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Title: Monarchs of minstrelsy, from "Daddy" Rice to date

Author: Edw. Le Roy Rice

Release date: January 18, 2023 [eBook #69826]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: Kenny Publishing Company, 1911

Credits: deaurider, Harry Lamé and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)

*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MONARCHS OF MINSTRELSY, FROM "DADDY" RICE TO DATE ***

Please see the Transcriber’s Notes at the end of this text.

Cover image

Monarchs of Minstrelsy,
from “Daddy” Rice to Date

By
Edw. Le Roy Rice
Author of
“1000 Men of Minstrelsy, and 1 Woman;”
“Minstrelsy That Was, and Is;”
“A Ramble Among the
Minstrels,” etc.

Ornament

Kenny Publishing Company
22-24 North William Street New York City, N. Y.


Copyright, 1911.
BY
Mrs. EMMA L. RICE
All Rights Reserved


EDW. LE ROY RICE.


To
My Mother

(The Best I Ever Had)
This Book is Affectionately Dedicated.


THE AUTHOR’S FOREWORD.

There were several reasons which prompted me to compile this volume, the chief one being the fact that the subject in its entirety had never before been attempted; and whenever individual articles appeared, they almost invariably treated of old times and old timers alone.

A second reason, and one of equal importance, was that these contributions which appeared both in the various newspapers and magazines, were in the main written on hearsay alone without any apparent regard for facts.

No one is infallible, and if the data that appears between the covers of this book of living performers who furnished me with the sketches of their careers is incorrect, obviously no blame can be attached to the author.

But of those who are past, I have given the most careful search of the records that were placed at my disposal, and verified or disavowed all statements made to me, or have qualified by attributing them to those from whom they emanated.

In this manner I hope to perpetuate the names and fame in story and picture of these “Monarchs of Minstrelsy from ‘Daddy’ Rice to Date.”

New York City, Oct. 12, 1910. Edw. Le Roy Rice.


INTRODUCTION.

Is Minstrelsy dying out? How often has the question been asked and how conflicting are the opinions of those who ought to know? Some maintain that minstrelsy is here to stay, while others insist there are no more minstrel shows.

But if the question were: Are the minstrels dying out? there could be no divergence of opinion. The passing away in the last decade or so of such luminaries as Neil. Bryant, Billy Rice, Billy West, Billy Emerson, Wm. Henry Rice, Frank Cushman, Ben. Cotton, Johnny Booker, Jack Herman, Andy Leavitt, E. F. Dixey, J. B. Donniker, “Eugene” J. H. Haverly, Sam. Hague, Dave Reed and many others, eliminate the matter of doubt entirely. Granting this, it would appear that the two terms: Minstrels and Minstrelsy are synonymous.

Some of the minstrel-loving public who recall the old days when Hooley’s in Brooklyn, The San Franciscos (Birch, Bernard, Wambold and Backus) in New York, likewise Bryant’s and the Christy’s; and Carncross and Dixey’s in Philadelphia were household words, will be astonished to learn that many of the burnt-cork heroes of forty years ago, yes, fifty years, are still living, scattered about the country, though it has been years since some of them have darkened their features.

But while most of the old-timers are past and gone, and those who are living, practically in retirement; yet there are many of the younger generation of sable performers who rank in many ways with their illustrious predecessors, and it is of these as well as of the “old guard” that “Monarchs of Minstrelsy; from ‘Daddy’ Rice to Date,” will specialize on. I wish to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to the New York Clipper, without whose assistance this work could not have reached the comprehensive form it has attained; and an invaluable auxiliary was obtained when this aid was further supplemented by the files and data of the Dramatic Mirror being placed at my disposal, and for which I am also extremely grateful.

From the Albert Davis collection of photographs, Brooklyn, I have received invaluable specimens, likewise Eddie Fox, Mrs. Billy Rice, “Hank” Mudge, Harry Booker, Emil Heusel, John Unsworth, Billy Huntley, Mrs. J. T. Huntley, Tommy Granger; Charles E. Ellis, author of “Official Elks History;” Mrs. James Budworth, Mrs. G. W. H. Griffin, Mrs. Archie Hughes, “Bill” Hines, Dan Mason, Phil. A. Paulscraft, Mrs. Ben Cotton, R. H. Mayland, Gus Hill, Fox & Ward, John P. Hogan, Miss Maggie Weston, Frank Dumont, William Blakeney, New York Sunday Telegraph; Louis Morgenstern, Tom Ward, Will Webster, Mrs. Catherine Griffin, Tom Waters, McIntyre & Heath, Geo. Lewis, Nick Norton, Geo. L. Willson, Chapin & Gore, Chicago; Willis P. Sweatnam, Walter Kingsley and the late J. H. Surridge.

Note.—Where dates and miscellaneous information found in this volume differ from those in my “1,000 Men of Minstrelsy; and One Woman,” it is because careful research has shown the latter to be erroneous.


INDEX


INDEX TO ILLUSTRATIONS


MINSTREL ORGANIZATIONS, THEATRES AND PROGRAMS


[1]

SKETCH OF THE AUTHOR, WITH PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS.

The Inception of Negro Minstrelsy.

Let me begin by saying that I am not a “Monarch of Minstrelsy,” not even a duke or prince; as a matter of fact I am a mere subject, perhaps it would be more exact to say I am a slave, for I cannot recall the time when the curtain having been rung up on the first part, the interlocutor saying, “Gentlemen, be seated,” that it did not thrill me through and through; in all probability they would have been seated without his invitation, but still, disappointment would have been keen had he not have done so. Then the overture accompanied by the bones and tambos; but that part of the performance seems to be obsolete now; and how I yearn for it. The second son of the late Wm. Henry Rice, who put on cork for nearly fifty years, I was born in New York City, August 24, 1871, on Fourteenth Street, nearly opposite the Armory, above Sixth Avenue. If you happen to see a crowd around there at any time, you will know it is part of the excited populace trying to carry away portions of the building which housed me on my first appearance in any country.

I can remember, as a youngster even before my school days began, my father asking me if I wanted to be a minstrel? I knew that my mother was averse to it and, as they both looked at me awaiting my reply, I vehemently said NO; that was the first lie I ever told. I have done better subsequently, but they have no bearing on this matter. When I was about six or eight years of age, my father, wishing to celebrate the occasion in a fitting manner, took me down town (Philadelphia) and giving me my choice to go in one direction and see “Jack the Giant Killer,” or take another route and see the minstrels. I had heard a whole lot about the youthful prodigy who made a business of trimming big husky gents for the sake of getting an appetite that he might better enjoy his meals, and confess to a feeling of curiosity; but it was the “nigger singers” for mine, and it was there that I obtained my first recollection of any individual performer. It was Bobby Newcomb doing Topsy. Whether it was an “Uncle Tom” show, with which the late minstrel was prominently identified at one time, or whether it was a burletta on Mrs. Stowe’s immortal work, I never learned, but Newcomb’s dress, a ragbag affair, I remember distinctly, subsequently, one made from an American flag, finishing with the well-known suit of white duck in knee-breeches. That was the beginning. I decided then that a minstrel’s life was the life for me, and for years I importuned my father to take me on the road with him, finally obtaining a promise to go the next time he took a show out. This was somewhat hazy, but I clung to it tenaciously, and when in July, 1890, he organized the World’s Fair Minstrels, my happiness was unbounded. I was in Philadelphia at the time, passing cigars and tobacco over the counter of a Smoke Emporium presided over by Lew Simmons, one[2] of the oldest active minstrels in harness to-day; observe the date again, please. July, 1890, was it not? At that time Lew had given up the minstrel business entirely. I recall Lew Dockstader dropping in one day and inquiring how he (Simmons) liked the business? “Like it?” said the senior Lew, “why I am perfectly happy; I wouldn’t go back in the business again for $100 per week.” (I remember it was PER week.) But he did, a couple of years later, and from all appearances looks good for a few more. I joined my father’s troupe. We opened at Elizabeth, N. J., on July 17th. In the company were Billy Birch, Frank Moran, Frank Kent and Bob Slavin; all since passed away.

Old minstrel habitues will recall that nigger-act wherein one of the performers declares loudly to his friends that he is boss in his own home, how he rules the ranch and so on; and just as he is saying it his wife would show up then he would inflict dire punishment upon her, she comes running down the aisle from the front of the house saying, “Where’s my husband?” gathers her lesser half by the ear and amidst the jeers of his companions, carries him away.

Being a Truthful Portrayal of the Author’s First Appearance on Any Stage; Morristown, N. J., July 18, 1890.

At the second performance, at Morristown, N. J., I was cast for the enraged spouse. I believe I was made up for the part fully an hour before the house opened. How nervous I was awaiting my cue, but when it came, my ears seemed to hear nothing but wife, wife, wife, and instead of saying, “Where’s my husband?” I said, “Where’s my wife?” * * * I won’t repeat what[3] my father said, but what with the tears of mortification that flowed from my eyes and the perspiration from the pores of my face, almost made washing-up a superfluity.

After that awful first night I got away with the part without any trouble, and even indulged in conversations while awaiting my cue, which I had always thought to be a physical impossibility.

Billy Birch, who was with us, used to suffer severely from rheumatism, and just before parade would say to me, “‘Cully,’ would you mind going over to the hotel, on the bureau, right hand side, and get my medicine?” Would I go? I felt honored.

At the opening performance we had a song and dance team who, like myself, were just breaking into the business. Their act was not an unqualified success and extra tickets to Morristown were not purchased. Some one asked Bob Slavin what he thought of the act, to which he replied: “As a success, they’re a failure; as a failure, they’re a success.”

The company closed early in November and a couple of weeks before Christmas I consented to wrap parcels at Wanamaker’s store in Philadelphia for a small weekly stipend. It was hard to work for wages after having received a salary.

Various mercantile positions were mine until the Fall of 1894, when the late Harry Mann opened the old Arch Street Theatre in Philadelphia for the production of the old farces such as “Box and Cox” and others of a like nature. I had heard that there were to be specialties between the acts, wrote for an engagement and shortly afterwards received a reply from Mr. Mann asking me to call. (I have that letter yet.) I told him that I had a black-face monologue that was absolutely original; he told me that he could get Willis P. Sweatnam, but decided to give me the preference, I was quick to reply that I wasn’t as good as Sweatnam. (I was frightfully modest those days.) However, I was engaged, and was to receive $10 for my week’s services; I was certain he could not get Sweatnam for less than $12.50 or possibly $15. Monday, September 24, we opened; I wore a pale-blue suit and a pleasant expression; on Tuesday I still had the suit, but had lost the expression, caused by the sudden closing of the house. I have always maintained that if I had been billed stronger, the house might have remained open longer; possibly another night; the $1.67 due me for my one performance, I never received, but as compensation, one of the papers said that my monologue, besides being good in itself, was excellently rendered. It’s not true that the reporter who wrote this, attended a prizefight that evening. I banked a whole lot on that blue suit; it was part of my plan to be different from any other monologist, and I still think I was. Instead of making my entrance in the conventional manner, I hit upon the idea of having one of the scenes part in the centre, and then walk on saying, “I just blew in,” carelessly pointing to my blue suit at the same time.

The more I thought of this, the greater the sensation I was sure I would create; I pictured the reserves being called upon to quell the riot; I saw myself taking encore after encore, and conjured the immense audience rising in their seats as one, begging for just one more glimpse of that blue suit; I was so sure of my success to be, that in a burst of confidence, I told a friend about my idea, and was horrified to learn that George Thatcher had done the self-same thing some time before. Here was a dilemma, what was I to do? I had known Thatcher from boyhood, and the idea of utilizing any of his ideas was not to[4] be thought of; fortunately, about this time, he (Thatcher) played an engagement at the National Theatre (Philadelphia), and I decided to see him and explain the situation thoroughly. I found him one evening standing on the steps of the theatre; I told the whole story, reserving nothing, and explained that I was willing to relinquish my idea if he thought it would conflict with him in any way, but with rare generosity he agreed not to prosecute me for plagiarism or piracy.

A week later I opened at Easton, Pa. I had a cold in the head and an old wig; the cold I obtained in Philadelphia, the wig in Easton, it was an old one (the wig) having lost my good one in Philly the week previous. * * * An uncle of mine graciously advanced me the price of a ticket to Philadelphia. * * * The watch was worth considerably more than $2. Six months later I might have been seen doing my specialty in Paterson, N. J.; provided you came Monday afternoon. * * * A performer in the same dressing-room asked me how much I paid for my trunk, which was a duplicate of his; $6 I said; why, I paid $12 for mine, he averred. And that was all I got out of the engagement. But that suit, little did the young lady who made it for me dream it would one day become historical; she is now a sedate matron in Detroit. Wonder if she still remembers it?

In the fall of 1898 I was a member of one of the many California Minstrel organizations that have invaded the country in the past fifty years. The Spring and Summer of 1900 found me selling pasteboards to the Southerners while with the Primrose & Dockstader Minstrels; in the Fall of 1900 I was agent for Andrew Robson in “The Royal Box;” 1901-02, agent for “Pud’dnhead Wilson,” with William S. Gill in the name part, Walker Whiteside, and a return to Primrose & Dockstader; 1902-03, manager, Western Alphonse & Gaston Co.; 1903-04, treasurer, Great Lafayette Company.

At various times I acted as usher and lithographer at the Park, Walnut and Arch Street Theatres in Philadelphia; Columbus Theatre, New York City, and the Park in Brooklyn.

In July, 1907, I conceived the idea of appearing daily at the ball games in New York City, and in the following afternoon’s paper give an accurate account of the conversations entered into, together with the description of the parties spoken to; in addition having my own features reproduced daily together with an accurate description of myself; to any party who could single me out was given a free pass to all the ball games on the ground where I was detected.

Under the title of the “Man in the Bleachers” I ran those on the New York Evening World with great success for five weeks.

Then came the idea of giving to the world the lives and careers of the minstrels, thus “presenting to the public and preserving to posterity the peculiarities and personalities of prominent performers of the past and present;” and here it is, after three years’ exhaustive and patient labor. Now for the big show.


[5]

THE FIRST BLACK-FACE PERFORMER.

The late Laurence Hutton in “The Negro on the Stage,” states that Shakespeare’s Othello was one of the earliest black-face stage characters; giving the date of the appearance at the Globe Theatre, London, England, on April 30, 1610; Oronoko followed in 1696. But several hundred years before the jealous Moor’s appearance, a couple of young men, named Cain and Abel respectively, did a brother act, though not necessarily a brotherly act, for the first-named gentleman one day in a fit of peevishness did smite Master Abel with such force that the breath did leave his body; Cain was punished, as he should have been; his complexion was changed from Caucasian to Ethiopian; this was the first black face turn. Anyway, that’s how the story runs. With the reader’s permission we will skip about 1,700 years, and come down to the comparative present.

The late Charles T. White, who made a study of minstrelsy all his life and was himself contemporaneous with it from its inception, stated that according to Russell’s Boston Gazette of December 30, 1799, at the Federal Theatre, Boston, a Mr. Graupner sang a song called “The Negro Boy.”

Federal Theatre, Boston, Mass.
The First Recorded Black-Face Act Was Given Here December 30, 1799.

[6]

W. W. Clapp, Jr., in his “History of the Boston Stage,” avers that this would be impossible, as the news of George Washington’s death, December 14, 1799, did not reach Boston until December 24, and that the theatre was closed a week in consequence thereof. Granting this, six days would have elapsed, and the performance undoubtedly was given, for had it not, the advertisement which was inserted announcing the performance for that evening, would not under any circumstances have been printed. However, for the sake of argument, let us concede that the first black-face appearance (the term black-face as used here has reference to a single performer doing a specialty) was not on the date specified.

The next mention of a black-face performer, by Mr. White, was in 1815, when an actor known as “Pot Pie” Herbert sang “The Battle of Plattsburg” in Albany; Mr. H. D. Stone in the “Drama,” published in Albany in 1873, credits one “Hop” Robinson as the singer of the song; while “Sol” Smith, a reputed eye-witness, in his (Smith’s) autobiography, published in 1868, credits it to Andrew Jackson Allen, claiming that Allen sang it at the Green Street Theatre, Albany, 1815, playing a black-face character. Obviously there could be but one “first” and a period of fifteen years had apparently elapsed between the reputed appearance of Mr. Graupner and the last named gentleman; in other words, no claims have been made for others between 1799 and 1815. Nevertheless, there was an appearance between these dates, and by none other than Mr. Graupner himself, who, on September 4, 1809 (while “Daddy” Rice was an infant in swaddling clothes), appeared as the “Gay Negro Boy” in a circus at Taunton, Mass.; the honor then beyond any doubt is Mr. Graupner’s; and equally certain is the fact that he appeared in Boston, December 30, 1799. Black-face performers sprang up rapidly, and in earlier days no circus was considered complete without at least one of them.


SOME EARLY BLACK-FACE PERFORMERS.

The following were all popular performers preceding minstrelsy proper; unfortunately the dates of their deaths are practically shrouded in oblivion:

George Nichols; Bob. Farrell, the original “Zip Coon”; Sam Tatnall, Barney Burns, Bill Keller, Horatio Eversell, George Rice (brother of T. D. Rice), William M. Hall, Thomas Blakely, Leicester, etc. Andrew Jackson Allen, already mentioned, was born in New York City in 1776, and according to Laurence Hutton was the costumer, dresser and personal slave of Edwin Forrest for many years; he was quite deaf, and was commonly known as “Dummy” Allen. He died in New York City, October 29, 1853. James Roberts, by the same authority, sang a song in negro character as early as October 7, 1824; he died in 1833.

George Washington Dixon sang “Coal Black Rose,” the air of which was appropriated from an old ballad, as early as 1827. His first New York appearance was of the Lafayette Theatre, July 19, 1828. He later became notorious as a filibuster during the Yucatan disturbances, and died in New Orleans in 1861. Some prominent early minstrel performers whose records and deaths were likewise lost in oblivion are: Charley Jenkins, Master Chestnut, Harry Mestayer, Neil Jamison and many more. There are others, too, of nearly every decade of whom the author has made every research to gather some knowledge, but without success.


[7]

“DADDY” RICE.

Thomas Dartmouth Rice was the original “Jim Crow,” the story has been told in many ways, but the authentic version appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in 1867, and herewith is reproduced verbatim; it is from the pen of Robert P. Nevin.

“Thirty-six years ago a young man, about twenty-five years of age, of a commanding height—six feet full, the heels of his boots not included in the reckoning—and dressed in scrupulous keeping with the fashion of the time, might have been seen sauntering idly along one of the principal streets of Cincinnati. To the few who could claim acquaintance with him he was known as an actor, playing at the time referred to a short engagement as light comedian in a theatre of that city. He does not seem to have attained to any noticeable degree of eminence in his profession, but he had established for himself a reputation among jolly fellows in a social way. He could tell a story, sing a song, and dance a hornpipe, after a style which, however, unequal to complete success on the stage, proved, in private performance to select circles rendered appreciative by accessory refreshments, famously triumphant always. If it must be confessed that he was deficient in the more profound qualities, it is not to be inferred that he was destitute of all the distinguishing, though shallower, virtues of character. He had the merit, too, of a proper appreciation of his own capacity; and his aims never rose above that capacity. As a superficial man he dealt with superficial things, and his dealings were marked by tact and shrewdness. In his sphere he was proficient, and he kept his wits upon the alert for everything that might be turned to professional and profitable use. Thus it was that, as he sauntered along one of the main thoroughfares of Cincinnati, as has been written, his attention was suddenly arrested by a voice ringing clear and full above the noises of the street, and giving utterance, in an unmistakable dialect, to the refrain of a song to this effect:

“Turn about an’ wheel about an’ do jis so,
An’ ebery time I turn about I jump Jim Crow.”

Struck by the peculiarities of the performance, so unique in style, matter, and “character” of delivery, the player listened on. Were not these elements—was the suggestion of the instant—which might admit of higher than mere street or stable-yard development? As a national or “race” illustration, behind the footlights, might not “Jim Crow” and a black face tickle the fancy of pit and circle, as well as the “Sprig of Shillalah” and a red nose? Out of the suggestion leaped the determination; and so it chanced that the casual hearing of a song trolled by a negro stage-driver, lolling lazily on the box of his vehicle, gave origin to a school of music destined to excel in popularity all others, and to make the name of the obscure actor, T. D. Rice, famous.

As his engagement at Cincinnati had nearly expired, Rice deemed it expedient to postpone a public venture in the newly projected line until the opening of a fresh engagement should assure him opportunity to share fairly the benefit expected to grow out of the experiment. This engagement had already been entered into; and accordingly, shortly after, in the Autumn of 1830, he left Cincinnati for Pittsburg.

The old theatre of Pittsburg occupied the site of the present one, on Fifth[8] Street. It was an unpretending structure, rudely built of boards, and of moderate proportions, but sufficient, nevertheless, to satisfy the taste and secure the comfort of the few who dared to face consequences and lend patronage to an establishment under the ban of the Scotch-Irish Calvinists. Entering upon duty at the “Old Drury” of the “Birmingham of America,” Rice prepared to take advantage of his opportunity. There was a negro in attendance at Griffith’s Hotel, on Wood Street, named Cuff—an exquisite specimen of his sort—who won a precarious subsistence by letting his open mouth as a mark for boys to pitch pennies into, at three paces, and by carrying the trunks of passengers from the steamboats to the hotels. Cuff was precisely the subject for Rice’s purpose. Slight persuasion induced him to accompany the actor to the theatre, where he was led through the private entrance, and quietly ensconced behind the scenes. After the play, Rice, having shaded his own countenance to the “contraband” hue, ordered Cuff to disrobe, and proceeded to invest himself in the cast-off apparel. When the arrangements were complete, the bell rang, and Rice, habited in an old coat forlornly dilapidated, with a pair of shoes composed equally of patches and places for patches on his feet, and wearing a coarse straw hat in a melancholy condition of rent and collapse over a dense black wig of matted moss, waddled into view. The extraordinary apparition produced an instant effect. The crash of peanuts ceased in the pit, and through the circles passed a murmur and a bustle of liveliest expectation. The orchestra opened with a short prelude, and to its accompaniment Rice began to sing, delivering the first line by way of introductory recitative:

“O, Jim Crow’s come to town, as you all must know,
An’ he wheel about, he turn about, he do jis so,
An’ ebery time he wheel about he jump Jim Crow.”

The effect was electric. Such a thunder of applause as followed was never heard before within the shell of that old theatre. With each succeeding couplet and refrain the uproar was renewed, until presently, when the performer, gathering courage from the favorable temper of his audience, ventured to improvise matter for his distiches from familiarly known local incidents, the demonstrations were deafening.

Now it happened that Cuff, who meanwhile was crouching in dishabille under concealment of a projecting flat behind the performer, by some means received intelligence, at this point, of the near approach of a steamer to the Monongahela Wharf. Between himself and others of his color in the same line of business, and especially as regarded a certain formidable competitor called Ginger, there existed an active rivalry in the baggage-carrying business. For Cuff to allow Ginger the advantage of an undisputed descent upon the luggage of the approaching vessel would be not only to forfeit all “considerations” from the passengers, but, by proving him a laggard in his calling, to cast a damaging blemish upon his reputation. Liberally as he might lend himself to a friend, it could not be done at that sacrifice. After a minute or two of fidgety waiting for the song to end, Cuff’s patience could endure no longer, and, cautiously hazarding a glimpse of his profile beyond the edge of the flat, he called in a hurried whisper: “Massa Rice, Massa Rice, must have my clo’se! Massa Griffif wants me—steamboat’s comin’!”

The appeal was fruitless. Massa Rice did not hear it, for a happy hit at an unpopular city functionary had set the audience in a roar in which all other sounds were lost. Waiting some moments longer, the restless Cuff, thrusting his visage from under cover into full three-quarter view this time, again charged upon the singer in the same words, but with more emphatic voice: “Massa Rice, Massa Rice, must have my clo’se! Massa Griffif wants me—steamboat’s comin’!”

[9]

“DADDY” RICE NED HARPER
JOE. SWEENEY DICK. SWEENEY
BLACK-FACE PERFORMERS WHO ANTEDATED MINSTRELSY PROPER.

[10]

A still more successful couplet brought a still more tempestuous response, and the invocation of the baggage-carrier was unheard and unheeded. Driven to desperation, and forgetful in the emergency of every sense of propriety, Cuff, in ludicrous undress as he was, started from his place, rushed upon the stage, and laying his hand upon the performer’s shoulder, called out excitedly: “Massa Rice, Massa Rice, gi’ me nigga’s hat—nigga’s coat—nigga’s shoes—gi’ me nigga’s t’ings! Massa Griffif wants ’im—STEAMBOAT’S COMIN’!!”

The incident was the touch, in the mirthful experience of that night, that passed endurance. Pit and circles were one scene of such convulsive merriment that it was impossible to proceed in the performance; and the extinguishment of the footlights, the fall of the curtain, and the throwing wide of the doors for exit, indicated that the entertainment was ended.

Such were the circumstances—authentic in every particular—under which the first work of the distinct art of Negro Minstrelsy was presented.

Next day found the song of Jim Crow, in one style of delivery or another, on everybody’s tongue. Clerks hummed it serving customers at shop counters, artisans thundered it at their toils to the time-beat of sledge and of tilt-hammer, boys whistled it on the streets, ladies warbled it in parlors, and house-maids repeated it to the clink of crockery in kitchens. Rice made up his mind to profit further by its popularity: he determined to publish it. Mr. W. C. Peters, afterwards of Cincinnati, and well known as a composer and publisher, was at that time a music dealer on Market Street in Pittsburg. Rice, ignorant himself of the simplest elements of musical science, waited upon Mr. Peters, and solicited his co-operation in the preparation of his song for the press. Some difficulty was experienced before Rice could be induced to consent to the correction of certain trifling informalities, rhythmical mainly, in his melody; but, yielding finally, the air as it now stands, with a pianoforte accompaniment by Mr. Peters, was put upon paper. The manuscript was put into the hands of Mr. John Newton, who reproduced it on stone with an elaborately embellished title-page, including a portrait of the subject of the song, precisely as it has been copied through succeeding editions to the present time. It was the first specimen of lithography ever executed in Pittsburg.

Jim Crow was repeated nightly throughout the season at the theatre; and when that was ended, Beale’s Long Room, at the corner of Third and Market Streets, was engaged for rehearsals exclusively in the Ethiopian line. “Clar de Kitchen” soon appeared as a companion piece, followed speedily by “Lucy Long,” “Sich a Gittin’ up Stairs,” “Long-Tail Blue,” and so on, until quite a repertoire was at command from which to select for an evening’s entertainment.

Rice remained in Pittsburg some two years. He then visited Philadelphia, Boston, and New York, whence he sailed for England, where he met with high favor in his novel character.

Before he sang “Jim Crow,” Rice was considered only a mediocre performer. Jos. N. Ireland, in his “Records of the New York Stage,” says that he drew more money to the Bowery Theatre than any other performer in the same period of time. His appearances were generally with dramatic organizations, where he usually performed between the acts. His minstrel performances were comparatively few, and mostly confined to Charley White’s Serenaders; though he played[11] a star engagement at Wood’s Minstrels in August, 1858, also in New York. At the Bowery Theatre in the Metropolis, he appeared with much success for several weeks as Uncle Tom, commencing January 16, 1854. He was the author of several early negro farces, the most popular being, “Oh, Hush!” “The Mummy” and “Bone Squash.” The first New York performance of “O, Hush” was given August 15, 1832. He was noted for his eccentricity of dress; the buttons on his coat and vest were five and ten dollar gold pieces, which he would give away indiscriminately as souvenirs. He married a Miss Gladstone in England, June 18, 1837. “Daddy” Rice was born in New York City, May 20, 1808. He died there September 19, 1860.


THE FIRST MINSTREL PERFORMANCE.

There has always been considerable discussion as to the exact date when this interesting event took place; two things are certain, and have never been disputed, viz.: that it actually did occur, and that the initial presentation was in New York City, between January 31 and February 17, 1843.

That the idea of amalgamating the respective talents of the original four, Emmett, Brower, Pelham and Whitlock, was conceived by the latter, there is no doubt; the following was furnished by him many years before his death.

“The organization of the minstrels I claim to be my own idea, and it cannot be blotted out. One day I asked Dan Emmett, who was in New York at the time, to practice the fiddle and the banjo with me at his boarding-house in Catherine Street. We went down there, and when we had practiced, Frank Brower called in by accident. He listened to our music, charmed to his soul! I told him to join with the bones, which he did. Presently Dick Pelham came in, also by accident, and looked amazed. I asked him to procure a tambourine and make one of the party, and he went out and got one. After practicing for a while we went to the old resort of the circus crowd—the ‘Branch,’ in the Bowery—with our instruments, and in Bartlett’s billiard-room performed for the first time as the Virginia Minstrels. A program was made out, and the first time we appeared upon the stage before an audience was for the benefit of Pelham at the Chatham Theatre. The house was crammed—jammed with our friends; and Dick, of course, put ducats in his purse.”

The house on Catherine Street was No. 37, and was kept by a Mrs. Brooks. The “Branch” was a hotel opposite the Bowery Amphitheatre.

On January 31, 1843, Dick Pelham did have a benefit, but the performance was of the ordinary nature; nothing unusual, such as a quartet of black-face performers appearing at one time, which would have caused considerable stir; thus may we eliminate January 31, 1843, as the date of the first performance in public.

The following announcement appeared on February 6:

BOWERY AMPHITHEATRE,

Monday evening, Feb. 6. 1843, first night of the novel, grotesque, original and surpassingly melodious Ethiopian Band entitled

THE VIRGINIA MINSTRELS

Being an exclusively minstrel entertainment combining the banjo, violin, bone castanets and the tambourine, and entirely exempt from the vulgarities and other objectionable features which have hitherto characterized negro extravaganzas.

[12]

11:45
from the Hotel

The New York Herald commented on the performance for the first time on February 9.

The quartet remained at the Bowery Amphitheatre until February 11; five days later they were over Cornucopia Hall, at No. 28 Park Row; February 22, they began an engagement at the Park Theatre, and shortly afterwards went to Boston, where they played at Melodeon Hall for a few weeks, and sailed from New York, April 21, 1843. May 21, they gave their first performance at Liverpool, England, at the Concert Rooms on Concert Street; subsequently playing a week in Manchester, and thence to the Adelphi in London, where they remained one month; the original four disbanded then.

BILLY WHITLOCK

was a typesetter on the New York Herald, and appeared at various theatres in the evening, while retaining his position during the day.

He made his first appearance in New York City in 1835, as Cuff in “O, Hush.” He resigned from the Herald in 1837, and went with a circus; he returned to New York, and in the Winter of 1839 was engaged by P. T. Barnum to play the banjo for John Diamond, the great dancer.

Mr. Whitlock was the first to return to the United States after the dissolution of the original company; he arrived about August, 1844; subsequently appearing with various small organizations and circuses.

For many years he traveled as a Yankee comedian, and was also an actor at the Bowery Theatre about 1853; he was the composer of “Lucy Long,” one of the great songs of early minstrelsy. His last appearance was with Dan Rice’s Circus in 1855.

His daughter married Edwin Adams, the great actor.

It is a strange thing that no one seems to know where Mr. Whitlock is buried. Billy Whitlock was born in New York City, 1813; he died at Long Branch, N. J., March 29, 1878.

DICK PELHAM (Richard Ward Pell),

like Billy Whitlock, made his first appearance in his native city in “O, Hush,” in 1835. February 13, 1840, he danced against John Diamond in New York City.

November 14, 1842, he appeared at the Franklin Theatre in New York, and on January 16, 1843, he had a benefit at the Amphitheatre, on which occasion he appeared in sixteen songs and dances, and played in the farce “Negro Assurance;” yet we think continuous performances are of recent origin. After the dissolution of the original four in England, Mr. Pelham played an extended engagement at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London. April 22, 1844, in conjunction with Dan. Emmett, Frank Brower and Joe Sweeney, they reorganized their little band and opened in Dublin, Ireland; at the Theatre Royal, afterwards, appearing in Cork, Belfast, Glasgow and Edinburgh, after which they disbanded.

Mr. Pell subsequently organized Pell’s Serenaders, and played all the large cities in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. His last appearance was at Birmingham, England, August 19, 1856.

[13]

BILLY WHITLOCK DICK PELHAM
DAN. EMMETT FRANK BROWER

The above four performers gave in New York City, February 6, 1843, the first minstrel performance ever given; they were known as the Virginia Minstrels.

R. BISHOP BUCKLEY JAS. BUCKLEY SWAINE BUCKLEY
FRED. BUCKLEY
THE ORIGINAL BUCKLEY SERENADERS.

[14]

Dick Pelham was born in New York City, February 13, 1815; he died in Liverpool, England, October 8, 1876.

DAN. EMMETT (Daniel Decatur Emmett)

was better known to the general public than any of his associates, from the fact that he outlived nearly all his contemporaries, and the more important one that he was the author of “Dixie,” which will live forever.

Town Hall To-Night—Minstrels.

Mr. Emmett first blacked up at the age of sixteen, and two years later joined Sam. Stickney’s Circus. At the age of twenty-five, he learned to play the banjo, and traveled with Angevine’s Circus until he reached New York, in 1842.

In 1843, after leaving his three associates in England, he performed at Bolton, Lancashire; he rejoined Pelham and Brower in Dublin, Ireland, April 22, 1844, and played with them and Joe Sweeney for several weeks.

Returning to the United States, he appeared with various circus and minstrel companies.

In 1853-54 he was part proprietor of White’s Minstrels in New York; in 1855 he opened the first minstrel hall in Chicago, at 104 Randolph Street.

[15]

Emmett’s Minstrels opened at St. Paul, Minn., April 26, 1858; he was also associated with Frank Brower in a minstrel company in the 50’s.

Mr. Emmett joined Bryant’s Minstrels in New York City in 1858, and remained several years; after Dan Bryant’s death in 1875, he accepted a position as leader in the Star Varieties, Chicago. In the Fall of 1881 he went out with Leavitt’s Minstrels, where in conjunction with several old timers, they gave a reproduction of the original Virginia Minstrels of 1843.

His last engagement was a tour of the country with Al. G. Field’s Minstrels about ten years ago.

An account of the famous song of “I Wish I Was in Dixie,” will be found elsewhere.

Dan Emmett was born in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, October 29, 1815, where he died, June 28, 1904.

FRANK BROWER,

the junior member of the first minstrel company, made his first appearance at Dick Myers’ Museum in Philadelphia, doing a song and dance, about 1838; subsequently he joined John Robinson’s Circus, and later Raymond & Waring’s Circus.

After the separation of the original minstrel company in London in 1844, Mr. Brower traveled with Cook’s Circus in England; and in the Spring of 1844, with Pelham, Sweeney and Emmett, they gave their old performance, opening in Dublin, Ireland, April 22, 1844, and playing engagements in Cork, Belfast, Glasgow and Edinburgh, after which he returned to America and played with some of the principal minstrel and circus organizations.

In 1851 he revisited England, appearing as clown with Welch’s Circus. February 28, 1856, he opened at Sanford’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

His last engagement in minstrelsy was with Tunnison’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, November 2, 1867; and his last appearance on the stage was in the same city, November 22, 1867, at the Walnut Street Theatre, in “The Lottery of Love.”

Mr. Brower’s “Happy Uncle Tom” was as perfect a piece of acting, it has been said, that has ever been seen on any stage. He was original to a degree, and never stooped to vulgarity in any form.

Frank Brower was born in Baltimore, Md., November 20, 1823; he died in Philadelphia, June 4, 1874.

THE BUCKLEY SERENADERS.

James Buckley, the father of R. Bishop, G. Swayne and Fred Buckley was the organizer of the justly famous Buckley Serenaders; they were originally known as the Congo Melodists; subsequently upon playing an extended engagement in New Orleans, they adopted the title of “New Orleans Serenaders”; later using the name they were ever after known by.

Mr. Buckley was leader at Harrington’s Museum in Boston in 1840.

In 1843 he organized the Congo Melodists in Boston, and gave their first performance at the Tremont Theatre; in October they were playing the Tabernacle, the present site of the Howard Athenaeum. Their first New York appearance was in 1845; the following year they went to England, where they remained about two years. For family reasons each of the four Buckleys adopted[16] different names on this trip, and retained them for a time after their return to the United States in 1848; James Buckley was known as James Burke.

Their metropolitan reappearance was made at the Society Library Rooms, corner Broadway and Leonard Street; they played here as early as January 3, 1849.

The Buckleys were the first recognized company from the East to visit California, which they did in 1852; they played in tents at $3 per ticket. In June, 1853, they made their third New York appearance at the Chinese Assembly Room, 539 Broadway, which they leased and made into a minstrel hall; they remained three years. August 25, 1856, they opened at 585 Broadway; their last performance there was January 9, 1858; subsequently they played a brief engagement at 444 Broadway, commencing two days later.

In May, 1858, they began a brief engagement at the Ordway Hall in Boston, and in November, same year, they began a short season at Allston Hall on Tremont Street; subsequently returning to New York at 585 Broadway, opening July 11, 1859.

On March 21, 1860, they sailed again for England, where they met with pronounced success; in this engagement they played under their own names.

As a matter of actual fact, their success was so great, that rival managers became jealous, and succeeded in digging up an old law which prevented an opera other than the Royal Opera from being given; as the Buckley’s success depended on the production of these operas, which they produced on a lavish scale, they were compelled to return to America, which they did in 1861. After playing several engagements, they returned to Boston and opened at Allston Hall, October 13, 1862. December 22, same year, they began an engagement at the Palace of Music, New York (the present site of the Fourteenth Street Theatre), and June 15, 1863, they again visited Boston, appearing at the new hall, corner Chauncey and Summer Streets, remaining until April 9, 1866.

The retirement of James Buckley and the deaths of R. Bishop and Fred Buckley, left only G. Swayne Buckley, who reorganized the company and toured with intermittent success and failure until about 1876, when the Buckley’s Serenaders passed into oblivion.

Such is the history of this famous family whose talents and versatility are beyond comprehension to the present generation.

They were the first company to produce burlesque opera, which they did on a scale of magnificence never since duplicated.

The company originally consisted of the four members of the family; later they were augmented by Sam Sanford and J. C. Collins; this was about 1846; in after years many of the prominent lights of the minstrel profession appeared on their roster. Mr. Jas. Buckley was the only member of the organization who was not active up to the time of his death.

James Buckley was born in Manchester, England, 1803; he died in Quincy, Mass., April 27, 1872.

R. Bishop Buckley, began his career in 1843 in Boston as member of the original Buckley Serenaders.

He was an excellent mimic, accomplished musician and good actor.

He was best known for his performance on the Chinese fiddle, which was never equaled except by a native Chinaman. He was the possessor of a good tenor voice, which he used easily and gracefully.

[17]

[18]

Mr. Buckley was known as J. C. Rainer in the late 40’s while in Europe and shortly after their return.

R. Bishop Buckley was born in England, 1826; he died in Quincy, Mass., June 6, 1867.

George Swayne Buckley, the most versatile of the famous Buckley family, made his first appearance as a prodigy at Harrington’s Museum in Boston, in 1840.

Later, while learning to play the banjo, the famous Joe. Sweeney took an interest in him, and “starred” him for a lengthy period through the country as “Young Sweeney,” which title he used as late as May 15, 1845.

Some idea of Mr. Buckley’s versatility may be gleaned from the fact that in one performance he sang a song and done a banjo solo in the first part, played a solo on the kitchen bellows in a burlesque on the Julien Concerts; gave Locust Hum in the third part; played a part in the burlesque opera; danced with two others in the finale, and gave his bone solo, which was a wonderful performance; with them he gave imitations of the drums, the march, the reveille, etc., concluding with imitations of two horses running a race. It must be understood that all these performances were given in an artistic manner; and this was about sixty-five years ago.

Probably Swayne Buckley’s chief fame rests on the act he did in later years; it was called “Musical Moments;” in it he performed on twelve different instruments, playing several at one time.

July 8, 1867, he reorganized in Boston the Buckley Serenaders with himself as the one remaining member of the famous family in its company.

In 1870 Mr. Buckley played an engagement with the San Francisco Minstrels in New York City; and on September 3, 1872, with Sam Sharpley he organized a company and gave minstrelsy on new lines, eliminating the time-honored first part.

The two following seasons saw Buckley’s Serenaders on the road, and on September 13, 1875, he opened with the minstrels at Beethoven Hall, Boston; their stay was brief; a road tour was even less successful.

In 1871 he played in a sensational melodrama called “On the Track;” in this he portrayed seven characters. Mr. Buckley’s last appearance was at the Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, playing Zip, a negro, in “Devotion.”

George Swayne Buckley was born in Bolton, England, August; 1829; he died in Quincy, Mass., June 25, 1879.

Fred Buckley came to America with his father and brothers in 1839; when, as previously stated, the family changed their names, Mr. Buckley was known as Master Ole Bull.

He was leader of the orchestra in their organization for many years.

Some of the famous ballads of early minstrelsy were composed by him, such as “We Are Growing Old Together,” “I’d Choose to Be a Daisy,” “Laughing Jennie,” “I See Her Still in My Dreams,” “I’m Turning Gray, Dear Kate,” and numerous others.

Mr. Buckley married Fanny Brown, the actress, January 29, 1857.

Fred Buckley was born in Bolton, England, October 12, 1833; he died in Boston, Mass., September 12, 1864.

[19]

CHRISTY’S MINSTRELS

were originated and first organized by Edwin P. Christy, and after that gentleman retired from the profession, a few years later, part of his old company organized and went to Europe, giving their first performance there August 3, 1857; they were called the “Christy” Minstrels. From this company several others sprung, and for a great many years all minstrel organizations in England were called “Christy’s.”

E. P. Christy had a “card” on his program for many years, stating that his was the first minstrel company organized, the date given as 1842. In support of this at one time gave a statement of receipts covering a period of six months in 1842, and up to January 1, 1848.

It is a noteworthy fact that Mr. Christy’s “card” did not appear until after Wood’s, likewise Campbell’s—two permanent minstrel organizations like his own in New York City, had prospered and made their presence felt.

As has been stated elsewhere, black-face performers there were a-plenty long before the original four gave their first joint performance; they played chiefly in circuses and dance houses, and it was in one of the latter that Mrs. Harrington, mother of George Christy, and subsequent wife of E. P. Christy, kept, where these performances were given, and were very common occurrences at that time, and this was the only basis that Mr. Christy had of ante-dating the original company. There is no doubt that after the intelligence reached Buffalo of the success of Pelham, Whitlock, Emmett and Brower, that Mr. Christy, like scores of others, formed a company and called them Christy’s Minstrels; the date of this interesting event has never been made public, if indeed it was ever recorded. The first record of the company that the author has been able to find was in Albany, N. Y., May, 1844. On Sunday, August 17, 1845, R. M. Hooley is said to have led the orchestra for them at the Assembly Room in Buffalo, N. Y.

Their first metropolitan appearance was at Palmo’s Opera House, April 27, 1846; they subsequently played at the Society Library Rooms and later at the Alhambra, all in the same city.

But it was at Mechanics Hall, 472 Broadway, New York, that the name of Christy’s Minstrels became famous; they opened there on February 15, 1847, and remained until July 15, 1854. On September 20, 1854, the company sailed for California; they played a few weeks at Pratt’s Hall in San Francisco, but were not overly successful.

Such is the story of E. P. Christy’s Minstrels; the original company consisted of E. P. Christy, George Christy, Tom Vaughn and Lansing Durand; the careers of most of these performers, also their portraits, will be found elsewhere.

It was the withdrawal of George Christy from E. P. Christy’s Company that caused their dissolution.

Edwin P. Christy was best known as a ballad singer, although he played the banjo acceptably and played parts in his entertainments; he made a specialty of singing Stephen C. Foster’s songs.

He returned from California early in 1855, and never appeared again professionally; nor did he ever play in England, although his name is a household word there yet even to this day.

Edwin P. Christy was born in Philadelphia, November 28, 1815; he died (suicide) in New York City, May 21, 1862.

[20]

George N. Christy (Harrington), is conceded to have been one of the greatest performers that ever graced the minstrel stage; he was versatile by all the term applies; had he deemed to use his talents otherwise, his name might have been enrolled as one of America’s great actors.

His career began at Buffalo, N. Y., in 1839; although he had not yet entered his teens, he was rated a fine jig dancer.

He was associated with E. P. Christy a few years before the latter organized his minstrel company.

George Christy was with Christy’s Minstrels in New York from February 15, 1847, until October 29, 1853, during which period he played every conceivable part; male and female equally well; he was a great endman and as a bone player ranked with the best.

Owing to a misunderstanding, he left E. P. Christy on October 29, 1853, and two days later he joined forces with Henry Wood at 444 Broadway, where as Wood and Christy’s Minstrels they held forth many years.

During the 50’s Wood and Christy took the house vacated by E. P. Christy, put a show in there and ran both establishments for several months; Billy Birch and Christy played on the ends in their respective houses, after which each would go to the other theatre and contribute to the rest of the entertainment.

December 2, 1854, “444” was destroyed by fire, and the company after a brief tour, resumed at “472.” “444” was rebuilt and reopened October 1, 1855.

Subsequently the company opened at Wood’s Marble Palace, 561-563 Broadway, which was especially built for them, October 31, 1857; the other houses were then closed.

Christy withdrew from Wood on May 1, 1858, and went to California, opening at San Francisco under the management of Tom Maguire, June 7; the company was known as Christy’s Minstrels; they remained in California several months; subsequently Christy and R. M. Hooley formed a partnership and returned to New York, opening at 444 Broadway, May 23, 1859. Christy had previously signed an agreement with Henry Wood not to appear within 100 miles of New York for a period of eighteen months, commencing May 1, 1858.

When George Christy attempted to perform, he was enjoined from doing so by Wood; Christy then took the road until the time limit had expired, opening at Niblo’s Saloon, November 7, 1859; he played here about one year, and subsequently moved opposite to 585 Broadway.

In 1864 he was with J. W. Raynor’s Company; and on September 4, 1865, he began an engagement with Hooley in Brooklyn; a year later he opened with Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels at 720 Broadway; this was the initial performance of the latter company in the metropolis.

January 16, 1867, with G. W. H. Griffin, he organized Griffin and Christy’s Minstrels, opening at the Fifth Avenue Theatre (late Madison Square Theatre); they closed June 27, went on tour and reappeared in New York, July 29, at Union Hall, Fifth Avenue and Twenty-third Street; they closed on September 23 and went traveling.

His last appearance was with Hooley’s Minstrels, May 2, 1868, in Brooklyn, N. Y.

George Christy was born in Palmyra, N. Y., November 6, 1827; he died in New York City, May 12, 1868.

[21]

THE VIRGINIA SERENADERS, 1843.

Reading from left to right, in later years the above performers were familiarly known as Jim Sanford, “Ole Bull” Myers, Jim Carter, Bob Edwards and “Cool” White.

BILLY LESTER PAUL ALLEN

LESTER AND ALLEN—They came later.

[22]

William A. Christy, the younger son of E. P. Christy, was a comedian, and a fair end man.

His greatest proficiency was in the delineation of the female character.

Late in 1860 “Christy’s” Minstrels, under his management, toured for a brief season; they closed, and on July 4, 1861, they reorganized and opened at the Athenaeum, Brooklyn, N. Y.

William A. Christy died in New York City, December 8, 1862, aged 22 years.

E. Byron Christy was a son of E. P. Christy; he was a comedian, and best known for his stump speeches. He played with Sanford’s Minstrels in Philadelphia in 1859, and with George Christy’s Minstrels same year, after the latter’s return from California. In 1865 “Christy’s” Minstrels made a tour under his management.

He died in New York City, April 6, 1866, aged 28 years.

JOE SWEENEY (Joel Walker Sweeney)

was the “father of the banjo” and one of the earliest black-face performers.

Mr. Sweeney and two brothers traveled in a wagon through the South in the early 30’s, and certainly as early as 1838 when he was with a circus that played in Lynchburg, Va.

He played many subsequent engagements with circuses, notably with the John Robinson Show.

About 1843 he went to England, where he traveled with Cook’s Circus.

April 19, 1844, with Brower, Pelham and Emmett, he formed again the Virginia Minstrels; they played in Dublin two weeks, and several other cities, after which the quartette broke up; Pelham and Sweeney then performed in the principal cities of the United Kingdom, Sweeney returning to the United States about 1845.

He subsequently organized Joe Sweeney’s Opera Troupe and traveled chiefly through the South at intermittent periods up to within about a year or two of his death.

In April, 1852, he played an engagement with Charley White’s Minstrels in New York. Up to the time of Joe Sweeney, the banjo, so-called, was made from a gourd and had four strings only; he took an old cheese box, cut it in half, covered it with a skin and added another string; the fine instruments we see to-day are the evolution of the crude affair just described; this was about 1830.

Joe Sweeney was born at Appomattox, Va., 1813; where he died October 27, 1860.

Geo. Holland, father of the late Geo. Holland, and of E. M. and Jos. Holland, and who was known as one of the great comedians of the old stock days, made his appearance with Wood and Christy’s Minstrels in New York City, December 21, 1857, playing female parts in black-face, and remained with the company six months.

The famous “little church around the corner” gained its name and fame through the death of this great old actor.

George Holland was born near London, England, December 6, 1791; he died in New York City, December 20, 1870.

[23]

Edwin Forrest, America’s first great actor, at the Globe Theatre, Cincinnati, Ohio, July 17, 1823, played Cuff, a Kentucky negro, in the “Tailor in Distress.”

In this play Mr. Forrest imitated the black man in dress, accent, gait, dialect and manner; and was said to be the first actor to do so.

Edwin Forrest was born in Philadelphia, March 9, 1806; he died there December 12, 1872.

“Ole Bull” Myers (J. Richard Myers) was one of the earliest and best violinists in minstrelsy.

He entered the profession in 1835, and was with numerous black-face companies, notably the Virginia Serenaders in 1843; this organization, a photograph of which will be found elsewhere, played an engagement at the Chatham Theatre, New York, January 24, 1844.

“Ole Bull” Myers was born in Baltimore, Md., May 9, 1909; he died in Philadelphia, September 10, 1874.

P. T. Barnum, the great circus man, in the fall of 1836 while traveling with a small show of his own, had the misfortune to lose the services of Jim Sandford, one of his principal “cards,” who was doing “nigger” business; but rather than disappoint his audience, Barnum “blacked up” and sang “Such a Gittin Up Stairs,” and other songs that were popular that day.

P. T. Barnum was born in Bethel, Conn., July 5, 1810; he died at Bridgeport, Conn., April 7, 1891.

Tom Christian, one of the first, also one of the best to do Tyrolean warbling in minstrelsy, joined E. P. Christy’s Minstrels in New York in 1847, and continued as a member of that organization until it disbanded in 1854; subsequently he joined Sanford’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, and Raynor’s “Christy” which toured the country until they sailed for England in June, 1857, when Christian went with them; he remained with the organization which afterwards was known as Moore, Crocker and Ritter’s Minstrels, until his death.

Tom Christian died in London, England, January 29, 1867; aged 59 years.

Dr. G. R. Spalding, whose “Floating Palace” and steamers “Banjo” and “Gazelle” and “James Raymond” gave minstrel performances on the rivers for many years, commencing about 1855, was a native of Coeymans, N. Y.; he died in New Orleans, La., April 6, 1886, aged 68 years.

Sam Johnson (Isaac Ray) was one of the earliest minstrel performers; as early as the Summer of 1844 he appeared in Hoboken, N. J., at Otto Cottage as one of the Operatic Brothers and Sisters.

He died at River View, Ky., about November 1, 1876, aged 62 years.

Jim Sandford (Blandford) was one of the earliest jig dancers of minstrelsy. He appeared with small companies as early as 1843; and for several years traveled with the great John Diamond. He was noted for his fastidiousness in dress.

[24]

He was born in Baltimore, Md.; he died in Philadelphia, September 2, 1855; aged 41 years.

John Washington Smith was one of the earliest and best negro delineators ante-dating minstrelsy proper, although he was later associated with several prominent organizations.

His earliest recorded appearance was with the Lion Circus in Cincinnati, December, 1838.

The following year he played in New York, and a year later went to Europe, where he performed with “Pickaninny” Coleman. Returning to America, he played at the Bowery Amphitheatre, April 25, 1842.

In 1849 he wrote and first sung the song that was afterwards in the repertoire of many famous minstrels—“Old Bob Ridley;” this occurred in New Orleans, La.

In the Fall of 1855 he was with the original San Francisco Minstrels in the California metropolis. He subsequently went to Australia and other foreign countries, where for many years he piloted various minstrel organizations.

John Washington Smith was born in the United States about 1815; he died in S. Yarra, Australia, August 31, 1877.

Francis Germon was one of the early comedians and tambourinists in minstrelsy.

December 25, 1839, at Taunton, Mass., in a concert there he was singing the old song of “Sittin’ on a Rail.”

About 1844 he joined the Ethiopian Serenaders, and continued as a member of that party several years.

September 15, 1845, Mr. Germon and the company, as shown on another page, began an engagement at Palmo’s Opera House, New York.

Francis Germon died in Philadelphia, it is said, in the 50’s.

Ned Harper was one of the early black-face performers who ante-dated minstrelsy proper.

He was the author of “Jim Along Josey,” and the first to sing it in his drama, the “Free Nigger of New York,” about 1838.

February 22, 1837, at the Lion Theatre, Boston, he played Gumbo Cuff in “O’ Hush.”

He died in England about fifty years ago.

“Bill” Ceda (Wm. Price), up to the time of his death was the oldest living minstrel in England, where he had been since 1848; he was a comedian and general performer, and made his first appearance at the Bowery Theatre, New York, in 1840; in June, 1848, he was with the Virginia Harmonists.

Bill Ceda was born in the United States; he died in Liverpool, England, March 9, 1873.

Dick Sweeney, a brother of the famous Joe Sweeney, and who traveled with him in the 30’s and 40’s, giving concerts in black-face, died in Washington, D. C., in 1860, it is said. He was born in Virginia about 1815.

[25]

FRANK WARD
(of the Original Clipper Quartette)
HARRY A. ELLIS
(of the Original “The Quartette”)
JOHNNY THOMPSON FRANK KERNS
(Thompson & Kerns were the original double song and dance team; 1862.)
CHARLEY GARDNER
(Original “Hop Light Loo”)
FRANK E. McNISH
(Original “Silence and Fun”)

“SOME ORIGINALS.”

[26]

Nelson Kneass’ fame has been handed down to posterity for his association with the song of Ben Bolt, which was composed by Thomas Dunn English; an old German tune was supplied by Mr. Kneass, and through it the verses have become immortalized.

Mr. Kneass followed the profession of negro minstrelsy for many years.

February 1, 1841, he was leader of the “orchestra” at the opening of the Museum, Albany, N. Y. In 1846 he was a member of the Sable Harmonists; in 1853 with Sanford’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, and on June 2, 1854, Mr. Kneass and his daughter, Annie, who later married J. N. Rentfrow, of Rentfrow’s Jolly Pathfinders, were with Wood and Christy’s Minstrels in New York, the former as Aunt Chloe, and the latter as Eva in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

In 1859 he was with a minstrel company in Chicago, and late that same year was with Dan Scott’s Dramatic Company.

Nelson Kneass was born in Philadelphia; he died in Chillicothe, Ohio, September 10, 1869.

G. Warren White was a famous vocalist in the early days of minstrelsy. He began as a boy singer, and later was with Dumbleton’s Serenaders; also with Ordway’s Aeolians in Boston.

His later years were spent with the Campbell-Castle Opera Company, and the Kellogg Opera Company.

Mr. White was born in Boston, Mass., in 1816; he died in Somerville, Mass., in March, 1886.

Dan Gardner was equally at home as a clown in a circus, or as a minstrel.

