This early 20th-century photo shows a scattering of mostly young men who made up the Gearhartville Union Band in Decatur Township.
Gearhartville, named for an old settler family, was once called Cuba Mines and is “just over the hill” from Chester Hill. Like so many villages in the Moshannon Valley, it was a coal town with mines operating nearby and usually within walking distance.
Community band groups were popular before the advent of mass reproduced music over a century ago. No one was seen walking or jogging sporting ear buds attached to their phones.
Musically-talented folks worked together to form small bands that played for parades, outdoor concerts and even weddings.
The members raised money for instruments and uniforms, which they proudly displayed. Sunday afternoon music and baseball games were the main form of entertainment for hard-working mining families.
There are no woodwind instruments shown in the photo. It was brass band with two drums. The bass drum uses the old spelling of “Gearhartsville.”
A “union” band may have denoted that members were from various organizations or backgrounds, but all had talent and an interest in providing music for the locals.
The photo may have been taken in Chester Hill or in nearby Philipsburg, as a large Victorian home is shown in the background.