|Birth: ||Oct. 14, 1869|
|Death: ||Aug. 16, 1949|
Osbert Holbrook "O.H." Attebery was born in Champaign County, Ill., Oct. 14, 1869. His parents, Charles E. and Mary Roberts Attebery, settled on a homestead south of Wellington, when he was two years old. He spent his first years in Kansas in a log cabin built by his father.
Attebery spent much of his early life in a saddle as a herdsman for his father's cattle.
Charles Attebery purchased a reed organ, and O.H. learned to pick out chords. He accompanied a visiting uncle on the organ while the uncle played his fiddle. He also collected other instruments, and he and a group of other young men organized a band at Perth, with Attebery playing the cornet and violin.
The family moved to Meade County in western Kansas to secure more pasture land for their cattle, but a severe winter killed the entire herd. That same year O.H.'s mother died. Charles moved the family back to Illinois, and O.H. attended the University of Illinois for a year. While teaching rural school, Attebery attended community singing schools and learned music theory. He was teaching in Sumner and Meade counties before the opening of the Cherokee Outlet.
As he was familiar with this area of Oklahoma, he decided to make the run and used a cart drawn by a team. After riding for 24 miles south of the Kansas line, he found a site that appeared not to be taken so he jumped from the cart and staked a claim in a quarter section in the northeast corner of Garfield County. A short period of time later, a man appeared and claimed he was first to reach this quarter section. Heeding his father's advice to avoid trouble, he and the contestant divided the quarter section.
Attebery lived on the farm for a couple of years, then gave it to his brother. Attebery became the principal and eighth grade teacher of the Tonkawa public school where he spent four years. He planned to retire from teaching and try his hand at some other endeavor; however, A.D. Kersey, Kay County superintendent of schools, desperately needed a teacher at Kildare and convinced him to take that position. O.H. reluctantly agreed and spent three years at Kildare.
While there, he started his first girls' basketball team. He felt it was important that the girls have some type of recreation similar to that offered to the boys.
When the coach of the basketball team at Tonkawa heard about Attebery's team, he invited the Kildare sextet to play a preseason game. It was, the Tonkawa coach thought, to be a warm-up affair with Tonkawa walking away with the win. When the final whistle blew, the Kildare team was ahead 26 to 6 much to the embarrassment of the Tonkawa crowd.
Attebery later coached girls' basketball teams at Newkirk for 12 years, going through two undefeated seasons. His team took the state championship in 1910 at Norman.
Judge Claude Duval brought Attebery to Newkirk from Kildare in 1908 to act as court clerk, a position he held for two years. In all, he worked seven years at the county courthouse, first as a deputy clerk for the district court for two years and later as a clerk of the county court for five years. In 1918, J.H. Coleman of the Farmers State Bank offered him the position of assistant cashier.
While working at the bank, he started his first orchestra at the high school in 1921. He arranged his noon hour from 11 o'clock to 12, grabbed a sandwich and managed to work in a 45 to 50 minute practice period before returning to work. The first orchestra had 18 members.
After leaving the bank Attebery worked at the court clerk's office for a year and also a year in the county treasurer's office maintaining his same schedule with the orchestra. During those years, he gave of his time and energy without any compensation. He finally did go to the high school as the orchestra director at a nominal but living salary.
The first real glory came to the orchestra in 1934 when it took first place in the district contest, first in the Tri-State, first in the state at Norman and first in the national at Ottawa.
In 1935, the orchestra repeated those winnings, only taking second place at the national contest at Madison, Wis. The Santa Fe railroad furnished a special car for the orchestra to ride to the national meet. A number of local citizens went along as chaperones.
In 1940, Attebery estimated that the orchestra had won top placing in 20 out of 24 district, state and national meets during the previous five years.
The orchestra later won a second rating in another national contest in Stillwater. Then in 1940, the group went to Waco, Texas, where it won the highest honors of any orchestra entered in the contest. Seventy-five boys and girls were in the orchestra that year. It was the largest orchestra ever directed by Mr. Attebery.
But at Waco, Mr. Attebery had a heart attack just a few hours before the contest. The doctor told him that he must take it easy and rest. However, when Newkirk's turn came, Attebery was in front of the orchestra waving his baton.
After finishing the contest number, the group was handed another piece to play by sight. It was the "Dramatic Overture" by Louis Scarmoulin, a selection neither Mr. Attebery nor any of the orchestra members had ever seen before. Although Attebery felt that the orchestra did not do as well as he would have liked, it was good enough to win another first place rating. This was the last national contest the orchestra entered.
Attebery's love of music also led him to the role of director of the Methodist church choir when he first came to Newkirk. He then formed the Newkirk Choral Society which included voices from all the different churches in the city. Concerts were presented at Easter and Christmas each year. Both groups sang difficult music.
All in all, Attebery held between 4,000 and 5,000 rehearsals and gave dozens of concerts during his 26 years of teaching orchestra. About 300 students, including the sons and daughters of earlier orchestra members, performed in the orchestra.
According to Attebery, he believed the years spent with the orchestra were the happiest days of his life. It was his philosophy that the worthwhile things a person does in life must live beyond that person's span of years.
Attebery retired from teaching in 1947. His doctor had advised him a year earlier that he needed to resign from work and take life easy, but he chose to ignore the advice. However, in the spring of 1947, he came to the decision to retire mainly because he felt he could no longer do justice to the orchestra and its members.
After retirement, he made his usual summer trip to Illinois to visit his sisters, Bertha M. DeLong and Altha Attebery, in Peoria, and a nephew, Clifton DeLong, in Champaign He then returned to Newkirk late in the summer to a lot of "doing nothing."
During the last years of his life, Attebery lived in a small room in the back of the Farmers National Bank.
Oscar Holbrook Attebery died Aug. 16, 1949 at the home of his sisters in Peoria. His body was returned to Newkirk at his request. Burial was in the Newkirk cemetery on a lot given by friends and located in the center of the burial park. Former students had a lovely monument erected on his grave site.
Story from the Winfield Courier Newspaper Aug 28,2007, Winfield, KS
Created by: Kyle
Record added: Aug 29, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 21238377