Monday, November 3, 2014

John Hasler ~ Pioneer Musician of Central Utah

Harry A. Dean
Ephraim, Utah

John Hasler was probably the most prominent musical figure in Central Utah from 1869 until 1887. He did most of his work in Mount Pleasant and the northern part of the county of Sanpete, although he by no means confined his teaching and selling activities to that limited territory as the following sketch will show.

The writer is indebted to one of Mr. Hasler’s daughters living in Mount Pleasant for much of these materials. Other sources include the author’s Masters Thesis and certain issues of the newspaper  at the time of Mr. Hasler’s death.

John Hasler was born in Switzerland April 17, 1839. He was a merchant, selling wines, liquors, and cigars by wholesale in his native country, and also a music instructor and prominent musician.

In 1869 he came to Mount Pleasant and was made leader of the band and instructor in music for pupils. He also became leader of the church choir.

He returned to his native land on a mission in 1880, remaining two years during which time he composed music for the German hymn book, now in use.

He was vice-president of the Equitable Co-op store of Mount Pleasant. He was secretary of the High Priests quorum and an active churchman and musician. He had been selling musical instruments for many years.

John Hasler and his wife Louise Thalman Hasler were converted to the Latter Day Saint Church in 1868 through the missionary efforts of Karl G. Maeser. They came to Utah in 1869 and settled in Mount Pleasant where they lived in a cellar for six years. This was no ordinary cellar, however, for there were three rooms and it was made cozy and home-like with pictures and curtains about the bed and

Mr. Hasler was a member of the Swiss Cavalry Band before migrating to Utah in 1869. When he came, he brought with him much band music and several broken down horns he had obtained from the Cavalry Band. He also brought many slides, organ and clarinet reed, etc. These he brought in preference to a fine mattress and some household treasures which his wife desired him to bring. After arriving in Mount Pleasant, he spent the evenings soldering these old instruments together, and they were used in the first brass band organized by Mr. Hasler with the following members: John Hasler, James Hansen, Bert Hansen, John Waldemar, Daniel Beckstrom, James Meiling, August Wall, Aaron Omen, Peter Syndergaard, Andrew Syndergaard, Soren Hansen, Lars (fiddler) Nielson, Jacob Hafen, Ulrick Winkler, Oscar Barton, Charley Hamshire, Paul Coates and Olaf Rosenlaf.

Mr. Hasler also later organized bands in Fountain Green, Moroni, Payson, Pleasant Grove and Spring City. The Spring City band was composed of these members: Henry L. Acord, Emil Erickson, George Hyde, Orson Hudson, S. Peter Sorensen, William Osborne, John Blain, Adolph Strate, Simon Beck, Christian
Anderson, Christian G. Larson, Daniel Beckstrom, Carl Hansen, and Fred Strate.

Soon after arriving in Mount Pleasant, Mr. Hasler was appointed to lead the ward choir, which he did for twenty years. In the winter time he would start the fires with his own kindling wood, and also use his own coal-oil for lights. He taught free of charge three girls to accompany the choir, namely Tina Morrison, Hilda Dehlin, and Gusta Dehlin. The only remuneration he ever received for directing the city band and the ward choir was ten acres of land, apportioned out to him by the bishop. To this day, that land is called the “brass band field.

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"In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage - to know who we are and where we have come from."

~Alex Haley

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