Sometimes a single picture can lead to unexpected research! An image of the First National Drum Corps, an early twentieth century fife and drum corps, has yielded interesting tidbits.
The image above was acquired for the Company of Fifers & Drummers Museum in November 2017 from an antique store in Gettysburg, PA. The image was printed from one of many glass plates found by the store owner in a barn just outside of town. By itself, the image is interesting, but seems to ask more questions than it answers: Who are these people? What are they doing? Why is there a bass drum in the picture?
A little research online revealed another picture of the group, and few answers.
The First National Drum Corps of Gettysburg is pictured in this black-and-white photograph, dated July 1903. An inscription at the bottom of the photograph reads "Devils Den." The donor’s father, Roy Long, is in the second row, second from the left end. He was born in December 1885 and is 17 years old in this photograph.
Pictured in the first row, left to right, are: Walter Swope, Calvin Hartman, Agnew Thomas. Second row, left to right: Robert Miller, Roy Long, Al Plank, Milt Remmel, John Zinn, Walter Furhman, Guy Mundorff. Third row, left to right: Raymond Dilfield, Clarence Bumbaugh, Earl T. Eicholtz, Donald Rupp, Earl S. Eicholtz, Guy Grenoble, Roy Zinn. Note that the uniforms are the same.
A news item from the Star Sentinel, June 10, 1903, tells us that the First National Drum Corps had a very successful trip to Hanover that week, where they were very well received in their new uniforms, so we can guess that the bass drum picture at the start of this article was probably taken during the summer of 1903. We hope to find more information on this group soon. Oh, if drums could only talk!
- Marty Sampson, Acting Curator, Museum of Fife and Drum, contributor