Strike Up The Band!

Speaking of immigration stories… here’s one attached to my wife’s paternal great grandparent, who immigrated to the United States in the late 1800s.

This came at a time when America was enthralled by the entertainment provided by military brass bands. Gilmore’s Salem Band proved to be very popular with the general public and that popularity fueled a fire that burned in the hearts of other musical entrepreneurs. John Philip Sousa, who was given the lead of the Marine Band, was certainly a force at this time. But when Giussepe Creatore burst on the scene with his Italian band, his insane popularity with the ladies, (who reportedly would swoon at his energetic performances), started a flood of Italian musicians heading across the Atlantic for the promise of fame, success, riches, and perhaps romance that was to be found in America.

Now, as our family story was told to me, Erminio was discovered by John Philip Sousa during one of his tours and, being in need of a euphonium player, encouraged Erminio to move to the United States to join him. I haven’t been able to document that this exact scenario ever took place. We do have evidence that Erminio did indeed play in the Sousa band in the early 1900s but before that, there are reports of him playing for one of Sousa’s contemporaries and competing bandleaders, Alessandro Liberati and his Grand Military Band, where he was often featured as a soloist to considerable acclaim.

Whatever brought Erminio to the shores of New York, what is clear is that he and his euphonium had a long and successful musical career. He also managed to pass his musicality on to his two sons, Arthur and Frank, both of whom became working professional musicians in the NY theater and symphony halls. In fact Arthur landed a seat on what was to become the New York Philharmonic playing with and for Arturo Toscanini.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Coming to America

Rose Family Crest

I’ve often said, “Everyone has a story.” After spending months of genealogical research, I’ve discovered a lot of hidden stories belonging to people who are somehow attached to various branches of my family tree. I look forward to sharing these stories with you in this and future blogs.

Stories like the one belonging to Tormut Rose, the 9th great grandfather of the husband of the niece of my wife. Born in 1632 at Kilravock Castle in Inverness Scotland, he eventually became an officer in the Scottish Covenanter army and fought in the Third English Civil war which was waged in an attempt to retain the independence of the Scottish church and restore Charles II to the throne of Scotland and England.

During the Battle of Dunbar, the Scottish army discovered the whereabouts of Lord Cromwell’s forces but were advised not to attack by preachers due to it being a Sunday. This gave Cromwell an opportunity to launch a surprise attack and vanquish the Scottish defenders. Tormut Rose and others were captured. In order to prevent any attempt at a rescue, the prisoners were forced to march towards England under severe conditions. Most died of illness, starvation or exhaustion.

As a survivor, Tormut Rose was sold as an indentured servant to the Robert Ricks Iron Works in Braintree, Massachusetts and was shipped off to the colonies along with 271 fellow prisoners. There, he spent the next 7 to 10 years working off his “debt.”

In 1660 he, along with 15 others, made the decision to purchase Block Island, RI from the Massachusetts Bay Colony who had claimed the land won by conquest of the natives who lived there.  It was there that he settled, married and re-began his life as a freeman. And that is the story of how this particular branch of the family came to America.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.