Tag Archives: #Annabell McCall

The Midget Band

"Martin Marching Band"
Edward Napier Martin, Anabel McCall Martin, and chlidren Estil Edwin, Edward Napier, Jefferson, Anna Marie, Edward McCall, Geneva, Thelma. In Florida.

This photograph is from my grandmother, Fannie Turner Graham’s album. On the back, my mother wrote “Cousins on mother’s side Annie Bell is first cousin (see her & husband on left – rest are their children!)” 

Until yesterday, I never found any information about the family band. Today I want to share two articles and what I learned from them about the family. Anna Belle is variously known as “Annie Belle”, “Anabel” and “Anna Belle”.

The Emancipator was published by James Edward McCall, Anna Belle’s brother, in Montgomery, Alabama from October 1917 to August 1920. While looking for the name “Martin” in The Emancipator, I found this item –

“Mr. and Mrs. E.M. Martin and their Midget and arrived in the city Sunday night en-route from Florida to Kentucky making the trip by road in their motor car.”

A mention of the band!   I also found when the family moved from Florida to Kentucky and that they traveled in their own car.  Next, I searched for “Midget Band”. Several articles come up, all in The Emancipator. The best was the one below, which included a photograph of the family. One thing that disturbs me about both photos is the forlorn look of all the children. Why don’t the boys in the photo below have on shoes? A barefoot marching band? Were they getting enough to eat?

In the article I found that their son, Edward McCall Martin  was born in Alabama because his father was teaching there. The article says that Edward Napier Martin had taught at the State Normal School six years before. That was the year young Edward was born – 1913.  All of the other children were born in Tennessee or Kentucky, while Edward McCall Martin was consistently listed as born in Alabama. I wondered why and how. Now I know.

Sat, Jul 5, 1919 – 7 · The Emancipator (Montgomery, Alabama) · Newspapers.com

“The musical, social and intellectual circles of the city are congratulating themselves upon the appearance of one of the most unique and highly interesting musical organizations that has ever visited Montgomery, namely Prof E.N. Martin’s Band which is composed almost entirely of midget musicians, the youngest being only three years old. It is the musical miracle of the age.

Prof. Martin, who six years ago was one of the teachers at the local Normal School, is a band master of rarest ability. He is accompanied by his wife who was formerly Miss Anabel McCall of this city, and their seven children ranging in age from three to eleven years. they are all trained musician and read notes at sight. They carry with them a brass band septette and two drums and is a revelation to listen to their music. Their director is only four years old and is a wonder. They are in the concert work and are already booked for a number of engagements in this city.

Prof. Martin’s Band carries with it many strong endorsements from some of the prominent citizens and musicians of our country. For example, Bishop Laine, founder of Laine College at Jackson, Tenn., says of them:- “I have never seen anything like this in my life, and in it I see the finest lessons in home-training that has ever come to my notice, and I have traveled all over this country.

While the band was giving an open air concert in Montgomery, some one asked of their nationality, whereupon Dr. M.B. Kirkpatrick who has offices are in the Bell Building, said “It matters not about their nationality. Just listen to the music.  It is the sweetest I have ever heard.”

They carry souvenirs from musicians of note, such as Sousa’s Band, Hawaiian Singers and others, who testify as to their talent and efficiency as musicians. Visit some of their concerts and be convinced.

Prof. Martin is a traveling representative for the Emancipator, the South’s leading Negro newspaper, which is being read all over America. This wonderful band will be in Montgomery for the next three weeks and churches or individuals wishing to have them fill engagements in near-by towns should write to Prof. E.N. Martin, 336 S. Jackson St., Montgomery, Ala. or in the care of the Emancipator.”

Other Posts about this family.

Oh, Dry Those Tears

Police Surprised “Uncle Ed”

More About Annabell’s Family

Click for more Sepia Saturday posts.

Oh, Dry Those Tears! (1901)

For the past month, I have been lost in researching my cousin Anna Belle McCall Martin Martin Giampino’s life. My plan was to write her up for the second person in my 52 ancestors in 52 weeks series. Right now I am behind by about six weeks. While looking I found a third husband, an eighth child and her death, among other things.

One of these was a newspaper article that described a recital where Anna Belle McCall sang “Oh Dry Those Tears”. I realized that my grandmother Pearl Reed had sung the same song at a different recital.  You can hear this song at the end of the post.

Twenty two year old Anna Belle sang in Montgomery in 1904.  She had graduated from and taught at Alabama State Normal School, where the program was given. At the time she lived at home with her parents and siblings.

My grandmother Pearl sang in Indianapolis Indiana in 1909. She was twenty three and lived at home with her mother and brother. She sang with her church choir at Witherspoon Presbyterian Church on Sundays and regularly in community and church programs. Several years ago I found this news clipping among family photographs.

Sings in Concert at Simpson Chapel

The Indianapolis Star, 08 May 1908, Fri, Page 12

“The violin recital of Clarence Cameron White will be given this evening at Simpson Chapel under the direction of the colored Y.M.C.A. Orchestra. He will be supported by the best local talent.

