Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Jack Purvis Notes

It has been awhile since I published the first installment of The Many Lives of Jack Purvis here at Yankee Jazz Beat. This long lapse of silence was not by design. Lots of things have gotten in the way of refining the rough draft that has been stewing for about a year!

Hopefully, it shouldn't be much longer before I get Part Two out. In the next installment Jack Purvis' stay at the Indiana Boys School will be examined in a little more detail. This might be a let down for some who are hoping to learn more on Jack's life as a jazz musician. I will get to those years, don't worry. I'm not sure how much will be "new" to the well studied Purvis aficionado, but I am hopefully optimistic that I might be able to add a few kernels of forgotten lore and knowledge in regards to his life.

Sadly, everyone in his family who knew him, appears to be dead. His brother Richard, his half siblings, his wife, and his daughter. It also appears that most of the musicians he played with are now gone also, though, you never know there may be someone who played in the prison orchestra in the 1940s still left!

Fortunately, Jack Purvis was an interest to jazz collectors and researchers during his lifetime and just after his death so many stories of his wild and crazy activities survive in some form or other. Although some embellishment did seem to take place with these stories at the core they seem to be grounded in fact.

Here are a few places on the internet with which to learn more about Jack Purvis and his music.

Then there are the Trumpeter Jack Purvis Appreciation Page which I started and then there is the Trumpeter Jack Purvis Appreciation Page Group where people can freely discuss Purvis!

One interesting discovery I made today is Dr. Gordon Vernick's Jazz-Insights page where he has two podcasts discussing Purvis and his music!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

FROM THE ARCHIVES - Letter to the Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture

The Yankee Jazz Beat blog is more than just another blog on jazz, it is a blog to remember the life, research and writings of George A. Borgman. Sometimes entries will not be about music at all, such as this one which is a letter to the Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture concerning an article. 

On 'Tolstoy Tradition'

"Although I enjoyed Sally S. Wright's "Writing in the Tolstoy Tradition" in the April 1989 issue of Chronicles, I must point out at least one error.

British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
The caption underneath the photograph of Nikolai Tolstoy states, "the Macmillan government participated in atrocities in Austria in 1945," implying that Harold Macmillan was the British prime minister then. There were two PM's during the year 1945, but Macmillan was not one of them. Winston Churchill was replaced as PM by Clement Attlee during the Potsdam Conference, held from July 17 to August 2, 1945.

In 1945, under Churchill, Macmillan was minister resident in the Mediterranean. He was PM from 1957 until 1963.

Also, the word "atrocities" seems a little strong. At the end of the war, the British and Americans returned displaced persons to the Soviets, as agreed at the Yalta Conference. This was bad enough but can hardly be called atrocities, which occurred when the Soviets, and also the Tito partisans, executed, tortured, and jailed the DP's.

I do not know whether Macmillan was responsible for what happened, but it appears that Churchill and Roosevelt should also be blamed for making the deal with Stalin to return the displaced persons."

—George A. Borgman
Westwood, MA

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Saturday Jazz Performance! "Wild Cat Blues" - Chris Barber Jazz Band!

Wild Cat Blues was written by Thomas "Fats" Waller when he was in his early twenties. Clarence Williams who published the music in 1923 is also credited as a composer, however, this was a standard practice with some publishers and Williams seems to have been notorious for giving himself credit as a composer on other peoples tunes. He may have edited the work or contributed, but we are talking about Fats Waller here and I doubt Williams had to do anything apart from publish it. This was however one of Waller's earliest compositions to be published, so he probably would have gone along with any type of arrangement just to get published.

Clarence Williams' Blue Five was the first band to record the tune the same year the music was published in New York on July 30th.

In this jazz performance trombonist Chris Barber and his Jazz Band plays Wild Cat Blues on apparently October 6, 1985.
Chris Barber in 2010.
Donald Christopher Barber was born in Hertfordshire, England on April 17, 1930. It was in the 1950s that Barber began his rise to fame when he and Monty Sunshine formed a band in 1953 featuring trumpeter Ken Colyer. In April of that year they debuted in Copenhagen, Denmark and made their first recordings while there.

After Colyer's departure from the group in 1954 the name was changed to the Chris Barber Jazz Band. They had a hit with their recording of Petit Fleur in 1959 which made it to No. 3 on the UK Charts during a 24 week reign on the UK Singles Charts. The group ultimately awarded a gold disc for this recording. During this year they toured the United States.

Barber expanding his musical interests arranged tours of many famous American Blues musician to the United Kingdom and eventually added blues guitarist John Slaughter to his bands line-up in 1964.

In 2008 Chris Barber, Eric Clapton as well as others formed co-operative record company, Blues Legacy. As of 2018 Chris Barber is still musically active.

