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Thursday, January 23, 2014



 According to a story uncovered, while Dr. Dean C. Dutton was pastor of Wesley (1919-1924) he learned that Al J. Palmer was living in Oklahoma City and called on him to see if he could come into Wesley Methodist Church and help with the "Epworth League" (youth organization of the M.E. Church).
 Mr. Palmer was a composer and, according to the story of this source, had written several of the songs that Al Jolsen sang during his career.  Records do indicate Jolsen worked for a time with two Palmer brothers (Al and Joe) but they parted company around 1905. 
 The first available program of a Band concert found by researchers in 1975 (for the history book written then), was dated June 19, 1923 under the direction of Al J. Palmer.
 The boys band created had 38 pieces  and costumes in deep red with black trim and Mr. Palmer wore an all white suit.  They had stunts and band rehearsals and gathered on Sunday evenings for concerts.  People who belonged to other churches came to hear the band on Sunday nights.  They youth enjoyed this and had a lot of fun.
The band was composed of youth of the church and at that time it was one of the few bands ever organized by a church group.  This was the time of the roaring 20's, one of the "happiest times in the history of the United States".  The war to end all wars had been fought.  A person could make a million on Wall Street and keep it.  It was during this period that much was done to further the interest in church activities at Wesley.
Palmer also directed an orchestra at Wesley.
Some identified with the band includes: Ed Fuller, Bob Sherman, Ruhl Potts, Harold Klein, Harold Hamlin, Warren McCreight, Everett Bradshaw, ....
 In 1927, as Wesley turned ground to build their new sanctuary, the band was there under the direction of Palmer.   An ad from the time period is for "Prof. Al J. Palmer, Instructor of Band Instruments".  He listed he was Director of Wesley Senior and Junior Bands and was available for "special songs written to order...expression in dramatic art...words written to music and music written to words...entertaining material furnished for amateurs."
Interestingly enough, several of the band members could be heard over a local radio station WKY every Sunday evening in 1931 as members of the Oklahoma City Concert Orchestra under the direction of Arthur Weitz ("On WKY Every Sunday Night", Oklahoman (Aug.30,1930):40.
Sheet music has been found indicating Al J. Palmer did indeed write music.  One recently listed on E-Bay was  "Back toAlabama in the Spring", words by Al. J. Palmer and Lew Denney (1916). "Originally introduced by Joe Coffman with Al.G. Field Greater Minstrels."

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A special "Friends of Wesley" group is made of individuals, organizations, and businesses who wish to support the historic preservation of the century old and historically significant Wesley Methodist Church (Wesley United Methodist Church) founded in 1910.

The inspiring windows dating to 1928 honored people significant to local Oklahoma City history but also to the history of Oklahoma Methodism.

The church founding and development was guided by lay people who were leaders in Oklahoma City development in real estate, banking, business, and education.

It stands as a rare remaining example of Methodist Churches in the English Gothic style and as work by a significant early architectural firm.

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Wesley United Methodist Church
1401 NW 25th
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma