Stevens County Bands by: Hannah King, Curator

Stevens County and the surrounding area were home to a variety of bands at the turn of the 20th century. Participating in a music group, whether it was a choir, orchestra, or brass or cadet bands, was a popular, socially acceptable hobby. Both Victorian era attitudes and Lutheran beliefs valued music. Luther believed that “music is God’s greatest gift” that “all Christians would love and regard as worthy.” Victorians saw music as an intellectual, refined activity that could be a relaxing diversion for the rich and a source of pride and respect for lower classes. These two systems came together perfectly in late 19th century Minnesota.

The Kongsvinger Symphonia Band is one of the better documented groups in our collection. The band was connected to the Kongsvinger Free Lutheran Church in Rendsville Township and existed from about 1907 to 1924. The band put on concerts and played for community events. Originally directed by Reverend Abs from Hancock, it was later directed by Adolph Sherstad. Sherstad was a farmer in the Donnelly area, but also an avid self-taught musician. Sherstad played solo and first chair cornet for 23 years in the Kongsvinger and Morris Municipal Bands. He was a paid soloist with the Morris Band, and often performed in the Eastside Park band shell. Our Collections Spotlight this month features Sherstad’s cornet.


Other area bands from the time included:

  • Hancock Orchestra, formed 1892
  • Morris Cadet Band, formed in 1896 under the direction of H.B. Lund
  • Modern Woodmen of America, Morris Camp No. 3184, Hodges Township
  • Morris Boy’s Band
  • Alberta Band
  • Cyrus Band, Cyrus, Stevens county
  • Little German Band,
    also known as the Little Thirsty Four
  • Mark Pomeroy’s Band,
    Big Stone County
  • Ortonville Boys Band, Big Stone County
  • Fairfield Big Four Band,
    Big Stone County
  • Windom’s Little German Band, Cottonwood County
  • Grove Lake Band, Pope County
  • Merry Farmer Boys Band, Langhei Township area, Pope County