George B. Newell

George B. Newell, manager and leader of Newell's Band and Orchestra at Grand Rapids, was born in Kalamazoo, Mich., March 28,1865, and is one of the most popular, one of the youngest, and one of the most successful musical directors in the United States. His father, William H. Newell, is a properous farmer, and owns a beautiful home near Kalamazoo.He married Marilla, daughter of Dimmick Butler, of Bockport, N.Y., and his seven children have all been greatly interested in the study od music. The six, besides George B., are Eva, wife of William Sweeney, of Washington, D.C.; Fred W. resides at Hammond, Ind., and is a railroad employee; Anna is the wife of George Robins, chief of the fire department at Hammond; Frank is a grocer, and is also leader of the Academy of Music orchestra at Kalamazoo; Adelbert is studying music at Grand Rapids under the direction of his brother, and Charles, foreman of the Canvas Boat company at Kalamazoo, is also clarinet soloist of the Chamber of Commerce band.

George B. Newell attended the public schools of Kalamazoo until eighteen years of age, when he went to Coldwater, Mich., and identified himself with the musicians of that city, became an instructor, and soon had large classes in violin music, beside playing in the Tibbit's Opera House orchestra, of which he became the leader the same year and the year following, 1888. From there he returned to Kalamazoo, where he was leader of Bush's Academy of Music orchestra two seasons. Prof. F. A. Lawson, of Grand Rapids, at that time leader of Powers' Opera House orchestra, heard of Mr. Newell and secured him to fill an engagement as violinist and prompter at the Arlington hotel in Petoskey the following summer season. After two weeks of the engagement had expired, Mr. Lawson was taken sick and died, and in the disposal of his effects it was his disire that his fine collection of music, consisting of over 500 numbers, should go to Mr. Newell, which is now in his possession, and he values it very highly.

Mr. Newell finished the season at the Arlington hotel after the death of Mr. Lawson, and then was engaged as leader of Powers' Opera House orchestra, Grand Rapids. He afterward associated himself, as violinist, with the Braun orchestra, in the winter season, and the Wurzburg band and orchestra in the summer. The season of 1894 and 1895 he was engaged by Director Wurzburg to lead his orchestor on all speciasl occasions. The following are some of the society events where he was leader: Dancing club given in the St. Cecilia building, reception and ball given to the Ann Arbor Banjo and Glee club, majestic ball, charity ball, Custer Guard annual ball, railroad clerk's annual ball, Knights of the Grip banquet and ball, K. of P. annual ball, Board of Trade banquet at the Morton house, minstrel show given by railroad clerks and Athletic club, beside dress paries in Cadillac, Manistee, Reed City, Big Rapids, Muskegon, Grand Haven, Holland, Kalamazoo and Lansing. Mr. Newell has an accomplishment that few leaders have, and that is to lead and prompt at the same time. He did the prompting for Gage & Benedict after the death of Mr. Braun, until these ladies retired. He was leader and manager of the Braun-Baars orchestra until Mrs. Baars retired. Since that time Mr. Newell has started in business for himself, and has engaged such competent musicians as Miss Florence Ross, Profs. Heald, Bronson and others to assist him. Mr. Newell organized his orchestra for its sixth season in 1899, and furnishes, as occasion requires, from five to thirty pieces, and with his military brass band from fifteen to forty pieces. Those who are interested in musicial matters and wish to confer with Mr. Newell on this subject will find him at any time at Julius A. J. Frederich's music store.

Mr. Newell is a member of a number of fraternal orders, viz: Daisy lodge, No. 48, B.P.O.E.; K. of P., D.O.K.K., I.O.O.F., Enterprise lodge, and Kent camp, M.W.A. The local Musicians' union, No. 56, sent Mr. Newell as its delegate to the American Federation of Musicians, held at Milwaukee, Wis., May 9-13, 1899, and he has on serveral occasions represented the local Musicians' union at the convention of the Central Labor union.

October 15, 1889, Mr. Newell married at Kalamazoo Miss Libby E. Weller, who had been a teacher in the public schools of that city for six years previous to that date. She is a daughter of Andrew J. Weller, of Kalamazoo, an employee of the Michigan Central Railroad company. This marriage has been graced by two children, both born in Grand Rapids, viz: Mamie, April 6, 1891, and Haze Belle, February 14, 1895.

Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 10 January 2009