EDITOR’S NOTE–This is another article on Findlay-area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.
By R.L. HEMINGER
Many people recall the various bands which existed over the years in the community. There were quite a few and all made quite a contribution to the local scene.
One of them was the band of the old Buckeye Traction Ditcher Co. Earl F. Krause was its manager for a long time and among the effects of his widow, Mrs. Bertha Krause, was a scrapbook which her husband had kept containing a large number of clippings from Findlay newspapers with regard to the activities of the Ditcher band during its existence.
Included among the items within the scrapbook was a typewritten statement of Mr. Krause dealing the history of the musical organization up to the time of the preparation of the statement in October, 1924.
“THE BUCKEYE TRACTION Ditcher band was organized 11 years ago this month, October 1913,” wrote Mr. Krause. “The first rehearsal was held in an old house on N. Cory St. Later rehearsals were held at the Ditcher plant, where with the exceptions of a year or so, they have maintained headquarters.
“Four directors have been in the band’s service, our present director, W.T. Platt, Jr., having been with us for the past five years. He succeeded F.C. Burke.
“Monday night of each week is set aside for rehearsal, the Buckeye Traction Ditcher Company supplying a very suitable band hall and paying the director a monthly salary. The first two years of their existence the band paid its own obligations, which meant surmounting almost impossible obstacles. The members were even assessed for each rehearsal they attended and were fined if they were absent. This proved the interest of the musicians and the company came to their rescue and now cooperates with them in every reasonable manner.
“Among the organization’s present personnel of 30 musicians are one circus man, one former member of the Royal Canadian band, many army musicians and one minstrel man.
“During the 11 years existence of this band, many other organizations of a similar nature have come and gone. Today it is Findlay’s only regularly organized band. It has appeared before the public 269 times, of which 181 were gratis or without pay of any nature. The money actually invested in this band will run into the thousands.
“THE PRESENT OFFICERS are Earl F. Krause, manager; Carl E. Lee, secretary-treasurer; and W.T. Platt, Jr., director.”
Mr. Krause’s scrapbook contains a picture of the band. It also contains rosters of attendance of some of the years of its existence.
The band in 1917 staged a week’s carnival in Findlay. It too the form of a circus, conducted at the Turley lots on East Main Cross Street, with the Col. Francis Ferrari Shows here for the occasion. Twenty railroad circus cars brought the circus here. Popularity voting contests were held also. The proceeds of the week’s event went to finance the band’s operations.
The band was in much demand during World War I and played for many patriotic events, especially during the Liberty Loan campaigns and when contingents of selective service men departed for training camps. There are many newspaper clippings dealing with these matters in the scrapbook.
The band played at the ceremonies in connection with the laying of the cornerstone of the new Masonic Temple at Ottawa July 4, 1918.
The old Buckeye Ditcher firm later became the Findlay division of the Gar Wood organization. The Ditcher company, which pioneered the use of large ditching machines in excavation work for the laying of various kinds of pipe, had its origin around the turn of the century here. It was originally known as the Van Buren, Heck and Marvin Co.
The depression of the 1930s hit the enterprise a hard blow and the plant was closed down for a time. With the coming of World War II orders for war material provided a large volume of business that kept the plant busy day and night for some years.