The following program will be given:

Overture-“Northern Lights,” Y.M.C.A. Orchestra.
Violin- Hungarian Rhapsodie, Clarence Cameron White.
Solo – “Oh, Dry Those Tears.” Miss Pearl D. Reed.
Piano – (a) Valse in C sharp minor: (b) Polaise in A major, Mrs. Alberta J. Grubbs.
Violin – Tran Merci; (d) Scherzo. Clarence Cameron White.
Orchestra – “The Spartan” Orchestra
Vocal – “Good-bye” Miss Pearl D. Reed.
Readings – A.A. Taylor
Selection – “The Bird and the Brook” Orchestra

Anna Belle with her brother James Edward McCall in 1906. From the Detroit Free Press.

An Evening With McCall

Poems of Blind Negro Poet Recited at Normal School
Montgomery Advertiser September 9, 1904.

“A goodly crowd of representative negro citizens of Montgomery was present last night at the chapel of the State Normal School to participate in an “Evening with Poet McCall.” The entertainment consisted of recitations of some of the works of Montgomery’s blind negro poet interspersed with musical selections both vocal and instrumental.

The poems presented were well selected, embracing lyric, epic, didactic and satiric compositions of James Edward McCall and were rendered in a suitable and sympathetic manner by members of his race. The poet himself was present, seated among the audience.

N.H. Alexander acted as master of ceremonies and in a few introductory remarks dwelt upon the character of McCall’s work and stated that the object of the meeting was to pay tribute to the genius of one of their own race.

Also noteworthy were the remarks of William Phillips who gave a sketch of the life of the blind poet and spoke of the favorable appreciation his poems had met with both among his own race and the white people in Montgomery and elsewhere.”

O dry those tears and calm those fears
Life is not made for sorrow
‘Twill come, alas! but soon ’twill pass
Clouds will be sunshine tomorrow
‘Twill come, alas! but soon ’twill pass
Clouds will be sunshine tomorrow

O lift thine eyes to the blue skies
See how the clouds do borrow
Brightness, each one, straight from the sun
So is it ever with sorrow
‘Twill come, alas! but soon ’twill pass
Clouds will be sunshine tomorrow
Then lift thine eyes to the blue skies
Clouds will be sunshine tomorrow
O dry those tears, life is not made for sorrow


words and music by Teresa del Riego
published by Chappell & Co. Ltd., London

More About Annabell’s Family

I spent yesterday looking for information on this family to go with the photographs and a few random remarks from my cousin Margaret about them.  Here is what I found.  Annabel was born in 1882, the second of the six children of Edward and Mary (Allen) McCall.  Her mother was a fine seamstress, sewing privately and her father was turn-key at the Montgomery jail.

Annabel married earlier than her other siblings to a man by the last name of Martin.  They had one son in 1908 who they named Jefferson.  Unfortunately Mr. Martin soon died.  In 1910 she married his brother Edward Martin, a widower who brought his two young sons to the marriage, Edward, 3 and Estil, 2.  Edward was fifteen years older then Annebel.  He was a tailor who owned his own home and was his own boss.  Annabel was working for the United States Gov. at the post office in Nashville, TN.

They had five more children together. Young Anna was born in Alabama in 1913.  Edward, Thelma and Caruso were born in  Muhlenberg County, Kentucky in Jan. 1915, March 1916 and October 1920.  Geneva was born in between Edward and Thelma, although there is barely enough space for her to fit in.  I did not find A birth record for her in Kentucky.

In 1920 we find the family in White City, Florida.  Not only is Edward going by Edwin but they have added an “s” to Martin and claim all of their parents were no longer born in Tennessee and Kentucky (him) or Alabama (her) they were born in Italy.  They are also listed as white instead of mulatto as they had been previously.  Edward is still tailoring from his owned home.  Annabel is not working outside the home although with 7 children under 13 she’s working plenty inside it.  The census was taken in January and Caruso was not born until October, back in Kentucky.  Edward #3 is now listed as born in Aabama,  Geneva in Louisiana and Thelma in Arkansas.  Either one of the children got creative with the ennumerator, they were on the lam or they were passing and covering their tracks.

“Annabel- her family + us”

The photograph taken above is from my grandmother Fannie’s album.  She wrote on the top “Annabel her family + us”.  Annabel and my grandmother were first cousins.  My aunt Mary V. is the little girl standing apart looking at the camera.  She was born in 1920.  My grandmother is holding Mershell, born in 1921 on her lap.  My mother was born in Feb. 1923 so I would put the year at 1922.  That must be Caruso leaning on his mother Annabel’s knee.  The little girls are probably Geneva and Thelma.  That is my grandfather Mershell Graham leaning so cool in the back.

In 1930 Annabell and her family were still in Detroit.  The two oldest boys are no longer at home.  They would have been 22 and 23.  The rest of the children are living at home.  Annabel works as a seamstress at a store.  The three oldest children are  delivery people at a fur store.  I think this would be Annis Furs which used to be in Detroit right behind Hudson’s.  My great grandmother and her daughter Daisy were worked there for many years.  The Martin family is back in the Negro race.

Wordless Wednesday – their own marching band