Front row, from left: John Dagwell, H.P. Tilden, John Hooks, Joe Hardiman, James McCarthy, Francis A. Myers, the conductor, who is standing, Eve White, A. Swift, William Lord, Bert Harris, Harold King, Perley Lakin; second row, from left: Earl Allen, Carl Rice, Leo LaMunion (a little to the rear), Winfield Guild, Arlie Beagle, Glen Morgan, Bill Wilson, Earl Gibbs, Jim Philo, Levi Cole (a little to the rear and who acts as substitute for John Hughes), George Peters and Claude Beagle. Rear row, from left: Frank Walker, Carl Thurneu, Ed Corbett, “Bill” Dunn (who is substituting for Bill Hughes), Bill Hughes, Clint Madole, Bert Light and William O. Jones. Photo circa 1913.
In the spring of 1913, Professor Francis A. Myers and about 30 local musicians organized a village band — a band that evolved into the New Hartford Citizens' Band (NHCB).
The 38-year-old Professor Myers was born in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, on March 15, 1875. He left the John Hopkins University Medical School to join the famed John Philip Sousa Marching Band. In 1912, he decided to settle in Utica and pursue a musical career, teaching in area high schools and directing numerous bands.
That first village band in New Hartford consisted of seven cornets, eight clarinets, one oboe, one piccolo, three saxophones, three horns, three trombones, one baritone, two basses and two drums.
The band continued its success playing in many parades in the area.
Many years later, the Observer-Dispatch newspaper published a photograph of the band that was taken in 1929 on the steps in front of Butler Memorial Hall. Photo lower right.
In 1949, it was reported that the "New Hartford Band" had organized an association and elected its first officers. Rehearsals would be in the First Presbyterian Church House.
In 1950, Ernest Ortone was appointed band director. He was a music teacher in New Hartford at the time. The band's 50 musicians came from New Hartford, Whitesboro, New York Mills, Poland, Chadwicks, Sauquoit, Frankfort and Sherrill. The last concert in 1950 was attended by more than 1,500.
Stephen Phillips took over as band conductor in 1955 and held that position until 1960 when he was succeeded by Ken Fryer. Fryer was head of the school's music department and the concerts were moved to the high school. Fryer retired in 1972 and from then to 1975, the band had several directors, including music teachers Paul Clark and Ray Durkee.
The year 1976 was a memorable one for the New Hartford Citizens' Band for that was the year Michael DiMeo, head of the school music department, was handed the conductor's baton — and continues to conduct the band today. That band today consists of an ideal blend of both music students and band veterans. In 2013, the band celebrated its 100th anniversary.
The New Hartford Citizens' Band and its talented musicians do their share to make New Hartford a wonderful place to live and are able to do so because of the hundreds of people who support them.
The Citizen's Band today.