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Primary Creator: James L. Benefiel (1895-1992)
Extent: 4.0 cubic feet
Arrangement: Organized in two series: Series 1) Papers, 1919-1989 and Series 2) Music Instruments, 1914-1923. The papers are arranged chronologically.
Date Acquired: 03/21/2016
Consists of newsclippings, photographs, correspondence, sheet music, concert programs, business records, and music instruments documenting James Benefiel's non-professional music career as a musician in the Champaign community's Ewing Company Zouave Band and later as director of the WDWS radio station German Band, and the Moose Band of the Champaign Elk's lodge between 1919 and 1989.
James L. Benefiel (September 17, 1895-June 3, 1992) was born in Hume, Illinois, but spent most of his life in Champaign, Illlnois. Benefiel earned a living as a linotype operator, but he was an active performing musician and band leader for many of Champaign-Urbana's community bands. Benefiel was a member of Wallace Ewing's Zouave Band from 1914 to the beginning of World War I, where he played French horn. After serving in the U.S. Navy as a Seaman First Class during World War I, Benefiel began performing soprano saxophone with the Ewing Transfer Company Band. After moving back to Champaign-Urbana in 1929, Benefiel became a typesetter for the News-Gazzette as well as a secretary for the News-Gazette Credit Union. In 1938, he formed the WDWS Radio German Band with three of the former members of the Ewing band and later served as the conductor for the WDWS Radio band until 1940. During WWII, Benefiel and many of the original band members of the WDWS band joined the Illinois Reserve Militia, where he directed a band under the title of the Illinois Reseve Militia. After the Militia Band was decommissioned in 1947, Benefiel became the director of the Moose Band of the Champaign Elk's lodge, a position that he held until 1961 when he retired.