewar, the jolly and proficient drum major.—Duluth News. (Brainerd Dispatch, 26 August 1887, p. 4, c. 5)


G. G. Hartley has a warm spot for Brainerd, and the Brainerd band in particular. Prof. Dresskell has received a check from that gentleman for $100 to be used in purchasing new uniforms for the boys. The organization feels very grateful to Mr. Hartley for the favor. (Brainerd Dispatch, 15 June 1888, p. 4, c. 3)

The band stand has again been removed, this time to the site immediately back of the depot on Main [Washington] St. (Brainerd Dispatch, 19 October, 1888, p. 4, c. 3)


The roller skating rink, after being closed for skating purposes for several years, will be re-opened tomorrow night, under the management of C. B. Rowley, who holds the championship medal of the state of Minnesota as a roller skatist. The rink will be open to the public every Wednesday and Saturday afternoons and evenings. The Brainerd Band will furnish music for the evening skating. (Brainerd Dispatch, 12 December 1890, p. 4, c. 4)


Southeast Brainerd Band, this photo was taken in front of the southeast Brainerd fire company hose house located on 13th Street between Norwood and Oak Streets, ca. 1891.
Source: Images of America: Brainerd


Depot Park Bandstand on the east side of 6th just south of the railroad tracks, ca. 1896.
Source: Brainerd, Minnesota 1871-1971, Centennial Edition, p. 20, Brainerd Dispatch

The band stand will be removed from its present location in the rear of the depot to a position opposite the Y. M. C. A. building today, between the railroad track and Front street. (Brainerd Dispatch, 08 September 1893, p. 4, c. 3)

The ice at the covered skating rink is now in perfect condition. On Monday, Christmas day, the rink will be opened in the morning from 9 to 12, in the afternoon from 2:30 to 5:30 and in the evening from 7:30 to 10:30. The ice will be put in fine shape after each session. The band will be in attendance Christmas evening. (Brainerd Dispatch, 22 December 1893, p. 4, c. 3)


Our City Band.

The City Band has commenced a series of public concerts, and it is gratifying to note that there has been a decided improvement since last season both in the number of players and quality of music. This has been accomplished only by diligent practice and shows that the band boys are inclined to do their share towards making our city a pleasant one in which to live. Our people give evidence of being fond of music, and we can truthfully say that our city band has contributed greatly toward producing a genuine and permanent taste for good music. It is a well known fact that they are in advance of our neighboring bands in respect to concert selections, and their aim has always been to keep up with the times, musically speaking, and render the best they could any musical composition which they attempted. At each concert it is customary to play some popular music interspersed with selections of a more classical nature, and to properly do this requires the time of the members at least three nights each week. Now we come to the natural query, why do these men spend so much of their time? It is certainly not for the money they get for it is well know they get no pay individually for their services. It must be, then, that they enjoy it and are pleased to see the people enjoy their music. It is to be regretted that a very few of our citizens are thoughtless enough to decry the efforts of the only band they ever had, and always “kick” if they hear the band can’t stand all of the expense attached to the proper support of it. Room rent, music and teacher must be paid, and is it right that the boys should take so much pains to please us and then be denied the privilege of making a most moderate charge when called upon to turn out?

We are inclined to think that as citizens we should make it a point to “give the devil his due” when speaking of our band, to cease to be prejudiced, keep in mind that our city band is second to none and will strive as heretofore to make the organization as good as the material will permit. It is the aim of the leader to increase the number to 25 men as speedily as possible, and we may look for something still better. A little support is needed and the question is how can it be best attained? (Brainerd Dispatch, 16 June 1894, p. 4, c. 6)

The DISPATCH learns that arrangements are being perfected by the City Band for a grand ball to take place in the near future at Gardner Hall. Both band and orchestra will take part in the grand marches, and nothing will be left undone to make the occasion attractive and enjoyable. Everybody will be enabled to attend as the tickets will be sold at 50 cents. The band is in need of money and on this occasion guarantee to give $2 worth of enjoyment for 50 cents. It is hoped that our citizens will show the band boys that they enjoy having a first-class musical organization by patronizing this effort. (Brainerd Dispatch, 17 August 1894, p. 4, c. 3)

Patronize the Band Ball.

The members of the Brainerd City Band will give a grand ball at Gardner Hall on Friday evening next Aug. 31. Tickets to this dance will only be 50 cents and it is hoped our citizens will patronize the effort of the band members to such an extent that the occasion will be a profitable one to them financially. The best of music will be furnished and all can depend on a very pleasant evening. (Brainerd Dispatch, 24 August 1894, p. 4, c. 5)


A grand skating carnival will be given at the covered ice rink next Wednesday evening, the 23rd. The Brainerd band will be in attendance. Prizes will be given to the most handsomely dressed lady and gentleman, and also to the winner of the boys’ race. Admission 25 cents. (Brainerd Dispatch, 18 January 1895, p. 4, c. 3)

Opening of “The Midway.”

W. P. Buckley’s new saloon, “The Midway,” was open to the public on Wednesday night with elaborate ceremonies. Dresskell’s orchestra furnished music for the occasion. The following was the


March—”The Heptasoph,” R. H. Barker.

Medley—”Southern Plantation Songs,” E. Boettger.

Italian Waltz—”La Seranato,” Darey Jaxone.

Overture—”The Bridal Rose,” J. Lavallee.

Schottische—”Twilight Shadows,” Theo. Tobani.

Overture—”The Belle of the Village,” P. Bouillan.

Waltz—”Beau Brummell,” C. A. Ware.

Medley—”Bonnie Scotland,” Catlin.

Overture—”La Flandre,” Couilon.

Chinese Gallop—”Ching Chang”

We see by a notice elsewhere in this issue that the opening will be discussed next Sunday evening at the Baptist church by Rev. Rowe. It seems to us that it would be a good idea for all to attend and hear the other side of the story. (Brainerd Dispatch, 29 March 1895, p. 1, c. 2)


Northern Pacific Band, established in 1897. William Graham, conductor, is shown holding the baton and cornet in front of the band, ca. Unknown. A 1529x1061 version of this photo is also available for viewing on line.
Source: Crow Wing County Historical Society

Brainerd is to have a new cornet band, the instruments for which arrived yesterday. The name of the organization is the Northern Pacific Band and Wm. Graham will be the instructor and leader. There are twenty-two members and the first meeting for instruction was held last evening at the band room over Mattson's store in Southeast Brainerd. (Brainerd Dispatch, 23 July 1897, p. 4, c. 3)

The Northern Pacific band is reported to be progressing finely under the leadership of Prof. Graham. The band is giving a series of dances at Mattson's hall in Southeast Brainerd which occur every Friday night. (Brainerd Dispatch, 13 August 1897, p. 8, c. 1)

A Destructive Fire.

Southeast Brainerd was visited by the fire-fiend on Monday morning at 4 o'clock, at which time the store building owned by J. G. Bakkila and occupied by Hogberg [sic] & Johnson with a stock of groceries, and Frank Mattson's dry goods stock, was completely destroyed, together with both stocks of goods. A small hand lamp was left burning in the dry goods store, and the fire is thought to have originated from the explosion of the lamp. When the blaze was discovered the entire building was a mass of flames, and the fire department could do nothing to prevent the destruction of the property so far advanced was the fire when they arrived. There was $4,500 insurance on the building and stock, the Keene & McFadden agency having $750 on the building, $250 on the Good Templars outfit in the second story, and $2,500 on the dry goods stock, while the Elder agency had $1,000 insurance on the grocery stock. The new Northern Pacific Band lost several cornets which had been left in the hall up-stairs. (Brainerd Dispatch, 03 September 1897, p. 1, c. 3)

Athletic Ice Rink.

C. G. McDonald expects to give a grand opening at his ice rink, corner of Sixth and Main streets, on Thanksgiving afternoon and evening, if the weather permits. The Northern Pacific band under the leadership of Prof. Graham has been engaged to furnish music twice a week on Tuesday and Friday evenings. The rink bids fair to be the popular place of amusement the coming winter. (Brainerd Dispatch, 19 November 1897, p. 1, c. 2)

Athletic Ice Rink.

C. G. McDonald expects to give a grand opening at his ice rink, corner of Sixth and Main streets, on Thanksgiving afternoon and evening, if the weather permits. The Northern Pacific band under the leadership of Prof. Graham has been engaged to furnish music twice a week on Tuesday and Friday evenings. The rink bids fair to be the popular place of amusement the coming winter. (Brainerd Dispatch, 19 November 1897, p. 1, c. 2)

The Athletic Ice Rink, at the corner of Sixth and Main streets, is now ready and open to the public. The ice is in excellent condition. Mr. McDonald has engaged the Northern Pacific band for Tuesday and Friday evenings of each week and from time to time will have special features at the rink. A lunch counter has been put into the waiting room where hot coffee and lunches will be served. (Brainerd Dispatch, 10 December 1897, p. 8, c. 2)

Library Entertainment Program.

The following is the program for the N. P. Library entertainment on Tuesday evening next:

Song—Selected.—Ladies’ Star Quartette.

Solo—Selected.—S. F. Alderman.

Recitation—Rajput Nurse—Edwin Arnold.—Miss Cameron.

Solo—Selected.—Miss Edwards.

Solo—"Out on the Deep."—R. W. McKay.

Duet—Excelsior—W. W. Balfe.—Miss Mitchell and Mr. Alderman.

Solo—Selected.—Mrs. J. C. Atherton.

Solo—"Sleep well Sweet Angel."—Mrs. H. Theviot.

Cornet Solo—Selected.—Mr. Graham.

Song—Selected.—Ladies’ Star Quartette.

(Brainerd Dispatch, 19 November 1897, p. 8, c. 4)


The Northern Pacific band have ordered new uniforms from Philadelphia which are expected to arrive early next week. (Brainerd Dispatch, 11 March 1898, p. 10, c. 1)

Prof. Wm. Graham left yesterday for Spokane where he has been engaged as leader for the city band at that place. The gentleman will be greatly missed in musical circles in this city. Prof. Imgrund has been engaged to fill the vacancy as leader of the Northern Pacific Band. (Brainerd Dispatch, 01 April 1898, p. 8, c. 3)

We Celebrated.

When the news of Commodore Dewey’s famous victory at the Philippine Islands reached Brainerd on Monday morning and the announcement was made that the Spanish fleet had practically been wiped off the face of the earth or sunk to the bottom of the sea, the city went wild. At the Northern Pacific shops the enthusiasm knew no bounds, the steam whistles were blown continuously until noon and a half holiday was given the employees. Cannon boomed from the first announcement until nightfall and business was practically at a standstill. At one o’clock Dresskell’s City Band paraded the streets followed by an impromptu procession of citizens on foot and in carriages everyone displaying the national colors. The Northern Pacific Band with a procession of people from East and Southeast Brainerd also paraded the streets and taking it altogether it was as lively a day as Brainerd has seen in many a year. (Brainerd Dispatch, 06 May 1898, p. 1, c. 4)

Prof. Wm. Graham returned on Sunday from Spokane, Wash., where he has been filling an engagement as cornetist, and has signed a contract with the N. P. band as instructor for the next year and a half. (Brainerd Dispatch, 12 August 1898, p. 8, c. 4)

On Saturday evening last the Northern Pacific band gave an open air concert in the band stand opposite the Y. M. C. A. and it was thoroughly enjoyed by the public. A great improvement is noticeable under the leadership of Prof. Graham and the time is not far distant when the gentleman will bring the band to a high standard among the musical organizations of the state. The open air concerts will be repeated each Saturday evening, weather permitting. (Brainerd Dispatch, 02 September 1898, p. 8, c. 2)


Wm. Graham, the popular leader of the Northern Pacific Band, has written a piece of music which has been dedicated to Capt. S. R. Adair, of Co. L, and is titled "The Brainerd Boys in Blue." The music has been published by Dyer & Bros., and the front page contains a handsome picture of the company. (Brainerd Dispatch, 26 May 1899, p. 10, c. 2)

The Northern Pacific band will give a social dance every Saturday evening at their hall in Southeast Brainerd. First-class music in attendance and everybody invited. (Brainerd Dispatch, 04 August 1899, p. 8, c. 1)


The DISPATCH is indebted to Prof. Wm. Graham for a copy of his latest effort in musical composition, a march, song and chorus, entitled The Modern Woodmen of America, both words and music by Mr. Graham. Mr. Graham is a local musician of note, and is attaining quite an advanced position as a musical composer. (Brainerd Dispatch, 11 May 1900, p. 10, c. 1)

Excursion to Bemidji.

Dresskell’s City Band, ca. 1899. A 1869x1612 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Crow Wing County Historical Society

There will be an excursion to Bemidji and return over the B. & N. M. next Sunday, July 29th, under the auspices of the Ancient Order of Redmen. The train will leave this city at 6:30 and arrive at Bemidji at 10:30. Returning the excursion train will leave Bemidji about 8 in the evening, and arrive in Brainerd at 11:30 or 12 o’clock. Tickets will be good going on the excursion train only, but will be good to return on the regular train on Monday or Tuesday, July 30th or 31st. Dresskell’s City Band will accompany the excursion and furnish music. The fare for the round trip from this city will be $2.00. Everybody who desires to enjoy a delightful day’s outing should take advantage of the extremely low rate. (Brainerd Dispatch, 27 July 1900, p. 1, c. 6)

Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Dresskell left this city yesterday for Lewiston, Idaho, where Mr. Dresskell has a fruit farm, and where they expect to reside a portion of the year in the future—during the winters. Mr. Dresskell retains an interest in his jewelry store, and thinks he will spend his summers here. Their many friends sincerely hope that they will always consider Brainerd their home, and regret their departure temporarily. Kealy Dresskell preceded them, going on Monday evening. (Brainerd Dispatch, 23 November 1900, p. 8, c. 3)




Reorganization Effected Last Friday

Evening Under the Above



For several years past Brainerd has had one of the best bands in the state, and it has been a benefit to the city in that its merits as a musical organization has advertised the city extensively. When Professor Dresskell went away some weeks since, the band, which was known as Dresskell’s City Band, ceased to exist, as Professor Dresskell owned all the property of the organization, even to a majority of the uniforms. The gentlemen remaining in the city who composed the band, being desirous of reorganizing, held a meeting on Friday evening last, and an organization was perfected by electing the following officers:

Dr. Frank J. Sykora, organizer and leader of the Brainerd City Band, ca. 1910.
Source: Special Publication, 02 September 1910, p. 20, Brainerd Tribune, A. J. Halsted, Editor and Publisher

President—Frank Sykora.

Vice President—Geo. Whitney.

Secretary—Henry Krause.

Treasurer—Geo. Putz.

Manager—John Imgrund.

Librarian—Barney Mattason.

Leader—Wm. Graham.

The name chosen for the new organization is “The Brainerd City Band,” and Peabody’s Hall was engaged for a place of meeting to hold rehearsals.

At the same meeting it was also decided to give a concert and dance at Gardner Hall, on Friday evening, to raise funds to buy the necessary furnishings of the organization, and arrangements are now being made to make it a success.

A good band is an important addition to any town, and this city has for years enjoyed such an organization, and the new band will be equally as good as Dresskell’s, as the personnel of the two organizations is the same with the exception of the leader, and Prof. Graham, the new leader is a cornetist of as much ability as Prof. Dresskell. The only question, then, of having as good a band as heretofore is one of expense, and there is no doubt our businessmen and citizens will extend liberal assistance to the boys in perfecting the new organization. (Brainerd Dispatch, 18 January 1901, p. 1, c. 6)

NOTE: George William Putz was a member of the Brainerd city bands for over thirty years.

The Marine Band.

The young men who are interested in the organization of a city band are out today soliciting funds. They should receive a hearty support. The committee that is out today is composed of Walter Hinnman, Fred Sanborn and James McGinnis. The boys are going to buy their own instruments and give the city free concerts and it seems that as long as they are willing to put in time and money that they should be encouraged.

The following are the members of the band and the instruments they will play:

Cornet—Prof. Graham, leader, Eddie Boyle, Henry Tache, James McGinnis, Ed. Hoshal.

Clarinet—John Cummings, William Pippy.

Trombones—Henry Veigal, Fred Sanborn, Andrew Anderson.

Alto—Henry Murphy, A. Hitting, Walter Hinnman.

Baritone—Frank Slipp, H. Radke.

Tuba—V. G. Alquist.

Piccolo—Leslie Hill, Ed. Murphy.

Saxophone—Fred Tache, Joe Midgley.

Drums—Ray Bean, Everett Doran. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 29 July 1901, p. 3, c. 5)


The Brainerd Marine band will hereafter give their concerts on Wednesday evenings instead of Saturday evenings. This is done by request of the merchants who claim that on account of the stores being open Saturday evenings the concerts affect business in that nearly everyone will wait until after the music and then there is a grand rush and closing time is made some later.

The Brainerd Marine band will give another one of their delightful promenade concerts tomorrow night in Gardner hall. The Brainerd opera house orchestra will furnish the music with the band. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 20 July 1903, p. 3, c. 2)



Move on Foot to Have Richard W. Rehl

Take Up the Task at an Early Date

In this City.

There is a move on foot to organize a kid band in Brainerd, a band composed of boys ranging from twelve to fifteen years of age. Richard W. Rehl is the gentleman who is being interested in the matter and he thinks quite well of the proposition although he has done nothing definite as yet.

Mr. Rehl came here recently to play in the Marine band and opera house house orchestra. He is late bandmaster of the Ninth U. S. Inf.. and is very capable. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 22 July 1903, p. 3, c. 3)


Brainerd City Band, ca. 1905. A 1785x1464 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Crow Wing County Historical Society


Dresskell's Band, organized in 1882, is one of the best amateur bands in the state, and for more than twenty years, literally plays a big part in the city's development... The present Municipal Band, organized June 28, 1907, has its beginning in Southeast Brainerd. The first leaders are William P. Bartsch and Dr. Frank Sykora. ...Music lessons are taught in Brainerd as early as 1873. Perhaps no persons, however, have done more for the musical training of the youth of the city than Mrs. W. A. M. Johnstone and William P. Bartsch. They possess a rare combination of musical talent, enthusiasm, and teaching personality. (Brainerd's Half Century, Ingolf Dillan, General Printing Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota: 1923; p. 35)




The Juvenile Concert Band Gives Its

First Concert in Northern Pacific

Park This Evening

The Juvenile Concert band will give its first band concert this evening. The boys look fine in their new uniforms and did themselves great credit on Memorial day and there is no question but that, weather permitting, there will be a large attendance at their weekly free concerts, the first of which will be given this evening. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 02 June 1909, p. 3, c. 3)



Several Thousand People Visited

New Park and Enjoyed

Music and Boating




Brainerd People Scattered as

Usual to Various Resorts

In the Vicinity

City Band, notice the locomotive headlight from Engine Number 8 in the center of the picture, taken at Lum Park on 04 July 1909. A 1322x838 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Images of America: Brainerd

Several thousand people celebrated July 4th at the city’s new park on Rice lake, the gift of Leon E. Lum, of Duluth, and all present expressed themselves as charmed with the beautiful location. Many went in the forenoon and enjoyed picnic dinners under the trees in the park, but the program did not commence until in the afternoon and not until then did the crowds really begin to gather. A large number went out on the Minnesota & International train, but the big steamer which was to ferry them across the lake was out of commission and they had to walk nearly a mile, small boats ferrying them across the upper end of the lake. A large dancing pavilion had been erected and the Brainerd city band furnished music for dancing during afternoon and evening.

Many persons enjoyed excursions around the lake on the various launches and the usual program of small races and contests was given. The principal feature was a ten mile launch race which was won by the Sincerity, owned by Harold Forsberg, the Machinist, owned by Taege, Cook & McKay winning second place. There was a fine display of fireworks in the evening.

The following were the winners of the races:

100-yard dash, Amos Hikes, 1st; George Ford, 2nd.

Three-legged race, Roy Johnson and Will Kurst, 1st; Harold Breason and partner, 2nd.

Girls’ race, Miss B. Hikes, 1st; Miss Stallman, 2nd.

Fat men’s race, J. T. Ludwig, 1st; Oscar Maxe, 2nd.

Young ladies’ 50-yard dash, Flossie Floyd, 1st; Evelyn Maver, 2nd.

Boys 100-yard dash, Sidney Smith, 1st, Victor Rounds, 2nd.

In the tug of war the single men won over the married men.

The celebration was under the charge of the Trades & Labor assembly and that organization is to be congratulated upon the success of the affair. The only criticism, if criticisms there may be, was the manner in which the crowds were handled, or rather were not handled, in connection with the launch excursion around the lake. The crowds jammed onto the dock in a manner which made it dangerous for women with little children to go out to the end and if they got there they were often crowded aside and given no chance to get into the boats. Had the pier been roped off and an officer stationed at the end and only let people on as the boats could handle them they would have been able to have handled a much larger number, as the rush for the boats delayed loading and unloading. The committee was swamped by a bigger crowd than it anticipated. They had purchased six rolls of 5-cent tickets, 1000 to each roll, such as are used in amusement places in general and they were exhausted early in the game, the tickets being used for refreshments and the various amusements on the grounds. (Brainerd Dispatch, 09 July 1909, p. 1, c. 3)




The Brainerd City Band Plays a

Program of Ten Numbers at

Depot Park

The Brainerd City Band at Lum Park, 04 July 1910. A 841x486 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Crow Wing County Historical Society

The Brainerd City band will render the following program of ten numbers tonight at the Depot Park:

“Happland”—March—Joseph Thome

“Mary, You’re a Big Girl Now”

Introducing “What’s the Matter With Father?”—Burkhart and Van Alstyne

“The Merry Widow Waltz”—Frank Lehar

Overture, “Haut Ton”—Vandercock

“A Hot Radiator”—March—Bert S. Billings

“The Garden of Roses”—Dempsey & Schmid

“The Fox Hunters”—March—Wm. H. Penn

Overture, “The Golden Eagle”—R. W. Hall

“S. S. Theodore Roosevelt”—Vandercock

March—”America Forever Victorious”—H. C. Miller

Happland march is said to have been written on the inspiration of the moment by the composer when he was sojourning in Minnesota and enjoying the pine breezes and beauties of nature at Happyland station on the Minnesota & International railway. In the “Hot Radiator” march the chug and bump of the radiators can be distinctly heard. The “America Forever Victorious” march is written by a popular composer, H. C. Miller, who is a most prolific writer of band music. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 13 July 1910, p. 3, c. 4)

The Brainerd City Band Renders the

Following Program at the

Depot Park

The Brainerd City Band will render the following programme at the Depot Park tonight:

“Our boys and Girsl”—March—Joseph J. Kaiser

“The Red Diamond”—March—T. L. Moreland

Overture. “Manitou”—Southwell

“I Eon’t be Back Till August”—Albert Gumble

“Heart of Gold”—L. Albert

Grand Fantasia on “Home Sweet Home”—Fr. Goetz

“Uiversal Peace”—Military march and two step—J. B. Lampe

Overture. “Haut Monte”—H. A. Vandercock

“When Teddy Comes Marching Home”—March—Lee & Williams

The last number is played by request. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 27 July 1910, p. 3, c. 3)

The Brainerd City band will give a concert tomorrow afternoon at Lum park, beginning at 3 o’clock. Launches will be on hand to take all visitors to and from the park. If sufficient encouragement is given the boys in this new departure it is hoped to make this a regular feature for Sunday afternoons. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 30 July 1910, p. 2, c. 4)

Sunday Band Concert

The city band had an outing last Sunday afternoon on the steamboat, Eagle. Large crowds were handled by the boats and all present enjoyed themselves immensely. All boats taking part paraded around the lake alongside of the Eagle, where the band rendered a fine program. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 02 August 1910, p. 3, c. 3)


25 June 1911. The first concert of the summer season will be given by the Brainerd City Band at the band stand at Depot Park. After much persuasion, Dr. F. J. Sykora, the organizer of the present band and the old Brainerd Marine band, will again take up the baton. (This Was Brainerd, Brainerd Dispatch, Saturday, 25 June 2011)



Band Plays at Lum Park This Sun-

day From Two to Five in

the Afternoon

Independent of a band stand the Unity band of Northeast Brainerd will repeat its concert at Lum Park next Sunday and will play from two to five in the afternoon. A choice selection of pieces will be rendered and a large crowd is expected. Last Sunday the attendance was large and it was expected to duplicate the attendance on July 16.

S. V. Long is the leader of the organization which embraces 16 musicians and by constant practice the band is developing into a first-class concert band. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 13 July 1911, p. 3, c. 5)



Brainerd City Band Enlarging Rep-

ertoire of Standard Selections

Under Direction Dr. Sykora

The Brainerd City band, under the direction of Dr. F. J. Sykora is holding regular rehearsals and enlarging its repertoire of standard selections. The coming season will see the band augmented so that the players will number 30.

One-third of the band will be devoted to the reed section, which particularly makes the band more of a concert band. Dr. Sykora has secured seven or eight clarinets for this section. Saxophones and two French horns have also been added. The French horns are soft toned instruments and are especially effective in producing echo effects and hunting songs and selections.

This coming season will see Brainerd possessing a band of which any citizen need not be ashamed. It will be a musical organization which will do much to advertise Brainerd and it will be heard in many cities outside of Brainerd. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 02 December 1911, p. 3, c. 3)




Under the Direction of Dr. F. J. Sy-

kora the Brainerd City Band

Makes Fine Progress




Band Concert Season in the Depot

Park Will be Inaugurated Early

in June

George Putz, drummer, who played in Brainerd city bands and orchestras for over thirty years, ca. 1898. A 1118x780 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Sherry Putz

Casually visiting the Brainerd City band at one of their rehearsals in the large Citizens State bank hall, the writer was immediately struck with the remarkable progress which the organization has made during its diligent and consistent practice in the winter months.

The band now plays overtures and other standard music with a technical knowledge of details and the reading they give the selections shows that the musicians appreciate the tonal beauties displayed in the various selections. Their phrasing is beautiful. Under Director Sykora’s leadership the band plays with a precision of attack that immediately impresses the auditor. In soft passages as well as the heavy fortissimo ensemble playing, the band follows every wave of his baton and each section makes an immediate response.

The regular band season of concerts in the Depot park will be inaugurated early in June and Brainerd citizens will be agreeably surprised when they hear the band. The playing of the organization and the class of selections rendered will prove a revelation.

The musicians practice every Monday and Wednesday evening. The band, when appearing in concert next June, will embrace over 35 musicians. Prof. William Graham and Prof. W. P. Bartsch, musicians who need no introduction to Brainerd audiences as their playing is so well known to local people, will play with the band and further strengthen it. Prof. Graham will play cornet solos and Prof. Bartsch will play first bass.

Among the overtures played Monday evening were the “Golden Scepter,” overture by Shleppergell; “Potpourri,” by Dalby; “Summer Days,” medley overture, etc. Lighter music played was the “Flower Girl,” intermezzo by Wenrich; “Semper Fidelis,” by Sousa; “Yankee Notion,” etc. Axel Wick, a piccolo player of Minneapolis, played with the band for the first time on last Monday evening. Mr. Wick is of the Schubert and Unique theatre orchestras of Minneapolis and before coming to this country played in one of the standard Scandinavian orchestras of the old country. If he can find steady employment as an upholsterer he will remain in Brainerd.

The personnel of the band, which of course does not include the further augmentation of 10 or more musicians is as follows:

Solo cornets—Prof. William Graham, Christ Elvig, Weimer L. Bakkila.

First Cornet—Torvel Anderson.

Second cornets—Albert Swanson, John Bakkila.

Baritones—Elmer Hetting, Andrew Anderson.

Solo trombone—Carl Anderson.

First trombone—Gust Lind.

E flat clarinet—Charles Falkenreck.

Solo clarinets—M. McPherson, Jas. McPherson.

First clarinets—Ernest Lind, Clarence Brown.

Second clarinets—George Erickson, Al Hallberg.

Solo alto—A. J. Loom.

First altos—James Peterson, Victor Osterlund.

Second alto—Martin Anderson.

First bass—Prof. W. P. Bartsch, David Ebinger.

Drum—Art Johnson.

Trap drum—George Putz.

