Brass Bands of Scott County

Nothing says “summertime” like an outdoor concert, and that was as true 125 years ago as it is today. Back then, the music of brass bands filled the summer air, creating a festive soundtrack for community celebrations and events. Brass bands peaked in popularity between the 1850s and early 1900s, a time when new cities and towns were springing up all over the United States. This music brought community members together and helped foster a sense of civic pride. Here in Scott County, nearly every town had its own brass band; below is a brief history of some of these bands:

  • The Valley Cornet Band of Belle Plaine was established in 1890 by Mr. E.E. Chamberlain. As of 1891, they had around 16 members. Aside from brass players, the band also consisted of a couple of drummers and a piccolo player. The band played at a variety of events, including horse races, baseball games, weddings, and parades. According to a quote in the Belle Plaine Herald in 1891, “The members all have good instruments, handsome uniforms to which they have recently added leather music pouches for every player. They are now as fine a musical organization as can be found in the Minnesota Valley and Belle Plaine can justly feel proud of them…”
  • Shakopee was home to the Shakopee Cadet Band, started in 1901 by Hubert Stans (father of Maurice Stans). Like the Valley Cornet Band, the Shakopee Cadet Band performed at local celebrations, parades, fairs, and events. One such event was a street fair in honor of James J. Hill, the railroad tycoon from St. Paul. He gave a speech, and then the band played a song. Afterwards, Hill gave Stans a $50 bill (a lot of money in those days!), which he used to treat his band members.
  • There were several brass bands in Jordan, but the most prominent was led by Al Hagie. Al Hagie was a traveling musician who ended up in Jordan thanks to the Nicolin family. The family (who owned the Nicolin Opera House among numerous other Jordan businesses) wanted to get some better musicians in town, so when Hagie came through with his group, the Nicolin family convinced him to stay. He went on to become the dominant musical figure in Jordan, starting numerous bands and orchestras over the years.
  • The New Prague Cornet Band, also known as the Bohemian Brass Band, was established in 1893 by J.W. Komarek. Like other Scott County brass bands, this band performed at various community celebrations and events. The name “Bohemian Brass Band” alludes to the band’s cultural background; New Prague was primarily settled by immigrants from Bohemia who brought their musical traditions with them. The Bohemian Brass Band existed for a long time and produced a number of talented musicians who went on to perform in other bands and orchestras including Minneapolis and St. Paul Symphony Orchestras and the U.S. Marine Band. The Bohemian Brass Band can still be seen today, in mural form on New Prague’s Main Street.

Of course, brass bands continue to perform at parades and events, so the next time you hear those lively brass melodies, remember that you are hearing music that has long been part of our county’s history.

 

Valley Cornet Band circa 1891
Valley Cornet Band circa 1891
Shakopee Cadet Band, 1901
Shakopee Cadet Band, 1901
Jordan Cornet Band (Al Hagie is pictured front row, third from right, next to his son)
Jordan Cornet Band (Al Hagie is pictured front row, third from right, next to his son)
Mural of Bohemian Brass Band of New Prague
Mural of Bohemian Brass Band of New Prague

 

Advertising in the 19th Century

scrofula You know those infomercials that play on the television late at night, advertising products that claim to improve your daily life, or state that they’ll cure any and all illnesses, only if you call within the next five minutes?! Well, before the television and radio, those infomercials were published in newspapers.

This advertisement for Hood’s Sarsaparilla Cures was discovered in a 1895 article from the Belle Plaine Herald. As you can see, the advertisement uses a testimonial from a user of Hood’s Sarsaparilla, as well as a claim that the medicine “cures this and all other forms of scrofula”. The advertisement certainly catches the eye and draws in the audience.

The beginnings of Hood’s Cures had a humble start in Lowell, Massachusetts. Charles Hood, a son of a druggist, formed his own apothecary – C.I. Hood & Co. – in 1875, and offered many  different types of medicines, although sarsaparilla was by far the most popular. Although the ingredients were rarely listed in advertisements such as above, Hood’s Sarsaparilla included sarsaparilla root, dandelion, gentian, juniper berries, and alcohol. For those unaware, sarsaparilla is actually a root used for medicinal purposes – often which it was said to treat gout, gonorrhea, arthritis, cough, fever, indigestion, and more. Some individuals might also recognize sarsaparilla more immediately for its use in root beer.

shak courier mar 14 1888

Some advertisements just speak for themselves. This advertisement for Dr. Pierce’s Pleasant Purgative Pellets was found in the March 14, 1888 article in the Shakopee Courier.

Dr. Ray Vaughn Pierce studied medicine and graduated from The Eclectic Medical College of Cincinnati in 1862. He studied medicine in Titusville, Pennsylvania for four years, and moved to Buffalo, New York in 1867. Not long after, he began manufacturing his own medicinal prescriptions, and created his own World’s Dispensary Building, as well as Pierce’s Palace Hotel in 1878, and the Invalids Hotel and Surgical Institute. In 1883, he founded the World’s Dispensary Medical Association, where he merged all of those buildings together in to one organization.

