The Footwarmers and Other Bits of History

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The Footwarmers and Other Bits of History


People occasionally ask me if I ever heard of a local band called “The Footwarmers.” I have, and in a column on local music written in 1999, provided a photograph of that group.

The group was formed by Leon (Hunky) Elder and was called “The Original Footwarmers Orchestra of Richmond, Kentucky.” Members were Leon Elder, (saxophone), Joe Guinchigliani (piano), Nelson Hurst (drums), Tim Leeds (cornet), Russell Turpin (saxophone) and Gilbert Martin (banjo). The group played together from 1922 until 1932 and was famous all over the Bluegrass region.

On the subject of the Elder clan, one must note the large number of Elders and Elder in-laws that were Richmond merchants at one time or another. The first was E.V. Elder, who moved from Bardstown to Richmond in 1893, opening the E.V. Elder Store. He died in 1940. The store, sometimes known under the name of Elder’s Federated, continued under the management of three sons – J. W. (Bill) Elder, Nelson Elder and Leon (Hunky) Elder. Later his grandson, Robert Leeds, operated Elder’s Store. The store closed in 1973, some 80 years after E.V.’s entrance into the Richmond retail scene.

A number of Elder in-laws also were Richmond merchants. As mentioned, Robert Leeds managed Elder’s for a number of years. His father, James Leeds, was for many years a partner in Leeds and Edwards, a prominent men’s store in Richmond. Mr. Edwards was my neighbor on South Third Street. Then there was Jim Leeds, who ran the Lafayette Galleries in Lexington. Jim was married to Mattie Elder.

Fred Day married to Eugenia Elder, and for many years operated a grocery on Main Street. E.J. (“Junior”) Muncy, married to Gene Elder, was not only an outstanding big band and jazz piano player, but also was a successful furniture store owner. Joe Kirkpatrick, husband of Betty Neil Elder, was owner of Kirk’s Radio and TV. Remember when the new color TV sets came in, hi-fi and replacing those vacuum tubes?

I can recall two other Elders in the business community – Bill Elder was chief executive officer of the First Federal Savings and Loan Association, and, in 1949, Eugenia Elder Day operated the Gene Shop, where she sold women’s dresses. She retired in 1973.

Today, Paul Elder Muncy is in the storage and moving business as well as a local builder. All in all, we can see a long tradition of an extended family business here in Richmond.

NOTE: There were three typos in a recent column on Richmond businesses in the 1940s. The correct spellings should have been Dixie Dry Cleaners, Kunkel’s Service Station and McGaughey’s Studio.


Dr. Fred Engle




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Dr. Fred Engle, “The Footwarmers and Other Bits of History,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed March 3, 2024,