The Decade 1870 to 1880
Following the war, David Singer was named director and the band became
known as the Singer Cornet Band and later the Singer Band. I.S. Eberly,
founder of Eberly Lumber Yard in Mechanicsburg, was the band's next
director. During his years at the helm, the band was recognized as one
of the finest in the state and performed at the Centennial Celebration
of the United States in Philadelphia in 1876.
The band had procured new uniforms
in keeping with the Centennial and there were solicitations for
donations to help defray the cost. The new uniform was in the style of
the dress of the Continental Army of 1776. The coat was dark blue with
tails turned back and the broad lapels were faced with buff; the bright
brass buttons of the coat shone like gold. The waistcoat was buff
colored. Knee breeches were of blue cloth, and there were leather
leggings and shoes with silver buckles. To top it all was a tricorn
(three-cornered hat) with a black pompon.
The band had traveled to
Philadelphia on Saturday, the first of July, and was quartered at
Grangers’ Encampment, which was located at Elm Station on the Main Line
of the Pennsylvania Railroad, about five miles west of the Centennial
grounds. On Tuesday morning, July 4, the Singer Band was in the city
early and took up the line of march with thousands of others who trod
the cobblestone streets of the city that day.
About eleven o’clock in the morning,
as the parade was moving down Chestnut Street and nearing Independence
Hall, a happy thought came to the Singer Band leader as to the most
appropriate music to render on this occasion and so, just as they
reached Sixth Street, the lively strains of Yankee Doodle" burst out to
delight the huge crowd around the old State House. The tune caught the
ear and the uniforms caught the eye, and immediately thousands began to
shout themselves hoarse with patriotic fervor. Certainly no one who
witnessed that stirring spectacle will ever forget it.
The bright and happy week for the
Singer boys was unfortunately to have a sorrowful ending. On Wednesday
afternoon a terrific thunderstorm passed over that section of the
country. Roger Heffelfinger, one of the drummers of the band, went into
the corridor of the hotel to assist in closing a ventilator. While he
was in the act of loosening the wires that held it open, a bolt of
lightning struck the wire and passed through his body, killing him
instantly. His body was brought home that same evening, arriving here
on the ten o’clock train. Almost the entire town was at the railroad
station upon the arrival of the train and a feeling of sadness pervaded
the community for many days.
The band had eighteen members in
that day, and at the time this article was written (July 3, 1901),
there were but two old-timers remaining, Mr. I. S. Eberly and Dr. R. M.
McGary, both 25-year members.