The band is still in operation. In this 1985 performance the band is comprised of leader Chris Barber on trombone with a special appearance on the bass, both Ian Wheeler and John Crocker on clarinets, Pat Halcox on trumpet; Norman Emberson, on drums; Vic Pitt on bass;  Johnny McCallum on banjo; and Roger Hill on guitar.

The Chris Barber Jazz Band

Here now is the first recording of Wild Cat Blues by Clarence Williams' band featuring Sidney Bechet...

Clarence Williams' Blue Five, Wild Cat Blues, July 30, 1923.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Jazz Performance Saturday! "On the Sunny Side of the Street" - Downtown Dixieland Jazz Band of Canada

For this jazz performance we travel by way of video to Toronto, Canada 2013! The Downtown Dixieland Jazz Band plays their rendition of  On the Sunny Side of the Street was composed by Jimmy McHugh with lyrics by Dorothy Fields. The tune was first introduced to the public in 1930 during Lew Leslie's International Revue.

Not much is known about the Downtown Dixieland Jazz Band apart from the fact that in 1988 they played at the first Beaches International Jazz Festival in Toronto in 1988. It is not known whether the band is still performing.

In this video Myrna Van Weerdenburg vocalizes, Nick Van Weerdenburg is on clarinet, Al Cox plays trumpet, Harris Mark Lusher is on guitar, Ron Johnston is on bass, Jim Nevins plays the trombone, and it appears to be Lenny Van Bruggen on drums. Garry J. Asseltine was the videographer.

Toronto, 2013 Video by Garry J. Asseltine.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Jazz Performance Saturday! - The Preservation Hall Jazz Band - "Tailgate Ramble"

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band was formed by tuba player Allan Jaffe around 1961 in New Orleans. The band is still in operation. In this performance from about June 2010 the band is comprised of Mark Braud on trumpet; Charlie Gabriel on clarinet, Ben Jaffe on tuba; Joe Lastie on drums;  Freddie Lonzo on trombone; Clint Maedgen on tenor-sax; Rickie Monie on piano and Walter Payton on string bass.

Tailgate Ramble was composed by Wingy Manone and Johnny Mercer. It was published in 1944 and has been played by the Trad Jazz crowd ever since.


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Jazz Performance Saturday - "Everybody Loves My Baby" - Calacas Jazz Band

The Calacas Jazz Band of Mexico performs Everybody Loves My Baby in this music video style film from 2013.

Everybody Loves My Baby was written by Spencer Williams (1889-1969) and Jack Palmer (1899-1976) and published in 1924. The extended title is Everybody Loves My Baby (But My Baby Don't Love Nobody But Me). It became a hit after Aileen Stanley's recording was released on record on nSeptember 19th of that year.  

Later in 1924, both the Clarence Williams and Fletcher Henderson bands recorded the tune.Itis now consider a jazz standard.

The Calacas Jazz Band was founded in 2006 by four members while studying at a music school in Mexico City. They formed originally for a class project on Sweet Substitute by Jelly Roll Morton, and eventually continued playing together. The name of the band in the beginning was Calaveritas de Azúcar which eventually changed to their current one.

They first played on the streets but by 2010 they had recorded their first album featuring music of the 1920s and '30s.

At present the band consists of Christian Merino Terreros who plays guitar, banjo and ukulele; singer Maria Arellano; Jazmin Luna who plays saxophone; Alejandro Hernandez who plays the washboard and anything else he can get his hands on; and Alonso López on bass.

So let's watch and listen to the Calacas Jazz Band's music video for Everybody Loves My Baby!

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Many Lives of Jack Purvis, Part One - By George A. Borgman & Eric B. Borgman


by George A. Borgman & Eric B. Borgman

One of the biggest characters and most eccentric, but brilliant jazzman of all time is Jack Purvis, who played trumpet, trombone, piano, sang, and was also a composer. He has been described as a liar, a thief, a bigamist, even a kleptomaniac and the stories about him seemed to grow with time as exaggeration began to hide the facts of what actually occurred during some of the remembered incidents of his life.

He was to live many lives within his lifespan. From a Tom Sawyer like boyhood, truant, petty pilferer, incorrigible youth to that of a world famous musician. From one day to the next he was an aviator, a hobo, a composer, a world traveler, a thief, a cook, an alcoholic, a musical arranger and a Don Juan! He might be a valet to a wealthy inheritor one day, an Arab street seller, a black trumpet player or Frenchman, the next.

One description that does seem to be universal is that he was a talented musician, arranger and composer, whose bizarre behavior and brushes with the law seems to have caused his career to suffer leading him into obscurity.

Jack Purvis was born on December 11, 1906, in Kokomo, Indiana. At the time of his birth his father Sanford B., was 54 years old and his mother Waneta "Neta" (Jackson) Purvis was 25.


Sanford B. Purvis was the son of William and Lucretia (White) Purvis. He was born on February 15, 1851 in Bartholomew Co., Indiana.

