My fourth cousin three times removed was Carrie Smith, of Howard County, Indiana. She married Henry Albright, a Kokomo shoe salesman, and raised five sons. Before her marriage, Carrie had been a music teacher, and clearly her creative abilities were passed on to at least some of her descendants. One grandson, T. Lockwood Albright, was an actor, known for his role in Citizen Kane. Her sons Fred Egbert Albright and Ned Egbert Albright (yes, they were twins) became professional musicians.
As twins often do, Fred and Ned shared more than the same birthdate. A 1930 newspaper article noted: “When the Albright twins were mere boys their supreme affection for each other was manifest and their mother, now passed from the scenes of earth, was never successful in securing their consent to remain apart. They shared all in common and were not to be denied sharing their playthings and keeping constantly in one another’s company. Their rare talent as musicians was early manifested and the parents afforded them the best of instruction.”
When WWI came around, they enlisted in the Army on the same date and were sent to Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville. Fred was placed in the Fourth Regiment Band with the rank of musician, first class. The twins became separated for the first time when Fred was transferred to the Sixty-seventh Field Artillery Band at Camp Knox, West Point, Kentucky.
After discharge from the service, Ned and Fred returned to Kokomo, where they were theatre musicians, and began to plan for their future, including their weddings. Apparently a double wedding was planned so that they would share both a birthdate and an anniversary (less chance of forgetting, I suppose). The Logansport Pharos-Tribune of August 17, 1920 reported:
Two weddings which will be of more than usual interest to their many friends were those of Fred Albright and Miss Ethyl Burton, which took place Saturday afternoon at Mr. Sterling, Ill., and Ned Albright and Miss Jane Garland, which was solemnized Sunday morning at Logansport. The young men are twin sons of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Albright, 717 North Indiana avenue. It was only by a trick of fate that the weddings did not take place on the same day, unavoidable circumstances arising which necessitated the postponing of the one wedding. The Albright twins, as they are known to everyone, are as much alike in appearance as they are in actions and from childhood their interests have been identical. They have gone through school together, enlisted in the army on the same date, were stationed at the same camp, are both talented musicians and both have married musicians. Their wedding dates were kept a secret from each other, but both selected August 14, a traditional date in the Albright family, for this day marks the wedding anniversaries of their two brothers, Neil and Harry Albright.
The Albright twins continued to pique the interest of their hometown residents, who were kept informed by The Kokomo Tribune, as in this article from March 21, 1930:
TED AND NED DO WELL
Albright Twins, Separated, Pine for Each Other’s Company.
Fred and Ned Albright, twin sons of Henry B. Albright, 711 North Indiana avenue, are doing splendidly in their musical employments, Ted being in New York City and Ned is stationed at Mansfield, Ohio. However well they are doing there is a discontent with them both, as seldom separated during their lives they seek companionship with each other. This longing to be together was found to be a potent factor in their lives early in their childhood and as far as possible they have sought such employments as enabled them to be near each other, or together. Both are highly gifted in music. Even during their war service they managed to keep together.
Of late months they have been separated. Fred Albright has won deserved recognition in his New York success. He is one of the most skilled performers in the Lucky Strike orchestra at the Palais D’Or, Broadway at 48th street, New York City. This organization is on duty from noon to 1 in the morning. The Palais D’Or is a famed Chinese American restaurant, the programs of which are broadcast.
Ned Albright, the other twin, is winning signal recognition at Mansfield, Ohio, where he is under contract.
Despite this fact the plaint of the boys to their father is that they want to get contracts for their services sometime when they can star together. In the midst of their success they never fail to write home and indicate their affections for their parent and the former home life.
Apparently Ned and Fred were not able to accomplish their goal in this life, for on January 20 of 1938 Ned was killed in a car accident.
An automobile crash near Cleveland, Ohio, late Thursday night took the life of Ned Egbert Albright, World War veteran, prominent musician, and former resident of Kokomo. For the past several years he had resided with his family at Ashland, where he was supervisor of music in the high school. . . . The information in the telephone call indicated that Mr. Albright was instantly killed in a crash which occurred on road 43, a broad paved highway between Ashland and Cleveland, where the musician maintained a studio. It is believed that he was returning from Cleveland to his home at the time of the accident. An Associated Press dispatch to the Tribune said that Albright’s car collided with a truck driven by Fred Payton, 18, of Huntington, W. Va.
Mr. Albright was well known to a large number of local friends. During his residence here he was prominent in musical circles and was widely recognized as an artist on the drums and other tympani. More recently he had centered much of his activity on the xylophone. It was the initiative and skill of Ned Albright which resulted in the formation of the first drum and bugle corps in the local post of the American Legion, of which he was a member.
Ned was 40 years old when he died. Fred continued to build his reputation as a talented musician. In addition to his orchestra performances, he taught promising students and published several music books for snare drum. A 1999 article about Bob Grauso, “one of the nation’s premiere studio percussionists,” who invented the first fiberglass drums, says that he was sent at age 11 to study with Fred Albright. The article said Fred was “a renowned studio musician and percussionist with the NBC Radio Symphony Orchestra.” Legendary jazz drummer Sam Ulano also studied with Fred.
Fred lived to the age of 85 and died in San Mateo, California, in 1983. When the thunder rumbles in the night sky, one might imagine the Albright twins making heavenly music, together once again.