Guide to the Hastings Family Collection (1870s – 1900s) – History

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George W. Hastings (1853-1923) was born in Illinois, the son of William Henry Harrison Hastings and Louisa R. (Shannon) Hastings. He married Cynthia Bell “Tinnie” Waters (1857-1936) in Bloomington, Illinois, in 1879. After their marriage, they moved to Santa Cruz, where their daughter, Orene (Hastings) Smith Hutchin (1888-1970), was born. George was a jeweler, musician, pipe organist, and leader of the noted Hastings Band. He had first seen Santa Cruz as leader of the Montgomery Queen Circus Band. From 1890 to 1907 Professor Hastings organized and conducted the Santa Cruz Beach Band. He was also the director of an orchestra of fifty or more pieces and an even larger Brownie Orchestra of children. His students and musicians played at all the performances at the Opera House and for dances and parades. By 1910 the family had moved to Fresno. Orene later returned to Santa Cruz, where she was a music teacher and organist. The family home was at 329 Lincoln Street. The collection includes a scrapbook of clippings documenting musical performances and a photograph album with images of band members, family members, and the music room.

George Hastings and Music in Santa Cruz

George Hastings had a profound impact on the music scene of Santa Cruz. In 1873, Santa Cruz was devoid of records and radios, according to Ross Gibson, local historian, songwriter and researcher of Santa Cruz musical culture. After settling in Santa Cruz at twenty years of age, Gibson opened a watch, jewelry and musical instrument store which would be the catalyst for introducing the big-band scene in Santa Cruz. Hastings started by offering music lessons which gradually led to the formation of the Hastings Band. Professor Hastings had an office where he Gve lessons at 38 Pacific Avenue. Hastings and his band wore Civil War Uniforms, and then uniforms reminiscent of the era of Napoleon III which made the musicians a notable sight (Source: S.C. Sentinel “’Music Man’ of Santa Cruz” 1/21/1995). Hasting’s also formed the Santa Cruz Musician’s Union in 1903. In 1912, the Hastings Band gained the moniker the Santa Cruz Beach Band. In 1946, the band expanded when forty musicians from the San Francisco Symphony joined and the band was re-named the Santa Cruz Beach Symphonic Band by Skip Littlefield of the Seaside Company (S.C. Sentinel “Boardwalk Easter Concert Revives Custom” 4/14/1974). Hastings’s E-flat cornet, engraved with the names of the band-members, was on loan to the Santa Cruz County Historical Trust in 1995 and was put on display at the Museum of Art and History and History as recently as 2014. The cornet is owned by the American Federation of Musicians (Info. from Marla Novo).