When he was sixteen he worked on a farm for $16.00 a month. He saved up enough for a term at New London School, where he obtained a teaching license. After teaching two terms and working on a farm during the Summer, he again saved enough money for his education. He took law at Howard College and was admitted as an attorney in the Howard circuit court.

He was first married in Howard Co., Indiana on October 24, 1876 to Mary M. Kirkpatrick and he made a living at various jobs. A son Ward was born to them on June 20, 1880. Another son Guy Sanford was born on September 22, 1882. 

Sanford, on November 24, 1882 and March 7, 1884 was appointed Post Master of Centre in Howard Co., Indiana. In 1888, a daughter Gail Hamilton was born on September 22nd. A year later, tragedy struck when Ward died on December 6, 1889. He was buried in the Crown Point Cemetery at Kokomo.

Twins were born Ruth and Rathgar on September 5, 1893, however they were sickly. Ruth dying the next day and Rathgar hanging on until September 20th.

Jack Purvis birth annoucement.
Sanford was a traveling salesman by 1897. Then in 1898 he voluntarily went into bankruptcy being over $7,000 in debt.(1)  Mary died of heart failure on October 1, 1903 in Kokomo and was buried at the Crown Point Cemetery alongside her children. A little over a year later on November 7, 1904 Sanford married Wanita Jackson the daughter of Caleb Jackson who lived in the East side of the city. Waneta known as "Neta" or "Nettie" and Sanford were married at the home of the officiating-minister, the Rev J. H. MacNeil in Kokomo, Indiana. Two years later Jack Purvis was born on December 11th.

In 1910, Sanford was a sales manager for a stove works and then from 1912 to 1921 he was a salesman. It has also been reported that he was a real estate agent at one time.


During the early teens the Purvis family lived at 321 East Mulberry St. Jack's mother Waneta "Nettie" attempted to get a divorce from Sanford in 1910 reporting that, Sanford, "had abused her no less than 100 times in the last few years." In November, something happend between Sanford and Waneta that was serious enough for her to move out and take Jack with her. She consulted the lawyer firm Morrison & McIntosh who instituted a suit for divorce, and succeeded in getting a restraining order on the 19th of the month.(2) 

Whatever the trouble that had arisen between husband and wife it was resolved enough for Waneta to withdraw her divorce suit and move back home with Jack by November 28th. Spring saw the birth their second child, J. Richard Purvis, who was born on April 23, 1911.

A few months later on August 1st, Jack's apparent first mention in the Kokomo newspapers came when he attended Robert H. Musselman's seventh birthday party.
On April 22, 1912 shortly after eating dinner Nettie complained that she was feeling ill. A doctor was sent for. It was determined she was suffering from double pneumonia and she fell deeper and deeper into sickness. Though terribly ill and suffering Nettie clung to life until, unable to breathe, she succumbed on August 2, 1912 at the age of 31.

Jack was five years old and Richard was only 15 months when their mother died. It is possible that this tragedy and the reported "abuse" that had taken place in the house during the preceding years propelled young Jack down the wrong path early on. At this time his father was 62.

Nettie's funeral was that Sunday, the 4th. It took place out of the house at 321 East Mulberry Street at 2:30. Rev. E. Richard Edwards of the Main Street Christian Church officiated. She was buried at the Crown Point Cemetery.  

Sanford was never to marry again. He would employ a housekeeper, however. In 1920, it would be a 48-year-old Lucy Stanton who was employed to look after Jack and Richard. It is said that Sanford tried to give his young sons the care they needed and even refused job offers so as to be home for them, but Jack's habit for getting into trouble couldn't be restrained.

Sanford & Richard Purvis(3)
On April 12, 1917, while skating home from school, down a sidewalk, on East Walnut St., Jack was knocked down and run over by a team of horses and a wagon operated by a Mr. Brown. The Bercroft delivery wagon wheel crushed his left hand and ran over his right arm hurting his arm and shoulder.  

A year later Jack had recovered from his injuries enough to attend Camp Tree from June 25 to July 8th 1918. Thirty-five boys took part at the camp at the confluence of the Hinkle and Cicero Creeks at Noblesville, Indiana.

Young Jack was starting to misbehave and get into trouble with petty theft and other wayward activities. He became too much for his father and Lucy to handle. In 1919, his father was looking into sending his son to a Chicago psychiatrist, when instead Jack ran afoul of the law for petty pilfering at the beginning of June and was sentenced by Judge Overton to the Indiana Boys' School in Plainfield. Jack, accompanied by his father, was dropped off at the school. 

His father after checking out the facility was satisfied that his son would get good food and sleeping accommodations as well as some much needed discipline. Sanford was also comforted in the fact that one of the biggest owners of real-estate in the state of Indiana was a former inmate at the school. Jack, however, was not as happy at the facility and would run away the first chance he got.