The latter part of April the Brainerd city band will give its fourth annual ball, an event which promises to be well attended. The entire band will furnish the music. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 28 March 1912, p. 3, c. 1)



Unity Band Gives a Grand Ball at

the Citizens State Bank Hall

on Friday, Jany. 19

The Unity Band with Thomas A. “Fatty” Wood, who worked with Charlie Chaplin on seven movies from 1916 to 1925 and Band Master, Sylvester V. Long, ca. 1913. A 1778x1132 version of this photo is also available for viewing on line.
Source: Images of America: Brainerd

The Unity Band will give its first annual ball on Friday evening January 19 at the Citizens State Bank hall. Great preparations have been made for the event and the band boys are doing everything possible to make this first big ball a success.

The committee on arrangements is composed of Henry Roberts, J. Ellis, S. V. Long and Carl Anderson. The floor committee includes Dean White, Ira C. White, Henry Roberts and Vernon White.

The band is composed of 19 players and under the direction of S. V. Long they have made rapid progress since their organization on February 18,1911. This musical organization has been the life of Northeast Brainerd where many of its members make their homes and they have also assisted at many lodge functions and entertainments in this city. This is their first dance and the boys are busy selling tickets and from the response met the ball promises to be largely attended. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 10 January 1912, p. 3, c. 3)

NOTE: This band seems to have disappeared by January 1915.

A new band has been formed in Southeast Brainerd and over $200 in instruments were ordered for them by Wm. Graham. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 24 June 1912, p. 2, c. 3)




Mr. and Mrs. F. S. Parker and Family

Give the Same as a Memorial

to Late C. N. Parker




Stand to Have Cement Foundation,

Pressed Brick Walls and to be

Octagon in Shape

From Wednesday’s Daily:—

As a memorial to the late C. N. Parker, there has been presented to the city of Brainerd a beautiful band stand to be erected in Gregory park and the donors are Mr. And Mrs. F. S. Parker, Mr. and Mrs. Clyde E. Parker, Mrs. R. T. Campbell of St. Paul, Mrs. George H. Brown of Miles City, Mont., and Mrs. Allen Lowry of St. Paul.

Their generous bequest happily solves the difficulties of the park board. The latter had advertised for bids to construct the stand, plans and specifications of which had been drawn by White Brothers. Two bids were received that of White Brothers being $868 and that of E. H. Husemann $962. Both were considered out of reach of the board owing to the limited funds on hand and it was thought advisable to advertise for bids on changed plans.

Then came the offer of Mr. and Mrs. F. S. Parker and their children and the board gladly accepted it. It is a gift to the city which will be appreciated by every resident and serves as a fitting memorial to C. N. Parker, who in former years did so much for Brainerd.

The band stand will have a concrete foundation and cement floor in the basement. The stand will be octagon in shape. Stairs will lead to the main floor. This floor will be of wood to insure good sounding properties. The walls will be of pressed brick, of a design to be selected by F. S. Parker, who, it is said out of deference to his father may select the same kind of brick which the late Mr. Parker chose for the building of the Citizens State bank. In the walls will be placed a white granite slab and this panel will bear the name of Parker.

Construction of the band stand will be started as soon as the material can be assembled. (Brainerd Dispatch, 14 August 1914, p. 1, c. 1)



To Be Given Sunday Afternoon at 3

O’Clock By the Brainerd

City Band




Fine Program of Popular Selections

to Be Rendered—Concerts

There an Innovation

Dr. Frank J. Sykora, Director, Brainerd City Band, 14 August 1914
Source: Brainerd Daily Dispatch, p. 8

On Sunday afternoon at 3 o’clock the Brainerd City Band will give a concert at Lum park and this innovation will no doubt be appreciated by Northeast Brainerd and other citizens, to whom an outing at this pretty park and the privilege of hearing beautiful band music will serve as a pleasant form of recreation.

The innovation will be watched with interest and the size of the audience will tell whether this idea strikes the popular fancy.

The program to be rendered includes these selections:

1. March, “National Emblem,” Bagley

2. Overture, “The Bridal Rose,” Lavallee

3. Popular Medleys

4. Idyll, “The Birds and the Brook”

5. Potpourri, “Gems of Stephen Foster,” Tobani

6. Serenade, “A Sacred Number”

7. Finale, March, Selected

(Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 14 August 1914, p. 8, c. 3)

21 August 1914. F. W. Sleeper, agent for the Melrose Marble Works, has sold to F. S. Parker a memorial tablet to be placed in the wall of the bandstand which the Parker family is to erect in Gregory Park. The tablet is of Barry granite with the name Parker chiseled thereon. (This Was Brainerd, Brainerd Dispatch, 21 August 2014)



Structure Donated to City by F. S.

Parker and Children, is Near-

ing Completion


Built of Pressed Brick—Band Stand

Was Designed by White Bros.

of Brainerd

The band stand donated to the city by Mr. and Mrs. F. S. Parker and children is now rapidly nearing completion. The structure, designed by White Brothers of this city, is situated in Gregory park.

It is built of pressed brick. A panel bearing the name of “Parker” and set in the wall is the modest token to show that it is a memorial for the late C. N. Parker.

Preparations are being made to dedicate the stand. The Brainerd City band will play an appropriate program and the occasion will be made a scene of rejoicing on the part of Brainerd citizens who thoroughly appreciate the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. F. S. Parker and their children. (Brainerd Dispatch, 25 September 1914, p. 1, c. 2)



The Exercises Will be Held Sunday

Afternoon, October 11th, at

Gregory Park




The Donors Have Erected Lasting

Memorial to the Memory of the

Late C. N. Parker

From Thursday’s Daily:—

The band stand which has been erected in Gregory Park by F. S. Parker and family as a memorial to the late C. N. Parker will be dedicated with appropriate ceremonies on Sunday afternoon at 3 o’clock, Oct. 11th. The memorial is greatly appreciated by the people of Brainerd, and it is a work of art in its line not only affording an appropriate place for the music that will be heard for years to come in what will be one of the most beautiful parks in northern Minnesota but also helping to beautify that public place. The announcement is made in connection with the program that in case the weather is unfavorable the services will be held in St. Paul’s church. The program follows:

Selection by Brainerd City band.

Mayor R. A. Henning, master of ceremonies.

Invocation by Rev. Caleb Benham.

Song, quartette, S. F. Alderman, Al Mraz, Wm. Vernon and John Bye.

Remarks, A. J. Halsted.

Selection, Brainerd City band.

Remarks, Mal. D. Clark.

Song, quartette.

Benediction, Rev. Caleb Benham.

Reception, city council and park board.

(Brainerd Dispatch, 9 October 1914, p. 1, c. 1)

Parker Bandstand

Original Parker Bandstand, ca. 1914.
Source: Crow Wing County Historical Society
Parker Bandstand, July 7, 2010
Source: Carl Faust

In August 1914 the Charles N. Parker family offered to donate a bandstand to be erected in Gregory Park. The bandstand was to be a memorial to the family patriarch, Charles N. Parker, who came to Brainerd in 1872 to start the Parker & Topping Foundry, which provided metal castings for the Northern Pacific Railroad. During the ensuing years, Charles Parker was responsible for, among other things, erecting the Parker Block which first contained his Northern Pacific Bank, later becoming the Citizens State Bank on the northwest corner of South Seventh and Laurel Streets as well as for building the Brainerd Electric Street Railway which opened for business on May 9, 1893.

The bandstand was designed and built in the shape of an octagon by the White Brothers of Brainerd. It was composed of a concrete foundation and a cement floor in the basement with stairs leading to the main floor which was built of Washington fir in order to ensure proper acoustics. The walls were of red pressed brick selected by Fred S. Parker in honor of his father who chose that color and type of brick for his bank building. An ornamental railing surrounded the main floor and the lighting facilities were the best, consisting of eight groups of cluster lights, twenty-four lights in all. In Gregory Park the bandstand was accorded a position on a slight knoll, the highest spot in the park. When the city band played at the dedication ceremonies, it was noted the tunes were heard in every section of the park, thus demonstrating that the selected site was a most appropriate one. The soft tones of the band were distinctly heard within a radius of four blocks from the park. The bandstand cost in the neighborhood of $868 and was dedicated on October 11, 1914. (An Overview of Happenings in the City of Brainerd for the Years of 1914 and Early 1915, A. Nelson)


01 September 1915. The last band concert of the season will be given this evening by the Brainerd City Band playing in Gregory Park. A comprehensive program has been prepared by director Dr. F. J. Sykora, including a cornet solo by Prof. William Graham. (This Was Brainerd, Brainerd Dispatch, 01 September 2015)




Popular Young Doctor of the City

Died in a Hospital in St. Paul

This Afternoon




Wife and Wife's Mother Were With

Him at the End—Remains to

be Sent to Brainerd

Dr. F. J. Sykora, one of the most popular young physicians and surgeons of the city, died this afternoon at St. Joseph's hospital in St. Paul where he had been three times operated on for appendicitis and complications which later developed.

      The doctor had been ailing for a year and it was about five weeks ago that he went to St. Paul for treatment.

      Dr. Sykora was born at Watertown, Wis., in 1879. He was a member of the Elks, Knights of Columbus, Catholic Order of Foresters, Modern Brotherhood of America, Brotherhood of American Yeoman, Phi Chi National Medical Fraternity, Epsilon Phi Sigma Medical Fraternity and the Robinson Gynecological Association.

      He was at one time associated with Doctors Camp and Thabes, being at that time the junior member of the firm of Drs. Camp, Thabes & Sykora. Later he was in practice for himself and then became associated with Dr. D. E. Nelson, the firm name being Drs. Sykora & Nelson. Dr. Sykora received his degree at the Chicago College of Medicine and Surgery.

      He had a wide acquaintance throughout the county and state and was known as a gentle and kind man who was particularly reliable in children's diseases and who was called on to officiate in many operations requiring skill of the highest order.

      He was married November [sic] 5 [sic], 1914 to Miss Adelaide Stoll at Little Falls. He leaves a mother, Mrs. Mary Sykora, of Brainerd; a brother, Dr. Lawrence Sykora, of Duluth, five sisters, Mrs. J. E. Sweeney of Tacoma, Wash., Mrs. J. B. O'Malley of Tacoma, Wash., Mrs Frank Ketten of Sequim, Wash., Miss Helen Sykora of Brainerd; Mrs. S [sic] [F]. J. Peland [sic] [Pelant] of Minneapolis.

      As a musician Dr. Sykora was talented in a high degree. He organized and directed the Brainerd Marine band which won prizes in state competitions. He was the director of the Brainerd City band whose music was a feature at the summer concerts in Gregory park.

      The doctor belonged to the Catholic church. Public spirited, generous, a good friend and comrade, the passing away of Dr. Sykora in the prime of life will leave many inconsolable. To the family in its sad bereavement is extended the deep sympathy of the community. (Brainerd Dispatch, 19 November 1915, p. 1, c. 1)

The funeral of Dr. F. J. Sykora was one of the largest held in the city. The Brainerd City band, of which he was director, marched in the funeral procession with drums muffled with the Booster band of S. E. Brainerd. They were accompanied by other members of the local musician's union. The [organizations to which the] doctor belonged were represented by large bodies of members. The pallbearers were H. W. Linnemann, H. P. Dunn, W. J. Lyonais, Joseph Kiebler, Harry Murphy and S. R. Adair. Rev. Father J. J. O'Mahoney and Rev. John Crean officiated at the services. The casket was literally buried in flowers. (Brainerd Dispatch, 26 November 1915, p. 8, c.'s 2 & 3)




Brainerd City Band Gives a Fine Pro-

gram at Gregory Park on

Friday Evening




March, “Gregory,” Composed by

Prof. Wm. P. Bartsch, Re-

ceives Much Applause

The Brainerd City band, in its first concert of the season, played to a large audience at Gregory park. The first number was featured, being the original composition of Prof. Wm. P. Bartsch, a march entitled, “Gregory Park.” The melody was carried principally by the basses and trombones. The selection will soon be published. By request it will be repeated at the next concert Wednesday evening, June 14.

Judging from the applause, the “Gypsy Queen” was the best number on the program. This Hungarian overture was very well received.

The fancy of the audience was caught by the composition of Tompkins entitled “Beaux Espirits,” in which the trombone took the field.

The “Ghost Dance,” by Salisbury was very good, also the “Big Ben” selection by Gardner. At the conclusion the band stood and played the “Star Spangled Banner.”

It was an ideal evening and the music carried as far south as the high school. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 10 June 1916, p. 3, c. 3)




The Brainerd City band will be heard tonight at the depot park.

Most of the music to be played abounds with life and ginger.

Next week at the regular band concert Mrs. Clyde E. Parker will put on two local talent dance numbers and Mr. Bergh will have 500 school children sing patriotic songs.

A collection will be taken at that time for the Red Cross. Details will be printed later. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 22 August 1917, p. 5, c. 2)




Former Well Known Brainerd Band Leader

Dies in Philadelphia Hospital.

A telegram was received in the city on Saturday conveying the information that Wm. M. Dresskell died Saturday morning from the effects of an operation at the Lankenam hospital in Philadelphia.

Mr. Dresskell was a well known jeweler in this city for many years, and sold his business to C. L. Burnett some sixteen or seventeen years ago and removed to Toledo, O., where he engaged in business. For several years past he had been in business in Key West, Florida.

In 1882 while in Brainerd he organized the Dresskell’s City band, which became widely known as one of the best musical organizations in the state. Mr. Dresskell became a band leader at the age of seventeen. He was a veteran of the civil war, playing in the band of the 55th Ohio regiment during his term of service. As a cornet soloist of the Peake Family Bell Ringers he traveled extensively throughout the United States. He was at one time superintendent of electric lights in Brainerd. He leaves a widow and two sons. (Brainerd Tribune, 01 February 1918, p. 1, c. 4)



Henry Rehl of Minneapolis to Suc-

ceed Edwin Harris Bergh in

Brainerd Band

Henry Rehl, of Minneapolis, has been elected the new director of the Brainerd city band. Owing to Edwin Harris Bergh’s growing business on the range, his absence from the city so much of the time, and lastly his request for double his present salary, a change seemed advisable. Mr. Bergh will, during July and August, take a complete rest from all musical activities.

Mr. Rehl is a former Brainerd musician and one of the finest of clarinet players. He returns with fine recommendations and will make a most desirable leader. The band at present is most badly in need of a clarinetist and the coming of Rehl should greatly strengthen the reed section. Brainerd musicians all give him the glad hand and wish him success. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 13 March 1918, p. 5, c. 2)



Director Richard H. Rehl to Form

Band, Young People Accepted

From 10 to 16 Years




Organized in Minneapolis the Twin

City Cadet Band Which Won

Great Renown

Richard H. Rehl, director of the Brainerd city band and one of the prominent musicians of the Northwest, will shortly form a juvenile band, teach them and perfecting them so they will be the equal of the Twin City Cadet band he organized in Minneapolis.

Juveniles from 10 to 16 years of age are desired. The Cadet band attained a great success and was afterward merged in the Working Boys’ Band of 65 pieces now under the direction of C. C. Heinzman.

There is musical talent in this city said Mr. Rehl, which only needs the stimulus of proper teaching and enthusiasm to flower forth into first class ability. Mr. Rehl's home is in the Model flats at 212-214 South Broadway where he can also be reached by telephone.

He will be glad to take up his plan with parents and the youth of Brainerd. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 04 May 1918, p. 5, c. 3)



Has Played for Many Functions and

Parades and Public Appreciates

Their Work




Congressman Clarence B. Miller to

Deliver Address, Band Also

Plays in Red Cross Parade

The Brainerd city band is gaining much commendation for its fine playing at patriotic meetings and parades. The boys have turned out at every leave taking of boys for the training camps.

Under the leadership of Director Richard H. Rehl, the national airs are now given in gallant style, with a swing and fervor to them that is inspiring. The band plays with a snap, vim and precision that is remarkable.

The band plays at the opera house Wednesday evening, May 15, when Congressman Clarence B. Miller of Duluth, just returned form the French front, gives a patriotic address.

The band plays in the Red Cross parade to be held Saturday afternoon, May 18th. All in all the band has entered with spirit and enthusiasm into all affairs tending to promote patriotism and to aid his country in winning the war.

The bandmen are entitled to the thanks of the community for their whole-hearted interest and splendid cooperation. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 11 May 1918, p. 5, c. 3)




Second Regular Concert of the Sea-

son Offers an Attractive Num-

ber of Selections




An Ambitious Offering Will be the

Sextet from Lucia by Donizet-

ti, Program in Detail

The second band concert of the summer season will be given this evening by the Brainerd City band at Depot park, commencing at 8 o’clock. An attractive program has been prepared by the director, Richard H. Rehl, and this is the offering for tonight:

March—”A Deed of the Pen”—Neil Moret

Overture—”Characteristic”—E. Brepeant

Intermezzo—”Shadow Land”—L. Gilbert

Southern Characteristic—”In Ole Arkansaw”—Zimmerman

“Sextet from Lucia”—Donizetti

Popular Numbers—

(a) Song, Fox Trot, “Mary”—Hugo Frey

(b) “Till We Meet Again”—R. Whiting

Overture, “The Enchantress”—C. W. Dalbey

March—”Star Spangled Banner”

(Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 11 June 1919, p. 3, c. 3)



Brainerd has had a municipal band several years, money being raised by taxes which all pay for its support. Being a member of the band means more than a public appearance once a week during the summer season at Gregory park or the Depot square.

It means attendance at regular rehearsals and practice at home. When you count all the time which the average shopman puts into it, it means many hours devoted to the study of music.

Coupled with this the band as a whole likes to see that its work is appreciated. This can be attested to by generous applause when they play and by having community and press speak a good word for the organization and every citizen making himself a committee of one to boost and get engagements for the band.

The salary Bemidji pays its director exceeds largely that which Richard H. Rehl receives in Brainerd. But the results! The Brainerd city band entered into open competition with the Bemidji band at the shop picnic and played better, showed more musicianship and gained greater applause than the northern town band.

The Duluth Commercial club, recognizing the value of a municipal band, has taken steps to organize one. But Duluth, like Brainerd, should remember that organization of such a band is one step and another just as important is the constant fostering of the municipal band.


(Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 27 June 1919, p. 4, c. 1)



Famous Bandmaster of Brainerd Ac-

cepts Engagement with Pantages

Theatre in Minneapolis




Made It a Fine Musical Organization

Capable of Playing the

Best in Music

Musical circles in Brainerd will sadly miss Richard H. Rehl, bandmaster of the Brainerd City band who has accepted an engagement to play clarinet at the Pantages theatre in Minneapolis.

Mr. Rehl will leave Brainerd on August 10. He has faithfully taught the Brainerd organization and made of it a band second to none in this part of the state. Composed of thirty pieces, the Brainerd band has established a reputation as one of the best concert bands in north and central Minnesota.

No concert will be given this evening on account of the carnival, but next week the program will contain numbers making it one of the best given in months. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 16 July 1919, p. 5, c. 1)


Band Concerts

The city is to enter into a contract with the Brainerd Municipal band to play for the ensuing year, the motion of Aldermen Koop and A. G. Anderson so made, carrying.

Alderman A. G. Anderson suggested the first concert at the new depot. On motion of Aldermen A. G. Anderson and Hugdahl, carried, the band will play its first concert at the new depot with the approval of the proper railway officials. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 18 May 1920, p. 3, c. 1)

DO YOU KNOW that your band is a year-round advertisement for your city, and that a good band is a sign of a prosperous and “live” town? (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 28 May 1920, p. 2, c. 1)



In order to catch up on its regular schedule the Brainerd Municipal band will play at the Washington school grounds this Thursday evening and at the Harrison school grounds on Friday evening. This will finish the band’s park concert season for this year.

Director William F. Palmer will play a solo at the concert tonight. Both programs will contain some of the best selections in the band’s extensive repertoire. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 26 August 1920, p. 5, c. 3)


The Brainerd Municipal band concert Wednesday evening was thoroughly enjoyed by many people. Quite a number of labor delegates had remained over in the city and they were at the park. Applause was frequent and the band was generous with its encores. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 21 July 1921, p. 2, c. 2)



Brainerd Municipal Band Getting So

Popular That Every Part of the

Town Wants Concerts




In the Old Days Brainerd Actually

Had a Gilded Circus Wagon

For Its Musicians

Every section of Brainerd is anxious to stage a band concert and have the Brainerd Municipal band play. The council is besieged with requests and every ward is setting forth its merits and the appetite for music engendered and which can only be satisfied by a program of popular and classical music.

One citizen, an old timer, made the suggestion that the city revert to the custom of the old days in Brainerd when the band had a gilded chariot which loomed up and flashed as good in the sunlight as any Rhoda Royal circus band wagon. Eight horses pulled the equipage and there was great rivalry as to who should handle the ribbons.

The band wagon and Charlie Hughes’ hotel bus were stored in the same Commercial Hotel yard and one day the hotel burned in the big fire of what was then the business district of Brainerd near where the new court house stands.

And what do you think the citizens tried to save first?

The hotel or the band wagon?

It was the band wagon. There was a flaming arch that it had to be pulled through and in the excitement the Charlie Hughes bus and the band wagon wedged in the commotion and band wagon, bus and hotel went up in smoke.

The idea of having a portable band, of having an established route with a time table so that every ward may know just when there will be some music, is quite a thought-provoking one. In other words the band wagon would serve the purpose of a portable band stand.

Business Manager “Andy” Anderson has more than once jokingly said that a band wagon was the only solution to satisfy the whole town. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 02 August 1921, p. 5, c. 3)

SEE: 1890 Leland House / Commercial Hotel Fire in the Brainerd: City of Fire page.



The Brainerd Municipal band will give their band concert at Gregory park tonight at 8 p. m. Wm. F. Palmer, conductor.

This program will be rendered:

March, “National Emblem,”—Bagley

Overture, “Royal Pageant,”—King

Popular Airs:

(a) “Vampire Rose,”—Berlin

(b) “Whispering,”—McHugh

Waltz, “The Druid’s Prayer,”—Hall

Enti Acte, “Murmuring Roses,”—Kling

Popular Airs:

(a) “Michigan,”—Mitchell

(b) “Mimi,”—Gordon

March, “First Infantry,”—Hall

“Star Spangled Banner”

(Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 24 August 1921, p. 5, c. 4)




Furnished Fine Program at the

Roller Rink on Tuesday


The Brainerd Boys’ Band furnished a program lasting two hours at the roller skating rink on Tuesday evening. The band played for a percentage of the receipts, and is well satisfied with the fund thus raised for its treasury. An exceptionally large number were in attendance at the rink to skate to the band music. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 29 October 1924, p. 7, c. 3)



Organization Has Already Been Per-

fected and is Holding Regular





Band Instruments Now Most Needed,

Clarinets, Cornets, Flute,

Bass Horns

Brainerd is to have a ladies’ band. In fact the organization has already been perfected and is holding regular rehearsals.

A number of the ladies of the city have for some little time expressed the desire to form a band, and within the past month have set to work to perfect such an organization. With the assistance of Mrs. Norman Ziebell, twenty ladies have been easily recruited, and it is hoped to double that number in the near future.

Among this number are several good musicians, a few of whom already play band instruments. The big majority, however, are just beginners, and no lady who has planned to join should feel that she would be unwelcome because she has had no musical training. It is pointed out that this is a beginners’ band, and no lady should feel the least hesitancy in joining it.

The band instruments most needed, says Mrs. Ziebell, are clarinets, cornets, a flute, two bass horns, several mellophones and a drum. The band meets for rehearsal each Wednesday evening. Election of officers will be a part of the business transacted at this rehearsal. Any ladies who would like to join the band, or who desire more information about it, are invited to see Mrs. Ziebell and attend this week’s meeting.

Mrs. Ziebell has had much experience in band work. She has successfully directed a ladies’ band of 25 pieces, and a mixed band of 35 pieces. She has played in a band, in a philharmonic orchestra, and on the chautauqua circuits.

Mrs. Ziebell is well known in the city, where she was a director of music in the Brainerd schools before her marriage, as Miss Winifred Cronk. She is a graduate of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, Appleton, Wis., and the American Institute of Normal Methods of Evanston. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 04 November 1924, p. 3, c. 1)



Met at the Home of the Director,

Mrs. Norman





Secretary Miss Esther Nelson, Treas-

urer Miss Ellen Dahl, Dis-

patcher Miss Morrison.

An unknown bass drum player, possible first name is Beatrice, ca. 1925. A 698x1236 version of this photo is also available for viewing on line.
Source: Unknown

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band met at the home of the director, Mrs. Norman Ziebell, on Wednesday evening, for the purpose of completing its organization.

The constitution and by-laws were read and approved. It was decided that the regular meetings would be held weekly on Wednesday evenings.

The following officers were elected for a term of six months:

President and manager—Mrs. A. E. Niles

Secretary—Miss Esther Nelson.

Treasurer—Miss Ellen Dahl.

Dispatcher—Miss Lorraine Morrison

Reporter—Miss Leta Wolhart and Miss Roderick.

Librarians—Mrs. A. W. Moulster, Miss Geraldine Kiebler and Miss Marcella Kampmann.

Grievance Committee—Miss Florence Creger, Miss Eleanor Frayer and Miss Hildegarde Erstad.

The instrumentation of the ladies’ band is not yet complete, and it is hoped that many of the ladies of the city will join the organization. Any of the officers named above will be glad to furnish any information to those who are interested. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 07 November 1924, p. 7, c. 3)

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band met on Wednesday evening at the home of its director, Mrs. Norman Ziebell, 712 Kingwood St. This was purely a business meeting. The first rehearsal will be held on next Wednesday night at the rest room in the city hall. A number of new members joined the organization last evening. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 13 November 1924, p. 2, c. 2)




Given Added Impetus by Organiza-

tion of Parents Backing the





Boys’ Band Feels It Will Be a Credit

And Big Advertisement to


Brainerd Boys’ Band, ca. 1925. A 976x649 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Crow Wing County Historical Society

The Brainerd Boys’ Band has been given added impetus through the organization of the parents, who are behind the band 100 per cent, and the obtaining of a very capable director, E. A. Page, local musician who has had much experience with juvenile musical organizations.

The parents of the boys in the band, feeling that much more could be accomplished with their assistance, are backing the band, giving it every support in their power, realizing that its success depends in a great measure upon their backing. The band has shown such promise and ability that the parents hope to make it one of the leading musical organizations of the city.

Mr. Page took over the active management and leadership of the band on January 1st. He has successfully directed five boys’ bands in the past, and is making excellent progress in the local band. Under his management the boys are showing exceptional progress and are very enthusiastic about their work.

The boys’ band should be increased by about 20 members at once, says Mr. Page, to make it a really strong organization. The instruments most needed are clarinets, trombones, altos, oboe and bassoon. It is hoped that parents will interest their boys with a view toward joining the band in the near future. Mr. Page will be glad to talk over this matter with both parents and boys at any time, and suggests that they visit the band rehearsals, held from 7 to 9 o’clock on Tuesday evenings at the Y. M. C. A.

It is pointed out that music means a great deal to young people and, should be given serious attention in their childhood, when the best foundation can be laid. The knowledge of a band instrument is of great value to the young men after he leaves home, and is often the means of making quite a little extra money, more than repaying him for the effort put forth.

The Brainerd Boys’ Band has already received recognition, and has a number of engagements in sight for the coming summer season, some being very important contracts covering several days playing. One reason for wishing to increase the personnel of the band at once is to give the new members ample time to learn their instruments and their parts before this summer program begins.

The boys’ band feels that it will be one of the prominent musical organizations of the city this coming season, a credit and a big advertisement to Brainerd, and hopes that it may have the backing and support of every local citizen. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 02 February 1925, p. 7, c. 4)



Made Fine Appearance and Gave

Splendid Numbers at the Elks

Kermess and Parade




Many People From St. Cloud, Minne-

apolis, Pine River, Breezy Point,

U. C. Travelers at Kermess

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band, Winifred Cronk Ziebell, Director performs in a parade, ca. 1925. A 1100x907 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Crow Wing County Historical Society

The Brainerd Ladies band, in their first public appearance Saturday, played well at the Elks Kermess and in the parade and gained enthusiastic applause. They played with precision and wonderful expression. They marched well and carried their instruments like professionals. At the corner of Sixth and Front the band played another selection and applause and the roar of hundreds of car horns added to the din expressing appreciation.

