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Cool Things - Band Conductor's Baton

Pence Band conductor's baton

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, one of the most popular forms of entertainment in America was the band concert. And every conductor owned a baton.

Local bands provided music for all kinds of events, from parades to picnics to political rallies.

This baton belonged to Charles Pence, and later his son Water, both of whom served as conductors for the Pence Band in Shawnee County, Kansas. The elder Pence studied music at the Kansas State College, Manhattan, in the 1880s. In 1894 he founded the band with 22 members.

Close-up of Pence Band batonThe Pence Band quickly developed a fine reputation and was in demand in communities around the county. In 1899, the Pence Band headed the parade in Topeka to welcome home the 20th Kansas Regiment from service in the Spanish-American War.

The group dissolved in 1940, having succumbed to social changes and competition from newer forms of entertainment, such as recorded music and motion pictures.

For more information on Kansas bands, see the online exhibit, They're Playing Our Song.

Entry: Cool Things - Band Conductor's Baton

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: November 1997

Date Modified: March 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.