Although, Sanford knew where his son would be and that he'd be learning and get three meals a day, life at the "School" was not easy. Firstly, Jack was now incarcerated at the age of twelve with children who were even worse in their behavior than he. Secondly, some of the children were dying! In 1920 two children died. One, John Goen, died in January after he went to a hospital for surgery. He passed away from complications of the appendicitis operation. The other child to die was Roy Nickles. His death, in June, was caused by a facial infection.(4)

Jack ran away about two weeks into his stay on Sunday, June 15th. The superintendent of the Indiana School for Boys' instructed the Kokomo Tribune to warn that Jack would most likely make his way back to town.

Jack made his escape, "by hiding himself in a closet opening on a hall until everyone was asleep and then slipping out in his barefeet and clad only in a pair of overalls and a waist. He footed it over to Ben Davis and then to Carmel, making a little money and getting himself a pair of shoes by picking strawberries and doing other chores at farmhouses along the way. He admitted that he swapped waists and trousers with some boy whose clothes he saw hanging on a clothes line near the road one morning. He came from Noblesville to Oakford on a traction car and hoofed it from Oakford to Kokomo." It took him four days to get back to Kokomo, as he arrived there on Wednesday, June 19th.(5)

The news article continues the story of his escape. Jack "was at his father's home, but did not let anyone see him. He got out the next morning on the L. E. & W. train, and landed in Laporte. From there he caught a train into Chicago." 

The Chicago police nabbed Jack and the Plainfield institution was called by them identifying Jack as the runaway Jack Purvis. The Boys' School sent out a guard to go out and pick him up. When he arrived and was taken to see the boy however, he told them that that was not Jack Purvis and left without him.

Apparently, by this time Jack had already learned the ability to change into other people, for Jack made himself look sufficiently different from his description and he turned himself into a "half-wit" to boot. His performance was so good that the only one able to identify him was Mayme Purvis his half-brother Guy's wife. Guy and Mayme lived in Chicago, but Guy wasn't available to go down to the police station. When Jack was brought out to Mayme he even tried to fool her and continued his "half-wit" act. She recognized him and ended up having to drive him back to Kokomo. They arrived Tuesday, June 17th at Sanford's home on North Market Street.

Jack at first "begged" his father not to send him back to Plainfield. But his father insisted he had to return. Jack promised his father he'd return to the Boys' School if he himself would take him back. Sanford called the Sheriff and told him that he'd take Jack back on Thursday morning; he even let Jack out on Wednesday to roam around. Jack returned dutifully and was sound asleep Wednesday night at midnight. At 6 AM, Thursday, when Sanford went to wake up Jack, he was long gone. He slipped out sometime during the night, Plainfield would have to wait. Sanford had to inform Sheriff Butler of his son's further escape and the search for Jack Purvis began all over again.

Jack was making a name for himself with so many of his exploits written up in the Kokomo Tribune. It must have been embarrassing on some level for his father who was a local businessman and Democratic Party activist, but, it appears that much of the information reported in the articles was actually supplied by Sanford Purvis.

Apparently, Jack's escapades were just beginning as he set out for parts West. He is said to have made it out as far as Utah when he decided

Sanford reported to the newspaper that he "deplores the temperamental peculiarity that leads the boy into entanglements with the law," and further stated that he, "feels that he has done all that he possibly could do to keep him in the path of rectitude."(6)

On August 19, 1919 the Kokomo Tribune, printed an article entitled "Friends Say Father Tried To Save His Son." The piece can only be described as trying to clear the father of any bad public opinion in connection with his son. Even Sanford's mother-in-law Nancy Jackson is quoted as saying, "I always felt that the boys were safe with Sanford. He gave them both a mother's care."(7)

Jack himself was also given back-handed compliments with the paper reporting, "Those that know the family affairs best say that the Purvis boy can accomplish what he does with baffling adroitness of a man schooled by years of experience in misdeeds." It reports that workers at the Boys' School think that
Jack, "has a splendid mind, but his ways are perverse."

Interestingly, the next page over from the article contains an advertisement for Betsy Ross Bread which shows a drawing of a boy walking down a road off on an adventure which could very well have been a drawing of Jack Purvis.
Betsy Ross Bread Ad.

The Jack Purvis newspaper series wasn't over, for in answer to the recent articles of August 18th & 19th a letter from J. M'Lean Moulder was printed in support of "Sant Purvis." Moulder claimed that shortly after Jack had run away from Sanford's house he told him, "Sant, do not give up or forsake the boy. When you turn your back on him, then he is lost forever." Sanford's response according to Moulder was that Sanford took him by the hand, "with great tears filling his eyes, he said: 'I would give my life to save that boy. Not an hour passes day or night but what he is uppermost in my mind.'"(8)

Jack, it seems, did his time of incarceration at the Indian Boys' School without further incident. There were no more reports in the Kokomo Tribune about further escapes or escapades and it can be assumed that he was handled with special attention so he wouldn't run away again. It was while he was at the correctional institution that he received his first musical training. Perhaps his interest in music made his time there less unbearable.

