Sunday, February 19, 2012

Music in Somers

Music in Somers
Somers, from its start and early development, has taken and held a prominent place in the music field.
Perhaps many of us residing in Our Town today have almost forgotten those native sons and daughters whose musical talents added much to the artistic world.
Somers' own prima donna, Miss Charille Runals, known as Lily Runals, was born March 14, 1855.  Her early life was lived on the Runals Homestead, known as the Willowbrook farm in Our Town, and attended school at District No. 2, now Hillcrest School.
In early life she developed a sweet soprano voice and following her graduation from the Kenosha High School, she studied voice in Ohio, later going to New York, where she rapidly rose in public favor as a singer and poetic reader, and soon joined the Metropolitan Opera.  She charmed vast audiences with her rendition of her own arrangement of "The Sky Pilot", "Black Rock", and other beautiful stories.  As she sang the beautiful sacred songs and those immortal hymns, she made a lasting impression on her hearers.  Many of the older people of Our Town may recall when this prima donna came home on a visit and gave a concert at the Methodist Church.  Her rendition of "The Holy City" on this occasion has never been forgotten by those who listened.  She sleeps in a cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Florence Spencer Owen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ambrose Spencer, who came from the East in the early days, was  a school teacher, a teacher of music and was talented with a sweet soprano voice that thrilled her hearers for years.
The Jordan family was a family of music.  Miss Ann Jordan, a singing school leader, started many young people on a musical career.
John G. Mitchell, a son of a sturdy Scotch family, who came early, was a baritone of renown.  One of his favorite solos was "Rocked In The Cradle of The Deeps."  For years he was leader in the male and mixed quartet's Somers was so proud of.  He was a singing school master and started many of our young people in the music world.
And so on down the decades, our people have added much to the field of music.  The descendants of those pioneers are carrying on in the field of music - Mrs. Mabel Yule Longmore, Jay W. Rhodes, Mrs. Mabelle Cook Rhodes, Mrs. Eunice Bradley Bullamore, Mrs. Elizabeth Flett Felton."
(Source:  Photo of Lily Runals and information above, My Memoirs by Minnie A.G. Ozanne.  Copyright 1948 - Minnie A.G. Ozanne.  All Rights Reserved.)

(Source: Photo of Lily Runals and information above, My Memoirs by Minnie A.G. Ozanne. Copyright 1948 - Minnie A.G. Ozanne. All Rights Reserved.)

Somers Band Stand - Mitchell Park
Our first park was in the Village of Somers, and for many years band concerts and social activities were enjoyed at "The Mitchell Park" where a fine band stand was built.  The Third Somers Brass Band, under the direction of John G. Mitchell, and these musicians, Fred W. Leet, Adam Lytle, Robert and Burdette Burgess, Elmer Cooper, Sherman Gibbon, Anton Nelson, William Munroe, Maurace Gould, Delbert Bishop, and Ray Mitchell, the drummer boy, offered many fine entertainments.
Ray Mitchell later became leader of an Illinois State Military Band.  A story of the first and second bands organized in Somers is not available.

(Source: My Memoirs by Minnie A.G. Ozanne. Copyright 1948 - Minnie A.G. Ozanne. All Rights Reserved.)

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