ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Chapter on Bands & Orchestras


1847      A BAND

07 07       A few young men of this village are making another attempt to get up a band of music.  It is proposed that our citizens purchase the instruments and give the band the use of them.  About $150 would be required for this purpose—a sum which we presume might readily be raised.  A good band is much needed here, and we see not why we may not have one.   WC



10 05       Watertown Brass Band at County Fair at Jefferson   WR

12 13       Watertown Brass Band at New Year’s celebration   WD



A picture of Watertown’s first band organized in 1866, composed of Al Rutherford, Otto Schulerman, W. D. Sproesser, William F. Quentmeyer, Carl Nowack, William Sommerfelt, Frank Kartak, Fred Pohlmann, one unknown.




  Organized in 1870.



06 27       PHILHARMONIC CORNET BAND / The Fourth at Concordia

Concordia Island will be an attractive spot on the Fourth next Wednesday.  Picnicking will be the order of the day amid the sylvan shades in this favorite retreat and the hours will be enlivened with sweet chords of music from the Philharmonic Cornet Band.  Arrangements have been made for grand balloon ascensions and other amusements during the afternoon.   WR

07 04       Philharmonic Band, 1883, Parade, school children to Concordia Island 


1800s, late

  George Spohn, pictured with zither, late 1800s.







The "Hayseed" band of the "Josh Spiuceby" company appeared on the streets shortly before noon yesterday, singly or in pairs, dressed in typical "hayseed" attire, and mingled with the crowds of country people, causing considerable merriment to those who watched them.  Finally the members gathered at the post office corner and a band concert was given.    WR



The open-air band concerts at the city park were inaugurated last evening by the Watertown Cornet band.  A large crowd was on hand to listen to the music, and the concerts, which will be given regularly until further notice, promise to be quite popular.  The common council has granted the band the use of the land for this purpose.   WR



                   OLD DUTCH BAND


Members of the "Old Dutch Band" rehearsing in the office of the old Fuermann Brewery.  

(l-r) William Grossert, Don Harbeck, H. Riemstead, and William Sergel, the director.

Spectators (l-r) Theodore Koerner and William Goecke.


1898      WATERTOWN BAND IN 1898


Members were: W. Jones, E. Haack, A. Polzin, A. Dietor, A. Krebs, G. Stube, M. Voight, G. Kunert, W. Kusel, E. Tank, G. Goodnette, and G, Henke.




A comic band, circa 1899, the "Watertown’s Famous Band."  This was obviously a joke or comic band created during the Harvest Jubilee in Sept., 1899.  This image was taken inside the office of the old Fuermann brewery on S. First and Jones streets.  Instruments are all made of cardboard, and also note the various music titles.  The two gents on the floor are wearing uniforms of the Sinnissippi Band.



02 13          It may not be generally known that a new orchestra has been organized in this city, consisting of twenty members.  The organization has for its purpose the production of the better class of orchestral music, and will prove of special value, in an instructive way, to its members.  The founders have labored incessantly to interest the players of the city in the enterprise, and the result is a very creditable organization, which ought to be encouraged by our citizens in every way.  The club will make its initial appearance tomorrow evening at the entertainment arranged for the visiting dairymen at Turner Opera house, for which it has offered its services.  WR


1907      Imperial Minstrels

02 15       The Imperial Minstrels scored a decided hit at the Turner Opera House, the hall being packed to its utmost capacity and hundreds were turned away and refused tickets of admittance of even standing room. 



05 01          Harry J. Stube of the Weber-Stube orchestra is playing a violin made by Charles Witte, a young man residing on rural route No. 3.  The instrument is that perfect in construction and tone that Mr. Stube has laid his $65.00 instrument aside and is using the one manufactured by the young farmer.  Mr. Witte has given of ability as a mechanic.  His first attempt was about two years ago, when he made a violin out of a cigar box.  Later he contrived an instrument of a rather crude shape, but nearer the perfect.  The third attempt was the modern instrument now being played by Mr. Stube.  He (Witte) spent some time in studying the rudiments of construction and last winter applied his knowledge to a practical test and the result is that he has an instrument that will demand a good price . . . It is said that Mr. Witte had nothing but crude tools, but nevertheless he has accomplished a perfect piece of workmanship.  The violin was left with Mr. Stube to place a value on the same.   WL