At the age of 13, on the 13th of the month, he ran away from home, and after walking thirteen miles, joined a canal boat show.

He soon after returned to his heath, and subsequently held the position of assistant property man at Mt. Pitt Circus in New York, on the site that is now occupied by the Hoe Printing Press Company. Mr. Gardner began his clown business there.

As early as 1835 he did a wench character; it is considerably more than probable that he was the first performer to do a female part in black-face. And he was absolutely the first to do Lucy Long, a famous characterization in early minstrelsy.

In every decade commencing in the 30’s, Mr. Gardner was prominently identified with minstrelsy. He was with Sam Sanford’s Minstrels as early as 1844, and when the latter took the present Eleventh Street Opera House in Philadelphia, he played numerous engagements there in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

In 1845 he was one of the famous Operatic Brothers and Sisters in New York City.

Mr. Gardner was the father of W. H. Gardner, prominent in circus business; also Lida Gardner, who was the original Mabel Santley of the Rentz-Santley Burlesquers.

Dan Gardner was born in New York City, October 28, 1816; he died in Atlantic City, N. J., October 7, 1880.

M. C. Campbell (Cainan), one of the great ballad singers in the early days of minstrelsy, first appeared prominently at Wood’s Minstrels in New[27] York in 1851; he remained successively a member of Wood and Christy’s; Wood’s; and George Christy’s Minstrels, covering a period of about nine years.

In February, 1861, he organized a company with James Budworth.

On November 10, 1862, he gave the first performance of Campbell’s Minstrels at what is now known as the Fourteenth Street Theatre, New York; June 27, 1864, his company opened at what is now known as the People’s Theatre, New York; January 16, 1865, R. M. Hooley became associated in the management, and in the Spring of the same year he disposed of his interest to Hooley.

Mr. Campbell had various minstrel companies until about 1870, when he retired; subsequently he was identified with the Evening News, New York City.

M. C. Campbell was born in London, England, 1817; he died in New York, January 6, 1883.

Edwin Deaves was associated with some of the very earliest minstrel companies in existence in his native and other Eastern cities in the middle 40’s.

About 1850 he went to California, where he remained many years. When he first played in the great coast metropolis, the “theatre” was a tent.

Edwin Deaves had a pleasing personality and a commanding presence, which eminently fitted him for the position of “middle-man” in the various companies in which he was associated. Mr. Deaves was among the first to sing the lamented Foster’s ballads, such as “Old Dog Tray,” “Nellie Gray” and others.

When George Christy and his company arrived in San Francisco in the Summer of 1858, Mr. Deaves at once became a member. Likewise was he associated there with Birch, Wambold, Bernard, Backus and many other burnt cork luminaries many years before these artists made a metropolitan reputation.

Edwin Deaves was born in Philadelphia, in 1817; he died in New York City, July 19, 1890.

Eph. Horn (Evan Evans Horn) was a name to conjure with for many years.

His professional career began more than seventy years ago. He first appeared in New York City about 1847 as a member of the Ethiopian Serenaders.

In conjunction with Charley White, they formed Horn and White’s Minstrels, opening in New York, April 2, 1851. Subsequently he was identified with practically all the famous permanent minstrel companies in the metropolis, including Wood’s, Campbell’s, Buckley’s, Bryant’s, and E. P. Christy’s; with the latter he went to San Francisco, Cal., in the Fall of 1854, where he remained eighteen months. Subsequently he appeared as clown in a circus, in black face. In 1858 he played an engagement with Ordway’s Aeolians in Boston. Mr. Horn was a fine end man in his day, and all-round general comedian.

In the Summer of 1865 he went to London, where he played a brief engagement.

Eph. Horn was born in Philadelphia, Pa., 1818; he died in New York, January 1, 1877.

[28]

Sam Gardner (Sylvester Gardner) was a prominent minstrel interlocutor for forty years; he was likewise a splendid bass singer, and had been identified with many prominent organizations, notably Wm. Henry Rice’s Minstrels in Cincinnati, with whom he opened September 2, 1872. He had been a resident of Omaha, Neb., where he died March 10, 1888, for many years. He was born in New York City about 1818.

Zenas Rumsey was one of the early minstrel performers of the ’40’s. He possessed a good tenor voice, and from 1847 to 1850 he sang at the Bowery Theatre.

That year he married Mary Van Keuren, and retired from the profession.

He was born in Shawangunk. N. Y.; he died in Ellenville, N. Y., December 10, 1891, aged 73 years.

Marshall S. Pike was one of the pioneers of minstrelsy, as well as one of the first female impersonators. In 1843 in conjunction with the Powers Brothers and L. V. H. Crosby, they formed a little company, and appearing with whitened faces and flaxen wigs, styled themselves the Albino Family subsequently they changed to blackened features, and were known as the Harmoneon Family, afterwards the Harmoneons. It was this company that sang for President Polk in the White House in 1847.

Mr. Pike married in 1849, and in that same year joined Ordway’s Aeolians in Boston, and continued with them for several seasons, leaving in 1857 and organizing “Pike’s Harmoneons.”

Subsequently he was identified with various dramatic companies, Mr. Pike was the author of more than 100 songs, the most popular of which was “Home Again,” written in 1849.

Marshall S. Pike was born in Westboro, Mass., May 20, 1818; he died in Upton, Mass., February 13, 1901.

Napoleon W. Gould, famous as a vocalist and guitarist in many minstrel companies, came to the United States in 1848.

He joined E. P. Christy’s Company in New York about 1850, remaining about four years.

In 1859 he became a member of Bryant’s Minstrels, same city, and continued there for several seasons. His last professional appearance was with George Christy’s Minstrels in New York about fifteen years previous to his death.

Napoleon W. Gould was born in London, England, June 7, 1819; he died in New York, May 23, 1881.

John H. Collins was a well-known vocalist with various minstrel companies.

He was the husband of Julia Gould, the prima donna of Buckley’s Minstrels.

In the Spring of 1860 he was with Wood’s Minstrels, and in the Fall of that year he joined Rumsey and Newcomb’s Company, going to Cuba with them, where he died in December, 1860.

“Pickaninny” (Thomas E.) Coleman was one of the early black-face performers ante-dating minstrelsy proper.

[29]

JOHN HART EMIL AMES BILLY EMERSON
(1869)
DAN. WALDRON
(Of Original Big 4)
GEO. M. DE VERE—MATT McELROY
1878.
WILLIS P. SWEATNAM

[30]

He played many engagements in New York in the early 40’s, with John W. Smith, with whom he made a trip to England in 1840.

He died in Newark, N. J., July 5, 1859.

John Landis was one of the old-time minstrels and general black-face performers; he was with Sam Sanford’s Minstrels in 1859, and at one time was prominently identified with his own company. He died in Philadelphia, September 19, 1863.

S. E. Clark was one of the early interlocutors, or “middle-men” of minstrelsy; he was rated an excellent bass vocalist, and was with the Bryant’s in New York in 1857.

He died in New Haven, Conn., February 3, 1860.

Julius A. von Bonhorst was one of the early banjo players of minstrelsy, and practically his entire career was spent with Sanford’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

He married a Miss Luther about 1854, and three years later retired from the profession.

He died at Reading, Pa., February 16, 1869, aged 40 years.

Jim Carter, one of the earliest of black-face performers, and whose portrait may be seen on another page, was also one of the original Campbell’s Minstrels, organized June, 1847.

He died many years ago.

Philip Rice was one of the pioneer banjo players of minstrelsy.

In the very early days he constructed an instrument by tacking a skin over a peck measure that had been sawed in half; this attracted wide attention.

June 18, 1856, he was with Dave Reed’s Minstrels on board the steamer “James Raymond,” which traveled on the Mississippi River.

He died at Grand Lake, Ark., December 4, 1857.

Tom Raleigh (T. R. Mahan), one of the musicians of the real early days of minstrelsy, was accidentally shot and killed by Frank Hussey, comedian, in San Francisco, December 5, 1859.

George Lea, one of the pioneers of the variety theatre business in New York City, was the proprietor of Lea’s Minstrels at 185 Chatham Street, in the Fall of 1853.

He died at Port Jervis, N. Y., August 20, 1902.

“Picayune” Butler (John Butler), one of the best of the early banjoists, and who made famous the song “Picayune Butler’s Comin’ to Town,” had considerable vogue in the 50’s.

He died in New York City, November 18, 1864.

George A. Harrington was one of the members of the Ethiopian Serenaders[31] who appeared in New York, September 15, 1845. The following year they appeared in London, England.

He was a good bass singer and banjoist, and was the first to sing “Lucy Neal.”

He died in Philadelphia, January, 1859.

William Parrow, who was with Joe. Sweeney’s Minstrels in the 40’s, and was said to be the original Old Bob Ridley, was murdered at Lebanon, Tenn.; he died November 29, 1870.


Wm. Henry Rice, long famous for his burlesque female impersonations, sat on the end with his own minstrel company in Cincinnati, September, 1872.


“Pony” Moore (George Washington Moore). This unique character in minstrelsy, up to the time of his death, enjoyed the double distinction of being the oldest living minstrel, as well as having attained greater longevity than any other known black-face performer.

There have been many versions of the veteran’s interesting career. Mr. Moore in a letter to the author, dated December 3, 1908, says his first appearance was in New York with Welch and Delevan at the old Broadway Circus in negro opera, playing in black-face, in 1844.

In a series of articles commencing August 1, 1909, in Lloyd’s Weekly News (London, England), Mr. Moore stated that he must have been about twenty-one when he first blacked his face, and speaks of Frank Brower, who was in the same company with him as having got the idea of making the first set of “bones” then known.

This would make the date 1841, and as the incident concerning Brower actually did occur while with Roger’s Circus, during the week of July 4, that year, the date of his first appearance in black-face may be safely stated to have been in 1841. Previous to this, however, he had been associated in many capacities with various circuses, but chiefly as a driver; it had been said that he handled as many as forty horses at one time, and in that way received the sobriquet of “Pony,” which clung to him all his life.

It was in 1844 that his first prominent engagement as a black-face performer, however, occurred.

Mr. Moore further stated that “he joined Haworth and Horton’s Opera Troupe, September 13, 1854, and the year following organized Hunter, Hedden and Moore’s Troupe.”

It is a fact that J. Hunter and William Hedden, the one a comedian and the other a fine dancer, were with Raynor’s “Christy” Minstrels as late as May 1, 1856, as likewise was “Pony” Moore. The Raynor Company returned to New York and opened there on February 2, 1857, playing about a month, after which they took a tour previous to their departure for England; Mr. Moore left the company at the conclusion of the New York engagement, and at once joined Matt. Peel’s Minstrels; he continued with this company until in the Summer of 1858, they played an engagement in New York. A short time later Matt. Peel left the organization which subsequently was known as Sniffen’s Campbell’s Minstrels.

Mr. Moore continued with this troupe until February 12, 1859, on which[32] date he left to rejoin Matt. Peel’s company, continuing with the latter until his (Peel’s) death, May 4, 1859; after which he became a member of Burtis’ Varieties in Brooklyn, N. Y.

One month later Earl Pierce died in London, England. Pierce had been a great favorite in the British Metropolis, and J. W. Raynor sent for W. W. Newcomb, the well-known comedian, to take the place of the deceased.

Evidently Mr. Newcomb did not relish the idea of a sea trip, and “Pony” Moore, on his own initiative, went to London and presented himself to his former manager. It is an odd fact that on this occasion Mr. Moore had to sign an agreement “not to be too funny.”

It had been remarked that during the period of Pierce’s death and the subsequent occupation of his chair by Moore, that it remained vacant. This is inaccurate. Pending the advent of “Pony” Moore, it was occupied by W. P. Collins, a member of the company. Mr. Moore continued with the company for one year, at the expiration of which, Mr. Raynor retired to private life. Several companies sprang from the parent organization, one of which, Wilsom and Montague’s “Christy’s,” Mr. Moore joined.

It is pertinent at this juncture to remark that from this period, all minstrel organizations were known as “Christy’s” in England.

Mr. Moore continued with Wilsom and Montague for about four years, and immediately after, in conjunction with Johnny Ritter, J. P. Crocker and Henry Hamilton, organized a company bearing their names; with the exception of the latter, all were performers. They gave their first performance at Chester, England, November 14, 1864.

After playing through the provinces for several months, they opened in London, at St. James Hall, September 18, 1865. Subsequently through purchase and death’s intervention, Mr. Moore was sole owner of the company. Later, Fred. Burgess was taken in partnership, and as Moore and Burgess’ Minstrels flourished several years. Mr. Moore’s last appearance with his own company was in January, 1894.

April 9, 1904, saw the last of permanent minstrelsy in London. It seemed that a minstrel show at St. James Hall without “Pony” Moore was like “Hamlet” without Hamlet.

Mr. Moore’s last appearance was made in London at the Pavilion for the benefit of Mr. Frank Glenister.

Mr. Moore was twice married; first about 1860, and subsequently in 1884. Three daughters were the result of the first union. They married Fred. Vokes, of the famous theatrical family of that name; Charles Mitchell, the former champion pugilist, and Eugene Stratton, the premier black-face vaudeville artist in England. With the exception of the latter, all were English born.

“Pony” Moore was born in New York City, February 22, 1820; he died in London, England, October 1, 1909.

Frank Lynch was one of the great dancers of early minstrelsy. He traveled with Barnum in the 40’s as “John Diamond,” after the great showman had had difficulties with the original Diamond. Lynch was last heard of in St. Louis, Mo., in 1859.

Morris Abrams is one of the oldest living black-face performers. He did nigger business on the style of “Daddy” Rice in England, after Rice’s phenomenal success there in the 30’s.

[33]

JOE—FOX & WARD—WM. H.
(The oldest team of theatrical partners in existence)
NED—MONROE & MACK—KELLER
DICK—QUILTER & GOLDRICH—PETE JAS.—PELL & LEWIS—TOM
(Portraits reserved)

[34]

Mr. Abrams is said to be living in retirement in Brighton, England.

Lansing Durand, one of the four original performers of E. P. Christy’s Minstrels, was a jig dancer of exceptional merit. In later years he was of the team of Painter and Durand, gymnasts. He was living as late as 1872.

John Arnold Cave is probably the oldest living black-face performer.

He made a reputation in England more than sixty years ago doing nigger acts with the late E. W. Mackney.

Mr. Cave is said to be at present a guest of the Charter House, where he obtained through the late King of England. He (Cave) was formerly proprietor of the Old Vic Theatre, London, England.

George Raynor was a well-known minstrel vocalist, and a brother of J. W. Raynor, the famous manager. He was with Wood’s Minstrels in 1860, also other prominent organizations.

He died in Brooklyn, N. Y., April 2, 1864, aged 43 years.

Sam Sanford, whose correct name is said to have been Lindsay, was one of the pioneer minstrel managers and performers.

His first appearance was at the age of nine years. He subsequently joined a circus, and on February 16, 1843, for the first time assumed managerial duties. About 1846 he joined Buckley’s Company, and went to England with them, returning late in 1848.

Mr. Sanford left the Buckleys about two years later.

He built the first theatre ever constructed especially for a minstrel company, at Twelfth and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, Pa., which he opened August 1, 1853; it was destroyed December 9, following. April 23, 1855, Sanford’s Minstrels opened at the Eleventh Street Opera House, that city; he continued until the Spring of 1862.

Subsequently Mr. Sanford had other theatres in the Quaker City, and one in Harrisburg, Pa., as well as many traveling minstrel organizations.

About 1875 he essayed the role of Uncle Tom, and played that character at intervals for several years. In his day Mr. Sanford was rated as one of the best comedians of his time. Sam Sanford was born in New York City January 1, 1821; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., December 31, 1905.

Cool White (John Hodges) was one of the pioneers of minstrelsy; he entered it at its inception, and for many years was one of the most brilliant luminaries. Mr. White was a grand interlocutor, and an actor of no ordinary merit.

As early as 1838 he appeared at the Walnut Street Theatre in his native city, singing songs in black-face between the acts. He portrayed the dandy negro, and as such was very successful.

In 1843 he organized the Virginia Serenaders. Later he organized the Sable Melodists, and subsequently Sliter’s Empire Minstrels, and was with them four years. He then appeared as a Shakespearian clown with Spalding and Rogers Circus, and after engagements with some other minstrel companies,[35] he joined Sam Sanford’s Minstrels in Philadelphia about 1855, and continued there about four years.

He then went to New York, and later organized Cool White’s Broadway Minstrels, and on September 12, 1870, in Brooklyn, N. Y., with Archie Hughes and Fayette Welch, started a permanent minstrel company in that city.

In the Fall of 1879 he played Uncle Tom. For several years prior to his death he had been connected with Hooley’s Theatre in Chicago.

Cool White was born in Philadelphia July 28, 1821; he died in Chicago, April 23, 1891.

Charles T. White was one of the greatest men that minstrelsy produced. His career began with minstrelsy in 1843, at which time he appeared with various small companies.

The following year he organized the Kitchen Minstrels, and was with many companies until November 24, 1846, when he opened the Melodeon at 53 Bowery, New York. He was twice burnt out, but rebuilt each time.

The place finally closed April 22, 1854, and on August 7 following he opened a place at 49 Bowery; each establishment was run as a minstrel show; the admission was 6¼ and 12½ cents. Mr. White was again burnt out, and later opened places at 585 and 598 Broadway. He was with Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Minstrels about 1861.

He was the author of innumerable minstrel sketches, some of which are yet in use. For several seasons he had traveled with the “White Slave,” and at the time of his death was a member of Edward Harrigan’s Company, playing Mrs. Jackson in “Reilly and the 400,” a black-face part.

Mr. White was twice married.

Charles T. White was born in New York June 4, 1821; he died there January 4, 1891.

Bob Sheppard. This famous old-time performer began his career as a jig dancer in his native city in 1832; the “theatre” where he made his debut being no less a place than his father’s slaughter-house: the admission 6¼ cents, with the privilege of looking at the cattle; the audience usually had a “bully” time.

In 1856 he opened a concert hall in Philadelphia, where many artists of prominence in later years made their appearance.

In Bob Sheppard’s day, performers had to be versatile; and as a dancer and tambourine player, he had no superior in his time; but in the delineation of Old Bob Ridley, he excelled.

He was with some notable organizations, including Shorey’s Minstrels in 1863.

Bob Sheppard was born in Philadelphia, in 1821; he died there August 15, 1898.

Andy Leavitt made his first stage appearance April 8, 1837.

In 1842 he leased Bleeker Hall in Boston and transformed it into Leavitt’s Opera House. As early as 1858 he traveled with Leavitt’s Ethiopian Troupe, and that same year he opened a small theatre at 22 Beaver Street, Albany, N. Y.

[36]

March 30, 1859, he leased the Gayety Theatre on Green Street, in the same city. In the early 70’s he went to the Howard Athenaeum in Boston, where for many years he remained. He was especially clever in the acts with Harry Bloodgood; the latter doing the comedy.

Andy Leavitt was an unusually intelligent performer, and was the author of several negro farces that were widely used.

He was likewise responsible for the song “Ham Fat,” that achieved great vogue several years ago.

In 1882 and 1889 he played white-face parts with “Joshua Whitcomb” and “Two Sisters” respectively; his stage career ended about this time. About 1891 he secured a position as stage door man at the Hollis Theatre, Boston, which he retained five years.

Andy Leavitt was born in Boston, Mass., in 1822; he died there February 1, 1901.

William B. Donaldson was the inventor of the jawbone used as a musical instrument by black-face performers several years before the first minstrel performance was given.

He was associated with minstrel and circus organizations for forty years, and was the first black-face clown to appear in a ring.

Like most performers of his day, he played the banjo; but Mr. Donaldson created a sensation by playing it with his left hand.

His professional debut was made in Poughkeepsie, N. Y., in 1836, as “Young Jim Crow,” after the style of “Daddy” Rice. In June, 1847, he was one of the five original members of the first Campbell’s Minstrels.

About three years before his death he became proprietor of the Lockwood House in Poughkeepsie, N. Y.

William B. Donaldson was born October 13, 1822; he died in Poughkeepsie, N. Y., April 16, 1873.

Bob Edwards (Dean) was one of the earliest bone players, and in his youth was known as “Master” Edwards.

In 1841-42 he traveled though Pennsylvania as a jig dancer. In 1843 and 1844 he was a member of the famous Ethiopian Serenaders, a group picture of which will be found on another page.

Subsequently he withdrew from that company, and joined Sanford’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, where he remained for a long time.

In 1862 he had the Gayety Music Hall in Harrisburg, Pa., and a few years before his death was proprietor of his own company.

Bob Edwards was born in Philadelphia in 1822; he died in Buffalo, N. Y., July 24, 1872.

George Guy was the founder of the famed Guy Bros. Minstrels.

Mr. Guy, who was an excellent baritone vocalist, had the unique distinction of sitting in the first part with his six sons; an occurrence that had no parallel in minstrelsy.

The original Guy family of entertainers consisted of father, mother, daughter and six sons.

Mr. Guy’s principal engagements were with Christy’s, and Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels. About 1874 he organized the Guy Brothers Minstrels as a permanent institution, and as such it has continued ever since.

[37]

 
SAM. DEVERE   SAM. SANFORD
   
  BILLY CARTER  
 
SAM. SWAIN   SAM. SHARPLEY

BILLY CARTER SURROUNDED BY SOME CELEBRATED “SAMS.”

[38]

Mr. Guy married Amelia Evans in London, England, in 1851.

George Guy, Sr., was born in London, England, January 20, 1822; he died in Springfield, Mass., February 23, 1895.

R. M. Hooley was associated with all that was best in minstrelsy.

He came to America in 1844, and on August 17, the following year, he played his first engagement in Buffalo, N. Y., as “leader” of E. P. Christy’s Minstrels; he remained with Christy for two years.

About 1851 he organized his own company, and took same to Europe, where he played Paris, Boulogne, Brussels and other Continental cities. During the 50’s he was associated in the management of Maguire’s Minstrels in California, and in 1858 was proprietor with Maguire of George Christy’s Minstrels in San Francisco.

Returning to New York in 1859, he soon separated from Christy, and on February 6, 1860, in co-partnership with Sher. Campbell and G. W. H. Griffin, organized Hooley and Campbell’s Minstrels; this company disbanded in July, 1861, and the following year Mr. Hooley opened his famous minstrel hall in Brooklyn, where he continued for several years.

During the above period Hooley had a company in Philadelphia at the old Seventh Street Theatre, from September 7 to October 17, 1868.

October 19, 1868, he opened another minstrel show in Brooklyn, at the Odeon, the present site of the Novelty Theatre.

The home of the original Hooley Company was destroyed by fire May 12, 1865, and that same month the energetic manager opened at 201 Bowery, New York, the present site of the People’s Theatre. January 2, 1871, Mr. Hooley opened Bryan Hall, the present Grand Opera House in Chicago, and remained several months.

The big fire of October, 1871, having destroyed his theatre, Mr. Hooley thereupon built what is now known as Power’s Theatre, Chicago, which he opened with his company in 1872, and flourished about three years, when he returned to his old love in Brooklyn, and began an engagement in 1875.

In the Spring of 1876 in conjunction with Billy Rice, he formed Rice and Hooley’s Minstrels for a road tour; December, 1876, they opened at Hooley’s old Opera House in Brooklyn for a limited engagement. Mr. Hooley again went to Chicago, and on March 1, 1880, opened with a minstrel company at the Novelty Theatre.

In September, 1882 he associated with Rice; and Billy Rice and Hooley’s Minstrels opened in Joliet, Ill., but disbanded after a few months.

Mr. Hooley married Miss Rosina Cramer of New York, in San Francisco, about 1856, after a brief but romantic courtship.

R. M. Hooley was born in Ballina, Ireland, April 13, 1822; he died in Chicago, Ill., September 8, 1893.

William A. Porter, one of the earliest members of E. P. Christy’s Minstrels, made his first theatrical appearance as a supernumerary in the old Chatham Theatre, New York, in the fall of 1841.

His debut as a black-face performer occurred in the Spring of 1844 with the Clark Brothers Panorama Show.

Mr. Porter made his first appearance with E. P. Christy’s Minstrels at the Eagle Street Theatre, Buffalo, N. Y., April 5, 1845.

[39]

February 15, 1847, he opened with the company at Mechanic’s Hall, New York, and remained there until 1853, after which, in the Fall of that year, he became a member of George Christy and Henry Wood’s Minstrels.

Mr. Porter subsequently went to California and identified himself with Backus’ Minstrels there.

Early in 1855 he rejoined E. P. Christy’s Company in San Francisco, acting as business manager.

In August, same year, he set sail for Australia with Backus’ Minstrels; he remained in that country until 1859, during which period he engaged in mining and mercantile pursuits, as well as following his profession.

Mr. Porter returned to New York about September, 1870, later making his home at Johnsonburg, N. Y., where he died January 18, 1906.

William A. Porter was born in Hartford, Conn., May 4, 1822.

J. W. Raynor (Rea) came to America at the age of ten years.

His first professional appearance was as a vocalist in New York City about 1845. In June, 1847, Mr. Raynor was one of the original members that comprised the first Campbell’s Minstrels.

Not long after this he joined E. P. Christy’s Minstrels in New York City, and continued with them until the dissolution of the company in that city, July, 1854. Mr. Raynor then organized a “Christy Minstrels” and for three years traveled successfully in the United States and Canada. July 11, 1857, in partnership with Earl Pierce, he sailed with a company for England, where they opened in London, August 3, following.

He met with immediate and lasting success, and exactly three years from the date he left America, Mr. Raynor announced his retirement, and returned to the United States, arriving August 15, 1860.

Less than four years later the old fever came back to Mr. Raynor, and he organized another “Christy’s” Minstrels, and continued at its head until about January 1, 1866, when he laid aside business cares of that nature for good and all, settling down in Paterson, N. J., where he became one of its most honored citizens.

J. W. Raynor was born in Ireland March 31, 1823; he died in North Paterson, N. J., April 5, 1900.

George Kunkel began his career as a black-face performer in 1844. In 1853 he organized a minstrel company that became famous as the Nightingale Serenaders; they traveled until 1855.

In the latter year Mr. Kunkel became manager of a theatre in Baltimore, and continued in such until 1861, when he again reorganized his minstrel company for a tour. In 1866 the company was formed for the third time for a brief engagement, after which Mr. Kunkel played Uncle Tom, and for many years, or until shortly before his death, he appeared in that role, in which he was eminently successful.

He married Ada Proctor, the actress, about 1861.

George Kunkel was born in Green Castle, Pa.; he died in Baltimore, Md., January 25, 1885; aged 62 years.

Joseph T. Trowbridge was prominent as a bass singer and interlocutor.

He joined Ordway’s Aeolians in Boston in 1852, and continued with[40] them until December, 1857, when Johnny Pell, Lon and Billy Morris and John T. Huntley, organized a company bearing their names, and opened in Boston. Mr. Trowbridge was with them. Mr. Huntley withdrew about March, 1859, and the company was thereafter known as that of Morris Bros., Pell and Trowbridge, and as such it continued until 1867. He later became identified in the management of two Boston theatres. About 1872 he retired from active business.

Jos. T. Trowbridge was born in Newtonville, Mass., September, 1823; he died in Chelsea, Mass., Jan. 11, 1891.

Hank Mason was familiarly known as “Hank, the Mason.” He was one of the foremost jig dancers in the early days of minstrelsy. He was born April 18, 1823; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., October 9, 1885.

W. W. Newcomb (Coomb) was one of the best known performers of minstrelsy.

As a boy he traveled with circuses. In the late 40’s he formed a partnership with Bije Thayer, of Boston, and successfully conducted a minstrel company about four years.

He made his first New York appearance in December, 1851; subsequently playing with Fellowe’s Minstrels, and later Wood’s Minstrels, in New York, with whom he remained until July, 1853. That same year he went with Campbell’s Minstrels, and continued four years with them.

In 1857 with Hy. Rumsey he organized Rumsey and Newcomb’s Minstrels, playing in the United States, Canada, Cuba, England and Germany. The organization broke up in London in the Spring of 1862.

Mr. Newcomb and Eph. Horn organized a company the following year; Mr. Horn soon dropped out, and Newcomb’s Minstrels continued until 1871.

April 17, that year, Newcomb and Arlington’s Minstrels opened in New York, on the present site of the Fifth Avenue Theatre.

Mr. Newcomb subsequently appeared with various companies, his last appearance being at Hooley’s Theatre in Brooklyn, N. Y., February 17, 1877.

“Bill” Newcomb was the originator of the “Essence of Old Virginny” dance; a great end man; and he was especially noted for his stump speeches.

W. W. Newcomb was born in Utica, N. Y., Aug. 4, 1823; he died in New York May 1, 1877.

John Diamond was one of, if not the greatest jig dancers that the world ever knew.

At a very early age he gave evidence of the wonderful talents he possessed, but it was not until the late P. T. Barnum took him in hand, and at Vauxhall Garden, New York, in the Spring of 1840, and brought him out, and subsequently took him all over the Union, and later to Europe, that he achieved the recognition he so richly deserved.

After the original four had given their first minstrel performance in February, 1843, Diamond was called upon to strengthen the quartette at a subsequent performance, a very short time later.

[41]

JOHN MULLIGAN MILT. G. BARLOW LEW. PARKER
JOHN PENDY BILLY ARLINGTON DAN. SHELBY
GEO. EDWARDS HUBERT W. EAGAN BILLY McALLISTER

PROMINENT PERFORMERS OF THE PAST AND PRESENT.

[42]

On July 8, 1844, he danced a contest with Master Juba, the colored dancer, and the greatest his race ever knew.

He was feted and courted for many years, but dissipation and riotous living carried him to an early grave.

John Diamond was born in New York City, in 1823; he died in Philadelphia, October 29, 1857.

J. A. Herman (Simonson) was one of the very earliest ballad singers in minstrelsy; he was the possessor of a sweet tenor voice which he used in rendering the old songs to excellent advantage.

Mr. Herman’s first appearance was in New York, at the Olympic Theatre, in 1839, singing “Norah McShane.”

His first minstrel engagement was with the “Campbell’s”; he was with this company in New York as early as October 17, 1848.

Subsequently he was associated with Wood and Fellowe’s; Henry Wood in 1852; Wood and Christy from 1853 to 1858; in the Fall of that year he joined Sniffen’s “Campbell’s” Minstrels, and when George Christy returned from California in the Summer of 1859, Mr. Herman went with him, and continued with Christy for a long period.

About 1863 he joined Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, and remained with them several years; barring the time Hooley was in Chicago.

Mr. Herman’s two brothers, George W. and William H., were both old-time minstrels. Mr. Herman retired from the profession a great many years before his death.

J. A. Herman was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., January 1, 1823; he died at Wood Haven, Long Island, N. Y., January 23, 1901.

Dan Rice (McLaren), the world-famous clown, in conjunction with Sam Sanford and others, in blackface, appeared in New York City at Palmo’s Opera House in the spring of 1843.

He was born in New York City, January 25, 1823; he died in Long Branch, N. J., February 22, 1900.

Joseph D. Murphy (Donnelly) began his minstrel career in the middle 40’s as a member of the Sable Harmonists: he was then a ballad singer.

On the 17th day of July, 1850, Mr. Murphy, Luke West, Matt. Peel and James Norris formed an organization known as the “Original Campbell Minstrels;” subsequently Mr. Norris retiring, the company flourished for several seasons as Murphy, West and Peel’s Minstrels.

About 1860 Mr. Murphy retired from minstrelsy and assumed various executive positions, notably as business manager at the Arch Street Theatre in Philadelphia, where he remained for fifteen years.

Mr. Murphy was a half brother of Jno. F. Donnelly.

Jos. D. Murphy was born in Philadelphia, January 11, 1823; he died there January 1, 1884.

C. L. Huntley, a member of Thayer’s Boston Sable Harmonists about 1850, was a fine guitar player, and very proficient in the manipulation of the bones.

He died in Boston, Mass., April 13, 1883; aged about 60 years.

[43]

Tom Vaughn was one of the earliest banjoists of minstrelsy. When sixteen years of age he made his professional debut with Holt and Nichols Circus; later he joined Turner and Rockwell’s, and Welch and Mann’s Circuses. After this he went to Buffalo, and met E. P. Christy, and when the latter formed the minstrel company that bore his name, Mr. Vaughn was one of the four original members. He continued with Mr. Christy until the dissolution of the company in July, 1854, and a few months later went with Christy’s Minstrels to California.

Mr. Vaughn returned to New York in 1855, and opened Vaughn’s Minstrels there that same year. Subsequently he was with Wood and Christy’s and George Christy’s Minstrels for several years, mostly in the Metropolis.

Tom Vaughn was born in New York, September 5, 1823; he died in Zanesville, Ohio, September 3, 1875.

J. T. Huntley was one of the early wench dancers of minstrelsy.

In December, 1857, he, with Lon and Billy Morris and Johnny Pell, seceded from Ordway’s Aeolians in Boston, and organized in that city a minstrel company bearing their names, which they conducted successfully for about two years, after which Mr. Huntley organized his own minstrel company and played an engagement at the Eleventh Street Opera House in Philadelphia in the Spring of 1859.

August 23, 1859, he married the widow of Matt. Peel, and at once assumed the management of Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Campbell’s Minstrels, and continued in that capacity for about four or five years, after which he retired to private life.

J. T. Huntley was born in New York, June 24, 1824; he died in Mamaroneck, N. Y., August 4, 1895.

Earl Horton Pierce was one of the greatest minstrel comedians of his day. April 8, 1850, he opened his own minstrel company in New York; it was subsequently Pierce and Fellowe’s Minstrels. Later, Mr. Pierce was with E. P. Christy’s Company in New York, and Ordway’s Aeolians in Boston. August 3, 1857, with J. W. Raynor, they opened in London, England, as “Christy’s Minstrels;” this was the first company to play under that title in England. Subsequently all minstrel companies were called “Christy’s.” Mr. Pierce made a tremendous hit singing a topical song called “Hoop de-Dooden-Do.” After his death his chair on the end remained vacant for three days, during which time it was draped.

Earl H. Pierce was born in New York in 1823; he died in London, England, June 5, 1859.

Tom Maguire never got the credit due him for placing minstrelsy in California on the high plane it once enjoyed. Mr. Maguire went to San Francisco in 1849, and a year later built the Jenny Lind Theatre there.

It was Maguire who brought George Christy and Company to California in 1858, and it was Maguire a dozen years or so later that paved the way for the success that later came to Billy Emerson, with whom Maguire was associated until the late 70’s.

And when Emerson made his first trip to Australia about 1873, Maguire’s[44] Minstrels flourished on in San Francisco. Yes, the great coast metropolis owes much to Tom Maguire. Mr. Maguire died in New York, January 20, 1896; aged 72 years.

Dr. John P. Ordway was one of the earliest prominent managers engaged in permanent minstrelsy in one particular city.

He was the founder of the Aeolians, a famous minstrel organization who gave their first performance in Harmony Hall, Boston, Mass., December 16, 1849, and played in that city until September, 1859.

December 12, same year, he appeared with Anderson’s Minstrels for a few nights only; this was his last professional appearance.

Dr. Ordway was a skilled musician, and the composer of many popular ballads. While with his company he usually played the piano in the first part and invariably in white-face.

After retiring from the stage, he practiced medicine for several years, and in 1868 was a member of the Massachusetts Legislature.

He was the founder of the Massachusetts Anglers (now Fish and Game) Association.

Dr. John P. Ordway was born in Salem, Mass., in 1824; he died in Boston, Mass., April 27, 1880.

William H. Smith, the well-known manager, went to California in 1850, and in 1856 opened the Varieties Theatre in San Francisco. In 1860 he organized the California Minstrels and took them to South America, Australia and Europe.

In 1865 he was associated in the management of Cotton and Murphy’s Minstrels, frequently acting as interlocutor.

In 1880 he went to St. Louis, Mo., and at various times was manager of the Comique, Peoples and Standard Theatres there.

On September 24, 1866, Mr. Smith married Clara Sages in San Francisco.

William H. Smith was born in Norwich, Conn., August 10, 1824; he died in St. Louis, Mo., December 1, 1901.

“Bije” (Amidon L.) Thayer was one of the pioneers of minstrelsy; his operations were confined to Boston and contiguous territory chiefly.

Thayer’s Minstrels and Thayer and Newcomb’s Minstrels existed from the middle 40’s to the early 50’s.

To Mr. Thayer belongs the credit of being the first to establish a permanent minstrel company in Boston, although the Buckleys had preceded him in giving entertainments there.

“Bije” Thayer died in Boston, Mass., February 20, 1864; aged 41 years.

Barney Williams (Bernard O’Flaherty), who was one of America’s greatest legitimate Irish comedians, in his very early days was equally prominent as a burnt-cork performer.

July 8, 1845, at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, N. J., he was advertised as “master of the tambourine.” September 6, same year, at Castle Garden, New York, he portrayed the great black-face part of “Dandy Jim, of Caroline.”

Barney Williams was born in Cork, Ireland, July 20, 1824; he died in New York City, April 25, 1876.

[45]

TOM. VAUGHN EDWIN P. CHRISTY GEO. CHRISTY

THE ORIGINAL CHRISTY MINSTRELS (Organized about 1844).

The company at its inception comprised Edwin P. Christy (the founder), Geo. Christy, Tom Vaughn and Lansing Durand. The other photos here represent minstrel scenes of that day.

[46]

Tom Briggs was one of the earliest and greatest banjo performers in minstrelsy; when he first went on the stage, in the early 40’s, he traveled under the name of Fluter.

He invented the banjo thimble in 1848, and it came into general use three years later.

He was the first to do the bell chimes, and gave imitations of a horse-race on the banjo.

He played successful engagements in the 40’s and 50’s with Wood’s Minstrels, likewise Buckley’s Serenaders. September 20, 1854, he left New York with E. P. Christy’s Minstrels to play an engagement in San Francisco; he contracted an illness on the way, and was unable to play.

Tom Briggs died in San Francisco October 23, 1854; aged 30 years.

Julia Gould was the first woman to achieve prominence in minstrelsy; she was with the famous Buckley Serenaders, and played several engagements with them in the 50’s; she was also with Maguire’s San Francisco Minstrels in San Francisco, July 11, 1864.

She essayed the principal female roles in the great operatic burlesque that made the Buckleys famous; always appearing in black-face.

Miss Gould’s first husband was A. T. Gregory Hall; she subsequently married John H. Collins, a prominent minstrel singer.

She was an actress and singer of rare and versatile talents.

Julia Gould was born in London, England, August 28, 1824; she died in Kinamundy, Ill., January 29, 1893.

Horace Weston, a colored man, was one of the world’s greatest banjoists; in addition he was a good general musician and dancer; a fact that is not generally known.

He served in the Army, and in July, 1863, was discharged, after which he joined Buckley’s Serenaders in Boston, and later traveled with them. About 1867 he became a member of the Georgia Minstrels, a famous colored organization.

In 1878 he went to Europe with an “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” Company; he played the principal Continental cities, and was a sensation.

Returning to America he joined Haverly’s Georgia Minstrels. The balance of his career was spent mostly in the variety theatres.

Horace Weston was born in Derby, Conn., in 1825; he died in New York, May 23, 1890.


The honor and distinction (and the pleasant sensation) of having received the highest salary ever paid to any black-face single performer belongs to Lew Dockstader.


Tim Woodruff appeared mostly in the West, where he was recognized as a truly great comedian.

His first appearance was made in Cincinnati, March 15, 1842; in an act called “Spirit Rappings,” later more generally known as the “Haunted House;” he achieved great success in this, and was forever identified with it.

He was at various times associated with Woodruff’s Minstrels; Woodruff,[47] Brown and Jones’ Minstrels, and Woodruff and Foster’s Minstrels; these companies were mostly in existence in the 50’s.

About 1860 he entered the variety business, and continued with it practically up to his death.

Tim Woodruff was born in Hamilton, Ohio; he died in Cincinnati, Ohio, November 12, 1872.

E. W. Mackney was England’s earliest representative of the negro character.

He appeared in sketches with J. A. Cave, fully ten years before the first minstrel company invaded England in 1843.

He was prompted by the pronounced success achieved by “Daddy” Rice, of Jim Crow fame.

Mr. Mackney died in England, March 26, 1909; aged 84 years.

William B. Fish was one of the “Sable Harmonists” of the 40’s. He died in Argenta, Ark., July 29, 1875.

John G. Brown was a celebrated tambourinist and comedian in the earliest days of minstrelsy.

He was with the Buckleys when they played New York, May 9, 1844; at that time they were known as the Congo Melodists. In the Fall of 1848 he was with Thayer’s Minstrels, one of the famous Boston companies.

He died in New Bedford, Mass., October 8, 1858.

Joseph H. Rainer was one of the earliest vocalists and interlocutors. He was with Wood’s Minstrels in New York in 1852, and with Horn and Newcomb’s Company in 1863. He first appeared professionally in the late 40’s. He had been a resident of Lockport, N. Y., for many years.

Mr. Rainer was born in Lancaster, England, May 11, 1825; he died in Philadelphia, Pa., March 11, 1906.

George Winship was one of the pioneers of minstrelsy. As early as 1849 he occupied the bone end with the New York Serenaders, a famous minstrel company of that day.

He was long associated with J. W. McAndrews, the famous “Watermelon Man.”

About 1873 he was stage manager and performer at the Opera House, Rondout, N. Y., he had not appeared professionally much since then.

Mr. Winship had long been a resident of Fruitvale, Cal., where he died October 19, 1900.

Harry Hapgood was, up to the time of his death, the oldest living minstrel agent.

In his youth he was known as “Handsome Harry.”

His professional career began as an actor in Philadelphia in 1843. He subsequently became a manager and agent for various companies, and in the latter capacity was with Rumsey and Newcomb’s Minstrels about four years. He then was associated with Mr. Rumsey in the Rumsey Minstrels in 1863.

[48]

Harry Hapgood was born in Elizabethtown, N. Y., February 26, 1825; he died at Amityville, Long Island, N. Y., July 10, 1910.

Master Juba (William H. Lane) was a colored man, and as a jig dancer it is said that the world never saw his equal.

He played the tambourine with the Georgia Champions Minstrels in 1843, and several engagements with Charley White’s Minstrels in New York.

He went to Europe about 1848, and in the Spring of the following year played an engagement with Pell’s Serenaders at the Surrey Theatre in London. He was lionized in Europe, and took the Britishers by storm. He married a white woman there.

“Master” Juba died in London, England, about 1852; he was born in the United States about 1825.

Gilbert W. Pell was a brother of Dick Pelham, one of the original minstrels of 1843.

As a member of the Ethiopian Serenaders, he went to England in 1846. The success of the company was so great in London that morning performances had to be given, and in addition they appeared at private residences of the rich. Mr. Pell, who played the bone end, and the company, whose portraits adorn another page, played an engagement at Palmo’s Opera House, New York, September 15, 1845.

In 1849 he was in England with his brother’s company, known as Pell’s Serenaders. Subsequently he returned to the United States, but early in 1859 he again went to Europe, where he remained until his death.

Gilbert W. Pell was born in New York City; he died in Lancashire, England, December 21, 1872, aged 47 years.

Jno. H. Carle, famous for the singing of “The Lively Old Flea,” accompanied by the banjo, was one of the early prominent proprietors of a minstrel show. In the 50’s he was associated with J. G. H. Shorey and Chas. Duprez; on July 4, 1856, he withdrew from the partnership, and for many years played minstrel and variety engagements.

About 1876 he went to fill a two weeks’ engagement at Flood’s New Park Theatre, Curtis Bay, Md. He remained there until the time of his death, nearly a quarter of a century, and he had the distinction at that time of being the oldest active banjoist and vocalist before the public, retaining his vivacity all the while.

John H. Carle was born at Portland, Me.; he died at Curtis Bay, Md., September 20, 1900; age 75 years.

“Punch” Collins (W. Pearson Collins), the well-known comedian of the early minstrel days, first appeared prominently with Sam Sanford’s Minstrels April 1, 1850, at the Astor Place Opera House, New York City, and was at the opening of the first theatre ever built expressly for minstrelsy, also by Sanford, August 1, 1853; subsequently he was with Earl Pierce’s Minstrels in New York in 1855; on August 3, 1857, he opened in London, England, with Raynor and Pierce’s “Christy” Minstrels. This was the first minstrel organization that ever played in England under the title of “Christy.”

After the death of Earl Pierce Mr. Collins occupied the end chair formerly occupied by Pierce.

[49]

EDWIN BOOTH JAS. A. HERNE P. S. GILMORE EDWIN FORREST
BARNEY WILLIAMS JOS. JEFFERSON WM. CASTLE TONY PASTOR
DAN. DALY P. T. BARNUM RICHARD GOLDEN HARRY KERNELL
DAN. RICE J. W. KELLY NEIL. BURGESS J. K. EMMETT

FAMOUS ARTISTS OF THE PAST—THEY ALL BLACKED UP.

[50]

Mr. Collins later withdrew from this company, and with “Tony” Nish organized another “Christy” company, opening in London, England, at Her Majesty’s Concert Hall Monday, March 18, 1861; subsequently he sold his interest in this company, returned to London, and organized another troupe; they played at Polygraphic Hall as early as April 14, 1862.

In September, 1863, he sailed for India, playing the principal cities. In July, 1866, he returned to America, later going to England, where he married; subsequently he returned to Pittsburgh, where he remained until his death. He had not appeared professionally for several years prior to that.

Mr. Collins did an “end”, a stump speech and a female impersonation equally artistic.

W. P. Collins died at Pittsburgh, Pa., November 1, 1881; age about 55 years.

L. V. H. Crosby has been credited as being the first interlocutor, then called “middle man” of minstrelsy; this was about 1845, when he organized the Boston Harmoneons. This company gave a special performance at the White House in Washington, D. C., June 18, 1846, for President Polk.

Mr. Crosby was composer of several songs, and a basso of unusual ability. His late years were devoted almost exclusively to concert work.

L. V. H. Crosby died at Reynolds, Ga., March 26, 1884; age about 60 years.


James Unsworth and Nelse Seymour were born and died within thirty days of each other.


E. J. Melville (Edward John Robbins), a well-known singer of the early days of minstrelsy, came to the United States in 1849; shortly afterwards he sang in the choir of a church in Cleveland, O., where he was known as the best tenor in that city. His principal engagements were with Hooley’s Minstrels, Hooley and Campbell’s Minstrels (being with them at their inception, May 6, 1860), Lloyd’s Minstrels, Carncross and Dixey, and Duprez and Benedict. He also played an engagement at the Canterbury Music Hall, New York City, in October, 1861.

Mr. Melville was married to Miss Amelia Nash, October 1, 1848, by whom he had three daughters, one of whom became the wife of Edwin French, the banjoist.

Mr. Melville’s private life was a most happy one; he was generous, cheerful and a true friend.

E. J. Melville was born in London, England, February 4, 1825; he died in Buffalo, N. Y., January 18, 1903.

“Jim” Johnson (Gallagher), an old-time banjoist, well known in his day and popular on the steamer “Banjo”, was born in New York about 1825; he died in New Orleans, La., November 22, 1875.

Dick Sliter was one of the world’s greatest jig dancers. His professional career commenced in the late 30’s, and he had been with many of the early famous organizations, notably Sanford’s Minstrels in 1859.

He also, with Johnny Booker, organized Booker and Sliter’s Minstrels, which was quite successful. Dick Sliter died in Jackson, Mich., May 21, 1861.

[51]

Jasper H. Ross was famed as a musical director and composer. His professional career began in 1847 with Spalding and Rogers’ Circus. Subsequently he played extended engagements with the minstrel companies of Carncross, Bryant’s, White’s, Rumsey and Newcomb’s and the San Franciscos.

He was born in Northampton, Mass., in 1826; he died in New York, September 8, 1889.

Jimmy Wells, once well-known as a manager, was a member of Ordway’s Aeolians in Boston for a lengthy period in the early 50’s.

He was born in New York in 1826; he died in Grand Rapids, Mich., March 16, 1893.

Sam Wells was prominent as a bass vocalist and interlocutor. He went to Europe in the middle 40’s with the Ethiopian Serenaders, and they created a sensation.

He was with several prominent minstrel companies located in New York up to 1855, when he sailed for California, where he was located with George Christy’s and other minstrel companies until December, 1863, when he went to New York, and after playing one week with Bryant’s Minstrels, returned to California.

Mr. Wells’ death was caused by being thrown from a horse in California, August 27, 1864; he was 38 years of age.

Charley Howard has been given credit of being the first to represent the aged darkey on the stage. At the age of ten years he traveled with Joe Sweeney’s company, giving concerts in the Southern States, appearing in barns and churches, and traveling by coaches.

Mr. Howard was with many prominent minstrel organizations, and when Haverly separated from Cal. Wagner in 1873, Howard was one of the first engaged for the Haverly Minstrels.

Charley Howard was born in Virginia, June 5, 1826; He died in Brooklyn, N. Y., April 28, 1895.

Stephen Collins Foster, whose simple and homely ballads contributed as much as any other cause to the placing of early minstrelsy on a permanent and successful basis, was the author, among others, of “Willie, We Have Missed You”, “Old Uncle Ned”, “My Old Kentucky Home”, “Old Dog Tray”, “Massa’s in de Cold, Cold Ground”, “Ellen Bayne” and “Old Black Joe.”

He was born in Allegheny, Pa., July 4, 1826; he died in New York City, January 13, 1864.

James Powers was one of the real early minstrels, and a member of the Boston Harmoneons, which were especially well known in Massachusetts. With his brother John, he was with the above organization several seasons, commencing in the early 40’s.

Mr. Powers was the author of “She Sleeps in the Grave” and “Faded Flowers”, favorite ballads of days now forgotten.

James Powers died in Boston, Mass., January 5, 1890; age 64 years.

Dan Leon, a real old-time black-face comedian and general performer, died in New York City, April 27, 1863; he was born March 1, 1826.

[52]

W. Jackson Rudolph, one of the pioneers of minstrelsy, made his first appearance in his native city early in 1846 in black-face as a banjoist; the following year he was one of the Sable Harmonists; in 1849 he was with the Virginia Minstrels, and up until 1855, when he joined Sanford’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, he was almost continuously associated with one or the other of the many minstrel bands that were then in evidence.

He later went on the legitimate stage, but subsequently, in 1864, joined Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

About 1870 he played his last minstrel engagement with Simmons and Slocum, also in the Quaker City. November 3, 1880, he made his last appearance on the stage of Wood’s Museum in Philadelphia.

W. Jackson Rudolph was born in Philadelphia, 1826; he died there September 5, 1881.

John A. Dingess. After the dissolution of the Duprez and Green’s Minstrels as an organization in 1865, Mr. Dingess formed a partnership with Jno. E. Green and organized Dingess and Green’s Minstrels, opening at Chattanooga, Tenn., November 18, 1866; their existence was short lived. He was subsequently, and for many years, engaged in an executive capacity in the circus business.

John A. Dingess was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1826; he died in New York City, April 14, 1901.

Luke West (William Sheppard) was the first performer to do a whistling solo in minstrelsy, which he did as early as 1845 at Otto Cottage, Hoboken, N. J.

In the Fall of 1848 he was one of the organizers of the Campbell’s Minstrels; November 29, 1849, he joined the E. P. Christy’s Minstrels in New York, resuming his own name of Sheppard. On August 15, 1850, in conjunction with Matt. Peel, Joseph D. Murphy and James Norris, “Campbell’s Minstrels” gave their first performance. Subsequently the organization was known as Murphy, West and Peel’s Minstrels, and as such continued until his death. In addition to his whistling ability, Mr. West was an accomplished comedian, dancer and banjoist.

Luke West was born in Philadelphia, 1826; he died in Boston, Mass., May 26, 1854.

Charles G. Long, who was for nearly forty years associated in the management of the Academy of Music, in Selma, Ala., with George T. Rees, the present incumbent, was one of the pioneers of minstrelsy.

About 1844 or 1845 he became a member of the Virginia Serenaders, a full page photograph of which is shown elsewhere. The company traveled by wagon through Pennsylvania and New York chiefly.

It has been stated that Mr. Long joined this company when he was ten years of age; this is clearly erroneous, as the little band was not organized until 1843, probably in the late Spring or early Summer.

Mr. Long played a banjo, one of his own making.

Charles G. Long was born in Carlisle, England, December 20, 1827; he died in Selma, Ala., January 28, 1908.

Fred Burgess was for many years co-proprietor with “Pony” Moore at St. James Hall, London, England, of Moore and Burgess’ Minstrels.

Mr. Burgess was a shrewd business man, and possessed intellect out of the ordinary. At one time he was a member of Kunkel’s Nightingales, an early minstrel company in the United States.

[53]

CLARENCE BURTON HY. RUMSEY
BILLY HUNTLEY EDWIN FRENCH
OSCAR WILLIS EDMOND G. CORBIN

BRIGHT LIGHTS OF THE BANJO.

[54]

In the fall of 1864, at Glasgow, Scotland, he was engaged as agent for Moore, Crocker, Hamilton and Ritter’s Minstrels; about a year later he secured St. James Hall, in the British metropolis, and a few years later, “Pony” Moore having bought out Hamilton and Ritter, and the death of Crocker paved the way for a partnership; the organization subsequently and for many years was known as Moore and Burgess’ Minstrels.

Mr. Burgess was twice married; his second wife was Miss Ellen Meyrick.

Fred Burgess was born in Providence, R. I.; he died at Finchley, England, July 26, 1893; age 66 years.

Charles Callender, proprietor and manager of the famous colored organization that bore his name, played many seasons on the road, commencing about 1872; several years later Haverly purchased his interests; the company subsequently became the property of Charles and Gustave Frohman.

Mr. Callender had retired from active theatricals some years before his death.

Charles Callender died at Chicago, Ill., February 24, 1897; age 70 years.

Frank Moran came to the United States at the age of four years; it was not until later that he did a stump speech.

His first appearance professionally was about 1848, as a comic singer in Philadelphia with Raymond and Waring’s Circus. He was with several small minstrel shows before going to California in 1850, and subsequently to Australia.

Some time after his return from the Antipodes, he joined Sanford’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, and later was with Carncross and Dixey at different periods, aggregating a number of years.

September 5, 1864, he opened Moran’s Minstrels on Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. Later he was with Bryant’s, and Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels in New York; Hooley’s in Brooklyn, and Moore and Burgess’ in London.

As Moran and Dixey’s Minstrels, the famous Eleventh Street Opera House in Philadelphia opened October 2, 1871; in September, the following year, the company was known as Moran’s Minstrels.

Subsequently Moran and Billy Manning’s Minstrels made a brief tour. Of later years Mr. Moran was associated with Ned Thomas in a minstrel company, and on July 17, 1890, he began an engagement with Wm. Henry Rice’s World’s Fair Minstrels.

Frank Moran was a natural born comedian, and at times was rather caustic in his wit; but underneath a seeming rough exterior was a heart that was never known to fail a fellow performer in distress.

As a stump orator he was different from all others, and he did this act almost up to the time of his death.

Mr. Moran was twice married; his first wife died a few years prior to his marriage to Miss Jessie Millar, February 1, 1898.

Frank Moran was born in Ireland, September 15, 1827; he died in Philadelphia, December 14, 1898.

“Nick” Bowers (Edward Bowers), one of the ablest and most efficient middle men and stage directors of minstrelsy, made his first appearance at Charley White’s in New York, in the early 50’s; subsequent engagements were with[55] Ordway’s Aeolians, Morris Bros., Pell and Trowbridge and Wood and Christy’s Minstrels.

In 1858, in conjunction with Billy Birch and Charley Fox, they presented Birch, Bowers and Fox’s Minstrels, and in 1864, with Tom Prendergast, launched a company that had a brief existence. For some time he played star engagements with John Mulligan.

His last appearance was in New York City, February 11, 1865.

Nick Bowers died in Brooklyn, N. Y., February 27, 1865; age 38 years.

