The religious play “The Holy City” came to the Opera House November 1, 1905 and drew an audience who were interested in dramas that were written around Biblical subjects. This kind of entertainment had no appeal to the usual theatre patron that thronged the house for those plays that abounded in tense situations and thrilling moments, and the usual habituates were conspicuous by their absence. From an acting standpoint this play was a meritorious one but only interesting to an audience different from the usual patron.
This was followed by a play of similar nature, “The Village Parson,” with thar eccentric actor, W.B. Patton, in the title role whose delineation of a minister in a small community constantly beset by the woes and tribulations of his flock was excellently portrayed by this kindly person who heard with patience the constant stream of his flock who came to him with tales of woe. Coming on the following night , November 2,1905 after the Holy City and being similar in character to the play of the preceding night, it failed to bring the regular patrons into the house, but this was made up by many irregular patrons who enjoyed a most pleasing evening entertainment.
Dorsey, only son of John S.S. Herr, a bright and intelligent young man, who gave promise of a brilliant future in a moment of temporary insanity did away with his life on November 5, 1905, born and raised in Grafton of parents who came with the first settlers of the town and who played quite a part in the history of the town the young man’s action was startling to his friends and the people generally.
George Brinkman Sr., prominent in the business life of Grafton died from an attack of prostate gland trouble in North Wheeling Hospital where he had went for treatment on November 9, 1905. His life story was like the story from one of Oliver Optics stories of a poor lad whose struggles to raise himself above want. Left an orphan at the age of 9 in his native Germany, he found employment with the clerk of the court in the principality ruled by the reigning house of Hesse-Cassel. Intrigued by the stories and opportunities in the great nation beyond the seas, at the age of 14 he in the same manner managed to find the means for passage on one of those old slow sailing vessels bound for the United States. Debarking at the port of Baltimore, friendless and alone without a single penny and without a word of English in his vocabulary he apprenticed himself to a baking concern in that city and in three years mastered the trade.
In 1857, when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad erected the historic old Grafton Hotel at Grafton Junction, the management of the railroad induced him to come to Grafton and take charge of the bakery and pastry department of the old hostelry and for some five years he was in charge of this department, but fired with that ambition and energy to have his own business he established a bakery and confectionary in the small frame house that stood on the site now occupied by the present business house erected by George L. Jolliffee.
The struggle was hard in the beginning and success came when he took the contract to furnish all the ballast camps on the three divisions engaged in forming the tracks leading out of Grafton. The excellence of the products of his shop soon became known to the people of the town and his efforts to please his customers soon brought him into prominence and his shop became the scene of action who came to him for its products.
During the Civil War, he told of being almost ruined by soldiers that entered his shop and carried off contents yelling” Charge it to Uncle Sam,” and he only put an end to these depredations by mounting the counter and threatening to spilt open the head with a hatchet for the next man who laid a hand of his stock, this action ended his troubles all during the period of the war.
Like all the people of his nationality, his soul was filled with harmony and in 1865 he joined the first brass band organized in the town and in 1869 re-organized the band and was chosen its director and continued in this position until 1873 when Francis M. Durbin came to Grafton to assume the position as cashier of the new Grafton Bank and he turned over directorship of the organization to Mr.Durbin, a musician of note, he still maintained his membership in the band and often said the band never received remuneration for any social events, such as weddings, festivals and family gatherings, but were invited to partake of slice of the bride’s cake or treated to ice cream or a plate of oysters on these occasions.
Weekly, the band came out on the streets to play for the entertainment of the town folks as entertainments were few in early years and these weekly concerts were a real treat to the people of those days. Averse to political office, yet he was persuaded by friends to serve in town council in 1873-1874 and again in 1882-1883, and in 1878 was the first to sign the petition for the relocation of the seat of the Taylor County from Puntytown to Grafton. In 1882, he was among the first to subscribe for the building of the Grafton and Greenbriar Railroad and served as a member on the first board of directors.
In 1876, he purchased the old Alfred Thomas property now 65 and 68 West Main Street and erected the three story business, theatre and lodge building on the lot. At its completion the business rooms were tenanted by the firms of Brinkman and Nuzum, general merchants, and Bertrand Kahn, men’s outfitter, and in this room Hon John Barton Payne, who was destined to become Taylor County’s first citizen and become world wide known as the president of the American Red Cross Society practiced law.
Grafton lodge No. 31 Independent Order of Odd Fellows, moved their lodge from the old Gerkin building at the corner on Main and Bridge Streets into the room on the third floor and this society still hold its sessions where they moved into 63 years ago.
The theatre on the second floor was opened to the public on December 23,1876, at which time a concert by the Home Brass Band assisted by the best local talent and Professor William H. Stoy had part. The concert was a decided success and netted a neat sum of money for the band. Professor Stoy, a prominent instructor of bands in this territory, Peter Dinkle, Edward I. Allen, Scott Pierce and Phillip Preiss who had prominent parts as did Misses Josie Leuthke, and Kate Dinkle, have long since died. William Holland at last reports was a resident of Kansas City and Miss Elizabeth Martin is the widow of attorney Harry J. Snively and resides at Yakima, Washington.
All of the members of the organization who took part in the opening of this new playhouse too, have gone the way of all the flesh. William T. Lilly who died June 17, 1930, was the last survivor of the Home Brass Band to pass away.
In 1879, his business having outgrown the small frame building on the opposite side of Main Street he erected the three-story brick business, apartment and lodge building now occupied by Clyde G. Turner, the Love Drug company and Mystic Lodge No. 75, A.F. and A.M. and like the Odd Fellows Society the order of the Masonic fraternity which moved into the apartment on the second floor and lived their sessions in this room. He moved his family into the apartment on the second floor and lived here until 1899 when he moved his family into the Hon. John W. Mason’s mansion which he purchased from Mr. Mason on the occasion of Mr. Mason being commissioned collector of internal revenue for the United States and caused him to take up his residence at the capital at Washington.
In 1880, he became affiliated with Crusade Commandery No. 6 Knight Templars at Fairmont, and continued membership in that society until DeMolay Commendary No. 11 was organized in Grafton in 1894 and received his demit from the Fairmont Commandery and joined with DeMolay No. 11 of Grafton. He served as Generalissimo in 1903 and as Eminent Commander of DeMolay in 1904 and 1905 just prior to his death in the latter year.
In 1874, he was named by Mayor Charles F. W. Kunst as one of the committees to procure additional lands for the enlargement of Bluemont Cemetery and arrange for the payment of some seven acres of land purchased from John W. Blue. On the return of his remains to Grafton, DeMolay Commandery took charge of and conducted his funeral from the Washington Street residence with Vincent’s Band heading the funeral cortege to Bluemont Cemetery where all that was mortal of him was lowered into the ground which he provided the finds for its purchase by the members of the Commandery wit the rites of the order.