Because You Asked . . . .    

 Charity Baker Directs the Children's Rhythm Band


Many Local Bands for All Tastes

Bands have been an important part of our community history.  Long before there was television or radios, Sunbury had bands to provide entertainment.  The first documented band was Professor Knox's Band which usually consisted of  nine men and the professor.  A favorite picture shows the band in front of a brick building, either the Town Hall or the old Sunbury school. Bert and Harry Kempton, Alonzo Knox, William Loar and H.H. Snyder were in Knox's Coronet band.

By 1914 there was the Citizen's Band of Sunbury which preformed in a "Musical Concert and Entertainment" in the K. of P. Hall.  In addition to the band Eleanor Granger played a piano solo, Ethel Furry and Ruby McFarland played a piano duet, H. O. Kempton did a tuba solo, Minivera Burrer sang  a solo, a horn quartet made up of Messers Knox, Burrer, Engle and Kempton performed and Mack Boyd gave a Stump Speech.

In the picture above, Carleton Burrer is accompanying Mrs. Maybelle Gammill's rhythm band which performed on the square for Memorial Day in 1940.  Charity Baker Walker directed the band composed of Ann Morris, Leroy Perfect, Sue Lenhart, Norman Townley, Clyde Perfect, Russell Fravel, Freddie Stith, Jim and Dave Whitney, Ross Day and Patsy Crowl.  Other members of the band are Carolyn Sue Turnball, Ann Meeker, Iris Spencer, Dorothy Meeker, Floyd Smiley, Nancy Williamson, Rachel Murphy, Suzanne Link, Douglas Perfect, and Eloise Fisher.

E. J. Fitchhorn from Delaware taught lessons on all types of musical instruments and conducted the Delaware County 4-H Band which brought the best musicians from all the county schools together for concerts and entertainment at the Delaware County Fair.  Mr. Fitchhorn, inventor of the plastic song flute which was used in the public schools to teach the basics of reading music, gave lessons in a hot upstairs room which smelled of old cigars.  We always wondered how he saw through his dirty, cracked glasses but it never effected his making music.  If we did well on our music lesson, our car stopped at Isaly's for wonderful ice cream on the way home.

Remember the Glaze/Stith Square Dance Band at street dances, the German Brass Band that was around in 1976 and Adkins Blue Grass Band?  The Buckeye Harmonica Band, and Many, Many More (formerly Berkshire Bluegrass Band) still performs locally.  What ever happened to the Wallis boys' band, the Whitzel/Monroe band, the Cox/Blair band?   Playing more recently are the Last Chance band and Cedar Bluff Bluegrass band.  During the holidays, we enjoy watching Marvin Monroe's One Man Band  raise money to help support Friends Who Share.

Before July 4th became such a big celebration, Sunbury's big parade put on by the merchants was called the Harvest Parade which happened in the fall.  High school band led the parade south on Vernon Street from the Sunbury High School on Harrison Street and around the village square.  Today's Homecoming Parade and game have replaced the Harvest Parade.

Most high schools had marching bands as well as concert bands, dance bands and pep bands. Big Walnut High School bands have been directed by E. La Mar Hoke (until 1951), Jesse Evans (1922-32), Robert Smith (1954), Wayne Chaffin (1955-1961), Jack Rolfes (1962-1969), James Swearingen (1970-72), Jim Frazier (1973-2002) and Craig Porter has been the leader since 2002.

In 1956 Big Walnut High School band under the leadership of Wayne Chaffin was selected to put on the half-time show at the Cleveland Browns Football Game

James Swearingen's band was featured in a record album, Sounds of Music 1971-77.  1970 Big Walnut graduate Jonathan Cring, now of Tennessee, not only plays professionally, he composes music which is played internationally. 

So when you enjoy the Sunbury - Galena Rotary's July 4th Parade remember the Big Walnut High School Band is carrying on a community tradition.  

. . . .And Now You Know
by Polly Horn


More Band Photos:    
BandKnox-600.JPG (151085 bytes) HarvestParade.jpg (246988 bytes) rrtrain toCleveland.jpg (313356 bytes) rrtrain toCleveland2.jpg (244295 bytes)
Professor Knox's Band 1895 Harvest Parade Band Going to Cleveland from Sunbury Railroad Station
in 1956
  BWband1972-600.JPG (106050 bytes) BW-Album-600.JPG (151934 bytes) p-band3.JPG (105817 bytes) P7band-600.jpg (105663 bytes)
  1972 Big Walnut High School Band Album Cover 2003 July 4th Parade
Big Walnut High School Band
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(07/11/2016 )

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