Lancraft  (Since 1888)

"By 1870 a circuit did exist in Connecticut. In 1885 they held their first field day and by 1932 there were many competitions.” 

                                                  Ed Olsen (Company of Fifers & Drummers, Charles T. Kirk)

The Great Dan English

Winner of Many Individuals

Note the Medal Collection 

The 1949 Snare Line of Lancraft

Always full of tested champions

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Lancraft in the late 1920s. 

That's a lot of hard earned shiny hardware in any time period.

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Lancraft Fife and Drum Corps was the epitome of drumming just past the turn of the century. The Centennial celebration was now long forgotten and the sensationalism of Vaudeville was in full swing without the need of "rudiments". Good drum instructors were scarce, mostly from military units. Lancraft bridges the code pounding battlefield style of Frank Fancher (more competition victories than anyone in history), to what later became the scientific physics of Earl Sturtze at St. Francis Parochial in New Haven, Ct, to this author.  My instructor, Jay Tuomey, played in Landcraft. Most the great St. Francis champions to come in the future hooked up their drums with a Lancraft uniform on. The great Dan English - multiple winner of Northeasterns (probably the world championship at this time) - represented Lancraft as did other countless winners. Drumlines did not match styles yet - the 1930s Charles T. Kirks didn't even do that - but there were so many contests and letters written that technical information was being transferred to competitors. Civil War drumming etiquette was still in effect with breakdowns the measure of your score. (Solos told the judge what rudiments you could breakdown). Drummers were beginning to add more difficult "fillers" using the same symmetrical 4 or 8 measure arrangement format. True, the drum and bugle corps began fielding a huge number of co, beginning with the Boys of '76 from Racine, Wisconsin in 1916, but the VFW and Al corps were assimilated into the Ludwig/Moeller camp, using a style ill-fitted for competition drumming that did not always include reverence to Civil War Camp Duty. Fife and drum began to scoff at them, to the point their master performers refused to teach drum and bugle corps till the Sons of Liberty decided to do it talking over a few beers after a practice in 1951. 

Snare champions and the name Lancraft are synonymous. The strong winning tradition of Lancraft is represented by Connecticut champions George Gallagher (1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915), Earl Sturtze (1916, 2nd1917, 2nd 1918, 1919, 1922, 1923 ,1928 with Yalesville), Dan English (1925, 1926, 1927, 2nd 1928, 1929), Nathan Marks (1933, 2nd 1934)   Harold Kling (1920, 2nd 1924) and Yalesville transplant John Smith (2nd 1914 Yalesville, 2nd 1921 Lancraft).  Dan English won trophies for the Lancraft Fife and Drum corps in the 1920’s just before the Connecticut style was “stolen” by Brooklyn’s upstart Ripperger brothers in 1934 who tired of losing to high-handed players.  Yalesville Fife and Drum would throw James B. (Buddy) Ryan at all of them to win in ’34 and ’35, considered “standout player – the man of the day” by an upcoming Eric Perrilloux. 

 

A poster celebrating Lancraft Fife and Drum Corps 18th anniversary is dated 1906, giving a starting date of 1888. (An article in the New Haven Register, dated 1912, states the Corps just celebrated its twentieth anniversary, or 1892.) The unit started practicing in back of an old blacksmith shop across from Ed Lancraft's house and oyster dock.  Sometime during the 1890's, the railroad tore the shop down for more track. Ed offered an oyster shed for rehearsals and during winter, opened his cellar. In appreciation, the corps was named Lancraft, who happily bought twelve dark blue trousers, uniforms similar to circus bandsmen with coat and visored hats.  With a second set of uniforms, the corps was chartered on March 10, 1898.  A two-story corps hall was raised on land donated by Dan’s father, Mike English, in back of his home. They earned a set of five Gus Moeller drums at $85 each by performing, still used by Lancraft today.  Connecticut Interstate 95 took the land and clubhouse, but due to a donation by a North Haven woman in 1962, Lancraft has their present corps hall.

The first drums used by the Corps were small, made by Mr Loomis. In 1900 they obtained four big barrel drums “resembling oyster kegs”.  Lancraft was nicknamed the “Oyster Keg” Corps. They have honed their music on Thursday evenings since 1898.  The Connecticut Fifers and Drummers Association invited the Corps to compete in their annual state convention in Ansonia on August 4, 1899.  They finished third in 1900 behind American Gramaphone and the winning New Haven Edgewood Drum Corps. Lancraft won its first state title in 1909, just before Jim Gallagher went on a five year undefeated individual tear in Connecticut state individuals, the corps later capturing 31 first place state cups, 19 second prizes. 