Paul Berger was one of the greatest bass singers in minstrelsy, and at the requests of Presidents Tyler and Van Buren, he sang before those chief executives.

He was with Matt. Peel’s Minstrels in 1858; with Sanford’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, and later with Carncross and Dixey’s Co. in the same city. Mr. Berger was business manager for Fox’s Theatre in Philadelphia, in 1876.

Paul Berger died in Philadelphia, October 8, 1894; age 67 years.

John Mulligan was an altitudinous comedian, and in the old nigger acts with performers of immature stature, in the ludicrous make-up he invariably affected, he was screamingly funny. His first professional appearance was with Raymond and Waring’s Circus; his first minstrel engagement was with the Perham Company more than fifty years ago. Mr. Mulligan appeared for several seasons in the various variety houses controlled by George Lea.

In June, 1866, he commenced an engagement at Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, remaining fifteen months; subsequently he was with the San Franciscos in New York.

January 2, 1871, when Hooley invaded Chicago, Mr. Mulligan was with his company.

Mr. Mulligan was most happily married, and his domestic life was an ideal one.

John Mulligan was born in New York City, 1827, where he died July 28, 1873.

Charles Christie, who had various companies bearing his name, notably one in England about 1866, died in Kansas City, Mo., February 12, 1897; age 69 years.

Fred Wilson. The distinction of being the oldest living minstrel undoubtedly belongs to the subject of this sketch, who made his first appearance about 1843, and for four or five years allied himself with many of the various minstrel companies that sprang up after the success of the parent organization.

In 1848 he joined “Bije” Thayer’s Minstrels, a prominent Boston Company.

While Mr. Wilson was not the first to do clog dancing in this country, he was undoubtedly the first to do so in a minstrel company.

In the Fall of 1858 he joined Bryant’s Minstrels in New York, and about December 1, that year, made his first appearance in Boston with the Morris Bros., Pell and Trowbridge’s Minstrels, where he made a lengthy stay.

April 29, 1861, he opened with Lloyd’s Minstrels in New York, closing May 25, following. Later he went to China in a government capacity, but not liking the cooking in the Celestial Empire, returned to the United States, arriving January 25, 1864.

[56]

(Charley) Morris and Wilson’s Minstrels opened at their permanent home in St. Louis, April 10, 1865; the partnership was dissolved in February, 1867.

Fred Wilson’s Minstrels toured for two or three years, and then Mr. Wilson made another foreign trip; but returned in the Summer of 1871.

In 1872 he was with Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels, and in 1875 made another foreign invasion, remaining abroad five years, returning in 1880 and joining Haverly’s Minstrels. Subsequently Mr. Wilson, whose specialty for many years had been clog dancing, except in 1852 when he was a clown in a circus, took up executive duties with many minstrel and other organizations. He also promoted several attractions of his own.

Fred Wilson was born in Boston, Mass., November 9, 1827.

Sam Hague, the famous English minstrel manager, began his career as a clog dancer.

He visited the United States in 1850 with his brothers Thomas and William; later he was a partner of Dick Sands, also Tim Hayes.

He toured the United States for several seasons with Hague’s Concert Company, and in 1865, with Cal. Wagner, formed Wagner and Hague’s Minstrels.

He also organized Hague’s Georgia Minstrels, a company of negro performers, and gave the first performance at Macon, Ga.

Later they sailed for England, and opened at Liverpool, July 9, 1866, and scored a failure. Subsequently Mr. Hague engaged white performers for the principal parts, and retaining some of the colored men, gave a performance that achieved success.

He organized a permanent minstrel company in Liverpool, and opened there in St. James Hall, October 31, 1870, and remained eighteen years, after which they made brief tours, up to the time of Mr. Hague’s death.

He visited the United States with Hague’s British Operatic Minstrels, opening in Philadelphia, September 12, 1881.

Sam Hague was born in Sheffield, England, in 1828; he died in Liverpool, England, January 7, 1901.

George L. Hall has the distinction of being the oldest living minstrel balladist. His first appearance was at Georgetown, D. C., October 14, 1848, with the Beck Family.

Mr. Hall has long since retired from active theatricals, but during his long career as a vocalist he was associated with some of the most famous organizations in minstrelsy.

Among the most prominent ones that may be mentioned are: Sanderson’s, in Baltimore; Sanford’s, in Philadelphia; George Christy’s, and Bryant’s, in New York; Skiff and Gaylord’s, Johnny Booker’s, Sam Price’s and Boyce and Mudge’s.

Wm. D. Hall, the well-known minstrel and author, in Philadelphia, is a son of Mr. Hall.

Geo. L. Hall was born in Baltimore, Md., May 5, 1828.

Charley Fox was one of the most popular comedians and banjoists of his day.

His first appearance was in 1848. About 1854 he came to New York, and for many years was identified with the best permanent organizations. He was of the original company of Bryant’s Minstrels, New York, February 23, 1857.

[57]

BILLY WELCH JOHNNY RICE
(WELCH & RICE.)
EDDIE GIRARD WILLIE GIRARD
(GIRARD BROS.)
J. MELVILLE JANSEN GUS. BRUNO
(KNOWN AS JOHNSON & BRUNO.)

[58]

He was with Lloyd’s Minstrels in 1861, and several seasons with Wood’s Minstrels; all in the metropolis. His last appearance was December 22, 1864.

Charley Fox was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., November 15, 1828; he died in New York City December 26, 1864.

George H. Coes was a splendid “straight man”, possessed a fine voice, and was an excellent banjoist.

He went to California about 1852 from the east, and identified himself with several minstrel companies there. He remained a few years, and then returned to New York, where he opened with Wood and Christy’s Minstrels, October 15, 1857. In the Spring of the following year he again went to California, where he appeared with George Christy’s Minstrels. In 1859, with Sam Wells, he organized Coes and Wells’ Minstrels in California.

A few years later he again came East, subsequently joining the Morris Brothers’ Minstrels in Boston. He left them February 13, 1866, and on the following March 5, he was at the opening of Seaver’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., in the theatre that is now known as the Novelty. A year later, with S. S. Purdy and Frank Converse, Purdy, Coes and Converse’s Minstrels were organized.

Mr. Coes flayed stock engagements at Pastor’s, Bob Butler’s and John Hart’s theatres in New York City for many years. He formed a partnership with Luke Schoolcraft in 1874, which terminated in 1889.

George H. Coes was born in Providence, R. I., about 1828; he died in Cambridge, Mass., March 16, 1897.


Arthur Moreland, Bobby Newcomb and Luke Schoolcraft were born on three successive days, respectively, in 1847.


Jerry Bryant (O’Brien) was the oldest of the famous Bryant Brothers; he was an excellent comedian, and was especially good on the “bone end” of the minstrel first part.

He made his initial appearance as a ballad singer in 1842. Billy Whitlock, the “father of minstrelsy,” first brought him before the public.

In 1844 he became a member of the Ethiopian Serenaders, subsequently appearing with the Operatic Brothers and Sisters. In June, 1847, he formed one of the original Campbell’s Minstrels, organized in New York City.

The following year he played in London, England, with Major Dumbleton’s Ethiopian Serenaders. In 1849 he returned to America and made a tour of the country, and on April 8, 1850, he opened with Earl Pierce’s Minstrels at No. 442 Broadway, New York City; subsequently he went to Boston, where he met with much success with Ordway’s Aeolians.

When George Christy seceded from the E. P. Christy Minstrels, in New York, October 1854, Jerry Bryant took his (Christy’s) place, and remained with the company until it disbanded, on July 15, 1854; in September, the same year, he went with E. P. Christy’s Minstrels to California, and continued until the final dissolution of that company took place, a short time after their arrival. In San Francisco he next managed the San Francisco Minstrels, in conjunction with Eph. Horn and Sher. Campbell. In 1855 they went to Australia, subsequently returning to the United States, and on Monday, February 23, 1857, in[59] conjunction with his brothers, Dan and Neil, and about ten others, the first performance of Bryant’s Minstrels was given in New York City, at Mechanics’ Hall, No. 472 Broadway.

Mr. Bryant was married in the Spring of 1859; his widow subsequently became the wife of Thomas Donaldson, proprietor of the London Theatre, New York.

Of Jerry Bryant it may be truthfully said that he was one of the most capable and popular performers that ever blacked up.

His last appearance was with his own company, April 2, 1861.

Jerry Bryant was born in Chesterfield, N. Y., June 11, 1828; he died in New York City April 8, 1861.

Mickey Warren was one of the most famous of the early jig dancers. He appeared with Charley White’s Minstrels in New York City in 1849, and was for a long time with Bryant’s Minstrels in the same city.

He died in New York City May 14, 1875; age 47 years.

Hy. Rumsey was one of the greatest banjoists of his day. In the middle 50’s he joined Campbell’s Minstrels, and continued with them until 1857, when, with W. W. Newcomb, he organized a company bearing their names, which traveled in the United States and Europe until 1862.

Mr. Rumsey subsequently organized Rumsey’s Minstrels, and traveled with it for several seasons.

He was one of the earliest performers to give imitations of the bell chimes on the banjo, and unlike most of his contemporaries, Mr. Rumsey invariably played while in a standing position.

Hy. Rumsey was born July 12, 1828; he died in Newburgh, N. Y., September 9, 1871.

Thomas L. Moxley was known as “Master Floyd” in his earlier career, which began with Kunkel’s Nightingales in the 50’s; he remained with them several seasons, chiefly as a female impersonator. He was the last survivor of that famous company.

He was born in Baltimore, Md., and died there July 7, 1890; age 62 years.

James Carroll was a capable and efficient “middle man” and vocalist of Bryant’s Minstrels in New York City at the time of his death there, April 11, 1861; age 32 years.

G. W. H. Griffin was one of the prominent men of minstrelsy; he excelled as an interlocutor, had a fine voice, was an actor of merit and was intellectual to a degree.

His first appearance was in 1850 with the Boston Harmonists in Palmyra, N. Y. In 1853 he joined Wood’s Minstrels in New York, and continued with them when the organization, a few months later, was known as Wood and Christy’s Minstrels. With the latter company he remained until May, 1854, when he went to California with George Christy’s Minstrels. A year later he returned East, and on February 6, 1860, in conjunction with Sher. Campbell and R. M. Hooley, he organized Hooley and Campbell’s Minstrels. This company continued until July 13, 1861.

[60]

October 28, following, Mr. Griffin and Mr. Hooley organized the famous Hooley Minstrels, giving the first performance in New York on that date.

Mr. Griffin severed connection with this company in August, 1862.

Season of 1862-63 he was with Bryant’s Minstrels in New York, and the following one with Hooley in Brooklyn, N. Y., and continued with him until 1866.

Early in 1867 Mr. Griffin and George Christy’s Minstrels were established in New York, where their final appearance was made September 23, same year.

Later Mr. Griffin was identified with the following well-known minstrel organizations: Kelly and Leon’s; Hooley, in Chicago, and Unsworth’s.

His last minstrel appearance was in Brooklyn, N. Y., January 8, 1875, with a venture of his own.

Subsequently he appeared in the variety theatres. His last engagement was with Harrigan and Hart Company, in Boston, Mass., June 7, 1879.

G. W. H. Griffin was born in Gloucester, Mass., March 21, 1829; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., July 11, 1879.

Joseph Jefferson.—This famous American comedian, whose long association in the character of Rip Van Winkle endeared him to the hearts of thousands, at the age of four years, in Washington, D. C., was brought on the stage by the immortal “Daddy” Rice, and danced Jim Crow before an admiring audience.

Joseph Jefferson was born in Philadelphia, February 20, 1829; he died at Palm Beach, Fla., May 23, 1905.

Billy Coleman, a good general black-face performer and banjoist, a favorite of Charley White’s Melodeon in New York City in the 50’s, at one time associated with George W. Charles, the wench dancer, died in New York City June 4, 1867; age 38 years. He had retired from the profession about five years prior to this.

Sher. Campbell (Sherwood Coan) was conceded to be the greatest baritone singer that minstrelsy ever knew, although in his earlier days he had a fine alto voice. His first appearance was with Campbell’s Minstrels in 1849, in New York City, where he remained several years, subsequently joining Murphy, West and Peel’s Minstrels, with whom he continued a few seasons; later he was with E. P. Christy’s Minstrels in New York, and went to California with them in 1854, afterwards joining Backus’ Minstrels there, going to Australia with that company.

Returning to San Francisco in 1856, he remained there with different companies until 1858, when he joined George Christy’s Minstrels, returning to New York in May, 1859. The following year, with G. W. H. Griffin and R. M. Hooley, they organized Hooley and Campbell’s Minstrels.

August 5, 1861, he opened with Bryant’s Minstrels in New York; he remained two years; this was his last minstrel engagement. Later the Castle-Campbell Opera Company was organized, and Mr. Campbell’s success in that form of entertainment was in every respect equal to his minstrel triumphs.

Sher. Campbell was born in New Haven, Conn., May 16, 1829; he died in Chicago, November 26, 1874.

George W. Bailey, one of the early minstrel performers, who was with Sharpley’s and other first-class organizations, and who was a clever “straight” man and interlocutor, died at Milford, Mass., July 2, 1891; age 62 years.

[61]

The 11TH ST. OPERA HOUSE, PHILADELPHIA.
Now and for nearly sixty years a home of permanent minstrelsy.

MECHANICS HALL; 1857.
472 Broadway, New York City; for many years the home of Bryant’s Minstrels. Only a memory now.

TWO FAMOUS MINSTREL EDIFICES; PAST AND PRESENT.

[62]

P. S. Gilmore, who organized and led for many years the famous band bearing his name, was a member of Ordway’s Aeolians in Boston, 1851, where he sat on the end and played the tambourine. June 24, 1851, he began an engagement in Hartford, Con., with the above company.

P. S. Gilmore was born near Dublin, Ireland, December 25, 1829; he died at St. Louis, Mo., September 24, 1892.

“Dad” Sarrissey (William H. Blackledge), an old-time banjoist and comedian, played several engagements at Charley White’s in New York, also Bryant’s Minstrels in the same city. His last appearance was about 1869.

He was born in New York City in 1829; he died there December 15, 1889.

Ben Mallory was especially well known as a dancer. He was with E. P. Christy’s Minstrels in New York, and in the same city was one of the original members of Bryant’s Minstrels in 1857.

He was born in New York in 1829; he died in Savannah, Ga., November 2, 1859.

Ben Cotton. One of the truly great names in minstrelsy was Ben Cotton—not so great in 1845, when running away from home, yet early in his teens, he joined the Amburgh Circus, as in 1906 he made his final appearance at Tony Pastor’s, New York City, doing, not the aged darky act, by which character he was most familiarly known, but the dandy of the present; the beard he had been wont to wear for many years was shorn for this occasion. It was no longer “old Ben Cotton,” but “young Ben Cotton” that the audience received and applauded. Only the initiated could have known that the “darkey” before them was 76 years of age, and it is the writer’s proud boast that he was at Pastor’s to give Ben Cotton a “hand” on his entrance, and remaining until the evening performance, again led with the veteran’s reception; and Ben Cotton “made good.”

When Julian’s Serenaders opened the famous Eleventh Street Opera House (then known as Cartee’s Lyceum), in Philadelphia, December 4, 1854, he was a member of the company. His next prominent engagement was with Matt Peel’s Minstrels. Here he made a big success as “Old Bob Ridley”, a character portraying the aged negro, which he did with remarkable fidelity. Afterwards he was on the steamer “Banjo”, which plied the Mississippi River, giving entertainments on board, stopping at the various towns on its course. This engagement gave him an opportunity to study the negro at close range, which he was quick to take advantage of, and it served him in good stead during his entire career.

Returning to New York, Birch and Cotton’s Minstrels played a successful engagement at No. 444 Broadway; and in 1862 they went to San Francisco, this being Cotton’s first appearance there. He remained under Tom Maguire’s management for three years.

With Joe Murphy, Cotton and Murphy’s Minstrels were organized about March 1, 1865; the organization continued two years, when, Murphy retiring, it became Cotton’s Minstrels.

In 1870 he joined Manning’s Minstrels in Chicago, playing an extended engagement there. Later Arlington, Cotton and Kemble’s Minstrels were launched in the same city, and met with such success that a theatre was built especially for them. Accordingly, Myers Opera House, Chicago, was opened with this company September 23, 1872.

[63]

Early in 1875 he was with Billy Emerson’s Minstrels at Hooley’s Theatre, Chicago, and that same year, with Dave Reed, opened the Twenty-third Street Opera House, New York, which had lately been vacated, owing to the death of Dan Bryant. The company was known as Cotton and Reed’s Minstrels.

A short season of management at Wood’s Museum, Chicago, not proving successful, with his wife and daughter he produced and played for many years “Faithful Bob”; later this play was known as “True Devotion”.

In 1878 he returned to minstrelsy for a few months, forming an alliance with Cal Wagner, known as Cotton and Wagner’s Minstrels.

In 1886 Birch and Cotton’s Minstrels again took the road; following this, he played a few seasons in California with a repertoire company.

Engagements of late years were character parts in “The War of Wealth”, “The New South” and “As Ye Sow”.

Ben Cotton was thrice married.

Ben Cotton, Jr., who is dead, and Idalene Cotton, who is the wife of Nick Long, are his children.

Ben Cotton was born in Pawtucket, R. I., July 27, 1829; he died in New York City, February 14, 1908.

Anthony Nish was well known for many years as a minstrel “leader.”

His first theatrical appearance was in the 50’s, with Parham’s Minstrels. July 11, 1857, he sailed for England with Raynor and Pierce’s “Christy” Minstrels, opening in London, August 3, following.

He continued with this company for a lengthy period, later organizing a troupe of his own. He finally returned to London, and was with Moore and Burgess’ Minstrels for many years.

He was born in New Castle, England; he died in London, England, October 3, 1874; age 39 years.

J. B. Murphy was a well-known composer, vocalist and manager. He had been with Beler’s Campbell Minstrels in 1861, and with Lloyd and Bidaux’s, where he commenced an engagement January 21, 1867.

He died in Jersey City, N. J., July 13, 1871.

George W. Herman (Simonson), well and favorably known as a black-face comedian and banjoist, and a brother of J. A. Herman, died in Brooklyn, N. Y., about August, 1882.

Joseph Mortimer (Mocherman) began his professional career in the variety theatres as a black-face banjo player; later he was with Gardner and Forepaugh’s Circus.

His first managerial experience was with the Canterbury in Philadelphia in 1864.

Subsequently he assumed control of what is now known as the National and Casino Theatres in the same city, the former on February 6, 1871; the latter August 23, 1873.

He retired from the management of the Grand Central Theatre, June 24, 1876, and took the management of Matt Morgan’s Variety Company. This was his last theatrical enterprise.

Mr. Mortimer was twice married—first to Effie Walters, who was later[64] known as Florence Stover, and later to Ida Morris; both were professional ladies.

Wm. A. Mortimer, the well-known actor of Corse Payton’s Stock Company, is his son.

Joseph Mortimer was born in Harrisburg, Pa.; he died there January 6, 1880.

THE MORRIS BROTHERS.

The careers of Lon and Billy Morris were practically contemporaneous.

Their first professional appearance was made at Charlotte, N. Y., in 1845, at a very early age.

About 1852 they joined Ordway’s Aeolians in Boston, where they remained five years, and met with such success that, in conjunction with Johnny Pell and J. T. Huntley, they organized a company bearing their names, and opened at the Howard Athenaeum in Boston, December 25, 1857.

Early in 1859 Mr. Huntley withdrew from the organization, and Jos. Trowbridge was taken as a partner.

Subsequently, through the death of Pell and the retirement of Trowbridge, the company was known as the Morris Minstrels, and as such they opened in St. Louis, Mo., November 6, 1867.

About two years later the organization disbanded, and Lon and Billy Morris took up other pursuits.

Both were comedians of ability; Lon was the tambourinist and Billy the bones of the troupe.

Charley Morris, who was at various times agent, performer and manager, began his theatrical career simultaneously with his brothers in 1845, and was associated with them practically until July 27, 1861, when, in conjunction with W. H. Brockway and John E. Taylor, he organized a company, opening at Gloucester, Mass.

In 1863 Mr. Morris was associated in the management of the Morris Minstrels with Add Weaver; April 10, 1865, with Fred Wilson, he opened in St. Louis, Mo., a permanent minstrel company that was successfully run until the dissolution of the partnership, February, 1867.

Mr. Morris subsequently conducted his own minstrel companies until about 1878, and about a year or so later retired from active management.

Mr. Morris excelled as a banjoist.

Lon Morris was born in Fort Erie, N. Y., May 15, 1830; he died in New York, May 6, 1882.

Billy Morris was born in Rochester, N. Y., April 11, 1831; he died in Boston, Mass., October 11, 1878.

Charles A. Morris was born in Rochester, N. Y., March 27, 1834; he is now a guest of the Actors Home in Staten Island, N. Y.


Sam Sharpley, Nelse Seymour, James Unsworth, James Budworth and Dan Bryant—all died within a hundred days in 1875.


“Pop” Reece (Lewis M. Reece) was an old-time performer. As early as June 18, 1856, he was a member of Dave Reed’s Minstrels on the steamer “James Raymond.”

He died in Brooklyn, N. Y., December 18, 1890; age about 60 years.

[65]

HANK. GOODMAN MATT. PEEL W. W. NEWCOMB
JOHNNY BOOKER FAYETTE WELCH NELSE. SEYMOUR
JOHN A. MACK “PONY” MOORE NEIL. BRYANT

THE OLD GUARD.

[66]

Dave Braham, whose catchy melodies did so much to make Harrigan and Hart’s series of plays so successful, was long in the minstrel business, and as early as May 13, 1862, played at the Academy of Music, New York.

He was born in England, and died in New York City, April 11, 1905; age 65 years.

“Young Dan Emmett” (Harry Huntington), a comedian who was with several minstrel companies, died in Elmira, N. Y., July 15, 1861.

Denny Gallagher, one of the best known of black-face performers about fifty years ago, entered the profession about 1848, doing Irish songs and dances in white face.

In conjunction with Andy Leavitt and John Mulligan, they formed a trio which for genuine black-face comedy has never been excelled. They played three years at the Melodeon in New York.

Denny Gallagher was born in New York in 1830; he died in Philadelphia, November 23, 1868.

Mike Mitchell was one of minstrelsy’s greatest dancers.

He had his own minstrel company on the road in the 50’s, and had been associated with many first-class organizations.

He died in Victoria, B. C., January 13, 1862; age 32 years.

Charles Koppitz, a famous musician, who achieved prominence in other lines, was with George Christy’s Minstrels in California in 1858 in the capacity of musical director.

He was born in Holstein, Germany; he died in St. Johns, N. B., June 22, 1873; age 43 years.

Dave Carson was another performer and manager who was best known abroad. He sailed for Australia in 1853, and for many years played in every section of that country.

He returned to New York about 1869, and after appearing here for a while he again went abroad.

He was born in New York about 1830; he was living as late as 1875.

Dan Holt, a well-known black-face performer in the South many years ago, died in New Orleans, La., October 10, 1867.

Tom Prendergast was a prominent tenor vocalist.

He was one of the original members of Bryant’s Minstrels in New York, opening February 23, 1857. In 1864 he was with Hooley in Brooklyn, and had been associated in minstrel ventures with Cool. Burgess, Archie Hughes and D. C. La Rue.

He retired about a year previous to his death, which occurred in Utica, N. Y., March 6, 1869; age 39 years.

Albert Jones (Silcox) was a good comedian and general performer; in Boston and Chicago, he was especially well known, having been connected with prominent companies in those cities.

He died in Boston, Mass., November 25, 1866; age 36 years.

[67]

William N. Smith at the time of his death was considered one of the greatest bone players in minstrelsy.

He had played many engagements with various companies. He was the first to give imitations of the snare drums with the bones.

Owing to an accident, he was compelled to retire from the profession, which he did April 18, 1867. He died in New York, February 4, 1869.

Mike O’Brien, an old-time banjoist and ballad singer, who had been with Sanford’s and other minstrel companies, died at Algiers, La., April 28, 1869.

Edwin Holmes, a popular minstrel tenor, who was with Duprez and Green’s and later Duprez and Benedict’s Minstrels for about six years, commencing in 1862, died in Boston, Mass., July 11, 1879.

Ned Greenland was one of the best beloved characters in theatredom. Though many years dead, his praises are yet sung to-day. He was treasurer and business agent for Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., for several seasons.

He died in Brooklyn, N. Y., August 4, 1883.

Mike Kanane, a famous dancer in the good old minstrel days, died in San Francisco, Cal., December 7, 1886.

Stephen B. Ball was a famous vocalist of Ordway’s Aeolians in Boston as early as 1851; he retired about 1856, and became director of the choir of the Old School Street Church in that city. He was a fine singer and vocal teacher.

He died in Boston, Mass., September 27, 1881.

Harry Lehr. Of this famous minstrel’s talents and abilities there was no divergence of opinion; manager, critic and performers were unanimous in their verdict that he never had a superior as a comedian. One manager, John L. Carncross, went further and declared that he never had an equal.

His first professional appearance was with a small minstrel company in Camden, N. J., February 22, 1846.

At the age of 16 he organized a troupe of his own.

In 1852 he was with Kunkel’s Nightingales, and subsequently with Rumsey and Newcomb’s Minstrels, with whom he remained until the Spring of 1861. Subsequently he became a member of Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., and in 1864 joined Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia and remained there for seven seasons.

In 1871-72 he was with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels, also in Philadelphia. In 1872 he re-joined Carncross and Dixey, and continued with them until November, 1875, when he made his final stage appearance.

Mr. Lehr was thoroughly legitimate in each character he portrayed; he was the “darky” in life as well as color.

Harry Lehr was born in Philadelphia, October 7, 1830; he died there September 10, 1881.

Dave Reed. The career of this famous old-timer practically began with minstrelsy itself.

He it was, with Dan Bryant, who did so much to popularize “Shoo Fly”[68] more than forty years ago; and “Sally Come Up” will always be identified with his memory.

But as a bone player, Dave Reed is probably best remembered; his imitations of drums, horses running and the like were wonderful; the art practically died with him. Mr. Reed’s career began about 1844 with a small traveling company. He played in and around New York for several seasons and later went West.

June 18, 1856, Dave Reed’s Minstrels were the feature performance on board the steamer “James Raymond”, plying the Mississippi.

Mr. Reed was with Hooley’s Minstrels in New York in 1861; subsequently with the latter in Brooklyn. He joined Bryant’s Minstrels in New York in 1863; he was there when Dan Bryant died, April 10, 1875. In between, about 1868, he was with Kelly and Leon, also in New York.

About twenty-five years ago Dave Reed, his wife and four clever children made their appearance in vaudeville as the Reed Family; later they were known as the Reed Birds. He retired in 1903.

Dave Reed, Jr., the popular song composer, is his son.

Dave Reed was born in New York, November 18, 1830; he died there December 5, 1906.

Billy Birch was a name to conjure with for many years, especially in the Metropolis. He made his first appearance in New Hartford, N. Y., in 1844 with a minstrel show, as an amateur.

His initial professional appearance was with the Raymond Minstrels at Stamford, Conn., in 1846.

Subsequently he was identified with many prominent organizations until 1850, when he appeared first in New York with Fellowe’s Minstrels.

When Wood and Christy were running two houses on Broadway, 444 and 472, Birch and Geo. Christy would simultaneously appear at their respective theatres in the first part, and would then proceed to the other theatre and finish their performance for the evening; this was about 1855. In 1851, with Sam Wells and Dick Sliter, he opened in San Francisco with Birch, Wells and Sliter’s Minstrels, and remained six years; under the management of Tom Maguire.

August 20, 1857, Mr. Birch sailed for New York, and a few days later was wrecked off the coast of Charleston, S. C.; he finally made his way to New York, where he played a brief engagement with Bryant’s Minstrels, commencing September 28.

In February, 1858, Birch’s Minstrels opened in Chicago; subsequently he was one of the performers on the steamer “Banjo,” which plyed the Mississippi River. Afterwards Mr. Birch was associated in several minstrel ventures with J. B. Donniker, Joe Murphy, Sam Sharpley and Ben Cotton. With the latter he formed Birch and Cotton’s Minstrels in San Francisco in 1862; likewise nearly a quarter of a century later (July, 1886) did these old minstrels reunite, and the great California metropolis again saw Birch and Cotton’s Minstrels.

September 15, 1864, Birch, Dave Wambold and Charley Backus opened in San Francisco as the San Francisco Minstrels, and in January, 1865, Wm. H. Bernard joined the organization. In March following they sailed for New York, and on May 8th, 1865, gave their first performance at 585 Broadway; four days previous they appeared in Newark, N. J.

The company continued at 585 until April 27, 1872; on August 28, 1872, as Birch, Wambold and Backus’ Minstrels, they opened at St. James Hall, the present site of the 5th Avenue Theatre; season of 1873-74 the company traveled, and on September 3, 1874, they opened at their own new theatre on Broadway, until when recently demolished, known as the Princess Theatre.

[69]

ETHIOPIAN SERENADERS; 1847.

Their full names were, respectively, Gilbert W. Pell, Geo. A. Harrington (not Geo. Christy), Wm. White, Moody Stanwood, Francis Germon.

[70]

They continued until 1880, when the company was known as Birch and Backus’ Minstrels, and remained as such until late in 1882, when it became Birch, Hamilton, and Backus’ Minstrels; this alliance was short lived, and the season of 1882-83 finished as Birch and Backus’ Minstrels.

August 27, 1883, Birch’s San Francisco Minstrels opened; December 3, “Jack” Haverly became a partner, but on December 29, 1883, the last performance of the famous San Francisco Minstrels was given in New York.

In the fall of 1884 with Harry Kennedy he again launched Birch’s San Francisco Minstrels, but lasted only a few weeks; in November, 1886, he returned to his “old home” as a member of Lew Dockstader’s Minstrels, for a short sojourn. In 1889 with Frank Moran he organized Birch and Moran’s Minstrels, and on July 17, 1890, he began his last minstrel engagement with Wm. Henry Rice’s World’s Fair Minstrels.

Birch was a typical comedian of the old school of minstrelsy.

Billy Birch was born in Utica, N. Y., February 26, 1831; he died in New York City, April 20, 1897.

Charles Backus, of the famous San Francisco Minstrels “quartette,” and one of the principal comedians of the organization, achieved wide fame for his impersonations of prominent actors, in which he was an adept.

He went to California in 1852, and two years later organized Backus’ Minstrels there; in 1855 he took the company to Australia, and a few years later organized Horn and Backus’ Minstrels; in 1859 he again went to Australia, and appeared as a negro clown in Burton’s Circus.

He returned to San Francisco in 1861, and after playing several engagements there, on September 15, 1864, was one of the organizers of Birch, Wambold and Backus’ Minstrels; his career from that time until his death was linked with that of Billy Birch.

Mr. Backus was married to Leo Hudson, the famous equestrienne; he was divorced in March, 1866; subsequently he married Miss Kate Newton, the well-known actress.

On October 17, 1876, in Philadelphia, he married Miss Tizzie Mason.

Charles Backus was born in Rochester, N. Y., in 1831; he died in New York City, June 21, 1883.

Dave Wambold, universally conceded as minstrelsy’s greatest balladist, made his first appearance with a small minstrel company in 1849; his New York debut was made with Donaldson’s Minstrels four years later; he subsequently appeared with Charley White’s Minstrels in the same city for two years.

In August, 1857, he opened with Raynor and Pierce’s Minstrels in London, England, and remained in Europe with various organizations for several years.

In addition to being a remarkable singer, it is not generally known, but nevertheless a fact, that Mr. Wambold was the first performer to do a Dutch part in black-face; his dialect was one of the best.

September 15, 1864, he organized with Birch and Backus the San Francisco Minstrels, opening in New York in May, 1865; he continued with the organization[71] until May 1, 1880, when owing to ill health, he retired from minstrelsy, at Holyoke, Mass.

Mr. Wambold married Miss Isabella Young in Philadelphia, April 25, 1859.

Dave Wambold was born in Elizabethtown, N. J., April, 1836; he died in New York City, November 10, 1889.


Tom Lewis says that when making the parade in Lynchburg, Va., about ten or twelve years ago, a “rube” asked him (Lewis) what “society” it was. “Sons of Poor Parents,” replied Lewis.

Billy West, who happened to overhear the retort, also said something.


Wm. H. Bernard (White) was the greatest interlocutor, or middle-man, that minstrelsy has ever known.

He is credited with having organized the first minstrel company in San Francisco; this was in August, 1849; performances were in the Parker House, and patrons gladly paid $5.00 per ticket for the privilege of seeing the minstrels. “Those were the happy days.”

In the winter of 1849 he made a trip to the Sandwich Islands as one of the “New York Serenaders,” and in 1850 he went to Sydney, Australia, and gave the first minstrel performance that the big island ever saw; subsequently he went to India, and was the first to introduce minstrelsy there.

In January, 1865, he joined Birch, Wambold and Backus with their company in San Francisco, and until the Spring of 1872, when he retired permanently from the profession he so long and ably graced, he was associated in partnership with those gentlemen.

William H. Bernard was born in New York City, in 1830; he died there January 5, 1890.

Charles A. Morningstar, a well-known agent and manager of the 60’s, and proprietor of Morningstar’s Minstrels in 1863, was murdered near Mobile, Ala., December 27, 1871.

Frank Kent was one of the early female impersonators, or wench dancers, as these performers were originally known.

In December, 1842, at the Franklin Theatre in New York, Master Kent appeared in a variety entertainment.

For many years he appeared with the various minstrel companies, notably Howard Burlesque Opera Troupe; San Franciscos in New York; Duprez and Benedict, in Philadelphia; Duprez and Green’s; Arlington, Cotton and Kemble’s in Chicago, and Morris Brothers, Pell and Trowbridge, in Boston. In all probability his last appearance in minstrelsy was with Wm. Henry Rice’s Company, commencing July 17, 1890.

Frank Kent was born in Salem, Mass.; he died in Cooperstown, N. Y., August 15, 1906; age about 75 years.

Thomas P. Brower, a brother of Frank Brower, one of the organizers of the first minstrel show, and himself a performer of ability, died in Philadelphia, March 15, 1867; age 37 years.

[72]

Duke Morgan, an old-time violinist and musician of the real early days of minstrelsy, died in New York City in October, 1881.

Otto Burbank was one of the best jig dancers in the early minstrel days, likewise a good comedian. He was prominently identified with some of the best minstrel organizations, notably Collins’ “Christy” Minstrels, in London, England, in 1862.

He died at Peoria, Ill., February 13, 1882.

Harry Pell, an old-time black-face comedian, who was an excellent stump orator, played several minstrel engagements, notably with the Morris company in 1863.

He died in New York City, June 1, 1866.

John Cluskey, at one time rated as one of the best dancers of his day, died at Albany, N. Y., September 17, 1864.

Alexander Zanfretta, the famous pantomimist, played important minstrel engagements, notably with Simmons and Slocum’s, in Philadelphia, and with Haverly.

He died in Brooklyn, N. Y., May 14, 1899.

Charles H. Duprez was one of the great managers of early minstrelsy.

In 1852 he made his entre into the profession at New Orleans, La., with the company that was afterwards known as Carle, Duprez and Green’s Minstrels. In 1858 the organization was known as Duprez and Green’s, and it remained as such until 1865 at Green Bay, Wis., when Mr. Green retiring, Lew Benedict purchased his interest, and Duprez and Benedict’s Minstrels were organized; Mr. Benedict retired from the company in 1876; Mr. Duprez continued on with the same trade-mark until about 1885, when retiring from minstrelsy he went into the hotel business in Lowell, Mass.

Charles H. Duprez was born in Paris, France, March 13, 1830; he died in Providence, R. I., August 31, 1902.

J. A. Basquin, a well-known minstrel singer, who was also known at various times as J. J. Roberts and J. Waterman, was a prominent member of Buckley’s Serenaders in the 60’s and early 70’s, also with Unsworth and Eugene in England in 1868.

J. A. Basquin was born in France; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., January 27, 1872; age 42 years.

John Simpson, prominent for many years as business manager of Bryant’s Minstrels, in New York City, died November 15, 1881.

Wm. T. Bryant (O’Brien), a brother of Dan, Neil and Jerry, a mediocre performer, was with Bryant’s Minstrels in New York at the time of his death, September 23, 1865.

Joe Brown, one of the world’s greatest jig dancers, made his first appearance at Albany, N. Y., in 1844. His first New York engagement was in the fall of 1852; August 3, 1857, he opened with “Christy’s” Minstrels in London, England, remaining with, them until about 1860, when he joined Nish’s “Christy” Minstrels, opening in Cape Town, South Africa, August 20, 1862. Prior to the opening he and the company were shipwrecked, losing everything except his clothes; a handsome silver belt he won from Dick. Sliter in 1856 was amongst the things lost.

[73]

J. A. BASQUIN A. BAMFORD FRANK GIRARD BILLY BARRY “LITTLE MAC” BILLY RICE

“MERRY MINSTREL MEN.”

[74]

Returning to England in 1863, he organized Joe Brown’s “Christy” Minstrels, visiting Egypt and India; returning to London, opened at St. James Hall, June 11, 1866. In 1868 he paid a brief visit to the United States, then returned to England.

Joe Brown was born in Buffalo, N. Y., January 2, 1830; he died in Glasgow, Scotland, October 25, 1883.

C. D. Abbott was a prominent musician of the early days of minstrelsy, when those performers were artists in their respective lines, and each one was a soloist.

He died at La Salle, Ill., May 20, 1864.


Wm. Henry Rice made his first minstrel appearance September 19, 1859; “Daddy” Rice died exactly one year later.


Billy Blair, the old-time general minstrel performer who was with Christy’s Minstrels as early as May, 1856, also many other organizations, was a good “Bob Ridley” and end man. He died in Brooklyn, N. Y., January 19, 1888.

Johnny Booker (Sam. Roberts), was one of the early minstrel comedians and managers.

In the middle 50’s he toured with Booker and Evart’s Minstrels; subsequently Booker and Sliter’s and intermittently with Johnny Booker’s Minstrels. In the early days he made famous a song that had great vogue called “Meet Johnny Booker at the Bowling Green.” He was a member of Dave Reed’s Minstrels on board the Steamer “James Raymond,” June 18, 1856. Among the notable minstrel organizations he was with were Hooley’s, in Brooklyn, N. Y., 1862; Lloyd and Bidaux’s, 1867, and Arlington’s, in 1870.

Johnny Booker was born in Bowling Green, Ky., October, 1830; he died at Dayton, Ohio, October 25, 1898.

Henry Wood was one of the most famous of New York City minstrel managers. He entered the theatrical field at 444 Broadway, in 1851, with Jerome B. Fellowe, and conducted Wood and Fellowe’s Minstrels until February, 1852, when he had the show to himself.

Wood’s Minstrels continued there until October 31, 1853, when he formed an alliance with George Christy, and as Wood and Christy’s Minstrels they flourished until May, 1858.

“444” burned down December 2, 1854, the company then going shortly after to “472” Broadway.

Later, for a brief period, both houses were run simultaneously.

October 1, 1855, “444” reopened, and on October 31, 1857, they moved to their new Marble Palace, 561-63 Broadway; this house was closed September 3,[75] 1859. Nine days later Mr. Wood returned to “444,” where he remained practically until July 7, 1862, when he moved his company to 514 Broadway.

Wood’s Minstrels ceased as an institution about 1866.

Mr. Wood was a brother of Fernando Wood, once Mayor of New York.

Henry Wood is said to have died about twenty-eight years ago; he is also said to be living.

Pete Lane was a great jig and a good general dancer. He was with Sanford’s Minstrels in Philadelphia in 1856; he died there June 27, 1858.

Charles Noble, the well-known minstrel bass singer who was with Thatcher, Primrose and West’s, and other well known minstrel organizations, died in New York City, June 8, 1892; age 62 years.

Bob Smith, the old-time minstrel performer, was associated with many of the best performers of his day.

As a tambourine manipulator he achieved particular prominence, and ranked with the best.

He died at St. Johnland, Staten Island, N. Y., April 20, 1900; age about 70 years.

Billy Wright, an old-time comedian, had some prominence as a “knife thrower.” His chief claim to fame lies in the fact that he was instrumental in obtaining an opportunity for the embryonic talents of Francis Wilson to be given recognition, which he did about 1865.

He died in Philadelphia, March 10, 1879.

Matt. Peel (Flannery). There are few who are alive to-day who remember the performances of this sterling young versatile performer, whose first professional appearance was made in New York in 1840. A few years later he joined Campbell’s Minstrels, the only organization at that time bearing that name.

He continued with this company several years, and on July 17, 1850, in company with James Norris, Jos. D. Murphy, and Luke West, organized another company; with the exception of the first named, all were performers. Subsequently and for a few years the organization was known as Murphy, West and Peel’s Minstrels, and later Matt. Peel’s Minstrels, by which it was known until the death of Mr. Peel.

Mr. Peel was one of the first minstrel performers to sing an Irish song on the end.

Matt. Peel was born in New York, January 15, 1830; he died in Buffalo, N. Y., May 4, 1859.

Charley O’Neill, a well-known comedian who was with Unsworth’s Minstrels in 1861, and subsequently with Hooley in Brooklyn, N. Y., committed suicide by drowning, in St. Louis, Mo., July 21, 1863.

John Hooley, a brother of the famous manager, R. M. Hooley, ran a minstrel company in Brooklyn, N. Y., in 1873.

He died there April 12, 1891.

[76]

Mert. Sexton was prominent as a comedian and dancer; his chief fame rested in his ability to dance the “Essence of Old Virginia.” He played with many famous organizations, notably Matt. Peel’s in 1858; Fox and Worden’s in 1859, and Collins’ “Christy” Minstrels in 1862; the two latter companies were in England.

Mert. Sexton is said to have died in Long Island City, N. Y., in May, 1866.

Seth Howard, one of the old-time interlocutors and straight men, who was one of the original Bryant’s Minstrels at Mechanics Hall in New York City in 1857, died at Hornellsville, N. Y., February 11, 1860.

George Langdon, an aged darky impersonator and singer, and who sang duets with John L. Carncross in Philadelphia before Carncross joined Sanford’s Minstrels in that city, died at Pawtucket, Mass., May 12, 1859.

Harry Evarts, who was associated with Johnny Booker with Booker and Evarts’ Minstrels in the 50’s, and was considered a good general performer, was in later years prominently identified with several companies in an executive capacity.

He was killed in a wreck near Hamilton, Canada, April 28, 1889.

Dick (Richard) Silver, was an early member of the famous Morris Bros., Pell and Trowbridge’s Minstrels in the 60’s.

At the time of his death he had been in the theatrical profession about seventy years.

Mr. Silver was born in Groton, Vt., he died in Traverse City, Mich., October 10, 1909.

Lew Rattler, long associated in the early days of minstrelsy in California, and a member of an organization of the same name in 1859, was a comedian of merit.

He died in San Francisco, Cal., March 27, 1905.

Theodore Gustave Bidaux who ranked with the great baritone singers of minstrelsy, came to America in 1858, and appeared with much success with the following well-known burnt cork organizations—Sanford’s, in Philadelphia; Lloyd and Bidaux’; Duprez and Green’s; George Christy’s; Manning’s; Haverly’s, and Wm. Henry Rice’s in Cincinnati.

Mr. Bidaux married a Mrs. Ayleen in 1867.

Theodore Gustave Bidaux was born near Paris, France, March 12, 1830; he died at Hatboro, Pa., March 5, 1886.

Sam Sharpley (Sharpe) was one of the most famous minstrel comedians and banjoists of his day. He first appeared professionally at the age of 16.

In 1858 he went to Sanford’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, where he became a great favorite. In 1860 he associated himself with John L. Carncross in Carncross and Sharpley’s Minstrels; that same year he also was partner with Birch and Sharpley’s Minstrels.

In the Fall of 1862 he launched his famous “Iron Clads” Minstrels. From 1865 to 1867 he was associated with Tony Pastor in the management of what is now known as the People’s Theatre in New York. In 1872 he formed an alliance with Swaine Buckley, and subsequently with Sheridan and Mack in minstrel organization bearing their names. He was a natural wit and a great entertainer.

[77]

FRANK CUSHMAN HARRY C. SHUNK
NAT. HAINES CHAS. J. STINE

A QUARTETTE OF CORKERS.

[78]

Sam Sharpley was born in Philadelphia, June 13, 1831; he died in Providence, R. I., January 1, 1875.


Harry Leighton, long and favorably known as a vocalist, did an end with Vogel’s Minstrels, April 16, 1908.


Archie Hughes (Arthur Hughes), was one of the biggest favorites of Hooley’s great minstrel company in Brooklyn, N. Y., many years ago.

There is a difference of opinion as to when and where he made his first appearance, but it is certain he was with Sam Sanford’s Minstrels, traveling in 1859; and equally certain that one evening during a performance with that company, a man in the audience became so enthused with Hughes’ dancing, that he took his watch from his pocket and gave it to him (Hughes); he finished the season at Sanford’s Theatre in Philadelphia in the Spring of 1860. About June following he joined Mrs. Matt Peel’s Minstrels; subsequently returning to Sanford’s in Philadelphia.

September 29, 1862, he opened with Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, at the initial performance of the organization.

In November, 1864, he began an engagement with Wood’s Minstrels in New York, and the following year was one of the proprietors of (Cool.) Burgess, (Tom) Prendergast, Hughes and (D. C.) La Rue’s Minstrels.

May 28, 1866, he returned to Hooley’s, and at the ending of the season of 1868-69, he went to England with Smith and Taylor’s Minstrels.

September 12, 1870, with Fayette Welch, and Cool. White, he opened Welch, Hughes and White’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, on the site now occupied by a large carpet store; the organization continued there for several months. In 1873 Mr. Hughes was with Sharpley, Sheridan and Mack’s Company, and two years later he rejoined Hooley in Brooklyn.

In December, 1880, he was a member of Kyle’s “Christy” Minstrels in Boston, and in September, 1881, he began his last engagement with Leavitt’s Gigantean Minstrels.

Mr. Hughes was a splendid comedian and a fine dancer; he specialized singing Irish songs on the end.

Archie Hughes was born in Albany, N. Y., about 1830; he died in Buffalo, N. Y., October 18, 1881.

P. B. Isaacs was one of the early minstrel leaders, and a fine musician. He was one of the original members of Bryant’s Minstrels in New York at their opening, February 23, 1857.

He was born in London, England, 1831; he died in San Francisco, September 6, 1865.

William Blakeney. The distinction of being the oldest minstrel leader in all probability belongs to William Blakeney, who made his first appearance with the Western Minstrels, an amateur organization in Pittsburg, Pa., in 1847.

He was five years with the Yankee Robinson Circus.

[79]

Late in 1860 he joined William Christy’s Minstrels, and in the Spring of 1861, went to Europe with Rumsey and Newcomb’s Minstrels.

Subsequently he was with Morris and Wilson’s Minstrels in St. Louis, and continued with them four years. In Philadelphia he was with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels two years. February 2, 1878, he sailed with Kelly and Leon and their minstrel company for Australia; he continued with them until their dissolution, after which he was associated with the Victoria Loftus Troupe.

Mr. Blakeney’s most important engagement was with the San Francisco Minstrels in New York, with whom he remained five years.

William Blakeney was born in Elfin, Ireland, October 30, 1831.

Billy Lawrence, an old-timer who had his own minstrel show in Chicago as early as 1858, and for many years after appeared with other companies, died in Chicago, Ill., August 21, 1900; age 69 years.

J. W. McAndrews (Walter James McAndrews), famous for many years as the “Watermelon Man,” the latter appellation being the title of the sketch he performed for about three decades with astonishing success.

His first professional appearance was made in his native city at the Richmond Theatre, at the age of 13, in black-face and singing that early favorite, “Jim Along Josie.”

Subsequently and for many years he did “nigger” acts in circuses and small minstrel companies.

About 1857 he joined Buckley’s Serenaders, remained with them for a considerable period, and went to England with them in 1860. Mr. McAndrews played sundry engagements until he joined Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels. About 1866, while with that company in Cincinnati, “Pastimes on the Levee” was first put on; it was not until three or four years later that the skit got the title that made it so popular; Dan Bryant did the christening, and McAndrews played three years with Bryant’s Minstrels in New York.

He went to England with Haverly’s Mastodons, and opened at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London, July 31, 1880; subsequently, July 17, 1882, he played at the Pavillion in the English Metropolis, opening with great success.

The succeeding years of his career were spent with the many prominent minstrel and variety organizations, as well as playing innumerable engagements in the variety theatres.

J. W. McAndrews was born in Richmond, Va., November, 1831; he died at Elgin, Ill., December 29, 1899.

James Budworth, in addition to being a great minstrel, was a good actor. His debut was made at the Park Theatre, in New York City, in 1848, as vocalist and mimic.

May 26, 1860, James Budworth, Frank Budworth (his son, who afterwards developed into one of the best Chinese impersonators) and his brother, W. S. Budworth, appeared with Wood’s Minstrels, at the same time.

One year prior to this, he was the principal comedian with George Christy’s Minstrels in New York, Christy had been enjoined from appearing.

In 1862 he was with Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Minstrels; September, 1864, found him with Hooley’s, in Brooklyn, N. Y.

Monday, August 27, 1866, with his brother William, he opened the 5th[80] Avenue Theatre (until recently, when it was demolished, known as the Madison Square Theatre), New York City; they remained several months.

Mr. Budworth was with Sam Sharpley’s Minstrels in the Summer of 1869, and in September, 1872, he became a member of Frank Moran’s Minstrels in Philadelphia; he was likewise with several of the other prominent companies of his time. He also played the title role in “Pomp” and star roles in other plays.

Mr. Budworth was best known for his imitations of actors, in which he had no peer.

As a banjoist he gained renown, and played with equal proficiency the Japanese and Chinese fiddle.

As a Dutch comedian he was great; his John Schmidt in “The Persecuted Dutchman” at the Park Theatre, Brooklyn, N. Y., in 1865, received lavish praise from press and public.

James Budworth was born in Philadelphia, December 24, 1831; he died in New York City, March 15, 1875.

Dick Berthelon, an old-time black-face performer, appeared mostly in variety houses for many years; he was good in the old-time “nigger” acts, and was proficient as a manipulator of the bones and tambourine.

He died in Brooklyn, N. Y., September 25, 1891; age 60 years.

Billy Boyd was a capable minstrel performer of the old school; he was with Hunt and Company’s Minstrels in 1855, and was very well-known in Philadelphia, where he was born in 1831; he died in New York, April 21, 1869.

R. M. Carroll, or “Dick” as he is better known, or “Master Marks” as he was originally known to the profession, probably has the greatest number of years of theatrical service of any one in minstrelsy.

Mr. Carroll is best remembered as a dancer, and he was one of the world’s greatest; but in his early career he was a splendid wench performer; he was the third one to do “Lucy Long”; a great feature of old-time minstrelsy.

Mr. Carroll’s first public appearance was at Tinkham Hall on Grand Street, New York City; the occasion was the benefit of an elderly Irish lady, long since departed—this was in 1837. For many years he danced at balls and parties. About 1845 he first appeared professionally at the Bowery Amphitheatre, New York City, in a circus, and shortly after this at the Bowery Theatre he blacked up for the first time with “Daddy” Rice, playing in “Bone Squash.”

The year following he played his initial minstrel engagement with Charley White’s Company, also in New York; he remained with White several seasons.

In 1854 he was with Buckley’s Serenaders in New York; in 1858 with Sniffen’s Campbell’s Minstrels, likewise in the metropolis.

February 14, 1859, he made his first appearance as a member of Morris Bros., Pell and Trowbridge’s Minstrels in Boston, where he became a great favorite, remaining about three years.

In his long career Mr. Carroll played with many prominent minstrel organizations, notably Kelly and Leon’s; at Hooley’s, at the latter’s theatre in Brooklyn, N. Y., with little Dick, his son, he began an engagement there March 14, 1870.

Subsequently with Dick, Jr., and Dick’s brothers, Edwin and Bennie, they played for several years in the principal variety theatres of the country.

[81]

   
JOHN QUEEN MRS. ARTHUR L. GUY
In Select Company
JAS. CUMMINGS
JOHN PEASLEY JAS.—SANFORD AND WILSON—CHAS.
(Portraits Reversed.)
WM. HENRY RICE

[82]

In September, 1878, he opened Carroll’s Comique, in Brooklyn, N. Y., and several weeks later, with his sons, began an engagement with Cotton and Wagner’s Minstrels. It may be interesting to know that Mr. Carroll, and the late J. K. (Fritz) Emmett, had a minstrel show once; Carroll and Emmett’s Minstrels opened at De Bar’s Opera House, St. Louis, Mo., June 1, 1868.

R. M. Carroll and John Queen (afterwards Queen and West), were the first to do a double clog dance, about 1862. Mr. Carroll likewise originated the famous song “Me Father Sold Charcoal.”

His sons, Bennie and Edwin, died in New York City, September 18, 1877, and at Denver, Colo., March 5, 1905, respectively.

Mr. Carroll played the variety houses for several years with his well known dancing specialty “Mortar and Bricks.”

R. M. Carroll was born in New York City April 10, 1832.

W. L. Hobbs, the well known minstrel “leader” was associated with Frank Moran’s Minstrels in Philadelphia in 1872; he was also with Carncross and Dixey’s Company in the same city, and for several seasons was connected with Bryant’s Minstrels in New York.

W. L. Hobbs died in Philadelphia, July 12, 1874; age 45 years.

Bob Hall, who had been connected with many minstrel companies during his long career, and who had also been with Harrigan and Hart, died in Baltimore, Md., June 29, 1882; age 50 years.

Andrew Wyatt, an old-time minstrel leader, who was with Sanford’s Minstrels in Philadelphia as early as 1856, and for eight years prior to his death with Whitmore and Clark’s Minstrels, died in Salem, Mass., August 5, 1874; age 41 years.

A. M. Hernandez was famous as a pantomimist and acrobat; but it was as a guitarist and vocalist he was best known; he was capable of playing practically every known instrument.

In 1852 he was with Hayworth and Horton’s variety show doing a knife throwing act. The following year he was with Parrow’s Minstrels and subsequently with Matt. Peel’s and Sniffen’s Campbell’s Minstrels.

Mr. Hernandez was born in Havana, Cuba; he died in Montevideo, Uruguay, S. A., October 25, 1874.

J. B. Studley, the famous old legitimate actor, played, “Pomp, or Cudijos Cave” in New York, April 11, 1864, and in the same city played Uncle Tom, in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, October 20, 1879.

Mr. Studley was born in Boston, Mass., October 8, 1832; he died in New York, August 6, 1910.

John S. Cox, the old-time minstrel leader of Simmons and Slocum’s in Philadelphia, and other well known companies, died in August, 1902; age 70 years.

John P. Smith, familiarly known as “Cully” Smith, began his professional career as a member of old Joe Sweeney’s Company in 1845; he was then Master Smith.

[83]

In 1850 he was with the “Old Dominion” Minstrels, playing the bones, under the name of “John P. Weston”; subsequently he was with Parrow’s Minstrels, and Smith and Hernandez Minstrels. Later he was identified with the Buckley’s, and George Christy’s Minstrels in an executive capacity, and of recent years was associated in a like manner with several prominent legitimate attractions.

John P. Smith was born in Richmond, Va., August 3, 1832; he died in New York City, November 12, 1897.


Swayne Buckley, Rolin Howard, Edwin Holmes, Billy Hart and G. W. H. Griffin, all died within thirty days in 1879.


Mrs. J. T. Huntley was the grand-daughter of the late Colonel Jacob Deems, a prominent figure of old Baltimore.

She became the wife of the famous Matt. Peel just one year before the latter’s death; subsequently she married J. T. Huntley, another old-time minstrel.

After Matt. Peel’s demise, Mrs. Peel, a few months later re-organized the company, and as Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Minstrels, she conducted its affairs successfully for several seasons.

