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A Look Back: Music at the Mercantile

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By Jolene Hawkins

Looking back to the time when we sat around the living room or outside and listen to folks that gathered to play their instruments and sing songs. In this area, you will see the name of Archie Warner, who was affectingly known as “Archie the Fiddler.”

He was noted for playing for dances and this he did for nearly 70 years! Were you one of the lucky ones that have memories of Saturday night dances that were held at Sucker’s Hall or Woodside dance hall where he and his band Warner’s Orchestra would play?

Some of the other players in the band were Leska Geiger, Bert Gaylord, Philo Woodward, Dr. Vaughn Rood, Les Johenger, George Kestner, Thomas Sharp, Douglas Lay and his nephew Hollet Warner. Godard Hall, the Odd Fellows and The Grange were also blessed to have him come and tune up the fiddle and, well, fiddle the night away!

Did you know he also owned a farm? Archie, a life long bachelor, lived with his mom on the farm purchased in 1878 from money that his father got while prospecting for gold in California in 1859.

It was completely untouched by modern living. Oil lamps were used, water was carried from the well and Archie churned butter as well as preserving 200 plus cans of vegetables using a wood stove that was used by him and his mother for years.

He and his brothers not only played music together but also worked the farm raising sheep and cows, pitching hay and hoeing potatoes. When he died in 1954 he was 83 years old and still active. But the music did not die with him.

There was a group of fun-loving, talented folks that were jamming together at each other’s homes. As the group grew and more folks came in, they moved to the newly open Concord Mercantile, in 2011, located at 17 Franklin St., Springville.

The Mercantile is a recreation of a 1890s General Store with displays of items that would be found within an old store and items for sale, a lot that are handmade, making the band and the ole music seem to be right in place, sitting around the potbellied stove, strumming and singing.

In the warmer weather, they move outside and sit on the porch. Chairs are arranged so that people can sit and listen to music while enjoying the weather on Tuesdays and Thursdays evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. Good ole bluegrass, country and gospel music. You can even see them at the Erie County Fair in the Historical Building this summer for the fifth year in a row.

Take a stroll through the Heritage Building that is behind the General store and see some great displays set up replicating downtown Springville from the 1920s to ‘60s. Kuhn Drugstore, George Schuster Great Race, Leland House, Joylan, Dr. Rothchild’s and Dr. Waite’s offices, the rotating exhibit (Maple house) Jack Yellen display, Spaulding photography display, Teddy’s Candy Kitchen and, of course, we cannot leave out the jail.

The group of musicians has people that come and join in when they can, and the instruments that you will hear being played are the guitar, fiddle, mandolin, bongo, upright bass, hammer dulcimer, banjo, even an accordion.

Now comes the fun part. Who are the regulars? Jean Maul, Don Tober, Lee Wiedermann, Larry Brumgin, Don Halstead, Jerry Burkley, Gary and Rene Hanley, Ken Cheman, Jim Witkowski, Bert Spgeth, Ed Meadway, Diane Johnson, Sandy Bull and Ray Smouse can be heard singing and playing on most Tuesdays and Thursdays. Such a wonderful time and memories are made each time they get together. Can’t you just hear it?

We are so fortunate to have not just one building that forms the Concord Historical Society Campus but four. The Warner Museum, with great new displays, the Carriage House — hours to be announced soon — the Mercantile/Heritage Buildings, where the band plays and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the Lucy Bensley Center, for research material on the town, families and more. With so many buildings, we have something for everyone, with music as well.

You can volunteer at any of these buildings and share your memories as well. Stop by to visit us at the Lucy Bensley Center on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call us at 592-0094 or send us an email at lucybensleycenter@gmail.com.

 

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