Windjammers Make Their Mark On Saving History

Windjammers Unlimited volunteers help to sort and document a large collection of circus music in an effort to preserve the past for future generations.

Windjammers Unlimited volunteers help to sort and document a large collection of circus music in an effort to preserve the past for future generations.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The music didn’t stop in Oskaloosa this past week, as the Windjammers made their second stop in 7 years.

Their first of the 3 times the group has been in Oskaloosa was 1986, when Barnhouse music was in their former location at 110 B Ave East.

The Windjammers were founded in 1971 by Charles Bennett Jr. and Art Stensvad as a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of traditional circus music.

The group meets twice a year, with the winter meeting always taking place in Sarasota Florida.

Approximately 80 Windjammers made the trek to Oskaloosa from all across the country, where they spent days rehearsing at George Daily Auditorium, and bringing to life the Iowa Brigade Band, which is the predecessor to the Oskaloosa Municipal Band.

C.L. Barnhouse was hired in 1890 to take over what was then known as the Knights of Pythias Band, and eventually became known as the Iowa Brigade Band.

The Iowa Brigade Band didn’t have any connection to the military, but instead many bands at the time had military sounding names, because they played in a military style.

The Iowa Brigade band carried that name from the mid-1890’s through the first decade of the twentieth century.

The Municipal Band Law was passed by the Iowa Legislature in 1921, which allowed a petition for a tax not to exceed 2 mills annually.

This law enabled bands to become municipal bands, and is how the Oskaloosa Municipal Band got its name when local voters approved the tax.

That performance of the Iowa Brigade Band was moved from the bandstand to Penn Central Mall due to a disruption by Mother Nature on Friday afternoon.

The music performed during the Friday evening performance has connections to Oskaloosa and C.L. Barnhouse, including Ben Buxton’s Two-Step and Harmony Heaven which was a nickname C.L. Barnhouse gave the building his publishing company was in. That building was the former Oskaloosa College building along High Avenue West and South L Street. Reserves at Ironwood now stands in that location.

On Saturday, the Windjammers made their presence known as they performed traditional circus music at a 3 pm performance at the George Daily Auditorium. The circus band was a big part of the show, and helped to draw in a crowd to the circus.

The bands would play various pieces during acts to add drama or comedy to the acts, but increasingly popular prerecorded music and economics lead to the demise of the band.

Historically, the circus band would also play a performance as patrons to the circus would file into the big tent. Windjammers mission on Saturday was the replicate one of those concerts.

The connection to such history is found within the walls of Barnhouse Music located on the north side of Oskaloosa.

The music publishing company has a rich history with Oskaloosa, when C.L. Barnhouse began the company here.

C.L. Barnhouse over time became the music publisher of circus music, and with that, the connection to Windjammers was a natural fit. Karl King is one of those very famous composers and conductors in Iowa who utilized C.L. Barnhouse.

Circus has always been a big part of Barnhouse’s history,” says Andrew Glover, COO of the C.L.Barnhouse Company.

Today, Barnhouse’s largest market is educational music for school bands. “We still have this history and this collection of original circus music from the 1890’s through several decades.”

“Over the years, our company has saved and collected photographs, and manuscripts and correspondence and other artifacts from these various [circus] composers and our relationship with them,” added Glover.

Saving history and preserving circus music for generations to come is a mission of the Windjammers, who have been preserving the music through live performance, but have started to take on the idea that something else besides the live performances needs to be done.

Preserving recordings and preserving sheet music and other artifices is something many Windjammer volunteers were doing in the days leading up to the performances in Oskaloosa.

Those volunteers were archiving a massive library of circus music, collected over the decades, after the passing of a long-time circus conductor. Some of his collection is hand written, one of a kind creations.

The archiving process will allow future generations access to these rare tunes.

Glover hopes that CD’s of the two concerts the Windjammers performed while in Oskaloosa will be available in the future.

If you would like to learn more about the Windjammers, you can visit them at their website –

To learn more about C.L. Barnhouse, you can visit their website –

Posted by on Jul 15 2018. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed


Search Archive

Search by Date
Search by Category
Search with Google
Log in | Copyright by Oskaloosa News