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The Family That Plays Together

December 2022
1min read

THE MAN STANDING in the back row, second from right, has every reason to look proud. He is Harry Milford Cadwell, and this is not only his band, it is his family. All but four of the musicians pictured here are related. They all lived in Dallas County, Iowa.

Harry was born in Illinois. When he was ten, his parents moved to an Iowa farm, where he lived the rest of his life, a farmer, blacksmith, and musician.

He formed the Cadwell Farm Bureau Orchestra in the early 1900s and found its members ready to hand. He had taught his children music as soon as they were old enough to learn it. They played at local occasions and received sixteen dollars per night for their efforts, with a special ninety-dollar fee for an epic thirteen-and-a-half-hour performance one July 4.

Harry’s grandson, Lester Cadwell, sent us this picture and a memory. “When I was young, every third Sunday we would have a potluck dinner at the home of an orchestra member. Our family used a special term for any particular Sunday when this potluck practice was scheduled. We called it Orchestra Sunday.” Lester’s father, Charles, carried on the tradition until he died in 1979 at the age of ninety-three.

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