It has been reported that he played trumpet and trombone in the local high school orchestras and even dance bands starting around 1921. By April 1921, Jack had been paroled and had returned to Kokomo. He was out and playing cornet on the 28th of the month accompanying Mary Francis Waller's whistling act at a meeting of the Woman's Council of the Main Street Christian Church. By June, Jack had a job delivering newspapers on his bicycle. He made it into the Kokomo Tribune again on June 15th with an article about him entitled, Adventure Chilled. This time 14 year old Jack was the hero of the piece! Instead of a story about his running away, it was a story about how he returned three runaway children to their parents.

By 1922 things had started falling apart between Jack and his father. Apparently, Jack had shortly returned from working the "western harvest fields," in August and found work at a lunch stand at the Kokomo Exposition grounds when the authorities grabbed him.(9) On August 30th, at the behest of his father, Jack was taken into custody and returned to the Indiana Boys' School. Since Jack had been on parole from the school and since he wasn't obeying his father or the terms of his parole his father decided to send him back to Plainfield. The next day, August 31st, it was reported in the newspaper on the same page with the story on Jack, that, Sanford had been appointed a registration clerk for the Second Ward by the local Democratic Party.

Sanford, always trying to keep himself blameless in the eyes of the public, let everyone know the reason he sent Jack back behind bars. Here is the statement he had printed up in the Kokomo Daily Tribune on September 1, 1922: "Jack's parole, for which I am guarantor, requires that he shall obey me, finish high school, or enter some useful employment, save part of his wages, not be out late at night, change his residence, nor leave home without my or the school's consent."
"Jack will not go to school, work anywhere very long, save any of his money, stay in at night; very often; nor obey me after he gets ten feet away from me. When pressed vigorously to do any of these things, he quietly slips away from home, usually without a cent of money or an extra garment of any kind, and often travels thousands of miles' and several months before he blows in back home, dirty, penniless, ragged, unkempt and a veritable hobo. He has covered most of the United States this way in the last two years. I have refurnished and stocked him up on all former occasions and there have been many of them thinking he had enough of it and had learned some sense at last. Plainfield did not send after him nor request his return."

"I am in honor bound, and have been for some time, to return him to the school for these continual violations of his parole."

"As far as I know, or have any reason to believe. Jack has been square and honest in everything and to everybody except the terms of his parole and my requests and wishes. He won't work, go to school, stay at home, obey me nor quit his periodical tramps and bumming. And this is the reason, and the only reason, why I am sending him back to the Boys' school at Plainfield."

"I will now know where Jack is all the time, that he has enough to eat, a good place to sleep, comfortable clothes and out of danger. And maybe this post-graduate term will bring him to his senses, and show him what a fool he has been all this time."

Sanford posting this in the newspaper fits with his pattern of publicizing Jack's bad behavior and justifying his own. Jack Purvis obviously had some problems and was an embarrassment to his father, but it is easy to speculate what the best course of action may have been for him. If his father had taken him to see a psychologist instead of incarcerating him, it may have proved more helpful in the end.

There is no information that Jack was ever in the habit of running away and "tramping it" before the age of 12 after he escaped from the Boys' School. These traveling adventures stuck with him throughout his life. It would appear that the best thing that happened for Jack while he was incarcerated was that he learned to play music. So, it may be that Sanford's action of putting Jack in the Boys' School to help his son, may have actually made him worse.

On Sunday morning, June 24, 1923, Sanford was giving a short talk on Abraham before Hon. A. B. Kirkpatrick's Sunday school class at the Main Street Christian Church. After finishing the ten minute talk, a few minutes after 10:00, he, "laid down his notes walked to the rear of the Sunday school room took a seat at the side of J. F. Nelson, another member of the class, and asked for a fan. As he reached for the fan his breathing became labored and he crumpled limply in the seat."(10) Sanford had suffered a heart attack.

He was carried to the vestibule. As he was being carried he noticed the clock and said, "I guess my time has come." A nearby doctor was brought in and he declared Sanford Purvis dead. The report of his death spread quickly throughtout Kokomo. The next day it was front page news.

Sanford was buried at the Crown Point Cemetery where his wives and children were previously buried. Sanford's estate was worth about $25,000 which was to be divided amongst his four children. Strangely, Sanford's will made the Farmers Trust & Savings Bank of Kokomo responsible for not only his estate but also for the guardianship of both his minor children Jack and 11 year old Richard.(11) The bank arranged for his mother's sister Lola and her husband John Lowry to look after Richard while Jack stayed locked up at the Indiana Boys' School. Where he was until about July 9th when he escaped once again from the place.