Preceded by a troop of mounted Elks led by Andy Smraker and Hank Anderson, and Barney Larson, Alton Fox, Eddie Wallace and Albert Broman, attired in gay matador uniforms, the parade though short, attracted universal attention.

At the Kermess, Saturday night was the closing night and it drew attendance from St. Cloud, Minneapolis, Pine River, Pillager, Breezy Point, Crosby, Ironton, Deerwood and other towns. The Minneapolis delegation included many prominent Elks from No. 44.

The United Commercial Travelers of the Brainerd Council were out in force being led by Senior Counselor John F. Hurley and Past Senior Counselor Charles W. Gustafson. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 20 April 1925, p. 3, c. 2)




St. Paul Dispatch Features Local

Band in Splendid





Staff Correspondent Accords Band

and City Valuable


Brainerd Ladies’ Band in Gregory Park, 1926. A 1926x1075 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Crow Wing County Historical Society

In its portrayal of the most interesting items of news of cities and towns in Minnesota a column specially for this, known as the Gopher Trail, the St. Paul Dispatch in Friday's publication arriving this morning gives a good story on the Brainerd Ladies’ Band.

The writer, R. C. Emery, who rides around the country for the St. Paul Dispatch in a “flivver” picks out the most important event in each city or town in the state. His article on the Brainerd Ladies' Band was the result of his visit to Brainerd about two weeks ago.

Besides the story itself there are pictures published of members of the band. The story is possibly the best advertising the ladies’ band has yet received in outside papers.

The complete story follows:

Brainerd, Minn., June 4.—For nearly a year and a half, the male citizenry of Brainerd, and the feminine portion of the city’s inhabitants, too, who were not in on the secret, listened without a single civic thrill to the sounds of melody that issued every Tuesday night from the basement of their City Hall.

Scarcely anyone outside of the three dozen young women who gathered in the basement room weekly realized that anything unusual was going on.

Composed of 35 Women

And then, suddenly, about a fortnight ago, Brainerd awoke to the fact that it had a band, an organization unusual in the musical history of Minnesota, indeed of the whole country.

The band is composed of 35 young women so skilled that they are being sought after at civic entertainments not only in Crow Wing county but in the whole of Northern Minnesota and Canada as well; are being mentioned as a Minnesota State Fair attraction, have been invited to compete in Aitkin for the honor of being selected as the official district American Legion band with a tour in prospect to the Sesqui-Centennial celebration at Philadelphia and are even being considered as part of Minnesota’s Legion delegation to the 1927 American Legion reunion in Paris.

Organization is Unique

And this band which Brainerd thus suddenly discovered belonged to its list of civic assets is a unique organization in many ways. It is composed entirely of young women of the city most of whom a year and a half ago were absolutely unfamiliar with band instruments or their use.

It has, without the aid of public donation, or unearned financial encouragement of any kind paid for its own instruments and the uniforms of its members and has, at the same time, proved on several occasions its real musical merit to discriminating audiences.

The story of Brainerd’s women’s band which burst so suddenly from Tuesday night obscurity to the attention of its city was told the other day by Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell, its director and organizer, the woman more responsible than any other one person for the surprising success of the organization.

Mrs. Ziebell is one of those women—so Brainerd citizens are eager to assert, now that they have discovered that their city has a women’s band—who might be described as “a natural born musician.”

Sisters Skilled Musicians

For several seasons, several years ago, she and her sister appeared in a musical skit in vaudeville. Both were skilled in the use of several instruments. Then Mrs. Ziebell—she was unmarried then—left the stage to take up teaching. At Bancroft and at Norwalk, Wis., she was instructor in music in the schools. In both cities, she organized student bands which attained far more than ordinary success. In 1919 Mrs. Ziebell came to Brainerd as instructor in music at the Brainerd high school, retaining that position until her marriage two years later.

So much for the background of the Brainerd band leader. These were facts that nearly any person in Brainerd will tell a stranger proudly, now.

It remained for Mrs. Ziebell, herself, to tell how the band was started and the struggle its members had to win recognition in fact of the townsfolk’s early apathy.

How the Band Was Started

“Quite a few of the younger women in town were interested in music,” Mrs. Ziebell said, “and they knew I had experience directing bands. Several young women came to me in the fall of 1924 with the suggestion that we organize a women’s band here and asked that I direct them.

“I told them if they really were interested that we should have an organization meeting. On the evening of November 11 [sic] [4], 1924, 13 young women came to my house and we discussed ways and means of forming a band. It was useless, we felt, to ask any public assistance. Brainerd already had a town band and a boys’ band and the city seemed to feel that the musical needs of the community were fairly well filled.

“But the girls were eager to go ahead and where there’s a will there’s a way. Our first social function was a rummage sale. I think the town generally rather laughed at us trying to raise funds for a band that had neither uniforms, instruments nor, generally, any knowledge of how to use instruments if we had them. Only two of the girls ever had played on band instruments. But that rummage sale made the band a going concern. About 10 more girls became interested and we had another meeting and decided to go ahead.

Only Two Had Played Before

“Each girl guaranteed to pay for her own instrument. I selected the particular instrument that each girl should play, determining, as well as I could, what type of instrument each person would be best fitted to use. It was difficult, because, as I say only two girls ever had played any kind of a band piece before.

“We agreed to meet every Tuesday night. The city officials were willing to let us use the basement of the City Hall for practice. The instruments came and we set to work.

“For months we practiced conscientiously. There wasn’t a girl but who stuck in those first weeks when things seemed most discouraging. We decided on our uniforms, blue with gold trimming, and held rummage sales and socials to pay for them. The uniforms cost $30.50 each. It was a good deal of a venture to go in debt for such an amount with a band that was not yet ready to appear in public concert, but we did.

“And then last August when the Elks’ convention was in Brainerd, we made our first public appearance, eight months after we had started to practice. We made quite a hit at that time as well as adding $150 to our treasury and interesting enough more girls in the band so we were able to maintain a regular 36-piece band instead of a 23-piece organization.

Paid for Own Uniforms

“We held concerts after that, always outside of Brainerd, however, and raised enough money to pay the last on the uniforms but still the people of Brainerd didn’t realize what we could do until last April 26, when the mayor of Winnipeg came to town and we held a public concert.

“That appearance “sold” the band to Brainerd, if I do say it. Ever since, we have been showered with invitations to appear in concert. Winnipeg officials have asked us to appear there.

“Several theatres have asked us to play here in town. We are to play in Aitkin at the time of the district Legion convention and Legion leaders have started a movement to have us proclaimed the district Legion band and to go as such to the Sesqui-Centennial celebration in Philadelphia.

“Best of all, our own town is willing now to acknowledge that we have made good. Everyone is anxious to do something to help our organization. Instead of being just a silly women’s project we have come to be regarded as an asset to the town. We don’t have to practice in the City Hall basement any more. Instead, the Brainerd Business college rooms have been opened to us, once a week.

Couldn’t be Discouraged

“Our success has been due, I think, more than anything else to the sprit the girls have shown in sticking to their band in spite of all discouragements. We made it a rule early in the history of the band that any girl who was absent three times in succession from practice without a good excuse would be dropped from the band organization. Not a girl has been dropped.

“I tried to encourage the girls by always holding something in prospect. First it was the uniforms that we were going to get. Then it was the Elks’ convention. Then I told them we would be a State Fair attraction in 1926. It seemed a presumptuous hope in the days when not even our own town took us seriously but I believe now its a dream that’s going to be realized. And now we are “pointing,” as they say, toward the Sesqui-Centennial and possibly—it seems a good deal to hope for—the American Legion convention in Paris.

“The girls still are sticking. They have shown a wonderful spirit. They are the kind of girls that success won’t spoil any more than discouragement dishearten. Mostly they are girls of about high school age, either students or young working women from the best homes in Brainerd, the kind of girls who would make good anywhere and they’ve shown what they will do for the band. I shudder to think of the Tuesday night ”dates,” that have been shattered on the altar of “band practice.”

Marvel at Development

In Brainerd, now that they realize that they have a women’s band, par excellence, the townspeople are marveling at the rapidity with which the young women of the organization mastered the instruments they play.

“They are only youngsters, too,” is their boast and no idle one either for, aside from Mrs. Ziebell, herself, there are only two married women in the band, Mrs. Charles Moerke and Mrs. L. O. Johnson. One cornetist, Miss Esther Bentley, 16 years old, is the baby of the band. Several of the young women players are 17 and 18 years old, the majority of the band under 21.

Two girls Bernice Murphy and Mayme Nelson, both utterly without band experience, learned to play well enough to appear in concert in eight weeks, considered record time.

All nationalities, all religious faiths, all social sets are represented in the band’s membership for it is an organization where team work has counted more than anything else to build success.

Members of Band

Included in the band’s membership roll are: Cornets—Esther Nelson, Ethel Fox, Ruth Tollefson, Esther Bentley, Hazel Rardin, Gladys Peterson, Augusta Weis and Esther Davis; Clarinets—Alma Brown, Dixie Thompson, Minnie Larson, Gladys Rardin and Shirley Peterson; Baritones—Lillian Irwin and Lucille Grey; Trombones—Emily Mraz, Gladys Smith, Dorothy Schrader and Marcella Kampmann; Piccolo—Georgia Brown; Soprano saxophones—Gladys Niles, Irene Turcotte; Alto saxophones—Bernice Murphy and Mayme Nelson; Baritone saxophone—Mrs. Charles Moerke; Tenor saxophone—Irene Horner; Mellophones—Irene Englund, Jessie Evans and Elfreda Zawadski; Tubas—Mrs. L. O. Johnson and Ysobel Reinhardt; Drums—Lorraine Morrison, Vivian Rardin and Mayme Scallen. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 05 June 1926, p. 7, c.’s 1-3)









The Brainerd Ladies’ Band has been engaged to play at the State Fair next September, Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell, director of the famous band, has just closed the contract with Raymond A. Lee of Long Prairie, chairman of the entertainment committee of the State Fair association.

Other bands engaged, said Mr. Lee, include those of Albert Lea, Detroit, Rochester, Winona. Thirty-six applications were received by the fair board. Last year bands of Fremont City, Glenwood, Winthrop, Two Harbors and Preston played at the fair.

The Brainerd Ladies’ band have been engaged for the customary three days, but if their appearance is greeted with large audiences and they respect the hit they have made in other sections of the state, the engagement may be lengthened to six days.

It is customary for the community supplying the band to furnish transportation. This, no doubt, can be satisfactorily arranged at Brainerd. If a bus is contracted for, the state fair will supply the banners decorating the bus. A proposition is now being considered whereby the girls may have lodging and board near the fair at a most reasonable figure. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 11 June 1926, p. 1, c. 7)



THE Brainerd Ladies’ band, due to rare determination to practice and play well and to make the best of opportunity, are gaining much publicity at home and abroad. All the world loves success, whether in an individual or an organization. Wherever and whenever engaged, the band has scrupulously observed its contracts and the girls have made friends.

The girls have financed the band through their own efforts. They have gained no share of the taxes levied for amusement purposes. The Verndale Sun of June 10 remarks that the “main attraction for their Fourth of July will be the great Brainerd Ladies’ Band which is fast gaining state-wide renown.” In the St. Paul Pioneer Press of last week a two column article with pictures sang this band’s praises high, telling of what great demand they were in and how their reputation was fast spreading all over the United States.

It has been many years, almost a quarter of a century, since a Brainerd band played at the state fair. The engagement of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band at the state fair was secured through their own efforts. Scouts from the fair board heard them play at Aitkin, and aware of the publicity the band is gaining and the following it is attracting, engaged them to play at the state fair this year.

In spite of all the praise and publicity, the band members have no cases of exalted egoism. They are, if anything, practicing more diligently. Their marching must be improved. With that end in view Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell has engaged Gerald V. Cannon, the drum major of the St. Paul Elks drum corps, who made so many friends here at the time of the Elks state convention at Brainerd. Cannon will give them expert advice on marching while playing, and if they master the intricate steps he will teach, their marching as well as their playing will make a hit wherever they appear.

The enthusiasm of the band girls knows no bounds. It is contagious, infectious. The director and every band member deserve all the praise they get. We now consider the Brainerd Ladies’ Band as much an institution and asset of the city as “Bullet Joe” Bush, the Northern Pacific shops, our water tower, the tourist park, etc. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 11 June 1926, p. 4, c. 1)



To Play Tonight Under Direction of

E. A. Page at

Lum Park




Boys Have Been Engaged to Play at

Independence Day Celebration

at Lum Park

The Brainerd Boys’ concert band will give a concert tonight under the direction of E. A. Page at Lum Park.

Following is the program:

March, Black Mask—Al. Hayes

Mexican Serenade, Querida—H. A. Vandercook.

Overture, Three Merry Knights—E. DeLamater.

Indian Trail, Intermezzo—E. DeLamater.

Concert waltz, Flowers of the Wildwood—W. L. Skoggs.

Pomposo, (Tuba solo by Stewart Giles)—Al. Hayes

March, Royal Romans—W. M. Talbot.

Overture, Exuberance—Al. Hayes.

March, United America—Ernest Weber.

The boys have been procured to play for the Fourth of July celebration at Lum Park and are now planning the design for their new uniforms which they expect to purchase in the near future. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 02 July 1926, p. 7, c. 3)



THE success attained in the world of music by our Brainerd Ladies’ Band has caused a great transcontinental railway system to take notice.

The Northern Pacific railway today announced special roundtrip party excursion fares to the Twin Cities on the occasion of the trip of Brainerd’s Ladies’ Band to the State Fair.

The excursion tickets will be on sale September 5th with a final return of September 9th. The fares will be available to anyone traveling via the Northern Pacific both ways. The are not restricted to the band members only, according to the announcement. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 10 August 1926, p. 4, c. 1)



To Play at Wadena County Fair at

Wadena August 26 and 27


Crow Wing County Fair Aug. 30,

Aitkin County Fair Aug. 31

State Fair Next

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band under the direction of Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell begins a series of strenuous engagements when it plays at the Wadena County Fair at Wadena on Aug. 26 and 27. This will be followed by an evening concert at the Crow Wing County Fair at Pequot, Aug. 30 and will be given in appreciation of past favors accorded the band by the Crow Wing County Fair association and also the patronage of individuals of the county in the band’s recent newspaper campaign, the final results of which have not as yet been announced. The last reports showed that the band was leading other contestants by a large margin.

They have contracted to play for the Aitkin County Fair on the evening of Aug. 31, afternoon and evening, Sept. 1 and the afternoon of Sept 2, and will be allowed to enjoy a two day rest before filling their three-day engagement at the Minnesota State Fair. They will leave Brainerd Sunday, Sept. 5 on the early morning train to St. Paul and will return to Brainerd the following Thursday noon. The special rate ticket which enables other than members of the band to accompany the band to the fair at a reduced rate will be stamped in St. Paul.

There are thirty-six members in the band and practically all of the musicians will make the trip. The uniforms are being cleaned by the Brainerd Model Laundry who made this possible by a special rate.

The State Fair board has engaged only 25 members of the band so the local Lions, Rotarians and Chamber of Commerce are seeking ways and means to raise funds that will enable the remainder of the band to go. The Lions have challenged the Rotarians to a kitten ball game and if accepted the proceeds will be used for the transportation of the members to the fair.

Brainerd can be proud of its famous band which has made marvelous strides in its short existence, proved its worth in every respect and will by its engagement at the fair put Brainerd, more than ever, on the map. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 20 August 1926, p. 2, c. 4)



G. V. Cannon, Noted Drum Major,

St. Paul, Drilled Band

Last Evening




Different Maneuvers in March

Formation Were Among


Counter marches, right and left file and the many different formations of marching were instructions given the Brainerd Ladies’ Band who are contracted to play for three days at the Minnesota State Fair beginning Sept. 6, last evening by G. V. Cannon drum major of the St. Paul American Legion Post drum corps and the St. Paul Elks drum corps, noted winners of many contests and particularly the championship of the Elks at their national convention this year.

Mr. Cannon came up from St. Paul particularly to drill the ladies’ band in the proper methods of marching. He remarked this morning that the band members were apt pupils and that by the opening of the fair they would be trained to the point where they will make a creditable showing.

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band are very fortunate in having as their instructor of marching a drum major so noted and talented as Mr. Cannon. Mr. Cannon attracts attention whenever he marches. He was seen in “action” in Brainerd last August at the State Elks convention, and in the movies taken.

Mr. Cannon stated this morning that he would try and arrange to have the Brainerd Ladies’ Band march on the track at the State Fair preparatory to playing before the grand stand and that if possible he would act as drum major.

The band today is playing at the Wadena County Fair at Wadena. Mr. Cannon left for there at noon where he will talk to the members of the band regarding their trip to the State Fair.

A special meeting is to be called this evening of the local Elks, said Mr. Cannon, at which time the Elks will discuss the proposed purchase of topcoats for the members of the band for their fall and spring engagements. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 26 August 1926, p. 7, c. 1)



Cattle Stampeded in Grand Parade

Before Grand Stand; No





Not So Nice for Brainerd Ladies’

Band Who Scurried for


Full-blooded cattle, a blazing sky-rocket, the Brainerd Ladies’ Band were characters in the formation of the real thrills furnished the 3,000 people in attendance at the Wadena County Fair on Friday afternoon. As there were no damages or any accidents everyone now considers the incident a humorous one.

After the Brainerd Ladies’ Band had played almost continually at different parts of the fair to the enthusiasm and appreciation of all in attendance, they were listed to play at the leadoff of the grand march before the grandstand.

Following close on the heels of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band came the full-blooded stock, bulls lead by rings through the noses, cows, calves, heifers, and all the different members of the stock family. The grand parade was to be the big thing of the fair. It was, but not what the officials or those in attendance anticipated.

As the band started playing before the grandstand, the bulls in the rear, who apparently were not raised to appreciate good music, stampeded, charging the band in the front. A howl of warning by the audience warned the band of their impending danger. The lady musicians took no time to argue with the oncoming cattle. There was a grand rush for the fence with the members of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band doing the fence scaling act in record time. One bull, enraged at the size and sound of the big bass drum was about to charge his horns through the instrument when a bystander did the toreador act by grabbing the bull by the horns and throwing it on its back.

Firemen, officials of the fair, policemen, aided in quelling the stampede and restoring order in the ranks of the parade. The bugle corps was used to inform the ladies that all was well and to return to make their bow before the grandstand.

And that was not all. During the fireworks display, a flaming sky-rocket came down landing in the folds of the cape of one of the members of the band. Dave Schrader did the hero act by putting out the fire which had started in the uniform.

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band will play this evening at the Crow Wing County Fair at Pequot. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 30 August 1926, p. 7, c. 1)



Opening Program Well Attended

Attractions Are Many

at Fair


Ladies’ Band Played

Last Evening

Concerts by nine members of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Brainerd Ladies’ Band, the services in each case being donated, featured the opening program of the Crow Wing County Fair last evening at the fair grounds in Pequot, which was attended by residents from all parts of the county, tourists, and visitors from the Cities who took the opportunity to travel a long distance to hear members of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra play.

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band under the direction of Mrs. Winifred C. Ziebell played a number of selections and encores, song selections by Misses Georgia Drexler and Gladys Niles with band accompaniment, showing vast improvement in their playing since their last concert in Brainerd.

The band have played a number of county fairs this year and they are now in readiness for their big event, that of playing at the Minnesota State Fair. Their music was greatly appreciated by the packed throng who gathered in the grandstand and the crowds who were unable to find seats in the grandstand. Their selections showed snap and pep, perfect time, harmony, and fine talent. The crowds who heard them last evening agreed that the band should prove a favorite one at the State Fair. One of the favorite selections rendered last evening was “Till We Meet Again.” This selection was played with such fine art that an air of wistfulness settled on the crowd which was shortly dispelled when the band broke into one of their peppy march songs. The saxophone quartet with band accompaniment was also very much appreciated. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 31 August 1926, p. 7, c. 1)



Will Leave Early Tomorrow Morning

in a Group on

N. P. Train




Number of Brainerd Citizens Will

Also Accompany the

Brainerd Band

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band leaves on the early morning train tomorrow for the cities where they will play for the first three days at the Minnesota State Fair commencing on Monday.

It is possible that the band may play the entire week should their playing meet with the favor of the officials of the fair.

A number of Brainerd people will leave on the same train with the band, taking advantage of the reduced fare rates on the excursion trains carrying the band members.

Special low rates have been announced by the N. P. railway for short time stays at the fair. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 04 September 1926, p. 7, c. 4)

Brainerd Ladies’ Band

The Ladies’ Band officially started off the evening program last evening in front of the grandstand when they gave a concert from 6:30 P. M. to 7:30 P. M. The local band was the only band favored to play in front of the grandstand yesterday except for the official fair band, the Minnesota State Band. A concert by the Minnesota State Band followed the evening concert by the Brainerd Ladies’ Band.

Summing up the comments on the local band in as few words as possible, it can be truthfully stated: “The Brainerd Ladies’ Band made a distinctive hit at the world’s largest state fair.”

In the morning the band played at the Hippodrome for the cattle display, in the afternoon at Machinery Hill, in the bleacher section of the grandstand, and in the evening in the main band stand.

Through it all the band played with pep and enthusiasm and though tired from their day’s activity, the ladies returned to their hotel in the evening, tired but happy. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 07 September 1926, p. 1, c. 1)

Brainerd Ladies’ Band Makes Hit at State Fair












“Hello Brainerd! Hello Brainerd!” greeted the members of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band with their director, Winifred Cronk Ziebell, when they effected a nigh royal entry on their arrival in the Great Northern depot in Minneapolis while en route to the Minnesota State Fair where they filled a three-day engagement. Virtually hundreds in the station swarmed about them, necessitating the service of the police who cleared a way through the throngs to enable the band to gain the outside entrance.

They immediately left for the Nicollet Hotel, where they enjoyed breakfast and made ready for their journey to the fair grounds, in a rest room that had been considerately donated by the hotel for their special use. They boarded a street car for the fair grounds and were given the afternoon off as they had no engagements for the first day.

Monday morning they played in the Hippodrome or “Horse Show building,” while the judging of horses was taking place and in the afternoon they performed on Machinery Hill, the location enabling them to view the entire program going on in the grandstand.

Monday night was “the” night of the three-day engagement, and primed to do their best, they played as never before by opening the program at 6:30 o’clock in the grand stand which was filled with 25,000 listeners. They played continually for an hour, marches, an overture, popular selections, solos, duets, quartets, etc. The applause was ceaseless, Mrs. Ziebell, the director, rising and bowing time and again and finally when the entire band rose and bowed, the audience fairly went wild and it was only when Mrs. Ziebell motioned for the other acts to begin that their enthusiasm was quieted. A loud speaker was attached to the grandstand so that persons in any part of the grounds were able to hear the concert.

Tuesday morning they played in Machinery Hill park, in the afternoon in the horticultural building and in the evening at the Plaza.

Wednesday morning they played at the Plaza again, in the afternoon in the exhibit building and in the evening at the Hippodrome, in the afternoon while playing in the exhibit building the band marched to the Crow Wing county booth and gave a short concert. The girls thought their county’s exhibit to be very good and were very proud to play for it. While there they had their pictures taken with E. G. Roth, county agent, the exhibit making a pleasing and appropriate background. The girls had their pictures taken many times and an exceptionally large one was also taken by an interested concern.

In the evening they performed in the arena of the Hippodrome and the applause was endless, even when the girls had finished their concert they were applauded till the last one had left the doors.


The band rented two large tents form the St. Paul Ten & Awning Co. and were in a group of fifty tents that sheltered other organizations that were also performing on the grounds. The girls earned their “eats” by playing for the Hamline University lunch room. They had contracted to play for two of their meals and to buy their breakfasts, but after the first day’s playing the management was so pleased with their services that it granted them breakfast free.

The general greeting that the girls received all over was “Hello, Brainerd,” and they feel that they have put Brainerd more than ever on the map as they played for one of the largest crowds that has ever been chronicled for a Minnesota State Fair and also for the largest state fair in the United States. Comments of the most complimentary nature were heard everywhere, for the girls made a distinctive hit. The girls were given choice places to play and proved their worth at all times.

Tony Synder, leader of the Minnesota State Band and who was also in charge of all bands at the fair, claimed that they were the most popular band on the grounds, thanked them for coming and said that they deserved to come back.

Herman Roe, president of the State Fair board, said they were a very fine band and praised them very highly for their fine work, and also said later to Mrs. Ziebell, “keep them together, keep them going, they are a mighty fine organization.”

Another person said, “They are not only fine looking girls, with nice looking uniforms, but did fine playing.”

One of the highest compliments came from a member of the fair board who said, “You are the only ladies’ band that has ever been here that filled the bill. You did everything we asked you to without a kick and we were not afraid to ask you to do things, for we usually are afraid to ask ladies to put their feet in the mud.” (The band had marched to different places and the fact had pleased him very much.)

The girls spent an extra day in the cities to “look around” and some of them made a visit to the St. Paul Pioneer Press where they were presented with miniature dumbbells and nifty ”teddies” as souvenirs and which have been unanimously chosen as future mascots for the band.

Wednesday night while giving their last concert in the Hippodrome, the girls nearly cried for “this is the last night that we play here” was gathered from the tearful comments of many. They came home last night on the 11 o’clock train and much to the gratification of other passengers kept things going by rendering selections on their homeward journey.

During their three-day stay no one was late nor did any of thirty-five lose their entrance badges. They were virtually treated like queens by the State Fair board and everyone connected with it. The girls were unanimous in their avowal that everything went in apple pie order and that they all had a 100 percent good time.

The State Fair board, several months ago, when arranging for the program of music for the entire fair season, engaged the band for three days. In making the program in advance it was necessary that each organization be limited to a certain period. Although loathe to let the band go after proving to have been such a successful drawing card, it was impossible for them to extend the engagement.

Parting cheers are still ringing in the girls’ ears, “Goodbye Brainerd, we’ll see you next year.” (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 10 September 1926, p. 1, c. 7; p. 4, c.’s 3 & 4)



Discuss Problems of Brainerd Con-

cert Band and Remedies





Plan Jolly Party This Fall; Boys

Urged to Attend


Problems pertaining to the Brainerd Boys’ band known also as the Brainerd Concert band, concerning the absolute necessity of all members of the band turning out to band rehearsals, the raising of funds for the purchase of equipment, and the financing of the band, were discussed at a meeting of the Parents Association at the Y. M. C. A. Saturday night.

Parents were urged to accept the responsibility of the attendance at the rehearsals, and to remedy the falling off in attendance by having their sons attend regularly.

There has been a slight falling off in attendance at rehearsals during the summer vacation, but the large attendance at the last rehearsal, as well as the last concert at Lum park indicates that the boys are all steamed up and ready to go strong from now on. A small attendance always weakens the whole organization as well as puts the director, Mr. Page, to a serious disadvantage in bringing out the musical talents of the boys.

Financing and equipment, other serious handicaps not only for the Brainerd Concert band but for all the Brainerd bands as well, were also discussed.

Comparatively few people realize that the tax rates are lower in Brainerd than in any other city of its size in the state, and yet the city allows only one-half mill for all band purposes, it was stated.

The suggestion was made that if the rate could be increased to one mill it would put all three bands on a footing which would shortly make them second to none in Minnesota. The plea was also put forth that it was time “The Gateway of the 10,000 Lakes” provided itself with a better horn to sound its praises.

Plans were also made for a general get together jolly party for boys, their girl friends, and parents. The party will be held sometime this fall.

At the present time the band is in need of a drummer. Prospective drummers are asked to report to Mr. Page.

A publicity committee composed of W. E. Paul, O. J. Bouma, and O. D. Larson was appointed. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 13 September 1926, p. 7, c. 2)



Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell Re-

ceives Laudatory Letter From

State Fair Association




R. P. Speer, Publicity Manger, Will

Run Band Picture in “State

Fair News”

Praises are still pouring in on the performances of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band at the State Fair. Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell, manager of the band has received a letter from Thomas H. Canfield, the secretary and general manager of the State Fair association, which reads as follows:

“I want to tell you how well pleased we were with the Brainerd Ladies’ Band during its engagement at the recent State Fair.

“The music was high class and well rendered, and many words of praise were heard for the fine programs played in front of the grandstand, in the Horse Show, and in various other appearances around the fairgrounds.

