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Thomas Coates

Section:  S; # 12

            Born:  1803

            Died:  1895

 In the era before records and radio live band music was an important part of American life, and Thomas Coates was one of its masters.  Nationally known, he is considered by many to be the “Father of Band Music in America”. Because he was notoriously reticent about these details of his life, Coates’ birth date and place are unknown, but it is known that he resided in Easton for many years and is certainly one of Easton’s notable figures.

Coates joined the circus at age 10 and toured the American South.  He later settled in New York City where he became a prolific arranger of music and at one point had six copyists in his employ.  In 1852 he returned to Easton to direct Pomp’s Cornet Band, one of the most famous city bands in the United States at that time.  When the Civil War began, Coates and Pomp’s Band soon became the regimental band for the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Following his discharge, Coates returned to New York and worked as musical advisor to the U. S. Department of War until 1870.  He returned to Easton where he stayed for the rest of his life.  He was buried in an unmarked grave until a fundraising effort resulted in a more suitable monument that was dedicated in 1911.