The bank decided to break up the Puvis property at 417 North Market Street by selling off the contents of the house and the property. Richard Purvis, Miss Nellie Wynn the housekeeper, along with Sanford's daughter Gail Hall, and her daughter Mary stayed at the home from the day of the funeral until the sale of the property went through on July 14th.

On Saturday afternoon, after the sale, Miss Wynn asked Mr. Drinkwater one of the men representing the bank if she could bring Richard to her sister's house for the night. She said she'd make sure to bring Richard to his Sunday school class the next morning and make sure he got to his aunt and uncle Lowry's house afterwards.

Not only did Richard spend the night at Miss Wynn's sister's home at 613 East Superior Street, but Gail Hall, her daughter and Miss Wynn did as well. That night Mr. and Mrs. Guy Purvis visited from Chicago.

Richard arrived at the Main Street Christian Church for his Sunday school class along with his sister Gail's daughter Mary. They attended seperate classes and Mary claimed she didn't see him after they went to their respective classes. Only after Sunday school ended and Richard was nowhere to be found was it realized that something more sinister may have taken place.

After Mary had returned to Miss Wynn's sister's house without Richard around 11:00 AM the telephone rang and Gail answered it. She claimed that it was, "Richard who had been talking; that he had said he was going to the home of his aunt, Mrs. Lowry, and then was going to the home of his grandfather, Caleb Jackson, out east of Kokomo, in Howard township."

Gail, who seemed a bit nervous, then said she was going to leave for Superior, Wisconsin  earlier than originally planned. Instead of taking the 1:20 Pennsylvania train, she decided to take the earlier traction car to Logansport and then take the Chicago train from there. Miss Wynn went with Gail and her daughter to the traction train which had just pulled up to the station when their taxi arrived. Miss Wynn waited until everyone had boarded and she was certain Richard Purvis never boarded the train. Guy Purvis, also left Kokomo on Sunday, leaving town at 1:20 in order to get to work on Monday. His wife, however, stayed behind assuring everyone that she and Guy had nothing to do with Richard's disappearance.

Miss Wynn, who had nothing good to say about Jack, following her former employer Sanford's lead, stated to the newspaper that, "Richard's disappearance was a complete surprise to me, but the circumstances were such that I now feel that it had been planned by some one." She then clearly points the finger at the "someone" she believed it was. Continuing she said, "I have heard, that Richard's brother Jack Purvis, got out of the institution at Plainfield several days ago. I do not know whether he had anything to do with Richard's disappearance or not, but I would not be surprised should it be revealed that he had a hand in it."

The newspaper then went on to further imply that Jack was likely guilty of snatching his brother when it reported that when, "the notice of Sheriff Joe Lindley was brought to the fact that Richard Purvis had disappeared, he immediately got into communication by telephone with Supt. McGonigle of the Indiana School for Boys, at Plainfield. Supt. McGonigle told him that Jack Purvis, whose record for incorrigibility is a long one, had escaped from the institution about a week ago; that the school authorities had been searching for him ever since and that they would pay a reward for his return."

The Bicknell Daily News also reported that, "The authorities... are looking for an older brother on the theory that he may have may have induced the boy to go away with him."(12)

Other members of the Purvis family were also under suspicion in the article including Richard's half-sister Gail and his half-brother Guy. Apparently, there was some animosity between the Purvis family and Sanford's second wife's family.

The two representatives of the bank, "W. W. Drinkwater and Judge Kirkpatrick said that inasmuch as Richard Purvis was a ward of the Farmers Trust and Savings bank, they were going immediately to find the boy, if possible, and that in doing this they purposed to proceed under the statute defining kidnaping, starting the investigation by first demanding that Miss Wynn, to whose care the boy had been trusted, produce him. They indicated that their investigation and search would include all persons who might in any way have been parties to a plot to kidnap him."(13)

It didn't take long for Richard to be located. The Superior, Wisconsin police discovered him at the home of his half-sister Gail Hall. They sent a telegram to the Kokomo police department and  after being discovered Mrs. Hall sent a telegram to the bank informing them that Richard was with her. "The bank promptly notified Mrs. Hall that unless Richard was returned to Kokomo by Friday noon, prosecution would be launched against her."(14)

The article in the July 18th edition of the Kokomo Daily Tribune continued, "The information received from Superior confirmed the bank in its suspicion that Richard was removed from Kokomo in accordance with a plan that has been carefully pre-arranged by Mrs. Hall." The article concluded by saying that the bank, "has indictated that if Richard is returned and no further attempts are made to interfere with the bank's authority as guardian, it will be disposed to let the case drop without bringing prosecutions."

