Pictured here is one of Bentonville's musical groups who were likely attending the Bentonville Academy, which offered an array of classes in the arts.  Ebe's father was an avid supporter of the school.  From left to right are:

First Row: Betty Blake with mandolin (later in life, Betty married Will Rogers, famous performer, satirist, and cowboy), Alma Langford, ? Langford (Alma's twin sister), and Ebe Laughlin (who generally played piano but is posed with a mandolin).

Second Row: Cellist Helena Kryer, Lillie Stahl, Mary Hindman, Agnes Rice, Betty Cook, and Josie Shields.

Third Row: Agnes James, Oma Blake on piccolo, Mrs. Michelltree, Olive Suggs on cornet, Montie Blake, Kitty Smartt, Ada Haney, Mrs. Mobberly, Leah Shibley, and Minnie Clark.  Vina Clark stands with a bass violin next to Prof. Victor Kryer.

Courtesy of Rogers Historical Museum

Picture and Wording taken from "Images of America: Bentonville", by Monte Harris.
History of the Mandolin Orchestra

The following history comes from the liner notes of a wonderful CD by the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble, entitled All the Rage: Mandolin Ensemble Music from 1897 - 1924.  They are posted here with the permission of New World Records.

For more information, please visit New World Records DRAM

ALL THE RAGE: New World Records 80544
Nashville Mandolin Ensemble

At the turn of the twentieth century, a sound lilted through the air of American music like nothing that had ever been heard before. It inspired one writer to call it “the true soul of music.” It inspired thousands of Americans to pick up instruments and form groups to create this sound for themselves.

It was the sound of the mandolin orchestra, a sound that the Nashville Mandolin Orchestra recreates on All the Rage, a sound as fresh and new today as it was in its heyday.

The late nineteenth century was an exciting time for American music lovers. The invention of the phonograph had brought music into the home, and the increased exposure and competition brought out the best in musicians. John Philip Sousa’s band perfected the sound of the brass band, and the Peerless Quartet took four-part vocal performance to a level of perfection. But these were stylistic accomplishments with familiar, existing sounds—brass instruments and human vocal cords. The sound of the mandolin orchestra carried an extra edge of excitement because most Americans had never even heard a mandolin, much less the sound of mandolin-family instruments played in an orchestral setting. The mandolin alone had a distinct, unique sound. When a mandolinist plucked a single-note run, nothing could match its crispness of attack and delicacy of tone. And when a group of mandolin-family instruments launched into an ensemble tremolo, the listener was bathed in wave after wave of the most beautiful sound imaginable.

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