“This letter would be incomplete if the attractive blue and gold uniforms worn by the members of the band were not mentioned. Your band is indeed a splendid organization and I wish you unlimited success in the future.”

A letter has also been received by D. D. Schrader from R. P. Speer, publicity manager of the fair, and according to its contents the band will continue, for some time to come, to give Brainerd publicity through its recent performances at the fair.

The letter reads in part:

“I am sending to the H. Larson studio, 2708 East Lake street, Minneapolis, for the picture you alluded to in your letter of Sept. 13 to Mr. Canfield, so we can have a cut made of it for use in a coming issue of our State Fair News. Our Fair News is a magazine that has about 10,000 circulation, and goes to a very influential and valuable mailing list in Minnesota, and I am sure that it will give you a tremendous amount of publicity.

“Should any other opportunity present itself to give the Brainerd Ladies’ Band a boost, the publicity department of the fair will do so, you may rest assured.” (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 16 September 1926, p. 7, c. 2)



Miss Marcella Kampmann is Elected

President of the





Office of Business Manager Was Left

Open at This


The Brainerd Ladies’ Band held its annual election of officers last night in the commercial college rooms, located in the city hall, where the band meets for practice every Tuesday evening, thirty members being present.

The band is now starting its third year under the successful directorship of Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell, having organized, through her efforts, two years ago.

The following new officers were elected:

President—Miss Marcella Kampmann.

Vice President—Mrs. Robt. Anderson.

Secretary—Miss Mayme Nelson.

Treasurer—Miss Emily Mraz.

Dispatcher—Miss Esther Nelson.

Director—Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell.

The office of business manager was left open at this time, a committee being appointed to decide on a manager, subject to the approval of the band at a special meeting or at the next regular monthly business meeting. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 03 November 1926, p. 7, c. 2)



AT the Rotary club luncheon this week, the day was devoted to a discussion of music. Band music was the topic of the symposium.

The speakers were W. R. Hiller, director of the Brainerd Municipal band; E. A. Page, director of the Brainerd Boys’ Concert band; Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell, director of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band.

Much enlightening information was given and the Rotarians are convinced the future of band music in Brainerd rests in secure hands. Each organization is faced with problems.

For instance, in the Municipal band, the question is keeping the organization recruited to full strength. Musicians are anxious to join if they can secure employment in Brainerd. Mr. Hiller believes in having more seating capacity at the city concerts so as to avoid the constant milling of a crowd that gets restless when they must stand through a performance. The aim of the director is to give well-balanced programs. There are 25 members in the band and most of them own their own instruments and uniforms.

The band donates its services wherever possible and will play for the coming paving celebration. He explained the difficulties facing some of the bandsmen when playing gratis meant losing time in office and shops. In other words, the musician gave his band services freely and lost his half day or whatever it was in shops or business.

E. A. Page, director of the Brainerd Boys’ Concert band gave a history of his organization from its inception, when Prof. Pflock, three years ago, was instrumental in creating the enthusiasm which launched the association. Mr. Page as a professional musician, conducted boys’ bands in Illinois and other states and so has had the necessary experience before taking up his work in Brainerd. The present band has a membership of 45. It should have, said Mr. Page, a membership of 75 or 100.

St. Cloud has a boys’ band of 250 and it gives St. Cloud much desirable advertising. In fact, said Mr. Page, all Bands of Brainerd give the city much advertising and should be encouraged. Getting the boys interested in band music gives them diversion in play hours and keeps them assigned to productive tasks. Boys formerly in bands of Mr. Page expressed themselves as well pleased with the instruction they had gained, for when they entered college, they were able to join the college band and gain many favors, outings, etc. The boys’ band of any town, said Mr. Page, can serve as a feeder to the municipal band.

Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell, director of the Brainerd Ladies’ band, spoke of her organization. With no city tax to assist them, the girls have relied on their own endeavors to buy uniforms, music and to pay their expenses to various band engagements. The problem of financing has been a deep study and required constant work to meet all difficulties. The band has won honor and renown for Brainerd. The most far-reaching engagement of the band was playing at the State Fair and the girls acquitted themselves well. She thanked the Rotarians, Lions and Chamber of Commerce for aid in sending down the whole band.

She distributed among Rotarians advertising placards, photographs, etc., of the band as used at the State Fair, showing some of the publicity accorded Brainerd in addition to actual playing and newspaper mention. The band also received complimentary resolutions and letters a plenty.

She read figures showing how the band paid for its music and uniforms. The band election was held Tuesday evening.

There was much food for thought in all three addresses made and left something for the Rotarians to consider. It showed the three bands working energetically and courageously in their respective spheres. Summing it all up, we doubt if any other town the size of Brainerd can show as much enthusiasm and such fine results. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 04 November 1926, p. 4, c. 1)




Joint Meeting at Iron Exchange Hall

Monday Even-





Music For Dancing to be Furnished

by 11 Piece A. L.


A joint meeting of Carl Sidney Hanson Post of the American Legion and the Auxiliary will be held Monday evening, February 7, at the Iron Exchange hall.

Mrs. Lewis of Long Prairie, sixth district chairman of the Auxiliary, will be present for the initiation ceremonies when both the Legion and Auxiliary will initiate new members.

Lunch will be served by the Auxiliary and the evening will be spent in dancing to the music of the 11-piece A. L. Auxiliary orchestra.

This is the first appearance of the orchestra and as it is composed entirely of women it will prove quite a novelty and innovation in local musical circles. The personnel includes:

Cornet—Esther Nelson.

Cornet—Mrs. Ethel Fox.

Cornet—Gladys Peterson.

Trombone—Emily Mraz.

Piano—Mrs. Robert Anderson.

Alto Horn—Irene Englund.

Saxophone—Irene Turcotte.

Saxophone—Mayme Nelson.

Sax and Clarinet—Gladys Senn.

Tuba—Mrs. Louis Johnson.

Drums—Mayme Scallen.

(Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 05 February 1927, p. 7, c. 3)



G. V. Cannon of St. Paul Engaged

by Finkelstein

& Ruben




New Type of Scenery is a Great Im-

provement Over

Old Sets

G. V. Cannon of St. Paul, Finkelstein & Ruben scenery artist, is at the Park theatre this week repainting scenery and putting a number of sets in shape for the use of the theatre in connection with the Movie Contest now being conducted by the Brainerd Dispatch and Finkelstein & Ruben.

Mr. Cannon, who is in his own words a scene painter by profession making drum corps work his hobby, is now painting two sets at the Park theatre. The first is in pebble art with with stippled panels, in toned effect. Fourteen or fifteen colors, are splashed on a background that ranges from green at the top to deep blue at the bottom of the panel. The design used is one of the latest in scene painting and a set almost identical with the one at the local theatre was recently finished at the Garrick theatre, Minneapolis.

Floodlights striking the stipple work of the panels bring out in relief the colors which match the color of the light. This type of scenery is a big improvement over old sets since many effects can be obtained with different colored lights. The bottom of the panels will be finished in circassian walnut effect.

A light modern art set for use in interior scenes will also be painted by Mr. Cannon. The set, with flowered panels, will be a “light” scene in contrast with the stippled set which will be used where “heavy” scenery is required.

Mr. Cannon will be assisted in his work by Edward Carter of St. Paul, another artist, who will arrive in a few days. In addition to their paint work they will install a pin rail on the floor at the south side of the stage at the Park. This rail will facilitate the changing of scenes, speeding up the work and making it unnecessary for the arrangement to have a stagehand in the fly loft. All ropes needed in handling scenes will be close together and easily handled by two men.

One of the interior sets now at the theatre will require special attention and will be sent to the Finkelstein & Ruben studio in Minneapolis for repainting.

The artist and his assistant have recently finished work at Duluth and Superior theatres. In addition to work at Brainerd their contract calls for redecoration at Rochester, Mankato, Winona, Hibbing and Virginia, Minn., Eau Claire, Wis., and Sioux Falls, S. D.

Mr. Cannon’s avocation is drum corps management. He is now instructing members of the Ladies Band in drill and formation work in preparation for their trip to St. Cloud next Tuesday. The local American Legion drum corps is also being given instruction and Mr. Cannon states that it is possible one of the members will be picked to go to the national Legion convention as one of a drum corps of 40 members representing the whole country.

This is Cannon’s twelfth year in charge of the St. Paul Elks drum corps, who have been champions for sixteen consecutive years and have won 28 consecutive first prizes. At present he is active in this work all over the state. He was instrumental in organizing the 18 Legion drum corps groups which now exist in the state and hopes to organize six new Legion corps by the time the state Legion convention is held in Hibbing sometime in August.

At this convention it is planned to pick one man from each of the units in the state for final practice in anticipation of the Legion’s national convention which will be held in Paris next September.

On Thursday Mr. Cannon goes to St. Paul to organize a mass parade when drum corps from both Minneapolis and St. Paul will participate in a demonstration in behalf of the Red Cross work for flood sufferers.

The artist-drummer was here about 13 years ago when he was engaged in painting scenery at the Park theatre, some of which is still in use. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 27 April 1927, p. 7, c.’s 4 & 5)



Local American Legion Auxiliary

Orchestra Victorious at





Orchestra Organized a Year Ago Has

Made Marvelous


American Legion Auxiliary Orchestra, ca. 1927. A 1223x861 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Mike Powers, Legacy Program, Crow Wing County Historical Society

The local American Legion Auxiliary orchestra came away victorious and with colors flying from the State Legion convention held in Hibbing this week. The orchestra, which is known as the only one of its kind in the state, won the first prize of $50 in a contest and are happy and proud of their accomplishment.

The orchestra was organized a year ago and has made marvelous strides in that short time. At the convention they were feted and entertained royally. The young ladies rode on the Brainerd float in the parade and made a decided hit with everyone. While playing officially, they wore their white uniforms trimmed in red and otherwise wore distinctive white dresses with red polka dots.

Much publicity was also accorded the orchestra. The official publication of the Minnesota American Legion carried highly complimentary write-ups and pictures of the orchestra appeared twice in the Hibbing newspapers and also in the Duluth News Tribune. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 11 August 1927, p. 2, c. 4)



Brainerd Boys’ Concert Band Gives

a Splendid Pro-





Complete Success From Musical,

Artistic and Directing


Resembling a large private ballroom, the U. C. T. auditorium, beautifully decorated, last night held one of the most interested, appreciative and large audiences of the current concert season when the Brainerd Boys’ Concert band under the direction of E. A. Page presented its annual concert.

The curtain rang up on a scene that was both pleasing and inspiring. Thirty-eight young lads dressed in immaculate white uniforms, instruments gleaming beneath the lights and a swaying background of vari-colored streamers made a lasting first impression.

The entire program summed together was a pronounced success from a musical, artistic and directing standpoint. The music rendered was of the highest class and came as a surprise to some of the audience who had expected inferior and less difficult selections. The rendition of a selection from Tannhauser, alone proved that the youthful players were on a par and above similar organizations in the state. The deep resounding bass tones of the piece were beautifully rendered, time was kept remarkably well and when the band played enmasse in several strains of the selection the listeners sat entranced.

The “Sax Princess” gave the band a chance to display its accompaniment talents and did exceptionally well with Clarence Holden and Arden Miller as the saxophone soloists.

The march, “Radio Static,” was directed by Elmer Peterson who performed like a professional.

Don Marshall, cornet soloist for “Twilight Dream” received an ovation for his splendid interpretation.

The “Call of the Sea” was featured with a trombone solo by Leo Miller and Howard Gile, the mournful wailing notes of their instruments falling in with perfect harmony with the colorful melody.

“Moonlight on the Ganges” belongs to modern music and Jenkins, Marshall, Zapffe, Miller and Ellingson gave the selection the finishing touch when their voices rang out in the chorus.

With the Oriental two-step, “Jungle Queen,” the audience was transferred to desert scenes, the vast stretches of burning sands, a fresh oasis, the beating of tom-toms, the characteristic, weird and minor key tones prevailing in the melody. Both pieces were well rendered.

The performance of “The Satellite” by Clay Smith was the outstanding feature of the evening. The cornet, one of the most difficult of band instruments was featured with Dale Sanders, truly an artist. Dale’s tones came clear and strong in all instances his low and high notes ringing equally true and without effort. The band did excellent accompaniment work in the difficult piece and received deserved applause.

“Old Kentucky Home,” ever a favorite with any audience, was made more appealing by the baritone solo of Carl Peterson. Another difficult instrument to master, Carl performed like a veteran, his tones nigh flawless carried the air throughout the piece. The difficult variations never faltered and he was acclaimed by continuous applause.

Brainerd Boys’ Band, Carl Andrew Zapffe without his hat, holding his saxophone, 1925. A 2006x1510 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Crow Wing County Historical Society

The concert polka, “Two Johns,” was a bright and spirited thing, the booming and timekeeping of Steward Gile’s tuba coming in with Carl Zapffe’s saxophone nearly played havoc with the feet of the audience.

The overture, “North Pole,” was characterized by volume, tuneful melody and a marvelous grand finale, expertly rendered.

During the intermission City Attorney D. H. Fullerton spoke on the rise of the band and outlined its progress from the time Prof. Pflock with the assistance of the Brainerd Lions club and Brainerd Musical club organized it three years ago. The organization now has 45 members with room for more. E. A. Page has directed it for the past two years and very much credit is due him for the interest he takes in the band and for the finished performance that was given last night. “The real purpose of the band is character building, to be educational, and as much should receive the hearty support of everybody. As to joining the organization, any boy may become a member, the fee is $1.00 a month or 25 cents a lesson as there are rehearsals once a week. Even this nominal sum has been taken care of as the public concerts that the boys have given pay for the tuition. Parents are asked to communicate with Mr. Page for further information. The band gave eight public concerts at Lum park last summer playing at the Fourth of July celebration and at other festivities. The band has always been willing to donate its services and has aided on many public occasions. If a law that is now up before the legislature is passed the city council will be enabled to aid the band financially which it has been unable to do in the past.”

The final number the, “Star Spangled Banner,” played in a patriotic and spirited manner successfully closed the many sessions of shared practice and rehearsal and regained anew the faith that Brainerd has is its very-up-and-coming Boys’ Concert band. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 17 February 1927, p. 3, c.’s 1 & 2)

NOTE: The U. C. T. Auditorium (United Commercial Travelers) was the name for the newly decorated Gardner Hall.



Concert to Be Given at New Park

Theatre Monday, April 25th,

is Varied One




Foremost Musical Treat of the Season

To Contain Many


The Brainerd Ladies’ Band, the now widely-known musical organization which captured the hearts of their huge audiences at the State Fair last year as well as at numerous county fairs in this section of the state, will give its annual concert under the direction of Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell at the New Park Theatre on Monday, April 25. Mrs. Ziebell, its very efficient and highly talented director, has been holding rehearsals twice weekly for some time, with the result that the concert this year will eclipse anything the band has attempted in the past.

The program has been arranged with the idea of pleasing the musical tastes of everyone and will include vocal selections as well as instrumental.

The Kitchen [sic] [Kitchenette] Kabinet [sic] Kazoo Orchestra, a vaudeville act being presented by the ladies with their concert, is causing much discussion in regards to just what it consists of. It is being kept pretty much a dark secret but members of the organization give assurances that it will be both a novelty and something entirely new. It is known, however, that the audience will witness some of the weirdest musical instruments ever seen here or anywhere else in action. The band has always “put over” anything they attempted, and it is a certainty that this novelty entertainment feature of their concert will be a great success, as hard work and co-operation is the motto of this, the state’s only ladies’ band.

A beautiful souvenir program booklet of twenty pages has been compiled and is being printed, the color scheme being blue and gold, and these booklets will be passed out at the theatre the night of the concert. Included in this is a double-page picture of the band, with its personnel, the evening’s program and compliments and advertisements from the majority of the merchants and the county officers, who are again showing their appreciation of the honors and publicity which the organization has brought to the city of Brainerd.

Tickets are being offered by members of the band and are being taken so rapidly that it is certain that the house will be sold out long before the evening of the entertainment, proving conclusively that the public has come to accept this annual concert as the foremost musical entertainment of the season. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 02 April 1927, p. 7, c.’s 1 & 2)



Annual Musical Treat to be Pre-

sented at the Park Theatre

Monday, April 25th




Beautiful Souvenir Program Booklet

to be Given to Patrons

at Theatre

The Brainerd Ladies’ band concert which has come to be an annual musical treat in Brainerd, will be given on Monday evening, April 25, at the New Park Theatre.

The organization has put in many strenuous hours of practice under the leadership of Winifred Cronk Ziebell, its able director, and as a result the concert this year will be more elaborate and better in every respect than any they have given in the past. Nearly every evening this week will be given over to final practice before the lifting of the curtain on Monday evening.

A new and novel feature of the program this year will be the Kitchenette Kazoo Orchestra of thirty pieces, which will be directed by Miss Mayme Scallen. Besides being a novelty in the music world, this orchestra will bring a variation in the band’s program this year, which heretofore has consisted entirely of classical and popular numbers played on their regular instruments. While the ladies have kept the Kitchenette Kazoo Orchestra pretty much under cover, enough information has been absorbed by most of the public to make it both curious and enthusiastic over the prospects of listening to something entirely new in the musical line. The instruments used by the orchestra were designed and made in Brainerd by Mrs. F. A. Thompson [Dixie], who also compiled a beautiful souvenir program booklet of twenty pages, the color scheme being blue and gold, the colors of their uniforms. In the booklet is a double-page picture of the band with its personnel, besides advertisements and compliments from the merchants and county officers. Both the program for the regular concert and that of the Kitchenette Kazoo Orchestra is contained in the booklet. These souvenir booklets will be given to patrons at the theatre on the evening of the concert and most of them will be kept indefinitely. The merchants, businessmen and county officers who have already received their copies are highly pleased with them and proclaimed the booklet a real work of art.

Tickets for the concert are going so fast that it is almost certain the house will be sold out before curtain time. The tickets may be secured from any member of the organization. Children’s tickets may be purchased at the box office on Monday evening.

The ladies expect another successful season this year and have already been booked for several appearances, included among these being their participation at the Rotary festivities at St. Cloud on May 4. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 20 April 1927, p. 6, c.’s 3-6)



From First Tones of Muted Cornets

to Last Strains of “Till

We Meet Again”




Blue and Gold Uniforms, Splendid

Musicianship, Captivate


From the first notes of muted cornets to the last appealing strains of, “Till We Meet Again,” the Brainerd Ladies’ Band, famed in song and story, last night held its audience at the Park theatre enthralled, while playing selections ranging from a difficult overture to the light and sentimental pieces dear to the hearts of young and old.

The concert opened promptly at 8 o’clock and the rising curtain revealed 31 girls and women dressed in the blue and gold uniforms that have aided in bringing noteworthy recognition to Brainerd.

Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell, as diminutive as Henri Verbruggen of the Minneapolis Symphony orchestra, directed from an elevated position and brought to a successful close the second annual concert of the band. The band organized under her direction three years ago has made marvelous strides that were especially noticeable in last evening’s performance. The organization has achieved an enviable record in its short existence and even greater things are predicted for the future. She was presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers as a token of appreciation from the members.

The drum novelty, “The Drummer’s Delight,” featuring the Misses Mayme Scallen and Vivian Rardin with the bass and snare drums was a novelty indeed, bringing into play various drum beats, the time and execution of which were performed in perfect fashion by the drummers.

The cornet solo “Jupiter” given by Miss Esther Nelson, marked her to be an outstanding artist on the instrument. Her notes, clear and true were accompanied by the band whose soft strains made the piece all to be desired.

Solos were also given by Mrs. L. O. Johnson on the tuba and by Miss Georgia Brown on the flute, both on instruments that are rarely heard in solo work. Mrs. Ethel Fox and Mrs. Lillian Anderson gave a cornet and baritone duet.

“The Trombone Blizzard,” featuring four expert trombonists, the Misses Emily Mraz, Marcella Kampmann, Gladys Smith and Dorothy Schrader, and also a sextet of saxophones playing, “The Sax Princess,” were heartily applauded by the audience.

The rendering of two vocal selections showed that the band has besides its musicians a group of excellently trained voices that would do credit to any chorus. Miss Gladys Senn was the instructor and Mrs. Ziebell the accompanist.

A beautiful waltz, “Old Timers,” was a medley introducing The Bowery, Sidewalks of New York, Sweet Rosie O’Grady, Daisy Bell, Comrades, Little Annie Rooney, She May Have Seen Better Days, The Band Played On, and After the Ball. The selection was bound to please every type of music lover.

Miss Geraldine Kiebler, Brainerd’s talented violin virtuoso, was called by the insistent demands of the audience after a specialty violin solo. She responded by playing, “My Old Kentucky Home,” with variations. The sweet, appealing tones of the muted strings kept the audience spellbound. She was accompanied by Miss Effie Drexler on the piano.

Last but not least came the much heralded Kitchenette Kazoo orchestra under the direction of Miss Mayme Scallen. The curtain had been lowered for several minutes and arose on a scene that was altogether changed and mirth provoking. Kitchen utensils adorned the raiment of the musicians, and the instruments themselves were unique to say the least.

Duets, bands, an Apache chorus, an accordion solo, a jazz number by banjo’s, and various dances were given with a pep and enthusiasm that kept the audience in gales of laughter. Special mention must be given to Miss Bernice Murphy who gave a quaint dance accompanied by what finally proved to be a dummy. Mrs. Murphy had her spectators completely puzzled and received mush applause for her original presentation.

A spirited little jig was given by Dixie Thompson and Miss Murphy which according to the band members means “hello.” The novel greeting was thoroughly enjoyed.

The cornets played, “Old Melodies,” in compliment to the advertisers who made possible the beautiful souvenir booklet that was presented to every patron.

Despite the fact that all instruments used in the orchestra were made from utensils commonly found in the kitchen, the music produced was altogether of a pleasing variety, the soft crooning melodies of some hidden power making the specialty act one long to be remembered.

Credit for the originality, planning and perfecting of the instruments goes to Dixie Thompson who spent much time and effort in completing the act. The instruments will be on display in the John M. Bye Clothing store window beginning tomorrow afternoon until Saturday evening.

Picking up their immaculate gold and silver instruments the band played, “Till We Meet Again,” as a fitting closing number.

Brainerd can well be proud of the “only Ladies’ Band in the state.” (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 26 April 1927, p. 3, c.’s 1 & 2)

NOTE: Dixie Thompson was Thelma Edna “Dixie” Hopper Thompson Butterfield.



Brainerd Ladies’ Band Makes Hit as

It Led Local Delegation

in Parade




Local Club Well Represented, and

Impressed With St. Cloud


Members of the Brainerd Rotary club and their wives have returned from St. Cloud where they attended the 1927 Rotary district meet along with about 2,000 visiting members from other parts of the district who remained in the Granite City during a two day session, May 3 and 4.

A large percentage of the clubs attending the Rotary convention, sent drum corps and bands to the session, making the parade yesterday one of the best in the history of the city. According to reports coming in from everywhere, the Brainerd Ladies’ Band, which has scored hit after hit wherever they have appeared, proved a sensation in the parade yesterday. They headed the Brainerd delegation in the line of march and were applauded and cheered continuously.

The girls appearing in their snappy uniforms and marching perfectly, per instructions of Mr. Cannon, created an impression that will make them the talk of many for some time to come. Showers of compliments and congratulations were received by the members and contracts were offered them by representatives from various cities and organizations.

Superior, to whom the 1928 convention was awarded, is bidding for their services at the gathering next year and representatives from Minot, N. D., want the band to perform at a fair sponsored by several counties of the Northwestern part of North Dakota.

The Brainerd Rotarians feel very proud of the band and are sure that it has again brought a wealth of additional fame and recognition to Brainerd.

Another feature of the parade was the St. Cloud Boys’ band which consisted of nearly 300 strong. Ranging from tiny tots to lads in their early teens, the youngsters found favor and appreciation with all. Hibbing was represented with a Ladies’ Drum Corps.


(Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 05 May 1927, p. 3, c. 2)



Brainerd Ladies’ Band Asked to Play

at Northwest State





North Dakotans Pleased With Play-

ing and Appearance of

Band at St. Cloud

As a result of playing for the Rotarian district convention last week, in St. Cloud, the Brainerd Ladies’ Band has received a letter from H. L. Finke, secretary of the Northwest State Fair Association of North Dakota making them an officer to play for the fair which will begin July 4, and continue for a week.

The band will hold its regular weekly rehearsal tomorrow night at which time the offer will be discussed. If the band accepts the engagement it will bring further recognition to Brainerd and the trip should receive the backing of civic organizations throughout the city.

The letter received from Mr. Finke says in part:

“I had the pleasure of listening to your band at the Minnesota State Fair last year and was very much impressed by it. At that time I decided to write to you regarding a contract at our fair this year.

“I was very glad to know that you made such a hit with our Rotary boys, especially Mr. Mills. He has been up to the office two or three times praising your band and seems to have been very favorably impressed with it.”

The Northwest State Fair was founded in 1922 and is held at Minot, N. D. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 09 May 1927, p. 2, c. 4)



Gave Concert at Lum Park Under

Direction of

Mrs. Ziebell




Especially Noticeable is Volume Girls

Have Attained With


The Brainerd Ladies’ Band is being showered with compliments and congratulations over their latest concert given at Lum Park under the direction of Winifred Cronk Ziebell, Friday evening.

The organization now consists of 30 pieces and in Friday’s concert played some exceptionally difficult selection that were the result of a long winter’s weekly practice. Especially noticeable was the volume that the girls have attained with their instruments. They have mastered the loud and soft tones perfectly enabling pieces to be rendered with the finesse of a professional organization. A difficult selection that was very well played was an overture, one of the opening pieces.

Miss Emily Mraz received much applause for her trombone solo and the quartet of girl singers, Lillian Anderson, Gladys Senn, Ethel Fox and Augusta Welsh took the audience by storm.

This concert marked the first time that all of the band’s personnel have been heard together in an outdoor musical in Brainerd, enabling Brainerd music lovers to get a real understanding of the size and development of the organization in its few years of existence. The management of the band has asked for a contract from the city council to give weekly concerts next year, and if the contract is awarded, Brainerd will have an opportunity to hear its famous band at least every other week. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 22 August 1927, p. 7, c. 2)



Annual Business Meeting Held

at the Home of C. S.





Bernice Murphy, Treasurer, Mrs.

Winifred Cronk Ziebell


The annual business meeting of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band was held at the C. S. Bentley home, 303 North Fifth street, last evening. The following election of officers took place:

President—Hazel Rardin.

Vice President—Gladys Rardin.

Secretary—Bernice Murphy.

Treasurer—Irene Hoerner.

Dispatcher—Shirley Peterson.

Director—Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell.

After the business meeting the members were entertained at a Christmas party by the hostesses Misses Marcella Kampmann, Irene Hoerner and Esther Bentley. The rooms were appropriately decorated in red and green with a huge Christmas tree. Later in the evening Santa Claus arrived and distributed gifts to everyone. Various games were played during the evening at the close of which a dainty luncheon was served by the hostesses. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 10 December 1927, p. 7, c. 3)


Progress of the Brainerd Boys’ Concert Band

Two months ago the band felt it would suffer an irreparable loss when Director Page resigned, after having served most effectively for two years. He was succeeded by Mr. Becky, who, in only the short time he has been director, has impressed the boys with the fact that he will make a great success of the band. He has inspired the boys with great enthusiasm, and has demonstrated that he possesses good control over them.

When the boys assembled this fall under the new leadership, it was found that many of the older boys had left the band, some went away to school and others for different reasons so that now the younger boys form the main part of this organization. However, as age is no prerequisite in a student of music, and as the boys show great enthusiasm, coupled with the capability of our band director, all anticipate a brilliant future for this organization which is subjected to so many vicissitudes, yet which, upon overcoming each obstacle, develops into a greater unit than it was before. Many new boys have entered the band lately and in so doing have practically nullified the gap made by the ones who have left. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 03 January 1928, p. 7, c.’s 3 & 4)



Retains Mrs. Ziebell, Its Popular

Director, to Lead Band to

Further Fame




Feminine Band Plans to Make 1928

Its Most Successful


By unanimous vote at a meeting held Tuesday evening, the Brainerd Ladies’ Band was disbanded, but already a new organization has been formed under the same name to succeed the old organization and carry on with the work of the band as in the past. Regular weekly rehearsals are to be held at the Brainerd Commercial College under direction of Winifred Cronk Ziebell, director of the former organization since its beginning several years ago. Mrs. Ziebell has given to the city of Brainerd a musical organization of which it is justly proud and her musical ability is recognized over the entire state, each appearance of the band in the past having brought further honors upon herself and the city.