Attorney Donald F. Elliot was sent out by the bank to retrieve Richard from his sister's home. On Saturday, July 21, 1923, many were waiting for his return. Guy Purvis, came down from Chicago for his homecoming. Then around 9 PM Elliot arrived. According to the newspaper Richard, "was eager to get back to Kokomo." However, "he was so exhausted that he remained at the Elliot home over Saturday night," and was taken to his aunt and uncle John and Lola Lowry's house on Sunday.

The one thing which seems certain is that Jack Purvis appears to have had nothing to do with the disappearance of his brother Richard. Jack during this time was most likely wandering the country; off on one of his adventures. It wouldn't be long however, before Jack would return to Kokomo!

"Jack Purvis will come out all right. The world may hear from him yet in big deeds. He is but the victim of overdeveloped imagination. His astuteness, his drive, his winsomeness, all of which excite the sympathy of those who know him..."(15)

Much of the information on the Purvis family and Jack Purvis' early years was obtained from newspaper articles from the Kokomo Daily Tribune, Find A Grave memorials on various family members, and U. S. census records. Special thanks to Carl Crabtree for his input.

1. The National Bankruptcy News, Vol. 1, page 171.
2. The Indianapolis Star, 'Wealthy Kokomo Man Sued', page 4. The restraining order was, "to prevent the defendant from disposing of his property."
3. Indiana State Archives
4. Indiana Boys' School, Plainfield Annual Report, Vol. 54, page 53.
5. The Kokomo Daily Tribune, 'Jack Purvis Puts Across Sly Getaway', June 26, 1919, page 1.
6. The Kokomo Daily Tribune, 'Back At Boys' School', August 18, 1919, page 7.
7. The Kokomo Daily Tribune, 'Friends Say Father Tried To Save Son', August 19, 1919, page 7.
8. The Kokomo Daily Tribune, 'Little Jack Purvis-What is to Become of Him?', August 23, 1919, page 6.
9. The Kokomo Daily Tribune, 'Breaks His Parole', August 31, 1922, page 7.
10. The Kokomo Daily Tribune, 'S. B. Purvis Is A Victim Of Heart Attack', June 25, 1923, pages 1-2.
11. Carl Crabtree a collateral relation to Jack Purvis had this to say regarding the Farmers Trust & Savings Bank: "Sanford's arrangement with this bank probably wasn't unusual at the time. Prior to the last 30-40 years many banks had trust departments that offered these types of services. It doesn't seem much different than people leaving their estates (and guardianship of their minor children) in the hands of their lawyers today. To put it into perspective consider the following. Sanford had no close family left in IN.  His last sibling in that area (Sarah) died at 86 y/o the month before Sanford died. His only other living siblings were two sisters living in KS. Sanford's adult daughter Gail lived in Superior, WI and was in her fourth marriage--probably not a viable candidate to handle anyone's estate. Sanford's adult son Guy lived in Chicago where he had been an electrical engineer with General Electric for most of his career. Although it would have been inconvenient, he could probably have acted as the executor of the estate and disposed of the home if that was the only asset that Sanford had. Since Sanford had invested in several businesses in his lifetime he may have had some of those assets to dispose of also. Finally, as a person who bought, sold, started and ran businesses, he probably would have developed a working relationship with a bank over the years and some of the management personnel of that bank would have been familiar with his financial activities, holdings, etc." (Used with kind permission by Carl Crabtree.)
12. The Bicknell Daily News, 'Believe That Child Was Kidnapped', July 18, 1923, page 1.
13. The Kokomo Daily Tribune, 'Richard Purvis Disappears At Sunday School', July 16, 1923, pages 1-2.
14. The Kokomo Daily Tribune,  'Expected Home Soon', July 18, 1923, page 1.
15. The Kokomo Daily Tribune, 'Friends Say Father Tried To Save Son', August 19, 1919, page 7.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Frankie Teschemacher Born Today!

Frank Teschemacher a.k.a. "Tesch" and "Frankie" Teschemacher was born this day March 13th in 1906 in Kansas City, Missouri to Charles and Charlotte (McCorkell) Teschemacher. However, six years later the family moved to the Chicago area.

Frankie Teschemacher was a great, self taught, jazz clarinetist who was influenced by the styles of cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, and clarenetists Johnny Dodds and Pee-Wee Russel. He took piano lessons as a child, then he took an interest in banjo and began studying the violin when he was ten.

Before entering Austin High School he took up the alto-saxophone. At school he befriended some of the future great Chicago jazz musicians including Jimmy McPartland, Jim Lanigan and Bud Freeman. They formed a band and their musical associations would last for years.

His career playing professionally began in 1925. He played all around the mid-West but mainly around the Chicago area.

In 1928 he made some recordings under his own name. He joined Jan Garber's band and toured with them in 1931. Interestingly, he also played violin during his time with Garber.  He then later beccame a member of "Wild Bill" Davison's big band.

