Local History and Genealogy
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After reading the article about Social Music in 19th Century Kalamazoo, part of the “All About Kalamazoo History” section of the Kalamazoo Public Library website, a KPL patron alerted us to an artifact that provides some interesting information about Hull & Arnold’s Quadrille Band.
While searching through some family items, Ray Buhl wrote that he had found a letter written to his great-great-grandfather, James Crawford, by John Hull, a highly respected violinist and leader of Hull & Arnold’s Quadrille Band of Constantine. Hull & Arnold’s Band was well known throughout Michigan and Indiana during the mid-nineteenth century and the group performed often in Kalamazoo.
The letter, written in John Hull’s own hand on band stationery, reads as follows:
Florence, Mich. Feb 26th, 1882
Friend Jas. Crawford,
Enclosed please find two violin strings. I had them on my violin and when I got my Italian strings, I changed them. I hope they will please you and make your old Amati ring. With regard to you and your amiable wife,
I am as ever your friend,
While the text is of little historical significance, the printed letterhead provides important clues about the membership of Hull and Arnold’s band during the 1880s. At the time the letter was written (and the letterhead was printed), band members were John Hull, violin; Daniel Arnold, Clarionet(sic); Charles H. Arnold (replacing Morris Arnold), trombone; and (importantly), Charles E. Rogers, cornet.
Charles Rogers was the leader of the Constantine (Michigan) Cornet Band, and he later formed the Rogers Cornet Band of Goshen, Indiana. During the late 1880s, Rogers’ Band became the “official” musical performance group of the Chautauqua movement in upstate New York. Several prominent Kalamazoo musicians, including Chester Z. Bronson and his brother, William Bronson, were members of Rogers’ bands at one time or another. C. Z. Bronson was, of course, the first director of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to the band roster, the letterhead also verifies that Hull & Arnold’s band was indeed organized in 1838, a fact that that was generally understood, but remained unconfirmed until now, and that as of 1882, Hull was living in Florence Township just east of Constantine in St. Joseph County.
After reading the article on the KPL website, Mr. Buhl was kind enough to provide the library with a copy of the letter and a note explaining that the letter was found in his great-grandfather Norman Crawford’s violin case (having been passed down from his father, James), but sadly the violin in the case was not an Amati.
Our sincere thanks to Mr. Buhl for sharing his findings. No matter how small, items such as this help fill the missing pieces of the mosaic that makes up our local history. Like the store owner says during the Pawn Stars program on the History Channel, “You never know what is going to walk through that door.”
Violinist John Hull, ca. 1875