Most of his medicine focused on aiding “weak” women – not women who were weak emotionally, but rather those who were weak physically from their strenuous lives. Although ingredients were not listed in the advertisements of his medicine, some of the most used ingredients were often alcohol and opium.

shak courier mar 21 1888 Although this advertisement doesn’t have a drawn image attached with it, it still manages to attract the reader. This advertisement was found in a March 21, 1888 article in the Shakopee Courier.

Similar to the medicine noted earlier, Paine’s Celery Compound was created by Edward E. Phelps, M.D., L.L.D., but unlike Hood’s and Pierce’s, Edward Phelps’ medicine was not listed under his name. The prescription created by Edward Phelps was used in prescription books of Milton Kendall Paine, who was a local druggist. The prescription soon after became known as Paine’s Celery Compound.

As you can see, the ingredients in the compound are listed as celery and coca (the coca leaf  is used to produce cocaine, and has been used in Coca Cola). In some reports, it’s said that 21% alcohol, and even heroin, are noted as ingredients. The advertisement states that the compound will act “gently but efficiently”, but with those ingredients listed, it’s certain that this prescription had quite the kick to it!

Just like infomercials, these advertisements – and their many variations – can be found everywhere, particularly in newspapers of the 19th (and 20th) centuries. In newspapers, these advertisements can be found in nearly every other page, or at least found at the end of each newspaper print for the week. It’s very interesting to wonder if individuals from Scott County were convinced by the advertisements and bought some of this medicine themselves!

 

Presented in Smell-o-Vision!

 

While looking through a 1959 newspaper for marriage announcements, I came across an 1959 article declaring that “Smell-O-Vision” will be movie theaters’ next innovation. I never could understand the appeal of smelling what I’m watching: sewers in Buffy, horses and people in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, job sites in Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe, not to mention the tendency of smells to hang around and mix towards the end of the movie. But, smell-o-vision is coming back, it seems. A 4D version of Batman vs Superman in New York came with smells and there is even a device available that emits scents.

In 1959, smell-o-vision was introduced to keep people coming to movie theaters, which were closing in droves, thought to be because of the availability of television. They had 35 scents in one (and it seems the only) film, The Scent of Mystery: including roses, garlic, banana, a sooty tunnel, and the sea. This wasn’t the only innovation, however, the same 1959 article states that a horror film came with a hypnotist so the audience would “experience horrors first-hand through the power of suggestion,” not something I’d be interested in! The only problem the theaters anticipated: a lack of good new films to show!

machine_smellovision

Original Device from www.extremetech.com

As you can imagine, this never quite took off, and who knows if our current reintroduction of the idea will fare any better. One article tells of a Japanese invention where the smells are released directly through the monitor, and only from the pixels of the source of the smell!  It currently can only produce one scent (until the cartridge or capsule of scent is changed), but who knows how many scents might be available, or how large and expensive these cartridges may be?

You never know what you’ll find when looking through Scott County Historical Society’s collections!

Smell-o-Vision image: from www.avclub.com

Celebrating Summer Outdoors in Scott County

While we continue our inventorying of LeRoy Lebens’ vast catalog of work here at SCHS, it is hard to miss his passion for nature and everything outdoors. Often times we will come upon long series of photographs showing outdoor scenes of all types: wildlife, flowers, trees, and people simply enjoying the outdoors. As we enter summer in Scott County, particularly on beautiful sunny days, it is easy to see how LeRoy was so captivated by these surroundings. What better way to celebrate Memorial Day weekend and summer than to share a small sampling of these outdoor pictures? We hope that these might inspire you to get outside this weekend to enjoy and explore the bounty of outdoor spaces and activities that Scott County and the Minnesota River valley have to offer us all. Perhaps you can channel some inspiration from these pictures and snap a few shots of your own! Happy Memorial Day from all of us here at Scott County Historical Society.

Connections Across Time

It’s kinda weird, creepy even, when today’s events reflect those from 100 years ago. This year marks the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I.  While researching this topic I was struck by the similarities between what we’re experiencing today and WWI sentiments.

Language

Before the U.S.19980150001 got involved in WWI, the phrase “America First” was used by those wanting to stay out of the war. This same phrase was used in the 2016 presidential campaign.

President Wilson stated: “The World must be made safe for democracy.  Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty.”  Barack Obama stated: “…we must recognize that lasting stability and real security require democracy.”

