This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

A Royal Family

19 September 2014

Once upon a time there was a prince who lived in a grand palace.
On summer evenings, he and his beautiful  wife enjoyed nothing better
than to listen to their children play music together.

Until one day when it all vanished in a flash. 

These might be the opening lines of a fairy tale,
except that it is a true story. 

It begins with a photo postcard of three musical children whose father was the Erzherzog Leopold Salvator, an Austrian Archduke of the Habsburg-Lorraine royal family. His oldest son Rainer sits at an ornate grand piano, while younger brother Leopold and sister Antonie stand on either side holding violins. The photographer, Nashbruck Verg. (?), has left a nice embossed logo in the lower right corner with a date of 1908. Notice that the two boys wear sandals under their sailor suits and short pants, which seems a very modern footwear for the 1900s.

But Rainer, Leopold, and Antonie were just three of 10 children of the Erzherzog Leopold Salvator (1863 – 1931) and his wife, the Infanta Blanca of Spain (1868 – 1949).  Altogether there were 5 boys and 5 girls. Antonie, or more properly Maria Antonia, had 3 older sisters. In this next postcard, father Leopold sits on the left with his youngest child, Karl Pius, and mother Blanca stands center.

All the children shared the title Erzherzog, or Erzherzogin for the girls, which translates from German as Archduke or Archduchess. It came by way of their father, Archduke Leopold Salvator. Though he was born in Bohemia, Leopold was a member of the Tuscan, Italy branch of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine which was one branch of a very complicated family tree of the Hapsburg Holy Roman Empire. He was the eldest son of Archduke Karl Salvator and Princess Maria Immaculata of the Bourbon-Two Sicilies, who produced 10 children. He was also the grandson of Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Archduchess Blanca was the eldest child of Carlos, Duke of Madrid, a claimant to both the throne of Spain and the throne of France too, and his wife Princess Margherita of Bourbon-Parma. The title Infanta is used in Spain to signify a daughter of royal blood. However Blanca's father was born in Slovenia, and her mother in Lucca, Tuscany, Italy.
This tangled lineage of royal houses was once common knowledge in past centuries when royalty was the only celebrity status that mattered. In 1908, noble blood lines were particularly convoluted in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as it held a great many national groups in what was then a very large country. 

Archduke Leopold Salvator
of Austria, Prince of Tuscany
Source: Wikipedia

As one of many Archdukes in the Austrian nobility, Leopold Salvator was given various state duties by Emperor Franz Josef who was simultaneously Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary in a political arrangement that kept the two principal parts of the empire, Austria and Hungary, on a more or less equal status. This created the uniquely Austrian German term kaiserlich und königlich  meaning Imperial and Royal, usually abbreviated k.u.k.  Leopold found service in the k.u.k. army as an inspector of artillery and seems to have had an excellent tailor for his magnificent uniforms. Did you spot his spurs in the previous photo? Leopold was a first cousin and exact contemporary with the Emperor's nephew and heir, Archduke Franz Ferdinand who was also born in 1863 to Leopold's mother's sister. 

In this postcard, the Salvator family stands outside on the terrace of one of their residences in Vienna. Only seven children and the family dog are with their parents. Missing is the very youngest son and two oldest daughters. Infanta Blanca was very proud of her Spanish heritage and took special efforts to give her many children an education suitable for their high ranking position in a multinational society. In 1944 a book about the second youngest son, Archduke Franz Josef, was written by Bertita Harding. It is entitled Lost Waltz: A Story of Exile and in it she describes details of mother Blanca.

Of greater importance than her accent was the Infanta's choice of reading matter. For entertainment of the younger children she kept on hand the Contes de Fees or fairy tales published by Hachette's famed Bibliotheque Rose Illustre. This fascinating gold-beveled edition was garnished with steel engravings that were either of a cloying sweetness, adored by the very young, or else capable of arousing the most horrendous fright.

Here were the old familiar stories, dear to childhood everywhere. But with a difference. Due to the Infanta's zeal for variation, which in her case was phonetically no variation at all, the listeners became at times confused. Mama liked reading the same tale successively in four tongues, which called for mental agility on the part of her audience. Quite early the children learned that Cinderella was at the same time Cendrillon in French, Cenicienta in Spanish and Aschenbroedel in German. Equally Little Red Riding Hood became Petit Chaperon Rouge, Caperucita Roja, or Rotkappchen, while the dread figure of Bluebeard reappeared as Barbe Bleue, Barba Azul, or the ominous Blaubart.

