The Ohio Military Band has a very long and rich history. While we are no longer directly affiliated the any branch of the military, we have roots dating back to pre-Civil War. We also have several veterans in the band from all branches. Read on to find out more!
The beginning and spirit of “The Ohio Military Band” originated during the presidency of Franklin Pierce (1853-1857). In April of 1854 an independent volunteer Infantry Company was formed at Camp Dennison, Ohio, known as the “Guthrie Grays” and became part of the Ohio Militia. The Band was also part of the Ohio Militia.
In 1861 the Ohio Militia was called into action to serve in the Civil War betwen the States and even survived an encounter with Morgan’s Raiders on July 14,1863 . Through military reorganizations over the years the Ohio Militia became part of the First Regiment of the Ohio National Guard. The First Regiment was mustered out of service and disbanded on October 25, 1898.
On April 21st, 1904 during the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt (1901-1909), thirteen musicians of the former First Regiment Band signed a Charter to “The Ohio Military Band” in Cincinnati as a volunteer and social band. Charles Diss was the first director of the band and rehearsals were held at Brauer’s Cafe located at the Liberty Street Viaduct and State Ave. Lunch after rehearsals usually included rye bread, head cheese, onions, Kosher pickles, limburger cheese, and lots of cold beer.
As the band grew in membership, new quarters were acquired for $12.00 a year at 210 Post Square. It was a fourth floor loft with one electric light bulb and a warm morning oil heater above the Cincinnati Silver and Gold Refining Company. Other rehearsal sites over the years have included:
- the Koch Embroidering Company on W. 4th St. and also on W. 8th St.
- a music store on Creek Rd. in Blue Ash; Wagner-Smith Electric on W. Sharon Rd.
- the Hamilton County Civil Defense Hdqtrs. near Drake Hospital
- the Shadybrook National Guard Armory
- and the Springfield Township Community Center
After Charles Diss(founding director), directors of the band have been:
- Dave Davidord
- Fred Holmes
- Elwin Tolle
- Matt Quitter
- Joe Fischer (39 years)
- Bruce Behlow
- Jim Hissom
- Fred Marzan
- and our current director Mark A. Hensler (since 1995)
The band is not currently affillated with any organizations and is supported through concert donations, and membership contributions. The membership ranges in age from 14 to 93 years young and many of the members do have military experience. The band performs for retirement centers, church festivals, community concert series, and other civic and social events.
In 2003 the band performed on the public landing in Cincinnati as part of “Tall Stacks”. The band recently performed at Drake Hospital as part of a ceremony commemorating September 11.
In 1908 the City of Cincinnati directory listed 36 concert bands including the “Ohio Military Band”. Of the 36 listed in 1908, the OMB is the only band still in existence! Friendship, respect for each other, camaraderie, and a willingness to volunteer keep the band performing into our 114th year! LET THE BAND PLAY ON!