John T. Beeston
Des Moines

Author's collection

Sheet music, "The Iowa Corn Song"


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John T. Beeston is remembered today for his role in the creation of the Iowa Corn Song. However, he was a Des Moines-based builder of pipe organs who also led the Drake University Band.

In 1919, he was chosen to lead the 40-piece temple band of Des Moines' Za-Ga-Zig shrine. It was while he was leading this band that he became associated with "The Iowa Corn Song." The song was conceived in 1912 when Shriner George Hamilton added new lyrics to an extant tune called "Travelin.'" The song was an immediate hit with Iowa Shriners and garnered significant notereity at the 46th annual meeting of the Imperial Council in Portland, Oregon at which enthusiastic Iowa conventioneers could not stop singing it. (See El Kahir Temple band in Portland, Oregon, 1920.) In 1921, Beeston composed additional verses for the song. He also made arrangements of the song for piano and for concert band.