From The Morning Olympian, Oct. 2, 1907:
OLYMPIA SONG WRITER PRAISED
A recent issue of the Pacific Music Journal has the following to say of J.C. Chaffer, the Olympia composer:
"Among the western composers-- and one of the most successful of popular music writers, is J.C. Chaffer, of Olympia. During the fall four songs were published by the composer, three being put on the market at the same time, all of which enjoyed a success that would warrant a feeling of satisfaction to a composer of longer experience.
"Mr. Chaffer has cleverly taken advantage of the spirit of Tacoma and Seattle in three of his popular song hits, 'Watch Tacoma Grow,' 'The Boosters,' and 'Seattle, Dear Seattle.' The sentiment expressed coupled with the pleasing melodies, has readily won a place on the list of the past year's successes. Being, perhaps, the most prolific writer on the coast, it is a mark of genius that the varied styles are peculiar to the composer. Everything thus far produced is entirely original, showing that when further developed the imagination of this composer will bring forth music that will go down with time as standard."
Mr. Chaffer's latest instrumental number "Moonlight on the Sound" (reverie) is now being published by Victor Kremer & Co., of New York and London and is pronounced by musical critics to be one of the prettiest numbers published in recent years. Another number which is destined to become a favorite espcially with the Washington girls is Prof. Chaffer's latest march song entitled "A Washington Girl for Mine."
After running into this article I did a little superficial digging and found a few more facts, although I did not learn why Chaffer had the title of "Professor."
James Crossley Chaffer was born May 17, 1874. We know he lived in Olympia ca. 1907 to 1912, and apparently migrated to Canada. Two children were born to James and his wife Bertha (Lew) during their time here (Vera in 1907 and James in 1908). Another older daughter, Mona, had a song dedicated to her in 1906. The Chaffers lived on West 4th and then moved to Jefferson St.
Chaffer was the proprietor of the Lyric Theater, an early movie house. Although it had a brief life in Olympia (ca. 1909 to 1914) I did find one photo of it. In the book Olympia by Jill Bullock (2010), a collection of early postcards includes a shot of 4th Ave. looking east as seen from the intersection of 4th and Main (now Capitol). There, at 121 4th (according to the city directory) you can make out the sign for the Lyric behind two electric poles (enlarged image below). It would appear it stood across the street and a bit east from the present day Spar. The Lyric seems to have continued for another year or two after Chaffer left Oly, but the theatre operations then moved to Shelton by 1915.
In addition to the above named pieces, Chaffer also composed "Break of Dawn" (year unknown), "Life Will Be (Ever) One Long Sweet Dream" (1908), and "Our Boys at the Front" (1915). Some of his sheet music can be found at the Washington State Historical Society. The University of Washington has some of his printed music as well and, incredibly, a recording you can hear of "Seattle, Dear Seattle." Way to go, UW!
According to their shared headstone at Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver, B.C., James died in 1939 and Bertha in 1944.
Please check out the attachments for more graphics.