Palais Toskana, Wien
Source: Wikipedia
The Salvator family home in the city of Vienna was known as the Palais Toskana, a palatial residence built in 1867 in the neo-classic style. I suspect that the previous photos were taken at this home. 

Archduchess Maria Antonia (1899 – 1977) was baptized with the names Maria Antonia Roberta Blanka Leopoldina Karole Josepha Raphaela Michaela Ignatia Aurelia, but was called Mimi by her family. One can only wonder what pedigree names were given to the dogs, but this alert dog standing by her was more than a family pet.

The postcard caption reads:

Erzherzogin Maria Antonia mit
ihrem Hund der für Kriegszwecke
zur Verfügung gestellt wurde.  

Archduchess Maria Antonia with
her dog
which was used
war purposes.

On June 28, 1914 Maria Antonia's cousin, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo. A month later Austria and the rest of Europe was at war.


Archduke Rainer (1895 – 1930) was born in Agram, now known as Zagreb, Croatia. His full name was Rainer Karl Leopold Blanka Anton Margarete Beatrix Peter Joseph Raphael Michael Ignaz Stephan. As the eldest son of Archduke Leopold his future was planned for him from birth, and service in the Emperor's k.u.k. army was a duty in time of war. 

His younger brother Archduke Leopold (1897 – 1958), also born in Agram, was given the names Leopold Maria Alfons Blanka Karl Anton Beatrix Michael Joseph Peter Ignatz von Habsburg-Lothringen.

In 1914 at the start of World War I, both Rainer, age 19, and Leopold, age 18, joined an artillery regiment as lieutenants, no doubt through their father's influence. Leopold distinguished himself in 1917 at the Battle of Medeazza, near Trieste, Italy and was awarded the prestigious Order of the Golden Fleece by his great uncle, Emperor Franz Joseph in one of the last honors given by the old Emperor who died in 1916.   

(How the Emperor managed to do this months after his death is not explained in Leopold's Wikipedia entry so we will have to accept this as part of the fairy tale. Perhaps the Golden Fleece was a prize for some other good conduct)


In this wartime photo with their mother, the two young officers wear more elaborate dress uniforms. Rainer leans against a piano, which is similar to the one in the 1908 photo but it has different legs. On the wall behind them are portraits of two sisters. Can you spot the sandals?

This photo may have been taken at the family's country residence, a large estate on the edge of the famed Vienna Woods, called Schloss Wilhelminenberg. This very grand house had previously belonged to another royal member of the Salvator family tree who had died childless, and in 1913 it was inherited by Archduke Leopold Salvator. 


Schloss Wilhelminenberg
Source: Wikipedia
The first version of this house was built in 1781 but by 1903 it had became dilapidated and was demolished and rebuilt in the new Second Empire style. In the book Lost Waltz: A Story of Exile there is this description:

At Schloss Wilhelminenberg there were eighty-six servants, all told. This included chauffeurs, grooms, stableboys, valets, cooks, maids, gardeners, gatekeepers, laundresses, dressmakers, mending women, and the nursemaid Resi. Most of these workers, with the exception of the valets, personal maids, and Resi, were housed in separate quarters adjoining the mews, some fifty meters below the archducal home. Daily an administrator set the wheels of the great estate in motion, taking stock of the produce from vegetable and fruit gardens, as well as budgeting the household's needs.

During the war it was converted for use as an army hospital, as was the Archduke Salvator's in-town residence, the Palais Toskana. However the music room of the Schloss Wilhelminenberg probably continued as a center for family concerts. This next photo, courtesy of Wikipedia, shows the Salvator family arranged in a splendid room. Maria Antonia is on the left by her father, and behind her is an older sister with a violin while another brother, Franz Josef, sits at yet one more ornate piano. In the center standing behind his father and sporting a maturing mustache, is Rainer surprisingly with a rotary valve trumpet tucked under one arm.

It looks like a very happy family. But as this must be around 1917 or 1918, they can not know that days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire are soon to come to an end.  