Watertown Band in 1908.  Ed King, Lou Arndt, Harry Warner, Capt. Carl Block, L. Pimple, William Struck, Bob Archie, Otto Kohls, Henry Moser, Adolph Krebs, James O'Brien, Ed Lemke, William Kuester, G. Sauer, Herman Hilgendorf. Mr. Rose, Hubert Pagel, Martin Koenig, Art Goeldner; W. Korguist, George Terwedo, Ed Prochnow, J. Butzler, & Carl Otto.



01 01       Juvenile Band at Richwood

Ed. Boch, William Thauer, Irving Schoeberle, Herbert Lange, Percy Volkert, Raymond Volkert, Winfield McCall, Francis McCall, Edward McCall, Vernon Etscheid, Raymond Carroll, Bennie Carroll, Freddie Ihde, Arthur Seibel, Oscar Lemmerhirt, Edw. Giese, Leo Zoellick, Theo. Hoefs and Oscar Hoefs have organized a juvenile band at Richwood, with Herbert Schroeder as instructor.  Shortly after organizing, the band paraded around Richwood, headed by Peter Thauer, John Scheberle, John Carroll, H. F. Lange and F. J. McCall.  H. F. Lange officiated as drum major and F. J. McCall as sergeant at-arms.   WG


01 08       More on bands in Richwood / Old-Time Richwood Band

The Juneau Telephone of last week says:


And once upon a time, in the dim and distant past, there was another band in Richwood.  It was organized in 1869 or 1870, with Prof. John Miller of Watertown as instructor.  The band consisted of twelve members, as follows:  John Driscol, leader; Jerry Driscol, John Kelley, John Carroll, John McCall, William Hanley, Philip Riley, John Kerr, Henry Bergen, Michael Quinn, James J. Solon and Stephen White.  The rehearsals, once or twice a week, were held in the old red school house at Richwood and the meetings were a source of considerable pleasure to the members, as they greatly relieved an otherwise monotonous life.  The first time the band attempted to march and play, at the same time, there was a "parting of the ways."  The great feat was attempted at a picnic in Adam Schneider's grove.  Each player had his eyes glued to his little book and, with red face and bulging cheeks, he proceeded on his journey over sticks, stones and logs.  When the "tune” was finished two of the boys were in Norton's marsh, one fell down and the other nine were scattered through the brush, several rods apart.  The marked feature of the selection were explosive notes caused by high stepping.  Later on, however, the boys learned how to play some and in 1872 came right to the front in the Greeley campaign [Horace Greeley, an unsuccessful candidate for President in 1872].  About the year 1874, some of the original members began to drop out and others took their places.  The organization continued to exist until the instruments were sold to the Sacred Heart College boys in Watertown about 1877 or 1878.  Of the twelve original members, all are living except Bill Hanley, who died many years ago.  John Discoll lives in Janesville, Jerry Driscoll resides at Superior . . .   WG



c.1910   Small Trio


A small trio made of up William Jones, drums, Mr. Guse, violin, and Mr. Zoellick on accordion, circa 1910.


c.1910   Unidentified Watertown Band


An unidentified Watertown Band, circa 1910 or so.  It is worth noting that most of these players drifted between bands and later were the founding members of the Watertown Municipal Band.



09 14     The Watertown Military Band furnished the music at the state fair on Wednesday and a large delegation of Watertown people accompanied the band, it requiring four interurban cars to accommodate them.   WG



Sloan Orchestra Military Band, 1911



05 30       Band Convention for Watertown.  The big band convention to be held at Watertown, Saturday and Sunday, June 8 and 9, promises to be one of the largest gatherings of musicians ever held in the state.  At least 30 bands from the southern part of the state will participate — some of the best organizations in the country.  Elaborate preparations are being made for the entertainment of visitors and a big time is promised all who attend.  Among the special features for Saturday will be a gorgeous floral parade, which promises to be the finest spectacle ever witnessed in this vicinity.  Another feature will be a ball game.  Saturday evening there will be a beautiful illuminated parade, followed by band concerts, dances at musician’s headquarters, etc.  On Sunday, at noon, a grand parade of over 500 musicians will be held, followed by a monster picnic on Tivoli Island, one of the finest picnic parks in the state, at which there will be special band concerts by each of the visiting bands, with plenty of other amusement features.  In the evening the park will be brilliantly illuminated and the festivities will close with band concerts and a dance in the pavilion.