Loyalty – Surveillance

20000490029Being of German descent was not a positive fact during the war.  Since Scott County was settled by a majority of Germans, loyalty to America became a public issue.  This pamphlet of a speech by Julius Coller, clearly illustrates this public demonstration of loyalty.  In Belle Plaine, a movie that had a pro-German bent, was thrown into the street and burned by local citizens!  100percentAmerican

Not only were you expected to demonstrate your loyalty to the U.S., you were also encouraged to turn in those you suspected of German sympathy.  “It is the duty of every good citizen to communicate to proper authorities any evidence of sedition that comes to his notice.” New York Times, July 1917.  “Clip and send to us any editorial utterances they encounter which seem to them seditious or treasonable,” Literary Digest.  All of this brings to mind today’s wire taps, surveillance, Wiki Leaks, and investigations.

Immigration

The Immigration Act of 1917, among other things, required that immigrants be able to read and write in their native language, which led to standardized literacy tests. Standardized testing continues today in schools across the county.

TwinTowers

Terrorism

WWI introduced air raids and poison gas – precursors to today’s chemical weapons, bombings, and nuclear war threats.

It’s funny how researching the past can give you a clearer understanding of the present, and an understanding of how personal beliefs/conduct, and national and global relations evolved.

The SCHS newest exhibit: The Great War: Scott County in World War I, opens June 22, 2017.  Special guest speaker Iric Nathanson, author of World War I in Minnesota.

Recent Program Highlights

It’s been a busy few months at the SCHS! Below are photos and highlights from some of our recent programs.

We Were Here Too 5
David Schleper presenting “We Were Here, Too: African-Americans in Early Shakopee” at the SCHS on Feb. 9, 2017.

– In February, we learned about the lives of several African-American men and women who lived in 1800s Shakopee, thanks to guest presenter David Schleper of the Shakopee Heritage Society.

– In March, Shelley Gorham from the Minnesota DNR taught us all about the Minnesota River valley, from the history of fur trading in the area to present-day habitats and wildlife. (PSSST- if you haven’t yet visited the SCHS’s “Minnesota River” exhibit, there’s still time! It will be up through the end of May!)

Soap Workshop 6
Making lye soap at the SCHS!

-In April, guest instructor David Hudson showed us how to make our own lye soap, just as people did in the old days. (Well, except we had the advantage of microwaves to help speed up the process!)

We’ve also had lots of fun kids’ programs recently!

– If you visited the museum on just the right Saturday in January, February, or April, you may have seen students carving tools out of rocks, throwing darts with an atlatl, or digging for artifacts in the museum garden. This was all part of our Youth Archaeology program. Big thanks to the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund for making these workshops possible!

Flintknapping 2.17 - 4.jpeg
Students flintknapping as part of our Youth Archaeology workshop series.

– Meanwhile, younger kids enjoyed singing songs, listening to stories, and making crafts at our monthly Kids Kraft program, a fun opportunity to introduce young children to the museum.

We have many more great programs coming up, including our annual meeting next Thursday, May 18 featuring guest speaker and local racing legend John Boegeman. Register for that program here, and stay up-to-date on all of our events by visiting http://www.scottcountyhistory.org.

St. Patrick's Day Kids Kraft 1.jpeg
St. Patrick’s Day Kids Kraft at the SCHS

 

 

 

 

Spring Has Arrived!

Spring is here! The flowers are blooming, the grass is green, and the days are getting longer. Indeed, summer will nearly be upon us in a month!

Now that the weather is warming up, and the sun is shining more and more, don’t forget to step outside your house and enjoy the warmth you haven’t felt since last year, as well as the activities your town has to offer.

Call your friends, sit in the yard, and enjoy a picnic or a party, just like these Shakopee foundry workers did back in 1905. 19960190001

Parades will soon start marching down the streets of towns, so don’t forget to set your chair on the curb and make memories like these individuals did during a parade in Belle Plaine in 1901! (And maybe…not so secretly… snack on some candy).
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Baseball season is already well underway, so make your way to your local baseball diamond, eat a hot dog and some nachos, and cheer on your favorite team, just like the fans of this Rock Spring team did in 1910.20130320068

Try and make time for some leisurely afternoon walks in your local park, be it to listen to music, take your dog for a walk, or just to hang out with friends, like these young women did in 1905. 19990680001

Last, but not least, hit the road! Head to your favorite destination, with your windows or top down, and enjoy the spring breeze on your face and in your hair. Have fun and make memories, just like Mathilda (Nyssen) Stans and her family did in 1905.20080051907

Prefabricated Homes: Page and Hill’s 15 Year Stint That Ended in Disaster

The Page and Hill Company moved to Shakopee in 1942 into the old Kienzle & Merrick oven enameling plant, and began operating in late June. They planned to make and sell prefabricated homes (also known as pre-fab or kit homes). They came in many styles, all designed by architects. Most things could be altered, giving each house a unique look and many possible floor plans. These were very popular for government use (in military bases) and for civilian homes, and are still very common. You can find whole neighborhoods full of prefab homes, and still purchase new ones today! Page and Hill employed many people during their 15 years in Shakopee. They planned to start out with 125 employees and increased that number to 500 in a few months, many of which were filled by women.