As Mrs. Peel she also had the additional distinction of being the first woman that ever sold tickets for a minstrel show; this was more than fifty years ago, when the companies played in halls, and carried their own treasurers.

Mrs. Huntley is living, active, and is happy in the thought that she is earning her own livelihood.

Mrs. J. T. Huntley was born in Baltimore, Md., August 4, 1832.

Bob Hart (James M. Sutherland) famous as a stump speaker, made his professional debut at “444” Broadway, New York, in 1859; prior to this he had been a Methodist minister.

In 1863 with Lew Simmons he was proprietor of Hart and Simmons’ Minstrels; he was also prominently identified with the San Francisco Minstrels in New York; Bryant’s, in the same city; Emerson and Manning’s in Chicago, and subsequently, in 1871, with Manning’s Minstrels, also in Chicago.

His last appearance in minstrelsy was with Dan Bryant’s company in 1875. In 1878 he again took up evangelical work and continued at it until his death.

Bob Hart was born in New York State, February 9, 1832; he died (suicide) in New York City, April 6, 1888.

John Sivori (Wheeler) who was one of the original Bryant’s Minstrels of February 23, 1857, in New York City, and was for several years associated with them; gave up the profession many years ago, and is said to have become a doctor or dentist.

He was reported dead about ten years back.

John B. Donniker was one of the oldest as well as the best “leaders” in minstrelsy.

He was associated with many of the famous organizations, including some of his own. In 1854 he was “leader” with Ordway’s Aeolians in Boston; subsequently[84] he went to California, and while there was one of the proprietors of Birch (Billy) and Donniker’s Minstrels, 1859.

In 1861 he was with “Eugene” and Unsworth, proprietor of Unsworth’s Minstrels. In 1862 he had a half interest in Arlington (Billy) and Donniker’s Minstrels; and in 1865 he was associated with Burgess (“Cool”), Prendergast (Tom), Hughes (Archie) and Donniker’s Minstrels.

He was with Morris Bros., Pell and Trowbridge, in Boston, and with Bryant’s, and Wood and Christy’s in New York; likewise for several seasons was he intermittently with the famous San Francisco Minstrels, also in New York.

In the late 70’s he was engaged as leader at the London Theatre, New York City, remaining a few seasons.

Of late years, having lost the use of his arm, he took pupils, giving lessons on the violin.

John B. Donniker died at Penn Yan, N. Y., July 17, 1902; age 69 years.

Tony Pastor (Antonio Pastorius), during his long career as manager in New York City, occupied three different theatres, each of which had previously been used by a permanent minstrel company.

Mr. Pastor’s early days, about 1846-47, were spent as a minstrel.

Tony Pastor was born in New York, May 28, 1832; he died at Elmhurst, L. I., N. Y., August 26, 1908.

“Hank” (Azro) White, a famous old-time minstrel, had been in the profession about forty years; twenty-five of which were spent with Whitmore and Clark’s Minstrels.

He died in Windsor, Vt., February 14, 1900; age 68 years.

Walter Birch (Smith), was a well-known tenor vocalist with Christy’s Minstrels in 1862 and 1865; in 1863 he was with Horn and Newcomb’s Minstrels. He was likewise associated with several operatic companies.

He died in Jersey City, N. J., January 29, 1880; age 47 years.

Johnny Pell (Gavin), a prominent young comedian, spent the best part of his professional career in Boston. His first appearance was with Charley White’s company in New York in the early 50’s.

In 1854 he went to Boston, and became a member of Ordway’s Aeolians, remaining until 1857, when in conjunction with Lon and Billy Morris and J. T. Huntley, they organized a company bearing their names; about two years later it was known as Morris Bros., Pell and Trowbridge’s Minstrels, and as such continued until the demise of Mr. Pell.

Two days prior to his death, he married Miss Moore, of Boston.

Johnny Pell died in Boston, Mass., January 24, 1866; age 33 years. He was born in New York.

Geo. M. Clark entered the field of minstrelsy about 1860; subsequently with his partner he organized Whitmore and Clark’s Minstrels, and traveled successfully for many years.

He was born in 1833, and died in Felchville, Vt., June 6, 1885.

[85]

BYRON CHRISTY HUGHEY DOUGHERTY JAMES UNSWORTH
HARRY PELL FRANK MORAN BOB. HART
BILLY RICHARDSON FRANK BELL LEW BENEDICT

ORATORS OF THE OLD DAYS.

[86]

Charles Petrie was one of the old time banjoists, and one of the first to open a variety theatre in Chicago.

He was associated with the minstrel companies of Arlington, Kelly, Leon and Donniker, Lew Benedict’s and others.

He was born in Lockport, N. Y., in 1833; he died in Dallas, Texas, November 12, 1881.

J. E. Green was known as “Mocking Bird Green,” from the fact that he was so long identified with singing of the song of that name, and whistling imitations of same. He entered the profession about 1856, as a member of the minstrel firm of Shorey, Carle, Duprez and Green; subsequently it became Duprez and Green’s Minstrels, and continued until 1865 under that trade-mark, when he sold his interest to Lew Benedict. He subsequently had several companies of his own and was associated in another with “Hop Light Loo” Charley Gardner.

At the time of his death he was musical director with Archie White’s “Duprez and Benedict’s” Minstrels.

J. E. Green was born in Portsmouth, N. H., April 9, 1833; he died in New York, November 30, 1886.

Billy Wray, the father of Mrs. John Wild, was one of the most versatile of performers; as an end man and stump speaker he excelled; he was likewise a clever magician.

With his wife (Louise Payne) and daughter, Ada, already referred to, he traveled in 1862, giving an entire performance by themselves.

Billy Wray was born in New York, July 25, 1833; he was lost in the wreck of the Steamer “Evening Star” between New York and New Orleans, October 3, 1866.

E. Freeman Dixey—his was a household word in Philadelphia, where practically his whole professional career, and the major portion of his life was spent.

His first engagement was in Boston, at the age of eighteen; subsequently he went to Philadelphia, and opened there at Cartee’s Lyceum, the present site of the 11th Street Opera House, with the Julien Serenaders, December 4, 1854.

On April 23, 1855, the house was opened as Sanford’s Opera House, by Sam Sanford, and Mr. Dixey was a member of the company, and continued with Sanford until the latter drew away from its management, April 14, 1862, when Mr. Dixey and Mr. Carncross opened it under the name of Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels; Robert Simpson was the financial man. The firm of Carncross and Dixey continued until June 17, 1871; Mr. Carncross retiring on that date.

October 2, 1871, Mr. Dixey in conjunction with Frank Moran opened the house as Moran and Dixey’s Minstrels. The second season commenced August 26, 1872, and on September 24, Mr. Dixey retired from the firm. September 1, 1873, again saw Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels installed; they continued until March 16, 1878; after a supplemental tour that terminated May 11, 1878, Mr. Dixey retired to private life.

Mr. Dixey was one of minstrelsy’s greatest bone players, and in his earlier days he excelled in the delineation of wench characters.

[87]

He was a student of the negro, as well as a student in private life; a gifted, intellectual, cultured gentleman was Edward Freeman Dixey.

E. Freeman Dixey was born in Marblehead, Mass., July 29, 1833; he died in Philadelphia, March 2, 1904.

Max Irwin was a well-known comedian, stump orator and general performer.

In 1858 and 1859 he was a member of Matt. Peel’s Minstrels.

In the latter year he also played variety engagements with “Young America” (E. Richardson). May 16, 1859, he married Gussie Lamoreux, the well-known dancer, in Philadelphia.

Mr. Irwin who was at one time known as P. Maxey, was born in Cincinnati, O.; he died in Adelaide, Aus., August 9, 1864; age 33 years.

Add. Weaver (Addison Weaver), was one of the real old-time minstrel comedians.

It is said he entered the profession in 1845. In 1858 he was with the Metropolitan Minstrels; in 1861 with Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Minstrels, and in 1863, in conjunction with Charley Morris, was proprietor of the Morris Minstrels. In the 60’s, and for several years, he did sketches with Master Barney; subsequently he had many pupils who were known as Master Add. Weaver; one of these was Fred Hallen.

In the fall of 1876 he succeeded Lew Dockstader in the management of the Adelphi, formerly Newton’s Varieties, in Hartford, Conn.

Add. Weaver was a good end man, and was noted for his stump speeches. The writer’s last recollection of the veteran minstrel was with “The House With Green Blinds,” at the Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, about September, 1893; he appeared in the initial production in a black-face part, but only played one or two performances, when he was succeeded by the author, Scott Marble.

On July 22, 1887, he was married to Mrs. Abigail F. Harris, in New York City.

Add. Weaver was born in Cattaraugus County, New York, about 1833; he died in Staten Island, N. Y., February 2, 1903.

Johnny De Angelis was one of the early black-face performers in California. He was well-known as a good general comedian in San Francisco, where he played many years.

He was the father of Jeff DeAngelis, the present light opera star.

Johnny De Angelis was born in Philadelphia, about 1833; he died in San Francisco, Cal., December 25, 1877.

Dan Bryant (Daniel Webster O’Brien). The profound esteem in which this black-face comedian was held can be told in no better way than in citing the fact that within three weeks of the date of his death, the entire theatrical profession in New York City gave no less than eleven testimonial benefits in as many different theatres in the Metropolis on the afternoon of April 29, 1875; for Dan Bryant’s hand was ever in his pocket for those less fortunate than himself, and no one ever appealed to him in vain; he was a lovely character, was Dan Bryant—and yet his grave remains unmarked; so it is said.

His first appearance was in New York City in 1845 at Vauxhall Garden,[88] at his brother Jerry’s benefit; he was with various companies until 1848, when he joined Losee’s Minstrels; subsequently he was with the Sable Harmonists, and in 1850 he joined Charley White’s company in New York, remaining a year.

Next he appeared with Wood and Fellowe’s Minstrels in New York, and when Mr. Fellowe withdrew, he continued with Henry Wood’s Minstrels, same city; he was with them as late as July, 1852.

Later he joined Campbell’s Minstrels, and in the Summer of 1856, he managed Bryant’s “Campbell’s” Minstrels; in September, same year, he made a pronounced hit in Philadelphia, and on February 23, 1857, Bryant’s Minstrels gave their first performance in New York City, at Mechanic’s Hall; their last appearance there was June 2, 1866.

August 10, 1867, Dan Bryant and his Minstrels sailed for California; they played in San Francisco under the management of Tom Maguire; they remained away until May 18, 1868, when they opened at the Tammany Building (present Olympic Theatre), New York City; Bryant’s Minstrels next home was on 23rd Street, above 6th Avenue; they opened there November 23, 1870, and continued until Dan Bryant’s death.

While Dan Bryant’s name and fame will go down to posterity as a minstrel, yet he was recognized as a fine Irish comedian. At a benefit performance for William R. Floyd in New York, July 2, 1863, Mr. Bryant gave a performance of Handy Andy in the play of that name, the equal of which had not been seen in some time, and during the Summer seasons for several years played in various Irish dramas with success; in May, 1865, he sailed for Europe, and in Dublin, Ireland, and Liverpool, England, he gave several performances of Celtic characters.

Although a good general performer, Dan Bryant’s chief fame rests in his “Essence of Old Virginny” dance; it is not claimed that he originated it, but it is universally conceded that he excelled all others in it’s execution; he likewise gained prominence in the famous “Shoo Fly” song and dance with Dave Reed.

It has been shown that Dan Bryant was an actor in white-face, but that he equally was an actor behind his mask of cork, I submit the following from Harper’s Magazine, written a few years before the lamented minstrel’s death. * * * 

“Edwin Forrest was never weary of seeing Dan Bryant play the part of the hungry negro in “Old Times, Rocks,” and the verdict of the great player was that there was not a finer bit of tragic acting to be seen in America at that time than Dan in this broadly funny bit. Who that remembers the performance need be told how tears were constantly checking laughter in this little scene of the black man’s suffering through hunger, and how one’s sympathies were irresistibly wrung by the pathos of the minstrel’s voice when, on being questioned as to when he had eaten a square meal, he answered, humbly ‘I had a peanut last week.’ It was side-splitting—it was heartbreaking.”

Mr. Bryant married Miss Ellen Fitzgibbons of St. Louis, Mo., in that city, July 29, 1860.

Dan Bryant was born in Troy, N. Y., May 9, 1833; he died in New York City, April 10, 1875.

[89]

BEN. COTTON TOM. WATERS
BARRY MAXWELL HARRY G. RICHMOND
CHAS. M. ERNEST NEIL. ROGERS

STUDIES IN BLACK AND WHITE.

[90]

John Hart, jolly “fat” John Hart, as he was universally known, first appeared professionally in 1854 as a member of Eisenbeice’s Minstrels; the company stranded in Syracuse, N. Y., and that was the end of Eisenbeice.

Some time later he was stock comedian at Trimble’s Varieties in Pittsburg, Pa.

His first New York appearance was at Josh Hart’s Comique in 1869. In 1871, Hart, Ryman and Barney’s Minstrels were organized.

Mr. Hart also was with Haverly; Kelly and Leon; Morris Bros., and other first-class minstrel companies.

In 1888 he was the original Hiram Pepper in the “Two Sisters” Company.

In September, 1887, he was one of the organizers of (Wm. Henry) Rice, Hart and (Add) Ryman’s Minstrels.

He toured with the “Two Johns” for three years.

John Hart was screamingly funny in the old-time nigger acts he used to do with Arthur Moreland at various times.

He also played an engagement with Augustin Daly in the play of the “Royal Middy.”

John Hart was born in Monongahela City, Pa., July 10, 1833; he died in New York City, June 4, 1904.

J. G. H. Shorey was one of the early minstrel proprietors and comedians.

The first record of Mr. Shorey’s career as a black-face performer was in his father’s barn at the age of nine years; pins were the admission fee, and it is said that no one ever complained of being stuck. A few years later he joined a dramatic company, and later a circus; after that came Shorey’s Southern Minstrels.

In the middle 50’s he formed an alliance with Duprez, Carle and Green, playing for a few seasons under the firm name. In later years he was identified with several prominent organizations in an executive capacity, as well as playing the variety theatres.

Mr. Shorey is reputed to have been the proprietor of the first Dime Museum ever opened in Boston.

J. G. H. Shorey was born in Great Falls, N. H., April 10, 1833; he died in Lynn, Mass., May 23, 1886.

Charles F. Shattuck was one of the oldest and most noted of minstrel bassos. He was the author of the song, “One Hundred Fathoms Deep,” and had made many beautiful minstrel arrangements.

He had been associated with such well-known minstrel organizations as Newcomb’s; Buckley’s; Simmons and Slocum’s; Geo. Wilson’s and numerous others. Mr. Shattuck died in New York, November 29, 1905; age 69 years.

Ned Davis was an old-time comedian; it was his company, known as the Olio Minstrels, that were the first to perform on the steamer “Banjo,” giving their first performance at Lawrenceburg, Miss., October, 1855. Mr. Davis traveled with his minstrel company for many years, also appearing with other companies at times, notably Campbell’s Minstrels in New York, with whom he opened July 6, 1863.

He died at Mott Haven (New York City) June 29, 1872; age 48 years.

[91]

Edwin Booth, the great American tragedian, in 1850, at the court-house in his native town, gave an entertainment in which he blackened his face and sang negro songs, accompanied by the banjo and bones. This was one year after his dramatic debut in Boston.

Edwin Booth was born in Belair, Md., November 13, 1833; he died in New York City, June 7, 1893.

Tom Leslie, once prominent as a bass singer with Morris Bros., Pell and Trowbridge’s Minstrels in Boston, was the father of Eddie and Joe Leslie; the former, well known as a mimetic comedian, and the latter long associated with Cohan and Harris’ attractions.

Mr. Leslie was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, December 29, 1833; he died in Boston, Mass., June 6, 1899.

Charley Lewis, an old-time comedian who was with William Christy’s Minstrels in 1860, and who married Miss O’Keefe, of Portage City, Wis., at Milwaukee, July 20, 1861; died at Portage Lake, Wis., November 28, 1864; age 31 years.

John H. Duley was a well-known comedian half a century ago; his “Old Bob Ridley” is said to have compared favorably with the best performances of that favorite old-time act.

He had been with Hooley and Campbell’s Minstrels in New York in 1861, and went to England with Rumsey and Newcomb’s Company that same year.

July 10, 1859, he married Mrs. Mattie Robinson, an actress.

John H. Duley was born in Philadelphia, Pa., 1834; he died in London, England, May 31, 1864.

Frank Hussey was a well-known comedian and versatile performer.

His operations were chiefly confined to California and foreign countries.

His first appearance was with a minstrel company known as the “Sable Brothers,” in 1848. There is practically no country on the globe that Hussey has not appeared in.

He was born in Nantucket, Mass., October 26, 1834; he was last heard of as a member of Leslie’s Anglo-American Minstrels in Africa, July 30, 1883.

Billy Chambers, an old-time banjoist and comedian, was with Sam Sharpley’s Minstrels, in 1865, and played his last engagement, about 1870, with Sam Sanford; he died in Philadelphia, September 7, 1879; age 45 years.

Harry Robinson (Bishop), famous in minstrelsy as the “Man With the Silver Horns,” came to the United States about 1861, and subsequently appeared with George Wood’s Minstrels as a cornetist; later he was with Cal. Wagner’s Company.

About 1870 he organized Harry Robinson’s Minstrels, and toured for several seasons. He was an excellent musician, and was married three times.

Mr. Robinson was born in England; he died (suicide) at Bloomington, Ill., May 5, 1889; age 55 years.

[92]

Charles L. Church was a prominent balladist of the 60’s and 70’s.

For many years he was actively associated with Sharpley’s, and Morris Bros. Minstrels.

A son of the same name is also a well-known vocalist.

He was born in England, and died in Cambridge, Mass., June 4, 1910; age 76 years.

James Wambold was a brother of Dave Wambold, and achieved prominence as a banjoist. His first appearance was in his native city with a local minstrel troupe in the early 50’s.

Subsequently he played on the “Floating Palace”; Backus’ Minstrels, and Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Minstrels, in 1861.

Mr. Wambold was an expert whistler and gave imitations of birds and animals, accompanied by the banjo. He played many engagements with circuses, and it was while with one of these in the Spring of 1875 that he received injuries that compelled his retirement from the profession.

James F. Wambold was born in Newark, N. J., March 4, 1834; he died there June 15, 1901.

John L. Carncross, famous for his long association at the old Eleventh Street Opera House in Philadelphia, was one of the greatest singers in minstrelsy; his voice, a pure tenor, is yet recalled by many of the old residents of the Quaker City. Originally he appeared at the various concert halls in his native city as “Billy” Warren.

On January 4, 1858, he made his first appearance with Sanford’s Minstrels at the latter’s theatre in Philadelphia. Mr. Carncross continued there until the Spring of 1860, when the season having closed, with Sam Sharpley he organized Carncross and Sharpley’s Minstrels in the same city at the Continental Theatre, which was on the present site of the Casino Theatre, and gave their first performance August 22, 1860; after playing a few weeks they left there and reappeared October 1.

April 14, 1862, Mr. Carncross and E. F. Dixey opened there under the firm name of Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels, and continued as such until April 18, 1871, when the regular season closed; this was followed by a supplemental tour, which terminated on June 17, on which date Mr. Carncross retired from the firm, and entered the mercantile business.

Mr. Dixey subsequently also retired from the company, but on September 1, 1873, Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels again opened.

Dixey retired permanently in 1878, and Mr. Carncross continued there until January 25, 1896, as Carncross’ Minstrels, on which date he finally retired to private life at his residence in the city of his birth.

John L. Carncross was born in Philadelphia, about 1834.

R. Jean Buckley (Alexander W. Moody), one of the good old-timers, made his first appearance at the old Marshall Theatre, Richmond, Va., in October, 1847, as a ballad singer. The following year he joined Joe Sweeney’s Minstrels, and at that time he was not only the youngest living banjo player, but one of the very few living players.

Mr. Buckley was many years stage manager at the Odeon Theatre, Baltimore, Md., and for twenty-two years he was associated with Tim Morris, though he also worked with some of the best comedians in the country.

[93]

J. W. RAYNOR JERRY BRYANT

CAMPBELL’S MINSTRELS (1848)

The original company was organized in June, 1847. Jerry Bryant and J. W. Raynor were two of the original company. The other photos represent minstrel scenes of that day.

[94]

While Mr. Buckley was probably best known in minstrelsy, he also traveled extensively with several prominent dramatic and circus organizations. He is a skilled general musician, but was well known for his performances on the banjo and guitar; as an interlocutor and “straight” man, he ranked high.

Mr. Buckley retired from active theatricals in 1907, after sixty years of active theatrical life; truly a remarkable record.

R. Jean Buckley was born in Williamsburg, Va., November 24, 1834.

Billy Carter was not the father of the banjo, but he adopted it at an early age, and has had it in his possession ever since.

Mr. Carter first appeared in New Orleans as a performer, in the early 60’s; he did black and white-face business at three dollars per evening, which wasn’t bad for a raw amateur. In 1865 your Uncle Bill sat in the middle and played the banjo with the Louisiana Serenaders; this was his first minstrel troupe, and “Codfish Aristocracy” was the soul-inspiring ballad that stirred his auditors.

After the affair in which he sang about the “Finny 400,” he joined the Great Western Opera Bouffe Company; this sounded good enough for a four years engagement, but the truth of the matter is, it flopped in Lynchburg, Va., in nearly four years less than that time; subsequently Mr. Carter and dear departed Luke Schoolcraft (who was a member of the company) arrived in Philadelphia in somewhat distressed financial circumstances; fortunately our banjo comique had a relative in the Quaker City; an uncle, I believe, and hunting him up, he took a violin and showed it to him. * * * With this 85 cents they arrived in New York (Mr. Great Western had considerately purchased transportation to the metropolis), and shortly after, he secured an engagement at Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, where he met with instant success.

His next important minstrel engagement was with Simmons and Slocum in Philadelphia, where he opened February 16, 1874. In 1878 he joined Haverly’s Minstrels in Chicago; two years later he engaged with the latter’s Mastodons for the London invasion, but William was a bad sailor, and at the last minute renigged. Subsequently he appeared with Thatcher, Primrose and West’s and with Barlow, Wilson & Company’s Minstrels.

Mr. Carter was several years with Harrigan and Hart’s Company in New York; with this company he originated the famous “Skidmore Guards,” that had such a vogue for a long time. He has played all the principal variety houses, and most of the prominent vaudeville theatres. Will somebody please notice this nice distinction?

Billy Carter was born at Parish St. Bernard, La., December 16, 1834.

Fred Abbott, a well-known and clever female impersonator, associated for several seasons with Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, Chicago, and the road tours; died in Boston, Mass., May 28, 1871; age 37 years.

Tim. Morris, an old-time performer who achieved recognition for his delineation of the plantation “darky,” was with many minstrel troupes prior to his death in Providence, R. I., March 6, 1880. He was about 46 years of age.

[95]

“Fatty” Stewart (J. S. Crossy), famed for many years as one of the original “Two Johns,” made his first professional appearance in New York in 1848 as a comic singer.

About two years later he was a member of the Sable Harmonists. In 1854 he launched Stewart’s Minstrels; and in 1873 he played an engagement with Sam Hague’s Minstrels in Liverpool, England. Mr. Stewart was the author of many black face sketches, all of which have had considerable vogue. He also built or managed several theatres, notably in St. Louis, Providence and Philadelphia. Mr. Stewart died in St. Louis, Mo., May 23, 1905; age 71 years.

John Paul Crocker was one of the proprietors of Moore, Crocker, Ritter and Hamilton’s Minstrels, who gave their first performance at Chester, England, November 14, 1864.

Mr. Crocker was a good comedian and well liked personally; he continued as a partner of the organization up to the time of his death.

John Paul Crocker was born in the United States; he died in London, England, December 17, 1869; age 35 years.

Aynsley Cooke, who was well and favorably known in operatic circles, was a prominent singer with Bryant’s Minstrels in New York City in 1861.

He was born in London, England; he died in Liverpool, England, February 16, 1894; age 60 years.

Frank Wells (Bernard Mundy) was a well-known and capable female impersonator.

He was for a long time with Morris and Wilson’s Minstrels in St. Louis, also with Charley Morris and Add Weaver’s Company, in 1863; later he was with LaRue’s Minstrels.

He died in Brooklyn, N. Y., April 25, 1874; age 39 years.

D. C. LaRue, a well-known minstrel manager, who had his own companies in the 60’s, and during the same period was associated in minstrel ventures with J. B. Donniker, Tom Prendergast, Archie Hughes and Cool Burgess, died in Charleston, S. C., March 15, 1875; age about 40 years.

“Hank” Goodman, the old-time comedian, was a member of Gorton’s New Orleans Minstrels for many years.

In 1887 he retired, and later assumed the management of Goodman’s Opera House in Friendship, N. Y., continuing there until his death, which occurred in that city May 14, 1908.

Nelse Seymour (Thos. Nelson Sanderson), made his first appearance in his native city as a clown in a circus. His initial black-face appearance was in the same city in 1861 as a member of Kunkel’s “Nightingales,” a prominent minstrel organization, with whom he remained the season.

The following year he joined Bryant’s Minstrels in New York; January 26 following he opened with Wood’s Minstrels, same city. He rejoined Bryant’s in 1863, and continued with them until the Fall of 1866, when he[96] became a member of Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels, also in New York; he remained until May, 1868.

That same month he again joined Bryant’s, and a few weeks later went to England, where he opened with Moore and Crocker’s Minstrels. November 23, 1870, found him back to Bryant’s, where he continued until his death.

Mr. Seymour was exceedingly tall, and correspondingly slender, and in the various acts in which he worked with Dan Bryant he was very funny. He was equally at home, sitting on the end or in the middle on the first part.

Nelse Seymour was born in Baltimore, Md., June 5, 1835; he died in New York, February 2, 1875.

Matt Thompson, a good general performer and “Essence” dancer, who was with Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Minstrels in 1861; died in New Orleans, La., August 21, 1867; age 32 years.

M. T. Skiff was a well-known and prominent manager of minstrel companies. He organized a company bearing his name September 26, 1863, at Alexandria, Va. In November the following year, with Low Gaylord, he formed Skiff and Gaylord’s Minstrels, and as such traveled for several seasons.

Mr. Skiff formed a partnership with Eph. Horn and Walter Bray in August, 1869, and gave minstrel performances for a brief period. In 1871 Mr. Skiff called his company the “Albinos.” He later deserted the minstrel field, and for several years traveled in an executive capacity with legitimate attractions.

M. T. Skiff was born in New Bedford, Mass.; he died in Baltimore, Md., June 13, 1890; age 55 years.

The Famously Funny Lee Dinner, as told by the late W. J. Florence to Seen and Heard; Philadelphia:

“Philip Lee,” said he, “was the husband of the beautiful and gifted Adelaide Neilson, since whose death we have never seen a Juliet upon the stage to equal her. Lee was the son of an English clergyman, and in demeanor and apparel was a gentleman. He accompanied his wife to this country, not as her business manager, but simply as her husband. He was a harmless, pleasant, gentlemanly fellow, with but little knowledge of American ways. It is not true, as has frequently been stated, that he knew so little of this country that he expected to see buffaloes plunging down Broadway and Indians tomahawking people in Central Park, New York, nor was his astonishment at the absence of such surprising adventures the inspiring cause of the joke of which he was made the victim. Its inception was in this way: At the time Lee was in New York City, in the Fall of 1877, he was a patron of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, where I was also staying, as I had been for years, and Mr. Sothern was quartered at the Gramercy Park Hotel. One night the three of us met at the Lotos Club, which was then far down town, and, as we were about leaving there, Sothern and myself, desiring to pay the Englishman some attention, invited him to accompany us to the old chop house kept by George Brown, and there have a bite and sup before going to bed. We walked up Fifth Avenue together, and, as we were opposite the Glenham Hotel, our attention was attracted by a disturbance across the way, evidently caused by a brawl between a policeman and some jovial young blades. Lee, who was very curious about everything he saw, exclaimed, ‘Bless me! what’s that?’ Mr. Sothern replied in the most nonchalant manner, as he continued walking on, ‘Oh, only another dead man.’

[97]

BOB. SLAVIN ED. H. BANKER “HAPPY” CAL WAGNER
BURT. HAVERLY SAM. HAGUE EUGENE STRATTON (1878)
JOHNNY SHAY M. T. SKIFF JOHN W. THOMPSON

A GROUP OF GENUINES.

[98]

“‘Another dead man!’ gasped Lee; ‘Lord bless me, what do you mean?’

“‘Oh, that’s nothing,’ exclaimed Sothern, with a wave of his hand; ‘I stumble across them every night on my way home. They are killing men around here all the time. I trip over them, but pay no attention to them, but keep right on my way home. I don’t care to be summoned as a witness before the Coroner every day of my life.’ ‘Bless me!’ exclaimed Lee; ‘what a remarkable country!’

*****

“We finally reached Brown’s, and, having secured a table, we ordered chops and ale. Sothern and myself had not prearranged any joke upon our guest, but he had given me a wink, which I knew meant mischief, and I was ready to play second to any part he proposed performing. While we were eating, Sothern suddenly reached over and placed his fork in one of my chops, attempting to remove it to his plate. I prevented this by the insertion of my own fork, and then said, in calm but determined tones, ‘Ned, I don’t like that,’ to which Lord Dundreary responded, but not in the feeble tones of that stuttering stage nobleman, ‘Mr. Florence, I don’t care whether you like it or not; I want that chop!’

“With that I sprang upon him with uplifted knife and grabbed my dearly beloved friend by the throat, and he seized me in a similar way, while he apparently made desperate efforts to cut my jugular vein. In the melee which ensued the table was upset, and chops, ale, dishes, knives, forks and all the other appurtenances descended upon poor Lee in a shower. Brown, the proprietor of the establishment, who knew us both intimately, rushed forward and separated us, and at his solicitation, he thinking we were entirely in earnest, we finally shook hands and renewed our vows of eternal friendship upon one another’s bosoms.

*****

“That was the inception of the famous Lee dinner hoax. Sothern came to me afterward and said he desired to give the Englishman a dinner at the Gramercy Park Hotel, in order to introduce him to the customs of the great American people, and said that the only part he desired me to take in it was to be sure that Lee should be on hand at the appointed hour, which was noon of the following Sunday. To this I agreed. I knew, of course, that some sort of a joke was to be perpetrated upon Miss Neilson’s husband, but I pledge my word that I was not fully let into the secret, and was not advised of the programme. At the designated time I escorted Lee to the banquet room, which was on the first floor in the rear of the hotel office. I found out afterward that by special arrangement with Mr. Judson, the proprietor, the doors and windows had been well padded and covered so that no noise within could reach beyond them. The apartment was lighted with wax candles. Those assembled were John McCullough, Harry Montague, J. S. Polk, Charles Gaylor, all of whom had achieved fame upon the stage; Dan Bryant and Nelson Seymour, the most famous negro minstrels of their day; Commodore Dickinson, of the New York Yacht Club; George Brown, of the chop house, which bore[99] his name; a gentleman named Cooper and, of course, Sothern, Lee and myself. None other than these was present.

*****

“The oysters had been disposed of,” continued Florence, “and the soup had just been placed on the table, when Charley Gaylor arose, and, in very impressive tones, spoke about as follows: ‘Gentlemen, I think this is a most auspicious occasion to bring about peace between two men who, while strangers, were once devoted friends. I do not think that rancor could exist in any heart at a gathering of this kind. To be sure, it may ill become me to act the part of a peacemaker, for, while it is true I have shed human blood, that my right hand has been red with, the gore of another, it must also be borne in mind that I was triumphantly acquitted of the offense, and that a jury of my peers said that I had acted only in self-defense.’

DAN BRYANT
AND
NELSE SEYMOUR.

“You can readily imagine that this took the breath out of my friend Lee, who had been seated upon my left. He whispered to me, ‘What has he done? Did he kill anyone?’ I looked at him warningly, and put a finger on my lips as I whispered back, ‘Sh-h-h! It was nothing; only his mother!’ I heard him mutter, ‘My God!’ as he shrunk in his chair, and then he leaned toward me and whispered, ‘Of whom is he speaking?’ As I didn’t know myself, I couldn’t well tell him, but I warned him off by saying, ‘You will learn it all in a moment.[100] His words might apply to any two men about the board, because every fellow here has killed his man.’

*****

“Just then Gaylor threw light upon the subject by saying, as he pointed with one hand to that clever negro minstrel, Dan Bryant, and the other toward that equally famous delineator of cork humor, Nelse Seymour, ‘Of course, gentlemen, it is hardly necessary for me to say that I refer to America’s most famous poet, William Cullen Bryant, and that equally distinguished gentleman, M. Seymour, the son of the talented ex-Governor of the State of New York, Horatio Seymour, and I now request that these two gentlemen shake hands across the table and let the bloody feud which has existed between them end here!’

“I had scarcely time to give an affirmative reply to Lee’s whispered inquiry. ‘Is that really William Cullen Bryant?’ when there ensued the most remarkable scene which I ever witnessed in my life. I cannot, even after many years have elapsed, think of it without the tears of laughter coming to my eyes. Seymour was a man over six feet in height, and with legs the length of which were absurdly out of proportion to the rest of his body. He appeared to be split up almost to his neck. One of his most famous feats upon the minstrel stage was to suddenly throw one of his feet about a man’s neck and draw the other fellow toward him. Upon this occasion Bryant, in obedience to Gaylor’s summons, had reached forth his right hand, when Seymour suddenly threw that dreadful right leg of his across the table, caught his friend and fellow-minstrel by the back of the neck, drew him toward him and hit him squarely between the eyes. In another instant both men were on top of the table amid the soup dishes, and were snarling and biting and tearing at one another like a pair of bulldogs. Cooper and Dickinson, who were not in the secret, became so alarmed that they got under the table, while I could only hold Lee in his chair by main force. In the midst of the contest the table upset and the poor Englishman was almost drowned in soup. While Bryant and Seymour were making a mockery of struggling beneath the debris, Seymour, by wetting his fingers of one hand, secured a quantity of blacking from one of his shoes, and with this gave himself the semblance of a black eye. When some appearance of order had been obtained a truce was patched up between the combatants, and, after Seymour’s blackened eye had been bandaged, they were induced to shake hands, whereupon the other members of the company, who were in the secret, exclaimed admiringly, ‘Once a gentleman, always a gentleman!’ and declared that ‘a true American gentleman can always be told by his willingness to settle a little difference amicably.’

“Lee whispered to me in tremulous indignation, ‘This is most shameful!’ to which I replied, ‘I don’t see how you say that. There was no one killed.’ Thereupon he amended his remark by saying, ‘At least, it was most unfortunate. I am dreadfully sorry it occurred.’

[101]

MATT. WHEELER DAVE WILSON
WILL COX CLARK GIBBS
HARRY W. SMITH WILL LAVAKE
“Wheeler & Wilson,” “Will Cox & Gibbs,” and some “Singers”; nearly all “Domestics.” Try to play this on the machine.

[102]

*****

“The table was got in shape again, and things moved along smoothly and pleasantly for some time, until Polk and Sothern became engaged in apparently a very angry and excited dispute about the merits of the North and South, in the midst of which Mr. Sothern suddenly arose to his feet, and, drawing a revolver, fired it directly over Polk’s head. Immediately a scene of the wildest excitement ensued. In less than twenty minutes twenty shots from revolvers had been fired across the table. Polk, Gaylor, McCullough, Montague, Seymour, Bryant and Sothern were not only firing blank cartridges from revolvers, but were brandishing huge knives over one another’s heads. Dickinson, Cooper and Brown had by this time discovered the affair was a joke and simply added to the tumult. The terror of the Englishman was almost pitiable. He begged to be allowed to go, but his friends were so thoroughly in love with him that they would not let him depart. There was upon the table at this particular juncture a large dish of asparagus, covered with drawn butter, and most of the combatants, who were crawling across the table to carve one another’s hearts out, managed to get their hands into this mess, and, while thus besmeared, they could take turns in jumping around to where I was holding Lee in place, and, bringing their palms down upon his shoulders, would beg of him to be seated and assured him that the difficulty was simply a trifling one, and that they would regret it to their dying day should he leave them. So frequent were these expressions of hospitality that Lee was smeared from head to foot with drawn butter. I shall never forget the spectacle that the lamented John McCullough presented on that occasion. Having fired his revolver, he drew a long Roman sword from his boot, and, with a swirl, cut off the neck of a champagne bottle as if he were decapitating a foe, and then waving it threateningly over the heads of Lee and myself, he exclaimed, ‘Why does not the gallant Florence stand by his friends? Where is his revolver to-night? I have traveled with him through the West, and then he never went without his arsenal and scarcely a day passed without his killing a man.’

*****

“In the midst of the fracas, Seymour, who had temporarily disappeared, appeared in the doorway attired in a white hat and apron, which he had procured from the hotel chef, and announced that the landlord declared that the entire party must vacate the room. He had not finished his speech when everything on the table, including even the large, heavy dishes, was hurled at him, and it is really a wonder that he escaped the shower unhurt. By this time everyone in the room, and especially the Englishman, was a lamentable sight to behold. Each one was smeared and crushed and tumbled and torn from head to foot. Lee could stand it no longer. He got on his feet finally and managed to say that while he had heard such scenes as he had witnessed were enacted in the purlieus of the great cities of America, he was astounded and disappointed to find that they were the custom among gentlemen, and further said that he would have to leave to keep a dinner engagement. It was 4 o’clock. I escorted him to the street and put him in a carriage to conceal his dilapidated condition. When we came to settle for this little joke, we found that our bill was $600. The item for breakage alone amounted to $80.”

Men will sometimes become boys again; and very silly boys.

Note.—Mr. Florence was in error in giving the date of the foregoing as the Fall of 1877. Dan Bryant died in the Spring of 1875.—Author.

Charles Melville was of late years best known as a manager and agent, but in his earlier days achieved considerable fame as a balladist in minstrelsy.

[103]

As early as May 1, 1856, he was with Raynor’s “Christy” Minstrels, and in November, same year, he was a member of Turner’s Southern Serenaders.

The following year he was with Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Minstrels in the Summer; in November, 1860, Charles Melville’s Minstrels were on tour.

October 14, 1861, he began a brief engagement with Fox and Sharpley’s Minstrels in New York.

In an executive capacity he was associated among others with Col. T. Allston Browne and Shook and Palmer.

In February, 1894, Mr. Melville occupied the position as ticket taker at the Arch Street Theatre in Philadelphia, at the opening of that theatre in a revival of old stock plays by George Learock.

Charles Melville died in Newark, N. J., July 10, 1901; age about 65 years.

Lew. Meyers (Buhmeir), is a name that is practically unknown to minstrel lovers of to-day; yet to him belongs the credit of being the original “musical moke,” long familiar to variety and minstrel habitues. His first performance of the act was given in Newark, N. J., during the season of 1852-53.

He was likewise the first to perform the harmonica on the stage. He went to Europe in 1866 with Hussey, Sweney and Felton’s Minstrels. His last appearance was at Los Angeles, Cal., January 27, 1874, where he gave an entire evening’s entertainment of one and a half hours’ duration, during which he performed on twenty-six different instruments; and on one occasion four at one time.

Lew Meyers was born in Minden, Prussia; he died in Pottsville, Pa., July 11, 1875; age 40 years.

Jake Budd (Zebley), the old-time comedian, was with Buckley’s Serenaders in England, about 1855; subsequently with Dan Howard he ran Canterbury Hall in Harrisburg, Pa., for several years; in 1862 he rejoined Buckley’s; he also directed minstrel companies in Baltimore and Washington. In 1872 he was part owner of Brant’s Hall in Harrisburg, Pa.; in 1874 he was stage manager of the Comique in Washington, D. C.; subsequently becoming the manager.

The distinction of bringing before the public that famous song and dance team, Welch and Rice, in the 60’s, belongs to Mr. Budd, and while it has been said that he was the first to do a monologue in minstrelsy, the writer has no means of substantiating the assertion.

Jake Budd was born in Philadelphia; he died in Washington, D. C., October 11, 1888; age 53 years.

J. K. Campbell (John Kelly), celebrated as a banjoist and comedian, made his first appearance at Wright’s Music Hall in New York City, in 1846, as a youth, and playing under his own name. About 1851, George Lea, the well-known variety manager, suggested that Kelly take the name of Cameron, the same as the prominent theatrical printer; a typographical error made it appear Campbell; and as Campbell it always remained, except for a brief period in 1859 and 1860, when he was with George Christy’s Minstrels at Niblo’s Saloon in New York; here he sat on the opposite end to Christy, and was on the programme as J. K. Edwards.

In 1870, he was a prominent member of Hooley’s Minstrels, in Brooklyn,[104] N. Y., and when Hooley opened in Chicago on January 2, 1871, Mr. Campbell went with him; with this company he did a song and dance with John Hogan, of Hogan and Hughes; the latter being unable to play on account of illness.

He was many years associated with the late “Fatty” Stewart, and identified with such prominent organizations as Moore and Burgess, in London, England, and Buckley’s, in Boston, where he opened in August, 1864.

Mr. Campbell was one of the great cards of minstrelsy; as a banjoist he ranked with the best; his “Essence of Old Virginny” was A1; he was versatile to a degree, and wrote several sketches, amongst them “The Rival Lovers” and “The Lawyer’s Clerk.”

Miss Fanchon Campbell, the talented young actress of the present, and who was a clever child actress at the time of Mr. Campbell’s death, is a daughter of his.

J. K. Campbell was born in New York City, 1835; he died in Pittsburg, Pa., February 6, 1878.

Joe. Buckley (Timothy Clancy), was a good general black-face performer. In 1857, he was with G. N. Eldridge’s Great Southern Circus, and for many years was associated with that style of entertainment.

In his earlier days he was associated with Joe Chatfield and Harry Wells. Mr. Buckley, likewise, was in the stock at Tony Pastor’s at 585 Broadway, New York City, also with Harrigan and Hart’s Company. At the time of his death he was not engaged in his profession.

Joe. Buckley was born in Philadelphia, September 7, 1835; he died in New York City, July 19, 1884.

Charles Henry, one of the oldest ballad singers in minstrelsy, was living as late as 1886; he is said to have died in England.

Charles Templeton (Broughton). This well-known popular vocalist of minstrelsy, began his career in Dundee, Scotland, in 1857, with Tom Lee’s Minstrels; other succeeding European engagements were with the Pelham Bros.’ Minstrels and Templeton’s African Opera Troupe, the latter in the Spring of 1859; it was here that he took the name of Campbell, emulating the distinguished Sher. Campbell.

In the Fall of 1859 he came to America and was engaged by Dan Bryant for Bryant’s Minstrels, at 472 Broadway, New York City; at the suggestion of Bryant, he took the name of Glendale, so as not to conflict with Sher. Campbell, a warm personal friend of Bryant’s.

Late in 1859 he joined Sanford’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, resuming the name of Campbell; he remained there three years. Subsequently he became a member of the following well-known minstrel organizations: Hooley’s, in Brooklyn; San Franciscos, in New York, six years; a second and third engagement at Bryant’s, also Hooley’s; Geo. Christy’s, one year; Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s; Cotton and Reed’s; Cool Burgess’; Carncross, in Philadelphia; Neil Bryant’s and Cleveland’s. Also with such operatic companies as Pauline Hall’s, and E. E. Rice’s; his last engagement was with Camille D’Arville Company, about 15 years ago.

Charles Templeton was born at South Kirby, England, January 1, 1835.

[105]

JAS. HOLDEN E. N. CATLIN FRANK CARDELLA
BOB. HALL EDDIE FOX W. S. MULLALLY
E. J. CORNU J. B. DONNIKER CHAS. HUNNEMAN

SOME LEADING LEADERS OF MINSTRELSY.

[106]

Denman Thompson, famous for many years for his unique characterization of Joshua Whitcomb, in the “Old Homestead,” sat on the end with a minstrel show many a time over 50 years ago; and at the Royal Lyceum, Toronto, Canada, February 6, 1857, he played Uncle Tom, in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

“Hank” Parmley, the well-known old-time minstrel agent, died in Newark, N. J., May 7, 1902; age 67 years.

Neil Bryant (Cornelius A. O’Brien), was the youngest and the last of the three famous brothers of his name that organized Bryant’s Minstrels, in 1857.

Oddly enough, less is known about the early career of Neil Bryant than either of his brothers.

The earliest authentic record obtainable by the author is at the American Hall, Hartford, Conn., June 25, 1851, as a member of Ordway’s Aeolians, a famous Boston organization; it is highly probable that Mr. Bryant was with this company prior to the above date in the Massachusetts metropolis.

He continued with Bryant’s Minstrels in New York until the death of his brother Dan, April 10, 1875; subsequently he organized Bryant’s Minstrels, and gave intermittent performances on the road for a period of about seven years. In 1851, the programme gave Neil Bryant as giving an accordeon solo; in later years he was almost exclusively identified with his performance on the flutina.

About 1882 he secured a government position in Washington, D. C., which he retained until two years prior to his death.

July 11, 1859, Mr. Bryant married Miss Gertrude E. Ransom.

Neil Bryant was born in Keesville, N. Y., 1835; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., March 6, 1902.

Joe. Murphy (Wm. L. Murphy). It is pretty well known to theatre goers in general, that Mr. Murphy’s early career was spent as a minstrel in California, where he drifted in the 50’s.

As late as 1858 he was with the California Minstrels, with whom he was associated many months in San Francisco.

In 1860 with Billy Birch, a company bearing the name of Birch and Murphy’s Minstrels toured. In 1864 Murphy and (Walter) Bray’s Minstrels were in existence. Mr. Murphy then came East, and with Ben Cotton formed Cotton and Murphy’s Minstrels, opening at Fall River, Mass., about March 1, 1865.

In 1867 he again went West, and late that year was with Dan and Neil Bryant’s Minstrels, in San Francisco. A few months later he joined Morris Brothers’ Company, in Boston, and on April 20, 1868, made his appearance in New York with Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels.

Once more did Mr. Murphy take Horace Greeley’s advice, and went West, where in August, 1869, at Salt Lake City, Utah, with Johnny Mack, organized Murphy and Mack’s Minstrels.

His first appearance as a legitimate performer was made in San Francisco, September 16, 1867, as Pat Murphy in “The Happy Man.”

It was in New York City, May 8, 1871, that Mr. Murphy first produced his play of “Help,” in which he impersonated a negro and other characters.

Subsequently “Shaun Rhue” and “Kerry Gow” brought him name and fame, as well as wealth.

[107]

Mr. Murphy married Miss Martha Shattuck in the early 60’s.

At San Antonio, Texas, November 11, 1909, he wedded Miss May Firmier, an actress.

Joe Murphy was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., May 16, about 1835.

J. W. Hilton was one of the favorite bass singers in minstrelsy.

He was with Bryant’s Minstrels in New York, in 1860, and continued with them intermittently for several seasons. In the Summer of 1869 he went to Liverpool, England, with Smith and Taylor’s Minstrels, opening there June 21.

J. W. Hilton was born in the United States; he died in Liverpool, England, January 2, 1871; age 36 years.

James Unsworth, or just “Unsworth” as he was more familiarly known, was one of those rare performers who were concededly away ahead of the times in which they flourished.

The word “great” may be truly applied to him, for while he excelled in all he undertook, he was famous for his stump speeches, for his banjo solos, and for his singing of Irish songs on the end, of which he was one of the first.

His professional debut was made with Sanford’s Minstrels, in Philadelphia, August 10, 1857; he continued there until January 2, 1858, when he left and joined Bryant’s Minstrels in New York that same month. After a few months with that company he went with Matt. Peel’s Minstrels for a road tour, and opened with them in New York, October 5, 1858; a few weeks later the company was known as Sniffen’s Campbell’s Minstrels, with whom Mr. Unsworth continued for several weeks.

December 6, he rejoined Bryant’s for the season; again opening there the following Fall; he left September 19, 1859, and later joined Anderson’s Minstrels, which had a brief existence. Early in 1860 he opened with Hooley and Campbell’s Minstrels: here he met “Eugene,” and a business alliance was formed which continued uninterruptedly until death intervened, fifteen years later.

He closed with Hooley and Campbell in New York City, January 26, 1861, and with “Eugene” and J. B. Donniker organized Unsworth’s Minstrels. A few months later he sailed for Europe, and subsequently joined Rumsey and Newcomb’s Minstrels in Liverpool; later going to Germany with them. Mr. Unsworth remained abroad playing the Music Halls, also a long engagement with Wilsom and Montague’s Minstrels, until the Spring of 1868, when he returned to America, and again joined Bryant’s Minstrels in New York: he remained two years.

In the Fall of 1870 he joined Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., and later went with that company to Chicago, opening January 2, 1871, for the balance of the season.

Unsworth’s Minstrels again took the road, opening September 2, 1871, at Paterson, N. J.; December 18, he returned to Hooley’s, in Brooklyn, N. Y. In 1872, he was successively with Moran and Dixey’s; and Moran’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

In the Spring of 1873 he joined Moran and Manning’s Minstrels, and in the Fall of that year again became a member of Bryant’s Company in New York for the season. Mr. Unsworth sailed for England in 1874, opening with[108] Sam Hague’s Minstrels in Liverpool in the Fall of that year; he remained with the company until his death.

James Unsworth was born in Liverpool, England, July 2, 1835; he died there, February 21, 1875.

Mazzellah Ainsley Scott is one of the oldest, and at the same time one of the youngest looking minstrels. Mr. Scott, who has a keen sense of humor, gravely declares that he was born in Nashua, N. H., July 26, 1820; he looks 60.

Mr. Scott sometime ago told the author that he (Scott) made his first appearance on the stage at the age of three years as the child in “Pizarro”; then Mr. Scott had to catch a train, the author caught a cold, but managed to get the following data:

In 1858 he was with the New Orleans Opera Troupe (a minstrel company), the following year he was at Bryant’s Minstrels in New York; he has the distinction of being the only one living who was on the programme the night that “Dixie” was first sung, September 12, 1859.

Mr. Scott was in partnership with Cool Burgess in a minstrel show in 1867; the same year he was with LaRue’s Minstrels, also Lloyd and Bidaux’s Minstrels.

In 1862 he was with Sanford’s Minstrels; in 1864 at the opening of M. C. Campbell’s Minstrels, in New York, June 27. He was with the San Franciscos, also in New York, and with Duprez and Green’s Company.

In 1884 he was with the opera of “Princess Ida”; in 1892 with Miss Sidonie, as Scott and Sidonie played a sketch in vaudeville, called “Roundsey, the Copper.”

Mrs. Ainsley Scott died May 31, 1867.

When last heard of, a short time ago, Mr. Scott was a pedestrian.

Wm. H. Brockway was a well-known interlocutor of minstrelsy. He was with Morris Bros; Pell and Trowbridge’s Minstrels in Boston in the Spring of 1859, and continued with them practically until July 27, 1861, when in conjunction with Charley Morris and Jno. E. Taylor, they formed a minstrel company, opening in Gloucester, Mass., on the above date.

Mr. Brockway joined Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels in New York early in 1868, and continued with them about a year. He joined Bryant’s Minstrels in New York about 1871, and remained with them until the death of Dan Bryant, April 10, 1875.

Mr. Brockway joined Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn about December 1875. He had not appeared professionally for about ten or twelve years prior to his death.

W. H. Brockway was born in New York; he died in Boston, Mass., May 25, 1888, age 53 years.

Joseph Gorton, Sr., entered the theatrical business in 1854, and has the distinction of being the oldest manager, in point of service, of any man in the annals of minstrelsy.

Mr. Gorton assumed the management of the New Orleans Minstrels in November, 1867; the company subsequently became known as Gorton’s Minstrels, and as such has continued up until the present year.

Joseph Gorton, Sr., was born in Friendship, N. Y., February 21, 1835.

[109]

“EUGENE”
(1858)
“THE ONLY LEON”
(1860)
ROLLIN HOWARD FRED. DART

THEY WERE FAMOUS IN FEMALE FRIVOLITIES.

[110]

O. P. Sweet, or Dr. O. P. Sweet as it is now, began his professional career as a member of Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Minstrels in 1860; at that time he was known as Tom Leslie.

The next four years were given to concert work. Mr. Sweet joined Haverly’s Minstrels late in 1864; March 17, 1865, he opened with Arlington’s Minstrels, in Chicago; two years later he was also with Arlington. Another two years saw him a member of Buckley’s Serenaders.

April 17, 1871, he opened in New York with Newcomb and Arlington’s Minstrels; a year later he was with Mike Leavitt’s Minstrels.

Dr. Sweet has been practicing his profession for many years, but is always glad to recall “Auld Lang Syne.”

Dr. Sweet has passed the allotted three score years and ten—and some more.

Theodore Jackson, the old-time interlocutor, who in his day was prominently identified with many famous minstrel organizations, is said to have died in Brooklyn, N. Y., a few years ago.

William Castle (J. C. Reeves), the great operatic tenor, and long prominent in musical circles in Chicago, was with several famous minstrel organizations, notably Hooley & Campbell’s in 1860-61, and George Christy’s in 1862. Mr. Castle was born in England, December 20, 1836; he died in Chicago, Ill., March 31, 1909.

Jake Wallace, the famous old banjoist and black-face performer, is said to be living on a ranch in Southern California, in the neighborhood of San Diego.

The author is willing to admit he envies Mr. Wallace.

S. S. Purdy was a well-known and prominent comedian; he excelled in the song and dance of “Nicodemus Johnson,” and as early as February, 1868, in a controversy, he claimed to have been the originator of it.

In 1867 he was co-proprietor of Purdy, Coes and Converse’s Minstrels, and in 1872 of Purdy, Scott and Fostelle’s Minstrels.

In 1863-64 he was with Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, and in 1867-68-69 with Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels.

About February 1, 1876, he took out a company called the Purdy Combination, which had a brief existence.

S. S. Purdy was born in Troy, N. Y., February, 1836; he died in Chicago, Ill., March 1, 1876.

Low Gaylord (Lowrenzo Gaylord) began his theatrical career at the age of twelve as a ballad singer with Green’s Circus.

In the early 50’s he organized Gaylord and Dupont’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, where they remained for several years.

With M. T. Skiff they organized Skiff and Gaylord’s Minstrels, giving their first performance in 1864, and continued as an organization intermittently until 1878.

Low Gaylord was born in Westfield, Mass., January 19, 1836; he died in Philadelphia, April 7, 1878.

[111]

John P. Oberist was a well-known vocalist, and as a Tyrolean warbler, was one of the best.

His first theatrical appearance was with the Twilight Serenaders at Erie, Pa., June 25, 1860.

In 1865 he opened with Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels in New York, and continued with them about three years.

Subsequently he was with Newcomb’s Minstrels in 1869, and in 1870 joined the San Francisco Minstrels for the season.

Later he joined Harrigan and Hart’s Company in New York, where he remained until his death.

He was born in Buffalo, N. Y., 1836; he died in New York, January 17, 1882.

E. N. Slocum was one of the best interlocutors and actors in minstrelsy. His first appearance was with an amateur company in Warren, O., in 1849.

About 1855 he played on the Steamer “Banjo” with Ned Davis’ Minstrels; subsequently he was with Hooley, in Brooklyn, N. Y., Duprez and Green’s; Skiff and Gaylord’s and Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, where he remained several years. August 29, 1870, he opened with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels at their own theatre in Philadelphia, where he continued until 1877, when he joined Carncross’ Minstrels in the same city, and remained several seasons.

About 1887 he joined Dockstader’s Minstrels in New York; this was his last professional engagement, after which he entered the mercantile business.

E. N. Slocum was born in Columbus, O., April 26, 1836; he died in Philadelphia, October 17, 1895.

Charles O. White, the great theatrical manager, who had at various times theatres in Washington, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, Brooklyn and Detroit, began his professional career in 1852 in Washington, D. C., as a member of the Cosmopolitan Minstrels; later he was with the famous Euterpians, and Sweeney and Parrow’s Minstrels.

