1910-2020 • Celebrating our 110th Anniversary
In the winter of 1909-1910, a group of about 20 young men organized to form the Westbrook Drum Corps. Louis Pratt, a Deep River resident and expert fifer, drummer, and dance teacher, volunteered to come down to Westbrook and teach new members each week. Originally, Westbrook had relatively small drums before acquiring "thunder makers" produced by Eli Brown. Some of the tunes learned the first winter were "Bruce's Address," "Road to Boston," and of course "Yankee Doodle," amongst others. Soon after, "White Cockade," "Battle Hymn," "Grandfather’s Clock," and others were added.
Early corps fifers included: Ty and George Manstan, John and Chapman Holbrook, Alex Brooks, Gilbert Spencer, Irving Bohling, Charlie Clark, Fred Ames, Charlie Brainard, and Lee Kelsey. Bill McCoombs and Paul Hoxsie later joined. Early drummers included: Tom and Luther Bloomfield, John and Bill Mulcair, "Happy" Burham, Russell Stokes, Bill Boone, Paul Post, Al Foerch, John Doane, Evelyn Wright, Robert Morgan, and Frank Palm. Albert Palm, Henry Wilcox, and Richard Gustafson later joined. The corps first drum major was William Wilcox, followed by Frank Hill and Stanley Griswold.
The first officers of the Westbrook Drum Corps, elected at the first meeting on February 6, 1910, were: Russell A. Strokes, President, Robert R. Morgan, Vice President, Charles C. Clark, Secretary- Treasurer. “It was voted at that meeting to subscribe five cents a member towards rent for the hall that evening and thirty-five cents per week in dues."
The Corps has won two silver cups for making the best appearance on parade, the first was won May 13, 1917 in a parade given by Montrose Drum Corps in New Haven in which 18 corps competed. The second cup was won at Bridgeport, May 14, 1921, the parade was sponsored by the Warner Brothers Corps.
A significant undertaking of this ambitious group was to host the National Muster of Fife and Drum Corps. Three times in fact, first, August of 1976 , then in 1990, and most recently in 2010 to celebrate our 100th anniversary, co-hosted with Moodus Drum & Fife Corps to celebrate their 150th anniversary.
The Corps celebrated its 50th anniversary, July 9th, 1960, with a parade and muster. On August 14th & 15th, 1970, the 60th anniversary was celebrated. To help make this occasion memorable, Governor Dempsey proclaimed August 15th, 1970 "Westbrook Ancient Muster Day." And to give the occasion greater distinction, the President's honor guard, the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry (Old Guard) Fife and Drum Corps participated in the Friday evening ceremonies and Muster Parade on Saturday.
The present Westbrook Drum Corps consists of approximately twenty members and is busy performing throughout New England and the United States. 2020 marks the corps 110th anniversary and the 61st Annual Westbrook Muster. Dressed in authentic Revolutionary-style uniforms and marching to the ancient "beat" of the original drum corps, the Westbrook Drum Corps has received many awards, and continues to carry on such a marvelous tradition, especially the famous annual Westbrook Muster.
Do you have a story about the Westbrook Drum Corps you'd like to share with us? Tell us by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org