            Raising money has always been a drum corps problem, but Lancraft voted on 

December 27, 1900, not to do free concerts as requests mounted; they still adhere to this policy. The Connecticut Fifers and Drummers Association voted in 1921 that their corps would not perform for free.  “The problem of raising money in those days was just as acute as it is today. In 1899 the Corps conducted a trolly car ride, and the minutes of the following week report it was a huge success and showed a profit of .50 cents. In 1900, the Corps held a ball which was also a success and showed a profit of $20.00. Price of admission was .25 cents and if you wanted supper it was an extra 10 cents. The Corps could be hired for $2.00 a man and quite often for $1.00 per man when the full Corps of 12 turned out it cost the sponsor the grand sum of $12.00.”  [1]  

Good times were had when corps members, wives and girlfriends were invited for moonlight rides in the harbor in one of Lancraft’s oyster boats into the 1930’s.  Local travel was by trolly car, railroad for long trips.  Members might spent more time traveling than at their destination.  Records show they might leave after work on Wednesday on the milk train and returned Tuesday the following week.

Dan English (1903-1931) was a champion who left this earth at the young age of 28 from heart disease. A J. Burns Moore student, he instructed St. Francis Parochial School from 1928 to 1931.  Earl Sturtze replaced him. This school influenced rudimental drumming more than any other in history. Some considered Dan the best of his day, winning two national snare drum championships. He was captain of the Hillhouse High School basketball team in 1918 or 1919. He was player and instructor for the Yale Band in the mid 1920’s when Rude Vale was there and instructed the New Haven and West Haven Institutes of Music and their drum corps. In preparation for state championships, Dan was known to practice on a rubber pad three hours a day, seven days a week while teaching five other drum corps.  J. Burns Moore solo, Filling the Double Drag is dedicated to Dan, “the first of my pupils to learn this beat."  A trophy was established in his name, given to the Connecticut State Senior Champion each year until it was retired to the Landcraft corps hall in 1988. The Dan English Memorial Trophy was first presented in 1932 at the August State Convention in Meriden, Connecticut. Trophy Winners are:  original winner James Gomperts, Bob Redican, Howard Kenealy, Hugh Quigley, Tom Grandel, Dan Toscano, Eldrick Arsenault, Nate Marks, Jack Tencza, Bill Rotella, Cliff Barrows, Brad Fairchild, Jim Clark, Paul Cormier, and Sigmund Trybus.

 

Dan was in contact with Ludwig Drum Co. in Chicago and Gus Moeller in New York.  It was Dan who put up a weary Gus Moeller in his New Haven, Ct., house in September of 1930, as he drummed towards the Boston Armory, trying to draw attention to the opening of the American Legion National Convention, a contest Moeller was judging. 

New Haven Register newspaper: "Daniel M. English, world champion rudimental snare drummer since 1928, died early today (April 14, 1931) in St. Raphael's Hospital after a five week illness of heart disease. He was 28 years of age and left his parents and younger brother, Jim English". (Also a member of Lancraft, and active of the C.F.D.A. executive committee in the 1930's.) Thus ended a fabulous but too short career. Dan joined Lancraft in 1918 and became Drum Sergeant when he won the Connecticut snare drumming title in 1925, continuing in 1926, '27 & '28. He won the North East States, the U.S. National Championship at Brooklyn, New York in 1930, and previously the world title at Naugatuck in 1928. 

 

Charley Poole:  “The winner of the Dan English trophy had their name inscribed on it.  You kept it for a year then brought it to the next year’s championship. All my idols names were on that trophy – all the masters.  Now mine is on there. It was like keeping the Stanley Cup!”

 

            James B. “Buddy” Ryan of the Yaleville Fife and Drum corps was a legend to Eric Perrilloux.  Buddy had a run of consecutive championships but abruptly left the scene. He was second at the 1940 New York World’s Fair competition.  (a junior division??)  Photographs show Ryan had a right hand index finger pointing straight down and his left hand somewhat flat, using a looser grip. 

Ed Olsen (Charles T Kirk): “Drummers would follow his corps just to watch him drum in the mid 1930’s.  He came out of the army and then went back in.”

Al Linquiti (Charles T Kirk):  “Eddy was a very smooth player.  He was the sergeant of the drum line.  He would always screw up somewhere in individuals somehow.  I guess he would get nervous.  Perrilloux stated that Eddy was one of the best drummers in New York State at the time.  He became a drum judge after the war with Howard Reiff.”         