Mr. White was born in Alexandria, Va., December 25, 1836; he died in Detroit, Mich., January 2, 1889.

“Eugene” (Eugene D’ Ameli) was one of the most wonderful artists in his line that minstrelsy ever knew; his delineations of female characters were so finished, so true to life, that the Germans in Berlin during an engagement there in April, 1862, were emphatic in their declarations that he was a woman.

“Eugene’s” debut was made with Wood’s Minstrels in New York, May 16, 1853; five months later, George Christy joined the company, which was known as Wood and Christy’s Minstrels until May, 1858. Eugene continued as a member all during this period.

Early in May, 1858, he went to California with George Christy, and several others; they opened in San Francisco, June 7, under the management of Tom Maguire. In January, 1859, he left there, under the management of R. M. Hooley and George Christy; returning to New York, he opened May 23, and continued until July, when he went on tour with the[112] company; they subsequently returned to New York, where on January 28, 1860, they disbanded.

On February 6, Mr. Eugene opened with Hooley and Campbell’s Minstrels in Boston, at their inaugural performance there; with this company he met James Unsworth, and the two formed a business alliance that continued until the death of the latter, just fifteen years later.

Early in 1861, Eugene, Unsworth and J. B. Donniker organized Unsworth’s Minstrels; they disbanded at Ogdensburg, N. Y., in the Spring; shortly after, Eugene and Unsworth sailed for Europe. On August 5, 1861, they opened with Rumsey and Newcomb’s Minstrels in Liverpool, Eng.; subsequently they played through the provinces and Germany.

Later they returned to London, where they played the music halls for three years; after which they joined Wilsom and Montague’s Minstrels in Liverpool, and played there for four years; their last engagement there was April 7, 1868. Mr. Eugene and his partner arrived in the United States on April 28, and a few weeks later opened the season of 1868 at Bryant’s Minstrels in New York, and continued there for two years.

In the fall of 1870 he joined Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, and on January 2, 1871, when the latter opened in Chicago, Mr. Eugene was with him, and continued for several months.

September 2, 1871, he opened at Paterson, N. J., with Unsworth’s Minstrels at their first performance. December 18, they reopened with Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, remaining several weeks.

February 26, 1872, he began an engagement with Moran and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, and remained until the end of the season.

In August he opened a three-months’ engagement at the Howard Athenaeum, in Boston, and on November 25, joined Frank Moran’s Minstrels in Philadelphia. At the conclusion of the regular season, the company went on tour; it was known as Moran and Manning’s Minstrels, and “Eugene” was a member of the company.

The season of 1873-74 was spent with Bryant’s Minstrels in New York; in 1874 he went to England and opened with Sam Hague’s Minstrels in Liverpool, where he remained until the death of his partner, February 21, 1875.

“Eugene” returned to New York the same year, and on September 13, commenced a short season there with Cotton and Reed’s Minstrels. November 15 he began an engagement with Carncross and Dixey’s company in Philadelphia, and continued there for four years; the last season the company was known as Carncross Minstrels.

June 4, 1879, he sailed for England for a period of much needed rest, playing but a few engagements.

In 1881 he returned to America, and on October 17, he opened with Emerson’s Minstrels in San Francisco, closing in January, 1882; subsequently sailing for a Trans-Pacific trip with a variety company, opening at Honolulu, May 13. The company disbanded in Shanghai, China, in August, and “Eugene” returned to the United States in March following.

A year later he began his final engagement with the Leon and Cushman company, and in May, 1884, he made his last appearance on any stage.

Thus after a successful career of exactly thirty-one years, this brilliant luminary of the minstrel firmament retired to private life.

[113]

ARCHIE HUGHES HARRY TALBOTT PETE LEE JOHNNY ALLEN
THEY TICKLED THE TAMBOURINE.
“KERRY GOW” JOE MURPHY
(1865)
DAVE REED E. F. DIXEY FRED HUBER
THEY BANGED THE BONES.

[114]

“Eugene” was born in New York City, June 4, 1836; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., January 18, 1907.

Dick Parker, whose “banjoisms” attained wide popularity in the Metropolis more than thirty years ago, began his professional career about 1854.

He was stock comedian at various times in New Orleans, Baltimore, Washington, St. Louis, Boston and New York.

In 1871 in conjunction with J. E. Edwards and Jack Talbott, he formed a minstrel organization bearing their names.

In 1889 he went to Paris, opening there with the American Circus. Appearing in evening clothes, preceded by four supers, and announced by the ring-master, Mr. Parker created a sensation.

In 1879 he opened what is now known as Keeney’s Theatre in New York, and controlled its destinies about four years.

Dick Parker was born in Troy, N. Y., in 1836; he died at Staten Island, N. Y., August 28, 1908.

John A. Mack was a well-known comedian and song and dance performer of the genteel order. He was especially well-known in California.

He was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1836; he died in San Rafael, Cal., July 23, 1870.

D. W. Collins (Carpenter), who was associated with Jack Haverly in Toledo, O., in the latter’s early managerial days, died at Brooklyn, N. Y., May 20, 1869; age 33 years.

Wm. S. Budworth was well known as a banjoist and comedian, and had some repute for his Dutch delineations; his “Fight Mit Siegel” was best known.

In the Spring of 1860 he was with Wood’s Minstrels on a road tour.

Mr. Budworth was with Hooley’s Minstrels in April, 1864, in Brooklyn, and the following year he was also with Hooley at 201 Bowery, New York City. He was stage manager for Tunison’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, in the 60’s; with the Globe Minstrels at 728 Broadway, New York, in the Fall of 1871, and in the same city with the San Francisco Minstrels in 1877.

Mr. Budworth was also with Emerson’s Minstrels, and played frequent variety engagements. His last appearance was with Tony Pastor about twenty-five years before his death.

Wm. S. Budworth was born in Philadelphia, November 25, 1836; he died at Mount Vernon, N. Y., January 24, 1908.

Sam Price (Valleau), was a famous old-time comedian, and especially clever in the old negro act of the “Haunted House.” He was a great favorite in the South, where the colored folks would wildly enthuse over his performances. Mr. Price was with Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Minstrels in 1860, where he made a hit singing “Pretty Gal in Blue,” and playing the tambourine end.

October 1, 1866, he opened with Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels in New York at their initial performance there; he continued with them for a lengthy period, subsequently joining Arlington, Cotton and Kemble’s Minstrels in Chicago. Mr. Price was also associated with many other prominent minstrel[115] organizations, but had not appeared much for some years prior to his death.

Sam Price was born in New York State, September 6, 1836; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., August 28, 1907.

Charles Edwin Reynolds was one of the most original and unctuous comedians.

As early as 1859 he was with the Metropolitan Ethiopean and Burlesque Troupe, and about 1862 was associated with Cool Burgess, and later Wally Thomas in a company of his own. Subsequently he was with Duprez and Green, Duprez and Benedict’s; Lloyd and Bidaux’; Newcomb and Arlington’s, and Sweatnam’s Minstrels.

He was with Haverly in 1869 and 1879.

Charles Edwin Reynolds was born in Belfast, Me., August 8, 1836; he died in Vineland, N. J., May 19, 1910.

Billy Arlington (Valentine Burnell), was one of the great luminaries of minstrelsy. He achieved fame as a comedian, as a stump speaker and banjoist; he was a good all round performer. Mr. Arlington’s professional career began in the 50’s.

February 20, 1860, he opened in New York with George Christy’s Minstrels, and was associated with the latter practically until the formation of Arlington and Donniker’s Minstrels in August, 1862; the organization was subsequently known as Arlington, Leon, Kelly and Donniker’s. Arlington’s Minstrels opened in Chicago in September, 1867.

October 3, 1870, Mr. Arlington commenced an engagement with Welch, Hughes, and White’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y.

April 17, 1871, Newcomb and Arlington’s Minstrels opened in New York for a run, subsequently for a road tour; November the same year, Arlington’s Minstrels again opened in Chicago; the company subsequently evolved into Arlington, Cotton and Kemble’s Minstrels, and as such continued about three years. Mr. Arlington was with Emerson’s Minstrels in Chicago in the Spring of 1875, subsequently touring with them.

About Mr. Arlington’s last minstrel engagement was with Bartlett’s California Minstrels in November, 1898. Billy Arlington was born about 1836.

Ed. H. Banker, one of the old and tried, and “not found wanting” black-face performers, began his professional career at the age of 10 years with Sam Stickney’s circus as a drummer; later he did nigger business in the ring.

He made his first appearance in New York at “Daddy” Rice’s benefit in 1853, doing a bone solo.

Mr. Banker was with George Christy in 1865; and for some time stage manager at Harry Enoch’s Varieties in Philadelphia, and subsequently at the Olympic in New Orleans.

He was the author of several successful farces, notably—“Too Hot For Comfort,” the “Wig Maker” and the “Colored Policeman.”

Mr. Banker is also credited with being the first performer of changing from black to white and back again in a few seconds.

At the time of his death, which occurred under suspicious circumstances, he was with “The Night Before Christmas” Company.

[116]

Ed. H. Banker was born in New Orleans, La., December 23, 1836; he died at Minneapolis, Minn., October 3, 1902.

Japanese Tommy (Thomas Dilverd), was a colored man, whose height of 37 inches made him a valuable acquisition to the many companies he was associated with; he was not dependent on this for his success, for he was a good comedian, and played male and female roles equally as well.

Some of his principal engagements were with the minstrel organizations of Morris Brothers, Pell and Trowbridge; Kelly and Leon’s; Emerson’s and Sam Hague’s. His last appearance was probably with the Criterion Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., March 5, 1887.

Japanese Tommy was born in Brooklyn, N. Y.; he died in New York City, July 9, 1887; age about 50 years.

Prof. E. J. Cornu, the well-known and efficient musical director, came to the United States in the late 60’s, and at once associated himself with Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y. When the company went to Chicago, opening there January 2, 1871, Mr. Cornu went with them, and was with Mr. Hooley several years.

Mr. Cornu had been engaged by Mr. Hooley when the latter was abroad, for Hooley’s “Opera House”; Mr. Cornu being under the impression he was to be associated with a regular opera company. When he found he had to put cork on his face, for a long time he was inconsolable.

Prof. Cornu was born in Brussels, Belgium; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., March 28, 1889.

Tommy Jefferson, an old-time banjoist and minstrel performer, who was with Kelly and Leon’s Company in Chicago in 1869, as well as many other like organizations, had been retired many years from the profession prior to his death at Seattle, Wash., November 1, 1897; he was 70 years of age.

James Roome was a fine banjoist and good general performer. He played with various companies, notably Ned Davis’ Minstrels in 1867.

He was born in 1837, and died in Brooklyn, N. Y., February 3, 1885.

Clark M. Gibbs was long recognized as an able black-face comedian.

His earliest professional appearance was with a circus when he was eleven years of age.

He had been associated with some of the best minstrel companies, and worked with several well-known comedians in acts, notably Cool. Burgess and Lew Simmons.

He was twice married; a son, Clark Gibbs, Jr., who was also in the profession for a time, is in Trenton, N. J.

Clark M. Gibbs was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, March 6, 1837; he died in Trenton, N. J., August 20, 1901.

Ira Paine, the famous sharpshooter, played several minstrel engagements as a ballad singer, notably Carncross and Dixey’s in Philadelphia in 1862, and the San Franciscos in New York, in August, 1869.

[117]

A PROMINENT BOSTON COMPANY; 1859.

J. T. TROWBRIDGE LON MORRIS JOHNNY PELL
BILLY MORRIS

A FAMOUS NEW YORK ORGANIZATION; 1865.

BILLY BIRCH DAVE WAMBOLD

WM. H. BERNARD CHARLEY BACKUS

[118]

He was born at Hebronville, Mass., February 17, 1837; he died in Paris, France, September 10, 1889.

W. W. Pierce (Billy McMahon), was a well-known young comedian of promise.

In the Spring of 1860 he played an engagement at Bob Butler’s Variety Theatre in New York, where he made a pronounced hit dancing the “Essence of Old Virginny.”

He died in Herkimer, N. Y., January 2, 1864; age 27 years.

Ambrose A. Thayer, a young singer who was prominent with the Morris Brothers, Pell and Trowbridge Minstrels, in Boston, died there, June 10, 1863; age 26 years.

Billy Quinn was one of the best dancers of his day, and played conspicuous minstrel engagements, notably with Bryant’s in New York, commencing October 12, 1857.

He was the husband of the celebrated danseuse, Mary Blake, who subsequently married Bobby Newcomb.

Billy Quinn died in New York City, November 29, 1863; age 26 years.

Cooper and Fields were one of the very best double clog dancing teams in minstrelsy, as well as one of the earliest.

In 1864 they were with the Raynor “Christy” Minstrels, and the following year they joined the San Francisco minstrels in New York; subsequently they were with Kelly and Leon’s, and Buckley’s Minstrels in the same city. They played an engagement with Haverly’s Minstrels in June, 1869.

James Cooper was in business in Paterson, N. J., several years prior to his death. His last professional appearance was also in Paterson.

James H. Cooper died in Paterson, N. J., January 24, 1905, age 68 years.

William Fields died in New York City November 18, 1883.

Sig. Raphael Abecco gained distinction in minstrelsy chiefly for his excellent performance on the harp; but was also a fine tenor singer, and a composer of repute.

As early as October 20, 1857, he was with Matt. Peel’s Minstrels, and continued with Peel until the latter’s death in 1859. August 27, 1860, he began a season’s engagement at Sanford’s Minstrels in Philadelphia; in the Spring of 1861 fulfilling a short season with Unsworth’s Minstrels; he returned to Sanford’s for the season of 1861-62.

July 7, 1862, he opened with Wood’s Minstrels in New York City, and in 1863 Birch, Cotton, Wells and Abecco’s Minstrels inaugurated their season in San Francisco. In 1865 he sailed for Australia and remained abroad until 1872. January 9, 1875 he opened with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, and the following season was a member of Simmons, Slocum and Sweatnam’s Minstrels in the same city. His last engagement was with Emerson’s Minstrels, December 25, 1878.

Sig. Abecco was of foreign birth; he died in Chicago, Ill., January 3, 1879; age 42 years.

HI. HENRY LOW. GAYLORD
“JACK” HAVERLY
JOHN KING CHAS. QUEEN

ALL GOOD DRAWING CARDS—HI, LOW, JACK, KING and QUEEN.

[119]

Frank B. Converse. The name of Converse is indissolubly associated with all that is great in banjo playing.

Mr. Converse began the study of music at the immature age of 6; at 14 he took up the banjo, devoting all his spare time to study. His first professional appearance was with McFarland, in Detroit.

He joined Matt. Peel’s Minstrels in 1856, remaining until the Spring of 1858.

Subsequently he gave banjo lessons in Memphis, Tenn. Later he joined Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Minstrels; March 19, 1867, with George Coes and Sam Purdy, organized Purdy, Coes and Converse’s Minstrels. Mr. Converse at various times had schools in St. Louis, San Francisco and New York.

He was the author of many high-class works on the banjo, including a book for beginners.

Frank B. Converse was born in Westfield, Mass., June 17, 1837; he died in New York City, September 5, 1903.

“Chuck” (Charles H.) Atkinson, one of the great bone players of minstrelsy, when the artistic handling of them was an art, began his professional career in 1847, being then known as Master Charles, a singer with one of the early organizations; shortly afterwards he was with the famous “Yankee” Locke for a period of five weeks. What might be termed his regular career began a little later with John Carle (Uncle John, the “Lively Flea”); he remained with Carle three years; subsequently going to Boston, where he was several years in stock.

He played frequently with the Morris Brothers in Boston, and succeeded Joe Murphy after the latter had separated from Ben Cotton; Murphy himself was a great bone performer, and Atkinson simply had to be good to hold the position he did with so much credit.

Other engagements were Boyce & Mudge’s Minstrels, 1866, and “Green’s Mocking Bird Minstrels” in 1871; his last minstrel engagement was with Sam Sharpley. He retired from the profession about 20 years before his death.

Charles Atkinson was born at Limington, Maine, December 1, 1837; he died at Brookline, Mass., February 2, 1909.

Tom McNally was one of the premier “leaders” and violinists of minstrelsy.

In 1859 he was at Burtis’ Varieties in Brooklyn, N. Y.; the following year he joined Cool White’s Broadway Minstrels.

In 1861 he was with George Christy’s company, and the same year was also with William Christy’s and Fox and Sharpley’s Minstrels.

October 28, 1861, he was with Hooley’s Minstrels at their first performance in New York. Mr. McNally was with Hooley also when the latter went to Brooklyn, N. Y., opening in September, 1862; he continued with Hooley several seasons.

Early in 1866 he was with Wood’s Minstrels, and on October 21, that year, he sailed for Europe with the American Minstrels; they opened in London, December 5, 1866.

Subsequently Mr. McNally returned to the United States, and at various times was associated with several prominent minstrel organizations.

[120]

Tom McNally was born in Albany, N. Y.; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., May 25, 1872; age 35 years.

J. H. Haverly (Christopher Haverly) began his theatrical career in 1864 in Toledo, O., where he purchased a variety theatre, and conducted until December, 1866.

There are many to-day who think that the great showman, who was the first to place minstrelsy on a gigantic scale, began as a minstrel manager with Cal. Wagner in 1870. Such is far from being the truth.

The first performance of Haverly’s Minstrels was given at Adrian, Mich., August 1, 1864; the season terminated at Ypsilanti, Mich., on the 25th of August, same year.

On October 8, 1864, Cool Burgess and Haverly’s Minstrels were inaugurated at Toronto, Canada, and November 1, it was again Haverly’s Minstrels; it remained as such until December 27, following, when Charles Mallory, who had a minstrel company, formed an alliance with Mr. Haverly, and on the above date at Titusville, Pa., Haverly and Mallory’s Combination Minstrels gave their first performance.

In 1866 Haverly and (Dick) Sands’ Minstrels toured for several weeks, and the following year Mr. Haverly assumed the management of Billy Arlington’s Minstrels. Haverly’s Minstrels were again organized, and at Peoria, Ill., November 11, 1868, gave their initial performance; the season closed in the Summer of 1869.

In the Fall of 1870, he assumed the management of Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels, and continued with them for three years, after which, in November, 1873, at Kansas City, Mo., Haverly’s Minstrels began in earnest. Not satisfied with one minstrel company, he purchased an interest from Tom Maguire in Emerson’s Minstrels in October, 1875; secured the New Orleans Minstrels in 1876, and Callender’s Colored Minstrels in 1878. In the meantime he purchased the Adelphi Theatre in Chicago, in 1876; the first of the very many he ultimately owned or controlled.

October 21, 1878, he organized his famous Mastodons in Chicago; they opened in London, England, July 30, 1880, at Her Majesty’s Theatre, where they played seventeen weeks.

In May, 1884, they returned to London, and made a tour of the Provinces, where the final performance was given in Glasgow, Scotland, late in February, 1885.

Haverly’s Minstrels continued for several years after that; the last company in which Mr. Haverly was directly interested began a season in the Summer of 1898. His last amusement venture began in Brooklyn, N. Y., May 11, 1901, where for a brief period he conducted a small museum.

“Jack” Haverly was a fine man and a lovable character; none did more for minstrelsy than he, and some of the greatest names in theatricals were once associated with him.

He was twice married; his wives being the Duval (Hechinger) Sisters, well-known vocalists.

Mrs. Sara Haverly died at Toledo, O., March 1, 1867; subsequently he married Eliza Duval, who died in New York, July 4, 1910.

[121]

R. M. HOOLEY CHAS. A. MORRIS
AL. G. FIELD GEO. R. GUY
D. C. LA RUE HARRY ROBINSON

HEADS OF FAMOUS MINSTREL ORGANIZATIONS; PAST AND PRESENT.

[122]

J. H. Haverly was born in Bellefonte, Pa., June 30, 1837; he died in Salt Lake City, Utah, September 28, 1901.

Add Ryman (John Addison Ryman) was one of the greatest burlesque actors that minstrelsy ever knew.

He was likewise famed as a stump orator, in which he was different from all of his contemporaries.

His debut as a minstrel was made in 1859. In 1871, Hart, Ryman, and Barney’s Minstrels were organized. Subsequently he was with Emerson’s Minstrels in San Francisco, and with the San Francisco Minstrels in New York about six years.

He left the above company with George Thatcher, and opened Thatcher and Ryman’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, December 20, 1880, as a permanent organization.

In 1882 he took a minstrel company to Australia, remaining about two years. He later re-engaged with Emerson’s Minstrels, and in September, 1887, with Wm. Henry Rice and John Hart, organized a company bearing their names.

Mr. Ryman’s late years were with dramatic companies. Add Ryman was born in Ohio; he died (suicide) in New York, June 27, 1896; age 59 years.

Sid C. France, famous for many years for his drama “Marked for Life,” in which he enacted a black-face part which was the principal character, was born in Landsport, England, October 4, 1838; he died in New York, May 25, 1895.

The Norton Brothers made their first appearance as the Norton Family in Roxbury, Mass., in 1848 or 1849; accounts vary.

Wash. Norton subsequently went with Ordway’s Aeolians in Boston, where he remained a long time. November 14, 1859, Wash. and Tim Norton opened at Bryant’s Minstrels in New York.

When seventeen months later, Jerry Bryant died, it was Tim Norton who took his place; Wash. having left New York about a month previous for England, later visiting Africa and Australia; in the latter country they declared he was the best burlesque dancer that ever visited their shores.

Wash. returned to the United States in 1866, and remained six years; he subsequently made two other trips to foreign lands. The Nortons were good comedians, and great dancers.

Tim Norton died January 25, 1862, in New York, age 24 years.

John Norton died in Philadelphia, Pa., January 24, 1868.

Wash. Norton was born in New Orleans, La., February 22, 1839; he died in Shasta Co., Cal., November 16, 1899.

Dan. Shelby (Macher), who was the well-known manager of the Adelphi Theatre in Buffalo, N. Y., and the Academy of Music and Columbia Theatre in Chicago, at various times, began his professional career in Paris, Ind., in 1853; it was there he first blacked up.

He played several minstrel and circus engagements until 1865, when[123] he launched Shelby’s Minstrels; in 1868 he again put a minstrel company on the road. Mr. Shelby was subsequently a clown in a circus.

Dan. Shelby was born in Gettysburg, Pa., January 1, 1838; he died in Wilkesbarre, Pa., February 4, 1895.

Fayette Welch (Patrick Walsh). The career of this once celebrated comedian which was suddenly and violently ended, commenced about fifty years ago.

He joined Hooley’s Minstrels in the late 60’s, and became a great favorite in the Brooklyn playhouse. In the Summer of 1869 he was with Haverly’s Minstrels, and while with that company did an act which he called the Musical Sensation, playing on a number of instruments, concluding by dancing a jig, accompanying himself by playing a flute at the same time.

Mr. Welch next went with Kelly and Leon’s Company, and in August, 1870, joined Buckley’s Serenaders in New York.

The following month, commencing the 12th, he became co-proprietor of Welch, Hughes and White’s Minstrels, a permanent company in Brooklyn, N. Y.; they continued there about a year.

Mr. Welch subsequently appeared with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia. He was with Haverly’s when that gentleman organized his company in November, 1873, and with Neil Bryant’s Minstrels five years later. During an altercation between Mr. Welch and William Gould, a vaudeville performer, the latter shot and immediately killed Fayette Welch in Boston, Mass., March 6, 1892.

Mr. Welch was born in Galway, Ireland, about 1838.

James W. Lamont (Williams) was prominent for many years as a baritone vocalist and interlocutor in minstrelsy. In 1864 he was with Sharpley’s Minstrels, and in 1880 with Kyle’s “Christy’s” in Boston.

The major portion of his career was spent in Philadelphia, where he went in the 60’s as a member of Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels.

Mr. Lamont died in Philadelphia, December 24, 1894; age 56 years.


“Leon,” the dean of minstrel female impersonators, did a stump speech with Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels, January, 1870.


Pete Lee (Shea) was conceded to be one of the greatest tambourinists in minstrelsy; as a comedian, he was excellent.

As early as February, 1858, he was touring with Pete Lee’s Empire Minstrels.

He joined Buckley’s Serenaders in the 60’s, and continued with them for several seasons.

August 28, 1871, he made his first appearance in Philadelphia, as a member of Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels.

He was also prominently identified with the companies of Morris Brothers, and Sharpley’s. In 1872 he opened Bishop’s Opera House in St. Johns, N. B., renaming it Lee’s Opera House, and conducting it for several years.

His last professional appearance was about 1878.

[124]

A son, Wilbor F. Shea, is manager of the Memorial Opera House, Eastport, Me.

Pete Lee was born in Cambridge, Mass., January 6, 1838; he died in Eastport, Me., October 11, 1896.

J. R. Kemble (Taylor), one of the best interlocutors of minstrelsy, made his debut at Paterson, N. J., February 2, 1863, with Hart and Simmon’s Minstrels, appearing under his own name.

Subsequently he joined the Morris’ Minstrels, remaining five years.

Later he became a member of Emerson and Manning’s Minstrels, and after these artists separated early in 1870, Mr. Kemble cast his fortunes with the latter in Chicago. In that same city (Billy) Arlington, (Ben) Cotton and Kemble’s Minstrels were organized in 1871, and continued there about three years.

In 1875 Mr. Kemble was with Emerson’s Minstrels in Chicago.

He was also a member of the Dearborn Minstrels in the Illinois Metropolis, opening August 21, 1871.

Likewise in Chicago did he join Haverly’s Minstrels, March 11, 1878, and September 16, same year, he began a brief engagement with Sweatnam’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

Mr. Kemble then went to England, and was with Moore and Burgess’ Minstrels for about twenty years.

He married Miss Ella Turner, an actress, about 1870.

J. R. Kemble was born in Kent, England, 1838; he died in London, England, June 11, 1908.

George W. Charles, the old-time wench dancer made his first appearance at the International Theatre in New York in 1852; subsequently he was with Dave. Reed’s Minstrels on Spalding and Rogers’ boat the “James Raymond,” this was as early as July 18, 1856; after this he did sketches with Billy Coleman. In 1869 he was with Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia; he remained there several seasons, and was a prime favorite.

Mr. Charles was among the earliest black-face prima donnas.

George W. Charles died in New York City, May 8, 1885; age 47 years.

Kit Clarke (Morse Myers) is one of the oldest living minstrel managers. His professional career began in 1858 as a programmer with the Satterlee and Bell Circus; Mr. Clarke continued in the circus business practically for twenty years.

In 1877 he became general manager for M. B. Leavitt’s attractions, and continued until 1881, in which year he managed the Gigantean Minstrels.

His next engagement was with J. H. Haverly’s Minstrels, with whom he remained three years.

Later he retired from theatrical life to enter mercantile business.

Kit Clarke was born February 21, 1838, in New York City.

Billy Allen was a well-known jig and “Essence” dancer in the 60’s, playing some of the principal minstrel organizations of that period, such as Arlington’s; Fred. Wilson’s; Mrs. Matt. Peel’s; Skiff and Gaylord’s; George Christy’s, and Carncross and Dixey’s. He subsequently gave dancing lessons in Chicago. In his early career he was known as one of the best dressed men in the profession.

[125]

RAYMOND HITCHCOCK GEO. FROTHINGHAM JAS. J. CORBETT

IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IT, ASK THEM.

[126]

Billy Allen died in Chicago, August 19, 1890; age 52 years.

Sam Cole, the real old-time black-face comedian, is in no way related to the old king of that name; though he has associated with them for many years; also queens and jacks.

Mr. Cole is said to be amongst the living. But who has the address?

Lew Simmons has the distinction of being the oldest active black-face performer in the world.

He commenced his career as an amateur in Warren, O., in 1849, playing the banjo, in black-face.

In 1857 Mr. Simmons went to Jake Beler’s Music Hall in Detroit, Mich., where he did his little turn for one dollar per night, and four beer tickets; which being a minor, he was unable to use.

In December, 1859, he made his first New York appearance at the popular Melodeon. In 1861 he joined Hooley and Campbell’s Minstrels, and early in 1863 in conjunction with Bob Hart organized a minstrel company bearing their names.

Subsequently he played an engagement with the Morris Minstrels, and on August 22, 1864, made his first appearance at Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, where he became a great local favorite. He remained with that company until within a few months of the opening of Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels at the Arch Street Opera House in Philadelphia (which was built for them), August 29, 1870. Mr. Simmons continued at this house intermittently until 1878. In the fall of 1875, Billy Sweatnam was admitted as a partner, under the firm name of Simmons, Slocum and Sweatnam’s Minstrels; in October, 1876, Simmons and Slocum withdrew. September 11, 1886, Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels again opened at their old home in Philadelphia. In 1878 Mr. Simmons visited England and South Africa professionally.

About twenty years ago he played Uncle Eph., an aged negro, in “Shiloh.”

He left the profession in the 80’s, vowing never to return, but he did, in the early 90’s; Clark Gibbs, Tommy Harris and Frank H. White, with whom he is now playing vaudeville, were his partners at various times.

Did I say that he was one of the owners of the Athletic Club of the American Association, which won the championship in 1883? Well, he was.

Lew Simmons was born in New Castle, Pa., August 27, 1838.

J. H. Surridge was one of the prominent singers of minstrelsy. His first appearance was with Hart and Simmons’ Minstrels early in 1863. That same year he joined the Morris Minstrels, and in 1865 was with Raynor’s “Christy’s.”

In April, 1866, he opened with J. H. Clifford’s Great American Minstrels; April 17, company closed at Troy, N. Y. September 10, 1866, he opened with Sands and Herbert’s Minstrels.

With Sweeny, Hussey and Felton’s Company, he sailed for Hong Kong,[127] October 11, 1866; storm tossed he returned to New York five days later; another five days he again set sail for Ireland and England, opening in London, December 5, 1866. Early in 1867 he went to play an engagement with “Pony” Moore and his associates, also in London.

Mr. Surridge arrived back in the United States, November 23, 1868, and shortly after joined Kelly and Leon’s Company at their New York theatre. He continued with them when they opened in Chicago, March 2, 1869, and subsequently was one of Kelly and Leon’s “Associated Artists,” after these two performers went to England.

Later Mr. Surridge joined Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., and with Susie Galton’s Opera Company played the Dutch comedy part, succeeding W. H. Crane.

On April 17, 1871, he opened in New York City with Newcomb and Arlington’s Minstrels.

January 22, 1872, he became a member of Arlington, Cotton and Kemble’s Minstrels in Chicago, and continued with them about three years, after which he joined E. M. Hall, E. M. Kayne and Ned Wambold’s Minstrels, April 10, 1875. That same year Mr. Surridge rejoined Kelly and Leon’s Company, and continued with them when in February, 1878, they sailed for Australia. He returned in February, 1879, and joined M. B. Leavitt’s Company in San Francisco.

In the Summer of 1879 he entered the hotel business at Rockaway Beach, N. Y., and in the Fall of that year joined Pat Rooney’s Company as manager.

The following season of 1880-81, was at the London Theatre in New York. In the Fall of 1881 he went to Hopkins and Morrow’s Theatre in Providence, R. I., for a brief stay, leaving there to join Haverly’s Minstrels, where he remained but two weeks, when he joined M. B. Leavitt and continued with him as manager for the latter’s attractions until 1883, when he went to London, England, with “Evangeline,” in which he played Catharine; this engagement was followed by one with Moore and Burgess’ Minstrels, also in London.

Mr. Surridge returned to New York in February, 1884, and at once joined the Leon and Cushman combination.

In the Fall of 1884 he assumed the management of Dick Gorman, in “The Hand of a Friend.” He piloted the same attraction season of 1885-86, after which he retired from theatricals and went into business in New York.

J. H. Surridge was born in London, England, January 27, 1838; he died in New York City, March 30, 1910.

Rollin Howard (Ebenezer G. B. Holder) was one of the most cultured and capable female impersonators of minstrelsy.

He appeared on the legitimate stage for about five years previous to his minstrel debut, which was made with Wood’s Minstrels in the Spring of 1860. In the Fall of that year, for a brief period, he was associated in the management of Howard and Campbell’s Minstrels.

February 4, 1861, he made his first appearance with Hooley and Campbell’s Minstrels in New York, and for several seasons played successful engagements with nearly every prominent minstrel company there was.

[128]

About 1870 he left minstrelsy, and after a period in opera, played several years in variety houses. In 1868 he played Topsy in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and in 1878 was manager of the Melodeon in Philadelphia.

His last appearance was with his own company.

Rollin Howard was born in New York City about 1840; he died in Boston, Mass., June 19, 1879.

Master Barney (Bernard Scholar) was one of the greatest dancers in minstrelsy. His first appearance was at Burtis’ Varieties in Brooklyn, N. Y., about 1858; he met Add. Weaver here, and was associated with him several years.

In 1859 he joined Campbell’s Minstrells, and subsequently with such well-known organizations as Morris Brothers, Pell and Trowbridge, Mrs. Matt. Peel’s, Hooley and Campbell’s and others.

July 17, 1869, was organized Dougherty, Wild, Barney and Mac’s Minstrels; subsequently Hughey Dougherty retiring, the company continued for a brief period.

In 1871 it was Hart, Ryman and Barney’s Minstrels.

About that time Master Barney formed a partnership with Sam Rickey, playing sketches, of which “Bad Whiskey” was the most successful.

They separated about 1877, and later he formed an alliance with Barney McNulty, being known as the Two Barneys.

“Master” Barney was born in Buffalo, N. Y., December 29, 1839; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., February 25, 1886.

James Glenn (McDonald) was a well-known vocalist in the good old days of minstrelsy.

His first appearance was made with Sam Sanford’s Minstrels in 1858; he continued with him, chiefly in Philadelphia, until 1862, when he joined Wood’s Minstrels in New York, with whom he remained a lengthy period.

Subsequently he was with the San Franciscos in New York, and Hooley’s in Brooklyn, N. Y.

James Glenn was born in Philadelphia in 1839; he died in New York, February 26, 1870.

Billy Manning. Minstrels may come and go, but like the brook, the name and fame of this brilliant performer seems destined to live forever; for while more than three decades have passed since Billy Manning passed away, each generation in his native city seems as familiar with his former stage triumphs as those that were contemporaneous with him.

His career started in 1859, on the boat “Dixie”; where Manning, who was very proficient with the “bones,” played an end with a minstrel show.

In the fall of 1862 he was with Campbell’s Minstrels, and on November 23, 1863, he joined Morningstar’s company. The engagement was a brief one, and he next opened with Rumsey’s Minstrels, with whom he closed May 27, 1864; opening with Hooley in Brooklyn, three days later.

That same year he was with Morris and Wilson’s Minstrels, and in 1865 with Dan Shelby’s Company. Engagements with Kunkel’s Nightingales; Haight and Chamber’s Circus and LaRue’s Minstrels followed.

[129]

LUKE WEST NED WEST
“LOOKING WEST.”
ARTHUR RIGBY ARTHUR DEMING
A PAIR OF ARTISTIC ARTHURS
MASTER BARNEY SAM RICKEY
THEY WERE ALWAYS MASTERS.

[130]

In September, 1867, he joined Newcomb’s Minstrels, continuing with this company until the following Summer, when he left Newcomb, and in association with Billy Emerson and Johnny Allen, formed a minstrel company bearing their names.

May 22, 1869, Mr. Allen dropped out of the organization, which was thereafter known as Emerson and Manning’s. In January, 1870, in Chicago, the partners separated, and Manning continued at the Dearborn Theatre in that city with Manning’s Minstrels, where he remained several months.

Under the financial management of Tom Foley, of Chicago, the company went on tour in the Fall of 1871, giving their first performance at Xenia, Ohio, October 19.

July 6, 1872, Mr. Manning severed his association as head of the company, which subsequently was known as Newcomb’s Minstrels, in Cincinnati. September 2, 1872, in that city, he began a brief engagement with Wm. Henry Rice’s Minstrels, and on October 28 he opened with Frank Moran’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

At the end of the season Mr. Manning became associated with Moran, and opened in Pittsburg, Pa., April 21, 1873, as Moran and Manning’s Minstrels. Mr. Manning then went to San Francisco, where, June 30, he began an extended engagement with Maguire’s Minstrels, terminating February 21 following. April 6, he made his first appearance with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, where he finished the balance of that season.

His debut with Kelly and Leon’s Company in Chicago was made August 31, 1874, where, with only a slight break, he played all that season.

July 12, 1875, he commenced a brief engagement with Neil Bryant’s Minstrels, and on November 8, Billy Manning, who was then far from being a well man, began what was destined to be his last engagement, with his old partner, Billy Emerson, with the latter’s minstrels.

January 9, 1870, he married Mollie Williams, a well-known actress.

Billy Manning was born in Piqua, Ohio, May 15, 1839; he died in Chicago, Ill., May 19, 1876.

Charley Gardner (Bumberry), known as “Hop Light Loo” Gardner, from the fact that he originated the black-face song and dance of that name for the first time at an amateur minstrel performance in Augusta, Ga.; this was in the late 50’s.

In 1861 he was with Duprez and Green’s Minstrels, and later with Burgess, Prendergast and LaRue’s Minstrels. Early in 1867 he toured with “Cool” Burgess with a minstrel company bearing their names.

Mr. Gardner played a brief engagement with the San Francisco Minstrels in New York, and with Emerson and Manning’s Company in Chicago.

He was the author of the following songs: “Sift Sand Sal,” “Walk Dad Lou” and “Over in Jersey.”

Charley Gardner was born in Toronto, Canada, July 24, 1839; he died in Long Island City, N. Y., May 17, 1909.

Dick McGowan was well-known as a banjoist and a comedian in the 60’s; during which period he was with Yankee Hill’s Minstrels, Harris and Smith’s, Dick McGowan’s, and some more. As Mr. McGowan failed to keep his promise and give the author more data, this sketch must necessarily be curtailed. Sorry. Mr. McGowan was born in New York, December 28, 1839.

[131]

Johnny “Froggy” Pierce (Owens) was a well-known comedian and had been identified with various prominent minstrel companies, notably Ordway’s, in Boston, in 1859; Lloyd’s, 1861; Rumsey’s, 1864; Coes, Purdy and Converse’s, 1867; Emerson’s, 1870, and many others. He died in New York, June 2, 1892; age 53 years.

John W. Thompson (Fitzpatrick), known of late years as a manager only in the South and Southwest; in his early days was a well-known black-face performer, and a great jig dancer at a time when that style of dancing prevailed.

Mr. Thompson’s first appearance was made in Buffalo, N. Y., about 1860. At one time he was associated and did an act with Oscar Willis.

He was manager at various times of theatres in Memphis, Tenn.; Vicksburg, Miss., and Dallas, Texas, covering a period of 28 years.

John W. Thompson was born in Dublin, Ireland, June 4, 1839; he died at Dallas, Texas, February 27, 1907.

James Gaynor made his first professional appearance with Sharpley’s Minstrels about 1859, as second violinist.

He played several engagements at Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, during the 70’s, where his banjo playing met with pronounced success; he was equally prominent during the same period at the Howard in Boston. November 29, 1876, Gaynor and Mudge’s (Hank) opened at Butler, Pa.

Mr. Gaynor was also with Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Minstrels in May, 1860.

James Gaynor was born in Troy, N. Y., about 1839; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., May 29, 1906.

John T. Boyce was one of the best black-face comedians of his day, and one of the earliest performers to sing an Irish song on the end.

His first appearance was with Birch, Bowers and Fox’s Minstrels in California, about 1857; later he was a performer on the steamer “Banjo,” which plied the Mississippi. Mr. Boyce afterward appeared with such well-known organizations as Woods, in New York; Hooley’s, in Brooklyn, and Sanford’s.

May 7, 1866, with Hank Mudge, he launched Boyce and Mudge’s Minstrels, and later was a member of Griffin and Christy’s Minstrels.

His last appearance was in June, 1867.

John T. Boyce was born in Covington, Ky., about 1839; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., June 11, 1867.

“Marsh” Adams (Marshall Anderson), an excellent and most natural delineator of the old Southern darky, began his stage career at the Race Street Varieties, Cincinnati, in the late 60’s; he remained there until 1871, when he joined the Hart, Ryman and Barney Minstrels; for a brief period he did an act with Milt. Barlow. In 1873 he went to the Metropolitan Theatre in Indianapolis, remaining until 1878; subsequently he was identified with various circuses, also Haverly’s Minstrels; and for a time with Walter Le Roy.

It is said that he was the first to sing “Old Black Joe” as a character song.

His last appearance was April 15, 1885.

[132]

Marsh Adams was born in Louisville, Ky., January 11, 1839; he died in Indianapolis, Ind., May 11, 1885.

Charles E. Dobson was one of the great banjoists of minstrelsy.

His first appearance was at Winsted, Conn., in 1856, with Sam Hague’s Concert Company.

Subsequently he played in the stock of the old Chatham Theatre, New York, and later played in the orchestra of Wallack’s Theatre, same city, at Thirteenth and Broadway.

In 1867 he went to Europe, under the management of Corbin and Wall; while there he again joined Sam Hague’s Georgia Minstrels, playing London and the provinces. On his return to the United States he played all the principal variety houses, later organized the Dobson Bros. Minstrels. Mr. Dobson was also associated in a business capacity with the Worrell Sisters, the Chapman Sisters, and the Wallace Sisters: with the latter he was with in 1878. March 29, 1879, he married Minnie Wallace. They had a son, Frank Wallace, a clever black-face performer.

About twenty-five years ago Mr. Dobson won a gold medal in a banjo tournament at Madison Square Garden, New York City.

Chas. E. Dobson was born in New York City, July 21, 1839; he died there January 18, 1910.

Lew Benedict. The name of Lew Benedict is one of the most prominent in minstrelsy; as an end man and stump speaker he excelled, but he was equally at home in anything he undertook.

Mr. Benedict’s first appearance was in the late 50’s, when he danced the “Essence”; he was then known as Johnny Hodson.

But his real professional career commenced April 6, 1861, when he joined Duprez and Green’s Minstrels; he continued with them until 1865, when he bought out Mr. Green’s interest; the organization was then known as Duprez and Benedict’s Minstrels until 1876, when Mr. Benedict and Mr. Duprez dissolved partnership.

Mr. Benedict then joined Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels in New York City in the Spring of 1876; he remained until September 16; five days later he opened at Newark, N. J., with Benedict’s Minstrels; the company closed at Washington, D. C., December 30, 1876; he subsequently returned to Kelly and Leon’s.

In 1878 he ran a variety theatre in Milwaukee, Wis.

Mr. Benedict was with Leavitt’s Gigantean Minstrels in 1881, and in later years with Cleveland’s, Vogel’s, Gorman Bros., and Great Barlow Minstrels.

April 17, 1871, he married Eva De La Motta, at Mansfield, Ohio, and on February 17, 1881, in New York City, he married Miss Fanny Mouris.

Of late years Mr. Benedict has been playing vaudeville.

Lew Benedict was born in Kingston, Canada, December 6, 1839.

Carl Rudolph (Wilbur Fiske Barrell), one of the most prominent balladists in minstrelsy, began his career in St. Louis, Mo., doing concert work; from which it was but a short step to burnt-cork honors.

[133]

LEW.—HAWKINS & COLLINS—BEN. LAMONT & DUCROW
GEO. & WILLIE GUY
(1866)
JNO. P.—HOGAN & HUGHES—RUEY
(1871)

[134]

Mr. Rudolph was one of the original members of Billy Emerson’s Minstrels, February 11, 1870.

In the Summer of 1872 he was with Sam Sharpley in New York, and that same year in the same city rejoined Emerson.

In August, 1877, Mr. Rudolph was with Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Minstrels at the initial performance of that organization.

Season of 1873 he joined Bryant’s Minstrels in New York City; the major portion of the balance of his theatrical career was spent in Philadelphia with Carncross’ Minstrels.

Carl Rudolph was born in Aspenham, Mass., October 29, 1839; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., August 8, 1909.

J. K. Buckley (Kiley), noted for his splendid execution on the banjo, an the use of the supplementary fifth string, first played the banjo in 1861. On June 6, 1868, he launched Buckley’s Minstrels at Newark, N. J.

He was one of Haverly’s 12 banjoists, and went to Europe with the Mastodons, opening at Drury Lane Theatre, London, July 31, 1880.

He was associated with the late John M. Turner for a considerable period; the partnership dissolved November 11, 1876.

J. K. Buckley was born in New York City January 21, 1839.

Joseph H. Childs was equally well known to dramatic, variety and minstrel patrons, and up to about ten years before his death was considered one of the best clog dancers before the public.

In 1877-78 he was in the stock at the National Theatre, Cincinnati.

Jos. H. Childs was born in England; he died in Cincinnati, Ohio, November 10, 1880; age 41 years.

Wally Thomas, prominent as a jig and clog dancer, a fine drummer and a good all-round general performer of Sharpley’s Minstrels in the early 60’s, died at Lowell, Mass., May 29, 1864; age 25 years.

Lewis J. Donnelly, well-known in his day as a first-class black-face female impersonator, died in New York City, October 26, 1869; age 30 years.

Gus Howard was a pupil of George Christy, and made his first appearance with Wood and Christy’s Minstrels in New York in 1855.

He was an exceptionally versatile performer, and excelled as a banjoist and tambourinist. He continued as a member of the above company until May, 1858, Geo. Christy seceding and going to California. Howard went with him, and continued with Christy until 1861, when he joined Unsworth’s Minstrels, also Hooley and Campbell’s.

For about five years prior to his death he had been with the Wallace Sisters Combination.

Gus Howard died in Alexandria, Va., March 27, 1874; age about 35 years.

Warren Richards (Richard A. Warren) was well-known as a tenor singer with Duprez and Benedict’s Minstrels about forty years ago; he was with them for a lengthy period. He was born in New Orleans, and died in New York City, June 15, 1876.

[135]

L. Morrisey (Morrisey B. Little), a well-known and capable song and dance performer, joined Johnny Allen’s Minstrels about 1870.

He formed a partnership with Fred Emerson, and as Morrisey and Emerson opened at Bryant’s Minstrels, New York, September 4, 1871, and continued there until the Spring of 1873, when the team separated.

Mr. Morrisey played the variety houses until his death in New York, February 8, 1881.

James G. Russell (Grant), the well-known vocalist, commenced his minstrel career about 1870 in New York, and successfully appeared in the companies of Carncross and Dixey in Philadelphia; Emerson’s, Geo. Thatcher’s and Bryant’s.

He died in Richmond, Va., May 5, 1883.

J. K. Silver, of the famous Silver Brothers, was prominent for many years in minstrel and concert work.

He died at Williamsburg, Mich., May 11, 1885.

Billy Burr (W. W. H. Burrows), an old-time performer, who was excellent in negro acts, made his first appearance with Andy Williams in Gardner and Hemming’s Circus. He played with various organizations until his retirement about 1875.

He was born in Reading, Pa., November, 1840; he died at Gwynedd, Pa., January 30, 1881.

Tom. Warfield (J. B. Hersey), the old-time banjoist and black-face performer, entered the profession in his native city.

He was with several minstrel shows, also had his own company, Warfield and Wicks Minstrels.

He married Minnie Chapin in Baltimore, Md., in August, 1876.

Tom Warfield was born in New Orleans, La.; he died in Birmingham, Ala., November 12, 1899.

Queen and West constituted one of the great song and dance teams in minstrelsy. They formed a partnership about 1868, which was terminated by the death of Mr. Queen.

Together they played several prominent minstrel engagements, and later went to Harrigan and Hart’s in New York, where Mr. West remained, all told, about twenty-two years.

Mr. Queen was an exceptionally clever black-face comedian, while Mr. West, in addition to his ability as a dancer and comedian, was proficient on the banjo.

John Queen made his first appearance as a clog dancer in Boston with Morris Bros., Pell and Trowbridge’s Minstrels. While with that company, he, in conjunction with R. M. Carroll, did the first double clog dance ever seen in minstrelsy.

William West began his theatrical career in 1857 as a black-face performer, and until about 1863 played mostly with circuses.

His first minstrel engagement was with Duprez and Green. Subsequently[136] he played with Hooley at the Novelty Theatre in Brooklyn; with the San Franciscos in New York, and with Bryant’s, Wood’s, and Morris Brothers.

Mr. West’s last stage appearance was about 1901.

John Queen (McQueeny) was born in St. Albans, Vt., November 19, 1843; he died in New York, February 11, 1884.

William West (Cox) was born in Leicester, England, May 3, 1837.

Charles E. Gibbons, an excellent clog dancer, was with Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, in 1869; subsequently he joined the San Franciscos in New York, where he remained several years. His wife was Effie Germon, the well-known actress.

He died in New York City June 27, 1882; age 40 years.

Ned Reed was well-known mostly in the middle west, as a capable comedian. His first appearance was made in his native city about 1860.

In 1862 he organized a minstrel company, and subsequently he traveled with John Robinson’s Circus, remaining about four years, after which, in 1866, he appeared with Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels in Chicago. About 1867 Mr. Reed married Miss Ada St. Clair.

He had at various times conducted theatres in Terre Haute and Ft. Wayne, Ind.; Syracuse, N. Y., and Dayton, Ohio, where for eighteen years he was a resident, during which period Mr. Reed’s hand was frequently in his pocket to help those less fortunate than himself.

Ned Reed was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, September 27, 1840; he died in Dayton, Ohio, November 27, 1891.

C. W. Pringle was for many years associated in the management of Richard’s and Pringle’s Colored Minstrels, a popular organization. He died in Marysville, Cal., March 18, 1893.

Billy Gray (Cornelius O’Donnell) was well-known as a versatile black-face comedian. He entered the variety profession about 1862.

In 1873 he joined Harry Robinson’s Minstrels, and two years later was with Hooley in Brooklyn, N. Y. Subsequently he joined the company of Harrigan and Hart in New York, where he long remained.

Billy Gray was born in Ireland; he died in New York, November 21, 1882.

Billy Remington, a prominent black-face performer, who was an especially clever bone player, died at Grand Rapids, Mich., April 16, 1870.

Peasley and Hughes were a well-known black-face song and dance team of the variety and minstrel stage, where they played many notable engagements.

Mr. Peasley was also of Peasley and Fitzgerald; they opened with the Dearborn Minstrels in Chicago, August 21, 1871.

John A. Peasley died in Syracuse, N. Y., April 22, 1893.

Mark Hughes died in Chicago, Ill., February 6, 1882; age 34 years.

William Dwyer was a well-known tenor singer, and played successful engagements with Bryant’s, and the San Franciscos in New York, and Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

[137]

BILLY DE RUE BOBBY DE RUE
(DE RUE BROS.)
BERT. LEIGHTON FRANK LEIGHTON
(LEIGHTON BROS.)
BILLY FREEZE LARRY FREEZE
(FREEZE BROS.)

[138]

He was born in Dublin, Ireland; he died in Washington, D. C., December 30, 1898.


In the author’s possession is a document dated July 17, 1850, wherein one James Norris purchased a fourth interest in a prominent minstrel company of that day for $200.00. Imagine what a similar interest in Lew Dockstader’s Minstrels would cost to-day.


“Cool” Burgess (Colin Burgess) was one of the most famous names in minstrelsy. Tall and slender, with long, drooping moustache, he provoked merriment at sight.

He first appeared professionally in his native city about 1857, at the Melodeon.

Subsequently he was identified with many minstrel organizations, amongst the earliest was Burgess and (J. E.) Green’s. About the closing of the Rebellion he joined Hooley’s Company in Brooklyn, where he became quite popular.

In 1865 he was one of the proprietors of Burgess, (T. B.) Prendergast, (Archie) Hughes and (D. C.) LaRue’s Minstrels.

In 1867, in conjunction with his fellow townsman, Charley Gardner, he organized Burgess and Gardner’s Minstrels.

In 1864 he was associated with J. H. Haverly in an organization bearing their name.

In the Summer of 1867, Burgess and (Ainsley) Scott’s Minstrels had a brief existence.

(Charley) Reynolds, (John D.) Newcombe and Burgess’ Minstrels gave their first performance September 24, 1862.

On August 9, 1869, Mr. Burgess made his appearance with Sam Sharpley’s Minstrels in Boston, and the following month, in the same city, he joined Delehanty and Hengler’s Company.

In the Fall of 1879 he opened with Joe Norcross’ California Minstrels.

In 1875 he made his first appearance in England at Sam Hague’s Minstrels in Liverpool; subsequently he played a successful engagement with Moore and Burgess in London.

Like most prominent performers Mr. Burgess has a specialty in which he was prominently identified—in his case it was “Nicodemus Johnson,” in which he danced with abnormally long shoes, he being the first to adopt the massive footgear.

Mr. Burgess married Miss Edna S. Taylor May 20, 1862.

In the passing of “Cool” Burgess, minstrelsy lost one of its most brilliant stars.

“Cool” Burgess was born in Toronto, Canada, December 20, 1840; he died there October 20, 1905.

Hank Mudge (Henry Tyler Mudge) is one of the few old-timers left.

Mr. Mudge, who ranked with the great clog dancers of his day, made his first appearance in minstrelsy with the Porter Opera Troupe at Hartford, Conn., in 1857.

In 1859 he was at Captain John Smith’s Theatre in Albany, N. Y. Mr.[139] Mudge avers that this Smith was in no way related to the party in Virginia that was smitten with the charms of one Pocahontas.

But to continue; in 1860 he joined Sam Sharpley’s Minstrels, and later went to Boston, where he became identified with the famous Morris Bros., Pell and Trowbridge Minstrels in that city.

Mr. Mudge was associated with A. C. Stone, and as Mudge and Stone were rated as two of the best clog dancers in minstrelsy; likewise when with Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., did he do a great dancing act with Archie Hughes.

In New York he played successful engagements with Wood’s, and Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels.

October 11, 1866, Mr. Mudge with a party sailed for Hong Kong; October 16, 1866, Mr. Mudge arrived in New York. This might possibly strike the average observer as a quick trip; but the fact is that owing to the peevishness of old ocean, the minstrels floundered around on its huge bosom for several days, finally landing them where they started.

In five days the party recovered, and on October 21 they again set sail; this time for old England, where they arrived in due time, and after engagements on Erin’s Isle, Hussey, Sweney and Felton’s Minstrels opened in London, England, December 5, 1866.

Mr. Mudge subsequently played an extended engagement with Moore, Crocker and Ritter’s Minstrels in the British metropolis.

In 1866 Boyce and Mudge’s Minstrels made a bid for favor; later Hogan and Mudge’s troupe did likewise, and in 1876 Mudge and Gaynor’s Minstrels toured.

Mr. Mudge’s last tour was in connection with Dave Reed’s New York combination in 1887.

Hank Mudge was born in Troy, N. Y., March 12, 1840.

D. L. Morris, one of the greatest German comedians there ever was, played with Haverly’s Minstrels in 1875; and as Haverly’s “Black Dutchman” scored a big success; he was also with another minstrel organization.

He died at Cape Girardeau, Mo., August 5, 1879.

Robert McWade, whose great characterization of Rip, in “Rip Van Winkle” has made him world famous, wrote a burlesque on P. T. Barnum’s “What Is It?” for Hooley and Campbell’s Minstrels in New York, which was produced December 3, 1860.

During the week, owing to the indisposition of James Unsworth, Mr. McWade assumed the title role of “Africanus Barnum O,” and played it in black face; and ’tho fifty years have elapsed, Mr. McWade still speaks of this occasion with evident relish and satisfaction.

John H. Ward was a splendid dancer, and in the early 60’s partner of Wm. H. Delehanty, prior to the latter’s association with Thos. Hengler.

He died in East Saginaw, Mich., March 15, 1874.

Dave Wilson was a good comedian and gave a fine portrayal of the aged darky, but his principal fame rested on his manipulation of the bones, of which he was a master.

[140]

He was with Newcomb’s Minstrels in 1869, and Kelly and Leon’s in 1875; he retired shortly after that, and is said to be living in Buffalo, N. Y.

