In the early 1920’s a group of inmates from the Jefferson City State Penitentiary, the prison’s Peaceful Village Band, used their musical talents to rise to national fame. Some of the members leveraged this notoriety to shorten their sentences. Today’s episode of Fact or Fiction looks at these men who’d been incarcerated in Missouri’s only maximum security prison for crimes varying from check fraud to murder. Test your wits with my guest, Paul Holzen a music teacher and musician, to see if you can find the fiction within the facts. Listen carefully, because it’s more difficult than you think to distinguish between Fact or Fiction.
“Advertisement.” Sioux City Journal, 1 Dec. 1927, p. 2.
“Beneath the Star of Tragedy.” The Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, 19 Jan. 1917, p. 22.
“Chance Knocked at Prisoner’s Cell Door.” The Lancaster Sunday News, 1 Mar. 1925, p. 25.
“Combs Runs for Council.” Sioux City Journal, 18 Oct. 1959, p. 30.
“Convict Entertainer Receives Many Gifts.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 17 Dec. 1924, p. 12.
“Convict Who Won Radio Fame as Pianist Dies.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2 Sept. 1937, p. 13.
“Credit Men Elect Directors; Adjourn for Summer Season.” Sioux City Journal, 26 May 1944, p. 14.
“Digging Coal to Prison Tempo.” Google Books, Google, books.google.com/books?id=7xkgAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA4-PA45&lpg=RA4-PA45&dq=missouri%2BWOS%2Bradio%2Bprison%2Bband&source=bl&ots=IjwnTl6yRA&sig=ACfU3U3G7Q7foFCrmyQrIHgmoLmAiExu0w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjLhqXU4JXoAhWLZM0KHTe9DvsQ6AEwB3oECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=missouri%20WOS%20radio%20prison%20band&f=false.
“Freedom.” The Missourinet Blog, 2 Feb. 2017, blog.missourinet.com/harry-snodgrass/freedom/.
“French Slips Past Guard at the Jail.” Jefferson City Daily Capital News, 8 Sept. 1926, p. 1.
“Governor Hyde Freed Leader of Prison Band Yesterday.” Jefferson City Daily Capital News, 31 July 1924, p. 1.
“Harry Snodgrass, Radio Star, Opens His Own Road Show.” Wausau Daily Herald, 6 July 1925, p. 9.
“Head of Prison Band Looks Ahead to His Freedom.” Jefferson City Daily Capital News, 27 June 1923, p. 1.
“Hung Jury Likely in Trial of Woman.” The Cape County Herald, 27 July 1917, p. 1.
“Hung Jury Likely in Trial of Woman.” The Weekly Tribune, 27 July 1917, p. 1.
“Life Termer in State Prison Be Given Freedom.” The Sedalia Democrat, 18 July 1923, p. 1.
“Local Penitentiary Bandmaster Now In Texas Prison2.” Jefferson City Daily Capital News, 2 Dec. 1926, p. 1.
“Missouri Convict Wins Radio Popularity Contest.” The Daily Post-Dispatch, 5 Oct. 1924, p. 5.
“Missouri Convict Wins Radio Popularity Contest.” The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, 25 Oct. 1924.
“Musical America.” Google Books, Google, books.google.com/books?id=jGdJAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA98&lpg=PA98&dq=missouri%2Bprison%2Bstate%2Borchestra&source=bl&ots=xZz89kIOtD&sig=ACfU3U3EPO2BvoM5NtSHl8Lv-4L4K4DW-w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiLuYjO-I3oAhVnhq0KHfIHBM0Q6AEwDXoECA0QAQ#v=onepage&q=missouri%20prison%20state%20orchestra&f=false.
“Musical Messenger.” Google Books, Google, books.google.com/books?id=pwNDAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA2-PA31&lpg=RA2-PA31&dq=virgil%2Bw%2Bcombs%2Bmissouri&source=bl&ots=7GL92pGKaJ&sig=ACfU3U3Ck464u8sRr1yNxXvyMuvekPjVlg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiXjfKt253oAhVMHM0KHYIeDzkQ6AEwBXoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=virgil%20w%20combs%20missouri&f=false.
Pogue, Samantha. “Filmmaker Plans to Make Third Movie in Capital City.” Newstribune.com, 23 Aug. 2018, www.newstribune.com/news/features/story/2018/aug/23/filmmaker-plans-to-make-third-movie-in-capital-city/740083/.
“Prison Band to Give Concert at State Park Sunday.” Jefferson City Daily Capital News, 29 May 1925, p. 1.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 7 June 1926, p. 4.
“Teamster Shot as He and Musician Attempt Holdup.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 14 Apr. 1923, p. 3.
“Three O’clock in the Morning-Waltz-Harry Snodgrass : Terriss–Robledo : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming.” Internet Archive, Terriss–Robledo, archive.org/details/ThreeOclockInTheMorning-waltz-harrySnodgrass.
“Two Convicts Escape After Harding Concert.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11 Aug. 1923, p. 3.
Winters, S. R. “The Strangest Band That Broadcasts.” Google Books, Google, books.google.com/books?id=x_nNAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA178&lpg=PA178&dq=missouri%2BWOS%2Bradio%2Bprison%2Bband&source=bl&ots=ew3I0nvfvB&sig=ACfU3U1u2QcGd1tErSSbNJn5IRYX7BNciA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjLhqXU4JXoAhWLZM0KHTe9DvsQ6AEwBnoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=missouri%20WOS%20radio%20prison%20band&f=false.
Witten, J M. “When the Prison Band Goes on at WOS.” Google Books, Google, books.google.com/books?id=a1IPAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA205&lpg=PA205&dq=missouri%2Bstate%2Bprison%2Bconcert%2Bband&source=bl&ots=nobV7ca3EB&sig=ACfU3U1FrHdYrKLEKyVWy89c7WLX9WTAeQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiL9I7m_o3oAhUOT6wKHWuRCKUQ6AEwBnoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=missouri%20state%20prison%20concert%20band&f=false.