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Jenkins Orphanage And Founder Honored At Patriots Point
2/27/2013 1:55:59 PM

Lonnie Hamilton, III (left), featured speaker at the symposium, performs with local musicians. Photo: Tolbert Smalls

By Barney Blakeney


The Patriots Point Institute of History, Science and Technology  Feb. 22,  as part of its educational symposiums series “Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things,” presented Jenkins, Jazz & Jammin. The focus in the fourth symposium in the series recognized the contributions of Rev. Daniel J. Jenkins and the Jenkins Orphanage Band in the nation’s rich music history.

The famed Jenkins Orphanage Band became world famous, starting in Charleston as a street band eventually playing at some of the most auspicious venues in Europe and America. Members of the band went on, as adults, to become renown musicians.

The symposium noted that the contributions of African Americans can be traced through military bands which have existed since the Revolutionary War. Their performances helped recruit more Black musicians into the military.

Rev. Daniel J. Jenkins created the Jenkins Orphanage Band  as a way to help raise funds for the orphanage he established in 1891. The orphanage, chartered by the state a year later, initially was located at 20 Franklin St. in Charleston. From its start with four boys, the orphanage grew to house some 500 youths by 1896.

Funding was a consistent problem. The orphanage used its farm to supplement its income which was provided through donations from individuals and local churches. In 1937 it moved to a 220-acre farm in the North Area on the banks of the Ashley River. It still is located at that site.

Rev. Jenkins, like Booker T. Washington, was a proponent of the self-help concept and implemented a structured program emphasizing skills that would benefit the orphanage and the youngsters once they left the institute.

One of the orphanage’s best known programs was its band. The band gained national and international recognition as a result of performances across the United States and abroad.

A number of band members went on to perform with bandleaders such as Duke Ellington, Dizzie Gillespie, Count Basie and Lionel Hampton. Other residents of the institute became doctors, lawyers, ministers and teachers.

Rev. Jenkins  was born in Barnwell County in 1853 and lived at 34 Magazine St. in Charleston . He first married Lena James and moved to Ladson where he opened a store. After Lena’s death, Jenkins married Eloise Harleston. He fathered 11 children in the two unions.

Jenkins also was the pastor of Fourth Baptist Church in Charleston, established in  1875. After becoming pastor of the city’s fourth baptist church for coloreds in 1890, Jenkins led the church 47 years until his death in 1937. One of Jenkins’ descendants, Barbara Braithwaite Hazelton, still resides in Charleston. Others live throughout the United States.

Local musicians Ann Caldwell and Lonnie Hamilton, III also participated in the Feb. 22 program that featured posting of colors by Burke High School’s JROTC and the video presentation, Military Music In War and Peace.


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