Eveline’s Senior Year: Musical Notes

I shared a photo of my grandmother Eveline Coates’ high school graduating class in Mystic, Iowa a few weeks ago. Along with the photo and her diploma, a couple of other mementos were saved. One is the program for the Junior-Senior Banquet in honor of the graduating Seniors. It was interesting to see how World War I seemed to be the overarching theme of the festivities. I decided to take a deeper look at what her life may have been like during the 1917-1918 school year. There was a lot going on, a war and the beginning of an influenza pandemic to name the two biggiesSee:
Eveline’s Senior Year, Part 1
Eveline’s Senior Year: The Draft and a Carnival
Eveline’s Senior Year: A Look Around Town

Italian Street Musicians, 1877 – LSE Collection On Flickr Commons (Sepia Saturday 618 Prompt)

The town of Mystic, Iowa, where my grandmother Eveline Coates was born and raised, was a community that included many immigrants lured by the coal mining boom in the early 1900s. The 1910 census of Mystic details residents born in England, Scotland, France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Wales, Canada. Poland, Austria, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Cuba. A few of those countries were represented by only one resident – but certainly this was a diverse community given that the population in 1910 was 2,663. Eveline’s parents were members of the immigrant community as well, having been born in England.

I inquired about photos of the bands in Appanoose County in a Facebook group and was told that there is a photo of a Mystic Italian band. The poster promised to share it. I am waiting. That would have been the perfect match to the prompt photo. Oh well…

The nearby town of Rathbun included a significant community from Croatia and had a Croatian band. I haven’t found a picture of that band either. Below is an undated photo of the band from nearby Brazil, Iowa.

Brazil, Iowa band. Accessed from Facebook

The county seat was (and is) the town of Centerville, connected to Mystic by the Interurban. The Centerville band gave frequent concerts and the band also traveled to the smaller towns in the county to provide musical entertainment, often on special occasions. It is not unreasonable to wonder if Eveline might have gone to Centerville and heard the Centerville band perform or have taken in some other musical entertainment there.

Centerville was often the site of traveling carnivals, which seem to always have included a band that gave daily concerts. Dano’s Greater Shows featured an Italian band, the bandleader’s name misspelled in the advertisement that ran repeatedly in the newspaper. I think it should be D’Andrea or D’Andreas.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 12 July 1917
Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 20 July 1917

Eveline must have heard the Centerville Band perform in Mystic – during Memorial Day festivities, for example:

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 11 June 1917

Maybe Eveline heard the Centerville Band at a fundraising gathering hosted by the Red Cross later that June.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 22 June 1917

Of course, most of the local high schools had bands and I can easily imagine that Eveline attended most of the events where the Mystic High School Band performed.

The booklet History of Mystic, Iowa 1887-1987 includes a photo of the Mystic Symphony (sometimes referred to in the newspaper as “Mystic’s little orchestra”).

History of Mystic, Iowa: 1887-1987

The caption dates the photo as 1919 and provides the names of the members, who were of primarily French and Belgian ancestry. The symphony musicians appear to encompass a wide range of ages – from children to young adults. I think there is more than one family of Pirottes included, but I haven’t put in the work to verify my suspicions.

In 1916, a Victor Pierrotte, perhaps father of the Victor in the symphony photo, is reported to have leased space in the Lyric Theater to show movies and is described as “one of the band boys” who is willing to show up and play upon request.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 1 July 1916

Victor Joseph Pirotte and Victor Emile Pirotte became naturalized citizens in January of 1920, so perhaps this adds credence to my father/son theory. If that is the case, they were both “band boys.”

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 27 January 1920

George Pirotte, standing next to Victor in the symphony photo, seems to have unwittingly lived without benefit of marriage vows for two years, possibly not having a clear understanding of the laws and customs of his adopted home. Oops!

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 26 May 1920

Members of the Mystic Symphony shared their musical talents in a variety of settings. In April of 1917, Lizzie Coster, Clemetine Pirotte, Constance Van de Van, and Victor Pirotte, all performed as soloists or as part of a duet at a meeting of the Foresters of America – and were likely members of the school orchestra.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 25 April 1917

Newspaper clippings reveal connections between members of the symphony and my families – none specifically to Eveline, but to her siblings, her future husband, his sister, and probably some cousins. Also, one of the Pirotte families lived on a lot adjacent to Eveline’s family. Below, Eveline’s younger siblings Bernard and Blanche, were recognized for perfect attendance at school along with a Rampelberg, a Pirotte, and two Costers.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 4 June 1919

Eveline’s future husband, Thomas Hoskins, attended a party of the Junior Philatheas of the Christian Church, and so did Victor Pirotte.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 26 Feb 1920

Eveline’s younger sister Blanche and future sister-in-law Ethel Hoskins, attended normal school in Cedar Falls with Felicia Pirotte, and Lizzie and Clemence Coster. They travelled back home together for the holidays.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa,

Looking into the musical ensembles and their members provides one more little glimpse into the life of my grandmother. I have never heard that Eveline played a musical instrument, but music was integral to her community and, by extension, to her. These school mates and classmates grew up together, had siblings who were friends, attended many of the same activities, and were simply well-known to one another. The diverse backgrounds among her friends and classmates would have greatly influenced Eveline’s experience of her town and shaped her outlook on the the world at large.

Visit others who have written and shared old photos in response to the prompt photo here: Sepia Saturday.

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.

Sepia Saturday – Wheeled Baby Transport

The prompt from Sepia Saturday this week had me looking through the family pictures on my computer for babies being transported – or at least posing in a carriage or stroller. Here’s what I found….

Bernard Coates (1908-1998)

Bernard Coates was my grandmother’s brother. I called him Uncle Bernie.

What is that expression on his face?  I don’t want my picture taken… This big bow is a bit much… I’ll sit here for the picture, but I won’t like it.

The strap across the front of the stroller seems more of a suggestion to the child to stay in the stroller than an attempt to keep him restrained. At least it doesn’t wrinkle his clothes.

Wilbur Hoskins (1924-1930)

Wilbur Hoskins was the first-born child of my grandparents, Eveline Coates Hoskins and Thomas Hoskins. My grandparents left their home in Mystic, Iowa and traveled to Rockford, Illinois so that my grandfather could find work. Wilbur came with them; they left their young son, Albert, in the care of his grandmother; Eveline was pregnant with my mother. During their stay in Rockford, Wilbur got the measles, suffered kidney failure, and died at the young age of five years. I think he resembles his father.

The stroller itself is very interesting – looks like a seat within a seat. It looks like the handle for pushing the stroller has been swung over the top of the stroller and is on the ground in front.

Birthday Goodies

On a lighter note – here is a picture of me chatting it up with someone about my birthday haul which includes a baby and a baby buggy.

Fun on the Farm

So this last one isn’t a baby buggy or stroller, but it is a fun form of transport for a kid. This is my (step)grandfather G. A. Hockensmith and two of my sisters getting a ride during a visit to our grandparent’s farm. I love this picture because everything looks just as it was – no posing, nothing cleaned up or hidden from view for the picture, my sister’s joyful smile during her bumpy ride.