Neil Price, a black-face performer, whose fame chiefly was gained as author of “A Boy’s Best Friend Is His Mother,” died at Chattanooga, Tenn., November 5, 1889.

Harry G. Richmond (Augustus Von Boyle) was an exceedingly versatile performer; a good vocalist, dancer and comedian. His principal minstrel engagement was with Haverly in the Spring of 1878.

In Philadelphia, on October 29, 1879, during an altercation with an old friend, Dan Archer, Richmond, in pure self-defense, killed Archer.

Mr. Richmond, in conjunction with his brother, Acland Von Boyle, took out the play of “Our Candidate,” about 1879.

On May 1, 1880, he married Miss Florence Stover, an actress.

Harry G. Richmond was born in Brooklyn, N. Y.; he died in Camden, N. J., October 21, 1885.

A. C. Stone was an exceptionally good clog dancer, and in the early 60’s a partner of “Hank” Mudge, under the team name of Stone and Mudge.

In 1865 he was with Sharpley’s Ironclads; at the time of his death with LaRue’s Minstrels.

He died at Frankfort, Ky., November 13, 1866.

George Wilkes (Miller), a well-known female impersonator of several early minstrel organizations, was born in Philadelphia; he died in Memphis, Tenn., October 1, 1870.

Fred Sprung was a well-known vocalist and “straight” man in the 60’s, during which period he worked in acts with Billy Manning. In 1864 he was with Rumsey’s Minstrels, and in September of the following year with a small company, gave a show over the mountains of California, being one of the first to do so.

He died in San Jose, Cal., February 26, 1890.

John Pendy (Prendergast), a well-known black-face performer in the old variety days, married Jeffreys Warner, and played as Pendy and Warner for several years.

He died in New York City November 16, 1902.

Frank Girard (Giraud). This well-known interlocutor and “straight man” began his career with Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., about 1863; he remained but a short period and then enlisted in the navy, where he continued until the war was over.

In September, 1866, Mr. Girard was one of the 500 passengers bound for New Orleans on the steamer “Evening Star,” which was wrecked about 300 miles off the coast of Florida (October 3, 1866); he was the only male that survived, and was on the water for five days before he was rescued. He subsequently returned to New York, and later was identified with some of the principal minstrel companies.

[141]

GUSTAVE BIDAUX W. H. LEWIS (RICE) FRANK KENT GONSALVO BISHOP EDWIN HOLMES
DUPREZ & GREEN’S MINSTRELS, 1863.
Some prominent members of the company at that time.

[142]

About 1871 he became a member of Tony Pastor’s stock company in New York, where he acted as stage manager and played in the farces for many years.

His son is Edwin Girard, for many years manager of the Gotham Theatre, Brooklyn, N. Y.

Frank Girard was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., July 7, 1840; he died there November 1, 1900.

James D. Bohee a prominent colored performer and concededly great banjoist, went to England about 1880, where he was a great success until the time of his death in London, England, December 1, 1897.

Jimmy Clark was one of the best jig dancers in the country, and equally proficient in the manipulation of the banjo, and an all-round good general performer.

He was with Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels in New York, also with the Duprez and Benedict Company.

December, 1872, Welch, Clark and Hart’s Minstrels began a brief career.

Mr. Clark had not appeared professionally for some years. Prior to his death he was employed in the manufacturing of the banjo.

Jimmy Clark died in New York City, February 27, 1880; age 40 years.

Charles L. Monroe, considered a very good impersonator of the old Southern “darky,” died in Philadelphia, July 12, 1875; age 36 years.

John Bartley, a good general performer in negro acts, and an exceptionally fine performer with the tambourine and bones, died at Buffalo, N. Y., April 17, 1895.

Jerry McMillan, once known as “Master Jerry,” was one of the best jig dancers of his day.

He was identified with the San Francisco Minstrels in New York City for a considerable period.

He died in Philadelphia, September 9, 1873.

A. Bamford, a capable female impersonator who was prominent at one time at Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, and also played a European engagement in the 60’s, died at San Francisco, April 5, 1871. Mr. Bamford also did specialties with Harry Norman.

Harry J. Clapham. This gentleman’s name will always rank with the great managers of minstrelsy.

His career began on the 30th anniversary of his birth, at Syracuse, N. Y., with Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels, as a balladist. Six weeks later he was programme agent, and in six months was “press agent”; in 1910 we would call that “making good.” Later he became general agent, continuing in that capacity for 18 months. When Haverly’s Minstrels were organized in the Fall of 1873, he became agent; a year later he was manager, in which capacity he served for several years.

Leaving Mr. Haverly he took a much-needed rest for six months, and[143] then assumed the management of Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Minstrels; in about two years he turned into the company $100,000 in profits; this was “going some” about 30 years ago.

John T. Raymond and Mr. and Mrs. McKee Rankin claimed his executive attention for three years; he then assumed management of the Barlow, Wilson & Co. Minstrels, remaining three years.

After the Barlow, Wilson & Co. Minstrels, Mr. Clapham took out a repertoire company; his leading man being no less a personage than that excellent actor of to-day, Mr. Thos. E. Shea, who had previously occupied a mercantile position in Boston.

A four years respite found Mr. Clapham equal owner with Lew Dockstader’s Minstrels (road company); the alliance lasted three seasons, which were very successful; the first 40 weeks profits were $24,000.

Mr. Clapham speaks in the highest terms of praise of his first manager, Col. Haverly, because he gave him (Clapham) the opportunity.

Harry J. Clapham was born in Lincoln, England, November 16, 1840.

Kelly and Leon was a great trade-mark in minstrelsy forty years ago.

Edwin Kelly was a vocalist and an actor; Leon was a female impersonator; and none were more successful than he. Together they were famous for their burlesques, which they put on in a lavish manner.

In 1860 each were members of Geo. Christy’s Minstrels; the following season they joined Morris Bros., Pell and Trowbridge’s Company in Boston, and in 1862 they were with Arlington and Donniker’s Troupe. A year later Kelly and Leon were interested in the management of the company, which soon after was known as Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels in Chicago.

October 1, 1866, the company opened at Hope Chapel, New York, and for more than two years they were established there, meeting with pronounced success.

January 9, 1869, they gave their final performance, and shortly after sailed for London, England, opening with Montague’s “Christy’s,” May 9. After a brief engagement they organized Kelly and Leon’s “Christy’s” Minstrels, giving their initial performance July 6, 1869. Six weeks later, August 16, they appeared with Delehanty and Hengler’s Combination in Boston. They made their first appearance in San Francisco November 7, 1871.

August 26, 1872, they began an engagement at Bryant’s Minstrels in New York, which terminated November 16. Kelly and Leon then reorganized their own company, opening at their old stand, November 25, three days later, November 28, 1872, the theatre was destroyed by fire.

The following Summer they returned to California, where they played an engagement in San Francisco with Maguire’s Minstrels.

Returning East they opened in Philadelphia with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels, closing November 8, 1873.

The following year they were with Haverly; in 1875 Kelly and Leon’s Company took the road, under the management of Surridge and Melville.

In the Spring of 1876 their company opened at Bryant’s old minstrel hall in New York, where they continued several months.

December 10, 1877, with their company, they began their third engagement in San Francisco, and on February 2, 1878, they sailed for Australia, where about two years after their arrival their long partnership was dissolved.[144] For a time each headed their own company in the Antipodes. Leon later returned to the United States; Mr. Kelly remained in Australia until his death.

Prior to 1860 Edwin Kelly was a balladist with Ordway’s Aeolians in Boston. In May, 1858, “Master” Leon joined Wood’s Minstrels in New York; the year following he was with Campbell’s Minstrels.

Shortly after Leon’s return to America, he joined Haverly’s Minstrels; he severed his association with that company in February, 1883. He then formed an alliance with Frank Cushman, and in April began an engagement with Barlow, Wilson’s Minstrels.

September 3, 1883, he opened with Birch’s San Francisco Minstrels in New York. Leon and Cushman sailed for Australia about January 1, 1886; they played several months in Melbourne; shortly after their return to the United States they separated, August, 1887.

“Leon” began an engagement with Emerson’s Minstrels January 19, 1889.

Since then Mr. Leon has been identified in minstrel, vaudeville and concert work, until his retirement about eight years ago.

Edwin Kelly was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1835; he died in Adelaide, Australia, December 24, 1898.

“Leon” (Patrick Francis Glassey) was born in New York City, November 21, about 1840.

Jack Talbott (Arthur J. Talbott), well-known as a comedian, began his theatrical career in the late 50’s.

In 1860 he was with Hooley and Campbell’s Minstrels, that same year joining Sanford’s Company in Philadelphia, in which city he remained altogether about ten years with Carncross and Dixey’s, and Carncross’ Minstrels. Early in 1887 he was one of a company at the Criterion Theatre, Brooklyn, N. Y., in an attempt to revive permanent minstrelsy in that city.

Mr. Talbott was an excellent marksman, and was the first to shoot an apple from the head in a theatre.

He first performed this feat at the New Idea in San Francisco, October 21, 1864; Johnny De Angelis, father of the comedian, Jeff De Angelis, held the apple.

Mr. Talbott was a brother of Harry Talbott, the minstrel, and the husband of Emma Miles, danseuse, whom he married in the 60’s.

Jack Talbott was born in Baltimore, Md., October 3, 1840; he died in New York, April 5, 1910.

J. Henry Murphy, the well-known minstrel tenor, was with Mead’s Minstrels in New London, Conn., September 8, 1862.

About February, 1864, he joined Buckley’s Serenaders in Boston, Mass., and was associated with them for several seasons. April 17, 1871, he commenced an engagement with Newcomb and Arlington’s Minstrels in New York, and on January 29, 1872, joined Simmons and Slocum’s Company in Philadelphia.

Later he identified himself with Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels, and was with him some time. Mr. Murphy had not appeared professionally for many years.

J. Henry Murphy died in New London, Conn., April 10, 1910; age about 70 years.

[145]

JOHN E. CAIN NEAL ABEL
GEO. W. ROCKEFELLER JULIA GOULD
GREG. PATTI HARRY LEHR

CAIN & ABEL; ROCKEFELLER & GOULD; PATTI AND HARRY LEHR; THEY ALL “BLACKED UP.”

[146]

Charles D. Burnham, an old-time comedian, was with Green’s Mocking Bird Minstrels in 1871, also various other companies.

He married Miss Jennie Davis at Kingston, Canada, January 5, 1872.

He died at Bay City, Mich., August 1, 1902.

“English Tommy Peel” (William Howe), a jig dancer of some reputation, died in New York, January 31, 1868.

Walter Bray (Baker) was a versatile black-face performer, whose career began about fifty years ago.

In 1864, in conjunction with Joe Murphy, he had a minstrel company bearing their names. Mr. Bray made his first New York appearance September 6, 1869, doing a black-face song and dance called “Sugar Bob.”

In 1872 he was with Wm. Henry Rice’s Minstrels in Cincinnati, where his “Corkographs” received well-merited applause. Subsequently he played many minstrel and variety engagements.

He died at Fort Worth, Texas, February 25, 1891.

“Happy” Cal. Wagner was not born with that handle to his name, but just plain Calvin Wagner.

Mr. Wagner began comicalities at the age of 17, and at 70 is still “happy.” Of course he played other minstrel engagements before appearing with Charley Morris’ Company in 1864.

In 1865 he was with Sam Sharpley’s Ironclads, and the following year Wagner and (Sam) Hague’s Minstrels could readily be seen—if you had the price.

In 1867, January 21, to be exact, he joined Lloyd and Bidaux’ Minstrels; the following year found him with Fred Wilson’s Minstrels, and on March 6, 1869, he left Wilson in St. Louis; that is, he left Wilson’s company. It was getting time for “Happy” Cal Wagner’s Minstrels, and accordingly that organization soon sprang into being.

In the Fall of 1870 this company came under the able direction of “Jack” Haverly; the partnership was dissolved November 8, 1873. Mr. Wagner’s Minstrels went on touring.

In 1878 Wagner and (Ben) Cotton’s Minstrels happened; that same year they unhappened. A year or so later Mr. Wagner joined Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Minstrels, closing with them in February, 1881.

Mr. Wagner’s last appearance in minstrelsy was with Quinlan and Will’s Company, about five years ago.

Cal. Wagner was born in Mobile, Ala., July 4, 1840.

Horace Rushby, well-known as a character actor, made his first appearance in the United States with Case and Kernan’s Minstrels in 1869.

A year later he joined Blaisdell Bros. and Courtright’s Minstrels; in 1872 he was a member of Wm. Henry Rice’s organization in Cincinnati. Subsequently he appeared successfully with the minstrel companies of Harry Robinson; Haverly; I. W. Baird’s; Birch, Hamilton and Backus; Hooley and Emerson’s Megatherians; Carncross’, in Philadelphia, and several others.

Some years ago Mr. Rushby decided to enter the legitimate field, where[147] as Cy. Prime in the “Old Homestead” and John Todd in “Old Jed Prouty” he achieved success.

Horace Rushby was born in Hull, England, November 14, 1840.

John Crosher, a well-known ballad singer who was with Cotton and Murphy’s Minstrels in 1865, and with Simmons and Slocum’s Company in Philadelphia, Pa., from 1871 to 1874; died in Toronto, Canada, January 15, 1880.

Dick Sands (George R. Sands), famous for many years as Barnum’s “Old Woman in the Shoe,” was one of the world’s greatest clog dancers.

His first appearance was made at Pierce’s Varieties in Providence, R. I., in 1857. Late that same year he joined Bryant’s Minstrels in New York, and in February, 1859, reappeared there.

In 1866 he was associated with Jack Haverly in a minstrel company bearing their name. Mr. Sands played important engagements with the Morris Bros., Pell and Trowbridge Minstrels in Boston, and many other high-class minstrel and circus companies.

Dick Sands was born at Mill Bridge, England, May 2, 1840; he died in New York, March 28, 1900.

Charles B. Hicks, one of the proprietors of Hicks and Sawyer’s Colored Minstrels, died at Suraboya, Java, in 1902.

W. H. Hamilton, who was a well-known baritone singer, was with Simmons and Slocum’s, and Frank Moran’s Minstrels in Philadelphia in the early 70’s, and in 1882 was part proprietor of Birch, Hamilton and Backus’ Minstrels in New York. He died in Los Angeles, Cal., April 17, 1897.

Gustave Geary, a well-known vocalist of Hooley’s and other minstrel companies during the 60’s, died in New York, April 25, 1877.

W. H. Strickland, the well-known minstrel agent, who was long associated with Haverly’s Minstrels, died in New York, February 27, 1903.

Charles Lockwood, a famous singer of Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., and other prominent organizations, died in Brooklyn, N. Y., April 28, 1887.

He was the author of “A Handful of Earth,” made famous by Joe Murphy in the Irish drama.

J. H. Clifford, an excellent dancer of the 60’s, during which period he was associated with Rumsey’s, Hooley’s, Campbell’s and other well-known minstrel organizations.

He was especially well remembered for his song of “Hot Corn.”

He was on the police force in New York for some time.

He is said to have died about ten years ago.

Billy Sheppard was equally famous for his neat and artistic songs and dances, and for his rendition of the “Anvil Chorus” on the banjo.

He had been with many prominent minstrel companies, notably with[148] the San Franciscos in California in 1865; Griffin and Christy’s in New York, two years later, and in the Summer of 1869 played in England with Smith and Taylor’s Minstrels; in 1870 he was with Hooley in Brooklyn, N. Y., and with Hooley’s in Chicago in 1871. His wife was professionally known as Sallie Clinetop, of the Clinetop Sisters.

Mr. Sheppard died at Ft. Washington, N. Y., July 8, 1872.

James A. Herne, the late well-known actor and author, whose portrayal of the lighthouse keeper in his play of “Shore Acres” will long be pleasantly remembered, played Samson, a heavy, black-face character part in the “New South,” commencing at the Broadway Theatre, New York, January 2, 1893.

James A. Herne was born in Troy, N. Y., February 1, 1840; he died in New York City, June 2, 1901.

D. R. Hawkins was well known as a capable interlocutor, and co-proprietor with Billy Courtright with a permanent minstrel company in Philadelphia bearing their names; they opened about September, 1882. He was also with Emerson’s Minstrels.

He was born in Philadelphia, and died in San Francisco, September 5, 1888; age 47 years.

Hen. Mason (Martin), was a well-known black-face performer. His wife was Celia Iferd, an actress.

He was the author of several sketches, notably, “A Night at a Free and Easy.”

He died in New York, February 22, 1873; age 33 years.

Frank Pell, a well-known and favorite comedian of many years ago, who was with Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Minstrels, in 1860; Newcomb’s Minstrels, in 1867, and other well-known companies, died in St. Paul, Minn., August 26, 1871.

Tommy Peel (O’Reilly) was one of the world’s great jig dancers. He made his first professional appearance in his native city at the age of twelve years.

About 1855 he became a member of a minstrel company in which Matt Peel was interested. Mr. Peel adopted him, and young O’Reilly thereafter was known as Tommy Peel.

He continued with Matt Peel practically until the latter’s death, in 1859, after which he joined Bryant’s Minstrels in New York, where he remained about three years.

Tommy Peel was born in Albany, N. Y., September, 1841; he died in Melbourne, Aus., July 31, 1869.

J. F. Sullivan, prominent as a balladist at various times with the minstrel companies of Duprez and Green; Sharpley’s; Buckley’s, and Skiff and Gaylord’s, died in Boston, Mass., August 20, 1866; age 25 years.

Frank Howard (Hurd), an old-time general minstrel performer of several early companies, was born in Boston, Mass.; he died in Chicago, Ill., January 4, 1897; age 56 years.

[149]

DAN. BRYANT “HANK” MUDGE S. S. PURDY
A TRIO OF TROJANS.
TOM ENGLISH,
Born in Ireland
SID. C. FRANCE,
Born in England
CHAS. K. FRENCH,
Born in the United States
ISN’T THIS THE FUNNY OLD WORLD?

[150]

J. K. “Fritz” Emmett (Kleinfelter), the famous singing Dutch comedian, played several minstrel engagements before coming East; but always in white-face.

On June 1, 1868, at De Bar’s Opera House, St. Louis, Mo., (R. M.) Carroll and Emmett’s (J. K.) Minstrels began a brief engagement. Late in the same month he made his first New York appearance in black-face at Bryant’s Minstrels, and this was not the only time Mr. Emmett ever appeared in corked features. The engagement terminated in July following.

J. K. Emmett was born in St. Louis, Mo., March 13, 1841; he died in Cornwall, N. Y., June 15, 1891.

Ben Hayes (J. C. Allian) the old-time comedian and general performer, made his first appearance with the Sands & Mazzoni Company, in 1863.

That same year he joined the Morris Bros., Pell and Trowbridge Company, subsequently appearing with Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels for three years.

With Frank Wild in Buffalo, he was associated three years, also in many other variety houses did he play long stock engagements.

Ben Hayes was born in New York City, October 26, 1841.

Joseph M. Norcross, for many years known as Joseph Norrie, is one of the oldest and most prominent interlocutors in minstrelsy.

He first appeared professionally with the late Fred Sharpley and his own minstrel company in 1857.

In 1862 he joined Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, and in 1870 joined Simmons and Slocum in the same city, and remained two years with that company, including a trip to California.

Subsequently Mr. Norcross joined Birch, Wambold and Backus’ Minstrels in New York, continuing there two years, after which he joined Bryant’s Minstrels, also in the Metropolis, and remained until the death of Dan Bryant.

Mr. Norcross was two years with Emerson’s Minstrels in San Francisco, and a like period with Buckley’s Serenaders. He was with Haverly seven years, including a trip to England, in 1884.

Mr. Norcross was with “Our Goblins” for four seasons, appearing in white-face. For the past few years he has intermittently appeared in vaudeville with a unique tabloid minstrel show of his own design.

Mr. Norcross married Miss Mamie Wambold at Newark, N. J., March 17, 1878.

Jos. M. Norcross was born in New York City July 5, 1841.

Hubert W. Eagan is one of the few old-time black-face performers whose active career began over half a century ago.

Mr. Eagan’s professional life began in Buffalo, N. Y., in 1857; three years later he sat on the end for the first time in Baltimore, Md., at the Melodeon, the present site of the Monumental Theatre.

He played many variety engagements before he went with LaRue’s Minstrels in 1866.

Mr. Eagan joined James Edwards in the middle 60’s, and as Eagan and Edwards were highly popular in the variety houses.

In 1863 he married Miss Jennie Williams, and after playing numerous variety and circus engagements, he retired about 1898.

Hubert W. Eagan was born in Castleragh, Ireland, December 18, 1841.

[151]

Lew Brimmer (Leslie Chase Brimmer) was not only a great banjoist, but a clever comedian as well.

In July, 1864, he was with Sanderson’s Minstrels; the same year he joined Hooley in Brooklyn, N. Y.; December 5, 1865, at Binghamton, N. Y., was given the first performance of Brimmer, Whiting, Gaynor and Clark’s Minstrels.

He was with Emerson and Manning’s Minstrels in 1869, and the following year with Emerson’s Minstrels; in the Summer of 1871 he had out Lew Brimmer’s Banjo Minstrels, and in September, 1872, he began an engagement with Moran and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

He was also with the San Francisco Minstrels in New York, and with Wood’s Company in the same city. His last engagement was at Sandy Spencer’s, in New York City.

Lew Brimmer was born in Cooperstown, N. Y.; he died in Fonda, N. Y., September 15, 1883; age 42 years.

George Gray, a well-known minstrel singer of the 60’s and 70’s, was identified with the companies of Hooley, Fox and Sharpley; Campbell’s and many others.

About 1880 he played Uncle Tom, and continued in that character until his death.

He was the first husband of Minnie Oscar Gray.

He was born in New York, September 25, 1841; he died in Minneapolis, Minn., March 13, 1882.

Tim. Hayes was one of the foremost clog dancers of minstrelsy. His first professional appearance was with Wild’s theatrical show under canvas in 1851.

In 1860 he came to the United States, and made his debut at the Melodeon in New York. After that he joined Hooley and Campbell’s Minstrels, and subsequently appeared with Unsworth’s; Carncross and Dixey’s, in Philadelphia; George Christy’s, and M. C. Campbell’s Minstrels.

Tim Hayes was born in Dublin, Ire., September 22, 1841; he died in Washington, D. C., May 12, 1877.

Billy Hart arrived in the United States on his eighth birthday. He made his first appearance professionally in New York, January 26, 1862. In April, same year, he appeared in black-face for the first time, and sang “Ham Fat”; subsequently and for many seasons he appeared with many prominent minstrel companies.

A few years before his death he essayed Irish characters, and was very successful.

He was born in County Tipperary, Ireland, March 17, 1842; he died in New York, July 9, 1879.

Charles H. Day spent nearly all of his life in the amusement world. He was well known as an author, agent and journalist; he was connected in an executive capacity with such minstrel organizations as Cleveland’s and Newcomb and Arlington’s.

About forty years ago he was interested in Sharpley, Sheridan, Mack[152] and Day’s Minstrels; later this company was known as Sheridan, Mack and Day’s Minstrels.

Charles H. Day died in New Haven, Conn., October 3, 1907; age 65 years.

Harry Stanwood (Stevens) was famous as a banjoist and comedian for many years.

In 1863 he was with Duprez and Green’s Minstrels; in 1871 with Newcomb and Arlington’s Company in New York. He was also with Bryant’s Minstrels in the same city, as well as many other first-class organizations during the twenty-five years or so he was before the public. Harry Stanwood was born in Cobourg, Canada, November 2, 1842; he died there September 21, 1886.

Bob Fraser was equally well-known as a minstrel and pantomimist.

Originally a scene painter, it was while employed in that capacity with Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, that he made his debut as an end man. He invariably arranged the Christmas pantomimes with the company in which he was identified; and in that way gradually forsook cork for chalk.

On Christmas Day, 1876, he became associated in the management of the minstrels with Billy Sweatnam at the Arch Street Opera House, Philadelphia; the organization was then known as Sweatnam and Fraser’s Minstrels.

Bob Fraser was born in Philadelphia; he died in New York City, August 4, 1896; age 54 years.

Sam. Devere was one of the best-known black-face banjoists before the public. He first applied cork to his features when twenty years of age, in a music hall in Brooklyn, on the site now occupied by the Court Theatre.

In 1879 he starred in “Jasper,” a play in which he played one of the principal characters, in black-face. One year later he went to Europe with Haverly’s Minstrels, opening in London, July 31, 1880.

September 15, 1890, at the Gayety Theatre, Albany, N. Y., the first performance of Sam Devere’s Own Company was given, and the company continued on the road ever since. Even at the present date, the trade-mark is still in use.

Mr. Devere achieved wide popularity by singing the famous ditty, “The Whistling Coon.”

Sam Devere died in Brooklyn, N. Y., March 1, 1907; age about 65 years.

Sanford and Wilson are credited with being the original musical mokes; they certainly were among the earliest double acts of this kind.

Both were big men, and both capable comedians. The violin and banjo were about the only instruments they played; but they could play them, and no two performers ever got more comedy out of these instruments than they.

They formed a partnership in August, 1873, and during their many years on the stage they played all the principal variety houses, and engagements with Bryant’s, also Haverly’s Minstrels.

Mr. Wilson retired from theatricals in May, 1892.

[153]

JAS—MACKIN & WILSON—FRANCIS
(1875)
(Courtesy of Chapin & Gore, Chicago)
“KERRY GOW” JOE MURPHY
(1862)
DAVE—MONTGOMERY & STONE—FRED
(About 1898)
THOSE WERE THE HAPPY DAYS.

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James Sanford (Thos. Pynes), was born in Milbury, Mass., in 1843; he died in Cohoes, N. Y., December 23, 1891.

Charles Wilson (Neiman), was born in Milwaukee, Wis.; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., February 15, 1893; age 51 years.

John Bowman. This prominent song and dance artist began his regular career at Graham’s Concert Hall on Market Street, near Second, St. Louis, Mo., in October, 1863, where he met with much success doing an “Essence.” It was there that he met his future partner, William Harris, though he did not join him in partnership at that time. After Graham’s he went to Jake Esher’s Bowery, same city, doing “ends” and comedy; traveling engagements followed until he met Harris again at Deagle’s in St. Louis, 1866, when the partnership was formed; they remained at Deagle’s Varieties one year, played many variety theatres, and engagements in St. Louis with Fred Wilson’s Minstrels, also Simmons and Slocum in Philadelphia. Bowman and Harris dissolved partnership in Canada in 1873 while with the L. B. Lent’s Circus.

After separating from Mr. Harris he opened in Providence, R. I., with Archie Stalker, and played other dates, later taking out the Bowman Brothers Minstrels; a wagon show.

In 1881 he went to work for William Harris, in Boston, and has been with him ever since.

John Bowman was born in Mobile, Ala., November 16, 1842.

William Harris, famous in professional circles for many years as a member of the great theatrical syndicate, began his career in St. Louis, Mo., in the early days of the Civil War, as a black-face song and dance man, playing the variety houses until 1866, when he formed a partnership with John Bowman, which lasted until 1873, when they separated. Mr. Harris next allied himself with William Carroll, a good comedian and banjoist, and as Harris and Carroll played many first-class engagements, including Tony Pastor’s Road Company; they separated in 1879. Later he went to Boston at the Howard Athenaeum, as stage and acting manager for Josh. Hart, subsequently taking the house himself, and retaining it for several seasons. Afterwards, in conjunction with Isaac Rich, they had many stars under their banner, including George Thatcher, Andrew Mack and many others.

Mr. Harris is one of the youngest looking men in the profession, retaining the appearances of youth to a remarkable degree; he hails from St. Louis, Mo. I didn’t get his age, but I am sure he must be younger than he would admit that he is.

(Overture—“Apple of My Eye.”)

Joe. Lang, the old-time black-face performer, made his first appearance with the Morris Brothers, Pell and Trowbridge’s Minstrels, at an early age. Subsequently he played an engagement with Morris and Wilson’s Minstrels in St. Louis.

Mr. Lang had the management of the Adelphi Theatre in Buffalo for several seasons, and the Halsted Street Theatre in Chicago.

He was also associated professionally with “Hank” Mudge, the old time clog dancer.

Joe Lang was born in New York, September 21, about 1843.

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Mike Foley was a well-known black-face comedian, and during the 70’s did an excellent black-face act with Buck Sheffer, as Foley and Sheffer. He was also of the team of Foley and Wade.

He had retired from active theatricals about nine years prior to his death, which occurred at Syracuse, N. Y., September 10, 1888, at the age of 45 years.

Thompson and Kerns were the first black-face double song and dance team.

Prior to their advent, performers invariably worked singly. Their first joint appearance was made in Washington, D. C., in 1861; a year previous Mr. Kerns had made his professional debut at Long’s Varieties, Philadelphia. Thompson and Kerns continued in partnership for several years, playing the variety theatres almost exclusively.

After separating, Mr. Thompson joined Newcomb’s Minstrels in Cincinnati, August, 1867.

About 1871 he produced “On Hand,” a sensational drama, in which Mr. Thompson portrayed twelve distinct characters; black, white and yellow; male and female; of various nationalities. At last accounts he was still playing “On Hand,” early in the current year.

Mr. Thompson is the father of Mollie Thompson, the favorite dancer of a decade ago; and the father-in-law of Eddie Garvie, who has played more than one black-face part.

Mr. Thompson was also the oldest living musical moke.

Johnny Thompson was born in New York, July 4, 1843.

Frank Kerns was born in Philadelphia, 1844; he died in New York, September 21, 1877.

Charles Bortell was well-known as a capable and bass singer and interlocutor. His last minstrel engagement was with I. W. Baird’s Company.

At one time he was a member of the police force in Saratoga, N. Y.; he died there November 26, 1888; age 45 years.

Oscar Willis (McLain) was well-known as a banjoist and comedian chiefly on the variety stage.

His first appearance was made in his native city in 1858.

In 1871 he was end man and comedian with Unsworth’s Minstrels. November 16, 1867, he married Gussie Lamoreux, a well-known dancer, at Baltimore, Md.

Mr. Willis was born in Pittsburg, Pa., July 14, 1843; he died at Bismarck, Dakota, August 19, 1881.

John Wild. This truly great impersonator of the colored man was rather an unique performer; for whereas most of his contemporaries portrayed the black man of the plantation, John Wild’s characterizations were generally those of the town negro, of which he made an especial study from New York City life.

About 1857 Mr. Wild met Billy Arlington, and became a member of Arlington and White’s Minstrels; the company consisted of the three already named, and lasted one week. The next three years were mostly circus and variety engagements. Early in 1863 he went to Carncross and Dixey’s[156] Minstrels in Philadelphia, occupying the tambo end; he subsequently played the variety theatres with Blanche Stanley in an act called “Nerves,” in which he created a sensation.

Mr. Wild afterwards was with the minstrel companies of Emerson, Allen and Manning’s, and the Morris Brothers in Boston, which company he left to become one of the proprietors of Dougherty, Wild, Barney and Mac’s Minstrels in 1869. He joined Harrigan and Hart’s Company, January 28, 1878, and continued with them until and after Tony Hart left the organization, remaining until 1889, when he starred in “Running Wild.”

The following year he was with George Thatcher’s Minstrels, and on December 29, 1890, he rejoined Harrigan, continuing with him until 1895.

In conjunction with Mrs. Annie Yeamans and Dan Collyer, he began a tour in vaudeville, January 10, 1898.

John Wild’s death was a distinct and irreparable loss to the profession he so ably graced.

Mr. Wild was twice married; his second wife, Ada Wray, was well-known in the profession several years ago.

John Wild was born in Manchester, England, December 29, 1843; he died in Averill Park, N. Y., March 2, 1898.

George W. Rockefeller, well-known as a vocalist and banjoist, opened with the 5th Engineer Minstrels at Auburn, N. Y., September 4, 1865; shortly after this company was known as Wagner and Hague’s Minstrels. Subsequently he was with Lloyd’s Minstrels in New York, and Tunnison’s Minstrels in Philadelphia; he joined Bryant’s Company in New York in 1868, and was with them for quite a while.

He was with Buckley’s Serenaders, also in New York, in the Summer of 1870; in the Fall he joined the San Francisco Minstrels, likewise in New York.

He opened with Emerson’s Minstrels in San Francisco, August 19, 1872; May 12, following he sailed for Australia with that company, and remained in the Antipodes after leaving Emerson, finally returning to the United States in the Summer of 1879.

He again went to California, where he died at Colton, that State, March 18, 1886. Mr. Rockefeller was born at Penfield, N. Y., March 14, 1843.

Charley Pettengill. Minstrelsy suffered an irreparable loss in the untimely death of this brilliant comedian; a comedian in fact, and versatile to a degree.

August 1, 1864, he opened with Buckley’s Serenaders in Boston, and became a great favorite at once. Subsequently he joined the Morris Bros. Minstrels in the same city, where he remained until February 13, 1866. September 10, following, he played a brief engagement with Sands and Herbert’s Minstrels, and the same month returned to his home in Albany to organize Pettengill’s Minstrels, which continued intermittently until September 22, 1869, when in conjunction with Johnny Allen and Delehanty and Hengler, a company bearing their names was launched at Brooklyn, N. Y.

In November following they opened for a run in New York, that terminated June 1, 1870.

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JOHN GORMAN JAMES GORMAN GEO. GORMAN
THE GORMAN BROS.; ALWAYS ON TOP.
AMOS ARNOLD BILLY ARNOLD FRANK ARNOLD
THE FAMOUS ARNOLD BROS.; A GREAT TREAT FOR BILLY.

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Mr. Pettengill is declared to have been the original “Nicodemus Johnson”; if he wasn’t, he certainly was the greatest. All honor to his memory.

Charley Pettengill was born in Albany, N. Y., where he died October 10, 1870; age 27 years.

M. B. Leavitt (Michael Bennett Levy) commenced his professional career as a minstrel in 1859; he was one of the end men, and appeared under his own name as M. B. Levy; Mr. Leavitt has been a comedian ever since—but not always on the stage.

To name all the minstrel companies he has been with would be a difficult matter, also all the things he did in them.

In 1867 he was a clown and comic vocalist; in 1872 he did a stump speech on the occasion of his last appearance as a “black-face” performer. There were any number of “Leavitt’s Minstrels” in the 60’s.

About forty years ago he became associated with Mme. Rentz’s Female Minstrels; when the fall season opened, September 18, 1871, Mr. Leavitt was treasurer of the company. This organization subsequently developed into the Rentz-Santley Troupe, the burlesque show of many years’ standing. Most of the Leavitt millions were made with this company.

In 1881 Leavitt’s Gigantean Minstrels were organized, and in 1889 Leavitt’s European Minstrels toured.

Mr. Leavitt has broken into the ranks of authors, and an interesting volume from his pen may shortly be expected.

M. B. Leavitt was born in Boston, Mass., June 24, 1843.

Arthur Cook, the well-known minstrel tenor who made popular “Ring the Bells Softly,” “Essie Dear” and other favorite compositions, came to America about 1853, and was prominently identified with such well-known minstrel organizations as Bryant’s, in New York; Carncross’ and Thatcher and Ryman’s in Philadelphia; Hooley’s in Brooklyn; San Franciscos in New York; Primrose and West; also with Edward Harrigan, “The County Fair” and “The Man From Boston.”

Arthur Cook was born in London, England; he died in Boston, Mass., November 1, 1893; age 50 years.

Billy McAllister’s career began at the age of sixteen, singing in concerts.

In 1862 he joined the Fuller New York combination Minstrels as a comedian, and as a comedian no one has ever been able to justly gainsay his right to that term.

In 1864 he organized the Cross, Fay and McAllister’s Minstrels, and until 1870 he was associated with various companies; in the fall of that year he joined Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels; Mr. McAllister demonstrated his versatility with this company by performing at various times the duties of balladist, interlocutor and comedian.

In 1872 he was with Harry Robinson’s Minstrels, and most of the period from then until 1880 was identified with his own companies.

Commencing in that year with I. W. Baird’s Minstrels, he remained two seasons. In 1882 he became a member of Haverly’s Mastodon Minstrels, and in 1883 Robinson and McAllister’s Minstrels took the road, but gave it back the following year.

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July 30, 1885, Mr. McAllister opened with McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels in his native city, at the initial performance of that company; early in 1886 he joined Carncross’ Minstrels in Philadelphia, sitting opposite to Lew Dockstader.

Mr. McAllister has been a prominent citizen of Troy, N. Y., where he has been engaged in business for more than twenty years.

Billy McAllister was born in Paterson, N. J., March 15, 1843.

Frank Bell (Peter Jaggers), best known as a unique stump-speaker, made his first appearance in Olean, N. Y., in September, 1864, and shortly after joined Wood’s Minstrels in New York, as a clog dancer.

Subsequent minstrel engagements were with the original New Orleans Minstrels, Simmons, Slocum and Sweatnam’s, Armstrong Bros., George Clapham’s Minstrels, Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s, Haverly’s, Harry Robinson’s, and Lester and Allen’s. The crowning success of his career was with “Way Down East,” in white-face, playing the constable, and singing “All Bound Round With a Woolen String;” Mr. Bell also played a character part with Otis Skinner in “Your Humble Servant,” in 1910.

Frank Bell was born in Thurle, Can., September 17, 1843.

Major (John E.) Burk, known far and wide for his famous gun drill, has been with many prominent minstrel organizations in the United States and England, usually appearing in black-face, the act seemingly being enhanced in appearance at least, by the addition of burnt cork.

He first appeared with Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, in 1868, also played engagements there in 1869 and 1870. Subsequently he was with San Sharpley, season 1872-73; first appearance in England at Hague’s Minstrels, London, April 17, 1876; also played at Hague’s, Liverpool, and Moore and Burgess in London; Hooley & Emerson’s Megatherians, season 1879-80; Livermore Bros. in England; Frank Moran’s Minstrels, Carncross’ Minstrels in Philadelphia, and the Big 4 Minstrels, 1880-81.

Major Burk was born in New York City, June 21, 1845, and now resides there.

Milt. G. Barlow was one of the greatest “old darky” delineators that minstrelsy has known, and probably did more to popularize “Old Black Joe” than any other performer.

Mr. Barlow originally aspired to be a Dutch comedian. His first minstrel engagement was with the Jackson Emersonians in 1870; the tour lasted about four weeks; subsequently he returned to the variety business, doing black-face, Dutch and Irish.

Shortly after this he played an engagement with Harry Robinson’s Minstrels, also Benjamin’s New Orleans Minstrels.

Mr. Barlow became a member of Haverly’s Minstrels about 1874, and continued with them until March 24, 1877; two days later joining Sweatnam and Fraser’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

On August 20, 1877, the first performance of Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Minstrels was given; the last was at Poughkeepsie, N. Y., June 10, 1882. In the latter year Barlow, Wilson & Co.’s Minstrels were organized, and later Barlow, Wilson and Rankin’s Minstrels.

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Afterwards Mr. Barlow was with Thatcher, Primrose and West’s, and Primrose and West’s Minstrels.

In August, 1894, Barlow, Dolson and Powers’ Minstrels took the road. For several years after this he was with “The White Slave” Co., and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” playing the title role.

Milt. G. Barlow was born in Lexington, Ky., June 29, 1843; he died in New York City, September 27, 1904.

Wm. A. Huntley (Penno) made his first appearance on the stage in his native city at the age of six years, playing little Tom Bruce, in “Nick of the Woods.” His first minstrel engagement was with Mead’s Euterpean Minstrels, in 1862, at New London, Conn. In 1865 he joined the Campbell and Huntley Minstrels, remaining some years.

Minstrelsy lost him from 1868 to 1870. In September, 1871, he made his first appearance in white-face at the Howard in Boston; subsequent engagements were with the Lauri English Pantomime Troupe and the Martinetti French Ravel Pantomime Co. In the Spring of 1873 he joined the McKee and Rogers Co., afterwards rejoining the Martinetti Troupe.

In 1874 he became co-partner with Dr. Huntley in the management of Huntley’s Minstrels; then came engagements extending some years in the principal theatres of the country.

Mr. Huntley was especially engaged for Haverly’s Minstrels in London, to lead the big banjo act in which twelve performers appeared at one time; he opened at Her Majesty’s Theatre, July 31, 1880, and remained three months. It was during this period that Mr. Huntley had the honor of appearing before the Royal Family; he subsequently played in the principal cities of England, also in Paris, and returned to the United States to fill out his contract with one of Mr. Haverly’s organizations here.

From 1881 to 1884 he was with Whitmore and Clark’s Minstrels, and later formed a partnership with John H. Lee, formerly of Adams and Lee; subsequently they opened a studio in Providence, where they met with much success, especially in the introduction of the banjeaurine and the bass banjo. Mr. Huntley has long since retired from minstrelsy, but the appellation of the “Classic Banjoist” he so justly earned years ago, is still his.

Wm. A. Huntley was born in Providence, R. I., November 2, 1843.

J. J. Kelly was one of the best known vocalists in minstrelsy. He entered the profession about 1853, and had been with such famous companies as Emerson’s, Haverly’s, Bryant’s, in New York; Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s; and Morris Bros., Pell and Trowbridge’s in Boston. Mr. Kelly died in Boston, Mass., July 20, 1902.

Wm. J. Ashcroft was one of the most versatile performers that ever blacked their face. His first professional appearance was in Pawtucket, R. I., as a member of the Julian Minstrels.

In 1866 he was with Seaver’s Minstrels, in Brooklyn, N. Y. He was also with Lloyd’s Minstrels. About 1872 he went to England, and later when returning to the United States, he brought over and was the first to produce in this country, an eccentric black-face specialty called the “Funny Old Gal;” in this he was phenomenally successful.

[161]

 
TOMMY GRANGER BILLY RICE
   
“JIM” BUDWORTH
 
“HAPPY” CAL. WAGNER   J. W. McANDREWS
(The “Watermelon Man”)
A QUAINT QUINTETTE.

[162]

Prior to this he was a partner for several months of J. W. Morton.

Mr. Ashcroft again visited England in 1875, where he became one of the greatest favorites the old world ever knew, appearing chiefly in white-face character work.

W. J. Ashcroft has resided in Europe for many years.

Matt. Wheeler (Mathias Wittenwiler) is still with us. His first professional appearance was at Sanford’s Opera House, Harrisburg, Pa., with Joe. Miller’s Minstrels in 1864. For several years following he played successful stock engagements at Baltimore, Philadelphia and other cities.

Season of 1871-72 Mr. Wheeler was with Bishop’s Serenaders; the following year he joined the Morris Bros. Minstrels for a road tour.

In 1873 he began a season’s engagement with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels at their theatre in Philadelphia; the following season was also spent in the Quaker City with Carncross’ Minstrels.

Mr. Wheeler was with Haverly’s Minstrels early in 1877, and in the Fall of that year returned to Carncross’ Co., and remained there until the retirement of the latter, January 25, 1896. Mr. Wheeler continued with Frank Dumont when the latter took the management of the house two days later, and has since played several engagements there.

While a member of stock in the Maryland Institute in 1869, Mr. Wheeler was very successful in the portrayal of such black-face character parts as Wool, in the “Hidden Hand”; Pete, in the “Octoroon,” and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

Matt. Wheeler was born in St. Gaul, Switzerland, March 4, 1843.

Con. T. Murphy (John D. Murphy), who was widely known as an actor, author and song-writer, was also very much of a minstrel, and a good interlocutor.

He was with Bryant’s Company in New York at the opening of the season, September 1, 1873, and was identified with several other organizations.

He was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1844; he died at Lake Bluff, Ill., July 26, 1907.

Little Mac (Ebenezer Nicholson) was a dwarf scarcely more than three feet high. He took the name of Little Mac during the Civil War out of compliment to Gen. McClellan, who was very popular at that time. The major portion of his professional career was spent in New York with Bryant’s Minstrels, where he made his first appearance, November 27, 1865.

In the summer of 1869 with Hughey Dougherty, John Wild and Master Barney, he headed a minstrel company bearing their names.

He subsequently returned to Bryant’s, where he remained until late in 1871.

Thereafter his engagements were desultory; his last regular appearance was with Daly Brothers in “Upside Down.” He was a clever comedian, and was prominently identified with his “Essence” and “Big Shoe Dance.”

Little Mac was born in Brockville, Canada, July 11, 1844; he died in New York, April 7, 1890.

Tommy Gettings was a well-known jig dancer, and during his brief career had been with the Bryant’s in New York, and other well-known minstrel companies.

He died in New York, November 25, 1866; age 22 years.

[163]

Billy Rice (Wm. H. Pearl). Minstrelsy knew no greater favorite than this once well-known comedian, who made his professional debut in Brooklyn, N. Y., in 1865, at Poole and Donnelly’s Theatre, appearing in black-face, and assuming the name by which he was always identified.

He continued in the variety business mostly until 1869, when he joined Newcomb’s Minstrels; the following year he was with Hooley’s, in Brooklyn, and when that company made their first appearance in Chicago, January 2, 1871, Mr. Rice was a member.

Late that year he became identified with Manning’s Minstrels in the same city, continuing there until about February 1, 1872, when he again joined Hooley in Brooklyn. Subsequently he was with Arlington, Cotton and Kemble’s Minstrels in Chicago, and later opened a variety theatre there.

In 1874 he was with Emerson’s Minstrels in San Francisco and on tour, remaining several months. January 29, 1877, Rice and Hooley’s Minstrels opened in New York; later he rejoined Emerson, and the following year he became a member of Haverly’s Minstrels, with whom he continued several seasons.

In 1882 Rice and Hooley’s Minstrels again was formed, terminating as Billy Rice’s Minstrels the following January, when he opened with Thatcher, Primrose and West’s Minstrels, and remained with them until 1887, when Sweatnam, Rice and Fagan’s Minstrels were organized. Rice and Sheppard’s Minstrels in 1888, and subsequently with Cleveland’s Minstrels; Primrose and West’s and a return to Haverly’s Minstrels in 1898 practically completed the minstrel career of the great end man and stump-speaker.

Mr. Rice married Blanche Carman, an actress, April 8, 1871, in Chicago.

Billy Rice was born in Marion, N. Y., December 12, 1844; he died in Hot Springs, Arkansas, March 1, 1902.


The Three Arnold Brothers were prominent in the 70’s and 80’s, but away back, March 21, 1862, there was another set with Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Minstrels; Herman, Frank and Richard Arnold respectively.


Wm. Henry Rice made his first professional appearance as a boy singer in Pittsburgh, Pa., December 6, 1856.

His first minstrel engagement was at Johnson’s Hall, Norfolk, Va., September 19, 1859, with Sanford’s Minstrels, where he sang in the first part, did a dance in the olio, and otherwise was useful.

At this time and until 1865 he was known as Master Lewis, and later, W. H. Lewis, the latter being the maiden name of his mother.

In 1860 he was with Wood’s Minstrels, and Wm. A. Christy’s Minstrels.

About July, 1861, he made his first appearance in New York as a variety performer at the Melodeon.

In the fall of 1861 he joined Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Minstrels, and about March 1, following, he became a member of the famous Peak Family of Bell Ringers for a brief period, subsequently re-joining Mrs. Peel’s Company.

In June, 1862, he was with George Christy’s Minstrels in New York, and soon after joined Duprez and Green’s Company, and Mead’s Minstrels.

October 13, 1862, he made his first appearance with Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y.; in the spring of the following year he was with Horn and Newcomb’s Minstrels, the company subsequently was run by Newcomb alone.

[164]

He left the latter and re-joined Duprez and Green in the fall of 1863.

In March, 1864, he was with Yankee Hill’s Minstrels, and the next month re-joined Hooley for the balance of the season, again opening with him August 22, following.

About March 1, 1865, he became a member of Cotton and Murphy’s Minstrels, opening at Fall River, Mass.; he left this company in the Fall of that year.

November 20, 1865, he joined the famous San Francisco Minstrels of Birch, Bernard, Wambold and Backus, taking and using for the first time his own name. He remained with this company four years, in New York City. On June 14, 1869, he played his first engagement with Haverly’s Minstrels, opening at Baltimore; a few weeks later he was with Sharpley’s Minstrels in Boston.

August 23, 1869, he began a season’s engagement with Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, and July 2, following, he sailed for Europe, but did not play there.

September 2, 1870, he opened with Welch, Hughes and White’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y.; at the initial performance of that organization; he closed there October 8, and two days later began a season’s engagement with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

April 17, 1871, he opened in New York with Newcomb and Arlington’s Minstrels, continuing with them there and on tour several months.

The following August he made his first appearance with Bryant’s Minstrels in New York; he remained the season, and in June, 1872, played an engagement in the same city with Sharpley’s Minstrels, after which he went to Cincinnati, and joined Newcomb’s Minstrels. In that city, September 2, 1872, the first performance of Rice’s Minstrels was given at Melodeon Hall; subsequently moving to Thom’s Hall, and later taking the road, where they disbanded about December 1.

January 27, 1873, he re-appeared at Bryant’s, and finished the season there.

He re-joined Simmons and Slocum in Philadelphia, August 25, 1873, and barring a brief interval, was with them all season.

June 13, 1874, he sailed for England, making his first appearance there in Liverpool with Sam Hague’s Minstrels, July 13.

August 31, following, he again joined Bryant’s Minstrels in New York, and continued there until the death of Dan Bryant, April 10, 1875; the following month he joined Emerson’s Minstrels in Chicago.

August 12, 1876, he again sailed for England where he played a few weeks in the music halls.

Returning to America he joined Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels for a tour, commencing November 20, 1876.

After this engagement he played the variety houses principally until the Spring of 1878, when he engaged again with Haverly, opening in Chicago, and going to San Francisco; he left Haverly there and opened at the Bella Union, May 13.

In the fall of 1878 he was with Neil Bryant’s Minstrels, and the following year with Joseph Norcross’ California Minstrels.

[165]

QUARTETTE WITH BRYANT’S MINSTRELS, NEW YORK CITY, 1870.

Sig. J. Brandisi, Harry Norman, Jas. G. Russell, W. P. Grier.

KELLY AND LEON’S MINSTRELS; NEW ZEALAND, 1878.

From left to right—Chas. Kelly, J. H. Surridge, C. Fredericks, Wm. Ball and Billy Courtright.
Wm. Blakeney, “Leon,” Edwin Kelly, “Japanese Tommy,” Beaumont Read.

[166]

January 3, 1881, he began one of the most successful engagements of his career, when he opened in his native city with Thatcher and Ryman’s Minstrels, playing the title role in a burlesque on Sarah Bernhardt, called “Sarah Heartburn;” his success was phenomenal; so much so that the great French actress expressed a desire to see the caricature of herself, and accordingly, on the afternoon of January 7, 1881, a special performance was given for her benefit; on this occasion the Philadelphia Times of January 8, 1881, said: “Bernhardt looked up, blushing slightly as she perceived an enormous pair of glass bottles leveled at her in place of opera glasses by the cork female. Every eye in the house was riveted upon the woman whose characteristics were to be burlesqued, and the appearance of Rice was scarcely noticed for the second until Sarah herself showed her appreciation of the caricature by bursting into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. The agony displayed by Sarah Heartburn and her tumble on the stage only added to the merriment of Bernhardt. The fun continued and reached its climax when Rice and Ryman impersonated Camile and Armand. The imitations of Bernhardt’s stage attitudes, and gestures caused Sarah to laugh to an extent almost painful. She seemed unable to stop, although she placed her handkerchief over her mouth and leaned forward in the effort to restrain herself. She abandoned all attempts, however, when the death scene ensued and Heartburn threw herself upon the sofa, after the manner in which a diver starts for the bottom of the sea. Sarah gave vent to her sense of the ludicrous until her eyes were full of tears. There might have been danger of hysterics had not an attack of coughing interfered and had not George Thatcher made himself known as Victor, Heartburn’s son, blowing a horn and crying lustily. The concluding scene, however, again amused her, and she clapped her gloved hands right heartily, seemingly sorry when the curtain finally descended.”

Mr. Rice went to London, England, with the act, where he produced it at Moore and Burgess’ Minstrels, opening June 20, 1881. Returning in August following, he joined Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Minstrels for the season.

August 21, 1882, he opened with Billy Rice and R. M. Hooley’s Minstrels; and in June following he played a special engagement with Haverly’s Minstrels in Chicago, after which he organized Rice’s Pleasure Party in “Our Goblins” for the season of 1883-84, playing a part in the play in black-face.

August 25, 1884, he opened with the Standard Minstrels in San Francisco for a few weeks, closing October 4.

July 30, 1885, he began the season with McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels; he was with this company part of the season of 1886-87 also. September 12, 1887, in conjunction with John Hart and Add. Ryman, he organized a company bearing their names.

December 24, 1888, he assumed the business management of the Star Theatre in Buffalo, N. Y., on the opening of that theatre; he resigned the position and soon after joined Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels.

In 1890 he organized the World’s Fair Minstrels, opening July 17, at Elizabeth, N. J. Season of 1891-92 he was with George Wilson’s Minstrels. May 16, same year, he played his first performance with Cleveland’s Minstrels, and continued with them intermittently until May 1, 1896.

In November, 1898, he opened with Bartlett’s California Minstrels for a brief season.

July 31, 1899, he began a special engagement of four weeks with Wm. H. West’s Minstrels; October 9, same year, he opened with Harry Davis’ Minstrels in Pittsburgh, Pa., in an attempt at making a permanent company in that city; he finished the season with Primrose and Dockstader’s Minstrels. About[167] January, 1900, he began a series of annual engagements with Frank Dumont’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

His last traveling engagement was with the “Great Lafayette” Company in November, 1902.

His last stage appearance was at Atlantic City, N. J., November 30, 1907. The author has no exact knowledge of engagements said to have been played with Haverly, at Chicago in 1892; Kelly and Leon in New York in 1876, and with Duprez and Benedict’s Minstrels.

It is obviously a delicate matter for one to speak of the talents, capabilities, etc., of one’s own father; but a reproduction of some notices from the press of the country, may not be considered bad form.

The Daily Commercial (Cincinnati) of July 29, 1863, said: “The singing of Mr. Lewis surprises us more and more. His imitations of the Prima Donna are superb, and the brilliant qualities of his singular voice are an unfailing theme for wonder among his hearers. The first time he breaks into a song he invariably startles his audience, who are simply prepared to hear the strained falsetto, to which the mock crinoline of minstrelsy has heretofore been committed.”

The Sun (Baltimore), July 11, 1865, said: “The voice of W. H. Lewis, the Prima Donna, is something remarkable, and it strikes us could be better employed than mere burlesquing.”

The Philadelphia correspondent of the New York Clipper, September 4, 1869, said: “This is Mr. Rice’s first appearance in his native city, and he has made a big hit, for on the night we were present, he received the only third encore, and a fourth was demanded, but not given.”

The Evening Post (Albany, N. Y.), of June 13, 1871, said: “Wm. Henry Rice does the Prima Donna capitally; he is one of the best grotesque singers we ever saw—Rice is a star of the first magnitude, and can infuse more low comedy into an operatic song than any other artist.”

The Stage (New York), November 13, 1871, said: “Nillson is capitally burlesqued by W. H. Rice, who never descends to vulgarity, and who displays his peculiar talents to the best possible advantage.”

The Era (New York), June 15, 1873, said: “One noticeable feature about the performance was the gorgeous dress of Mr. W. H. Rice, prima donna of Bryant’s company. The dress could not have cost less than nine hundred dollars. The workmanship was far superior to anything we have yet seen upon the stage. Neither Morris, Davenport or Ethel can boast of such rich apparel. * * * * * Rice deserves great praise for his painstaking endeavors. He is an excellent singer, and conscientious actor, and would only acquire the distinction he has already made but by application and study. To-day he is without a peer in the profession, and undoubtedly one of the best that ever appeared upon the minstrel stage.”