The band will retain its original size or nearly so, with a majority of the personnel of the old organization and several new members.

Already numerous requests have been received for the appearance of the band at various places and occasions and several of these have been booked. Members and director are highly optimistic over the prospects for the year 1928 and hope to make this their banner year.

It is understood the annual spring concert of the band will be given some time after Easter. The public has always considered this concert as one of the highlights of the musical season and looks forward to it with the keenest enjoyment. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 22 March 1928, p. 3, c. 3)



Chicago Booking Agency Seeks Local

Ladies’ Organization to Play

Fairs During the Season




Fame of Band Under Direction of

Mrs. Ziebell Has Become


The fame of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band, under the direction of Winifred Cronk Ziebell, has, by its past performances in different parts of northern and central Minnesota, spread over the entire northwest and numerous requests have been received by the organization for its appearance in various cities on special occasions.

A request of especial significance, attesting to the widespread popularity gained by the band, has recently been received by Mrs. Ziebell from Brown’s Bureau, Chicago, a booking agency, which books acts, amusements and musical attractions for both vaudeville and fairs. An excerpt from the letter follows:

“I wonder if you would be interested in booking your Ladies’ Band, say 20 or 25 pieces, for a ten weeks’ fair circuit. I am in communication with a gentleman who wished to book such a musical attraction for a circuit of fairs for approximately ten weeks. I would appreciate it very much if you would send me some circulars, and pictures of your band, some of which I believe I have already seen somewhere. If it is possible for you to book your organization I am sure we can come to satisfactory terms, and book you in short order.

Thanking you for an early reply and such information and literature you may have at hand, I remain


T. B. Brown.

The matter is under consideration by the band, although it probably would be a difficult matter for the ladies to arrange to be away from the city for that length of time. However, the band and its director feel highly elated over the recognition tendered by the offer.

Several other engagements have been offered and accepted for the coming season and the organization looks forward to its most successful season this year. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 11 April 1928, p. 7, c. 3)



Files Official Name, Brainerd Ladies’

Band, With District Court

Clerk’s Office




Plan Extensive Schedule of Concerts

and Out-of-Town En-


Reorganized under the name of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band, twenty musicians are meeting each Tuesday evening at the Farmers’ room of the court house at rehearsals for an extensive schedule of musical programs this season.

The organization met recently and elected the following officers:

Manager—Hazel Rardin.

Assistant Manager—Gladys Peterson.

Secretary—Lillian Anderson.

Treasurer—Lucile Gray.

William Knuppel, director of the city band is temporarily directing the ladies in preparing for their summer concerts and out-of-town engagements.

Attorney Basil T. Heath, representing the ladies stated today that the official name of the band, the Brainerd Ladies’ Band was purchased from the old band and the name filed at the office of the clerk of the district court on Monday, April 16. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 19 April 1928, p. 7, c. 5)



Mrs. Ziebell, Directress, Receives

Letter From Chairman Ninth

District Conference




Superior Telegram Says Local Or-

ganization Was Attraction of


Brainerd Ladies’ Band, Winifred Cronk Ziebell, Director, ca. 1928. A 1930x1580 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Crow Wing County Historical Society

That the Brainerd Rotarians made a tremendous hit and created much favorable comment upon their appearance with the Brainerd Ladies’ Band at the Ninth District Conference of Rotary International at Superior on May 3 and 4, is shown by the following letter from Clare L. Wildner, general chairman of the conference at Superior, Wis., in which Mrs. Ziebell’s band comes in for heartiest congratulations:


On behalf of the Superior Rotary Club and the Ninth District Rotary Conference, I want to take this opportunity of thanking you ladies for coming to Superior and helping make our conference a success.

You can feel highly flattered on the complimentary remarks that were given your organization and the Rotary Club of Brainerd.

Most Sincerely Yours,

Clare L. Wildner.

The Superior Telegram in commenting on the sidelights of the convention, stated that although each of the many bands and drum corps in the parade received hearty ovations, the Brainerd Ladies’ Band was the center of attraction and received the greatest applause both on appearance and musical ability. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 16 May 1928, p. 7, c. 1)



To be Heard From 6 to 7 P. M. June

11, at Breezy





Organized in Fall of 1924 by Mrs.

Winifred Cronk


The delegates to the Lions Club District Convention will have the opportunity of hearing the Brainerd Ladies’ Band on the evening of June 11, from 6 o’clock to 7 o'clock at Breezy Point, where they appear in concert for an hour before the banquet. All of the delegates, no doubt will be pleased to have this opportunity to hear this ladies’ organization which has earned a very enviable reputation for itself throughout the State of Minnesota and the northwest, during the few years it has been organized.

A brief history of the band would probably be of interest to those who are not as familiar with the band as the citizens of Brainerd.

In the fall of 1924, Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell organized the Brainerd Ladies’ Band, recruiting for its members girls who had practically no knowledge of the use of band instruments, but who in a very short time where able to appear in concert and accept engagements. This, however, was accomplished only through constant rehearsals and the untiring efforts of Mrs. Ziebell, the director, to whom much credit is due for developing a band from the material available which in two years’ time was engaged by the State Fair Board to appear as one of the entertainment features at the 1926 Minnesota State Fair.

Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell, the organizer and director of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band, came to Brainerd in 1919 as supervisor of music in the Brainerd public schools. Prior to that time Mrs. Ziebell had conducted a girls’ band at Montfort, Wis., and a mixed ladies’ and men’s band at Norwalk, Wis. Her unusual musical ability and skill in the use of several band instruments made her more than equal to the task of organizing and developing a band that has proved to be an asset to the City of Brainerd and Crow Wing County.

The band is attractively outfitted in blue and gold uniforms. It required exceptional perseverance on the part of the members to not only attend rehearsals faithfully, but to devise ways and means of raising money to purchase their uniforms, the cost of which amounted to approximately $1,000.

The band has been in much demand for fairs, conventions and various other celebrations, and a short time ago received an invitation from a booking agency in Chicago to go on a ten weeks vaudeville circuit engagement, but because of the professional duties of the members it was necessary to reject this offer and accept only those engagements which would not to any great extent conflict with the business positions held by the members.

The pleasure and enjoyment derived by the members through their band work, more than compensates them for the work and the time involved to perfect their playing. The band has also spent much time and effort in the practice of fancy drills and formations for exhibition purposes in parade work. Although the band was organized primarily for their own pleasure, it has, through its various engagements, been self-supporting. The members, however, have never failed to appreciate the backing received from the citizens of Brainerd and the local civic organizations and feel that they have made more progress than could have been possible without their support. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 11 June 1928, p. 11, c.’s 1 & 2)



Celebrates Occasion by Parade and

15 Minute Program Before

Taking Train at 1:50 P. M.




Will Play for National American

Legion Convention at San

Antonio, Texas

Leaving Brainerd tomorrow at 1:50 p. m. the American Legion Auxiliary band starts its trip southward to San Antonio, Texas to play at the National American Legion convention. The band will parade in the business district of the city and will give a 15-minute program on the corner of Laurel and Sixth streets before going to the depot.

The band leaves Minneapolis tomorrow evening on the Minnesota special train. They are to be entertained at a barbecue picnic at Irondale, Mo., Friday evening. They will also stop over in St. Louis and they have a nine hour stopover in New Orleans.

The trip also calls for a day to be spent in Galveston, Texas and they have been invited to a fiesta in old Mexico where they will witness a bull fight and other Mexican entertainments.

While at the convention the ladies are to sing a number of songs composed by R. G. Jenkins that will advertise Minnesota and the lake region.

The ladies of the organization express their thanks to all their contributors and the businessmen of Brainerd who have helped to make this trip possible. They also extend their thanks to those who patronized their various enterprises and to those that took part in their entertainment recently.

The ladies who will make the trip are: Mrs. Ethel Fox, Mrs. W. H. Irwin, Mrs. A. C. Mraz, Mrs. Jensen, Mrs. Fred Bentley, Mrs. Robert Anderson, and the Misses Collette Mraz, Lucille Gray, Emily Mraz, Jessie Evans, Hannah Bye, Alma Brown, Georgia Brown, Mayme Scallen, Evelyn Mraz, and Effie Drexler. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 03 October 1928, p. 3, c. 1)



Brainerd Group Makes Hit at Le-

gion Convention at San

Antonio, Texas

Members of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band returned last evening from San Antonio, Texas, where they played several concerts and appeared in parades at the American Legion national convention.

As part of the tour, the band visited Mexico and witnessed a bull fight and a mardi gras.

The Brainerd group with its colorful uniforms and peppy music was one of the highlights of the convention. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 15 October 1928, p. 7, c. 3)



Initiation Ceremonies of Brainerd

Band Held Last Evening;

Games Played




Class Under Direction of Mrs. Zie-

bell Will Present Concert

Next Spring

Fourteen new members were added to the Brainerd Ladies’ Band last evening when that number were initiated at the home of the Misses Bernice Murphy and Mayme Nelson.

The band at the present has a personnel of 30 musicians. The band has been practicing for the past two and one half months twice a week under the direction of Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell. The new class will appear in a public concert next spring.

After the initiation games were played, Miss Marcella Kampmann winning a prize. A luncheon was served at the close of the entertainment. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 06 December 1928, p. 7, c 2)


Brainerd Ladies’ Band cover photo for the Bandmaster magazine taken at Lum Park in the summer of 1928, 16 February 1929. A 1486x1069 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Brainerd Daily Dispatch

The picture of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band at the right, under direction of Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell, appeared on the cover page of a recent edition of “The Bandmaster,” a monthly magazine receiving national circulation, which has for its slogan, “Better Bands for America.” A band must, indeed, be of the highest quality, to merit the place of honor in a magazine of such prominence. That the Brainerd Ladies’ Band is of such calibre is indicated not only by the cover picture but by a two-column write-up within the pages of the magazine which whole-heartedly acclaims the splendid achievements and wide publicity the band has brought to the city of Brainerd. Such prominent figures in the musical world as Sousa, Al Sweet and Paul Whitman among thousands of other subscribers, are readers of the publication.

Following are a few excerpts taken from the write-up which appeared with the picture:

“The Brainerd Ladies’ Band of Brainerd, Minn., under the direction of Winifred Cronk Ziebell, under whose leadership this organization came into being, and through whose untiring efforts it has gained undreamed of success and nation-wide publicity, has accomplished even more for itself and the city of Brainerd in 1928 than perhaps in any one year previously, although its record in the four years of its existence has caused much very favorable comment throughout the entire northwest on the accomplishments of so young an organization of feminine musicians.

“A reorganization of the band early in 1928 with a majority of its old members and several new ones, tended to strengthen the organization in every department and created a new and heartier spirit of co-operation.”

The article lists the many engagements filled by the band during 1928 and records the favorable comments received from both spectators and newspapers wherever they appeared.

The picture was taken at the beautiful new band stand at Lum Park last summer shortly after the reorganization of the band.

The band has been practicing diligently during the winter and now boasts of over thirty members. Many new and better instruments have been added, and in the opinion of its capable director, it is already much more efficient than in 1928. With a perfectly balanced instrumentation, it is certain that 1929 will see the Brainerd Ladies’ Band gain greater heights than at any time in its past successful seasons.

The annual concert is expected to be held in Brainerd in May, and at that time the public will have the opportunity of hearing and viewing the band which this season, more than ever before, will be a greater credit to Brainerd and the entire northwest. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 16 February 1929, p. 3, c.’s 3-6)



Winifred Cronk Ziebell is Director;

Marcella Kampmann Named





Brainerd Band Will Open Season

With Concert the Latter

Part of April

The following officers were elected for the ensuing year at the annual meeting of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band last evening in the city hall:

Director—Winifred Cronk Ziebell.

Manager—Marcella Kampmann.

Assistant manager—Esther Bentley.

Secretary—Bernice Murphy.

Treasurer—Irene Englund.

Reporter and advertising agent—Dixie Thompson.

The band is now practicing four evenings a week. The opening spring concert will be given the latter part of April. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 27 March 1929, p. 3, c. 4)



Brainerd Ladies’ Band Gives Pleasing

Concert at U. C. T.





Winifred Cronk Ziebell Conducts

Organization of 31 Members in

Masterly Fashion

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band, superior in technique, tone and unison to its performances heretofore will continue again this year as a valuable factor in the advertising of Brainerd and the lake region.

The band in its first home concert of the season last evening at the U. C. T. auditorium presented a pleasing program of marches, overtures, and solos that warranted the expressed approval of the audience.

Winifred Cronk Ziebell conducted the band in a masterly manner true to her professional ability demonstrated on many occasions throughout the northwest.

She warrants the acclaim given her. She has worked untiringly for the advancement of musical talent in Brainerd ladies and has succeeded in producing a ladies’ band that will give good competition to any in the northwest.

One of the principal reasons for the betterment of the band has been the cooperation given by the band members in desiring to carry out Mrs. Ziebell’s wishes to bring out a band that will do credit to the city of Brainerd. With this in mind 21 members have conscientiously practiced two and sometimes three times a week for the past six months.

Last night’s concert was the result of this training. It was presented in a manner worthy of high praise.

A unique arrangement was the brass octet, “Medley of Old Airs,” especially arranged with Esther Bentley, Lorraine Morrison, Aileen Barnes, Bernice Murphy, Gladys Smith, Irene Englund, Dorothy Schrader, Marcella Kampmann.

The Misses Muisto Pohjola and Pearl Van Horn drew hearty applause with their presentation of harmonica numbers. Trombones were featured in “Them Basses.”

The cornet solo “Stars in a Velvety Sky” rendered by Mrs. Ziebell with Miss Lorraine Morrison accompanist was one of the featured numbers on the program.

The ever-popular march “El Capitan” by Sousa was played with renewed enthusiasm with Miss Irene Turcotte, saxophone soloist.

The new uniforms of red and white satin which have been ordered, failed to arrive in time for the concert. The ladies, therefore, appeared in beautiful evening gowns instead of wearing the old uniforms. The new uniforms are expected in the very near future and will be used in all future engagements and hereafter the colors of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band will be red and white, red slippers having been ordered to match the uniforms. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 09 May 1929, p. 3, c.’s 1-3)

NOTE: The U. C. T. auditorium was the name for the newly decorated Gardner Hall.



Thirty-Two Piece Organization Now

Outfitted in Red and White

Satin Uniforms




Band is Now Ready to Compete in

State Band Contest at St. Paul

Two Weeks Hence

The beautiful new uniforms for the Brainerd Ladies’ Band have arrived at last after several disappointing delays. However, the ladies were more than compensated for their disappointments in the thrill they received when they first viewed the new creations. Their winter’s efforts in raising the money necessary to produce these attractive outfits have culminated in designing a uniform which is not only highly attractive but is unique in that it may be reversed, thus creating two different uniforms. They are manufactured of heavy satin, the one uniform being entirely white with red braid on the blouse. By reversing the skirts the suits may be changed to a red and white outfit. Thus, the band may use one uniform on parade and at an evening concert present an entirely different combination. The uniform itself is patterned on the naval officer’s style, and the caps are made to match, white satin with red braid and black visor. White stockings and handsome red pumps complete the beautiful effect. Several other improvements will also be noted in the band’s appearance.

A large banner of the same materials and colors has been ordered and is expected to arrive soon. Over $1,200 have been expended in producing these beautiful creations, and it has taken untiring efforts on the part of the membership during the past winter to finance the project. The band now feels that it is in a position more than ever to advertise Brainerd in a most gratifying way wherever it may appear in the future. Several engagements have already been booked by the organization.

The band has been selected to compete in the state band festival and contest at St. Paul on June 21, 22 and 23. All expenses, with the exception of transportation, will be paid by those sponsoring the contest. The ladies are giving a big dance Thursday evening of this week to finance their transportation costs. Tickets are now on sale and are being sold rapidly. It is expected that the band will be entered in Class C. Forty bands will be in attendance, of which the Crosby Ore Diggers will be one, probably competing in Class B, or the semi-professional class.

The Crosby band, under Professor Knuppel, and the Brainerd Ladies’ Band, under Mrs. Ziebell, are making special preparations for the contest, and will go far toward upholding the musical reputation of this part of the state, though due to the fact that they are entered in different classes, they will not compete against each other. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 04 June 1929, p. 3, c.’s 1 & 2)



Is Latest Addition to Equipment of

Local Organization Under Lead-

ership of Mrs. Ziebell




Inscribed “Brainerd Ladies Band of

Minnesota;” Colors Same as

New Uniforms

A further addition to the equipment of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band was received today. It is a standard sized banner beautifully wrought in red and white satin, and corded in red braid. On a large white satin field are inscribed the words in red: “Brainerd Ladies’ Band of Minnesota.” On both sides of the lettering are designs emblematic of the organization. All-in-all the banner is most attractive and was designed and manufactured especially for the Brainerd Ladies’ Band at considerable expense. It will be carried before the band in all parades by a standard bearer.

It is the aim of the band to advertise Brainerd on all occasions and the new banner will help materially.

Mrs. Ziebell’s band will entrain for St. Paul the last of the week to compete in the state band contest, and the banner will be used for the first time on that occasion, as will the new uniforms.

Another bass horn has been added to the instrumentation, as have several other fine instruments. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 15 June 1929, p. 7, c. 2)



Creating Much Interest and Favor-

able Comment at Peterson

Clothing Co.

The beautiful new banner recently purchased by the Brainerd Ladies’ Band, under direction of Mrs. Ziebell, is now on display in the window of the Peterson Clothing Co., corner of Sixth and Laurel, and is creating much interest and most favorable comments on the publicity it will gain for Brainerd during the numerous out of town engagements scheduled for the band this season.

The banner will be taken to St. Paul the latter part of this week and will appear in advance of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band in the massed band parade of 40 organizations on Friday evening, the occasion being the state band contest, in which the ladies’ band and the Brainerd-Crosby Ore Diggers are entered.

Brainerd merchants are heartily co-operating in arranging for employees who are members of the ladies’ band to be absent during the contest and during other future engagements which will be announced soon.

Tentative arrangements are being made by sponsors of the contest to have the ladies’ band broadcast over one of the Twin Cities stations during their stay in St. Paul.

The Brainerd-Crosby Ore Diggers are entered in Class A, and the organization will consist of musicians from the Brainerd and Crosby bands. It is understood that at least a dozen of the Brainerd men are making the trip. The entire personnel of 32 members of the Ladies’ Band is making the trip, and they will be entered in Class C; thus the two local bands will not compete against each other in the musical end of the contest. However, it is understood, all classes will compete against each other as to soloists, drum majors, uniforms, appearance on parade, etc.

Brainerd is fortunate in having two local organizations entered, and citizens and merchants of the city are enthusiastic over the prospects of Brainerd capturing some of the prizes. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 17 June 1929, p. 7 c. 2)



Has Received Special Request to

Broadcast Half-Hour Program

Over St. Paul Station




KSTP Also Will Broadcast the Huge

Parade on St. Paul’s Streets

Friday Evening

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band is about to realize an ambition fostered by most musical organizations—that of broadcasting a program over a radio station.

Since the band’s entry into the state band contest at St. Paul on June 21, 22 and 23 was announced, many requests have been received from St. Paul firms and organizations to play at various places. As many of these requests as it is possible to arrange have been granted. The latest invitation, and perhaps the most interesting one to Brainerd and the band, is a request that the Ladies’ Band broadcast a program over radio station KSTP on Friday, June 21, and the time has been tentatively set for 1:45 to 2:15 P. M.

The following excerpt was taken from a letter from Carl Dillon, chairman, Minnesota Music Festival and State Band Contest, St. Paul:

“We also have a special request that the Brainerd Ladies’ Band broadcast a program over station KSTP on Friday afternoon, June 21, from 1:45 to 2:15 P. M. and would like to have you come prepared to play this program.”

The ladies have answered the request in the affirmative and have prepared a program. Brainerd will receive the widest publicity over this achievement and the ladies are very enthused over the honor accorded them.

A number of years ago local talent gave a radio program over WCCO. Quite a number participated, and the broadcast included speakers, singers and musicians of real ability from this city. However, it appears the Brainerd Ladies’ Band is to have the honor of being the first musical organization from this city to broadcast an entire program of its own unassisted.

Some of the members of the band will leave Thursday, the remainder on Friday morning. All arrangements have been completed for the entertainments of the bands while in St. Paul.

It is understood that KSTP also will broadcast the huge parade of 40 bands beginning at 7 P. M. Friday evening. Brainerd’s radio sets will be tuned in at that time to hear its local representatives, the Brainerd-Crosby Ore Diggers and the Brainerd Ladies’ Band. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 18 June 1929, p. 3, c. 1)









1:45 P. M.

St. Paul, June 21.—(UP)—More than 1,000 musicians, the personnel of 30 bands from as many Minnesota towns, arrived here today to take part in the first annual State Band Festival, which will hold the spotlight here for the next three days.

The festival will open tonight with a parade through the downtown district and a massed concert in a municipal park. Saturday will be “competition day” with the bands, including several from the Twin Cities competing for prizes and trophies at the city auditorium. The bands will spend Sunday in playing concerts at St. Paul parks and churches.

Among the organizations expected to attract attention at the festival are the St. Cloud Boys’ Band of 96 pieces and the Brainerd Ladies’ Band. The Brainerd band, under direction of Winifred Cronk Ziebell, arrived here early and was to go on the air over radio station KSTP at 1:45 P. M.

Judges in the contests will be Karl A. King and A. Austin Harding, noted band directors. They will direct the massed bands in tonight's concert.

The bands are divided into three classes, according to size and length of organization, with prizes and trophies to be given in each class.

It is understood that KSTP, St. Paul, will also broadcast the huge parade this evening around 7 P. M.


The ladies’ band is attired in a set of beautiful new uniforms, and will make an attractive picture in the parade this evening, this being the first appearance of the organization in its new costumes. The new banner, advertising Brainerd, will also receive its initial display on parade at that time.

Brainerd is enthusiastic about the chances of its local representatives to carry off some of the prizes, and many telegrams are being sent by local merchants and citizens to cheer the two home organizations to victory. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 21 June 1929, p. 6, c.’s 1 & 2)



Wins Second Place in Class C This

Morning at Minnesota Band

Festival, St. Paul




Thousands of People Cheer Ladies

and Ore Diggers in Parade

and Contest

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band won second place in Class C at the Minnesota Band Contest conducted at St. Paul this morning, according to word received here at noon.

With the award goes a beautiful silver trophy.

Two Brainerd bands, the Brainerd Ladies’ Band and the Brainerd-Crosby Ore Diggers, held the admiration of scores of thousands of people yesterday and today at Minnesota’s first annual band festival conducted at St. Paul.

Last evening they were cheered by 60,000 people as they marched in line with 24 other bands of Minnesota through the St. Paul loop. Such notables as Governor Theodore Christianson, Mayor L. C. Hodgson, Colonel Walter C. Sweeney, commandant at Fort Snelling, and Col. Frederick G. Stutz of St. Paul, commander of the 206th Infantry, Minnesota national guard, were interested spectators from the reviewing stand.

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band and the Brainerd-Crosby Ore Diggers were given extensive mention in Twin City newspapers, particularly the St. Paul Pioneer Press-Dispatch, which with the Minnesota Band Masters Association, are sponsors of the music festival.

The Press announced that “men could blow no sweeter notes than the lassies of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band” and published on the front page lead-off position a large photograph of the band marching.

Yesterday at 1:45 until 2:15 p. m. the Brainerd Ladies’ Band played a program of music over KSTP to which practically all Brainerd listened in on.

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band, under direction of Winifred Cronk Ziebell, was the only band composed entirely of women in the parade.

The Brainerd women were costumed in scarlet and white uniforms, the most brilliant in the line, the Pioneer Press said, as it quoted Mayor Hodgson as saying that the drum major, Mrs. Dixie Thompson, “strutted high, wide and handsome.”

So complete was the costume of Mrs. Thompson that even the Press was deceived. The paper referred to the drum major as a “comely young man in an all scarlet costume and patent leather boots.”

Most of Brainerd listened in as Rev. W. C. Sainsbury broadcast a graphic description of the parade and heard the local bands playing as they marched. The Ore Diggers also played one selection before the massed band concert at Rice Park at the end of the parade. The greatest aggregation of musicians ever gathered at one place in the state of Minnesota, numbering approximately 1,000, then played three selections as one band under one director, the musicians being arranged as to instrumentation. The three selections rendered were: “Stars and Stripes Forever,” “Minnesota March” and “Star Spangled Banner.”

“Perhaps the most unique band was surprisingly overlooked by the judges,” says the Press today. “It is the Brainerd-Crosby Ore Diggers Band, an organization of 40 men. They sprang a complete surprise in the matter of uniforms. Ordinarily they wear red shirts and black miners’ caps surmounted by little lamps on parade. When they turned west into Fifth Street from St. Peter Street the judges looked thrice before they identified the oncoming bandsmen. The musicians wore long yellow slickers with a hat to match. The uniform captured the crowd's fancy and it gave the Ore Diggers a big hand.”

In “Band Festival Flares,” sidelights on the bands, the Press includes the following paragraphs concerning the Brainerd bands:

“William Knuppel, director of the Diggers, who won first in the Christmas pageant here last winter, played solo B-flat cornet with the Fifteenth Infantry Band at Fort Sheridan in 1894.”

“A polite crowd are the girls of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band. When the Crosby Ore Diggers swept past them on the street Friday playing a march the girls took off their caps and held them high in salute. It turned out that they were saluting their home town boys for “ten or twelve Brainerd men play with the Diggers.”

“There’s a question in the mind of Andy Anderson of the Crosby Ore Diggers as to whether St. Paul policemen appreciate music. Andy led the yellow-slickered musicians into the city hall Friday night waving his shovel baton bent on giving the police force a treat.

“What in heck is all that noise,”roared Captain of Detectives Herman Vall, trying to raise his voice above the musical blasts.

“You’re arrested,” he told Anderson, “for disturbing the peace and quiet of a police station, playing band music in a city hall and keeping the officers away from their pinochle game.”

“Anderson was placed on probation and released.” (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 22 June 1929, p. 7, c.’s 1 & 2)



Massive Trophy Awarded to Brain-

erd Organization as Second

Place Winners




Men’s Band Fails by But Small Mar-

gin to Place in Class A


Brainerd Ladies’ Band, Winifred Cronk Ziebell, Director, in the center. Note the large trophy on the left next to the Drum Major, Dixie Thompson, which was awarded to the band for winning Second Place at the 1929 Minnesota State Band Contest in St. Paul, 22 June 1929. A 1882x1244 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Crow Wing County Historical Society

Two tired but happy local bands returned from the St. Paul last evening, enthusiastic over the reception and honors accorded them by the Capitol City and the 60,000 cheering spectators who witnessed the contest of the greatest assemblage of bands and musicians ever gathered together at one time in the history of the state. Prominently mentioned and signally honored at their many appearances in St. Paul, the Brainerd Ladies’ Band under direction of Winifred Cronk Ziebell and the Brainerd-Crosby Ore Diggers under Prof. Knuppel, have left a lasting impression upon the Twin Cities and the entire northwest through their musical capabilities and their snappy appearance on dress parade.

The local bands were in demand to play continually and the publicity gained for Brainerd and this vicinity is immeasurable.

Failing by but a fraction to capture first place in Class C, the Brainerd Ladies’ Band easily captured second in the musical contest at the auditorium Saturday morning before a vast assemblage of 10,000 spectators.

In the evening the competition was very close, the three winners in Class A being grouped very closely, and the Brainerd-Crosby Ore Diggers failed to place among the winners by only a fraction of a point.

Competition in each of the three classes was of the keenest and the judges themselves were surprised at the interest shown in this First Annual Minnesota Band Festival. Mr. Harding and Mr. King, nationally known directors and composers, who judged the contest, stated that it was the greatest contest at which they had ever officiated.

The local bands played at many and various places, Friday being an especially strenuous day for the Ladies’ Band, when they played seven different places, besides broadcasting a half-hour program over radio station KSTP.

