In 1915, at the age of seventy-seven, Joseph Tripp Burbank was known as the “Champion Combination Drummer of the World” according to the St. Cloud Tribune. Born in Bradford County, Pennsylvania on October 12, 1836, J.T., as he was later known, was one of nine children born to Jacob and Sophia Burbank.
Nathaniel Burbank, grandfather of J.T. served from 1775 – 1777, fighting for American independence in the Revolutionary War. Perhaps feeling the call to defend the country his ancestor helped to form, J.T. enlisted on May 15, 1861 in Company I, 6th Regiment, 35th Infantry Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry as a Musician, serving in that position until he mustered out in 1864. Although a baker by trade, his talent as a musician would follow him throughout his life, making him a legend in the small town of St. Cloud, Florida.
Joseph, his wife Susan and their three children moved to Oswego, New York; in the years following the war, where he continued working as a baker. He joined the Williams Post of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1888. For reasons unknown, J.T. and Susan went their separate ways, she remaining in New York and J.T. coming to Florida to reside in the “Friendly Soldier City” of St. Cloud. A charter member of L.L. Mitchell Post, GAR, he began giving concerts in the GAR Hall, featured as “One-Man Drum Corps”, playing seven instruments at one time. Admission to his performance in 1919 was advertised as “15¢ and 25¢”.
Buried in Mt. Peace Cemetery in St. Cloud, Joseph T. Burbank died on December 27, 1922 and immortalized in the mural at 1019 Pennsylvania Avenue, on the north side of the American Legion building. A family tree notation states J.T. willed his drum to a grandson.
Original Photo - OCHS postcard collection
Mural at 1019 Pennsylvania Avenue, St. Cloud, FL
Sources: “St. Cloud Tribune” July 15, 1915, March 6, 1919; Ancestry.com records; “In The Shade of the Trees” by Osceola County Genealogy Club
Photo Courtesy: OCHS postcard collection