The Washington State Library

News, Links, and Fun from the Public Services Team

Research Success Story: The 1885 Winlock Band

Posted by wastatelib on July 3, 2008

It’s been ages since we’ve featured one of our Newspaper Gems, but in celebration of the 4th of July we thought we’d combine that feature along with a Research Success Story.  Frequently librarians don’t get to see the full stories behind the diligent research pursued here at the State Library.  But sometimes one of our patrons will surprise us with a picture or a finished research paper that helps us understand the great discoveries just waiting in our collections for someone to uncover them.  We hope that we can share more of these stories with you in the future.

Today’s story features Jill, who contacted us with a problem.  She had in her possession a picture of a small brass band in front of a wooden building that was labeled, “Winlock Band, Centralia W.T., July 4, 1885.”  She wondered how this picture related to her ancestor, John T. Burgess, a noted musician and businessman who died in Montana in 1896.  John had a colorful personal life and had been linked to a number of other musical groups, but what was he doing at the time this picture was taken?  What was his role in the Winlock Band?

Librarian Mary thought that a local paper from Centralia might have some description of the 4th of July activities, but wasn’t sure if the Winlock Band would be described in enough detail to be helpful in Jill’s search.  But Mary hit the mother lode in the July 11, 1895 Chehalis Nugget.  The paper not only described the 109th Anniversary of Independence festivities in detail (down to the ladies who were costumed to represent various qualities of Liberty and individual States of the Union), but it also listed the names of members of the Winlock Band.  The first name to appear was “John Burgess (leader).”  The Chehalis Nugget answered Jill’s question about her ancestor’s role in the Winlock Band decisively.  Click here to read the account from the Nugget.

Mary was delighted to receive an envelope from Jill less than a week later which contained a letter of thanks as well as a copy of the picture of John T. Burgess and the Winlock Band on that 4th of July in Centralia so long ago.  John is the first person on the left in the top row, wearing a top hat.  If anyone can definitely match another of the names listed in the Nugget to the band members in the picture, please let us know!  We’d love to put more names with faces.

We’re very grateful to Jill for both the picture and the permission to share her Research Success Story here.  Thanks, Jill!

Have a safe and happy Independence Day, everyone!

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One Response to “Research Success Story: The 1885 Winlock Band”

  1. Earl said

    Now that is a fine story about one of the great resources of the Washington State Library and its staff. Very good for Jill in her search. Thanks.

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