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Rohrersville Band History

168 Years of History


The Rohrersville Cornet Band was organized in 1837 as McCoy's Cornet Band and is Maryland's oldest community band in continuous existence. The band was founded by Washington McCoy. McCoy worked on the C&O Canal and in later years operated his own marble cutting business in Rohrersville. He was also an accomplished E-flat clarinet player and the band's director for much of the 1800's.
The band was inactive during the chaotic days of the Civil War, when two of McCoy's own sons served as fifer and drummer boys in the Union Army. In 1882 the band adopted a new constitution and changed its name to the Rohrersville Cornet Band. The band was incorporated in the State of Maryland in 1894, and revised its certificate in 1915 to own real estate. This action permitted the band to build its own hall. In 1916, the corner stone for the band hall was laid on the very ground that had been occupied by McCoy & Sons' marble company. The hall is a significant part of the Rohrersville Historical District. Today the band hall is within a stone's throw of the church cemetery where Washington McCoy is buried, perhaps still keeping an eye on the band's activities.
In the 1800's, community bands were one of the few forms of entertainment available to the average citizen. In those days, the Rohrersville Band played as often as four times a week, limited only by the available modes of transportation. At that time, there were thousands of community bands throughout the United States. Each town or burg had its own musical group, sometimes only five or six strong. With Edison's invention of the phonograph in 1877, technology slowly replaced the town band as premiere entertainment source. As the movies and radio, followed by television and now computer systems vie to entertain us during our free time, the town band has all but disappeared. But there is still a need for the community band.
Today, the Rohrersville Band provides the same service to the public that it always has. Sunday concerts in the park and at nursing homes, patriotic events, and festivals are coupled with parades to make up the largest share of the band's performances, which average 30 each year. Further, the band holds approximately 45 rehearsals during February to December, and offers seasonal concerts in the band hall. The band plays a variety of music dating from the 19th Century up to modern show tunes. The band hall also houses a pictorial history of the band and a memorabilia case with band instruments, uniforms, and other items from the past. Since the late 1890's the band has had only six leaders. Mr. Richard Haynes is celebrating over 40 years as band director. Mr. Reginald Norris is the president and has played with the band since 1937.
Band membership is open to anyone with the desire to play. The age of active band members range from preteen to the 80's, and it is not unusual to have three generations from one family playing in the band at the same time. The band is always looking for new musicians and encourages those interested to drop by the Band Hall in downtown Rohrersville 7:15 p.m. Tuesday nights for practice. The band extends a special invitation to young musicians who would like the challenge of new music and an opportunity to practice over the summer months. Young members or older members returning to music after years of not playing are welcome to participate in rehearsals until their skills mature or return. For information about the band please call the director, Holly Roelkey, Director Emeritus, Mr. Haynes, (301) 432-6987, the president, or the secretary, Jack Emanuelson, (301) 432-2548.





This is a copy of an article that was written 1906 by Lillie C. Thomas
The original was with papers given to the band Dec. 12, 1993 by Charles Huffman. They would have been part of the Paul & Ethel Haynes papers.
Mr. Washington McCoy.
Mr. Washington McCoy of Rohrersville Md. Now dead about nine years, was a very good and useful citizen in his day. In 1837 then a young man, he organized a band known as Rohrersville Cornett band, which he directed for many years and through his efforts, it was brought up to a high state of efficiency. He was a very fine musician and understood harmony thoroughly. After seeing the air of a piece of music he could write out all other parts which he did on many occasions. He would send to the publisher, for one leading part of the piece, and then he would compose all other parts from that. He also taught vocal music. He took great interest in music and was anxious to teach it to others, and has been known to teach all winter without making any charge. My Father went two terms to Mr. McCoy and all the people about his age or older are indebted to the grand old man, for what they know about music. Mr. McCoy had a very good memory he could give an interesting account of everything that happened in his younger days. He carried on marble works in Rohrersville for many years and many a spall of marble flew from his chisel. The grave-yards and cemeteries of this valley contain many pieces of his work which are monuments to his genius. He was a good, true, honest, citizen and an excellent neighbor and we drop a tear to his memory.
L. C. T. Lillie C. Thomas




Oldest known picture of the band dated 1857
The youngster is said to be John Knode Baker.
The picture was given to the band by Mrs. Doris Dillon, granddaughter of Mr. Baker.



The band in Rohrersville around the turn of the century.



1902 Picture
Steps of Bethel U.B. Church in Rohrersville, MD
Front Row on Bottom Step:
1. Harry B. Rohrer, Director 1900-1909; 2. Thomas Smith (married to W. McCoy granddaughter, and associated with W. McCoy & Sons Marble Yards Tombstone business); 3. Oliver C. Knadler, (snare drummer, helped build band hall in 1916 as a stone & brick mason).
Rest of the Band from left to right:
4. Otho Smith; 5. Daniel G. Miller (drove his team to pull band wagon); 6. Unknown; 7. John F. Clopper, Director 1909-1937; 8. David Hine; 9. John L. Snyder; 10. Martin T. Rohrer (member 1875-1930; 11. Will Eakle; 12. Charles O. Smith (had 3 sons play in band, one into 1990s) 13. Clyde Myers.
       5          8                  11
6 9 12
4 7 10 13
1 2 3




The Rohrersville Band, Sept. 6, 1907

Front row kneeling L-R: Wm. J. Snyder, D. Harold Haynes, John M. Poffenberger, John D. Keedy, Harry W. Eakle, John F. Clopper, Harry B. Rohrer, Director.

Standing L-R: Oliver C. Knader, Allen Clae Eakle, John L. Snyder, Herbert Potter, Thomas H. Smith, Harvey E. Stine, Paul M. Haynes, Charles W. Smith, George E. Smith, David A. Hine, Martin T. Rohrer, Ira M. Keedy, Earl H. Smith, Elmer A. Stone.


1918 Picture
Taken at Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pa.
Seated L to R:
John F. Clopper, (Director 1909-1938); Clarence Eakle; John D. Keedy; J. Luther Smith; Harry Eakle; Ira M. Keedy; Kenneth Stangle.
Second row kneeling L-R:
Allen Clae Eakle (Director 1938-1960); Harvey E. Stine; Roy M. Cochran; Martin T. Rohrer (member 1975-1930); Fred J. Smith.
Standing L-R:
Cecil S. Haines; David A. Hine; Paul M. Haynes (married to W. McCoy�s great-granddaughter); D. Harold Haynes (father Richard Haynes (director 1960-2004, member 1940-present)); George J. Rohrer; Harlan Violet; George E. Smith.
Identified by Richard L. Haynes and Floyd Smith 5-19-1994.






Parade at Smithsburg summer of 1999



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