The uniforms of the local band attracted widest attention, the men’s band in their unique costumes of yellow slickers and hats, and the Ladies’ Band in their snappy new uniforms of brilliant scarlet and white satin.

Many Brainerd people were in St. Paul and let the Capitol City know that they were behind the local organizations.

The directors of the local bands were given the greatest possible recognition for their ability to bring out the utmost in expression, technique and general musical ability in their bands. At the auditorium Saturday morning, when the Ladies’ Band took the platform during the musical competition, Mrs. Ziebell was introduced as the only lady director of the only ladies’ band entered in the competition, and the 10,000 spectators applauded in a manner which left no doubt as to their enthusiasm.

Sunday morning the winning organization played at various parks, churches and other public places.

At Highland Park stadium yesterday afternoon the winners were awarded their prizes in a public presentation before a packed assemblage of approximately 8,000 people, each band playing several selections. Again the Ladies’ Band was applauded roundly as they played, the music being conveyed to the audience through amplifiers. They received as second place award a massive silver cup, gold lined and suitably engraved.

The trophy is a thing of beauty and stands approximately 30 inches in height, and over a foot across.

The cup itself is 24 inches high, and is mounted on a handsome six-inch base.

The cup is now on display in the window of the building occupied by J. C. Clausen and Mr. Steuerwald, the jeweler, on South Sixth Street.

St. Paul merchants proved wonderful hosts to the bands, and an incident proving the popularity of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band was found in the fact that it was necessary to draw lots to ascertain which firm should have the honor of being host to the ladies. Many gifts of musical merchandise and novelties were received from the St. Paul hosts.

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band and the Brainerd-Crosby Ore Diggers appreciate most heartily the spirit shown by local citizens and organizations through their expressions of encouragement and congratulations which were received by telephone and telegraph, and also the personal best wishes of those Brainerd citizens who were in attendance at the Festival.

All bands were unanimous in declaring the St. Paul Pioneer Press-Dispatch and the Minnesota Bandmasters’ Association, sponsors of the event, to be royal hosts and most proficient as to details in making visiting bands comfortable and happy during their three-day stay at the Capitol City.


St. Paul, June 24.—(UP)—Eight of the nine Minnesota bands, which Saturday carried off the major honors in a state-wide contest here appeared in a colorful concert Sunday afternoon and were presented with their trophies.

These musical organizations included the Brainerd Ladies’ Band; the St. Cloud Boys’ Band and the Bemidji Boys’ Band and others.

Both Winifred Cronk Ziebell, director of the Brainerd band, and Oliver Riggs director of the St. Cloud boys, received 24-inch silver trophies representative of second place in their divisions. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 24 June 1929, p. 7, c.’s 3-5)



To Be Feature, Headline Band at the

Northwest Fair, Minot, N. D.,

July 1-6, Inclusive




Engagement Extensively Advertised

in States to West for Some

Time Past

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band has acquired a habit of performing the unexpected. On the heels of their triumphant return from the State Band Festival Sunday night, where they captured a huge silver cup as the award for second place in Class C, and with the plaudits of the Capitol City still ringing in their ears, the band management today announced that the organization will play at the Northwest Fair, Minot, N. D., during the entire week of July 1-6, inclusive. The band is engaged as the headline band for the fair, which is perhaps the largest in the northwest between our own State Fair and the Pacific coast.

The band will play a concert before the grandstand daily, besides playing for the free acts, and Ernie Young’s famous revue in the evening. The band is to receive $1,500 for this engagement, and will be gone eight or nine days, leaving on Saturday of this week.

The fact that the Ladies’ Band will appear at the Northwest Fair has been extensively advertised in North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, and also in parts of western Minnesota.

Excerpts from the contract which was signed and executed some weeks ago, follow:

“Witnesseth, that the said party of the first part in consideration of the covenants and agreements of the party of said second part, hereinafter contained, hereby covenants with the said party of the second part that said party of the first part will engage the services of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band for an intermittent afternoon and evening concert at the Northwest Fair during the week of July 1st to 6th, both inclusive.

“Should weather conditions not permit of outdoor playing the Northwest Fair Board shall furnish suitable quarters to hold such concerts indoors.

“The sum of Fifteen Hundred Dollars ($1,500.00) shall be paid to the Brainerd Ladies’ Band by the Northwest Fair Board. Said amount to be paid to the band’s manager upon completion of their work on July 6th.

“In the event of inclement weather and should the Northwest Fair Board fail to provide adequate facilities for indoor playing, the Northwest Fair Board shall pay the sum of $1,500.00 to the Brainerd Ladies’ Band in consideration of their fulfillment of the agreements herein contained.

“The Brainerd Ladies’ Band shall report for special practice on the afternoon of Sunday, June 30th, for the purpose of acquainting themselves with the music for the Revue.”

The entire personnel of the band under Mrs. Winifred Ziebell, director, is expected to make the trip which probably will be made partly by bus and partly by railroad. The Brainerd merchants have co-operated in making arrangements for employees who are members of the band, to be absent during the period of the engagement.

Without a doubt, Brainerd will again receive the widest and most wholesome publicity from this appearance of the band in its new uniforms, and carrying its beautiful banner throughout the northwest. The large newspapers in the Northwest Fair territory are already heralding the fact that the Brainerd Ladies’ Band which is to appear at their fair is a prize-winner of he Minnesota Band Festival.

Another very lucrative offer to appear at a western fair this week had to be refused on account of the lateness of the offer and the fact that arrangements had already been made for the ladies to be out-of-town only long enough to cover the engagement of the week of July 4th at the Minot fair.

The trip is approximately 450 miles each way and the monetary consideration is perhaps the largest ever handled by a musical organization from this vicinity. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 25 June 1929, p. 7, c.’s 1 & 2)



To Play at the Northwest Fair for

One Week, July 1 to 6,





Trip to be Made in Special Car on

Northern Pacific; Return Sun-

day Night, July 7th

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band, under direction of Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell, will entrain tomorrow morning at 10:40 for Minot, N. D., where the band has been engaged to play at the Northwest Fair at that city, during the entire week of July 1 to 6, inclusive. The monetary consideration for the services of the band is a large one, and calls for the sum of $1,500 to be paid to the ladies by the Northwest Fair Board.

The ladies will arrive at Minot early Sunday morning after their 450-mile trip, and will rehearse with Ernie Young’s famous musical revue for which they are to furnish music besides playing for the free acts and giving a concert each afternoon.

The fair management has engaged the band as the feature, headline band and the organization will play only before the grandstand.

Arrangements have been made for a special coach to be hooked on the Northern Pacific so that the ladies will not have to change trains at any point, the coach merely being shunted from one train to the other.

The extensive publicity given to the band in the northwest, both in pictures and write-ups, will gain much notice for the city of Brainerd, and the musical ability of the band and its new uniforms will bear out advance press notices. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 28 June 1929, p. 6, c.’s 1 & 2)



Thirty Members Leave This Morn-

ing to Fulfill Contract at North-

west Fair




Great Publicity for Brainerd Through

Northwest to be Outcome of

This Latest Venture

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band, under direction of Mrs. Ziebell, left this morning at 11 A. M. for Minot, N. D., where they have been engaged as the feature band at the Northwest Fair. Thirty members are making the trip in a special coach on the Northern Pacific.

The personnel of the band is as follows:

Cornets—Esther Bentley, Hattie Zawadski, Bernice Murphy, Blanche Seifert, Harriet Van Dorn.

Clarinets—Gladys Rardin, Dixie Thompson (drum major). Louise Clausen, Norma Hickerson, Marie Hoffbauer, Frances Peterson.

Baritone—Aileen Barnes.

Mellophones—Irene Englund, Alfreda Zawadski.

Trombones—Marcella Kampmann, Dorothy Schrader, Evelyn Swanson, Gladys Smith.

Tubas—Lorraine Morrison, Alice Moe.

Soprano Saxophones—Irene Turcotte, Pearl Van Horn, Nina Conklin.

Alto Saxophone—Mayme Nelson.

Baritone Saxophone—Ruth Erickson.

Drums—Edith Heald, Muriel Goederz, Muisto Pohjola, Frances Hutcher.

Mrs. Carl Bentley is accompanying the band as chaperone.

Mrs. Ziebell, the director, who scored very highly for her proficient directing in the recent State Band Festival at St. Paul, is once more leading her organization to further fame in the northwest, and gaining much notice for Brainerd and the lake region.

The Minot contract calls for the presence of the band from July 1 to 6 inclusive, and the band receives $1,500 for its services.

Miss Marcella Kampmann is the present manager of the band, and it has been through her untiring efforts and business ability that the organization has been able to make its appearance at such foremost functions this summer.

That thousands of outside people are interested in the band was very aptly proven by the hundreds at St. Paul who inquired as to the history of the band’s inception, while many made the promise that they would spend their summer vacations in and around the city, which could boast such a musical organization. The extensive publicity in the northwest for the Minot engagement is certain to create further spirit of this nature.

The ladies expect to return Sunday evening, July 7. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 29 June 1929, p. 7, c. 5)

THE Brainerd Ladies’ Band are continuing their self-imposed mission of advertising Brainerd. Down at St. Paul, as related by one of the girls, they got wonderful applause for their fine playing and attractive uniforms. Every courtesy was paid them by the Northern Pacific and Great Northern railways, the girls being supplied with a special coach on their way to Minot, N. D. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 03 July 1929, p. 4, c. 1)



Successfully Fulfills $1,500 Contract at

Northwest Fair, One of Largest

in the Northwest




Advertised Brainerd and 10,000 Lakes

Throughout the North-


The Brainerd Ladies’ Band returned last evening, tired but happy, after its strenuous week’s engagement at the Northwest Fair at Minot, N. D., with a check for $1,500 for its services as evidence the band successfully fulfilled its engagement.

Almost a dozen bands were in attendance, the Brainerd Ladies’ Band being the only out-of-state organization present, while it is needless to say it was the only ladies’ band at the fair. This fact, coupled with their musical ability and their snappy appearance both on parade and in concert, served to make them the center of attraction at all times.

The Northwest Fair is a very large exhibition, one of the biggest in the northwest between our own state fair and the Pacific coast. The fair had some wonderful exhibits, besides their high class free acts, vaudeville, revues, auto and horse races and other headline attractions.

As the headline band, the Brainerd ladies’ were accorded a great share of the attention at the grandstand and the publicity accorded them was equal to the efforts put forth by the organization.

The Northwest Fair drew a wonderful attendance from all states in the northwest, and the fair management stated that the Brainerd band was a great drawing card. Brainerd and the 10,000 Lakes received some real widespread publicity through the engagement as the Fair Board advertised the appearance of the band widely in the large dailies and weekly newspapers in the territory covered by the fair. It is a further achievement in the policy of the band to gain advertising for Brainerd without one cent of expense to the city or its merchants and citizens.

Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell, the band’s able director, conducted the organization through some very difficult music to the applause and appreciation of the large audiences daily.

Miss Marcella Kampmann, the efficient manager of the band, put forth some very strenuous hours in keeping the organization running smoothly and at maximum efficiency all during the engagement, and deserves much praise for the successful termination of the contract.

While in Minot the band was accorded every consideration by the citizens and were taken on several sightseeing trips about the beautiful city. Officers of the band also secured the promise of the manager of the International Air Lines at Minot to send several planes to the air meet at Brainerd on July 20 and 21, if it was at all possible to do so. It is expected Fargo also will send some representative planes. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 08 July 1929, p. 7, c. 3)



American Legion Auxiliary Band, 19 September 1930. A 1068x264 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Brainerd Daily Dispatch

The personnel of the band includes, reading from left to right in the picture—Bessie Paine, Georgia Brown, Daisy Backen, Hannah Bye, Collette Mraz, Lillian Anderson, Evelyn Mraz, Dorothy Kater, Nellie Nyquist, Mardelle Mraz, Ellen Nyquist, Alma Brown, Effie Drexler, director; Dorothy Fox, Alta Holden, Gladys Mraz, Emily Mraz, Hazel Irwin, Ruth Mraz, Ethel Fox, Jessie Evans and Vivian Bentley.

Brainerd, Minn., Sept.11—(Special to the Herald.)—The American Legion Auxiliary band of Brainerd, under the direction of Miss Effie Drexler, will leave Saturday, Sept. 28, to attend the American Legion national convention at Louisville, Ky. There will be twenty-two ladies, including the drum major and the director making the trip. This band attended the state convention at Winona this year and last year at Austin. It also attended the national convention at San Antonio last year. It was one of the two Legion Auxiliary bands at San Antonio and the only Minnesota band there. It was the only ladies’ orchestra that marched the entire length of the parade at San Antonio. Since its affiliation with the American Legion in March, 1928, this band has made thirty-five public appearances, including the district, state and national conventions of the American Legion last year and the district and state this year. Engagements at which the band has played during the summer months include the county fairs at Pequot, Pine River and Wadena; Crow Wing county 4-H club celebration and concerts at amusement parks near Brainerd. The director, Miss Drexler, is also the director of the Ladies’ Choral club of Brainerd. this club won first place in the district contest of choral clubs at the conventions of the Federated Women’s clubs the last three successive years and in 1927 won first place in the state contest. They plan on competing for the state cup Sept. 26 at St. Paul. Five of the band girls are also members of Miss Drexler’s choral club. The band this year plans to have a vocal soloist, Al Mraz, baritone. He is well known in the American Legion, being treasurer of the Brainerd post, district treasurer, and a member of the state music committee. Photo courtesy of the Duluth Herald. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 19 September 1929, p. 1, c.’s 2-6)



Officers Elected; Winter Rehearsals

to Begin on Next


The municipal band met last evening at 7:30 o’clock in the Farmers’ Room at the court house for a social evening. One feature of the program was a group of solos and pianologues by Joe Kiebler.

After the social hour a short business meeting was held and the following officers elected:

President—Chris Elvig.

Treasurer—Oscar Erickson.

Manager—Henry Krause.

It was decided to begin practices for the winter season next Wednesday evening.

About thirty attended the meeting including the director, William Knuppel of Crosby and five or six members of the Crosby Concert Band which assisted the Brainerd band during their concerts the past season.

At the close of the meeting a Dutch luncheon consisting of wieners, sauerkraut, baked beans, Parker House rolls and coffee was served. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 14 November 1929, p. 3, c. 4)



Legion Auxiliary Musicians to Parade

and Play at Paramount


The Brainerd Legion Auxiliary band will herald the opening of the new Paramount theatre there tomorrow morning.

The lady musicians will parade in downtown Brainerd concluding their march at the theatre entrance where they will entertain at 10:30 a. m. with a group of selections.

Miss Effie Drexler, band leader, will direct. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 20 December 1929, p. 7, c. 4)




Winifred Cronk Ziebell Renamed

Manager, Gladys Rardin, Esther

Bentley Assistants




Band Members Meet at Home of Mrs.

Carl Bentley, Play Games,

Listen to Radio

Members of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band enjoyed a delightful party last evening at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Bentley, South 7th street at which time officers were elected for the ensuing year and plans outlined.

Officers elected:

Manager—Winifred Cronk Ziebell

Assistant Mangers—Gladys Rardin, Esther Bentley.

Secretary—Bernice R. Murphy.

Treasurer—Irene Englund.

Reporter—Marie Hoffbauer.

Director—Winifred Cronk Ziebell.

Drum Major—Dixie Thompson.

Following the business meeting games were played, the radio enjoyed and a delicious lunch served.

Because of the illness of the director the annual spring concert given by the band will be postponed. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 04 March 1930, p. 2, c. 4)



Marches, Executes Maneuvers and

Plays Several Selections in Busi-

ness District




Will Leave Friday Morning to Com-

pete Again in State Band Con-

test at St. Paul

Marching and maneuvering with a military technique and playing beautifully in a pre-contest parade on the downtown streets of Brainerd, the Brainerd Ladies’ Band last evening demonstrated its ability to represent this city in a most worthy manner at the State Band Contest at St. Paul the latter part of this week.

Playing a snappy march, the band marched south on Sixth Street to Laurel, where, led by the drum major, Mrs. Dixie Thompson, the organization executed a maneuver from marching formation to a circle in Front of the Elks Hotel, where a short concert was given, led by Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell, the efficient director.

Again in marching formation, the band moved to Seventh and Laurel, playing several sections at the intersection, after which the organization marched to the Ransford hotel, played once more and finished their parade by returning down Sixth and west on Laurel to the city hall, the practice rooms.

The large audience was entirely captivated by the appearance and musical ability of the band, the new uniforms of crimson and white flannel with red tams and shoes to match bringing forth much favorable comment.

The band leaves Friday morning to compete as Brainerd’s only entry in the State Band contest in St. Paul, in which 40 bands are expected to compete, with a membership of 1,100 musicians. The parade is expected to be held at 5:30 P. M. Friday and will be broadcast over KSTP. Last year the ladies captured a beautiful cup as second place winners in the musical contest in Class C, in which they are again entered this year. Twelve of fourteen bands will compete in this class this year and competition is expected to be very keen.

Mrs. Dixie Thompson, who placed second against all drum majors last year, is again competing Friday evening. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 18 June 1930, p. 7, c.’s 3 & 4)



Places Third in Competition for Best

Marching Organization at the

State Band Contest




Snappy New Uniforms Bring Third

Place in Contest for the Best

Uniformed Band

Brainerd Ladies’ Band, Winifred Cronk Ziebell, Director, ca. 1930. A 1434x989 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Mike Powers, Legacy Program, Crow Wing County Historical Society

In the parade before 50,000 people at the State Band Contest in St. Paul last evening, the Brainerd Ladies’ Band won the distinction of being the only band of the 24 entered from all parts of the state to place in all three phases of the contest staged during the parade.

All bands entered in all classes competed against each other in this part of the Music Festival.

The Ladies’ Band captured third in marching and with their bright new red and white flannel [satin] uniforms took third place in the contest for best uniformed band. Mrs. Dixie Thompson placed third in the drum major contest against drum majors from all bands entered.

The following excerpts are taken from the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

“Fifty thousand person delayed dinner Friday to lift up a mighty cheer for 22 bands which swung through St. Paul’s loop to stirring military music as the climax of the first day’s program of the second annual Minnesota State Band Contest and Music Festival.

“The St. Paul Police Band won a lion’s share of the parade awards with the Brainerd Ladies’ Band a runner-up.

“Dewey Schiaible, husky leader of the Police Band, was awarded a gold-plated baton for being the best drum major in the parade. Drum majors of the Working Boys’ Band ant eh Brainerd Ladies’ Band won second and third prizes respectively in the drum major contest.

“The Police Band was first and the 76-piece Municipal Boys’ Band of St. Cloud was adjudged second in the marching event. The Brainerd Ladies’ Band, attired in brilliant red costumes and the Sleepy Eye High School Band tied for third honors.

“The Pillsbury Band of Minneapolis won first prize in the uniform contest. In this even the St. Paul Coppers took second. The Brainerd Ladies’ Band was third.”

At the conclusion of the parade at the Third Street Mall, the 1,100 musicians played several selection in massed concert.

After the music contest in Class C this morning the Brainerd Ladies’ Band appeared in concert at Gillette State Hospital for Crippled Children from 2 to 2:30 P. M. and at the Shriners’ Hospital for Crippled Children from 3 to 3:30 P. M.

all music contests today are being staged at the Garrick theatre. Class C, in which the ladies’ are entered, includes ten bands; Class B eight bands and Class A four bands.

The Kesting Music Co. is host to the Ladies’ Band during its stay in St. Paul

Under the caption, “Blows That Make Hits,” the Pioneer Press comments:

Led by a woman in a white shako who is said to be the only woman drum major in the country who twirls a silver baton, a bright spot in the band festival was the 30-piece Brainerd Lades’ Band. Dressed in scarlet tams, uniforms and shoes the women attracted great attention. Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell organized the band six years ago. Mrs. Dixie Thompson is the drum major.” (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 21 June 1930, p. 7, c. 4)



Takes Three Third Places Against

24 Bands from All Parts of State

in Monstrous Parade




Only Entire Band of Lady Musicians

Entered in State Band Contest

and Music Festival

The Brainerd Ladies’ Band returned from the State Band Contest and Music Festival over the weekend after capturing three awards of distinction in the monstrous parade at St. Paul Friday evening, where they were runners-up to the St. Paul Police Band in honors taken in the parade competition against 24 bands entered from all parts of the state. Over 50,000 people deserted their evening meal to watch the long parade.

The local band was the only organization entered composed entirely of lady musicians.

The band was adjudged by military officers as the third best marching band in the state contest. The judges considered cadence, playing ability while marching and alignment.

They were judged to be the third best uniformed band in the contest.

The band’s drum major, Mrs. Dixie Thompson, was adjudged to be the third best drum major in the entire parade.

These awards are especially significant in view of the fact that the judges were all military officers of high rank from Fort Snelling.

In the music contest in Class C, in which were entered the largest number of bands, the local band failed to duplicate its feat of placing second as they did last year. However, competition was very keen and scores were so close that the Ladies’ Band, although failing to place, was but a few points behind the first place winner in this class.

Entertained royally and as guests of the Kesting Music Co. of St. Paul, the ladies were received wonderfully and created much valuable advertising for the city. The contest was staged at the Garrick Theatre, and at 9 o’clock Friday evening the band played a concert at the R-K-O Orpheum Theatre, which broadcasts its programs, the only other band being so honored was the winner in Class B.

Saturday afternoon the band played two concerts—one at the Gillette Hospital for Crippled Children and the other at the Shriner’s Hospital for Crippled Children.

Mrs. Carl Bentley acted as chaperone for the band and ably assisted the organization in many ways.

The band financed its own transportation in line with its policy of being entirely self-supporting and its aim being to create favorable publicity toward this city.

Several members of the band were unable to go with the organization on account of their inability to leave their duties here, which somewhat tended to weaken the chances of the band in the music contest.

Larger practice rooms are being sought by the band as its present quarters in the city hall are becoming somewhat cramped as the organization extends its membership. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 23 June 1926, p. 7, c. 3)



Brainerd Ladies’ Band Assists to Wel-

come Misses Olive Borden

and June Clyde




Captain and Mrs. W. H. Fawcett In-

troduce Stars to Crowd of Movie

Fans at Paramount

Brainerd Ladies’ Band welcomes June Clyde, holding bouquet of roses on the left and Olive Borden, holding bouquet of roses on the right. In between them, wearing the light suit and holding his hat, is Captain William Fawcett of Breezy Point, picture taken at the Paramount Theatre on 21 July 1930. A 1330x1003 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Mike Powers, Legacy Program, Crow Wing County Historical Society

Brainerd last evening gave a wholehearted welcome to two movie stars, Olive Borden and June Clyde, guests of Captain and Mrs. W. H. Fawcett, as they passed through the city last evening on their way to Breezy Point Lodge. The stars, accompanied by Miss Ruth Biery, left Los Angeles, Calif., on June [sic] 18 and arrived in Minneapolis Monday morning. Minneapolis gave them a parade replete with a 50-piece band, a bevy of bathing girls, etc., led by a motorcycle patrol. As the party toured northward, honors were paid them in many cities along the route, especially at St. Cloud and Little Falls.

Arriving in Brainerd they were met by the Brainerd Ladies’ Band, Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell directing. The girls marched in parade formation and then played at the Paramount theatre. Bouquets of American beauty roses were presented to the two stars by the theatre manager, R. F. Emig, the Paramount personality girl bestowing the flowers. Ushers carried banners bearing the words “Welcome Olive Borden” and “Welcome June Clyde.”

James M. Gorham, acting for the theatre and Fawcetts Publications took pictures of the stars, Captain and Mrs. Fawcett, the Ladies’ Band, theatre, etc. Mr. Emig took the party through the Paramount theatre and they were pleased to see such a wonderful atmospheric theatre with remarkable acoustic properties and complimented Brainerd on such a city asset.

Movie fans by the hundred met the stars. They personally thanked band members and everyone contributing to their welcome. At the Ransford hotel they were introduced to many of the guests. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 22 July 1930, p. 3, c. 1)



Brainerd Musicians Get Lead Place in

Contest Among Auxiliary Bands

at Crookston




Park Rapids Wins Highest Honors in

the Drum Corps Com-


The American Legion Auxiliary Band, under the direction of Miss Effie Drexler, won first prize in the American Legion Auxiliary band contest which was held in Crookston on Monday evening, August 4. The contest was held in the Recreational park, beginning at 7:30 o’clock.

In the contest, the American Legion bands competed first. These included the Duluth American Legion Navy band which was the first Legion band organized in the world, which is rather a unique honor; the famous Bearcat band of Minneapolis and the Cambridge band, this being its first appearance in this part of the state.

The Auxiliary bands came next, the rules of the contest being similar to those of the American Legion contest. For the warming up march, Miss Drexler chose “Independentia March” by R. V. Hall which was snappily played. For the overture, “The Silver Wedding” by Fchietegrell [sic] was selected. It was brilliantly executed, and the rippling cadenza played by Miss Alma Brown drew much applause. Each player showed good phrasing, expression and even tempo. Sousa’s “Cotton March” closed the trio required for the contest.

The ladies received many commendatory remarks on their playing from the judges, directors and other musicians. One of the judges stated, “You well deserve your prize,” others saying, “You have an excellent concert style,” “That overture you played showed what you could do with delicacy of tone” and “Your climaxes were beautifully handled.”

Tuesday morning’s activities included marching and playing with the Cambridge band of 37 musicians. Their uniforms of blue and gold harmonized ideally with those of the Brainerd ladies. In the afternoon was the big parade in which the band took part.

The Sixth District, in which Brainerd is located, shared several first honors. The Park Rapids drum corps went home with first prize in the drum corps contest of Tuesday evening, while their masterful drum major Mr. Miller took first prize in the individual bugler’s contest on Tuesday morning. Mr. Miller has won this honor for three consecutive years.

The Brainerd American Legion Auxiliary band’s representatives to Winnipeg, Canada were the Misses Emily and Mardelle Mraz who drove up leaving Crookston on Wednesday morning.

Others from Brainerd besides the Auxiliary band at the convention were Mr. and Mrs. Al Veillette, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Hagberg, Jr., A. C. Mraz, Archie Falconer and Bob Anderson. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 07 August 1930, p. 7, c.’s 4 & 5)



Beginners Class With Mrs. Ziebell,

Director, to Start Monday


Plans for the enlargement of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band to 50 members were announced at a “shadow party” given last evening at the home of Mrs. Floyd A. Thompson, 306 North 9th street.

With the personnel at present 40 members including beginners the band desires an additional ten beginners, Mrs. Winifred Cronk Ziebell, director, said.

Those desiring to join the new class which will start its first practice next Monday evening at the home of Mrs. Ziebell are requested to report to her immediately. Practices will be held each Monday evening with Mrs. Ziebell instructress.

Mrs. L. P. Hickerson took first place in the prize contest of the evening with Miss Irene Englund awarded the consolation.

A buffet luncheon consisting of sandwiches, salads, pickles, cakes and coffee was served. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 11 September 1930, p. 7, c. 5)



Mrs. Ziebell, Who Formed First Ladies’

Band in City, Leaves for

Norwalk, Wis.

Musical circles of Brainerd today saw in the departure of Winifred Cronk Ziebell for her new home in Norwalk, Wis., a distinct loss to the city of Brainerd.

Mr. and Mrs. Norman Ziebell left the city this morning.

Mrs. Ziebell brought about the organization of the first band for ladies in this city six years ago. She gathered a few friends at her home, gained their interest and then instructed them in various instruments. The band grew rapidly and its fame increased with the years under her direction.

As a result of that initial organization Brainerd now has two ladies’ bands, the Brainerd Ladies’ Band and the American Legion Auxiliary Band, both bands having a number of the original members.

The Ziebells have made their home in Brainerd for the past 11 years.

Officers of the Brainerd Ladies’ Band said today that arrangements are being made to have a new director at the start of the new year. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 20 November 1930, p. 6, c. 1)



Teacher of


Conservatory Teachers’ Training in


Call 339W Saturdays between 9-10 a. m.

