Artifact of the Month

B-flat rotary valve cornetB-flat Rotary Valve Cornet

This cornet was purchased at the Beulah Smith estate auction in Fayetteville in 1984, and came to the Shiloh Museum labeled as a "damaged trumpet"—it lacks its leadpipe, mouth receiver, lever springs, and connecting strings.

The "trumpet" belonged to Beulah's father, John Preston Smith (1855-1941). Beulah was one of six children born to John Preston and Mary Belle Engels Smith. John Preston Smith was a merchant in Farmington (Washington County) who also played in the town band in the late 1880s. He later owned "The Leader" and "The New Model" clothing stores in Fayetteville.

A few years ago, our collections assistant at the time, Heather Marie Wells (a University of Arkansas Razorback Band alumnae), took one look at the instrument and knew that it was not a trumpet, but a cornet. In an effort to track down information about the cornet, she corresponded with Professor H. M. Lewis of Georgetown University, who is a member of the International Trumpet Guild. According to Prof. Lewis, the cornet dates to circa 1870, and was possibly made by C. A. Zoebisch of New York.

As it turns out, Prof. Lewis knows Springdale. He lived here in 1951-53, when his father, a Methodist minister serving in the North Arkansas Conference, pastored at the First Methodist Church, located just across the street from the Shiloh Museum! It really is a small world.

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