An advertisement in a Liverpool, England, paper, of Hague’s Minstrels, July 20, 1874, reads, “Second week of the star Burlesque Prima Donna of the world, Mr. W. Henry Rice, whose success with the Hague’s is unprecedented in the history of minstrelsy in Liverpool. Each night at the conclusion of his performance Mr. Rice has received a most enthusiastic call before the curtain, an instance of popularity seldom equaled.”

The Times (Philadelphia), of December 17, 1901, said: “Wm. Henry Rice again made his appearance as a special member of the Dumont troupe, in the[168] Eleventh Street Opera House, and duplicated his hit of last season in a new skit, “Roosevelt’s Reception,” in which he gave a grotesque feminine impersonation along the lines long ago made familiar by him. He is the best and one of the very last exemplars of an older style of burnt-cork fun-making than obtains to-day, and was wholly successful with last evening’s audience.”

Frank Dumont, in an interview in the North American (Philadelphia), Dec. 29, 1907, said: “* * * To my dying day I will not forget his scene where Camille writes to the father of Armand that she will give him up. Talk about acting! Why, he had Bernhardt beaten a mile in that scene. It was the purest burlesque I have ever seen. For more than twenty minutes he would keep the audience in convulsions of laughter. No end man ever equaled him as a genuine comedian.

“I really think he ought to be classed among the greatest of actors. I mean the really great ones, for his work was as much of an art as that of the most classic actors that are world-famous. * * * He deserves to live in the traditions of the stage. * * * ‘Bill’ was too fond of Philadelphia to remain long away from it. Here he wanted to live and die; and he had his wish.”

Wm. Henry Rice was born in Philadelphia, June 1, 1844; he died there December 20, 1907.


Frank Cushman’s life’s ambition was to be associated with a minstrel company in his native city. He died as it was about to be realized.


G. Washington (“Slim Jim”) Dukelan. Probably no active musician in theatredom has had a more varied and lengthy career than “Slim Jim,” so named in 1864, by G. Brooks Clark, the well-known ring master; Mr. Dukelan was about six feet high, and 130 in avoirdupois then; he has filled in considerably since, but he’s still “Slim Jim,” and probably always will continue so. As Will Shakespeare once remarked, “A Rose with any other name, etc.”

His very first public appearance was with an amateur minstrel show, doing a song and dance, about 1862, at Fulton, N. Y. Two years later he began his professional career as member of the band in A. P. Ball’s American Coliseum Circus; with this troupe G. W. once did an “end.”

Mr. Dukelan was with various organizations until 1868, when he joined the Flint (Mich.) band; he remained there some time, subsequently allying himself with several well-known miscellaneous companies until September 15, 1877, when he joined Harry Saxton’s famous theatre orchestra at Mitchell’s Theatre Comique, St. Louis, Mo.; he continued there for three years, then going with Mr. Saxton to the old Howard Athenæum, in Boston, Mass., where he remained four years; at the end of this period, with this same Saxton at the Grand Central Theatre in Philadelphia, he commenced an engagement that lasted three years.

Now comes the “Slim Jim” we all know. From 1887 to 1889 he was with Thatcher, Primrose and West’s Minstrels; following season with Primrose and West. In 1890 he was with George Thatcher’s Minstrels, and the following year with Thatcher in “Tuxedo” (here “slender James” enacted a “rube”). In 1892 he was with Hughey Dougherty’s “Tuxedo” and Minstrel Company.

It was not until 1893 that our friend qualified as a “real trouper;” he then joined Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” Company. He played in the first performance of Primrose and Dockstader’s Minstrels in 1898, and continued with them two seasons; in 1900 he was with William H. West’s Minstrels, subsequently he returned to Primrose and Dockstader, and remained with them until the dissolution of the organization in 1903.

[169]

JOE. B. McGEE ALF. GIBSON
   
JERRY HART
EDDIE CASSADY BILLY VAN
OUR ENGLISH COUSINS WOULD CALL THEM GOOD CORNER MEN.

[170]

He played at the inaugural performance of Cohan and Harris’ Minstrels in 1908, and is at present with George Evans’ Minstrels.

G. Washington (Slim Jim) Dukelan was born at Smith’s Falls, Canada, January 12, 1844; but you’d never believe it—the year, of course.

Hughey Dougherty—if you never heard of him, better get acquainted now.

His real career began Monday evening, January 4, 1858, at the famous 11th Street Opera House, in his native city, with Sanford’s Minstrels; it was Sam Sanford who christened him “Young America,” and the title stuck to him for many years; other performers appropriated it, but it originated with Hughey Dougherty; “stick a pin in dar, Brudder Bones.” He continued with Sanford until 1860, when he went to Frank River’s Melodeon, also in the Quaker City.

Mr. Dougherty’s greatest success was made as a stump-speaker, when the art had its greatest vogue thirty odd years ago; though he occasionally gives a speech, and is apparently as good as ever.

He has been associated with the greatest minstrel companies of the past and present, such as Skiff and Gaylord’s; Simmons and Slocum’s, (Philadelphia); Thatcher, Primrose and West’s; Hooley’s (Brooklyn); Cleveland’s; Morris Brothers (Boston), three years; Carncross’, and Carncross and Dixey’s (Philadelphia); Johnson and Slavin’s; Moore and Burgess’ (London, Eng.); Barlow, Wilson’s; Barlow, Wilson and Rankin’s; Haverly; and Duprez and Benedict. In addition there was Dougherty, Wild (John) Barney (Master) and Mac’s (Little) Minstrels, who gave their first performance July 12, 1869.

About three years later he formed an alliance with Messrs. Harvey, Leslie and Braham; they organized a minstrel show and made an extensive tour of Africa. June 18, 1877, he opened the Alhambra Palace, a variety theatre in Philadelphia. Mr. Dougherty also has a record, unique in minstrelsy—just about one-half of his professional career was spent at the theatre in which he made his debut; and one-half of the total number was with Dumont’s Minstrels.

Hughey Dougherty was born in Philadelphia, July 4, 1844.

Billy Emmett (George Busteed) was known chiefly in his later years as a manager, notably of the Academy of Music in Chicago.

While yet in his teens he became stage struck, and after a few inconspicuous engagements, began playing dates in the variety houses, doing a black-face specialty. In 1864 he went to Carr’s Melodeon, Buffalo, N. Y., and with Nick Norton, did Dutch character sketches. The following year he was with Green’s “Mocking Bird” Minstrels, and in 1866 went to New York, where he played several seasons with the San Francisco Minstrels. He was associated at various times with John L. Sullivan, Callender’s Minstrels and Sam Hague’s Minstrels, the latter in the early 80’s.

Mr. Emmett was noted for his philanthropy; at one time he was reputed to have left word in the Chicago hospitals, that in the event of the death of any improvident variety or minstrel performer, not to give a pauper burial, but to notify him (Emmett) at once.

[171]

A few more “Billy Emmett’s” and the Actor’s Fund would not be so heavily burdened.

Billy Emmett was born in New York City, in 1844; he died in Chicago, June 4, 1886.

McKee and Rogers joined forces in the Fall of 1871, and during the first years of their co-partnership played the principal variety houses and specialty companies of their day.

Their first joint appearance was in St. Louis, Mo., where they gave their original song and dance “Rebecca Jane;” with it they were ever after identified, as well as “Mischief,” “Lucinda” and several others.

About 1874 they went to London, England, where they played a most successful engagement with Moore and Burgess’ Minstrels.

On their return to the United States in 1875, they joined Tony Pastor’s road company, and continued with it until the death of Rogers.

Stevie Rogers, or “Little Stevie,” as he was generally called, was one of the most lovable characters in minstrelsy. As a clog dancer he was second to none in his day.

His first professional appearance was with the 50 Engineer Pontoon Minstrels, September 5, 1865; this company in the spring of the following year was known as Sam Hague’s and Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels. With that company he had a partner by the name of John O’Brien.

Stevie Rogers’ success was so pronounced that he quickly obtained a metropolitan engagement with Charley White.

Subsequently he was with Kelly and Leon’s in New York, and Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y.

In 1870 he joined Manning’s Minstrels, and on August 21, 1871, he opened with the Dearborn Minstrels in Chicago. About this time he met Andy McKee, and the rest has been told.

Stevie Rogers was born in Elmira, N. Y., December 11, 1853; he died in New York City, March 3, 1876.

Andy McKee first appeared professionally in 1865 at Cairo, Illinois.

Mr. McKee’s success was so pronounced with his eccentric dancing, that he had little trouble in obtaining other variety engagements in Memphis, New Orleans, Cincinnati and St. Louis.

In 1867 he played his first minstrel engagement with Skiff and Gaylord; other prominent engagements were with Hooley, and with Simmons and Slocum. Later he joined Manning’s Minstrels, and subsequently met and joined forces with Stevie Rogers.

After the death of the latter he went to Europe with Hall’s New York Minstrels, playing Scotland and Ireland; subsequently re-organizing with Lew Simmons and Charley Sutton, they went to South Africa, opening at Cape Town, March 17, 1879; thus preceding Colonel Roosevelt in the exploration of that country just thirty years. Afterwards Mr. McKee formed a partnership with John F. Byrne, of the Brothers Byrne.

And here’s two more little items. After Stevie Rogers’ death, Mr. McKee doubled with Charley Walters for a brief season, opening at the Olympic Theatre, New York, August 28, 1876, and—that same year at the Globe Theatre, also same city, Mr. McKee created the character of Cy. Prime, in “Josh Whitcomb;” the latter subsequently evolutioned into the “Old Homestead.”

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Andy McKee was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, May 11, 1844; and is now a citizen of Seattle, Washington.

George Wilson. Few monologue performers have worn so well with the public as George Wilson, whose minstrel career began about forty years ago in San Francisco, as co-proprietor of Courtright (Billy), Farren (T. S.) and Wilson’s Minstrels; Mr. Wilson was the song and dance performer with this company.

It was not until the fall of 1871 that he decided to adopt minstrelsy as a regular profession, which he did in Chicago.

Mr. Wilson’s talents must have been thoroughly appreciated, for when later he accepted an engagement of four weeks at the Theatre Comique, in Detroit, his success was so pronounced that he remained nine months.

Then came a season with Fred Wilson’s (his brother) Minstrels in St. Louis; by this time his fame had reached Jack Haverly, who engaged Mr. Wilson for his company; this was at Kansas City, Mo., in November, 1873; he remained under the Haverly banner until August, 1877, when in conjunction with Milt. Barlow, George H. Primrose and William H. West, the big company bearing their names gave their first performance, August 20, same year.

Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s was one of the greatest minstrel companies that ever performed; the dissolution of this alliance occurred in the summer of 1882.

Thereafter Mr. Wilson and Milt. Barlow organized Barlow, Wilson and Co.’s Minstrels; subsequently Barlow, Wilson and Rankin’s, and lastly George Wilson’s Minstrels, which were instituted in 1888; the final performance of the latter was at Danbury, Conn., February, 1892.

Subsequently Mr. Wilson played under the management of Primrose and West for a period of about five years; one season, 1894, he appeared in white-face, as well as black, in the musical play of “Monte Carlo.”

In the summer of 1898, Mr. Wilson, in conjunction with W. S. Cleveland, organized the Wilson-Cleveland Minstrels; this was his last minstrel venture; since then he has played vaudeville exclusively, until the Spring of 1910, when he joined George Primrose’s Minstrels for a few weeks. August 15, same year, he played his first engagement in his native city at The Empire.

Mr. Wilson may justly look with pride on his long career as a black-face star.

George Wilson was born in London, England, September 28, 1844.

Hi Henry (Hiram Patrick Henry). For three decades Hi Henry’s Minstrels have been an institution that has been known nearly all over the United States.

Mr. Henry is an accomplished cornettist, and before he entered the ranks of minstrel proprietors, he was many years in the dramatic business, notably as leader of the band with the Wallace Sisters combination in 1872.

On May 4, 1875, he joined Sam Price’s Minstrels, and in September, 1879, the first performance of Hi Henry’s Minstrels was given, and barring the season of 1889-90, when he directed a tour of Estelle Clayton’s, the company has made an annual tour ever since.

The past few years Mr. Henry has not been actively engaged with his company, owing to ill health.

Hi Henry was born in Buffalo, N. Y., August 22, 1844.

[173]

WM. E.—HINES & BLOSSOM—NAT.
(Portraits reversed)
LEW.—SIMMONS & WHITE—FRANK H.
JNO.—QUEEN & WEST—WM.
(Portraits reversed)
JAS.—TIERNEY & WAYNE—CHAS.

[174]

William Foote, the well-known minstrel manager, began and ended his career in that branch of theatricals.

In 1861 he was treasurer with M. C. Campbell’s Minstrels; and in 1864 was agent for Haverly and Mallory; this being one of Haverly’s earliest minstrel ventures.

Subsequently he was associated with Sam Sharpley, La Rue and many of the earlier burnt cork troupes.

In conjunction with Mr. Haverly, on January 1, 1876, he re-organized the New Orleans Minstrels, and when Haverly amalgamated the famous Mastodons in 1878, Mr. Foote was manager, and continued in that capacity for several years.

William Foote was born in Utica, N. Y., February 22, 1844; he died in Albany, N. Y., March 2, 1899.

J. C. Campbell (George Keller St. John), better known as “Pomp” Campbell, from the fact that he portrayed the character of “Pomp” in the play of that name in 1871, was a printer by trade, in Dayton, Ohio.

He was an excellent comedian and equally clever as a tambourine or bone player. His first important engagement was with the Morris Minstrels in the middle 60’s; subsequently he was with Kelly and Leon in New York, opening there August 31, 1868; also with John Hooley and Hawxhurst’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., in 1873.

J. C. Campbell was born in Frederick, Md.; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., January 26, 1875; age 31 years.

Geo. Frothingham, the famous basso, who created and played Friar Tuck in “Robin Hood,” more than 3,000 times, was many years in the minstrel profession, and as far back as 1869 was with Dougherty, Wild, Barney and Mac’s Minstrels, also Sharpley’s, Billy Morris’ and Swayne Buckley’s Minstrels.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s he sat in the middle with Carncross and Dixey’s and Carncross’ Minstrels, respectively, in Philadelphia.

An interesting photo of Mr. Frothingham will be found elsewhere in the book.

George Frothingham was born in Boston, Mass., April 12, 1844.

Dick Ralph. This good old-timer made his first appearance at Burtis’ Varieties, Brooklyn, N. Y., under the name of Master Tommy, in 1860, doing a jig and the “Essence”; in 1861 he was with Christy’s Minstrels under the name of Mast. Dick Reynolds; a year later he was “Mast. Brigg” with Campbell’s Minstrels, in New York City.

In 1863 he decided that his own name was good enough, and as such he opened at Hooley’s Minstrels, Brooklyn, N. Y. Other minstrel companies he was identified with were—Cool White’s Broadway Minstrels; Hooley’s, New York City (201 Bowery); Cotton and Sharpley’s, New York City; return to Hooley’s, Brooklyn, 1869; Kelly and Leon’s, New York City; Sam Sharpley’s, and Kelly and Leon’s, Chicago.

Mr. Ralph was a popular end man, being equally proficient with the bones or tambourine; but it was as a dancer that he excelled; his “Essence” and “George, the Charmer,” are well remembered by many; he was likewise a versatile musician.

[175]

Mr. Ralph appeared some years ago in the drama, “Our South,” with success.

Dick Ralph was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., March 22, 1844—but not on Good Friday, as he avers; that day fell on April 5, that year.

Melvin S. Kurtz was a comedian and song and dance performer; his first appearance was in Philadelphia about 1862.

He was the husband of Marie Van Zandt, actress, whom he married about 1874.

Mr. Kurtz’s last appearance was October 15, 1881.

He was horn in Lancaster, Pa., July 29, 1844; he died in Philadelphia, March 20, 1882.

“Ricardo” (Foley McKeever) well and favorably known as a clever female impersonator, was with Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Minstrels about 1863.

Subsequently he appeared with the Associated Artists of Kelly and Leon in 1869. Early in 1870 he joined Billy Emerson’s Minstrels, and on April 10, 1871, made his debut with Manning’s Minstrels in Chicago.

He was a member of Haverly’s Minstrels in November, 1873, after the latter withdrew from Cal. Wagner. Later he was associated with some of the principal minstrel organizations.

“Ricardo” was born in Ireland, about 1844; he died in New York City, October 30, 1883.

John Unsworth is the only living representative of Anderson’s Minstrels, organized in Boston late in 1859.

Mr. Unsworth was associated with his brother, James Unsworth, and “Eugene” practically their entire professional careers.

He was born in Liverpool, England, January 12, 1844—and is not sorry.

Johnny Allen (George Erb) was an excellent comedian and dancer, and especially well remembered for his “Nicodemus Johnson,” a song and dance. His first appearance in black-face was in 1861. October 23, 1865 he joined Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y. March 5, 1866 he was at the opening of Seaver’s Minstrel Hall, same city, and October 1, he was also at the initial performance of Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels in New York; Emerson, Allen and Manning’s Minstrels gave their first performance in Brooklyn, N. Y., in June, 1868. Mr. Allen seceded from the organization May 22, following, and a month later helped to organize Allen and Sam Sharpley’s Minstrels.

Brooklyn, N. Y., also saw the first performance of Allen, Pettengill, Delehanty and Hengler’s Minstrels, September 22, 1869; a few months later it was Johnny Allen’s Minstrels. Mr. Allen next branched out as a German comedian in the play of “Schneider.” He continued alternately with this and minstrel engagements until the early 80’s; the first performance of “Schneider” was on March, 24, 1871. April 6, 1874, he opened with Hart and Ryman’s Minstrels and a few weeks later Johnny Allen’s Cosmopolitan Minstrels toured briefly. When Dan. Bryant died, April 10, 1875, Mr. Allen sat in the latter’s chair in New York, and when May 3, following, Neil Bryant’s Minstrels were organized, Johnny Allen was with them. September 18, 1876, he re-appeared with Kelly[176] and Leon’s Minstrels in New York. Johnny Allen was born in Newark, N. J., April 20, 1844; he died there January 16, 1885.

Charley Sutton (Leman). This well-known performer of the past was a member of the “Young Campbell’s Minstrels,” a famous amateur organization of Boston, about 1860.

Mr. Sutton was a comedian of unquestionable ability, and had been with most of the prominent minstrel organizations of his time, notably Emerson’s Minstrels in San Francisco, later going to Australia with that company, opening at Melbourne, August 2, 1873. He was with Charley Morris’ Minstrels in 1877, and afterwards with Hooley’s.

He sailed for Europe April 24, 1880, and joined Moore and Burgess’ Minstrels, in London, and remained there for some time. About 1885 he became one of the team of Bunth and Rudd, doing a grotesque act in white-face; he was thereafter known as Hugo Bunth.

Charles Sutton was born in Boston, Mass., in 1844; he died in Moscow, Russia, January 27, 1904.

Billy Wild, the old-time black-face performer, made his first professional appearance at the Bella Union Theatre, San Francisco, about 1866, doing a black-face song and dance. In 1871 he was with Unsworth’s Minstrels. Later he formed a partnership with Charley Armstrong; they played an engagement with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels about 1873, in Philadelphia.

Mr. Wild’s last black face appearance was at the Howard Athenæum, in Boston, in 1886. Billy Wild was born in New York, January 21, 1844.

Neil Rogers, a capable and clever comedian, and a brother of Stevie Rogers, had a comparatively brief career as a minstrel.

His last appearance was at Pastor’s Theatre in New York. He was born in Elmira, and died in New York, February 28, 1873.

Harry Bloodgood (Carlos Moran) was one of the most accomplished and versatile performers that ever blacked his face; good in everything he undertook; he could sing, dance and act.

He made his first New York appearance at the American Theatre, and remained there one year. In May, 1866, he joined Boyce and Mudge’s Minstrels; subsequently appearing with Sam Sharpley’s, and later with Joseph Trowbridge, he had the Bloodgood and Trowbridge’s Minstrels; their season ended July 16, 1871; Mr. Bloodgood then taking his own show, with which he traveled intermittently for several seasons.

In 1869 he also was associated with Delehanty, Hengler and Bloodgood’s Minstrels.

Mr. Bloodgood was without exception the most pronounced favorite that ever played the old Howard Athenæum in Boston; he was in the stock there at various times, covering a period of several years.

About 1881 he wrote and appeared in the play, “Hix’s Fix,” sharing the lead with W. A. Mestayer; the piece was afterwards called “Wanted, A Partner.”

Mr. Bloodgood married Helene Smith, the danseuse, about 1864; they were divorced in the spring of 1867; and on January 20, 1870, in Boston, he married Clara Gettis, also a dancer. It was not until about three years later that he found connubial blessedness, when he married Lisle Riddell, with whom he lived most happily the balance of his life.

[177]

FRANK GEYER
(of Turner & Geyer)
HEN. ALLEN
(of Devere & Allen)
ARTIE HUGHES
(of Foster & Hughes)
EDW. SANDS
(of Keating & Sands)
JOHN BOWMAN
(of Bowman & Harris)
TOMMY TURNER
(of Three Turner Brothers)
FRED BRYANT
(of Bryant & Hoey)
EDDIE BOGERT
(of Bogert & O’Brien)
BILLY WILLIAMS
(of Williams & Sully)
CHARLEY SEAMON
(of Seamon & Sommers)
JOHN D. GILBERT
(of Courtright & Gilbert)
EDW. KENNEDY
(of Cheevers & Kennedy)
“ALL ALONE”; THEY PINE FOR THEIR PARTNERS.

[178]

Mr. Bloodgood made a distinct hit playing Uncle Tom at the Boston Theatre, with an all-star cast.

Harry Bloodgood was born in Savannah, Georgia, March 31, 1845; he died in N. Conway, N. H., June 12, 1886.

Lucius M. Phelps, of the well-known song and dance team of Stiles and Phelps, also Armstrong, Stiles and Phelps, had been out of the profession about four years prior to his death, which occurred in Springfield, Mass., about August, 1876.

He had been with Unsworth’s Minstrels in 1871; Moran and Dixey’s in 1872, and also with the companies of Skiff and Gaylord, Carncross and Dixey, and Hooley’s.

Ned Fox was a brother of Jim Fox, of Goss and Fox, and was very well known during his comparatively brief career, as a comedian of more than ordinary merit.

After his death, the following lines by Billy Devere, were dedicated to his (Fox’s) widow:

“Another old-timer gone they said.
As I came to the green-room door to-night;
Another “old pard” has passed away
To that beauteous land of joy and light—
Buoyed aloft by a Saviour’s love,
Searching the home of the good and true
As Noah from the Ark sent the carrier dove
Out of the old world into the new.”

Ned Fox died at Hartford, Conn., March 28, 1875; age about 30 years.

W. S. Mullally was one of the best and most prominent of minstrel leaders.

As early as when he was fifteen years of age he was leader at a Boston theatre. His final minstrel engagement was about 1864 with Hy. Rumsey’s Company.

The following year he joined the San Francisco Minstrels in New York, and continued with them about fifteen years. In the summer of 1869 he played in Liverpool, England, with Smith and Taylor’s Minstrels. He was with Charley Reed’s Minstrels in San Francisco in 1884.

Subsequently he played an extended engagement with Dockstader’s Minstrels in New York, and later was with several legitimate and farcical attractions. He had composed considerable dramatic and popular music, and was the author of “Mottoes That Are Framed Upon the Wall.”

He was born in Manchester, England, in 1845; he died in Westboro, Mass., August 2, 1905.

Harry Percy (John H. Peabody) a prominent vocalist of many important minstrel companies, died at Jersey City, N. J., January 2, 1880.

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Charles Goodyear was well-known as a capable and clever comedian.

He entered the profession when a boy, and had been prominently associated with such well-known minstrel organizations as Haverly’s, Primrose and West’s, and Cleveland’s. He was also co-proprietor of Goodyear, Cook and Dillon’s, and Goodyear, Schilling and Elitch’s Minstrels.

He was especially instrumental in the planning and building of Elitch’s Garden in Denver, Colorado, and had been connected with it since its opening.

Charles Goodyear was born on Staten Island, N. Y., February 18, 1845; he died in Denver, Colorado, May 13, 1897.

Johnny Shay, who excelled in the delineation of negro characters, began his professional career in Louisville, Ky.

He was several seasons with Harrigan and Hart in New York, where he enjoyed wide popularity.

He was born in Liverpool, England, in 1845; he died in New York, October 20, 1879.

Johnny McVeigh entered the variety profession about 1858; he was a good black-face performer and dancer.

He was born in Bambury, England, in 1845; he died in New York, January 20, 1883.

“Lotta” (Lotta Crabtree), one of the greatest and most famous soubrettes of the American stage, “blacked up” many times in her early career. In October, 1863, she was a member of a minstrel company playing Virginia City, California, at Maguire’s Theatre.


Barry Maxwell says that when he was with Spalding and Manning’s Minstrels more than four years ago, a colored boy in Columbia, Tenn., came up and asked for the boss; having found him, he inquired if he wanted anyone to “tote catalogues.” He wanted to pass bills.


Willis Palmer Sweatnam, long known to his familiars as “Billy,” began his theatrical career at the age of seven years, playing comedy parts in white-face with a juvenile company called the Union Children.

His first black-face appearance was at the Western Museum in Cincinnati, four years later, occupying the bone end in a minstrel show.

Mr. Sweatnam entered minstrelsy proper at the age of fifteen, when he was a member of a boat show plying the Little Miami Canal in Ohio; the boat was the “Huron,” and was the fastest boat of that name that traveled the canal. Mr. Sweatnam shortly after this went South, and became lessee of the Savannah Theatre, where minstrel performances were given.

Subsequently he became a member of Fred Wilson’s Minstrels in St. Louis, Newcomb’s Minstrels in Cincinnati, Skiff and Gaylord’s, and Morris Brothers.

Mr. Sweatnam was the principal comedian of Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels at the opening of that famous organization in Philadelphia. September 6, 1875, he was taken in as a partner, the firm name being Simmons, Slocum and Sweatnam’s Minstrels, by which it was known until October 28, 1876, after which it became Sweatnam’s Minstrels, and later, December 25, 1876, Sweatnam and Fraser’s Minstrels. Mr. Sweatnam played several engagements in[180] San Francisco with Charley Reed’s, Emerson’s, and Maguire’s Minstrels; with Dockstader’s, and Birch and Backus in New York; with Haverly in Chicago, also in Europe; Moore and Burgess in London, England, and Carncross in Philadelphia.

In 1887, commencing July 25, at Albany, N. Y., Sweatnam, Rice and Fagan’s Minstrels were organized; this was one of the most magnificent companies of its kind the world ever saw.

Mr. Sweatnam subsequently played an extended engagement with Cleveland’s Minstrels, and shortly afterwards made his appearance in the “City Directory,” a famous farce of twenty years ago; he was with this company three seasons; several more under the management of Charles E. Blaney, and then with the “County Chairman” for three years.

He was next seen in “George Washington, Jr.”; in all of these plays Mr. Sweatnam’s art shone forth resplendently.

As a delineator of the negro character he is alone and without a peer; there is but one Sweatnam, nor is it likely we will ever have another. During the present season of 1910 he played a black-face part with the “Summer Widowers.”

Willis P. Sweatnam was born in Zanesville, Ohio.

Frank Howard (Martindale), famed as one of minstrelsy’s greatest tenors, and who was with McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s; Thatcher, Primrose and West’s, and Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Minstrels in the 80’s; is said to be living in Chicago.

Charles Fostelle (Stephens) of late years was best known for his portrayal of eccentric female characters, but long before—well, just read on.

His first appearance was made in Detroit, Mich., in dramatic stock. The year following he made his first appearance in black-face with Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels, as a wench dancer.

Subsequent minstrel engagements were with Billy Arlington’s; Dingess and Green’s; Harry Robinson’s; Simmons and Slocum’s, (Philadelphia); (Wm. Henry) Rice’s, in Cincinnati; Purdy and Vincent’s; Arlington, Cotton and Kemble’s; Allen, Delehanty and Hengler’s, and his own company, Purdy, Scott and Fostelle’s Minstrels, opening at Denver, Colorado, March 4, 1872. His last minstrel engagement was with Sweatnam, Rice and Fagan’s Minstrels, season of 1887-88.

Since then Mr. Fostelle has appeared with Corinne for ten years; starred in “Mrs. Partington” for five years, and for a season was located in New York City with the Weber & Field’s Company.

Charles Fostelle was born in New York City, and he’s there now.

John S. Stout (Shafer) is one of the best-known singers in minstrelsy.

He first appeared with Rumsey’s Minstrels in 1864, and has appeared successfully, if not successively with such well known companies as Skiff and Gaylord’s; Buckley’s; Simmons and Slocum’s; Haverly’s; Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s; Sharpley’s; Duprez and Benedict’s; Cal. Wagner’s and many others.

His last minstrel engagement was with the Barlow, Wilson Company.

John S. Stout was born in Dayton, Ohio, July 4, 1845.

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JOE. BUCKLEY BOB. SHEPPARD
JOHN L. CARNCROSS BOB. FRASER
JAMES GLENN EPH. HORN
A PAGE OF PHILADELPHIANS.

[182]

Robert J. Filkins, at one time one of Haverly’s most valued executives, got his early schooling with John Robinson’s circus; with which organization he became identified with in about 1867.

In 1874 he met Col. Haverly in New Orleans, and at once joined the latter’s forces, and continued under the Haverly banner for three years.

In 1879 he was in charge of the business management of the present 14th Street Theatre, New York, at that time Haverly’s Theatre.

Grace Filkins, the present well-known actress, was his wife.

Robert J. Filkins was born in Michigan; he died in Wichita, Kansas, April 19, 1886; age about 40 years.

Ike Withers was one of the early ones to do a musical act in a minstrel show.

His first professional appearance was with Bryant’s Minstrels in New York in 1862.

Subsequent minstrel engagements were with Wilson’s Minstrels in St. Louis; Kelly and Leon’s; Newcomb and Arlington’s; Skiff and Gaylord’s; Sharpley’s; Simmons and Slocum’s, and the San Franciscos, in New York, where he remained thirteen years.

Ike Withers was born in Palmyra, N. Y., July 29, 1845; he is now a guest at the Actors’ Home, Staten Island, N. Y.

James Sharpley was the last surviving member of the three Sharpley’s; Fred, Charles and James; a prominent musical act of the 70’s.

Mr. Sharpley, who had been blind some time previous to his death, was an exceptionally clever performer on the concertina.

He was born in Liverpool, England, and died in New York City, May 12, 1902; age 57 years.

William H. Crane, one of America’s foremost legitimate comedians, appeared in black-face with an amateur organization called the “Young Campbell” Minstrels; Mr. Crane fixes the date in the fall of 1860.

The little band were offered $2.50 a piece to play the small town of Stoughton, Mass., irrespective of the fact that the comedians services might possibly be rated higher than one of the musicians. Nevertheless the juvenile “corkers” accepted; the $30.00 went into the coffers of the most popular restaurant to be found that same evening.

William H. Crane was born in Leicester, Mass., April 30, 1845.

R. G. (“Boots”) Allen was an excellent banjoist and in conjunction with Fred. Huber in 1878-79, played the principal variety houses.

In the Spring of 1880, with Harry Woodson, he formed Woodson and Allen’s Minstrels, which continued at intermittent periods for about two or three years.

In December, 1881, he played an engagement with Emerson’s Minstrels in San Francisco, and in the summer of 1886 Allen’s Banjo Minstrels inaugurated a brief season.

R. G. Allen died May 21, 1892; age 47 years.

B. C. Hart, who has so long and ably represented the New York Morning Telegraph, and who is personally known to nearly every vaudevillian in[183] the country, did a black-face act with the late Billy Barry in Memphis, Tenn., in 1868; that was the first. Since then and as late as 1881, Mr. Hart met with flattering success in his portrayal of “Old Black Joe” and in the sketch of the “Old Servant’s Return.”

As a “bingler on the bones,” and “thumber of the tambourine,” Mr. Hart has often responded to “Gentlemen, be seated.” Now for a secret. B. C. Hart was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, September 10, 1845. Wouldn’t believe it would you?

Sheridan and Mack were a great protean character sketch team. They never had their superiors, and it is doubtful if their equal was known during their partnership, which was formed in the middle 60’s, doing black-face songs and dances. They soon left off burnt cork and were the first recognized black-face team to do so. They played innumerable minstrel engagements, and were always in demand. Mr. Sheridan’s first professional appearance was April 12, 1864. After separating from Mr. Mack he played minstrel engagements, doing a single specialty. Later he went to Australia where he met with phenomenal success playing a female Irish part in “Fun on the Bristol.”

John F. Sheridan was born in Providence, R. I.; he died in Sydney, Australia, December 25, 1908.

James H. Mack (McGrath) was born in Providence, R. I.; he was the husband of Ada Boshell, the well-known actress.

Mr. Mack died in New York, December 24, 1889; age 41 years.

E. M. Hall was one of minstrelsy’s greatest banjoists, and a good comedian. His career began in 1865, doing a song and dance with Sharpley’s Minstrels; subsequently he did banjo duets with Harry Stanwood. Later he was identified with such well-known minstrel organizations as Emerson’s, in San Francisco; Manning’s, in Chicago; Carncross’, in Philadelphia; and Moore and Burgess’, in London, England, in 1880. In the latter city he joined Haverly’s Minstrels, with whom he was a star feature for several seasons. In 1875 he was associated with E. M. Kayne and Ned. Wambold in a minstrel venture bearing their names. December 30, 1903, Mr. Hall purchased a ticket for the matinee performance at the Iroquois Theatre in Chicago; that was the date of the fearful holocaust, and he has never been seen since.

E. M. Hall was born in Chelsea, Me., about 1845.

John Lang, a well-known and popular tenor vocalist, who was with Arlington, Cotton and Kemble’s Minstrels in Chicago, died in that city, December 5, 1874.

Hugh Hamall was the fourth son of the late Arthur Hamall, and a singer of more than ordinary merit. Previous to his death he had been a member of Hamall’s Serenaders.

Mr. Hamall died in Montreal, Canada, October 10, 1875.

J. C. (“Toothless”) Murphy, the old-time comedian and “Excelsior Bone Player,” was with Harry Robinson’s Minstrels in 1874, and other prominent organizations subsequently. Mr. Murphy was the husband of Marie De Von, from whom he separated in Chicago, April 6, 1877. Mr. Murphy is still active, and a resident of Nashville, Tenn.

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Delehanty and Hengler—These truly wonderful artists were the greatest in their line that the world ever knew, or ever will know, in all probability.

William H. Delehanty made his first appearance in his native city at the old Green Street Theatre, at the age of 14; he did a bone solo, and incidentally it may be remarked that in their manipulation he ranked with the best in minstrelsy.

About 1865 he joined Skiff and Gaylord’s Minstrels, where he did songs and dances with John H. Ward, under the team name of Delehanty and Ward; they continued with this company until November 11, 1866, when Mr. Delehanty severed his business relations with Ward, and just one week later, joined T. M. Hengler with Dingess and Green’s Minstrels at Champaign, Ill.; this season closed at Penn Yan, N. Y., January 7, 1867.

Their first New York appearance was with Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels, August 12, 1867.

On September 22, 1869, (Johnny) Allen, Delehanty, Hengler and Pettengill’s (Charley) Minstrels gave their first performance in Brooklyn, N. Y.

Previous to this, and for several years subsequent, they had their own variety companies; in addition to playing the best variety theatres in the land; likewise were they identified with some of the foremost minstrel organizations; they also made a trip to Europe, playing England and Ireland.

In the Summer of 1875, Delehanty and Hengler separated in Pittsburg. Mr. Delehanty then formed a partnership with James Cummings, and as Delehanty and Cummings they made their first appearance at the Theatre Comique, New York, August 23, 1875.

December 4, 1876, Delehanty and Hengler, who were something more than business associates, again formed a partnership, reappearing at the Howard Athenaeum in Boston; the alliance was broken by the death of Delehanty.

William H. Delehanty was more than a good dancer; he was a thorough musician, and a man of intellect. He composed most of the songs and dances that the team used, notably “Little Bunch of Roses,” “Apple of My Eye,” “I Hope I Don’t Intrude,” “Strawberries and Cream” and many others. Delehanty and Hengler were the original “Happy Hottentots,” though this act was extensively copied.

T. M. Hengler came to this country at the age of three months, and at the age of two years his family settled in Albany, N. Y., where ten years later he made his first public appearance at the Green Street Theatre; subsequently he was with W. W. Newcomb’s Minstrels for three seasons; later he was with Sharpley’s Minstrels.

He joined W. H. Delehanty in 1866, and continued as his partner until 1875, after which time he did a single act, and was known as “The Merry Minstrel.”

In December, 1876, he rejoined Delehanty, and continued with him until the latter’s death.

When Mr. Delehanty died, Mr. Hengler seemed to lose all ambition for the stage; he mourned his old friend sincerely, and played infrequently; in the name only was he the “Merry Minstrel.”

Tom Hengler was likewise the author of several songs, notably “Sweet Aleen” and “My Pretty Little Kittie,” also the musical sketch “Fun in the Kitchen.”

Mr. Hengler married Miss May Fanning in 1870; they had two daughters who have helped to perpetuate their father’s name and fame—Flo and May Hengler.

[185]

FIRST PERFORMANCE OF “I WISH I WAS IN DIXIE” OLD LIVERPOOL, ENG., BILL
TWO RARE PROGRAMMES.

[186]

William H. Delehanty was born in Albany, N. Y., September 25, 1846; he died in New York City, May 13, 1880.

T. M. Hengler (Slattery) was born in the town of Cashel, Ireland, in 1844; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., August 21, 1888.

Billy Emerson (Redmond) was a unique figure in minstrelsy, for he stood absolutely alone in his chosen profession; never before his advent had his equal been seen, nor will we ever again.

The acme of versatility, the personification of grace, the quintessence of greatness, such was Billy Emerson, who was gifted with a voice that an opera singer might have envied, and endowed by Nature with talents that are but seldom given to man.

His very early days were spent in Oswego, N. Y., but soon with his family moved to Washington, D. C., where he made his first professional appearance with Joe Sweeney’s Minstrels about 1858. From 1860 to 1864 he played chiefly in the music halls; in that year he joined Robert’s and Wilson’s Minstrels; also in 1864 he was with Sanderson’s Minstrels.

His first prominent minstrel engagement was with Newcomb and Arlington in 1866. December 3, 1866, he made his initial New York appearance at Pastor’s Theatre. In 1867 he joined Newcomb’s Minstrels, and continued with them (barring a brief interval when he was with Spalding and Bidwell) until the organization of his own company, June, 1868, when Emerson, Allen and Manning’s Minstrels gave their initial performance in Brooklyn, N. Y.

May 22, 1869, Johnny Allen withdrew, and the company continued as Emerson and Manning’s Minstrels until January, 1870, when the two partners separated. February 11, 1870, the first performance of Emerson’s Minstrels was given, and on November 23, same year, he made his bow under the astute management of Tom Maguire, in San Francisco, the city which to this day reveres the memory of Billy Emerson.

Later the company moved to the Alhambra, and after a trip East, he returned and the name was changed to Emerson’s Minstrels.

May 12, 1873, with his company, he sailed for Australia, opening at Melbourne, August 2; subsequently Mr. Emerson made two other trips to the Antipodes.

On January 14, 1878, he took the management of the Olympic Theatre, New York, installing his company; the engagement was a brief one, and on the following February 28, in conjunction with Smith, Waldron, Lester and Allen, “Emerson and the Big Four Minstrels” were organized and traveled for several months.

In Chicago, June 30, 1879, with R. M. Hooley, the famous Megatherian Minstrels gave their first performance, and continued for a season.

Mr. Emerson was a member of Haverly’s Minstrels when they opened in London, England, July 31, 1880.

San Francisco welcomed its idol on October 17, 1881, when Emerson’s Minstrels opened at the Standard Theatre, and remained until the Spring of 1884.

Later he was with the Haverly-Cleveland Minstrels, and afterwards the Cleveland organization.

April 2, 1888, he became an equal partner with Frank McNish and Carroll Johnson with McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels, owing to the indisposition[187] of Bob Slavin, who was not appearing with the company. August 6, 1888, he again opened in San Francisco with Emerson’s Minstrels.

In the Summer of 1898 he was with the Wilson-Cleveland Minstrels a few weeks, and then played an engagement with William H. West’s Minstrels. Emerson’s career practically ended with this company.

Let us think of him only for his neat songs and dances, of which he was one of the pioneers, and in which he never had an equal.

Let us remember him for his “Big Sunflower,” written by another, but popularized by Emerson; for “Moriarity” will never be forgotten, and we hope that after the trials and vicissitudes of this world, he has “Backed the Winner” in the next.

He married Miss Maggie Homer, at Covington, Ky., June 25, 1869.

Billy Emerson was born in Belfast, Ireland, July 4, 1846; he died in Boston, Mass., February 22, 1902.

E. M. Kayne (Kerr), was a well known and capable interlocutor and bass singer.

His professional career began about forty years ago when he appeared under his own name. April 10, 1875, in conjunction with E. M. Hall and Ned. Wambold, he organized a minstrel company which had a brief existence.

Mr. Kayne was one of Haverly’s original Mastodons in 1878, and continued with Haverly for several seasons.

For some time prior to his death, which occurred in Chicago a few years ago, he was employed in that city in a mercantile establishment.

Harry Kernell, one of the greatest Irish comedians the variety stage ever knew, was an end man with Hyde and Behman’s Minstrels in 1885; and for many years before that. He died in New York, March, 1893.

Ed. Marble came from an old theatrical family of the legitimate stage.

He joined Thatcher, Primrose and West’s Minstrels in 1884 as interlocutor, and continued with them several seasons.

He subsequently wrote and produced “Tuxedo” for George Thatcher, and it was a pronounced success. Mr. Marble later played with Mr. Thatcher in vaudeville. His daughter is Mary Marble, well known in vaudeville circles.

Ed. Marble was born in Buffalo, N. Y., September 6, 1846; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., August 9, 1900.

J. Melville Jansen entered the profession in 1874 at Fall River, Mass., with Gus Bruno, and as Johnson and Bruno, they continued as a black-face acrobatic song and dance team for five years; and they were rated with the best. They played the principal variety houses and some of the best minstrel companies, notably Sweatnam’s in 1878.

Mr. Jansen separated from Mr. Bruno about 1879, and afterwards worked alone, and did a stump speech; he then took his own name, so as not to conflict with Carroll Johnson, who was at that time also known as James Johnson.

About 1882 he formed a partnership with Sam Swain, doing a black-face act, and a few months later he made his appearance at Carncross’ Minstrels in Philadelphia; he remained seven years, after which he joined Primrose and West’s Company, and continued with them for a considerable period.

[188]

Mr. Jansen was a fine end man, and very clever in his imitations of a monkey.

J. Melville Jansen was born in Quebec, Can., he died at Downingtown, Pa., November 23, 1896; age about 50 years.


The season of 1882-83 there were thirty-two minstrel companies on the road.


Ben Brown was one of the great jig dancers of his day, when dancers were plentiful and efficient.

Very early he saw his name on the billboards, he said; and in 1865 he won a diamond studded cross containing eleven stones; the contest was at Bryan’s Hall, Chicago; among the competitors were “English” Tommy Peel, Johnny Boyd and Alex Ross; all passed away.

But I’m ’way ahead of my story. His first regular appearance was with Billy Wray at Beller’s Music Hall, Detroit, Mich., playing “Young Scamp.” He was with the Mrs. Matt. Peel’s Minstrels in 1861. Leaving them he joined Booker and Evart’s Minstrels at Jackson, Mich., taking the place of the famed Dick Sliter, who had just died; this was May 21, 1861.

Subsequently he joined the DeHaven and Hutchins Show, touring Europe; other circus engagements were the John Robinson Company and Mike Lipman’s.

In 1870 he joined Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels at Syracuse, under “Jack” Haverly’s management; three years later Haverly started his own organization; but Mr. Brown remained faithful to his first love; and subsequently he toured with his own organization.

One of Mr. Brown’s feats in his earlier days was to do a jig with a glass full of water on his head, without disturbing the water—or his head; later on he danced with a plough on the same place where the glass was wont to rest.

In 1878 he married, and a couple of years later he settled down in St. Louis, Mo., where he resided until his death.

Ben Brown was born in Chicago, March 17, 1846; he died in St. Louis, Mo., June 10, 1910.

Neil Burgess, who won fame and fortune as Aunt Abigail in the “County Fair,” was a black-face performer for several years.

In 1875 he made a brief tour with Neil Burgess’ Minstrels; they closed at Brockville, Canada, June 14, that year.

Neil Burgess was born in Boston, Mass., June 29, 1846; he died in New York, February 19, 1910.

John Prendergast was a clever song and dance performer, and the first partner of John Hogan, with whom he played a season’s engagement at Bryant’s Minstrels in New York City.

He joined Hogan in 1865. He died in Pittsburg, Pa., August 15, 1869; age 23 years.

GEO. THATCHER

has just rounded out forty-seven years of active theatrical life; for it was in September, 1863, that he made his first stage appearance, doing a jig (wonder if he can do it now?), and appearing in black-face; this was in Baltimore. Subsequently he came near being a Dutch comedian.

[189]

HARRY ROBINSON’S MINSTRELS.
Middle 70’s.

[190]

A year later Mr. Thatcher’s hopes of being a great song and dance performer received a severe jolt; Billy Emerson was the unconscious cause. Realizing that Emerson excelled him so far; Mr. Thatcher in his next engagement told gags between songs that he sang, and claims that then and there he originated the monologue.

Mr. Thatcher says his first important engagement was at Tony Pastor’s in New York in 1873. On November 10, that year, he made his first appearance with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, continuing with that organization and that of Simmons, Slocum and Sweatnam about four years.

August 20, 1877, he made his initial appearance with Haverly’s Minstrels in Philadelphia; in the Spring of the following year he played a brief engagement with the same company.

Mr. Thatcher joined the San Francisco Minstrels in New York, December 10, 1877; his last appearance there was December 11, 1880. Nine days later he opened in Philadelphia at the Arch Street Opera House with Thatcher and Ryman’s Minstrels, and continued under that trade-mark until the Spring of 1881. Season of 1881-1882 saw George Thatcher’s Minstrels at the same house. At Elmira, N. Y., August 3, 1882, the first performance of Thatcher, Primrose and West’s Minstrels was given; the organization disbanded in the Spring of 1889. The following season he was a feature with the Howard Athenaeum Company, doing his famous monologue.

In 1890 Thatcher’s Minstrels took the road; the three succeeding seasons produced “Tuxedo,” “Africa” and “About Gotham” respectively.

Then for two years with Carroll Johnson he headed Thatcher and Johnson’s Minstrels, terminating in the Spring of 1897.

Mr. Thatcher has since been in vaudeville singly, also at various periods with Ed. Marble, Charley Ernest, Banks Winter, Mrs. Zenaide Thatcher and Will Phillips.

Also did he play an engagement with Moore and Burgess’ Minstrels in London, England, about twenty-five years ago; his success there was nothing short of phenomenal.

Mr. Thatcher is a natural wit, always original, and an actor as well as a performer, as evinced by his clever interpretations of black-face characters in “The County Chairman” and “Cameo Kirby.”

In 1908 he was with Cohan and Harris’ Minstrels, and in 1909 the feature of Eddie Leonard’s Minstrels.

George Thatcher was born in Baltimore, Md., July 15, 1846.

John P. Hogan, besides being a great dancer himself, has the ability to impart his skill to others.

Mr. Hogan began his professional career doing a song and dance with Stanley and Mason’s Minstrels in 1862.

In 1865 he joined Raynor and Christy’s Minstrels, with Johnny Prendergast doing a neat song and dance, which by the way they were probably the first team to do such an act. That same year they joined Bryant’s Minstrels in New York, and the following season he formed a partnership with Ruey Hughes at Bryant’s Minstrels. In 1867 they were with Griffin and Christy’s Minstrels, located in New York.

Their next minstrel engagement was with Bryant’s in 1868, also in the metropolis.

[191]

In 1869 the pair joined Buckley’s Serenaders, and the following year they were with Billy Manning’s Minstrels, located in Chicago, where in the Spring of 1871, Hogan and Hughes severed their business relations, owing to the illness of the latter.

In May, 1871, Mr. Hogan joined the Hooley Minstrels in Chicago for a supplemental traveling season; with this company he did a specialty with J. K. Campbell.

Subsequently with Jimmy Cummings, he played an engagement at Moran and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, closing there about February 1, 1872, after which in a variety theatre in the same city he did “Let Me Be” with Harry Kernell, who afterward gained fame as an Irish comedian.

Hogan and Mudge’s Minstrels toured in 1872, likewise Hogan and Ella Chapman played in the principal variety houses.

In 1874 Mr. Hogan returned to Bryant’s Minstrels, and continued there until the death of Dan Bryant, April 10, 1875. A few months later he joined hands with Charley Lord, and as Hogan and Lord played an engagement with Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels.

John Hogan was born in Montreal, Canada, March 14, 1847.

Arthur Moreland. Instances of black-face performers going from the minstrel to the dramatic stage are of very frequent occurrence, but when a legitimate performer goes into minstrelsy, we are inclined to rub our eyes, sit up and take notice.

Such was the case of the subject of this sketch, whose professional debut was made in Troy, N. Y., at the Griswold Opera House, April 14, 1865, in the “Lady of Lyons”; this was not an animal show, as unthinking persons might surmise.

Mr. Moreland next went to London, England, where for five months, commencing in 1865, he played a stock engagement at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Returning to the United States extended engagements followed at St. Louis, New Orleans, Louisville, Cincinnati and New York City. In 1872 he assumed the management of Johnny Thompson, in “On Hand.”

Mr. Moreland’s next move was to the Olympic Theatre, in Brooklyn, N. Y., 1873; it was here that Mr. Moreland first became a “corker,” though he had been a corking good fellow fully a quarter of a century prior to that date—and ever since.

His first minstrel engagement was with Hooley in 1876; the following year he was with Maguire’s Company in San Francisco, and later with Emerson’s Minstrels, same city. In 1880 Mr. Moreland became a member of the San Francisco Minstrels in New York City, where he remained four years.

In 1884-85 he did “nigger acts” with Dan Collyer; the following season he was a member of Harrigan’s Company in New York City. Mr. Moreland was one of the members of Lew Dockstader’s permanent minstrel company in New York, commencing September 17, 1886, and continuing with them during the existence as an organization, terminating in 1889.

As Col. Risener, in “Blue Jeans,” appearing in white-face, season of 1891-92, Mr. Moreland once more showed his versatility.

Mr. Moreland has long been recognized as the premier interlocutor in[192] minstrelsy, and the legitimate successor of Wm. H. Bernard, who retired in 1872.

Arthur Moreland was born in New York City, November 12, 1847.

George W. Powers ran away from home in 1861; there was really no necessity for this, as the home was securely fastened. However, that’s not the argument. He boarded the steamboat “Charley Bowers,” did George Powers, and for several hours continued as a passenger, finally landing at Cairo, Ill., where he immediately sought out the manager, and was at once engaged to do a jig, in black-face; subsequently he was apprenticed to old Frank Howard, with whom he did “nigger acts” in the variety houses of St. Louis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Louisville and Memphis; at the latter place he appeared in Morningstar’s Varieties; it is now 1863, and all is well.

Mr. Powers next joined Castello’s Circus, and late in 1863 made his first appearance in minstrelsy; the honor belongs to the Weed and Morris Company.

The following year he was with LaRue’s Minstrels; the next burnt-cork aggregation to claim him was the Morris Bros. in Boston.

September 5, 1870, with Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, Johnson and Powers made their first appearance as a team, doing acrobatic songs and dances and high kicking—this man Johnson was Carroll Johnson, the present Beau Brummell of minstrelsy, but at that time known as James Johnson; for thirteen years did this duo do dances and other doings.

January 2, 1871, they opened with Hooley’s Minstrels in Chicago, at the first performance of that company in the Big Lake City.

In the Summer of 1872 Mr. Powers and his partner joined the famous San Francisco Minstrels in New York, and continued with them until 1882, barring the season of 1874-75, which was spent in Philadelphia with Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels. In the Fall of 1882 they became members of Courtright and Hawkins’ Minstrels, also in Philadelphia, and the following January went to San Francisco, where they opened with Billy Emerson’s Minstrels on the 22d; they remained about three months and then joined Haverly’s Minstrels, and in June, 1883, the long partnership of Johnson and Powers was dissolved.

Mr. Powers subsequently gave most of his attention to the banjo, on which instrument in the execution of which he has no rival in minstrelsy; his rendition of “Home, Sweet Home,” with variations, is alone worth going miles to hear.

From 1885 to 1893 Mr. Powers appeared successfully with McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s; Thatcher, Primrose and West’s; Lew Dockstader’s, and Thatcher and Johnson’s Minstrels.

Early in 1910 he married the widow of the late John W. Thompson, of Dallas, Texas.

George W. Powers was born in Louisville, Ky., April 3, 1847.

Luke Schoolcraft was naturally a great performer; born in the South amidst environments that gave him opportunities for noticing the peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of the negro character, he imbibed them without being aware of so doing.

At the age of five he made his first appearance, playing child parts; two years later he “blacked up” for the first time, in the play of “Masked Faces.”

[193]

FRANK HOWARD BANKS WINTER
MANUEL ROMAIN GEO. GALE
RICHARD J. JOSE FRANK MORRELL
SIX SINGERS.

[194]

Late in the 60’s at Memphis, Tenn., a butcher with the unminstrel name of Wiets, tiring of dispensing steaks, chops and sundry animal flesh to a ravenous clientele, and with visions of perhaps becoming a future burnt cork impressario, he organized the Great Western Opera Bouffe Company; a painfully short time later it disorganized itself.

It is an odd fact that this gifted performer, whom nature endowed with the ability to portray so faithfully the Southern “darky,” aspired to be a Dutch comedian: indeed, he appeared as such intermittently for several years in the variety houses.

July 29, 1872, at Cincinnati, he made his first appearance with Newcomb’s Minstrels, sitting on the end and doing an act in the olio with Andy McKee and E. M. Hall; a few weeks later he began a brief engagement with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, commencing August 18.

Mr. Schoolcraft formed a partnership with George H. Coes, in 1874, and on August 31 they opened with Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels in Chicago. They played various minstrel and variety engagements until April 2, 1877, when Schoolcraft and Coes’ Minstrels gave their first performance; the tour was of short duration. January 14, 1878, the team joined Emerson’s Minstrels at the Olympic Theatre in New York, and in the Summer of the following year they opened with Hooley and Emerson’s Megatherian Minstrels.

Season of 1881-82 they were with Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Company; a year later they joined the Barlow, Wilson & Co.’s Minstrels, and on September 3, 1883, they opened with the San Francisco Minstrels in New York City.

Schoolcraft and Coes dissolved partnership in 1889, and in the Spring of that year Mr. Schoolcraft joined Dockstader’s permanent minstrel company in New York City; this was his last minstrel engagement.

About a year later he became a member of the famous “City Directory” Company, under the management of John Russell, and continued with that organization until the time of his death.

Beyond all dispute Luke Schoolcraft ranked high with the great black-face performers of the land; he is one of the immortals of minstrelsy. While he was great in everything he ever did, his “Mrs. Dittimus’ Party” was a gem of purest ray serene.

Luke Schoolcraft was born in New Orleans, La., November 14, 1847; he died in Cincinnati, Ohio, March 10, 1893.

Bobby Newcomb (Robert Hughes) stood alone in his particular line in minstrelsy, inasmuch as he wrote all the songs and dances he executed so admirably, as well as producing for many other performers, notably the “Big Sunflower” for Billy Emerson, which did so much to establish the popularity of that great artist.

The earliest record of Newcomb’s professional appearance was at Quebec, Canada, where on May 3, 1856, he appeared as Master Hughes with Perham’s Great Ethiopian Minstrel Opera and Burlesque Troupe.