Archduke Leopold Salvator and his wife Infanta Blanca
with their ten children
Source: Wikipedia

The end of the Great War of 1914-1918 brought dramatic changes to many countries where monarchies were dissolved in favor of new forms of government. For an Austrian Archduke whose country was on the losing side, this was especially troubling. The life of privilege and entitlement that Leopold and his family had enjoyed for generations came to a crashing halt. There was no longer an emperor or king to serve, and the Austro-Hungarian empire was divided into multiple new nations. The property of royal households was taken over by the new state governments, and Archduke Leopold's personal wealth of lavish houses, fancy uniforms, and gilded pianos was lost forever.

Thankfully no one in this family lost their life in the war but things were never the same after 1918. Archduke Leopold and Infanta Blanca would not recognize the new Austrian republic and were forced to leave Vienna and become exiles from their homeland. Their royal family connections to France and Italy offered no benefit as these countries had been at war with Austria, so Blanca sought asylum in Spain which was granted only after she and her children renounced any claim to the Spanish throne. They moved into a modest house in Barcelona. In 1931 while on a trip to Austria in an effort to recover some of his confiscated properties, Leopold Salvator died at age 67. Now a widow without support, Blanca and three of her children moved back to Vienna, ironically renting three rooms in their former home, the Palais Toskana. When Hitler annexed Austria in 1938, they moved to Viareggio,Italy where they ran a small vineyard until her death in 1949.

Brothers Rainer and Leopold, were allowed to remain in Vienna after renouncing all claims to the Austrian throne. For a time Rainer ran a auto garage and then a motorcycle service delivering film reels to cinemas. In 1930 at age 35 he died of blood poisoning in Vienna. He never married.

Leopold stayed in Vienna as bit longer, but after a failed marriage ended in 1931, he moved to the United States, eventually ending up as a factory worker in Connecticut where he died in 1958.

Maria Antonia stayed with her parents on the move to Barcelona. When her parents become concerned that she might take holy orders and become a nun, she was sent to the Island of Mallorca where she fell in love with a man who belonged to family of minor Spanish nobility. They married and lived in Mallorca with their five children until his death in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. Seeing no prospects in Spain, Maria Antonia emigrated with her children to Uruguay where she married for a second time in 1942. She died in Brazil in 1977.

The grand estate of Schloss Wilhelminenberg was sold to a Swiss banker after the war in 1922, but he lost it in foreclosure to the city of Vienna. For a time it was used by the celebrated Vienna Boys Choir, and in the next war reverted to use as a military hospital. It is now run as a hotel.  

-_ - _-

For thousands of years, musicians depended on royal patronage. Being a member of the aristocratic class meant having lots of leisure time for the appreciation of high culture. The pages of music history are filled with references to noble princes hiring musicians, commissioning composers, or engaging music teachers for their children. Many great musicians like Mozart and Beethoven supplemented their income by giving music lessons to children of royal families. For boys the music was only a recreation but for girls it could be their primary education, as daughters were considered more marriageable if they had accomplishments on a musical instrument. That relationship between royalty and musicians changed just as dramatically with the end of World War One. 

The photos of Archduke Leopold Salvator and his family intrigue me because of their evident love of music. We can not know how serious the children were at learning a musical instrument but the instruments were clearly important enough to be included in these formal Salvator family photos. I don't believe this was a common practice of other wealthy and illustrious Austrian families, so I think it indicates a special family pride in musical accomplishments. 

But the thing that really interests me about these images is that they are postcards. For whom were these postcards made? None of these photos were ever sent through the mail and only two have a name of a collector imprinted on the back. Did cousins across the many branches of the Hapsburg family tree exchange them on the holidays? Were they sold at the corner newsstand like other ordinary tourist postcards? Why did a member of a royal family go to such efforts to have fine photographs made into postcards?

Uncovering the detail about the many domestic servants employed at Archduke Leopold's Schloss Wilhelminenberg got me thinking about a larger family unseen behind the camera. Many household servants probably spent their entire lives looking after royal children, from infancy to adulthood. Despite the differences in class and position, many servants must have developed an affectionate attachment to their royal charges. What could be a better gift for 86 family servants than a collection of souvenir postcard portraits of the Salvator family?