Special Evening Classes

(Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 19 September 1931, p. 2, c. 5)


21 August 1935. Sponsored by the Dispatch, the American Legion Auxiliary band will compete against bands from around the state at the State Fair on Sept. 1. Thousands of dollars in prizes will be awarded. William Knuppel is the band leader and has led it to wide applause for several years. (This Was Brainerd, Brainerd Dispatch, 21 August 2015)

14 October 1935. The 125-piece Washington High School band will give a free concert tonight in the auditorium at the school. The concert features both popular music and march tunes. It will be the first concert which will include in its personnel both boys and girls. (This Was Brainerd, Brainerd Dispatch, 14 October 2015)


The Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps was organized in 1936 with sixteen women and its membership quickly grew to thirty-six. The three organizers were Evelyn Rofidal, Almira Christenson, and Viola McKay. The first director was Winifred Cronk Ziebell. (Images of America: Brainerd, Crow Wing County Historical Society, p. 110)

NOTE: According to Winifred B. Cronk Ziebell’s obituary, below in 1942, she was responsible for organizing and directing the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps.


Car Plows Into Marching Women


Drum and Bugle Corps Ladies in

Freak Accident


Jake Borken Held by Police for Careless Driving;

Three Women in Line of

March Injured


Brainerd police today held in jail here Jake Borken, of Brainerd, who was arrested on charges of careless driving after his car had plowed into the rear of a marching ladies’ drum and bugle corps on the intersection of Second and Laurel streets about 7:35 p. m. Friday.

Borken, driving a Model T Ford coupe, according to police, drove into the left rank of the marching women and plowed through, knocking the three women marching on the left side to the pavement like tenpins. None of the women was seriously hurt though all suffered major bruises, cuts and abrasions.

Rushed to the office of a Brainerd doctor immediately were Mrs. H. B. Sande, Almira Christenson and Esther Buckler, Mrs. Sande suffered severe bruises on her legs, left arm and ankles as well as abrasions caused by sliding on the concrete pavement. Miss Christenson was cut about the chin, arms and hands and Miss Buckler suffered a severely wrenched knee.

Both the drum corps and Borken were going west on Laurel street when the car suddenly plowed into the marching women. Jailed immediately by Brainerd police, Borken today was consulting an attorney before pleading to the charge. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 21 August 1937, p. 1, c. 6)


Views From the Editor’s Desk


Posing in front of the Crow Wing County courthouse in their first uniforms, homemade, of purple satin blouses and white duck trousers, ca. 1938. A 1900x1130 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Crow Wing County Historical Society

For the first time last night we saw the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps in action and for music and drill performance we have never seen it equaled. It has snap and military precision and when you see it coming down the street its formation and marching is machine-like. We have seen many an American Legion drum and bugle corps, all fitted out in gold braid and brass buttons, but never have we seen a snappier, flashier outfit than we have right here in Brainerd in the women’s organization.

Brainerd and the Paul Bunyan association owes the corps a mighty big vote of thanks. The corps, appearing in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Stillwater, has given Brainerd and the Bunyan Exposition a big boost and the girls stand in line for recognition as the city’s outstanding citizenry. (Brainerd Dispatch, 07 July 1938)


During the short time that has elapsed since its organization, the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps has gained an enviable reputation as it marched this year at Legion and Elks conventions. Besides advertising Brainerd and its Paul Bunyan Exposition, the organization has copped prizes at all events in which it has taken part.

It is purely an independent organization, financed by its own efforts, and its entire personnel is made up of young Brainerd women with an ear for music and a step for marching.

The organization has paraded at the Sixth District Legion convention at Little Falls, at the state Elks convention at Stillwater, the Tenth District Legion convention at Onamia and at several other events here and in other communities. (Brainerd Dispatch, ?07 July 1938)


Benora Christenson Lien models her new satin uniform, ca. 1939.
Source: Brainerd Daily Dispatch

Miss Benora Christenson, drum major of the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps, in her new satin uniform. All members of the corps will appear in the Memorial Day parade Tuesday wearing their new flannel military styled uniforms, fashioned similar to Miss Christenson’s [Lien]. This will be their first appearance in these uniforms. The corps, an independent organization, paid for the uniforms with the money earned by the group’s appearances.

Parade Prize List is Made Public Today


The Aitkin drum and bugle corps yesterday won honors as the best marching organization in the Paul Bunyan parade but the flipping of a coin was necessary to decide the issue. Judges disagreed by one-tenth of a point between the Park Rapids and the Aitkin corps for the honor and the coin was resorted to in making the decision.

The Park Rapids corps, however, won awards as the organization coming the longest distance and the organization which was the most active during the day. Arriving at 1 o’clock yesterday morning the corps staged several pre-dawn parades and during the day was on the street almost continually.

Benora Christenson [Lien], of the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps, was chosen as the best drum major.

In the floats division, the Young Business Women’s club won first prize with its Miss Bunyanette float. Second award went to the Junior Chamber of Commerce and third to the Lampert Lumber company.

Award for the most comical organization went to the Cross Lake entry, which featured a perspiring fisherman hauling in a Paul Bunyan fish with the aid of a home-made winch.

The 34th tank company took the award for the most patriotic unit with its representation of soldiers of past wars. Represented were the Revolutionary War, the pioneer soldier of the frontier period, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the World War and the present day soldier.

Nokay Lake’s several units won the prize for the most originality.

The fire engine entered by Joe Dunn was awarded the prize for the best antique entry. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, before July 9, 1939)

Coming Here

Miss Benora Christenson [Lien], drum major of the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle corps, is shown wearing her new satin uniform. The corps now has three sets of uniforms.

The group will travel to the Elks state convention in Duluth Aug. 5, taking part in the free-for-all drum corps competition and leading the large Brainerd delegation in the parade. They will travel to Duluth in a chartered bus on the invitation and at the expense of the Brainerd lodge of Elks.

Organized only two years, the Brainerd girls have won first place in nearly every competitive exhibition they have entered. Miss Christenson [Lien] won first place as drum major in the Paul Bunyan Exposition parade. Mrs. Norman [Winifred B. Cronk] Ziebell is music director, Mrs. H. B. Sande captain of the organization and Capt. E. B. Miller drill master. (Duluth News-Tribune, 13 July 1939)

Drum Corps 1st at Elks Meeting


Further honors came to the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps Saturday when the group was awarded first place at the state Elks convention held in Duluth over the weekend.

Attired in natty blue and white uniforms and marching in perfect precision, the corps won thunderous ovations during the contest which highlighted the state convention program Saturday. It also took part in the convention parade. Duluth newspapers were unstinting in their praise of the organization.

The latest first place trophy is added to an ever-growing list of prizes the drum and bugle corps has won in parades, conventions and competitive events. Last year the group won second at the Elks state convention in Stillwater. Seven firsts and one second are among its awards in the past two years. (Brainerd Dispatch, ?06 August 1939)

First prize for drum and bugle corps participating in the 35th annual state Elks convention which closed in Duluth yesterday was taken by the blue and white outfitted Brainerd ladies' outfit pictured here. The corps is directed by Benora Christenson, 06 August 1939.
Source: Brainerd Daily Dispatch

Hats Off to the Drum, Bugle Corps

You’ve got to hand it to the members of the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps!

They’re pounding their drums and tooting their bugles for their own fun and enjoyment. And, they are winning lavish praise and an almost monotonous string of “firsts” in appearances throughout this section of Minnesota.

The interesting thing about this organization is its lack of sponsorship. The members buy their own instruments, buy their own uniforms—and, if that isn’t enough, they pay dues of 10 cents per week each!

For a group of 28 young ladies to take all this on their shoulders is certainly something worth shouting about. We recommend their resourcefulness and their achievements for a “glad hand” from the entire citizenry of Brainerd.

After all, they are Brainerd’s “ambassadors of good will.”

Make a mental reservation now to say “thank you” to the members. They deserve it as witness the lavish publicity spread embellished with pictures of their appearance at the Minnesota Elks convention won from the Duluth News-Tribune.

That’s publicity Brainerd cannot buy—at any price except for the effort and initiative of these young ladies. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, ?06 August 1939)


Ladies’ Drum & Bugle Corps wearing their black and white St. Paul Winter Carnival uniforms, 1940. A 1893x1660 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Images of America: Brainerd

Benora Christenson Lien, Majorette, Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps, ca. 1940.
Source: Crow Wing County Historical Society




The Brainerd Ladies' Drum and Bugle Corps leave Saturday to participate in parades and drills at the American Legion convention in Faribault. The corps was drilled by Lt. Col. Ernest B. Miller of the 194th tank battalion and who is now a prisoner of the Japanese, ca. 1940’s
Source: Brainerd Daily Dispatch

The Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps, organized [sic] and originally directed [sic] by Lt. Col. Ernest B. Miller, commanding officer of the 194th tank battalion at Bataan, will participate in the American Legion state convention parades in Faribault, Minn., Saturday.

In the ranks of the corps are several wives, sweethearts and sisters of the men of the 194th battalion.

The corps, upon invitation of the American Legion, will leave Brainerd early Saturday morning for Faribault where that night they will appear in the Legion parade, participate in an exhibition drill and appear in the 40 & 8 parade.

Corps members who will make the trip include:

Drum majorette—Benora Christenson.

Tenor drums—Pernina Burke, Hilda Hedlund, Elaine Hanks and Delores Vergin.

Snare drums—Gayle Prushek, Agnes Saign, Bernice Sorsveen, Esther Nelson, Nora Evenson, Sena Wilson, Pearl Myrwold and Dorothy Andrist.

Base drums—Ethel Antonson and Marion Vukovich.

Cymbals—Grace Stanley and Barbara Kingrey.

Bugles—Selma Nygaard, Eveline Vierzba, Shirley Cooper, Edna Sande, Bernice Young, Connie Clark, Grace Lukens, Annabelle Norris, Hattie Elder, Angeline Dahlson, Ruth Price and Hilda Vergin. (Brainerd Dispatch, ca. 10 April 1942-1945)

NOTE: Contrary to the statement above that the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps was “organized and originally directed by Lt. Col. Ernest B. Miller,” it was organized and directed by Winifred B. Cronk Ziebell. Lt. Col. Ernest B. Miller was its drill master.

Ziebell Funeral Services to Be

Held Saturday


Christian Science funeral services for Mrs. Norman Ziebell, who died Wednesday evening in a St. Paul hospital following a long illness, will be held Saturday afternoon, November 14, at 2 o’clock at the Hoenig funeral chapel.

Winifred Cronk was born in Rockland, Wis., September 10, 1890, and later moved to La Crosse, Wis., with her family. In June, 1918 [sic] [1919], she was married to Norman Ziebell and they made their home in Brainerd where they have resided ever since. Mrs. Ziebell was Art and Music supervisor in the public schools for many years and also substituted as primary teacher whenever she was needed. November 11 [sic] [4], 1924, she organized the Brainerd Ladies’ Band which she directed for six years. Later she organized and directed the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps. She resigned from this group about a year ago.

Survivors include her husband, her father, Charles M. Cronk, of La Crosse, Wis., one sister, Miss Gladys Cronk of Chicago, and one brother, Horace A. Cronk, of St. Paul. (Brainerd Dispatch, 13 November 1942, p. 2, c. 3)


Mrs. Myrvold Majorette of Ladies’ Corps


Mrs. Alton Myrvold [Pearl] was elected drum majorette of the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps succeeding Mrs. Edward Lien [Benora Christenson], who resigned.

Miss Gladys Bedal was elected assistant drum majorette. The election took place at a special meeting of the corps Wednesday night.

Mrs. Myrvold was associated with the Alexandria corps several years before making her home in Brainerd, Miss Bedal was a former majorette in the Washington high school band.

The corps made plans to parade in the city on “V-Day” and for the annual corps picnic to be held next Wednesday evening for all corps members at the Elks hall. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, ?1943)


06 October 1945. Singing by the Greyhound Girls’ Chorus, Flag-raising and band furnished by the Minnesota State Guard, drills by the Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps, will highlight features of this official opening of the new Greyhound terminal at Fifth and Laurel Streets. (This Was Brainerd, Brainerd Dispatch, 29 September 2005)


Final Rites for

W. P. Bartsch

Funeral services for William Paul Bartsch, who died in Missoula, Mont., Friday, were held today from the Whitney chapel with interment in Evergreen cemetery.

Dr. Howard Vernon, pastor of the First Congregational church, officiated.

Pall bearers were William Allston, Ernest Jones, William Graham, John McKay, Robert Falconer and Leslie Purdy.

William Paul Bartsch was born Dec. 12, 1862, in Swinemunde in Prussia, on the Baltic sea.

He was graduated from secondary school in Swinemunde, then went to Berlin University where he studied music. At the age of 19 he came to the United States and joined an older brother in Chicago. The two brothers started for St. Paul. The railroad ran only to Savanna, Ill. From there they took passage on a Mississippi river boat and got as far as La Crosse, which was as far as their money held out. They worked on a farm near there until they had money and came by boat to St. Paul.

Mr. Bartsch came to Brainerd to work in the woods in 1883. He could speak no English. That fall he left for North Dakota where he worked for a German family near Casselton. Here he set himself the task of learning English. He was so meticulous that he was not satisfied to speak the broken jargon of the other German emigres but with his ear for music and a dictionary he became so proficient one could not detect any strangeness in his speech or accent. After a year and a half on the farm he joined a show troupe as pianist. This was a sad venture and the young Bartsch found out that some Americans didn’t always tell the truth. The show went broke in Lincoln, Nebraska.

After new trials he managed to return to Brainerd in 1885. He started his teaching of classes in music, that were to continue unbroken for 52 years.

Among his many activities were director of the Swedish Singing society and playing in the city band (he played every instrument except the drums at one time or another). He was a member of the first band in Brainerd. He acted as organist in the Presbyterian and Catholic churches and tutored students in German and Latin.

As there was no piano tuner in northern Minnesota in the early days, he learned that profession also and tuned pianos in Brainerd until his retirement.

On Dec. 24, 1892, he was married to Jeanie Mary Risk, who preceded him in death 19 years ago. In March, 1937, he went to Missoula, Mont., to make his home with his son-in-law and daughter, Dr. and Mrs. E. S. Murphy.

Surviving him besides Dr. and Mrs. Murphy, are two granddaughters, Patricia and Mary Margaret Murphy; one niece and several nephews. (Brainerd Dispatch, 13 December 1948, p. 2, c.’s 5 & 6)


Brainerd Ladies Win Publicity For City

It was convention time in Brainerd in 1936 and bands and drum corps by the score were parading the streets.

A small group of Brainerd girls stood on the sidelines watching and wishing they were participating in the gala events. They were not the type of girls who just wish. They got busy.

During the next week, Evelyn Rofidal, Almira Christenson, and Viola McKay, started making calls. First they visited the late Mrs. Norman Ziebell and she consented to become their music director. Very soon 16 girls held the first meeting of an organization that has grown to be the outstanding marching unit of the Northwest—the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps.

Marching in the St. Paul Winter Carnival became an annual event for the corps, parading past the State Capitol as in this photo from the '40's. These black and white wool uniforms were added in 1939 for the first carnival appearance, ca. 1940. A 1281x1008 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Crow Wing County Historical Society

Attending that first meeting were Mrs. Earl Saign, Mrs. Bernice Wheeler, Jean Hougarde, Roberta LaBarre [Dybvik], Benora Christenson [Lien], Viola Nelson, Hilda Dybvik, Millicent Cartwirght, Gertrude Reston, Mrs. Edna Sande, Evelyn Vierzba, Linda Zawadski, Verna Palmquist, Mrs. Mary Dickman, Almira Christenson, Harriet Van Doran, Mrs. Madeline Mackay, Mrs. Violet Benson, Mardelle Lyonais, Marion Vukovich [Benest], Mrs. Josephine Erickson, Beverly Britton, Mrs. Howard Peterson, Mrs. Esther Buckler and Mrs. Winifred Ziebell.

A Paul Bunyan Pancake Supper and Country Store Party will be held Tuesday, February 15 to assist the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps in raising funds for their good-will tours throughout the country. The supper is sponsored by the Brainerd Civic Association.

Dr. W. E. Fitzsimons is general chairman and Les Hage is chairman of ticket sales.

The supper tickets, priced at 50 cents will go on sale on Monday, February 7 in the Brainerd business district and nearby communities.

The group organized as a independent organization, a status they have maintained ever since, Viola McKay was elected captain, Benora Christenson, drum majorette and a set of bylaws was adopted. Each girl agreed to buy her own instrument.

The first drill session was held in the Whittier school where as one member said “we had quite a time marching between the rows of seats.”

Later the Elks Lodge offered the girls the use of their hall for practice sessions, free of charge, and they have continued to use it since.

During the first year Col. E. B. Miller became the drill master and the girls acquired their first uniforms.

Since then they have returned to Brainerd with honors from nearly every celebration which they have attended.

Now twelve years later they are still an independent organization. Each girl still buys her own instrument and pays for the dry cleaning and upkeep of her own uniforms, and spends one or more evenings each week practicing.

The corps wardrobes have been increased to several snappy outfits, at a cost of $55 per uniform and $90 for the drum majorette. Where did the money come from? The girls earned it. Prize money, proceeds from dances, rummage sales, etc. went into the coffers.

Not only was the Brainerd Ladies' Corps outstanding in the maneuvers and music, but it also rated high for the beauty of its members. One of them is pretty Agnes Saign, drummer, pictured here, 06 August 1939.
Source: Brainerd Daily Dispatch

The prize money didn’t come easy. Wool coats aren’t comfortable at 105º in the shade. Their winter snow suits help but when marching four-and-one-half miles when the thermometer is registering 22 below, such as it was at the St. Paul Winter Carnival in 1947, it’s pretty hard to keep warm. “That was a tough one,” said Mrs. Hans Sande veteran corps member. “A lot of units dropped out of the line of march but we stuck it out even if our feet did feel like stumps.”

With the exception of two members, Edna Sande and Roberta Dybvik, the personnel of the corps has changed, but the strict regulations governing the corps haven’t and for this reason the corps remains a strong independent group.

These six-time Aquatennial [Parade] winners, have done more to publicize Brainerd than any other one organization. They have carried on their own goodwill campaign for the last twelve years; they have been self-supporting and self-governing; they have marched for payment of expenses and have just as eagerly donned their uniforms and marched for nothing; they played when the first and last bus load of draftees left Brainerd and they were on hand to welcome them home; they were the first musical unit on the streets of Brainerd when the news broke that Japan had surrendered; they have participated in all Brainerd’s festivities for twelve years.

If the money can be raised the corps will represent Brainerd at the Mardi Gras on February 25th. They will go by special train and will stop en route and extend greetings from Brainerd to several large cities. Five thousand dollars must be raised. The girls are earning the first thousand.

Plans are being made by Brainerd merchants, organizations and individuals to help raise the remainder. It will be a job but certainly no other group could do a better job of advertising Brainerd. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, ?January 1949)

NOTE: A number of the articles presented above between 1939 and part of 1949 were retrieved from a file at the Crow Wing County Historical Society, which contained neither the name of the newspaper from which they were taken nor the date of the article.

Corps Prepare to Leave

Friday for New Orleans

While the tour fund is still $2,000 short of the necessary $6,000 to send the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, it was emphasized today by members of the tour committee that the Corps would leave Brainerd Friday night at 5:45 p. m., according to schedule.

“We are confident that the necessary money will be raised through the various sources still available,” committee members said.

Tonight at Club Laguyal a “Going Away Party” will be held for the Corps when all proceeds from the dance will be donated to the tour fund. The dance is open to the public, it was stated, and everyone is cordially invited to attend.

Donations to the Mystery Radio Program are still coming in, committee members explained, and it is hoped that this will swell the tour fund to a considerable extent.

The Corps will travel to St. Paul in the regular day coach, then transfer to Pullman. Throughout the trip they will live in the Pullman, eliminating the need for hotel reservations, it was explained. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 23 February 1949, p. 1, c.'s 2 & 3)

Brainerd to Bid ‘Bon Voyage’

To Drum Corps on Tour Tonight

Brainerd tonight will bid bon voyage to its Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps who will leave at 5:45 p. m. today over the Northern Pacific railroad on the first lap of a tour of the south including stops at Memphis, Tenn. and the Mardi Gras at New Orleans.

Mayor Levi Johnson, Richard C. Ebert, president of the Lions club, Dr. A. M. Mulligan, president of the Exchange club; and Verner F. Anderson, president of the Rotary club, will represent their organizations in paying parting tribute to the corps and George Fisher, Brainerd Daily Dispatch, and Don Kelly, KLIZ commentator, will broadcast the departure activities from the train.

The corps will arrive in St. Paul at 10 p. m. where they will transfer to a special car which will serve as their home during the tour.

The car will travel on the rear of all trains and will be illuminated and decorated with lights and banners announcing the corps and its tour program.

Lt. Gov. C. Elmer Anderson will meet the corps in St. Paul and give them a farewell greeting upon the part of the state of Minnesota. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 25 February 1949, p.1, c.’s 6 & 7)

Drum and Bugle Corps Given Rousing Farewell

State and civic officials as well as a large number of Brainerd citizens last night gave the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps a rousing farewell when they left at 5:45 p. m. on the Northern Pacific railroad for the first lap of their goodwill tour through the south and to the Mardi Gras at New Orleans where they will participate in the Torchlight and King Rex parades.

Lt. Gov. C. Elmer Anderson, Mayor Levi Johnson, Verner F. Anderson, president of the Rotary club, Dr. A. M. Mulligan, president of the Exchange club, Richard C. Ebert, president of the Lions club and Ray Bang, president of the Brainerd Civic association, gave a parting tribute to the Corps. Capt. Betty Moerke spoke on behalf of the Corps.

George Fisher, Brainerd Daily Dispatch, and Don Kelly, KLIZ announcer, were in charge of the broadcast activities. A tape recording was made and it was announced that this would be rebroadcast at the Mystery Program to be held in the Franklin junior high school auditorium Sunday evening at 8 o’clock when the public is cordially invited to attend.

Members of the tour committee stated that the entire amount necessary to defray the expenses of the Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps’ trip was not entirely raised, but it was hoped that donations made at the Mystery Program would go a long way toward eliminating the deficit.

It was again stated that anyone who would like to have one of their friends perform may still make their request and donation known by calling 282 or 1993 Sunday evening. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 26 February 1949, p. 1, c.’s 5 & 7)

Brainerd Drum Corps Honored by King Rex

The Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps is receiving unexpected honors at the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, La., today.

The group has been personally chosen by King Rex (Mardi Gras ruler) to serve as his official band during the grand parade this evening and will march in a place of honor.

The Brainerd girls will receive further national attention by being recorded on news reel film and television.

Tonight they will attend a banquet as invited guests of King Rex and will be presented the Key to the City of New Orleans by the mayor himself.

Thursday they start the homeward trek, making their first stop at Little Rock, Ark., for a special civic appearance at that city. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, ?01 March 1949, p. 1, c.’s 4 & 5)

New Orleans Lauds Brainerd Corps

Something of the success of the appearance of the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps in the New Orleans Mardi Gras parade was indicated today in a message received by M. A. Kurz, chairman of the drum corps tour finance committee, from Don Sande and Mel Colby, who accompanied the girls on tour.

The message reads:

“’Parade performance howling success. Corps mobbed entire five miles over three hours continuous marching. All finished smiling. Quoting television, “’Undoubtedly best marching unit ever to appear in Mardi Gras. Uniforms most beautiful ever seen.’” (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 02 March 1949, p. 1, c.’s 4 & 5)

Program to Welcome Drum Corps Planned

Preparations were underway today for a large scale welcoming program to be held Saturday night at 11:55 p. m. at the Northern Pacific depot when the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps return from the Mardi Gras and goodwill tour through the South, members of the tour committee revealed.

A “Welcome Home” sign was being prepared. A spotlight has been obtained for use at the depot platform and arrangements were being made to have a band present to give the girls a musical welcome.

Following the welcoming program a lunch will be served to members of the Drum and Bugle Corps at the Legion club, it was announced. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 02 March 1949, p. 1, c. 7)

Municipal Band, Throngs Will Greet Drum Corps Saturday

The glad hand of greeting will be out Saturday night when the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps returns to the home-fold from their tour of the south and parades and honors paid them during the Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Occupying their own special car in which they have made the tour, the corps is scheduled to arrive at the Northern Pacific depot here at 11:55 Saturday night.

Greeting them will be hundreds of Brainerd residents headed by the Brainerd Municipal band.

The corps will march from the depot to the American Legion club where hot coffee and sandwiches will be served them by the American Legion Auxiliary.

Because of the lateness of the hour of their arrival and the fact that the corps members will be tired from their long journey, there will be no parade upon their arrival. (Brainerd Dispatch, 03 March 1949, p. 1, c.’s 6 & 7)

Members of Drum Corps Recognized in New Orleans

The Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps, en route home form the Mardi Gras at New Orleans, are at St. Louis, Mo., today, members of the tour committee stated following a telephone call received from members of the Corps.

Corps members said that while participating in the parade at New Orleans a number of persons in the crowds of spectators thronging the streets called individuals in the Corps by name, but that they they were unable to recognize anyone from Brainerd with the exception of Ed Tom O’Brien who took pictures of them while marching.

Members reported they were given and outstanding reception in Hot Springs, Ark. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 04 March 1949, p. 1, c. 3)

Municipal Band to

Meet Drum Corps

Members of the Brainerd Municipal band are requested to meet at the Northern Pacific railway depot at 11:30 o’clock tonight to welcome the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps upon its return from a tour of the South.

Do not wear uniforms and bring your own instruments. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 05 March 1949, p. 2, c. 4)

Tanned, Tired

And Happy Drum

Corps Back Home

The Brainerd Ladies Drum and Bugle Corps, tanned, tired and happy, Saturday night returned from their trip to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, La.

They were welcomed by over 400 Brainerd citizens and the local Municipal band as they got off the train shortly before midnight at the Northern Pacific depot here.

The city band played “Home, Sweet Home” as the train pulled in.

Complete with suitcases, hat boxes and wearing big smiles, the drum corps members were greeted by friends and well-wishers and reported that the journey had been a “most wonderful experience,” but that they were glad to be back home in Brainerd.

They began their long trek Friday evening, Feb. 25.

At Memphis, Tenn., they were entertained by the Chamber of Commerce on a tour and were made special guests at the city’s swankiest hotel.

During the Mardi Gras they served as the official band of King Rex and were given the key to the city of New Orleans.

On the way home they were guests at the races at Hot Springs, Ark.

After being welcomed at the depot Saturday night, the corps was entertained at the local Legion club by the Brainerd Legionnaires. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 07 March 1949, p. 1, c. 7)

Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps Explores Chicago


CHICAGO—The big city—the windy city—What a city! Well—it’s just like Brainerd or Minneapolis, only more so.

I awoke just as we were arriving in Milwaukee, but the view from the train is not the most pleasant part of the city, I hope. In a few minutes, Sam (he’s our porter) walked up and down the aisle saying, “Six-thirty, everybody! I was told to wake everybody at six-thirty.” So still sleepy and nearly stiff from the cold, we rolled out. What a mess! Can you just try to imagine the bedlam resulting when 30 girls decide that now is the moment to dress, to brush teeth, to take down the curlers, to powder noses and apply mascara? It’s just as bad as you can imagine it. I think there’s a two-foot aisle between berths, which allows for only one-way traffic. But this morning there were three lanes of traffic in the aisle on car B-1—the standstill traffic on each side, and the two-way traffic taking turns in the middle of the aisle.

Without any major casualties, we were all ready to disembark when we reached Chicago at 8:30 A. M. and some of the girls (the ones who got to the washrooms first) had even eaten breakfast. The Union Station, in case you haven’t been there, is almost frighteningly large, but we managed to find our way in and out, and caught a bus downtown.

The particular group I was with went directly to Marshall-Fields Department Store, escalated (is there such a word?) right up to the seventh floor, and had breakfast in the Walnut Room. Very nice, with an aquarium in the center of the dining room.

Marshal-Field’s reminds one, actually, not so much of a department store as of a huge, well-appointed hotel. Just inside are immense baskets of palm fronds, measuring perhaps 20 feet in height, and they’re all colors—pastel pink, green, blue, yellow—Spring personified. And here’s a fashion note to the ladies. In the aisle corner of every counter on the first floor is a display of clothing or accessories in Bachelor Button blue.

We were much too tired to actually “do” the town as we’d have liked to do, so we confined our activities to window-shopping all through Marshall-Fields and then across the street we ogled the jewelry in the windows—including a man’s diamond ring with a price tag of $5,000, which Queen Jeanie Lindell decided not to buy.

