Most leisure and cultural activities in early Hillsboro catered to the male-centered pioneer society. The all-male Hillsboro Dutch Band was a case in point.
Formed in 1884 under the direction of Martin Hoover, the band was an early attempt to meet the cultural, social and civic identification needs of the men in the new town.
Because of tough economic times, the band was suspended for two years. But there was enough interest and cooperation by 1895 that a new city band was formed with D.H. Randall, principal of the local public schools, as the leader.
The new group featured its first snare and bass drum player, George Dole, an addition that will have consternated some of the town?s conservative Christians.
By 1900 band music was well recognized by the community of 700 people. That year the school board voted to make music instruction part of the regular curriculum.
The young men?s band was reorganized under the leadership of Henry H. Fast, a local printer and publisher. After several months of practice, it debuted in an open-air concert at a hog-butchering bee at the home of G. Weyand. After the concert, the musicians dined on fresh pork.
In 1906 or 1907, the city built an attractive elevated bandstand in the middle of the intersection of Main and Grand streets. The structure actually served a dual purpose. The bottom level housed the city?s fire pumper and hoses and covered a large cistern.
The Hillsboro Dutch Band provided many a night?s entertainment for the local citizens, who frequently would gather downtown Saturday nights to shop and socialize. But eventually, interest in the band waned and in 1922 it was disbanded.
Adapted from Hillsboro: City on the Prairie by Raymond F. Wiebe.