Striking up the band in Middleport

By Anna Wallace, former Village Historian

The first reference to the Middleport Band was in 1840 at a Presidential Rally in the Town of Royalton and a Temperance Rally in Lockport. We don’t read of much activity again for about 20 years when the Middleport Cornet Band was organized with 16 members. Over the years, they were referred to as the Brass Band and the Saxophone Horn Band.

The Middleport Band played at the “pole raising” in Gasport in 1860, which was attended by about 2,000 people. Streamers with the names of Lincoln and Hamlin were run up the 140 ft. pole. In September 1861, the Middleport Brass Band provided soul stirring music at a meeting in the Pierce Hotel for the purpose of raising volunteers for the Cavalry Company that was being organized. Five young men responded to the call and a bounty of $25 was offered by the citizens, to be paid when they were mustered into the service.

Toward the end of the century the Band was active socially, possibly to raise money for the new instruments that were purchased. The following account is from an old newspaper article entitled “The New Year and Century Welcomed in a Blaze of Glory.”

“The 20th Century was ushered in by our citizens at midnight Monday in a blaze of fireworks, booming cannon, ringing of church bells, blowing of whistles and general bedlam reigned supreme for a short period.

The parade formed at the fire building and was headed by the Middleport Cornet Band. Next came the float representing a house in which there sat an old woman holding an infant, symbolic of the new century; following thereafter came the general participants dressed in grotesque costumes. Those in the procession were well supplied with fireworks.

The parade moved exactly at midnight, and passed over the following streets: Main, South Vernon, State and Main to the fire building.

Red fire was burned on every corner and the Roman candles illuminated the heavens.

The celebration was a success in every respect and everyone was satisfied. The Century had been ushered in with a “hurrah” in case anyone has an idea they could improve on the celebration of Monday evening, the opportunity is theirs at the dawn of the 21st Century, but we are quite satisfied with the present one.”

After they led the New Century Parade through the Village at midnight on January 2, 1901, there is no further mention of them.

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