Candia Cornet Band Members ... year 1900 +/-
It is unclear when exactly the Candia Cornet Band was organized because it was “reorganized” a number of times over the years. Early records show that it began around 1855 and was “reorganized” in 1858 when Jesse Fitts returned from visiting his brothers in Worcester, MA where he “bought a quantity of second hand brass instruments, consisting of bugles, cornets, ophyclides, trombones, etc. paying therefore only what they were worth for old junk… The instruments, which were in good order, were turned over to the members of the newly organized band for a mere song.” (Moore 378). At this time, the Candia Cornet Band leader was Stephen B. Fitts and members included J Franklin Fitts, Dana Fitts, Charles Fitts, Isaac Fitts, Moses French, Charles French, Asa Dutton, John Foster and T. Benton Turner. Records show that the Band was reorganized again in 1861, and in 1868 and once again around 1878.
In 1885 the Candia Cornet Band celebrated their 25th anniversary. President of the band, J.C. Hobbs, gave a brief history and remarked that in the past 25 years there had been some 50 different members who “have played at rehearsals, concerts, political and other meetings some 924 times and have in a certain measure had the sympathy of our towns people.” He also noted that there were only four current members that started with the band 25 years ago.
The Candia Cornet Band was very popular and was often called upon to take part in flag raisings, political rallies and parades. They played at funerals, parties and dances. They gave concerts and would often spend a week or more at a time during the summer playing at Rye Beach hotels. They also played at the Civil War veterans’ summer reunions at Weirs Beach in Laconia.
According to a newspaper article dated 1938, the Candia Cornet Band made its last group appearance around 1903 but did not officially disband for another 15 years when they held their last band supper and distributed the treasury funds amongst the band members. At that time the remainder of the instruments were placed in the Fitts Museum on High Street.
Of special interest is the over-the-shoulder “saxhorn” or “back fire” horn. It was used during the Civil War so that the troops behind their officers could hear the commands that were being given with the horn.
These instruments, along with a bass drum, cymbals and cornet that were donated at a later time, are still on display in the Fitts Museum today.