After lunch we took in a movie, “The Adventures of Don Juan,” at the Chicago theatre—the largest in Chicago. We sat halfway up in the balcony, but at least the air was nice and fresh up there. There was an excellent stage show, also—which of course was the main attraction for us. There was a fine band and a special tap dance number by Artini and Consuelo. Then, on request, they gave us a Samba, and then a Polish Polka. She was dressed in gold lamé with a very full peplum all the way around, and believe me, she was a vision of loveliness. The biggest attraction, though, was Bob Hammond and his trained white Cockatoos. They showed excellent training, because he put them through their paces without a hitch. Each bird was named, and one, called Billy, was a real little show-off. Between each act he strutted out and waltzed around all by himself. The birds waltzed, performed on the horizontal bars, rang bells, and actually marched in time to music, carrying a flag. The “nonchalants,” a trio of tumblers, nearly took our breath away with their acrobatic feats, and their repartee was especially witty. The Mills Brothers, of radio and record fame, sang three numbers. They were the last number on the program, and were listed as the main attraction of the stage show.

Some of the girls visited friends, some of the girls bowled. Betty Hage and Marilyn Erickson bought shoes, poor Bobbie Dybvik ran her legs off trying to get an extra pair of drumsticks for each of the tenor- and bass-drummers. I bought myself a pair of salt and pepper shakers to add to my collection.

Must quit. The train is about to pull out, and I don’t want to be left while I’m up mailing this letter.

I’m very anxious to reach Memphis, because the afternoon is planned for us there. More about that later.

We’ll be more comfortable tonight. Sam put in an order for more heat for us. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 28 February 1949, pp. 1 & 2 , c.’s 7 & 3)

Drum Corps Girls Given Welcome at New Orleans


NEW ORLEANS, La., Monday evening March [sic] [February] 28.—We are now in New Orleans, city of the Mardi Gras. There are tourists by the thousands and here near the depot is a miniature village of special Pullman cars, temporary homes of Mardi Gras visitors.

The magnolias, azaleas, camellias, and peach blossoms are out in full splendor. There’s green grass, and even some leaves on the trees. We took pictures in front of flowered hedges this afternoon, all of us in our shirtsleeves. It’s almost Spring in New Orleans, but the wind is very strong and tonight as we watched the parade of Proteus, King of the Sea, we were actually cold because of the wind.

Its almost too thrilling to believe, that we are actually here in New Orleans. When we tell people how the whole town of Brainerd turned out to raise funds for our tour, they register what is almost disbelief, and they they explode with, “How Wonderful!” or “My, but that must be a wonderful little town,” or “Just think, if every city could unite like that for all of its projects—.”

The depot, as usual, is definitely not in the better part of town. The colored district extends all around the depot for several blocks. When we practiced today, out on the parkway beside the tracks, all the young Negro children pranced out in the street, imitating Gladys [Drum Major]. It’s amusing to watch them, because they have that keen Negro sense of rhythm and timing.

Before we left the car this morning, Mel Colby gave the girls the “low-down” on New Orleans. He has been here before, and knows what trouble can be found unless the greatest precautions are taken. We are under strictest orders that the girls are never to go anywhere in groups of less than three, and preferably larger groups. When eight of us came back to the car about 6 o’clock, we couldn’t get a taxi and so had to walk back through about eight blocks of the Negro district. We walked straight and fast, and then we were none too comfortable. The Negroes here very definitely feel their place, but we’d still rather be too frightened than too bold.

Mr. Livingstone, who is secretary to Rex, King of the Mardi Gras, met the train this morning, and gave us all the information he could about the parade, planned tours, and other general information. He informed us that there have been many drum corps which even offered donations to the Mardi Gras organization if they could be permitted to march in the big parades, but they were rejected because they were just not good enough. However, Mr. Livingstone had seen our unit march in the Aquatennial parade and had at that time been informed about some of the first prizes we had won. So when inquiries were made about our entering the Mardi Gras celebration, the committee immediately made preparations to put us into the first division of the Rex parade. This is the largest parade of the entire celebration, and only the units which are considered top-notch are allowed to participate. We are the official corps for His Majesty Rex, and we march between King Rex and his lieutenants, and we certainly feel highly honored to be so placed. We’ve worked hard, and we will certainly give our best, so that neither the cities of Brainerd nor New Orleans will be disappointed in us.

As an added honor, we were invited to attend the King’s ball tomorrow night. However, we cannot attend the ball—that is to dance—because it would require an escort for every girl, the escort to be dressed in evening clothes—and the girl in a formal gown. However, upon learning that we were not prepared to attend in that manner, arrangements were made to give us one wing adjoining the ballroom, from which we may observe the pomp and ceremony of the reception, and the dancing that follows. We are most thrilled to be able to attend and observe, because it will surely be a thing we will never forget. We will wear our new blue and orange uniforms to this affair, also.

We’ve shopped today, and window-shopped. Six of the girls, and Don Sande and Mel Colby ate at Broussard's, which is one of the very fine restaurants in the elite section of the French quarter. They all agreed that the food was excellent but very French-y—good for one time, but not for a steady diet.

Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps officers, 1949. A 1055x924 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Brainerd Daily Dispatch

Wednesday a boat-trip has been arranged for us, as well as a tour of the city which will take us up through the notorious French quarter. If we were not going by conducted tour, we wouldn’t get to see the French quarter, of course, because it’s “out of bounds” for us. We are issued very definite orders by Don and Mel and Betty Moerke, our captain. And, like the orders that are given us in a parade, we obey them.

It might be expected that after this many days of living in such cramped and inconvenient quarters, tempers might run short and dispositions become nasty. However, I think there hasn’t actually been a harsh word spoken. I believe this trip is the one thing that will actually give the corps new spirit and an added incentive to be better than ever.

Our curfew for tonight was set at 12 o’clock, but none of us have any desire to be out on the streets at all. It’s a scary feeling to know you’re in what is referred to as “the wickedest city in America.” With the exception of five who are now eating in the depot restaurant, we’re all ready for bed, and the car looks like a girls’ dormitory, with all of us running around in pajamas and housecoats, checking last minute uniform details and putting our hair up in pin-curls so we’ll be beautiful (?) for King Rex. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 03 March 1949, p. 4, c.’s 1-6)

Drum Corps Battled Admirers

In Mardi Gras Line of March


NEW ORLEANS, LA.—Tuesday, March 1—This is the day we marched! What a parade! We were so tired before we got through we could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. And just about a block before the end of the parade, someone on the sidelines said: “Why, they look just as fresh as when they started.” Ah, me! Aren’t looks deceiving!

The members of the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps in this photo were invited to march in the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, 1949. A 1414x963 version of this photo is also available for viewing online.
Source: Crow Wing County Historical Society

We were wonderfully received. All along the route we could hear people remarking about our spic-and-span uniforms, our flashy appearance, and our straight lines. Even the fact that our shoes are uniform seemed to impress them.

Mr. Livingstone, secretary to King Rex, warned us beforehand not to be surprised if the crowds closed in and didn’t let us by in formation. He said that many times band have had to march single file. We would have had to, too, if Don Sande and Mel Colby hadn’t preceded the corps by about ten feet, pushing the crowds out of the way. They really PUSHED them out of the way, too, and even then the bystanders were snatching at our drum sticks and crowding up so that the outside files bumped against them. Canal street is 171 feet wide, and the people were massed against each other the entire length and breadth of that street, barely allowing us room to pass. The parade route was over 100 hundred blocks and at no time did we pass a spot where there were spectators lining the sidewalk less than four or five deep, and most of the time it was more than that.

But we did make an impression on New Orleans. It’s not likely that they’ll ever forget having heard about Brainerd, Minnesota. And when they hear of Brainerd, I’ll bet they’ll remember us. We were highly praised by all announcers, both radio and television. And wherever we’ve heard people discussing the parade, they mention that as a marching unit we are very outstanding. Please forgive us if we seem to brag, but we’ve worked so hard for this parade, it’s good to know they liked us. I’m sure King Rex doesn’t regret having chosen us to be his official corps. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 05 March 1949, p. 2, c.’s 3 & 4)

Brainerd Corps Member Makes

Mardi Gras March with Injury

EDITOR’S NOTE—This is the last of a series of letters written by Mrs. Pernina Burke of the Brainerd Drum and Bugle Corps during the corps tour of the south. This letter arrived too late for Saturday’s edition of this newspaper, but because the story of the corps is always interesting, it is published today although the corps arrived home Saturday night.



NEW ORLEANS, La. March 2—Sorry I couldn’t finish my report last night, but I was just too weary. My feet ached, my shoulder ached from carrying my drum, my arms ached from playing my drum, and my head ached from just being too, too, tired.

Some of the girls are in much worse shape than I am, however, Edna Sande and Bobby Dybvik got big blisters on their heels. Blanche Boyd got blisters on her toes, and Myrtle Halsted deserves a special medal of merit for marching with her sore hip which is the result of a fall she suffered a few weeks ago.

Today wherever we went and were recognized, people were still raving over Brainerd’s marching unit.

We were specially honored by receiving invitations to the Rex Ball—the crowning glory of the entire Mardi Gras.

The invitations state, “Evening Dress,” and we were afraid we might not be able to attend because, of course, we brought no evening clothes. But by special arrangement with His Majesty Rex, we were allowed to attend in uniform although only to observe.

King Rex was viewing the evening parade, so before his arrival the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra presented a fine program. Upon the arrival of King Rex and his queen, who is a society debutante of the season, the entire audience in the immense auditorium rises and applauds. Never, anywhere have we seen such splendor as these costumes. The King’s costume was made of silver cloth and rhinestones and silver sequins, with white stocking and shoes. The queen’s costume was made of gold and silver cloth and rhinestones and silver sequins. Both had trains approximately 26 feet long and approximately eight feet wide at the end. The trains were identical and the ermine borders overlapped on the floor behind them as they slowly and graciously circled the ballroom and ascended their thrones. The trains were made of gold cloth with a border of ermine reaching a width of about 18 inches at the side part of the train. Behind the king and queen came their attendants—six beautiful debutantes in white gowns, carrying huge yellow nosegay type bouquets attended by handsome young men in formal dress. As they ascended the steps to the throne, the men bowed and the ladies curtsied deeply and gracefully and then took their appointed places on each side of the royal throne. The pages who straightened the trains of the royalty were two very plump blond girls of perhaps 12 years of age, dressed in silver and white. They appeared to be twins.

The next thing on the program was the grand march led by members of the committee of the Rex Society and joined by anyone present who wished to pay their respects to the reigning royalty. As with the attendants all couples passing before the throne paused at the foot of the ascending steps and bowed and curtsied.

Two very fine artists then appeared on the program, a soprano and a baritone. They first rendered solos and then a duet. The Symphony Orchestra gave us two more numbers, and the rest of the evening was devoted to dancing. We ached to be down there with the dancers, but were still very happy that we were allowed the privilege of observing because there are thousands of people in the city of New Orleans who will never be allowed to attend a ball of this sort.

This morning we toured the French quarter of New Orleans. I couldn’t begin to give you a detailed accounting of it but some of the most interesting things were the Cabildo, the building in which the Louisiana Purchase agreements were consummated, and which building is now a museum; St. Louis Cathedral in which the donor is interred and where all the statues are imported from Italy and handcarved from Cypress wood; Jackson Square, with a statue of General Andrew Jackson astride his rearing horse; Pirate’s Alley, through which Jean Laffite escaped from prison; St. Louis Cemetery No. 2, where the dead are interred in vaults for a year and a day and then are “evicted” so to speak; the home which was built for Napoleon by Nicholas Girod when there was a rumor that he had escaped from prison. That rumor of course, was unfounded so Napoleon never did occupy the house, but it was interesting to see, nonetheless. We saw a little old church which claims the distinction of being the only Swedish Norwegian Methodist Lutheran church in the world.

There is a great deal of both wrought iron and cast iron grillwork on balconies, and several different types of this “iron lace” were brought to our attention. One fence which is still in very good repair is a field of growing corn. This represents prosperity and plenty. One other is of oak leaves and acorns, which represent hospitality when placed together—the oak leaves representing cover, the acorns representing food. On the balcony of a very lovely and well-preserved house we saw wrought iron grillwork with little running children worked into the pattern. The authentic history of this is that the Navarre’s who built the home, were particularly fond of children but after several years not having been blest with a family, Mr. Navarre ordered them worked into a pattern of grillwork for his balcony and then felt much more content.

We passed the infamous “Quadroon Ballroom” which plays an important part in the book, “The Foxes of Harrow.” It seems that the gentlemen in days gone by picked the beautiful Quadroon girls, they’re one-fourth Negro, three-fourths white, and took them to the Quadroon Ballroom to be entertained. There quite often arguments would arise over the ownership of the girls. The men could then step right across the street to a small courtyard and settle their differences by duel, as was the custom in those days. This once infamous building is now a convent housing an order of Negro nuns and in the courtyard is a beautiful statue and a quiet pond framed by small palm trees.

We saw the balcony from which J [illegible] made her New Orleans debut and we saw the house in which Harriet Beecher Stowe resided while writing, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

Gladys Bedal, Drum Major, 1949.
Source: Brainerd Daily Dispatch

We saw the “Morning Call” Coffee Shop, too, where the elite of New Orleans go by custom for a cup of coffee and a doughnut after a large affair. After the Rex Ball last night a New Orleans couple who had seen us parade during the day and recognized our uniforms invited Gladys Bedal, Jean Vanni, Erma Anderson, Ervaline Wels, Marilyn Erickson and Grace Lukens to go with them to the “Morning Call.” So now they were one up on the rest of us—they have lived with “the other half”—at least over doughnuts and coffee.

We saw the banana boats unloading and the docks on the Mississippi river. We also saw a huge molasses storage tank, much bigger than any gasoline storage tank we have ever seen. We saw the oldest Masonic lodge in the Mississippi valley, with the inscription “1794” at the base of the flagstaff. Many of the buildings which we have mentioned date back to the 1790’s or even earlier, and our efficient guide reminded us that when most of the country even east of the Mississippi was still mostly uncivilized New Orleans was producing plays and attending the opera.

Next door to the Masonic hall is St. Joseph’s school for boys and across the street is a Carmelite convent. The Carmelite nuns spend their entire lives, after taking their vows, in seclusion and in prayer for the sins of the world. And our driver said, “And after all the sins that were committed here during the last week, I believe the poor ladies will have to put in some overtime.”

From our tour we were taken to the city hall where a miniature Key to the City of New Orleans was presented to Betty Moerke, our captain.

A couple hours more of shopping and snooping and then we started our harbor trip. The boat was much larger than most of us had ever boarded and the entire trip took three hours. We saw so many things from the harbor I couldn’t attempt to tell you about them. It was truly an educational trip as well as entertaining.

When we returned to the railway station tonight, Mr. Livingstone was there to meet us and had a must beautiful bouquet of roses and snapdragons, tied with the purple green and gold Mardi Gras colored satin ribbons. This lovely bouquet he presented to Betty Moerke, too, in appreciation for our coming down and performing so. well. He said too, that he certainly hopes we can come down again because even today he was still hearing comments about our corps. Please excuse us for blowing our own horns, but no one else will if we don’t. But we aren’t thinking about another Mardi Gras trip yet. First our blisters have to heal and our muscles quit aching. But we’re glad we’ve at least justified your faith in us, and we’re going to have to work harder than ever to maintain a reputation.

Now we have started home and will it be good to get there! It’s been wonderful—it still is but there’s just no place like home.

Good night!

Pernina Burke

(Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 07 March 1949, p. 5, c.’s 4-6)

Drum Corps Girls at Hot Springs and St. Louis


HOT SPRINGS Ark. March 3—We’re just about ready to pull out of the station at Little Rock, Ark.

The weather here has been marvelous all day. In fact, it’s much nicer here than it was in New Orleans all the time we were there.

Our train was late in reaching Little Rock this morning, so we were unable to appear at the races in Hot Springs. However, we did attend the races, and we didn’t even have to pay any admission. For many girls this was another “first”—attending the races. Some of the girls placed small bets, but I’m not telling who came out ahead on the betting—because I think they’re saving that money for a new hat or dress—”at least Pa won’t get it for poker money.”

Hot Springs is a beautiful little city. The houses are all well-kept, and the public buildings are beautiful. The lawns look like green velvet, whichever part of town we visit. It seems everyone here takes great pride in the exterior appearance of his home. There are bath houses all over town, of course, and many of them are under supervision of the United States government. There is an enormous army and navy hospital here—a very beautiful modern building.

There is a hot-water fountain, too—several, in fact—where people bring five and ten-gallon containers to be filled with hot water which is then taken home and cooled for drinking. Resort owners who are not fortunate enough to have hot-water springs on the premises fill huge containers with this water to furnish drinking water for their patrons. There are cold-water springs too, from which comes the purest, best-tasting water we’ve had since leaving home. The magnolia trees are in bloom in Hot Springs, too, so, of course, we had to have pictures taken in front of them, without wraps so we can remember this lovely March day. It seems unbelievable that at home it might very likely be 10 or 20 degrees below zero.

Several of the girls went sightseeing up into the Ozark Mountains in a horse-drawn carriage. They probably had more fun than the girls who went to the races, and got to see some of the countryside in addition. From all reports I’ve been able to gather so far a good time was had by all. The only thing to mar the whole day was the fact that we couldn’t appear at the races, as scheduled, because our train was too late.

This must be all for tonight. We’re on our way and morning comes early.


ST. LOUIS, Mo. March 4—Our train is outside the most beautiful station we’ve been privileged to see so far on our journey. From the outside it looks like a huge grey stone castle, complete with towers and dungeons. Inside, it looks more like a cathedral than a train station. It’s an enormous structure housing two soda fountains, a very large cafe, cocktail lounge, novelty shop, nursery—besides a lot of just plain “room”—something we haven’t been much accustomed to since leaving home.

This was a free day for us so most of us shopped or window-shopped. Several girls visited a beauty parlor, some of them attended two double-feature movies. Imagine it! Several girls together and took a hotel room for a day, just for the privilege of taking a bath in a tub instead of in a wash-basin on a swaying train. However, more of us took advantage of the public baths for 25c at the station. these baths are kept as clean as anyone’s home and scoured and disinfected after each use. For some of us small-town gals that was quite a revelation because the words “public bath” always carried with it the implication that it was not too clean a place.

Jeanette Wallenborg’s [sic] [Hallenborg’s] brother Ralph is attending college in East St. Louis, so she sent him a wire saying, “Meet me, Union Station St. Louis, 8 a. m. Friday. Love, Jeanette.” It was delivered in class, and it seems his instructors didn’t exactly approve. Poor Ralph! That’s what a fellow gets for having a kid sister. He came over about noon. So we had chow mein in a very nice Chinese restaurant. We nosed around town a while, and he pointed out some of the interesting spots, including a beautiful “Soldiers’ Memorial” building. Then we saw “Joan of Arc” and enjoyed it immensely. Back to the station then, and now everyone is a little busier than a bee, packing. Everything has to get into the same luggage we brought with us. How some of the girls are going to manage that, I don’t know. I’m sure there’s a limit to how much can be jammed into a suitcase—even when you sit on the cover to close it.

It’s going to be so very nice to be home again. Tomorrow will seem like a long day, I know—not because we haven’t enjoyed the trip but because it will be so nice to get home again.

This had better be all. I have belongings strung from one end of the coach to the other, just like everyone else (or maybe worse) and “Now is the hour”—it has to be gathered up.


SATURDAY, March 5—En route—This is the day!

This morning at 5 o’clock Sam went up and down the aisle saying “Rise and shine girls, rise and shine.” Well we rose but at that hour, who can shine?

Sam made up our berths for the first time since last Friday night in St. Paul. Lost shoes were joyfully recovered long-lost combs and lipsticks were reunited with their owners. Simply amazing, isn’t it, how things can be “lost” for days in such little space.

We thought Sam would be mighty glad to see us depart but he said that if we ever go on tour again, he’d certainly appreciate it if we’d recommend him to the Pullman company so he could go with us again.

At Chicago we were again met by the same traveling passenger agent who accompanied us to Chicago on the way down. He had arranged for red-caps and baggage trucks, as well as the railroad’s limousine service to our other depot. Everything went like clockwork. Having arrived in Chicago at 7 a. m., we were at the other station by about 7:30 so we had ample time for breakfast and even some last minute souvenir hunting in the Shoppers Mart right in the station.

This trip is certainly an experience we’ll never forget. It’s something simply “out of this world” as the phrase goes. For instance, at Milwaukee several people boarded the train and one of them passing through our car, said, “Who is sitting here?” and intended to occupy the seat. Then one of the girls spoke up and said, “this entire car is reserved.” So of course he moved on. But it occurred to me—how often do most people get the opportunity to travel like this, and of course the answer is “Most people never.”


SUNDAY, March 6, at home. Home! What a wonderful word!

And what a homecoming. You all know about it by now, of course, but you can’t know unless you’ve talked to us, just how we felt about the rousing welcome we received. We’ve been in on many send-offs and many home-comings, but this is the first time we’ve ever been on the receiving end. There were lumps in our throats and goose-pimples chasing themselves up and down our spines when we saw the band out there playing for US. And the crowded platform and depot were just one more evidence of Brainerd’s warm heart. And then the party at the Legion club. Altogether, it was so much more than we had ever anticipated, and you may be sure we’ll never forget it.

This entire trip is evidence of what Brainerd can do, and we’re so terribly grateful that we were on the receiving end of it this time. It was probably the biggest thing the town has ever united for, and the finest thing about it is, for us, the knowledge that we didn’t let you down. We gave all we had, and wherever we went we told the story of the entire project, so people from here to the Gulf of Mexico, when they hear the name of “Brainerd, Minnesota” will remember—”Why, that’s the town that went all out to send its Drum and Bugle Corps on a goodwill tour, clear down to the Mardi Gras. Know how they did it? Well—” And it will go on from there.

All we can say is, “Thank you.” But please know that we say it from the bottom of our hearts. And please believe, too, that we are determined to jealously guard the reputation that you have helped us build.”

It was a wonderful trip. It was thrilling to go, thrilling to be there, but most of all, thrilling to come home. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 08 March 1949, p. 5, c.’s 5-7)


05 October 1956. Mrs. James Gardner was elected captain of the Brainerd Ladies Drum and Bugle Corps at its first meeting of the 1956-57 season. She was also elected assistant drum major, and Mrs. Don Jensen was elected drum major. The Corps has completed its second decade representing Brainerd. (This Was Brainerd, Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 05 October 2016)


Echoes From a Parade that Went by Long Ago

56 Years after Debut, Brainerd Ladies’

Drum and Bugle Corps to Close Ranks

It was 1936 and three young Brainerd women—Evelyn Rofidal, Almira Christenson and Viola McKay—were watching a drum corps in a parade.

Believing Brainerd could do as well or better, the trio proceeded to drum up other interested girls. Thus the Brainerd Ladies’ Drum and Bugle Corps was founded.

Now, 56 years after its debut, surviving members from the intervening years will gather for a reunion June 24 at the Brainerd Elks Lodge.

There were 16 young women in the beginning. Each purchased their own instruments, which at the time were two tenor drums, four snare drums, one bass drum, a pair of cymbals and six bugles.

According to the bylaws then, each member paid dues of 10 cents a month. Members had to be at least 18 years old, but not older than 38; weigh at least 100 pounds, but not more than 160; and be at least five feet tall but no more that 5-foot-8.

Winifred Cronk Ziebell, a longtime music teacher in the Brainerd schools, agreed to be music director. Ziebell need only look at a girl’s teeth to know whether she could play a bugle. Viola McKay was named captain and the “tall, stately” Benora Christenson was chosen as majorette.

Also in 1936, and Army officer by the name of Ernest B. Miller came to Brainerd, and offered his services as the drum corps’ drill master. Col. Miller went on to command the legendary 194th Tank Battalion in the Philippines during World War II.

Tenor drummer Bobbie Dybvik shows off a Gay Nineties costume the corps members sewed themselves for the Brainerd Paul Bunyan Exposition in the summer of 1939. The costumes became another uniform for the corps, 1992.
Source: Brainerd Daily Dispatch

Roberta “Bobbie” (LaBarre) Dybvik, one of the charter members of the drum corps, and Marion (Vukovich) Benest, who joined a year later in 1937, recall Miller as a tough master who whipped their girlie crew into a crack squad.

“We worked hard and long hours under his stern command,” Dybvik writes in a history of the corps. “He taught us many maneuvers which were the root of our success.”

“Oh, we worked hard, but we loved every minute of it,” said Benest, who’d had no musical instrument experience before she took up the drums for the corps.

“We had real strict maneuvers. They were all by eight-beat—we learned that from Col. Miller,” she said. “He was a military man, so we became a military unit.” The corps had to keep perfect lines and look straight ahead, Benest remembers, and uniforms had to be “immaculately clean” before a performance, including bleaching of shoelaces.

“Now, when I watch a parade, I notice the lines and if they’re in step,” Benest said. “We could still march if we had the instruments.” Most of the members have long since lost track of their instruments, but the Crow Wing County Historical Society owns one of the big bass drums with the corps’ logo, as well as a pair of cymbals and one of the special silvery bugles the corps used.

Bobbie Dybvik (left) a 1936 charter member of the Brainerd Ladies' Drum & Bugle corps, and Marion Benest, who joined in 1937, pose with Historical Society relics of the instruments their corps played, 1992.
Source: Brainerd Daily Dispatch, Steve Kohls

Dybvik thoughtfully picked up the pair of relic drum batons [sic]. Hesitantly, she began tapping out one of their old drum rhythms on a table, surprised but amused that she still remembered it. Benest joined in, punctuating the beat verbally” “Bumpita bump bump bump....”

The corps had quickly swelled to 29 members—seven rows of four and the majorette out front. The unit began its marching career in 1937, its first march in a Memorial Day mist on the way to the cemetery.

They appeared at American Legion conventions, winning prizes and recognition, and soon graduated from the homemade white duck trousers and purple satin blouses to a military red and gold uniform.

The corps played more conventions and got invited to the Minnesota Aquatennial Parade. In the winter of 1939, the corps accompanied an entourage from Brainerd to the St. Paul Winter Carnival, to promote Brainerd for its Paul Bunyan Exposition the following summer.

The corps added a black and white wool snowsuit to its wardrobe for the Carnival (“We froze our butts off,” recalls Benest), and sewed its own Gay Nineties costumes for the Exposition.

In the fall of 1941, the drum and bugle corps led a parade to say farewell to Col. Miller and his tank company, who were departing for the Philippines. “Little did we know,” wrote Dybvik, “that it would be the last time we would see many.”

Later in the 1940’s [sic], majorette Christenson died [23 February 1957] [resigned in the early 1940’s], and goldilocked beauty Gladys Bedal took her place at the head of the corps. Axel Anderson became the drill master.

During a memorable first-place performance at the 1949 [sic] [1948] Aquatennial Night Parade in Minneapolis, the Brainerd corps was noticed by the secretary to King Rex of the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Brainerd’s “Good Will Ambassadors,” as they had come to be known, were invited to be in the first division of the Rex parade.

All sorts of fund-raisers were held in Brainerd to finance the drum corps’ two-week trip by special train to New Orleans. “This was the highlight of our career,” wrote Dybvik.

The next few years, she said, were unremarkable until the departure of majorette Gladys Bedal for California. Her younger sister, Lois “Teaky” Bedal, stepped in.

After the Minnesota Centennial Parade in 1958, Dybvik said, “the corps took a complete change and many of the girls eventually dropped out.” What had been a proudly independent and self-supporting unit later became subsidized in part by the city, and it eventually folded altogether in the early 1970s.

“We hoped that the younger generations would be taking over the Corps when we could no longer carry on,” Dybvik laments, “but I guess that is not the thing that strikes their fancy in this day and age.”

She said there had been talk of a reunion for some time, and members wish they had held one earlier, because about 15 former members have died over the years. However, they have managed to find about 50 surviving members, most of whom will attend the reunion later this month. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, June 1992)



Thanks to the following individuals and organizations who made this website possible:

Crow Wing County Historical Society

Brian Marsh

Pam Nelson

John Van Essen

Brainerd Dispatch

Mike O'Rourke

Researched and Compiled by Ann M. Nelson. Last Update: 17 March 2018