I'm happy to entertain other ideas about why the postcards were made, but this seems to me as good an explanation as any. It is also another example of a class relationship that was destroyed by war and the subsequent collapse of the European monarchies.

Fairy tales do not always end well.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
click the link for more sailor suits.

Im Felde – In the Field 1915

12 September 2014






S.S. 11       Im Felde 1915


A small moment in the lives of soldiers
captured on film and turned into an accidental work of art. 

These men from a Bavarian Infantry Division would certainly know the traditional Oktoberfest cheer. They sent this postcard on 13 June 1915 to a friend named Simmel (?)  in Thansüß, Germany.

Did he appreciate the music of Haydn? Did their horse enjoy a serenade of violin and cello?  I'd bet there was some singing too!

Eins, zwei, drei, g'suffa!
One, two, three, drink!

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday.
Where everyone is in a cheerful mood this weekend.

The Jenkins Orphanage Band

23 August 2014

Every photograph has a tale to tell, but few photos offer such an abundance of stories as this one does. Family history, social history, music history, and world history are all intertwined together in a souvenir postcard that once sold for a tuppence (2¢). The image shows a boys brass band of 19 young black musicians dressed in white jerseys and caps, and posed with their instruments – cornets, alto and tenor horns, tuba, helicon, clarinets and drums. The caption reads:

 Anglo- American Exposition
The Famous Piccaninny Band

The word piccaninny or pickaninny is derived from a creole word of West Africa and the Caribbean which has its root in a Portuguese word -  pequenino, the diminutive of pequeno for small. It was once used to describe a very small child, but in the 19th and early 20th century it became an affectionate term for children of color, though today it is considered a degrading label. In this photo the front row of very young boys, especially the little band conductor in the center, partly explains its use for the band's name.


The back of the postcard shows that  it was printed in Britain. Though it was never posted, it has an imprint for the Anglo-American Exposition, an event that was presented in the Shepard's Bush section of west London in an exhibition area known as the Great White City, which was an unfortunate coincidence for this particular band.

Another unfortunate coincidence
was that the exposition was held
in the summer of 1914.


This was not a British band but an American boys band from Charleston, South Carolina. They were all inmates of the Jenkins Orphanage which was founded by the Reverend Daniel J. Jenkins (1862-1937), a Baptist preacher and native of South Carolina. One cold winter in 1891 while collecting wood at the train yard in Charleston, he encountered a group of destitute small boys huddled in a boxcar. Hungry and homeless, these orphans inspired Jenkins to take them into his own family. His simple act of charity became his calling in life and brought forth such a boundless compassion for the homeless black children of his community that it led him to create an institution that could provide for their welfare and education.

According to census records, by 1900 there were nearly 70 negro boys and girls in Rev. Jenkins' orphanage. Like many children's homes of this era there was a school band, as music was a standard requirement for a proper education and learning a musical instrument offered a practical trade skill. An orphans' band also proved very helpful in soliciting donations for an institution so very low on Charleston's list of charitable organizations in the 1890s. Rev. Jenkins was a tireless fundraiser, making countless speeches and appeals for funds to support his work. He recognized that patrons outside of Charleston enjoyed hearing his talented charges, so he shrewdly arranged for the band to accompany him on his campaigns around the country, particularly in the North where there were many more sympathetic benefactors for negro charities than in the South.

During the summer months, the boys band would travel to large cities like New York, Washington, and Philadelphia. They appeared at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY; the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the St. Louis World's Fair; and marched in President Taft's 1909 inauguration parade. The proceeds from the band concerts became a major source of income for the orphanage, and Jenkins had the band leader add a second band. Eventually there would be as many as four musical groups on tour. They would often stay at the YMCA or Young Men's Christian Association like the one pictured above in St. Petersburg, Florida - The Sunshine City and dating from 1930.

