George Wesley Stroby (1877-1934) – A Founder of the Trilby String Band and Mummers Parade

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This story was told to me by my Aunt Viola, Georges youngest child.

George Wesley Stroby was born on 23 February 1877 to George B. Stroby and Mary Wilson.  His father was a “Segar maker” and was of Swedish descent.  George was the youngest of 4 children and the only boy.  He was baptized on March 13, 1879 at St John the Evangelist Episcopalian Church in Philadelphia.

He loved music and was instrumental in founding the Trilby String Band (the oldest in Philadelphia) and organizing the Mummers Parade.  He played the Mandolin and along with a physician, Dr. Samuels, a shoe store owner and a musician, the four men are responsible for bringing the city of Philadelphia to life on New Years’ Day every year.   During their lunch breaks, they would meet in the park for a “Jam Session”.  It attracted many others who joined them.  What started out as a contest, quickly became the beginnings of an organized group, The Mummers.

My grandfather was an electrician by trade and worked for the McCahan Sugar Refinery earning $12 a week.  This was during Prohibition, and George built coils used for Bootlegging Whiskey.  He was a “gentle”, quiet man.  He chewed tobacco and bit his fingernails.  He liked candy, movies, and walks. Every Sunday, my aunt and her dad would take the trolley to Mount Moriah to visit his mother and fathers’ graves.  There was no stone, so he built a fence 18 inches tall from wrought iron and engraved a plaque that he attached to the fence. My aunt recalls getting into trouble for playing in the cellar where her dad and brother, who was also a mummer, made and stored Mumbrellas all year.

Poor George caught hell every year on the 2nd or perhaps the 3rd of January when he finally stumbled in from the parade.  The Mummers had to stop at the home of every Mummer to “cut the cake”.  But there was never any cake.  They would take a shot “to stay warm” and a bowl of Pepper Pot Soup which you could find simmering on the stove at the home of every Mummer.

My grandfather passed away from heart disease on July 24, 1934.  He is buried at Mt. Moriah, Section 1, Lots 89 & 90.  I have the original bill for his funeral.  It totaled $393.70, including a stone, but my aunt said there was none.

My great grandparents are buried in Section 65 Lot 43 ½ , she passed on 28 January 1917 and he a little less than a year later on 9 January 1918.

—Eileen Stroby Toland

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