Two prefabricated homes (419 and 427 Seventh Avenue W.) that were constructed in 1948 are listed as historic properties today.

Within a few months of opening, the employees voted in a union and presented an employment contract to the company. The contract was not accepted, and this resulted in the declaration of a possible strike. The company was unable to accept more contracts (for 500 houses and several thousand grain bins) until the proposed strike was delayed for negotiations. A settlement was finally reached in late October 1942. Another labor dispute over the wages for skilled, unskilled, and common work caused a strike in 1948, halting the production of two houses a day that the plant was producing.

Nearly one decade later, in 1957, a fire swept through the plant. This caused a total of $500,000 ($4.4 million dollars today) worth of damages and destroyed a city block-sized area. The company either did not have the ability to recuperate after the major loss or did not want to rebuild, and decided on the permanent closure of the Shakopee plant.

The fire that caused the end of the Page and Hill Company in Shakopee was documented by LeRoy Lebens, who photographed the fire during its progress. These are photos of the fire.

 

You Save What??

It’s Spring, and you’ve got an itch to pitch. When that feeling comes over you, STOP! Consider whether what you’re about to pitch might be something the Scott County Historical Society (SCHS), would love to have in its collection.

jerryHennenatwork

rockspringapron

Your old work uniform, shirt, apron, steel-toe shoes, etc…?  If it’s from a business in Scott County – YUP! Bonus points if the name of the company or its logo are on it someplace.  Don’t worry about holes, stains or wear; that indicates the item was used, and helps show how, and how much it was used!

Pearsonsign

RahrcranePhotos from the workplace?  RIGHT again!  We love photos of behind-the-scenes and front-of-shop pics of workplaces in the county.  How about signs?  YEAH – as long as they’re not too big (space is a premium at the museum).  But hey, if it’s big, call us anyway, sometimes we’re lucky at finding places to save the big stuff too!

 

What about all those great plaques you received from all the good 20060380003work you / your company have done in our communities? ABSOLUTELY! When they’re done hanging on your wall or sitting on your desk, we would be delighted to find space in the collection to tell your story of service.

 

blueprints20030570003Doing or completing work on your house or business?  What about donating a set of blueprints, or work contract? YES please. These are great resources that help us track the history of space and use over time.

Work contracts too are great resources on a variety of topics, including — gender roles, assigned duties, hours / compensation / benefits, location, materials, timing, work conditions, etc.   FYI: Are you worried about anyone seeing your work / business contract?  No problem.  You can put a restriction on the donation stating no one can see it until you’re deceased – or even some years after you’re gone.

If you’re like me, you have a pile of receipts just sitting in your wallet, on the kitchen counter, or taking up space in the desk drawer.  Do we really want these slips of paper? YES – these are valuable resources to us! Receipts are a snapshot of history… recording place, product, price, business, etc.  So, if your receipt is related to Scott County – send it over to us and preserve a bit of history.

millpondmenuWhen you get your receipt from dinner, lunch, breakfast, mid-afternoon snack… from a local restaurant, think about us, not only for the receipt – but also the menu! Ask the business owner if they will allow you to donate the menu to SCHS. Really, menus?  AFFIRMATIVE – menus are particularly cool items.  The graphics are always great, and again, they’re snapshots of history and place.  Great resources for researchers and for use in programs and exhibits.

20160616_091702The collection is what drives everything at SCHS – programs, exhibits, outreach, research, etc.  Items in the collection help tell stories such as: who we are, where we came from, how and what we do/did, how places have changed and why, shifts in ideas and design, what is / was popular and why, how we coped with the good and the bad, and lots more.

With your help, the SCHS collection can continue to be a rich resource for years to come.  Please, STOP and think of SCHS before pitching. Thanks!

Photo Treasures from the Lebens Collection – Shakopee Businesses

Over his long career in photography,  Shakopee native Leroy Lebens seems to have documented a little bit of everything in Scott County: weddings, construction, floods, graduations, sports, wildlife, and concerts to name a few.  He also happened to track the growth and development of many Shakopee businesses and institutions. This week we are taking a closer look at a few of these photographs of Shakopee businesses from his collection we have housed at Scott County Historical Society. Spanning well over thirty years, these ten pictures feature places you can still visit and some of which have long been closed. This is just a small sampling of what we have found so far. Take a quick trip down memory lane with us!

Shown: Wampachs, Midland Glass, Shakopee Motors, Rahr Malting, Betty Lu’s, Abeln’s Bar, Mill Pond, St. Paul House, St. Francis Hospital, and First National Bank.