Columbia SC State
April 25, 1914

In early 1914, Rev. Jenkins received an offer to bring his boys band to London to perform at the Anglo-American Exposition. It would not be his first trip to England, as in 1895 he had taken a band to Paris and then London where they ran afoul of a British law that prohibited children younger than 11 from performing music in a hall or on the street as a way to solicit money. They were stranded without funds to get back to the US, so they appeared in court seeking a remedy. The judge was unable to help, though he made a private donation, and the story was printed in many British newspapers. Eventually Jenkins and his boys did return safely but understandably he was now determined that any engagement in a foreign country should have a binding contract with suitable payment and conditions. Since this Anglo-American Exposition promised to be a lengthy and first rate gig, Jenkins secured several older musicians, alumni of his orphanage, to  reinforce the youthful first rank of the band .   

On the 13th of May, the Rev. D. J. Jenkins, his wife, and the orphanage staff and band of 24 arrived in Liverpool from New York . Their passage was a 3rd class fare on the Cunard liner Campania.


London Times
May 14, 1914
The Anglo-American Exposition was promoted as a centenary of peace between Britain and America following the 1814 settlement of the War of 1812. Though it pretended to have elements of high art and science, the exposition was essentially produced as a summertime circus amusement park. There was a 15,000 square foot working model of the Panama Canal (which would officially open in August 1914); a realistic replica, with skyscrapers, of Greater New York that covered 6 acres; a model of the Grand Canyon of Colorado; and the 101 Ranch Wild West Show complete with Indians, Cow Boys, Wild-West Girls, Bucking Bronchos, and the Thrill of Thrillers – Auto Polo.

The Jenkins Orphanage Band was part of the Hordes of other Startling Novelties, which included numerous bands and musicians providing music throughout the park. The boy's first concert started at 11:45 in the morning and continued until their last set finished at 10:45 at night. Their program consisted of the typical waltzes and overtures of traditional brass bands but the music that distinguished them from other bands were the cakewalks, two steps, and ragtime music unique to the new American brand of popular music. The Charleston Piccaninny Band became a small sensation at the fair and sold thousands of postcards.
They even learned to play "God Save the King" after receiving an invitation to play before King George V who was encouraged to hear the band after his mother, Queen Alexandre and Empress Marie of Russia had heard them perform earlier in the summer. Since the tune is also the American patriotic song My Country, "Tis of Thee, it was no doubt an easy piece to arrange.

But in July, 1914, King George had other things on his mind besides grand expositions. On June 28, the crown prince of Austria, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were murdered in Sarajevo, the capital of the Austrian province of Bosnia and Herzegovina. For the next month the assassination seemed to be only a contentious matter between the Austro-Hungarian empire and its neighbor Serbia. However on July 28,  a very complicated chain of alliances and military plans forced one nation after another to take up arms. By August, Europe was at war.  

Charleston SC News and Courier
August 13, 1914

In June, Rev. Jenkins had just agreed to extend the orphan band's stay in London, but he and his wife had planned to return to Charleston in early August. Everything changed when Britain declared war on Germany on August 4th following the German army's violation of Belgium territory as part of the Kaiser's military strategy to invade France. All passenger ships were commandeered for the war effort. Rev. Jenkins and his wife somehow managed to get on board the S.S. Laconia that left for New York on August 8th. but the boys would be held over indefinitely. 


Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Sept. 13, 1914

Despite the British mobilization for war, the Anglo-American Exposition struggled  to continue its daily shows into September, but ticket sales clearly suffered. Performances of the 101 Ranch Wild West Show had been changed when their stadium was turned into a drill ground for the army. There were special promotions and servicemen in uniform were allowed in for free. The war created a myriad of obstacles for travelers. Adding to the problem of crossing the Atlantic, train service across Europe was disrupted, and border crossings that only a month before had been open were now closed.

The Jenkins Orphanage Band finally secured passage on the S.S. St. Louis which carried many Americans escaping the hostilities back to the States, including a number of theater and opera artists. A small group of the Wild West Show Indians which had been on loan to another circus in Germany even managed to get released and rejoin their troupe. The Jenkins Band was worthy of notice because they were well known in New York.

The ship's manifest from the S.S. St. Louis that sailed from Liverpool on Sept. 5th, 1914, and arrived at the port of New York, Sept 12th, 1914 listed the names of each musician in the Jenkins Orphanage Band along with their age and date and place of birth. Their address was 20 Franklin St., Charleston, SC.

