St. Louis, Missouri: 1881-1882. 1/2 leather. This half-leather scrapbook measures 8.25” x 11” and contains 64 pages, all completely filled with newspaper clippings and a myriad of ephemera including official correspondence, broadsides, calling cards, armory illustrations, encampment maps, fez packaging, certificates, ball invitations, dance cards, event tickets, award ribbons, payment receipts, meeting notices, a newsletter masthead, an encampment program, an embossed gold-foil unit seal, etc. All are glued to the leaves. A later postcard inviting Bane to a unit reception is laid in.
There are two printed labels affixed to the front cover: one reading “Armory / Bain Zouaves” and the other of a zouave advancing at the ready; both are lightly faded. A third manuscript label identifies this scrapbook as “Volume 2nd”.
The binding is sound but feels a little loose; about ¾ of the spine covering is missing.. Very good. Item #009691
Company K of the St. Louis Police Reserves was formally organized by wealthy community volunteers in 1878 after the 1877 General Strike fomented by the local Marxist Workingman’s Party attempted to seize control of St. Louis and cripple its economic base. However, as it became apparent that their threat had evaporated soon after the strike ended, the unit’s law-and-order foundation and mission was quickly overshadowed by the traditional social and civic element of civilian militias that provided “outlets for physical exercise, entertainment, and companion ship of like-minded young men . . . to exhibit the martial pomp and ceremonies that were, more often that not, intended to attract female admirers.”
When its first commander departed to accept a Regular Army commission, Bain assumed leadership of the zouaves. This scrapbook begins just as Bain’s Zouaves, along with the entire St. Louis Police Reserve, was mustered into the Missouri National Guard after the city’s police commission determined its oversight of an armed paramilitary force was legally questionable.
Bain’s Zouaves eventually disbanded and several sources report that it was absorbed into or succeeded by a rival company, the Busch Zouaves, sponsored by Adolphus Busch as part of his brewery’s advertising program. Both Bain’s and Busch’s Zouaves gave drill and tactical performances at military competitions, reunions, encampments, as well as civilian fairs and picnics throughout the Midwest. They, along with other local militias funded the construction of a consolidated multi-story “Grand Armory” that occupied a full block at 17th and Pine Streets.
The Busch Zouaves apparently dissolved in 1895 when its commander, Rosser Roemer, secretly left the United States to lead a band of 200 Americans who had joined the Cuban resistance fighting for independence from Spain.
Bain, a Washington University graduate, was a successful bookkeeper and insurance agent who served at least one term in the state legislature. He was a highly regarded amateur photographer and the President of the St. Louis Photographic society. He spent the early 1890s in the Holy Land making photographs to illustrate Bishop John H. Vincent’s Earthly Footsteps of the Man of Galilee and the Journeys of his Apostles. Some of his original photos are held in the collections of the University of Pennsylvania, Washington University, and the Library of Congress.
Following his service in Cuba, Roemer returned to St. Louis where he became “Drillmaster” of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s Zouave Corps, a precision drill team that performed until it dissolved in 1925.
For more information see Miller’s American Zouaves, 1859-1959, “Lieut Thomas Rosser Roemer” at Find-a-Grave online, Hallotte’s “Photography and the American Contribution to Early ‘Biblical Archaeology’ in the March 2007 issue of Near Eastern Archaeology, as well as the many newspaper articles both from this scrapbook and available online.