 

Good drummers were the result of careful rules changes by an organized Ancient influence that was growing.  The first issue of “Fifer and Drummer” magazine by William M. Crabbe was mailed on November 15, 1920.  The number of judges was cut from six to three on Feb 24, 1924; judging was held to “time, tone and execution”.  Odell Chapman offered a drum magazine called “Chapman Drum Facts” in 1928. It was determined on June 21 1931, that judges could not be members of competing corps. 

 

Senior Snare Drum Connecticut State Champions  

Jun. 14,1906    1st  Frank Fancher (Am Gram)       2nd  

Jul.   3, 1907    1st  Frank Fancher  (Am Gram)      2nd  L.L. Brewster

Aug.12,1908    1st  Frank Fancher  (Am Gram)      2nd  Louis Lake (Cresent)

Aug.12,1909    1st  Frank Fancher  (Am Gram)      2nd  William Griffith (St. Francis TAB)

Aug.10,1910     1st  Louis Lake  (Cresent)               2nd  John J. Malone (Father Mathews)

Aug.14,1911      1st  George Gallagher (Lancraft)    2nd  John J. Malone  (Father Mathews)

Aug.17,1912     1st  George Gallagher (Lancraft)    2nd  George Brewster (Plimton)

Aug.  2,1913    1st  George Gallagher  (Lancraft)   2nd  John J. Malone (Father Mathews)

Aug.29,1914    1st  George Gallagher  (Lancraft)   2nd  John Smith (Yalesville)

Aug.  7,1915    1st  George Gallagher  (lancraft)    2nd  Earl Sturtze  (Humphries)

Aug.19,1916     1st  Earl Sturtze  (Lancraft)              2nd  Frank Fancher (Grenadiers)

Aug.31,1917     1st  Frank Fancher  (LOOM)            2nd  Earl Sturtze (Lancraft)

Aug.31,1918     1st  Frank Fancher (Grenadiers)     2nd  Earl Sturtze (Lancraft)

Aug.  2,1919    1st  Earl Sturtze  (lancraft)               2nd  William Crabbe (Maples)

Aug.14,1920    1st  Harold Kling  (Lancraft)            2nd  Edward Dempsey (Grenadiers)

Aug.  6,1921    1st  Frank Fancher  (Chapman)      2nd  John Smith (Lancraft)

Aug.  5,1922    1st  Earl Sturtze  (Warner Bros)      2nd  Fred Church (Yalesville)

Aug.18,1923     1st  Earl Sturtze  (LOOM)                2nd  Frank Fancher (Odell Chapman)

Aug. 2, 1924    1st  Frank Fancher  (Chapman)      2nd  Harold Kling  (Landcraft)

Aug. 1,1925      1st  Dan English (Lancraft)              2nd  Edward Dempsey (Grenadiers)

Aug. 7.1926     1st  Dan English (Landcraft)            2nd  L. Case (Continentals)

Aug. 6.1927     1st  Dan English (landcraft)             2nd  L. Garland (St. Francis TAB)

Aug.25,1928    1st  Earl Sturtze  (Yalesville)           2nd  Dan English (Lancraft)

Aug.10,1929     1st  Dan English (Lancraft)              2nd  Henry Garland (St. Francis TAB)

Aug. 9,1930     1st  Henry Garland (St. Francis)      2nd James Gomperts (20th Fleet)

Aug. 1,1931       1st  Henry Pullman (Stony Creek)   2nd  Clair Bradley (Stony Creek)   

                             (disqualified for not parading)    3rd  Henry Garland (St. Francis TAB)

Aug.13,1932     1st  James Gomperts (20th Fleet)  2nd  Clair Bradley (Stoney Creek)

Aug.  5,1933    1st  Nathan Marks (Lancraft)           2nd  Richard Green (Pacific Hose)

Aug.11,1934      1st  James B. Ryan  (Yalesville)      2nd  Nathan Marks (Lancraft)

Aug. 3,1935     1st  James B. Ryan (Yalesville)        2nd  Clair Bradley (Stoney Creek)

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The 2003 Version of Lancraft F&D

Snares Left to Right

Jack McGuire

Bill Mailing

Jim Leske

Jay Smith

Jack Tencza

Dan O'Mara

Nick Clericusio

Dick Carbonell

Bass:

Dave Delaney

Joe Veirie

Phil McGouren

©  All Rights Reserved  "The Perfectionists - A History of Competitive Rudimental Snare Drumming"