  • Brown, Clinton - age 16 - born Aug. 2,  1898 Manning, SC
  • Brown, Edqward - age 18 - born Aug. 3, 1896 Charleston, SC
  • Aiken, Lucins - age 18 - born Feb. 27, 1896 Charleston, SC
  • Mills, Alonzo - age 18 - born Nov. 12, 1895 John Island, SC
  • Patrick, Jacob - age 18 - born Aug. 18, 1896 Charleston, SC
  • Harper, Emerson - age 17 - born Feb. 28, 1897 Columbia, SC
  • Dreher, Clarence - age 21 - born Nov. 27, 1892 Darlington, SC
  • Patrick, Edward - age 20 - born Nov. 25, 1893 Charleston, SC
  • Jenkins, Edmund - age 20 - born Apr. 9, 1894 Charleston, SC
  • Daniels, Paul - age 30 - born Jun. 7, 1884 Bambery, SC
  • Bacon, Sallie L. - age 26 - born Jan 23, 1888 Charleston, SC
  • Garlington, John C. - age 10 - born Nov. 17, 1903 Laurens, SC
  • Thomas, William - age 10 - born Jan. 8, 1903 Charleston, SC
  • Holmes, Hoarce - age 11 - born Dec. 27, 1902 Charleston, SC
  • Brown, Charles - age 11 - born Oct. 14, 1902 Greenville, SC
  • Rennicks, Marion - age 11 - born Jun. 3, 1902 Greenville, SC
  • Thayer, George - age 11 - born Dec. 25, 1902 Charleston, SC
  • Benford, William - age 14 - born Apr. 18, 1900 Charleston, SC
  • Briggans, Eunice - age 16 - born Apr. 9, 1898 Savannah, GA
  • Frasier, Jacob - age 16 - born Dec. 23, 1897 Charleston, SC
  • Gibbes, William - age 16 - born May 5, 1898 Charleston, SC
  • Wright, Stephen - age 17 - born Jun. 27, 1897 Charleston, SC
  • Aiken, Augustus - age 15 - born Jul. 26, 1899 Charleston, SC

Reports from the first months of the war were filled with public anxiety. No one knew what to expect or how best to react. Most people hoped the war would end by Christmas. Few expected that it would drag on for 4 more years. No doubt the Jenkins orphan boys were happy to go home to Charleston.

Rev. Daniel J. Jenkins died in 1937, a much loved and respected elder of Charleston. He had guided his orphanage through a tumultuous era of American history. Over the 46 years that he promoted his orphan boys band, it produced many capable musicians who would help create a new 20th century art form called jazz music. Several former Jenkins Band members became well known musicians in the big bands of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, and other band leaders of the 1930s and 40s. 

In 1928 another generation of Charleston waifs were filmed in front of the Jenkins orphanage by Fox Movietone News using a new technology of sound recording. The original newsreel was quite short, but this compilation has over 10 minutes of outtake footage restored by the Moving Image Research Collections at the University of South Carolina. The band plays only one tune, over and over, but there are some closeups of the band members at 3:06 and some little girls dancing at 6:20. Their rough musical style isn't exactly modern jazz, but it has an original voice that comes from youthful energy and learning music from the inside out, that is – playing by ear. It resembles the music of a band from Orangeburg, SC that I heard many years ago and described in my post from 2010, A Picnic Band. It's possible that some of those musicians were once in the Jenkins Orphanage too.

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The summer of 1914 was a momentous turning point for the world that forever changed the direction of nations, culture, science, and art. But out of this enormous cataclysm, there were a few small wonders of hope. One is found in the listing for the Jenkins band on the S.S. St. Louis where one name is struck through with a line from an immigration official's pencil: Jenkins, Edmund - age 20 - born Apr. 9, 1894 Charleston, SC.  It was easy to guess that this might be the son of Rev. Jenkins. But why was the name struck through?

An internet search quickly produced some answers. He was indeed the seventh son of Daniel J. Jenkins, and there was a reason he was not with the other Charleston musicians returning to America. produced the emergency US passport granted by the American embassy in London to Edmund T. Jenkins, who arrived in England in May 1914 for the purpose of musician and stayed behind. 

For six years. The date of the application was July 22nd, 1920.

