He keeps playing on

Haynes has compiled a book of the Rohrersville Cornet Band's first 170 years

Haynes has compiled a book of the Rohrersville Cornet Band's first 170 years

July 25, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

By Crystal Schelle

ROHRERSVILLE - At 84, Richard L. Haynes of Rohrersville can still be found nearly every Tuesday night at the Rohrersville Band Hall rehearsing with the Rohrersville Cornet Band.

His father joined the band in 1906. His brothers in the 1930s. And although he had been doing what he called his "apprenticeship" two years before, Haynes officially was added to the roll at age 14 on Dec. 6, 1940.

And today, the cornet player is a long-standing member of the band.

"I'm the longest in years and the oldest in age," he says with a laugh.

As unofficial band historian, Haynes has assembled a 288-page book about the history of the band titled, "And the Band Plays On ... A History of the Rohrersville Cornet Band of Washington County: The First 170 Years."


The book contains a history of the band, minutes from band meetings, photos, newspaper and magazine articles, and a roll of members dating back to the founder, G. Washington McCoy in 1837.

His music

Haynes picked up the cornet from his older brother, Glenn. And he says he never received any formal musical training except from the band.

"I'm self-instructed," says Haynes, who retired from the Boonsboro Post Office in 1987 and from dairy farming in 1993. "I've never considered myself a very good player. I taught myself the key scales and fingerings, and learned how to read music."

But what he believes is a lack of musical talent has never forced Haynes to quit the band. In fact, he moved through the ranks to become the band's director, a position he held from June 1960 to October 2004.

"I tried to hand in my resignation a couple times when other people I thought were more talented came into the band," he says. "But they never seemed to accept it." After leaving as director, Haynes decided to finally tackle the project he's wanted to do for a long time -compiling the Rohrersville Cornet Band's history. He had pieced together some information for the 150th anniversary of the band in 1987, but wanted to gather even more information for an in-depth reference guide.

"I copied anything old I could find about the band," Haynes says. His copied information is now contained in 10 three-ring binders.

Fellow band member Gary Weaver, who has been with the band since 1989, and Haynes' daughter, Cathy Fauble, helped him get the information together for publication. He says Frank Woodring, owner and publisher of Cracker Barrel, helped with proofreading and also encouraged him to finish the project. The book was published by the band through HPB.

The history

The band's founder, McCoy, worked on construction of the C&O Canal, Haynes says. He ran a tombstone business. He was an E-flat clarinet player and directed the band he founded for most of the 1800s.

"We still have his clarinet," Haynes says.

A drumhead, which has the name of the band and its founding year, still hangs in the band hall.

Haynes says the band also has a music book that belonged to McCoy, which contains the director's handwriting.

"I think he wrote most of his own music," Haynes says.

McCoy was generous with his musical talents and Haynes says he would give music lessons often without charging students.

Charles O. Ward, who eventually became director, sometimes butted heads with McCoy. Haynes says back then the band had in its constitutional bylaws that a player would be fined if he refused to play music the director wanted to play.

Ward refused and McCoy fined him, Haynes says.

Fines were also enforced for those who had unexcused absences from the band. "At one time it cost 12 1/2 cents," Haynes says.

The band has since discontinued the law.

The band hasn't disbanded once since its inception. During the Civil War the band was officially inactive, but did not officially disband. And during World War II, the band would continue to make selected appearances.

Haynes says he enjoyed gathering the information, but believes it will continually have to be updated.

"I did the first 170 years, but someone else is going to have to do the next 100 years," he says with a laugh.

The future

Today, under the direction of Holly Roelkey, who took over the position after Haynes, the band continues to perform. He says they still perform every Fourth of July for the townspeople of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., which the band has been doing since 1978. They also continue to make appearances in the Tri-State area.

The 40-member band, Haynes says, has given back to the community.

"I think it's done a lot to help community spirit," Haynes says. "People rely on the band and it's there when you need it."

How to buy

To purchase "And the Band Plays On ... A History of the Rohrersville Cornet Band of Washington County: The First 170 Years," send a check made out to Rohrersville Cornet Band for $20, and send it to P.O. Box 12, Rohrersville, MD 21779. Or call 301-432-6987.

The Herald-Mail Articles