The Music Men of Chatt

It is a little country village said to have been established before 1840. Located in the center of mid-west farm land, just a mile from the Indiana State Line, it has only one street and that is the state highway that runs through the middle of town. It has been home to a number of families, a place to socialize, and a place to conduct business during a time when the means of travel were limited. Once an oil town, with rumors that a train would run through it, Chattanooga, Ohio, has boasted quite an impressive list of businesses and services over the past 173 years.

Chattanooga, Ohio.

Chattanooga, Ohio.

That list includes: hotel, restaurants, grocery stores, poultry & eggs, saloon, bar, car dealership, garage, hardware, gas station, general store, mercantile, shoe store, hat shop, tile factory, handle factory, post office, photographer, physician, undertaker, funeral parlor, fire department, bank, insurance company, mausoleum association, 2 churches, 2 schools, grain elevator, pool hall, sawmill, barber shop, blacksmith, stock yard, farm services, migrant camp, canning company, tire center, roofing & spouting, plumbing, several fraternal societies, outdoor theater [movies shown on the side of what is now the Chattanooga Fire Department], muzzle-loading shop, and numerous baseball teams.

And at one time Chattanooga had its own band.

I enjoy browsing through old newspapers and The Willshire Herald, now called the The Photo Star, is one of my favorites. The best local news from years ago can be found in those old small town newspapers. A while back I found the following notice in a 1933 issue of The Willshire Herald:

The Chattanooga band concerts are scheduled to begin Wednesday night, July 19. The program for the first concert is as follows:

Courage, March.
Marcella, Waltz.
Dynamic, Overture.
Georgiana, Waltz.
Elizabeth, 6-8
At Sight, March.
Remembrance of Colonel Miner, March.
Bright Star, Overture.
Courage, March.

The members of the band and the instrument they play are as follows:

Fat Carr, cornet; Ed Maurer, cornet soloist; Vernon Caffee, cornet soloist; John Kallenberger, cornet soloist; Frank Leistner, 1st cornet; Ralph Rutledge, 1st cornet; Luther Egger, 1st clarinet; Rob Hart, 1st clarinet; Wesley Kallenberger, 2nd clarinet; Warren Weis, 1st clarinet; Ralph Brehm, 2nd clarinet; Forest Leistner and Norman Fahncke, alto; Howard Caffee, baritone; Gust Weitz and Vic Kuhn, tenor; Perys [Lorys?] Witters, slide trombone; Lester Bollenbacher, base horn; John Brehm, bass drum; Herbert Fahncke, snare drum; Semon Egger, Leader. [1]

I recognize some of those names and I remember Vernon Caffee, John Kallenberger and Gus Weitz.

The Chatt band certainly had an ambitions-sounding concert performance planned. I am not familiar with any of those songs but I was able to hear and watch a modern day performance of Remembrance of Colonel Miner March and Georgiana Waltz on You Tube.

Liberty Band

Liberty Band, unknown date.

My friend Miriam sent me the above photo of the Liberty Band. The Liberty Band photo predates the band mentioned in the above Newspaper article. Since Chatt is in Liberty Township there may have been some Chattanoogians in the Liberty Band. Miriam’s great-uncle, Fred Diener, standing at the far left, lived a mile or two north of Chatt. Note the woman in the window holding a baby. I wonder if the band woke up the baby.

This photo and The Willshire Herald article make me wonder: Where did these men learn to play those instruments? Did they take private lessons or were they taught in school? Were the Chatt and Liberty bands  separate bands or were they one and the same? Who was Fat Carr?

Where were the Chatt Band concerts held? The article did not say. Perhaps they were held outside since they were during the summer months.

I would appreciate hearing from anyone that has any information about these old area bands or that can identify any of the band members in above photo.

[1] The Willshire Herald, Willshire, Ohio, 13 July 1933.


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    • Waldo on September 27, 2013 at 6:14 am
    • Reply

    John Kallenberger would have been 22 years old at the time of that Willshire Herold article, which seems an odd age for performing in a band in Chatt. That trumpet was always a source of curiosity for us kids as it was stored in a closet upstairs in our house. It was a classic trumpet, unlike the shorter cornets shown in the picture (at least as I recall). Both the pictured band and the article band seem very odd instrumental mixes with far too many brass horns with nearly everyone playing 1st seat. Wonder if the base drum and snare were band property as they seem to be one of the few consistent instruments in both bands, and again only two drums being a bit odd.

    Perhaps the band had some relationship to the Lutheran Church in Chatt as a very signficant number of the members of the band were also members of the church. On the other hand, the music for the concert certainly was secular, not religious. Indeed one must wonder when and where all these young farm boys got together to practice and play in the summer when their work would have been pretty heavy.

    1. I also wondered how they had the time to practice, since most everyone back then worked on a farm. I’m sure people had to do some enjoyable and relaxing things besides work and this was obviously one such past-time for some. Interesting that you remember the trumpet. The march I listened to on YouTube was performed by a small, mainly brass band, very similar to the Chatt band. That must have been the norm for local bands back then.

    • Waldo on September 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm
    • Reply

    From the dress of the gents in the picture, could this have been an Amish band? Guess not with the ties, especially bow ties. Just seems odd that they would all have on those broad rimmed hats for the picture. Guess customs have changed a great deal in terms of men wearing hats as a regular part of daily dress.

    • Waldo on October 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm
    • Reply

    Bet you could not raise a band in Chatt now!!! Even with half that many members.

    • Waldo on October 3, 2013 at 10:21 am
    • Reply

    Tropical storm Karen is forming in the Carabean sea and should come up into the mainland by Saturday. Will Karen’s Chatt be flooded out by Karen the storm? Probably not, but New Orleans and even the East Coast may remember Karen, if the predicted path comes to pass.

    1. Seriously? I don’t ever remember having a tropical storm named Karen! Karen’s Chatt is on schedule, although we did get a little rain here today.

    • Waldo on October 3, 2013 at 4:51 pm
    • Reply

    While Tropical Storm Karen is not slated to hit Chatt, but if it should turn just a tadd to the north, it would hit Chatt either Sunday or Monday, if their current calculated rate is correct. Since a cold front is moving into the Ohio valley Sunday, the rate of that front moving into the area is likely a controling factor which is supposed to push the storm off to the East coast.

    1. That is quite a weather report! Although it is nice to be remembered, I wouldn’t want Tropical Storm Karen to be too memorable. It would certainly make the news if it did hit Chatt.

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