When he took passage the following week on July 31st, 1920 aboard the Cunard liner Imperator,  Edmund Thornton Jenkins traveled 1st class to New York. He listed his UK address as Royal Academy, Marylebone Rd., London, where for six years he had been enrolled as a student at one of London's great music conservatories, the Royal Academy of Music. He was now 26 years old and had became an accomplished clarinetist and proficient composer, winning prizes at the RAM for his compositions, and getting his music performed at the Queen's Hall and even mentioned in the music journals. That kind of achievement would have been impossible for a black man in Charleston, South Carolina in 1914.

Jenkins was also a successful performer on the clarinet, and on his return to London in 1921 he was appointed an instructor at the Royal Academy. The cakewalks and rags of the orphanage band were not on any music conservatory curriculum, but they were good training for a musician who wanted to organize a small combo band to play in a new night club above the Queen's Hall. Jenkins linked up with an English musician named Jack Hylton, a pianist who would later become a successful bandleader in the 1930s and 40s. Together they produced several 78rpm disc recordings of popular dance tunes in 1921 with Edmund Jenkins on saxophone and clarinet. On this YouTube video we can hear Jenkins leading the melody on saxophone for a tune entitled The Love Nest. Is it an alto or soprano sax? I'm not sure, but it does demonstrate a very expert musicianship.

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Edmund Thornton Jenkins tried going back home to Charleston but the freedom of expression and the dignity of equality he found in England were denied him in America. So he returned to London and then moved on to Paris where he joined other African American artists who prospered in France during the postwar years. He had aspirations for a career as a classical musician and composed orchestral pieces and an opera, but he found more profitable work in the dance bands of the French cabarets. The vibrant Parisian night life of the 1920s fostered a new kind of jazz idiom that inspired many European composers like Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky. With his crossover education, Edmund T. Jenkins might have become an important musical figure in France, Britain, and America, but fate takes tragic turns and he died of peritonitis in a Paris hospital on September 12, 1926 at the age of 32. He was buried in Charleston.     

One hundred years ago, a small group of African American boys went on a big adventure in a foreign land unlike anything in their experience. They introduced Britain to a special culture and a new kind of music that despite the sudden disturbance of war, would contribute to bending the course of the musical arts from its old classical traditions to a new popular style. Perhaps more significantly, they left one of their own talents behind to thrive in  an environment free of the bigotry, intolerance and injustice that infused American society in 1914.

This is not to say that there was no racism in Europe, but Edmund Jenkins was able to flourish in England and France because he was not automatically refused opportunities or deemed a second class citizen as he would have been in South Carolina. He clearly had extraordinary gifts as a musician and composer that might have placed his name among the great artists of the postwar years. We can't speculate very far with that idea, but we can imagine the excitement of a young man, now on his own as the summer of 1914 ended, when he waved farewell to his friends from the dockside and then turned away to pursue a dream. 

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I have written about several photographs of orphan bands. The one most like the Jenkins Orphanage Band was the New York Orphan Boys' Band which came from the Hebrew Orphan Asylum of New York. There are numerous photos and postcards in my collection from World War One, and one of the categories on this blog is for black musicians. But no other photograph can compare to the wealth of stories contained in this simple postcard.

This post is not intended to be a complete history or commentary, but instead I have tried to present the highlights of my research as I discovered whatever information was hidden behind this postcard. As I began to piece it together I soon realized that each story deserves a book, and in fact there are some excellent authors who have done just that, writing comprehensive histories on Rev. Jenkins' Orphanage Band and his son, Edmund T. Jenkins. Their books provided answers to my questions and illuminated the history in ways that I am unable to do on this blog.   

The first can be found on the blog of London historian Jeffrey Green who has documented many fascinating stories of people of African descent in London before the Second World War. He has also written a biography: Edmund Thornton Jenkins: the life and times of an American black composer, 1894-1926 published by Greenwood Press, 1982.

Another superb book, Doin' the Charleston: Black Roots of American Popular Music and the Jenkins Orphanage Legacy by Mark Rowell Jones has some splendid pictures and a very detailed history on the Jenkins Orphanage Band. He makes a very good case for Charleston to be recognized as an important root of American jazz music due to the many jazz musicians who received their musical training in the Jenkins Orphanage.

