Tama County Iowa Obituaries

E. A. Franklin

Traer Star Clipper
24 March 1944

"E. A. Franklin, Traer Musician, Dies Suddenly- Heart Attack Fatal to Widely Known Former Band Director"

E. A. (Ern) Franklin, Traer barber, widely known former bandmaster and musician, died at his home here early Sunday morning.

Death was due to a heart attack. He had worked at the barber shop Saturday night as usual until midnight, and had gone to bed before 1 o'clock. He was found dead about 6:30 a.m. by one of his sons. A doctor estimated Mr. Franklin had passed away four or five ours before.

Funeral services were held in the Congregational church Wednesday afternoon, conducted by the pastor B. T. Schwab. The Congregational male quartet sang during the service, with C. E. Naylor, K. P. Moore, Elmer O'Hara, Ellsworth Harrison and Fritz Scharfenberg. Mrs. H. Q. Everts, Anne Scharfenberg and Mrs. George Ross, of Buckingham, were in charge of flowers. Burial was in Buckingham.

Mr. Schwab, in his funeral sermon, paid a well deserved tribute to Mr. Franklin, with high praise for his contribution to music in the Traer community and elsewhere, for his patience and encouragement to young musicians, for his generous and unselfish community service, and for his painstaking devotion to and care of his invalid wife.

Relatives from a distance here for the funeral service were the brother, Claude, of Braham, Minn.; Miss Cora Waters, Mrs. Fannie Stewart and son Paul, and Miss Grace Palmer, all of Parkersburg.

Traer business houses closed during the hour of the funeral services.

Mr. Franklin was born at Manchester, Ia., July 30, 1876, attended school in Parkersburg and was a member of the first graduating class of the high school of that town in 1893. As a youth he learned the barber trade and was a musician of unusual ability, largely self-made, although he had received a start from his father, who had directed an organiztion known as the Beloit band, well known over Iowa in early days as a dance band.

He married Dec. 5, 1895, to Mae Waters, of Parkersburg. Before coming to Traer he had been director of the Fort Dodge municipal Band.

"Ern" arrived in Traer June 29, 1898, to work in a barber shop, expecting to remain only a few weeks, but all of the remainder of his life was spent here. His contribution to the development of music in this community as band director and teacher can scarcely be estimated.

Bands had existed in Traer before, but most of them had been short-lived. In the winter of 1899, a group of young men in the community decided to form a band, and invited Mr. Franklin to be their leader. There was no salary connected with the job in those days--nor for many years afterward. The band members "chipped-in" to buy instruments, music and uniforms. They earned some of the expense by playing for dances. J. H. (Harper) Hartshorn, who served as business manager of the Traer band more than forty years, is said to have been the only member of Mr. Franklin's first Traer band who had had any previous musical training. The others knew nothing about the instruments except what they learned from rehersals under Mr. Franklin's direction. He could play about every instrument in the band. By the summer of 1900 the group had progressed to the point where a series of street concerts were attempted.

Mr. Franklin Kept a good band functioning in Traer continuosly for forty years. Hundreds of Traer young men and women during that time who ever played in his band or took lessons from him privately on band and orchestra instruments, owe much or all of their knowledge of music to Ern Franklin. He gave private lessons to a number in the community up until the day of his death.

For many years he directed municipal bands in several other cities, including Dysart, Parkersburg, and the .?. lodge band of Waterloo, and was an instrumental music instructor in several schools, including thirteen years in the Traer school.

When an instrumental music department was established in Traer's school in 1925, it was only natural that Mr. Franklin should be chosen to take charge. Although lacking in academic training required under present-day school laws, he was not long in proving his ability to compete with college-trained proctors serving other schools whose music organizations participated along with Traer's in school music contests. The Traer high scholl orchestra won its first Tama County championship less than two years after its organization. It also won the distrrict class championship and ranked third in the state in its class the same year. Its first high school band took second place in a district contest less than seven weeks after the first practice was held. Then followed a long series of successes for Traer high school instrumental music groups under his direction. Only twice in the years from 1927 to 1938 did the Traer high school fail to be represented in the state music contests by its band or orchestra or both. Mr. Franklin led the young people to many high honors, the climax of which came in 1935 when he took the orchestra to the national music contest in Madison, Wis., where it placed third among all competitors. He retired in 1938 from his work in the Traer school, where for thirteen years he was a tireless worker, and gave the school more work than he was paid for. He liked young people, and when he discovered one with unusual talent he exerted himself to the utmost to help him.

Mr. Franklin gave freely of his time and talent to Traer throughout all of his years here. He appeared on hundreds of public programs of every part as a soloist or as the leader of the group of musicians. He conducted the Traer opera house orchestra for years which played without pay. He organized and helped church and Sunday school orchestras, and furnished an orchestra for innumerable home talent shows. When asked to furnish music for an occasion, he rarely refused no matter how inconvenient. For every occasion for which there was a call for a band, Ern Franklin had the band out.

During all of these years Mr. Franklin worked continuously at the barber shop, most of the time in a shop of his own.

Surviving Mr. Franklin are his wife who has been an invalid several years from injuries received in an automobile accident, and to whom he was deply devoted; two sons Glenn and Gavrolese; a brother Claude, an instrumental music teacher in the school at Braham, Minn., and a sister in Duluth, Minn. A son, Barclay, died in 1921 in boyhood. Seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild also survive.

Submitted by: Merton Franklin (mafranklin@sprintmail.com)

Back to the Obituaries Page