The first organized band in Butte debuted on July 4, 1876, for the U.S. centennial. There were neither 76 trombones, nor 110 cornets, but the five musicians included Band Leader George Fitschen on B flat cornet, Simon Hausworth on E flat alto, Charles Basuman on bass, John Hausworth on alto, and Peter Sherrer on bass drum.
“I think that was the first band in the state aside from the military bands at the army posts.” – George Fitschen, recalling the band's debut.
George C. Fitschen had come to Montana in 1868, from Hanover, Germany, emigrating alone at the age of 14 in 1858. He tried his hand at gold mining in California, but “fortune did not come his way as rapidly as he thought it might.” In Montana first at German Gulch and then in 1875 in Butte, he dabbled in both mining and the mercantile business, and eventually real estate.
|George C. Fitschen|
(Anaconda Standard, May 12, 1902)
Fitschen’s local success allowed him to revisit Germany, sailing from New York for Hanover on May 22, 1902, for a visit of 6 months or more.
He died in October 1908. His son George H. Fitschen became the chief electrician at the Elm Orlu mine; he lived with his wife Charlotte at 1108 West Platinum in 1928.
Fitschen’s bandmates, Simon and John Hausworth, were Swiss emigrants who built the first two-story building in Butte, the Hotel de Mineral at Main and Broadway. Simon’s son Charles was elected Mayor of Butte four times.
Resources: Anaconda Standard, May 12, 1902 (source of photo); city directories; Sanborn maps; Lost Butte, Montana, p. 16.