Gift of Brass Horn
Recalls Bands
Of Early Days


Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, Jan. 18, 1950

Another prized reminder of early-day Lincoln county history has been added to the county historical exhibit in the lobby of the Lincoln county court house.

Brought in this week by Ernest Obermueller, the newest addition to the exhibit is an old bass horn which had been carefully stored away at the Obermueller farm for many years.

The instrument, bearing little resemblance to modern brass or other band instruments, is fully five feet in length. It is made of German silver and has three valves, the operation of the valves facilitated by the addition of violin strings. In playing position, the bell extended back beyond the player’s left shoulder. It is fairly light in weight but awkward to carry so did not prove popular with band men.

Mr. Obermueller recalled that the horn originally cost $125 and was played in the old Lincoln Cornet Band by the late S.H. Hoover. So far as can be learned the cornet band was organized in Lincoln in the early ‘90s, about 60 years ago.

Several years later, a group of 12 musically inclined young men organized the Elkhorn German Cornet band. Mr. Hoover sold them the bass horn for $25. It became a part of the band’s instrumentation but again proved none too popular because of its large size and awkward shape.

The Elkhorn German Cornet band was abandoned after about 10 years and the group sold out to the Bullfoot boys. However, the bass horn was not wanted by the Bullfoot band and Mr. Obermueller stored it in the attic at his home where it remained until 1918. At that time Mr. Obermueller built a new home and the horn was moved out to the garage, resting there until this week.

Finding the horn back in 1918 brought many pleasant memories of the German cornet band and shortly after that the Saline Valley Band was organized and this musical group continued to function on special occasions.

Mr. Obermueller is the only living member of the Elkhorn German Cornet band but he proudly displays a photograph showing the group wearing their uniforms and holding their instruments, among them the German silver bass horn.

So far, no living members of the Lincoln cornet band have been found in this community.

Bands played an important part in community affairs in the early days and practically every community had its own band, residents recall. Serenading newly married couples, those celebrating wedding anniversaries or birthdays was a popular custom and there were always treats for the band boys at the close of the concert. On many occasions the Elkhorn German Cornet band came to Lincoln and gave out with the music.

Decoration day, Fourth of July and numerous holidays were gala occasions, celebrated with parades, public speaking, and, of course, music. Before the era of automobiles, phonographs and radio, communities were dependent upon their own resources for entertainment and the bands were among their chief enjoyments.

Mr. Obermueller’s bass horn is still in good condition. He has polished it very carefully and it makes an excellent addition to the county historical museum. Anyone want to play a few notes on it?

To see photos of the Saline Valley Band, click here and here.


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