Merritt's Cornet Band

City: Springfield

County: Sangamon

State: Illinois

Merritt’s Cornet Band was organized in Springfield under the leadership of Caleb Merritt in the spring of 1858. Caleb Merritt was a peripatetic band leader and musical teacher who relocated frequently in pursuit of his career, forming musical groups and teaching in New York, Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Prior to his leadership of Merritt’s Cornet Band in Springfield, he undertook similar work in and near Alton between at least 1852 and 1854. In Springfield, Merritt offered his services as a teacher of military and orchestral music, and advertised that his brass band was “ready at all times to turn out, either at home or abroad” and was available for hire for balls, parties, serenades, and excursions. The band also participated in parades and held concerts. Merritt’s Cornet Band performed at a Republican campaign event in Jacksonville during the campaign of 1858 and traveled with a contingent of Springfield residents to perform at the Lincoln-Douglas Debate held in Alton on October 15, 1858. The following year the band performed at the first commencement of Illinois State University . Merritt’s Cornet Band was active in Springfield through at least 1859, and beginning in 1860 Caleb Merritt was working in Salem and Centralia.

The Alton Telegraph (IL), 28 May 1852, 1:2; The Daily Alton Telegraph (IL), 20 August 1853, 2:6, 3:1; The Alton Weekly Courier (IL), 4 May 1854, 2:3-4; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 14 April 1858, 3:1; 17 September 1858, 4:5; 2 October 1858, 2:4, 3:2; 9 August 1859, 3:1; The Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 29 September 1858, 2:7; 29 June 1859, 2:3; Edwin Erle Sparks, ed., The Lincoln-Douglas Debates (Dansville, NY: F. A. Owen, 1918), 450, 500, 509; The Salem Advocate (IL), 8 November 1860, 3:2; 14 March 1861, 3:2; Centralia Sentinel (IL), 1 December 1864, 3:3; Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 24 December 1880, 3:4.