I should also recommend a terrific illustrated children's book entitled Hey, Charleston!: The True Story of the Jenkins Orphanage Band by Anne Rockwell. She presents their story in a way that captures the imagination of readers, young and old alike.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
Click the link for more fans of old photographs.

Music in the Field

15 August 2014

It was a warm day. The air smelled of canvas tents, horses, and cut grass. The soldiers had begun their daily drills so there had to be music. Three boys came to hear the army band play.

The exact time and place of this photo postcard are unknown. This army band of about 28 are wearing uniforms appropriate to the decade 1910 to 1920. Standing at attention behind them are the drums and bugles of the field musicians. The photo has faded and I have improved it with digital software but I am still uncertain about the complexion on the faces of the musicians. Are they African American?  If they are, they may be members of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments – the famed "Buffalo Soldiers" which were two all black units of the U.S. Army. formed in the second half of the 19th century.

The photographer wrote a caption in the corner:

Guard Mount
In The Field

A Guard Mount was when one unit was assembled to exchange duty with another. There was a specific bugle call for this order.

The scene in front of the band might have resembled this image from a postcard of 1918. A band performs for a large company of soldiers arrayed in some kind of drill line. They are near tents and are watched over by officers on horseback.

This birds-eye view is entitled Musical Saber Drill, Fort Riley, Kansas. The soldiers are practicing basic cavalry swordsmanship, but minus the horses. No doubt it is always best to first learn this unmounted. The field is overlooking the Kansas River of Ft. Riley, a military installation once known for a brief connection to the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment and General George Armstrong Custer.

The postcard has a postmark of SEP 23, 1918 from Junction City, KS Camp Funston. This camp was one of 16 training camps set up around the country in 1917 to prepare new recruits and draftees for military service in the war against Germany. 

It was addressed to Mr. Emil E. Forderhase of Berger, Missouri in Franklin County.

Sept 22 - 1918

Mr Emil Forderhase. Dear Brother
Am going to send you this card for pleasure
Sure would like to see you little fellow
again Guess you will be a big man if
I get back. Cant tell exactly when
that will be. Guess you missed me
every evening as you went to bed
and also during the day Say Emil how
do you like school. Just study hard for
it is good to have a good education
always can make use of it. Am glad to
have a much as I have. Even is good
here where I am Are several boys here that
cant write or Read. Tell Ida that I read a
letter that Amelia sent to Benj Meyer & in
that letter she wrote to all of us.
As ever Harry

Harry's full name was Harry Walter Forderhase and he was 24 years old when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 1918.  The American Expeditionary Forces under General John J. Pershing had already seen their first major action in the spring. They would see much more as summer ended during the so-called great Hundred Days Offensive, also known as the Second Battle of the Somme. By September there was still no expectation that the war in Europe would end soon, and America was now sending 10,000 soldiers a day to the battlefields of France.

Harry Forderhase was one of over 4 million American men who were mobilized for America's military contribution to World War One. I do not know if he was ever put on a ship for France, but his veteran record states simply that he was released from army service in January 1919. Perhaps more significantly, Harry survived the Great Influenza epidemic of 1918, as the Kansas army camps were later determined to have been an epicenter for this horrific contagion that killed millions more people than were taken by the war.

Emil Forderhase must have been very pleased to have his brother return to the farm in Berger, as he was only 10 when Harry joined up in 1918. The Forderhase family, though they were a generation or more removed from the old country, lived in a rural farm community where nearly every neighbor was of German descent.

In the postwar years, the family stayed together, as Harry, the oldest boy of 5 children, took over the farm in 1920. They were all still there in the 1940 census, single and unmarried – Ida, Harry, Oscar, Olivia, and Emil. The two youngest worked in a hat factory, where Olivia was a seamstress and Emil was a crown finisher.  They probably did not need to write many postcards or letters to each other.


The days of saber drills and cavalry training are over in today's modern army. But the generals of 1914-1918 considered the horse and saber the preeminent force for war. This British film shows a group of raw recruits getting instruction in how to wield the saber. There are of course no horses. And sadly in this era of silent film, no band music either. I hear a waltz. Maybe the Blue Danube.

This Pathé video should start in the middle at 7m 58s, but the beginning is well worth watching too.



This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
Click the link to read more letters to home.


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