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CULTURE AT ISAAR:  A BAND IS FORMED IN THE GERMAN SETTLEMENTCulture at Isaar: A Band is formed in the German Settlement

By Duane Ebert

While pastor at St. Sebastian Church, Isaar, 1926-1933, the Rev. Father Arthur N. Belle (pictured) organized a band for the boys of the parish and area. Father Belle thought it prudent to further the education of the young men of Isaar and furnish wholesome entertainment and relaxation in the small, rural community. Also, the band was to furnish music for church functions, picnics and the like; but not, of course for the religious services in the church.

We don’t know anything about Father Belle’s musical training other than his seminary background. He furnished the instruments in the beginning and played piccolo in the band.

Practices were held in the church basement. There may have been others from time to time, but the following were known to be members of Father Belle’s band.

Albert Schmit played saxophone and coronet. Bernard Schmit. (Albert’s nephew), played baritone. He was 14-15 years old at the time. Leo Schmit, (Bernard’s brother), played coronet. Eugene Helms played saxophone. Gordon Helms played saxophone and baritone. Louis Helms played trombone. The Helms boys were brothers and not members of St. Sebastian Parish. Norman Dudek played coronet. Joe Wirt played bass drum. Norman Kroner played trombone, and Norbert Kroner played the snare drums. The Kroner boys were twin sons of John and Agnes Kailhofer Kroner.

On special occasions, others were asked to help, including Ray Melchert and one of the Eick boys who was a cousin of the Helms brothers. Doc. Helms, a local veterinarian, was the conductor of the band. He was the father of the three Helms brothers.

John Kroner would pay $1.00 if the band would march to his saloon to play for special events. The Kroner Tavern was on the west side of the road, just north of the St. Sebastian Cemetery.

There may have been an organized band before Father Belle’s pastorate, because my father, Walter A Ebert, played the coronet in a band at Isaar while a young man. However, in 1925 he was married and left Isaar as a cheese maker, to manage cheese factories in Oconto County.

The German settlers and their descendents loved music and most played an instrument of some kind and sang. The Rev. Arthur N. Belle, 1862-1940, was a native of Luxembourg, Europe. He died in Green Bay June 2, 1940.

A special thanks to Bernard Schmit of Corput Road, Isaar for supplying much of the information in this article. He was interviewed in 2010.

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