June 25, 2017


“On the banks of the Red Cedar there’s a school that’s known to all. Its specialty is farming, but those farmers play football…” So began the Michigan Agricultural College Fight Song in the early part of this century. For Michigan State University, now world-renowned as a leading research institution and an international center for studies in the arts and sciences, this began its history as a tiny agricultural school where farming was the main subject for study.

First Band Formed in 1870

Michigan Agricultural College was founded as the nation’s first land-grant college in 1855. The first college building, College Hall, centered around where Beaumont Tower stands today. In 1870, the very first MAC Band was formed: a student and Civil War veteran named Ransom McDonough Brooks created a ten-member student brass band and led them in parades and at drills. This tiny group was the ancestor of the nationally-renowned Michigan State University Spartan Marching Band. From 1874 to 1878 R.H. Gulloy, class of 78′, was the band leader.

The First Uniforms

In 1885, with the establishment of a permanent military department at the college, the band became a Cadet Corps unit and appeared for the first time in uniform. The uniforms were gray with black braid trim. The band performed at military drills and at public concerts. In 1888, I.E. Hill was the leader and 1st cornet player.