The convention will attract thousands of visitors who can count on being royally entertained.  Watertown never does anything by halves and everything possible is being done to make this the most successful gathering of musicians ever held.


Arrangements have been completed whereby the C. M. & St. P. Ry. will run special trains from Madison and Portage to Watertown on Sunday morning, returning late in the evening.  A special train will also leave for intermediate points Sunday evening.  Visitors from south of Watertown will be accommodated by the regular Sunday excursion trains.  For further particulars address Herman Wertheimer, president, Watertown, Wis.   WG




The popularity of this celebrated orchestra is steadily and rapidly increasing as can readily be seen from the number of engagements they have for this fall and the coming winter, among which is that at Doylestown, Wis., where they will play Thanksgiving evening at the C.O.I. Ball.  Manager P. Neitzel says they have purchased new instruments and music and that they are kept busy filling their engagements.   WG



This popular orchestra will play at dances at the following places:  Richwood, December 28, 1914; Cambridge, Dec. 29, 1914; Rio, Dec. 30, 1914; Watertown, Dec. 31, 1914; Randolph, Jan. 1, 1915.  After these dates are filled, Manager Neitzel says the orchestra will go on a three weeks’ tour giving concerts and furnishing music for some of the high class dances throughout the state, at the conclusion of which their services will be given, for a medium charge, to any one desiring a high class orchestra, either for concerts or dances.  For engagements call on P. Neitzel 1005 Fifth Street. Phone 75-x, Watertown, Wis.   WG




      Watertown Band Newly Organized.


The Watertown Military Band and the Watertown Imperial Band were merged at a meeting of the respective organizations held on Tuesday evening.  The band will hereafter be known as the Watertown City Band, which has been incorporated, the register number being 234828. The following officers were chosen:


President — William Hose.

Vice President — Edward Woelffer.

Secretary — W. Weihert.

Treasurer — A. M. Schmeichel.

Directors — George Krueger, one year; W. Weihert, two years; William Hose, three years.    WG



A flaring full-page poster on our desk announces a Grand Mask Ball in Turner Hall, Watertown, tomorrow evening, Dec. 18, 1915.  The ball is given under the auspices of the Watertown Boosters’ Pleasure and Social Club.  About 50 prizes will be distributed among the winning maskers.  Music by the Watertown Saxophone Orchestra.   WG


1920s    PAT NEITZEL’S JAZZOPATORS of Watertown, Banjo Alex




   <-  At Kraemer's Dance Hall


1920s    Hy Coleman’s Orchestra of Milwaukee 



1920s    While he was still a boy, Alton Gritzner organized a dance band and continued it for some years as the “Casino Rhythm Kings.”  The leader played a banjo.


1921      Watertown City Band  



1925      Bandstand Suggested for new Memorial Park

02 18       Ex-Mayor Wertheimer stated that if the park plan be put into a reality that a bandstand be erected on the premises. 


1930s    McKinney's Serenaders, Ray McKinney


               Weber-Hoppe Orchestra






1946      Herb Bredow Orchestra



1950      Annual Ball of Musicians Here / A Battle of Music

09 27       11 Dance Bands to participate at Turner Hall

The annual Musicians' ball, sponsored by Local No. 469, American Federation of Musicians, will be held at Turner hall in Watertown Thursday night.  The ball this year promises to be the greatest in the history of the series, with 11 dance bands participating.  They will engage in a battle of music.  Among the dance bands will be those of Herbert Bredow, Will Eske, Jimmy Hartwig, the Ritzy Royal players, Gib Untz, Bud Breitkreutz, Wally Klinger, Shorty Schumacher, Bob Strege, "Peanuts" Schuld and the Fats Firehouse five.  Both modern and old time music will be featured.  All of the musicians are known far and wide in this area for their music and entertainment and they will combine tomorrow night in putting on one of the greatest dance nights ever seen in this or any other city of the state. The dance is open to the public and everyone is invited.   WDT


07 24       The Funsters Club Kitchen Band honored retiring director Marilyn Moran at its annual dinner meeting at Vandre's Riverside Inn.  She was presented with a music box in the shape of a church from the band.  Mrs. Moran recently retired from the Watertown Park and Recreation Department as supervisor and director of the Funster Club for 18 years.  Led by Mrs. Alvira Hamann, who is replacing Mrs. Moran, the group sang songs reminiscent of their times together.  A number of stories were told and games played.  Winners of the guessing games were Herman Kaczor, Mary Oestreicher and Marilyn Moran.   WDT


11 18       Ron LeRoy, Senior High School Band Director, Teacher of the Year   WDT



    Watertown Legion Band, also known as the Watertown Civic Band



12 14       Clem Schoechert was elected president of the Watertown Musicians Association Local No. 469, at the annual meeting of the association held at the East Gate Inn last night.  Other officers named are: George Flint, vice president for his 15th consecutive term; Mrs. Erline Torres, corresponding secretary for her 12th consecutive term; Herbert Bredow, financial secretary and treasurer; James Hartwig, Percey Krebs and Arthur Rupnow, trustees for three, two and one years respectively; Alton F. Gritzner, Ray Frederich and Wallace Klinger Jr., directors for one year; Edward Schroeder, sergeant-at-arms.  WDT


c.1960   “PARADE OF BANDS”




03 21       Freddy Dettmann and His Band, a local old-time orchestra group, has announced that the band is in the stage of reorganizing and adding two trumpets.  The band in the past has been playing with three, four and five piece jobs, but in the future will be booking with six.  The personnel of the band includes Eddie Peirick, who plays concertina.  He has been playing concertina for 33 years and is considered one of the finest in this area.  Very few old time bands in Wisconsin use a concertina in the band, therefore, the group feels that it will add something extra to its music.  With concertina, the music can be styled in the Dutchmen swing and sway dance way as most Dutchmen bands from Minnesota use concertina.  WDT


06 04       ARNOLD LEHMANN named conductor of Municipal Band

Prof. Arnold O. Lehmann, director of music at Northwestern College, has been named conductor of the Watertown Municipal Band and will make his first public appearance in his new capacity at Thursday night’s opening concert of the summer series at Riverside Park.  Announcement of Prof. Lehmann’s acceptance of the offer to conduct the band was made today.  He succeeds Gerald Stich of Waterloo who resigned because he will be attending a summer school.  Since coming to Watertown to take over his duties at Northwestern College, Prof. Lehmann has developed an outstanding musical activities program and has presented, as part of his duties, numerous college concerts, many of them for the public.  WDT



01 21       Clem Schoechert, who organized the local musicians’ union back in 1937, and who was elected president at that time, and has served as president ever since, was honored at a testimonial dinner last night at Turner Hall.  Over 200 persons attended to pay tribute to him.  Mayor Robert P. White presented Schoechert with a certificate of recognition, and William Kehl, in behalf of the union, presented the guest of honor with a plaque in recognition of the outstanding leadership he has provided the local since its organization.   WDT



The silver jubilee ball of the Watertown Musicians Association Local, 469, A.F.M., will take place at Turner Hall on Thursday night, April 22 with over 100 musicians taking part in providing the music and entertainment.  The bands and orchestra on the main stage will include the Musical Stars, Merlin Braasch and his orchestra, Freddy Dettmann and his band, Will Eske and his orchestra, Bud Hughlett and the Melodiers, the Push and Pull Orchestra and Ole Gjerald and his orchestra. Combos in the lower ballroom include the following: Tom Voigt and his group, Bill, Will ‘n Roy, the Slovanians, the Blue Notes, Jolly Cholly, Trio or More, the Three Naturals and Scratch and his Nuclears.   WDT




Herbert A. Bredow, 207 Riverlawn Avenue, has closed his musical career as leader of Herb Bredow and his Orchestra.  He played his last engagement at the Watertown Country Club Saturday night for the Watertown Senior Dancing Club.  Mr. Bredow’s career as a musician spans some 46 years.  He began playing in 1920, the year he graduated from Watertown High School.  Piano was his chief instrument, although he has also played banjo, trumpet and sax.  In 1920 he helped launch a group called “The Night Hawk Or-Jaz-tra.”  In it were Otto Vogel, Max Nehring, Charles Dott and Gust Boehm and Mr. Bredow.




