Doster Military Band Jacket
The Museum’s collection holds over 15,000 photographs and nearly 1,000 articles of clothing but it is rare that we have both an item of clothing and a photograph of the original owner wearing it. Recently, the Museum was lucky enough to receive Russell Minar’s uniform jacket and a photograph of Russell with members of the Doster Military Band all sporting their purple wool jackets.
“If the members of this band could have heard the words of praise voiced for excellent playing their heads would be swelled so that they would have to go without their hats.”
This statement from the August 15, 1908 edition of the Kalamazoo Gazette sang praise for a recent concert of the Doster Band. The Doster Military Band was from Doster, a small community east of Plainwell. The band performed concerts and played at public events such as fairs and local field days in the Allegan and Plainwell areas in the early 1900s.
Born on March 23, 1894 to Frank and Dora Minar, Russell seems to have inherited his mother’s love of music and started playing music at a young age. Russell continued to live in the Doster area his entire life, graduating from Plainwell High School and attending Kalamazoo College.
The jacket and photograph are both treasures but, the jacket even a little more. It was made by the Henderson-Ames Company of Kalamazoo, a well-known manufacturer of uniforms and regalia. Both the photograph and jacket had been kept in the family for over 100 years. In February 2013, Russell’s grandson, John M. Fleming, donated both to the Museum for more generations to enjoy.
In this photograph from around 1905, Russell, one of the youngest members of the band can be seen holding his cornet (front row, far right).