Teschemacher tragically died after an auto accident during the early morning hours of March 1, 1932, when the car he was riding in, driven by jazz musician "Wild Bill" Davison, was sideswiped by a taxi cab which was driving without lights on. He died from a fractured skull about four hours later at Ravenswood Hospital in Chicago. Although Davison was driving with what would now be considered a high blood alcohol level, he was cleared of any charges at the time.

He was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois.
Here is Wailing Blues recorded  in Chicago, on January 24, 1930. The record was released as being played by the Cellar Boys. The group consisted of Wingy Mannone, Frank Teschemacher, Bud Freeman, Frank Melrose, Charles Melrose,  and George Wettling

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Henry Ragas

Henry W. Ragas was one of the innovators of jazz. He was one of the original members of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band playing piano with the group including on the very first jazz record which was released in February 1917.

Henry was born in November 1891 to Hypolite and Emily Ragas in New Orleans, Louisiana. At the turn of the Century, his father was working as a motorman.

He learned his trade playing solo piano from about 1910 to 1913, playing piano professionally by his late teens. On March 1, 1916 he traveled with with Johnny Stein's Band to Chicago with Nick LaRocca, Alcide Nunez, Eddie Edwards, and of course Johnny Stein. It was while performing in Chicago to such acclaim that LaRocca, Edwards, Ragas and Nunez wanted Stein to break his contract so they could get a more lucrative gig elsewhere. Stein refused and the argument that ensued ended with Edwards punching Stein in the nose and the four jumping ship.

Henry's health began a slow decline as he began drinking heavily due to family issues. He couldn't make it to performance dates which led LaRocca to send him home to New Orleans for a break. His intention was to let Henry sort things out at home. The break was short lived and he returned to New York.

Just two days before the band was depart for their tour of England, Henry Ragas died of the Spanish flu on February 18, 1919 at Bellevue Hospital in New York. He was just 27 years old.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Fred Hamm - Leader, cornet player and singer

Frederick F. Hamm was born on September 7, 1889 in Newpoint, Missouri. By the time he was twelve he was residing with his widowed mother. He took an interest in music. He eventually began playing the cornet.

Fred was teaching music in St. Joseph, Missouri in January 1920 and lodging with the Welsh family on North Ninth Street. Sometime this year, possibly after relocating to Chicago, he married a woman named Alice.

Three years later in Chicago, in 1923, he had his own dance band managed by Edgar Benson, who had his own orchestra. The Fred Hamm Orchestra performed at the Marigold Garden from 1923 until 1925. Besides leading Hamm played cornet and sang.

1925 was a pivotal year for him, he took over the Benson Orchestra and cut many record sides for Victor in Camden, New Jersey. These included his own memorable co-composition with his reed player, David Bennett, Bye Bye Blues.

The band for these 1925 sessions included Chauncey Gray on piano, Joe Harris on trombone, and Bennett on clarinet or alto-sax. 

Things didn't go well with these recordings. The first day of recording was April 21st and the band recorded Stop Off Let’s Go, Ah-Ha!, She’s Got ‘Im,and Bye Bye Blues, all of which were rejected.

Six days later on April 27th Hamm and the band tried again, recording all the same pieces as previously and adding Just A Little Drink. Again, all the tunes were rejected by Victor.

Then on April 30th they tried all five tunes again. This time they were keepers but they did do second takes for She's Got 'Em and Bye Bye Blues the next day on the 1st of May. The other tunes recorded during this session included Flag that Train (to Alabam’) and Montmartre which was rejected.

Back in Chicago on December 17th, the band with some changes to the musicians, cut more sides for Victor, some of these being, Want A Little Lovin’? and Sugar Foot Stomp. The second tune recorded, Hangin' Around was rejected. Violinist Bert Lown was added and pianist Jack Gardner replaced Chancey Gray.

In 1928 when Hamm and the band was in New York they went into the Columbia recording studios and recorded Shout Hallelujah! Cause I'm Home, but, it was rejected. 

The next known recording session took place on February 26, 1929, when Hamm recorded True Blue and He, She and Me in Chicago this time for Brunswick under the name Fred Hamm and His Collegians. Two other band members during this date were Dusty Rhodes and Frank Sylvano. Interestingly when these sides were released under the Vocalion label the band was credited as the Original Wolverines.

More sides were recorded in Chicago on March 25, 1929. The tunes were, again, True Blue, My Castle In Spain Is A Shack In the Lane and finally Some Sweet Day. Again, it appears these titles were released by Vocalion under the Original Wolverines.

On December 13, 1929, Hamm made more recordings, the two of the tunes recorded were Remarkable Girl and We Love Us.

He and his wife Alice were living on Stony Island Avenue in Chicago in 1930.

His career may have continued unabated if he hadn’t died in Chicago at the age of 41 on July 15, 1931.

The band was quickly taken over by drummer Carl Moore and the name changed to Carl "Deacon" Moore and His Orchestra.