LEBANON — The Lebanon Band, this year celebrating 100 years of dedication to music and fellowship, is one of the biggest bands from one of the smallest towns in the United States.  The band, with close to 50 members, will be performing in Watertown’s Fourth of July Parade this year as a part of its extensive centennial year schedule.  As the band performs this summer, parade-goers from all over Wisconsin will be treated to a proud and historic group in action.  The band’s founders were music-loving German immigrants. In 1885, Henry F. Seeger, a German born parochial school teacher, came to Immanuel Lutheran Church in Lebanon to serve as a teacher, organist, choir director, and instructor of instrumental music for which he received 10 cents per lesson.  After five years his teaching had produced enough instrumentalists to form a band in Lebanon in 1890.   WDT



Cross References:

German Serenaders         1855, Early Band

Watertown Municipal Band [same as Watertown City Band]

Thacker’s Band, chapter on

Thacker's Concert Band. 1905, Homecoming Day

Thacker's Band, 1906, Labor Day celebration

Band Shell, Riverside Park, dedicated 1954

First Brigade Band


Edwin Woelffer, 1890-1944.   Edwin Woelffer, 54, Band Leader, Dies

06/01/1944 – E. J. Woelffer, widely known band leader, died here today at his home, 912 South Fourth street.  He had been in ill health for a long time and passed away at 6 o’clock this morning.


Mr. Woelffer was born in Waterloo on Jan 31, 1890, a son of Mrs. Robert Woelffer and the late Robert Woelffer.  He came to Watertown as a boy when his parents moved here and his father engaged in the tavern business.  His father was a widely known man in this community for many years.


Mr. Woelffer was married on Oct. 1, 1912 to Miss Mabel Riebe.  She survives, as do a daughter and a son, Mrs. Donald Snyder and John H. Woelffer, both of this city.  His mother also resides here as do a sister, Mrs. Robert Hills, and a brother, George Woelffer.  Two other brothers preceded him in death.  There are two grandchildren.


Mr. Woelffer was associated with the Watertown Memorial Co.  He was a member of First Methodist church, Lincoln Lodge No.20, Knight of Pythias, the Plattdeutscher Verein and the Watertown Turner society.


Over the period of years in which Mr.Woelffer was a band leader he had conducted the Watertown City band and the old 105th Cavalry band with which he was associated many years.  He also led the band of Branch 120, Catholic Knights of Wisconsin, the K. of P. band and more recently had been the leader of the Lebanon band.


As a band leader he was a hard worker and a thorough musician, a man with whom players liked to work.  He inspired his musicians to their best efforts and was looked upon as a competent leader.  In his business affairs Mr. Woelffer was a man who stood for fair dealing and honesty.  He had the confidence of his associates and the people with whom he dealt.  He was kind and considerate of others.  To his family he leaves a heritage which reflects credit upon him as a man and a citizen of the community where his friends were legion.


The funeral will take place Monday afternoon.  There will be a service at First Methodist church at 2 o’clock. The Rev. William B. Petherick, who has recently been assigned to Marinette, will conduct the services and burial will be in Oak Hill cemetery.


The Hafemeister funeral home is in charge of the arrangements.  It was not known definitely today whether the funeral will be from the funeral home or from the residence and this will be announced tomorrow, together with the period during which friends may call to pay their respects.  In any event, the casket is not to be opened at the church but friends will be given an opportunity to call at either the funeral home or the residence Sunday afternoon and evening and Monday up to the time of the funeral, as soon as it is decided from which place the last rites will be conducted.





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History of Watertown, Wisconsin