The following year he was with Buckley’s Serenaders in New York; it was here that he attracted the attention of W. W. Newcomb, who, with Hy. Rumsey was about to organize Rumsey and Newcomb’s Minstrels; and Bobby Newcomb became a member, and continued with them for about[195] five years; between seasons accepting other engagements with Geo. Christy’s (Hooley) Minstrels, in June, 1859, and a year later with Minor’s Ethiopian Minstrels. Early in 1861 he went to England with Rumsey and Newcomb, subsequently to Germany and back to England, where the company disbanded.

Mr. Newcomb joined Wood’s Minstrels in New York, March 9, 1863, as “Little Bobby,” the ladies’ pet. In 1860 he was billed as Master Robert Langlois.

In the Fall of 1863 he joined Christy’s Minstrels in New York; in 1865 he was with Raynor’s “Christy’s.”

December 9, 1869, he made his re-appearance with the San Francisco Minstrels in New York; the following year he was a member of Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia. It was with the latter company he first appeared as an end man, in Pittsburgh, Pa., May 15, 1871.

August 28, 1871, he rejoined the San Francisco Minstrels in New York for the season; subsequently he was with Arlington, Cotton and Kemble’s Minstrels in Chicago for a lengthy engagement.

He joined Maguire’s Minstrels in San Francisco, April 18, 1874; the following year he returned to Carncross and Dixey.

Mr. Newcomb played Topsy in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in 1876.

In 1877 he was with Haverly, and in 1881 played an engagement with Moore and Burgess’ Minstrels in London, England.

In 1883 he was again with Haverly. About 1885, with his wife and three talented daughters, he organized the Newcomb Family, and as such he traveled until his death.

In New York, September 28, 1867, he married Miss Mary Blake, a famous danseuse of that time. Blanche Newcomb, in private life, Mrs. John Cain, a clever soubrette, is his daughter.

Bobby Newcomb was born November 13, 1847; he died at Tacoma, Wash., June 1, 1888.

Eddie Fox is known wherever minstrelsy is spoken.

Mr. Fox’s career began at the tender age of five years, and continued up until about 1897, when he “laid down the fiddle and the bow”—not because “there was no more work for poor Uncle Ned”—no, indeedy—for Mr. Fox refuses to grow old, and he could have work aplenty if he so desired.

Newcomb and Arlington’s Minstrels engaged him about 1867; subsequently he was with Newcomb’s Minstrels.

When Simmons and Slocum opened their minstrel house in Philadelphia in 1870, Eddie Fox was leader, and remained there several seasons. Likewise was he identified with Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Minstrels at their inception in 1877, and continued with them during their existence as an organization, terminating in June, 1882.

Other prominent minstrel engagements were Barlow, Wilson Company, George Wilson’s, Cleveland’s, and his last—Al. G. Field’s.

Mr. Fox composed some of the most popular music in minstrelsy, notably the “Big Sunflower,” immortalized by Billy Emerson; “Kaiser, Don’t You Want to Buy a Dog?” for Gus Williams; “Noreen Moreen,” “Goodbye, Liza Jane,” “Carry the News to Mary” and scores of others.

As a jig and reel player he is without a peer.

[196]

DAVE MONTGOMERY FRED STONE PERCY G. WILLIAMS RAYMOND HITCHCOCK JOE. CAWTHORNE
CORSE PAYTON FRED. BAILEY RALPH AUSTIN CHAUNCEY OLCOTT RICHARD CARLE
BILLY JEROME JAS. J. CORBETT MACLYN ARBUCKLE JOHN L. SULLIVAN BILLY S. CLIFFORD
NAT. GOODWIN JERRY COHAN DE WOLF HOPPER GEO. M. COHAN NAT. WILLS
JOHN C. RICE BARNEY GILMORE EDDIE FOY BERT. LESLIE SAM BERNARD
[197]
WM. HARRIS CHAS. FROHMAN DAN. FROHMAN JOHN E. KELLERD HENRY E. DIXEY
OTIS SKINNER BILLY B. VAN WILTON LACKAYE WILLIE COLLIER WM. H. CRANE
“HAP.” WARD HARRY VOKES ANDREW MACK FRANCIS WILSON HARRY BULGER
JAS. T. POWERS GEO. BEBAN JEFF D’ANGELIS DENMAN THOMPSON DAVID BELASCO
JOE. WEBER LEW. FIELDS CHAS. K. HARRIS CHAS. HORWITZ FRED V. BOWERS
THE “FAMOUS 50”; THEY ALL “BLACKED UP,” OR WERE ASSOCIATED WITH MINSTRELSY.

[198]

Mr. Fox likewise enjoys the distinction of having been always the highest salaried “leader” in minstrelsy.

Eddie Fox was born in Glens Falls, N. Y., October 28, 1848; a letter addressed care of any minstrel show playing Philadelphia will always reach him.

Thomas B. Dixon. The name of Tom Dixon will go down in the annals of minstrelsy for his magnificent rendition of the old ballad “Sally in Our Alley.”

Mr. Dixon joined Lew Benedict’s Minstrels in July, 1872, and again at Newark, N. J., September 21, 1876. In 1878 he was with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, and that same year became a member of the original Haverly’s Mastodons in Chicago, opening October 21, 1878. He went to London, England, with that company, opening at “Her Majesty’s” Theatre, July 31, 1880; the following year he was with Emerson in San Francisco; he was likewise identified with other prominent organizations. Mr. Dixon was one of the original California Quartette.

Thos. B. Dixon was born in 1847; he died in Nashua, N. H., November 25, 1890.

Lew. Spencer (James Erhardt), well known as a black-face performer, began his professional career in his native city about 1865 as a Dutch comedian. He was with Duprez and Benedict’s Minstrels about 1869, and subsequently with the companies of Cal. Wagner; Barlow, Wilson; Haverly; Al. G. Fields and others as prominent.

He was born in Baltimore, Md.; he died in Chicago, Ill., December 7, 1904; age 56 years.

Frank Dumont is one of the most intellectual men in minstrelsy; originally a ballad singer, he has been connected with every branch of the black-face profession.

In the Fall of 1862, as Master Dumont, he was with Arlington and Donniker’s Minstrels, subsequently he was associated with John Cross and Tom Fish with Cross, Fish and Dumont’s Minstrels; this was in 1866.

The following year he was with Ned Davis’ Minstrels; early in 1869 he was with Dashington and Kling’s Minstrels and that same year he joined Duprez and Benedict’s Minstrels, and continued with them about eleven years.

Subsequently Mr. Dumont was with Carncross in Philadelphia, the San Francisco Minstrels in New York, and with Lew Dockstader’s Company. While with Sweatnam’s Minstrels, August 22, 1879, he sang “The Old Family Table.”

Mr. Dumont is the author of innumerable songs, sketches and plays, and produced all the shows at the Eleventh Street Opera House, Philadelphia, since the inception of Dumont’s Minstrels there January 27, 1896.

Frank Dumont was born in Utica, N. Y., January 25, 1848.

Will G. Mack, once of the team of Mack and O’Day, had been in the profession about twenty-five years, and with Al G. Fields’, Barlow Bros., and other minstrel companies prior to his death, November 12, 1897.

[199]

Charles Heywood (Frank Haffner), who has an international reputation in minstrelsy as a female impersonator, possesses a remarkably fine cultivated voice, which long experience has taught him to use to the best advantage.

Mr. Heywood made his debut with an amateur minstrel company in Newark, N. J., in 1867, at the famous old Library Hall.

In January, 1868, he appeared professionally in New York with Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels.

Later he was identified with Buckley’s, Duprez and Benedict; Emerson’s; Simmons and Slocum’s; Haverly’s, and several other notable organizations.

In 1881 he was with Thatcher and Ryman’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, and the following year with Clark and Ryman’s Minstrels he went to Australia—with his pigeons; for Heywood wouldn’t travel without his pigeons, and the pigeons wouldn’t travel without Heywood; so there you are.

After the pigeon engagement, which lasted sixty weeks, Mr. Heywood joined Haverly’s Mastodons in London, in 1884; again using the pigeons, 100 strong, as a feature of his act.

After several notable engagements in the music halls on the Continent, he returned to this country, and subsequently built a theatre in Newark, N. J. As a builder Mr. Heywood admits he wasn’t a success, but as a hustler he is second to none. And then he opened a conservatory, where several who since achieved success in their profession received their tuition. Of late years Mr. Heywood’s talents have been devoted chiefly to concert work.

Charles Heywood was born in New York City, October 24, 1848.

Barry Maxwell (Maxey) has been famous for many years for his delineation of the aged “darky,” of which he is a master.

His stage career began in his native city as a member of the Crescent City Serenaders, in which he was one of the end men.

With Ed Gibson, as Gibson and Maxwell, he joined Spalding and Manning’s Minstrels; other minstrel organizations he was identified with were Hooley’s; Haverly’s; Emerson and Reed’s, in San Francisco; Dockstader’s, in New York, from 1886 to 1889, and Schoolcraft and Maxwell’s Minstrels.

Mr. Maxwell was also of the team of Maxwell and Carroll.

For ten years he appeared successfully with the Chas. H. Hoyt shows, where he was called upon to play both white and black face characters, which he did with equal facility.

His portrayal of the black-face character of Othello, in the “Texas Steer,” and Sassafras Livingstone, in the “County Chairman,” received the highest encomiums from press and public.

Barry Maxwell was born in New Orleans, La., October 29, 1848.

Quilter and Goldrich ranked with the best song and dance teams of minstrelsy.

They made their first appearance in 1869 at Pittsburgh, Pa., with Harry Williams.

During their partnership they played practically every first-class variety house in the country, as well as many of the principal minstrel companies, including Harry Robinson’s, Neil Bryant’s, and Kelly and Leon’s.

[200]

July 19, 1874, they sailed for England, where on August 10 they made their first appearance in Liverpool with Sam Hague’s Minstrels; subsequently going to Moore and Burgess’ Minstrels in London, in each city meeting with pronounced success.

They played an extended engagement with Harrigan and Hart’s Company in New York, and after the dissolution of that famous organization, June 13, 1885, they cast their fortunes with Edward Harrigan.

Mr. Goldrich’s demise occurred during this period, since when Mr. Quilter has appeared mostly in dramatic and musical productions. Some of the principal black-face parts portrayed were in “Princess Bonnie” and the “Traveling Salesman.”

Richard (“Dick”) Quilter was born in the County Kerry, Ireland, August 16, 1848.

Peter Goldrich (MacGoldrick) was born in Trenton, N. J., he died in New York City, June 4, 1891; age 42 years.

Cheevers and Kennedy, originally known as the “Buffalo Boys,” a title given to them by Dan Bryant, when as the “infant wonders” they made their first appearance in New York, with Bryant’s Minstrels, doing a double clog reel April 25, 1864.

The following year they went to Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, where they remained until 1871; part of this time they were billed as Masters Joseph and Eddie. August 28, 1871, they opened with the San Francisco Minstrels in New York for the season; that same week they, in conjunction with Charley Gibbons and Bobby Newcomb, formed a dancing quartette, which was then considered quite a novelty.

The following year they returned to Philadelphia as members of Frank Moran’s Minstrels. July 2, 1874, they sailed for England, opening at the London Pavilion July 19. Subsequently an engagement of fourteen months at the Cambridge, same city, followed.

Their success at this house was so pronounced that an extra gallery had to be built to accommodate the patrons of that popular establishment. Equally successful engagements in Dublin and Paris followed. It will be readily seen that these boys were “capital” performers.

Returning to the United States they rejoined Carncross and Dixey in Philadelphia.

Early in 1877 they began a brief engagement with Emerson’s Minstrels in San Francisco, and in the Spring of that year sailed for Australia, where they remained about four years.

A brief separation followed, during which time Mr. Cheevers worked alone; they subsequently came together again, playing successful engagements in the music halls.

August 27, 1886, they arrived in New York City; they played several engagements in the United States, subsequently returning to England; later their business relations were again severed; Mr. Cheevers assuming the management of the Phoenix Music Hall, Dover, England, and some years later entering the hotel business.

After a separation of about nine years, in the Fall of 1904 they once more reunited and for two or three years renewed former triumphs.

[201]

BURTON STANLEY GEO. WILKES “RICARDO”
GUS. MILLS HARRY LANSING STUART
JAMES MACK HARRY CONSTANTINE ARTHUR DOTY
FAMED FAVORITES WHO FEATURED FEMININE FANCIES.

[202]

Following their final separation, Mr. Cheevers returned to the United States, where he has mostly remained.

Mr. Kennedy is a boniface in England.

Cheevers and Kennedy enjoyed a well-merited reputation for originality; their quick character changes and diversified dancing gave them a standing in their profession that any performer might envy.

Joseph E. Cheevers was born in Buffalo, N. Y., May 25, 1848.

Edw. J. Kennedy was born in Buffalo, N. Y., July 10, 1844.

Gus Bruno made his first appearance professionally in his native city with Rentz’s Circus, in 1866, doing a hurdle act.

He came to the United States a few years later, and as the Limber Boy he played an engagement at Woodward’s Garden in San Francisco.

Charley Armstrong was his first partner; next came Clark and Bruno, and then Johnson and Bruno, who for five years did one of the greatest black-face acts in the country, playing the principal variety houses and minstrel organizations.

Mr. Bruno subsequently allied himself with the foremost farcical organizations; he is now playing vaudeville.

He is probably the best dialectician in America, and was the first to give the Swedish and Low Dutch dialects on the stage.

Gus Bruno was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, May 4, 1848.

Ruey Hughes (James Quigg) was a fine dancer and a good general performer.

He appeared at the Green Street Theatre in Albany, N. Y., as early as 1863. The following year he was with A. P. Ball’s American Coliseum Circus.

In 1866 he formed a partnership with John Hogan, and as Hogan and Hughes they did neat songs and dances, and quickly made reputations for themselves.

Early in 1867 Mr. Hughes and his partner joined Griffin and Christy’s Minstrels in New York. Subsequently they appeared successfully with Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., and with Bryant’s, also Kelly and Leon’s in New York. In 1869, with Mr. Hogan, he joined Buckley’s Serenaders for the season.

In 1870 Mr. Hughes began an engagement with Manning’s Minstrels in Chicago, where a few months later he was taken sick and finally forced to separate from Mr. Hogan.

The death of Mr. Hughes on the threshold of manhood robbed minstrelsy of one of its most brilliant luminaries.

Ruey Hughes was born in New York City; he died there, November 10, 1871; age 23 years.

Sage Richardson began his professional career as a member of the famous Holman troupe in 1864, at Toronto, Canada. His first minstrel engagement was with Cool Burgess’, later appearing with LaRue’s Minstrels.

Subsequently he joined hands with his brother John, and they played the variety houses until 1880, when he doubled with Charley Young, later playing an engagement with Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels; at the end of the season[203] Mr. Richardson returned to California, and afterward reappeared in variety houses with his brother.

Sage Richardson was born in New York City: he died in San Francisco, March 8, 1883; age about 35 years.

I. W. Baird, who was proprietor and manager of the organization that bore his name for several seasons, commenced his professional career as a trick bicycle rider in 1866. In 1867 he joined Johnson’s Circus at Galesburg, Ill., and in 1872 was part proprietor of Smith and Baird’s Circus; in 1874 he controlled the privileges of the Great Eastern 6 Tent Shows.

In 1875 he organized the Baird-Howell Show, and the following year the first performance of I. W. Baird’s Mammoth Minstrels was given, and continued as an organization until 1889; Mr. Baird subsequently engaging in the real estate business in Portland, Ore.

I. W. Baird was born in Salem, Ohio; he died in Portland, Ore., January 2, 1908.

Jerry Cohan. It will be a surprise to most of the present generation to know that the daddy of the famous George M. Cohan ever appeared in black-face, but he did, and as a general dancer he ranked with the best; Mr. Cohan also could do things with the tambourine.

His first minstrel engagement was with Campbell and Huntley’s Minstrels as late (or early) as May, 1868. He joined Kelly and Leon’s Associated Artists in Baltimore, in the Summer of 1869; other engagements of a “dark” nature were Sam Sharpley’s and LaRue’s.

His last offense was the California (Joe Norcross’) Minstrels, which he joined at Springfield, Mass., December 5, 1879.

Jerry Cohan was born in Boston, Mass., January 31, 1848.

W. W. Barbour, well and favorably known as one of the prominent “leaders” of minstrelsy, began with Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels in the 70’s; subsequently he joined Haverly, and was with him for twelve years. Later he was a member of Cleveland’s Minstrels for two years, and with Geo. Wilson for three years.

He was also leader at Sam Jack’s Theatre in Chicago, and Frank Hall’s Casino in the same city.

His last engagement was at the Grand Opera House, New York.

W. W. Barbour died in Brooklyn, N. Y., September 5, 1899; age 51 years.

Billy Courtright (Albert Courtright), the original “Flewy Flewy,” and one of the most versatile performers on the minstrel stage, began his professional career more than forty years ago. He was part owner of Blaisdell Bros. and Courtright’s Minstrels, who gave their initial performance at Rock Island, Ill., March 8, 1871.

Mr. Courtright subsequently joined John D. Gilbert in a black-face act called “Big and Little,” of which they were the originals; their first appearance in New York was at Charley White’s October 12, 1872. In November, 1873, Mr. Courtright joined Haverly’s Minstrels, and a few months later became a member of Arlington, Cotton and Kemble’s Minstrels in Chicago.[204] Mr. Courtright was with Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels in 1877, and the following year went to Australia with them.

He subsequently rejoined Haverly’s. In the Fall of 1882, Courtright and Hawkin’s Minstrels opened in Philadelphia, as a permanent company. Mr. Courtright has been giving white face specialties in vaudeville for several years.

Billy Courtright was born in New Milford, Ill., March 10, 1848.

Rowland H. Mayland was well known as a flute soloist with many of the best minstrel organizations.

His first professional engagement was at Mrs. John Wood’s Theatre, New York, in 1864. Subsequently he joined M. C. Campbell’s Minstrels, later appearing with Hooley’s in Brooklyn, N. Y.; Buckley’s; Kelly and Leon’s; Geo. Christy’s, and Seaver’s Minstrel Hall, Brooklyn, N. Y.

He last appeared professionally with Neil Bryant’s Minstrels about thirty years ago.

Rowland H. Mayland was born in New York, February 16, 1848.

Lew Parker, the present manager of the Crescent Theatre in Brooklyn, N. Y., 1910, was an acrobat in 1860. Doesn’t time fly?

This 1860 “affair” was with the Myers and Madigan Circus, which, Mr. Parker declares, was the first railroad show in America.

About 1863 he joined Skiff’s Minstrels; subsequently Mr. Parker was with the Oriental Minstrels; as might be surmised, this was a “turkey” show.

A tour of South America with Pickering’s Minstrels followed.

Other black face organizations that were graced by the presence of Mr. Parker were Johnny Thompson’s Minstrels, and the California Minstrels; with the latter he sat on the end opposite “Kerry Gow” Joe Murphy.

The team of Lew and Pauline Parker played the variety houses from 1873 to 1885.

About twenty-five years ago Mr. Parker became general agent for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, in which capacity he traveled for several seasons.

Lew Parker was born in Savannah, Ga., May 12, 1849.

Walters and Morton formed a partnership at East Saginaw, Mich., where they first performed August 12, 1872. As an acrobatic song and dance team they were ranked with the best. They played engagements with Arlington, Cotton and Kemble’s Minstrels in Chicago in 1874; subsequently with Neil Bryant’s Company.

Early in 1876 they were with Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels, where they continued about two years. In the Summer of 1876 they separated briefly, Mr. Walters joining Andy McKee August 28, that year, for a few weeks. Subsequently they came together, and continued until July 25, 1877, when they last performed jointly in Buffalo, N. Y.

Mr. Walters’ first appearance were with circuses; in 1864 he joined Rumsey’s Minstrels.

After separating from Mr. Morton he formed a partnership with Mark Hughes, making his last appearance with him at Cincinnati September 15, 1877. J. W. Morton formed a partnership with Billy Ashcroft about 1870, doing black-face song and dances for about one year. August 11, 1876, he became one of the Big Four, and continued as such about five years, part of which the Big Four Minstrels toured. Later, Mr. Morton had his own organization.

[205]

HARRY WOODSON ARCHIE WHITE CARROLL JOHNSON
NO DEARTH OF “DARKYS” HERE.

[206]

He subsequently went to England and Australia, and formed a partnership with Tom Sadler. In 1890 he was conducting a hotel in New Zealand.

Charley Walters was born in Cardiff, Wales, May 17, 1849; he died in New York City January 31, 1878.

J. W. Morton (Sheppard) died March 30, 1907.

Welch and Rice were two of the best exponents of neat songs and dances in minstrelsy.

About 1863 they attracted the attention of Jake Budd, who adopted them professionally, and named them Johnny and Willie Budd, the “Empire Boys.”

They had appeared before the public individually prior to the above event, each with Sanford’s Minstrels in Harrisburg, Pa.; Johnny Rice was with Charley Petrie before joining Welch.

With Jake Budd they played several seasons with Skiff and Gaylord’s Minstrels, and Buckley’s Serenaders.

They then left Budd, and opened with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, March 6, 1871, and continued intermittently with that company about six years.

They were with Haverly’s Minstrels in the Spring of 1878, and in the Fall of that year they were members of the original Mastodons, with whom they went to London in 1880, where they separated.

Mr. Welch embarked in the hotel business in England for awhile, but later returned to the United States, and assumed the management of Callender’s Minstrels for the proprietors, Charles and Gustave Frohman.

Mr. Welch’s last engagement was with Dockstader’s Minstrels in New York, April 29, 1887.

He was the author of several musical sketches, and was an intellectual performer.

Johnny Rice played variety and minstrel engagements after separating from Welch.

Billy Welch was born at sea, December 20, 1849; he died in New York City, May 7, 1887.

John Cornelius Rice was born in Harrisburg, Pa., November 6, 1852; he died in Chicago, November 23, 1887.

Master Tommy (Thomas Henry Ryan) gave promise of attaining a high position in his chosen profession.

As a dancer and comedian he had already achieved prominence.

He died in New York, June 22, 1869; age 20 years.

George W. Woods, famous as a great bone player with Haverly, also the San Francisco Minstrels, and who in 1892 did an act with J. H. Mack with the Muldoon Specialty Company, died in New York City, June 19, 1898; age 50 years; he was born in England.

[207]


Billy West, Billy Emerson and Billy Rice, minstrelsy’s three great “Billy’s,” died within fourteen days—exactly one week apart in 1902.


Charles F. Lorraine made his first appearance on the stage in pantomime at the Brittania Theatre, London, England, in 1855, as a child, and while still a child gave a season of popular concerts at the Music Hall, Leeds, England.

His minstrel career began in 1867 as a member of Charles Christie’s Minstrels; next season he piloted his own troupe; other organizations were the Livermore Bros. Minstrels, where he remained some time; subsequent minstrel engagements were with Matthews Bros., and Sam Hague’s, all in England.

In 1882, Thatcher, Primrose and West; then Carpenter and Lorraine’s Minstrels; Barlow and Wilson; Barlow, Wilson and Rankin’s; Emerson’s; Cleveland, and Haverly’s.

Mr. Lorraine, in addition to being a vocalist, was an interlocutor of merit.

He married Miss St. George Hussey, who died in Detroit, Mich., October 9, 1910.

Charles F. Lorraine was born December 11, 1849.

George T. Clapham, brother of Harry J. Clapham, joined Haverly’s Minstrels in 1875 as advance agent, remaining about one year; subsequently going to Haverly’s Adelphi Theatre in Chicago as advertising agent, where another year was spent.

In the early 80’s he assumed management of Thatcher, Primrose and West’s Minstrels, remaining in that capacity five years.

Later he was with Hoyt & Thomas, one season, and part of another was with H. R. Jacobs in Albany. After this he was agent for Lew Dockstader’s (road) Minstrels about three seasons; then with Archie Boyd.

Mr. Clapham was with J. H. Haverly’s Minstrels on their last tour, about 12 years ago.

George T. Clapham was born in Albany, N. Y., April, 1849.

Joseph H. Mack was well known as a prominent minstrel agent and manager of such organizations as Kelly and Leon’s, Emerson’s California Minstrels and Hart, Ryman and Barney’s Minstrels, also manager of the Cleveland Baseball Club in 1880.

Joseph H. Mack was born in Buffalo, N. Y., May 10, 1849; he died at Hewitt, N. J., November 14, 1892.

Harry Fisher, famous in the old Harrigan and Hart days for his unique German characterizations, played Uncle Tom in the latter’s “cabin,” in New York at the Olympic Theatre, in April, 1878.

Harry Fisher was born in New York City, July 21, 1849, and doesn’t care who knows it.

Charles Dockstader was one of the most prolific producers in minstrelsy. He was something besides being a good song and dance performer, and was the author of many sketches, acts and songs.

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His first appearance on the stage was in his native city as the child in “Pizarro,” with Edwin Forrest; his debut as a minstrel was also made in Cleveland some years later.

In September, 1878, he formed a partnership with Lew Clapp, opening in Jersey City, where they remained several weeks at a variety theatre as the Dockstader Bros. December 30, same year, they played their first minstrel engagement with Jerry Thomas’ Company in New York.

They began the season of 1880 with Carncross’ Minstrels in Philadelphia, and remained there, until December, 1881, when they opened with George Thatcher’s Minstrels in Philadelphia for a brief engagement. Subsequently they were with Haverly, and a return to Carncross, where early in March, 1883, owing to Mr. Dockstader’s illness he was compelled to separate from Lew Dockstader.

Later he did an act with William Lee as the “Dockstader’s;” also a sketch with Billy and Ella Watson in 1889. Of late years previous to his retirement he had been with dramatic companies.

Charles Dockstader was born in Cleveland, Ohio, September 28, 1849; he died in Pleasantville, N. J., October 20, 1907.

Frank “Pop” Ward, known everywhere as the “Terrible Judge” of vaudeville, began his professional career with Lent’s Circus in Newark, N. J., in 1871 as a trapeze performer.

In 1873 he became a member of the Orpheus Quartette, and remained with them until he organized the original Clipper Quartette in 1879, opening at Tony Pastor’s in New York City. Mr. Ward continued with the quartette through the various changes until its dissolution, about 1893, playing with Snellbaker’s “Majestics”; Hyde and Behman’s Company; McIntyre and Heath’s Minstrels; Thatcher, Primrose and West’s Minstrels; Nat Goodwin and many high-class farcical organizations.

Mr. Ward formed a partnership with John P. Curran in 1893, since which he has been most successfully appearing in vaudeville.

“Pop” Ward is considered a wonder in the profession he so ably represents, possessing all the energy and vim of a performer of half his years.

Francis T. Ward was born in New York City, January 4, 1849.

Frank Turner (Trainor) was one of the Three Turner Brothers who appeared successfully in the variety theatres for several seasons.

In Cincinnati, September 3, 1877, he formed a partnership with Albert Geyer, one of the three Geyer Brothers, doing black-face song and dances. His last appearance was at the Olympic Theatre, New York, November 12, 1877.

He died in New York City, November 17, 1877.

Dent. Delmanning was one of the well-known Delmanning Brothers, a prominent song and dance team, who entered the profession about 1871.

They were with Whitmore and Clark’s; Cal. Wagner’s; Barlow, Wilson and Rankin’s and other well-known minstrel organizations.

He died in Brooklyn, N. Y., February 4, 1901.

Al. Hayman, of the great theatrical syndicate, was in minstrelsy, though the author has no record of his ever “blacking up.”

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MRS. JAS. BUDWORTH MRS. BOBBY NEWCOMB MRS. E. N. SLOCUM
MRS. FRED BUCKLEY MRS. “JACK” HAVERLY MRS. DAN. BRYANT
MRS. J. R. KEMBLE MRS. JOHN MULLIGAN MRS. CHARLEY PETTENGILL
MRS. BILLY EMERSON MRS. BILLY MANNING MRS. BILLY RICE
WIVES OF FAMOUS MINSTRELS.

[210]

Hiscox and Hayman’s Minstrels were organized in Australia in the Spring of 1880.

For further particulars see Willis P. Sweatnam.

Billy Frear, was an unusually versatile black-face performer, being equally proficient as a dancer, banjoist or comedian; as an end man he was especially clever. His first minstrel engagement was with Duprez and Benedict’s, about 1865; he was quite popular with this company, and equally so with Carncross and Dixey in Philadelphia subsequently.

His first wife was Millie Blair, a well-known song and dance artist; later he married a Miss Rogers. He died in Poughkeepsie, N. Y., December 28, 1888; age 41 years.

Charles W. Cogill made his first appearance with his brother in San Francisco; later he formed a partnership with Fred Cooper.

In May, 1877, Cogill and Cooper built and opened the Adelphi Theatre in the California metropolis, and conducted it for several months.

Mr. Cogill subsequently joined George Reynolds after the death of the latter’s brother in 1878; the alliance did not last long, and again he joined his brother, together they went to Australia, where they were great favorites. They opened in Sydney in April, 1885, later going to Melbourne, where they had their own theatre, and where they remained twelve years.

About 1900 Mr. Cogill returned to America, and rejoined Cooper in a song and dance act.

Charles W. Cogill was born in New York; he died in San Francisco, March 16, 1903; age 53 years.

John M. Turner (McTurney), a really great banjoist, formed a partnership with J. K. Buckley in a banjo act in the middle 70’s; they severed their business relations November 11, 1876.

Mr. Turner was married in 1872.

For several years prior to his death he had not been actively engaged in his profession.

John M. Turner was born in New York about 1850; he died there September 4, 1907.

“Bernardo” (Thomas White), a prominent female impersonator in the “good old days,” according to Frank Dumont, appeared as early as 1867 with Ned Davis’ Olio Minstrels as Master J. Buckley.

He was with Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., two years later, playing under his own name, Thos. White.

He joined Lew Benedict’s Minstrels in July, 1872, subsequently he was associated with the San Francisco Minstrels in New York in 1875; the same year he joined Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., and in 1878 was a member of Charley Morris’ Minstrels. He was with Bryant’s in New York, also Haverly’s Minstrels.

In May, 1877, with Charley Sutton, Francis Wilson and Jimmy Mackin, he launched Mackin, Wilson, Sutton and Bernardo’s Minstrels.

“Bernardo” died in Brooklyn, N. Y., November 21, 1880.

[211]

Charley Glidden was an “Oyster Can Moke” with the late Fred. Huber in 1879.

He is now a successful citizen of Seattle—and Seattle is said not to be sad.

George Gale, famous for many years with many companies as a burlesque lyric artist and tenor vocalist, made his professional debut with Harry Robinson’s Minstrels at Coldwater, Mich., about 35 years ago; probably a little less than that—at any rate, he later joined Haverly’s Minstrels, and afterward Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s organization.

While with Hyde and Behman’s Minstrels he was one of the members of the Clipper Quartette.

Mr. Gale was located in Philadelphia with Carncross’ Minstrels, and in Chicago with Haverly’s Home Minstrels.

Mr. Gale was also with McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels, as well as various high-class farcical companies.

At present he is now of the Clipper 3—Gale, Wensley and Manchester.

George Gale is a finely preserved man for his age—which was “accidentally” not given to the author.

James B. Frear was several years a minstrel, but abandoned that profession some time before his death for the more domestic one of barber.

He died in Poughkeepsie, N. Y., January 6, 1885.

Ned Wambold, the well-known comedian, and who was a nephew of Dave Wambold, made his first appearance in his native city with the Congo Minstrels, July 1, 1869.

He was associated in the management of his own company with E. M. Hall and E. M. Kayne; the organization bore their names and started from Chicago, April 10, 1875. In the Fall of 1879 he joined Joe Norcross’ California Minstrels, and late in December the following year he was a member of Kyle’s “Christy” Minstrels, who endeavored unsuccessfully to revive minstrelsy in Boston. He was also connected with several variety and other minstrel shows during his comparatively brief, but very successful career as a comedian.

Ned Wambold was born in Newark, N. J.; he died there April 18, 1882.

George F. Moore was the originator of the noiseless Essence dance, and a performer versatile to a degree.

His first appearance was made with Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., at the age of fourteen. At 18 he married Kittie Henderson, and they did sketches for several years, when the act was augmented by “Baby” Moore. November 12, 1879, he married Kittie Parker, the banjoist, in Denver, Colo.

He had several companies of his own prior to going to England in July, 1887, where he played the music halls until his death.

George F. Moore was born in Cambridge, Mass., July 6, 1850; he died in Liverpool, England, October 21, 1890.

[212]

The American Team were originally two distinct song and dance acts, Wayne and Lovely, Cotton and Birdue. They formed an alliance in the Spring of 1876, and after a few brief engagements in the United States, sailed for England, opening in London, June 26, 1876.

They were a sensation in the English capitol, also in Paris. Early in 1878 the four disbanded.

Ben Cotton, who was a son of the noted minstrel of that name, married Mrs. Mary E. Marshall in London, June 28, 1877, and about a year later returned to the United States, and appeared with Ward and Webb’s Minstrels in the Spring of 1879, and Norcross’ California Minstrels in the Fall of the same year.

As early as 1865 he was with Cotton and Murphy’s Minstrels as Master Bennie.

Birdue and Wayne formed an alliance and played with Hague’s Minstrels in the Fall of 1878.

Bob Birdue had various partners before associating with Ben Cotton, notably Richard Golden and Edw. B. Daily, well-known now in Boston.

Burt Wayne (Bout) died in Liverpool, England, March 13, 1879.

Joe Lovely died at Manchester, England, May 21, 1882; age 35 years.

Ben Cotton, Jr., died in Bristol, R. I., October 26, 1880; age 26 years.

Bob Birdue died in Liverpool, England, October 8, 1879.

Harry Watson, one of the funniest Dutchmen on the vaudeville stage, began his professional career in Milwaukee, Wis., in 1859, doing a black-face song and dance for John Ryan. Mr. Watson worked for his board only, and got it.

Subsequently he played many engagements in black-face; we’d like to see him do it now.

Goss and Fox were one of the best black-face song and dance teams in minstrelsy.

They formed an alliance in the early 70’s, and were with Haverly’s Minstrels at the organization of that company in November, 1873. In January, 1878, they were with Simmons, Slocum and Sweatnam’s Minstrels in Philadelphia. The following season they joined Harrigan and Hart’s Company in New York and remained with them several seasons.

Mr. Goss’ partner prior to meeting Mr. Fox was Lew Hallett; and as Hallett and Goss played an engagement with Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels, closing December 31, 1871.

Mr. Goss’ first appearance was at Acker’s Garden, Troy, N. Y.

Ned. Goss was born in Cohoes, N. Y., September 4, 1848; he died in New York City, April 16, 1882.

James Fox, who was a brother of Ned Fox, was born at Little Falls, N. Y., March 28, 1853; he died at Amsterdam, N. Y., November 10, 1887.

Paul Dresser, whose many songs were widely sung with many minstrel companies, was a member of Billy Rice’s Minstrels about 1885.

He was born in Terre Haute, Ind.; he died in New York, January 30, 1906.

[213]

THE “MERRY OLD GALS” IN ENGLAND, 1871.
H. Livermore, G. Livermore, C. Livermore, C. F. Lorraine, L. Livermore.

CALLAN, HALEY AND CALLAN’S ELECTRIC 3 MINSTRELS.
November 3, 1886.

[214]

Al. G. Field (Alfred Griffith Hatfield) has been a name to conjure by in various parts of the Union for a period of nearly a quarter of a century; merely to announce that the famous minstrel and his company were to appear at a given place was practically saying that the minstrel loving population would turn out en masse to greet them.

Nearly everyone knows all about Mr. Field’s career from the inception of the Fields’ Minstrels to date; but how many are aware of the famous comedian’s early struggles he went through before he reached the goal of success? It is a pleasure for the author to recount them.

Al. G. Field first appeared professionally at Jeffries Hall, Brownsville, Pa., about 1871; he performed in the old nigger act of “Handy Andy”; he attracted the attention of that famous minstrel Sam Sharpley, and became a member of his company, officially known as Sharpley, Sheridan, Mack and Day’s Minstrels; this was in the Winter of 1871. The following season he joined Bidwell and McDonough’s “Black Crook” Company; subsequently he appeared with the California Minstrels, and Tony Denier’s “Humpty Dumpty.” In November, 1876, he became a member of Haverly’s “Blackbirds of a Nation,” one of the many minstrel companies controlled at one time by that astute manager.

Mr. Field’s other minstrel engagements were with Simmons and Slocum’s in 1877, and Duprez and Benedict’s, in 1883. In May, 1875, he paid a visit to Peter Sells’ and his circus, and in conjunction with McIntyre and Heath put on a minstrel first part, also did a monologue. Mr. Field’s success was so pronounced on this occasion that he not only continued during the balance of the season, but for ten consecutive years was associated with the famous Sells organization during the tenting seasons, in the capacity of performer, also filling responsible executive positions.

In the Spring of 1884 Mr. Field organized what is now the Hagenbeck-Wallace Show, opening at Peru, Ind., April 27; he remained with them as manager until September 9, 1886.

On the sixth day of October, 1886, the Al. G. Field’s Minstrels were organized; the company numbered 27 persons, and gave their initial performance at Marion, Ohio. The rest we all know.

Mr. Field claims that his minstrel company was the first to carry their entire stage setting and scenery, and the first to build and operate a special train of cars.

May 10, 1910, the company was incorporated.

Al. G. Field was born near Morgantown, W. Va. (but at the time Virginia), November 7, 1850.

Seamon and Sommers were an excellent black-face song and dance team who formed an alliance in the middle 70’s.

In the Fall of 1877 they were with Neil Bryant’s Minstrels; subsequently they were with other first-class organizations until December, 1880, when with the Girard Bros, as the “Grotesque 4” they began an engagement with Thatcher and Ryman’s Minstrels in Philadelphia. Early in 1882 Seamon, Sommers and the Girard Bros., in conjunction with Lester and Allen, formed the “Funny 6.”

Charley Seamon met with great success as Reuben Whipple in “Way[215] Down East”; he was equally successful with Russell’s famous “City Directory” prior to that.

Tom Sommers was the husband of Carrie Boshell, of the well-known Boshell Sisters, once of Carter’s Zouaves.

Charles V. Seamon died at Sheffield, Mass., July 27, 1898.

Tom Sommers (Thos. Eugene Sommerville) died at St. Paul, Minn., September 12, 1891.

Fred Bryant (Snyder) began his professional career with Charley West about 1875, doing a musical act as Bryant and West; they continued as partners about three years.

In 1878 he joined William F. Hoey, and as Bryant and Hoey they gave one of the greatest black-face musical acts ever seen.

In 1882 the combination of Evans, Bryant and Hoey formed a company called the “Meteors.”

About two years later Mr. Bryant withdrew, and subsequently played mostly in the variety houses.

As a cornettist he ranked with the best.

Fred Bryant died in New York City, June 22, 1894.

Joseph Brooks, the well-known theatrical magnate, now located in New York City, was formerly a minstrel magnate. When? August 24, 1881, the season of Brooks, Dickson and Clapham’s Minstrels was inaugurated.

Frank Howard (Parlimenta), once of the Clipper Quartette, and also of the famous minstrel act of Adams, Casey and Howard, is in business in New Jersey.

Dave Foy was several years as a clown with Robinson’s Circus, commencing about 1876; subsequently he was with the “Two John’s” Company; as late as 1887, with Lizzie Foy, he played the principal vaudeville houses.

Season of 1891-92 he was with Primrose and West. In 1890 he joined Carncross’s Minstrels in Philadelphia; during the World’s Fair in Chicago, he played with Haverly; subsequently returning to Carncross, where he was quite popular; his excessive avoirdupois contributed in a small measure to his success.

Dave Foy was born in Philadelphia, where he died October 16, 1900.

Jabez Freeth, interlocutor and bass singer in the California Quartette, was prominently identified with the minstrel companies of Haverly, Emerson and several others.

He died in San Francisco, Cal., July 11, 1882.

Adams and Lee were a prominent black-face musical team who formed a partnership in the 70’s. In 1878 they were with Haverly’s Mastodons.

Mr. Adams was subsequently of the team of Adams, Casey and Howard.

Mr. Lee later did considerable concert work with Billy Huntley. As a banjoist Mr. Lee excelled.

James E. Adams died in New York, December 4, 1897.

John H. Lee died in San Diego, Cal., September 7, 1890.

[216]

John E. Henshaw, famous for many moons for his comedy work in various successful productions, played the tambourine on the end with a minstrel show in June, 1871.

The following year he was with Harry Robinson’s Minstrels, and for several seasons was of the black-face song and dance teams of Henshaw and Lawton, and Henshaw and Ginniven. In 1879 he was with the California Minstrels. So you see Mr. Henshaw has qualified to become a permanent resident of “Monarchs of Minstrelsy.”

Wally Gibbs, a well-known black-face comedian, who was with the Megatherian Minstrels in 1879, died in Warwick, Mass., April 22, 1893.

Barney Fagan (Bernard J. Fagan) is justly recognized as the world’s greatest general dancer; as a producer, he ranks second to none.

Mr. Fagan made his first professional appearance in his native city at the famous Howard Athenaeum in 1860, as the Cabin Boy in the “Pilot of Brest.” He remained at this theatre several seasons. In 1865 he played his first minstrel engagement with the Morris Brothers in Boston. In 1870 Mr. Fagan went to St. Johns, N. B., and appeared with Pete Lee’s Minstrels.

In 1873 he joined Buckley’s Serenaders in Boston, and took Joe Parks as a partner; the next three years, Fagan and Parks, known as the American Lads, played variety engagements.

In 1876 he did the famous Heifer dance with Richard Golden in “Evangeline.” Mr. Fagan next joined John Fenton in a dancing specialty, and continued with him until 1878, when he formed a partnership with Lizzie Mulvey, which lasted one season.

Mr. Fagan in 1879 allied himself with Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Minstrels, and continued with them until the company’s dissolution in June, 1882; with this organization he was general producer and soloist.

Probably Mr. Fagan’s greatest achievement was in organizing and producing Sweatnam, Billy Rice and Fagan’s Minstrels, which gave their first performance at Albany, N. Y., July 25, 1887; this was the largest minstrel company that had ever traveled; 105 persons on parade; 88 in the regular company; incidentally that show was just twenty-three years ahead of its time; in other words, Sweatnam, Rice and Fagan’s minstrels are about due again.

Subsequently Mr. Fagan was with Thatcher, Primrose and West; Barlow, Wilson and Rankin’s; and Cleveland’s Minstrels; with the latter organization sitting on the opposite end to Luke Schoolcraft.

Outside of minstrelsy Mr. Fagan has appeared successfully in white-face in such plays as “Paradise Alley,” and his own company, “A High Roller,” the latter in 1890.

Some notable marches were the “West Point Cadets”; the “Phantom Guards” and “The Dance of the Popinjays”; the latter being one of the cleverest conceits ever seen in minstrelsy.

Mr. Fagan was general producer for Corinne for several seasons, also with other notable companies.

As a song writer he is no less prominent; “Everybody Takes Their Hat Off to Me,” and “A High Born Lady,” each enjoyed great popularity.

[217]

SIG. RAFAELLE ABECCO CHAS. HENRY CHAS. MELVILLE
CHAS. TEMPLETON J. B. MURPHY “JACK” HERMAN
GEO. GRAY TOM PRENDERGAST OTIS CARTER
CHAS. LOCKWOOD TOM LESLIE JOHN F. OBERIST
SINGERS OF THE 60’s.

[218]

Likewise did this versatile genius write some very clever plays, notably—“The Land of Fancy,” “The Game of Love” and several others. Mr. Fagan has been playing with Henrietta Byron, of the Byron Sisters, since 1895.

Barney Fagan was born in Boston, Mass., January 12, 1850.

“Eustache” (George Worrell Culbertson), until February, 1878, was known as George Robinson. He attained prominence as a female impersonator, and made his first appearance with Dan Shelby, at his variety house in Buffalo, N. Y.

His principal minstrel engagements were with Harry Robinson, and Cal. Wagner’s.

“Eustache” is said to be a native of Piqua, O.; he died at Buffalo, N. Y., April 30, 1884.

Will H. Morton (Bushman), well known as an able interlocutor and singer of motto songs, was one of the original members of Haverly’s Minstrels of 1873; subsequently he did sketches with “Bernardo.”

Mr. Morton was the husband of Lily Post, the favorite light opera singer.

Will H. Morton died in Pittsburgh, Pa., November 2, 1895.

Edwin Harley, a well-known vocalist of the old Haverly days, made his first appearance as a member of Maguire’s Minstrels in San Francisco, February 23, 1874. Mr. Harley is said to be comfortably situated in the railroad business in the great Northwest.

Eddid Foy (Fitzgerald), the “famed farceur with the funny face,” was a black-face song and dance man more than thirty years ago. He was of the team of Foy and Thompson; they began an engagement at Carncross’ Minstrels in Philadelphia, as late as January 22, 1883. This was before Mr. Foy had dark designs of donning the habiliments of Hamlet.

Harry Budworth (John B. Kearney) was well known as a capable comedian, and was associated with some of the best minstrel organizations.

His professional career began in the early 70’s, and ended shortly before his death, when he achieved considerable success appearing in vaudeville in Charles Horwitz’s “A Royal Visitor.”

Harry Budworth died in Philadelphia, April 2, 1901.

James H. Decker began his professional career in an executive capacity with Cooper and Bailey’s Circus in 1879, and continued with them for three seasons.

Minstrelsy first knew him also in 1879, when he was with Hooley and Emerson’s Megatherians. In 1881 he joined Sells Brothers Circus, and the following year was assistant agent with Leavitt’s Gigantean Minstrels.

In 1883 he returned to Sells Brothers, and continued with them three years. Mr. Decker was so highly esteemed by his associates, that in November, 1883, they presented him with a gold watch charm.

At the conclusion of the circus season in 1886, Mr. Decker finally decided to cast his lot with minstrelsy. Accordingly on December 20, 1886,[219] he joined McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels as general agent; he continued with this company until the end of the following season, when he joined Thatcher, Primrose and West’s Minstrels; subsequently he was with Primrose and West’s Company, severing his connection with them December 21, 1889.

His next engagement was with George Thatcher’s Company, and in 1892, in conjunction with Al. Primrose, formed Decker Brothers Minstrels. Since then he has been identified in a managerial capacity successively with Primrose and West’s; Primrose and Dockstader’s; Primrose’s, and lastly Dockstader’s Minstrels.

At the present time he is General Manager of the booking department of the Shubert theatrical forces.

Mr. Decker, who is an indefatigable worker, can see nothing in minstrelsy except that which he is identified with at that precise moment, and like most successful men, has enemies galore.

James H. Decker was born in Albany, N. Y. See records for exact date.

Charles M. Ernest (McClenehan) was an extraordinary brilliant black-face performer, and as a straight man in acts was especially clever.

He was prominently identified with William H. West’s Minstrels in the late 90’s, and at one time was a partner of Tom Lewis.

Shortly previous to his death, in conjunction with George Thatcher, he gave a mythical minstrel first part scene in vaudeville with pronounced success.

He was once the husband of Cora Beckwith, the well-known swimmer.

Charles M. Ernest was born in Jackson, Tenn.; he died in Harrison, N. Y., May 21, 1907.

Fred Frear joined Moore and Burgess’ Minstrels in London, England, at the age of seven years as a ballad singer; later he developed into a fine song and dance performer and female impersonator. He was with that company for fourteen years.

He died in London, England, August 12, 1889; age 25 years.

Sharpley and West, the well known black-face musical act, made their appearance as a team in Hoboken, N. J., about 1878, and continued until the death of the former; during which period they played the best variety houses and organizations.

Previous to forming a partnership with Fred. Sharpley, Mr. West had been associated with Charley Hanson, whom he joined in 1872.

Later he did an act with Sam Dearin, the latter was then known as Billy Bryant.

Mr. West subsequently joined Fred Bryant, and as Bryant and West were associated about three years; then came Sharpley and West.

Fred Sharpley was born in Montreal, Canada, January 17, 1856; he died in Chicago, Ill., March 23, 1888.

Charley West was born in New York City, June 18, 1850.

Archie Baldwin (Stockmar), famous as one of the team of Baldwin and[220] Daly, whose “Happy Hottentots” was one of the best black-face acts on the variety stage, died in Havana, Cuba, January 7, 1900; age 47 years.

Harry Lansing (Zebley) an old-time female impersonator, was with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia in 1874; in 1879 he was with Haverly’s Minstrels.

About the middle 80’s he had as a partner, Harry Constantine; together they played the variety theatres.

Harry Lansing died (murdered) in Philadelphia, February, 1887.

Nolan Kelly, of the black-face song and dance team of Sarony, Waters and Kelly, also Waters and Kelly, died in London, England, April 15, 1893.

Wm. H. Bryant (O’Brien), a nephew of Dan, Neil, Jerry and William T. Bryant, and the son of a father who was a non-professional, played with Neil Bryant’s Minstrels in 1878; he was a comedian.

He died in Portland, Me., April 29, 1890; age 38 years.

Emil Ames. This clever performer was of diminutive stature, and a good comedian. He was with Jerry Thomas’ Minstrels in 1878, and with Haverly in Chicago a few years later, also other prominent organizations.

Emil Ames died in Chicago, Ill., March 3, 1892.

Billy Richardson won fame as a stump speaker, but was likewise a good end man, or corner man, as they call them in England, where Mr. Richardson’s professional career was chiefly spent as a member of Sam Hague’s Minstrels. He came to the United States with the latter organization, and made his first New York appearance January 2, 1882.

The following year he was with Haverly’s Minstrels; subsequently he returned to his native land.

He married Miss Mary O’Hagan, May 17, 1871.

Billy Richardson was born in England about fifty-five years ago, maybe sixty; we hope it is no worse.

The Devere Bros. joined hands about 1876, and up to the time of Tommy Devere’s death played the principal variety theatres; William Devere then joined Robert Wilson, appearing as Devere and Wilson; after a brief season William Devere joined George DeVere, and as the Devere Brothers continued until December 2, 1882, William Devere then taking the business management of the National Theatre in Hackensack, N. J.

William Devere (Bell) died in New York City, December 14, 1882.

Tommy Devere (Braun), died in New York City, April 2, 1880; age 24 years.

Charley Atkins, who has long since retired from active theatricals, and embarked in mercantile pursuits in New York City, was once the partner of Joe Fox, of Fox and Ward; this was in the late 60’s; though Mr. Atkins doesn’t look it.

[221]

SHER. CAMPBELL J. K. CAMPBELL J. C. (“POMP”) CAMPBELL
TOM WILLIAMS DICK RALPH HARRY ARMSTRONG
THE “CAMPBELLS ARE HERE,” ALSO TOM, DICK AND HARRY.

[222]

“Cincinnatus” (Michael O’Connor), one of the best neat song and dance men in minstrelsy, began life as a newsboy in Cincinnati. He was a regular attendant of Newcomb’s Minstrels in the Queen City; it was here that he first saw Billy Emerson, and at once became an ardent admirer of him. Young O’Connor attracted the attention of manager W. W. Newcomb, who gave him an opportunity to appear, which he did week of October 12, 1868, under his own name, as a jig dancer, but taking that of “Cincinnatus” in the songs and dances.

“Cincinnatus” made no secret of the fact that he imitated Emerson, which he did with great fidelity. He soon attained great popularity in the West. His next engagement was with Lewis and Murphy’s Minstrels, opening at St. Louis, July 24, 1869.

His first New York appearance was with Newcomb and Arlington’s Minstrels, April 17, 1871.

May 5, 1873, the “Cincinnatus” Minstrels took the road for a brief period, opening at Xenia, Ohio. April 15, 1878, he formed an alliance with John Hogan, and as Hogan and “Cincinnatus” they made their first appearance at the London Theatre, New York.

“Cincinnatus” died at Xenia, Ohio, April 25, 1882.

Booker and Canfield constituted one of the truly great song and dance teams of minstrelsy. Both performers were short in stature, and each began their careers in the circus business.

In 1871 they formed a partnership, doing an acrobatic song and dance, subsequently they went to South America with Chiarini’s Circus; returning to the United States they became members of Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels, where they were a sensation.

Their success was so great that several managers competed for their services; J. H. Haverly was the lucky bidder, and they joined his company in December, 1873, remaining five years at probably the highest salary ever given a song and dance team, viz: $300.00 per week, and 5 per cent. of the net profits, it is said.

Other prominent organizations they were associated with were—Emerson’s, in Chicago, Welch, Hughes and White in Brooklyn, and Moore and Burgess in London, England.

They are credited with being the first black-face team to play in Paris, France, where they sang “Moonlight in Cape May” in French; subsequently they played in Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna and Madrid, singing the same song in the language of the respective countries.

They also played engagements in India, China, Japan, Java and Australia.

Returning to this country in 1881, they organized their own company, and in May, 1882, the long partnership ceased.

Mr. Canfield was identified for many years with the famous Hoyt farces, and was co-star with George Richards in these plays for several seasons. His last engagement was with David Warfield in “The Auctioneer.” He was a brother of John Canfield, of the vaudeville team of Canfield and Carleton.

Harry Booker did an act with George A. Booker (Dingle), after leaving Mr. Canfield, and at the present time is in vaudeville.

Eugene Canfield (Francis Ramie Canfield), was born in Utica, N. Y., May 3, 1851; he died in New York City, May 4, 1904.

[223]

Harry Booker (M. H. Egan), was born near Bowling Green, Ky., July 28, 1850.

John Turner, a good song and dance performer, at various times was associated with Billy Lester and James Roche in black-face specialties; he was also of the team of Cummings and Turner.

He died at Kansas City, Mo., November 26, 1877; age 27 years.

The Barlow Brothers were one of the best-known song and dance teams in minstrelsy. In 1867 they were performing at the Bowery Theatre, New York City.

In 1871 they were with Morris Brothers Minstrels, closing February 3, 1872; in September, the following year, they joined Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia; they did a plantation song and dance turn there which they called “Quit Dat”: perhaps most of us picture that act. April 10, 1877, at Cynthiana, Ky., saw the first performance of Barlow Brothers Minstrels, an organization that toured the country for about fifteen years.

The Barlow Brothers were with Harrigan and Hart’s Company in 1882; their last joint minstrel engagement was with Ed. Bartlett’s California Minstrels, November and December, 1898.

The following season brother Bill put in at Dumont’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, where he did an act with that “prince of pianists,” Tom Waters.

James Barlow (Arthur), was born at Mount Savanage, Md.; he died at Roscoe, Pa., August 4, 1900; age 51 years.

William Barlow (Arthur), is at present in retirement in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Billy Arnold (Wm. Henry Garrett Arnold) made his first appearance at the Louisville, Kentucky Opera House, doing a sand jig dance at the tender age of eight years, and says he has been dancing ever since—with occasional interruptions for food and sleep.

About 1865 he doubled with his brother Amos, doing songs and dances; and in 1873, the alliance was further strengthened by the addition of the youngest brother, Frank, being known as the Three Arnold Brothers; Eugene Stratton became the fourth “brother” a few years later, and together they played the principal variety companies of the country.

The three Arnolds were with the original Haverly’s Mastodons at the opening at the Adelphi Theatre, Chicago, October 21, 1878; later Billy Arnold’s own minstrels took the road, and he has been with several prominent organizations since, notably Hooley’s Minstrels in 1881, and Billy Rice and Hooley’s Minstrels in 1882.

Billy Arnold is best known to the public as a great tambourine manipulator, and was the acknowledged champion as early as 1877; his feat of spinning two tambourines at one time was invariably encored during the overture on the first part.

Some years ago Mr. Arnold married Lida Gardner, daughter of the famous Dan Gardner. Both are actively engaged in their profession.

Billy Arnold was born in Louisville, Ky., July 10, 1850.

Amos D. Arnold began as a black-face performer with his brother Billy, singing “Sally Come Up” at the age of ten; most of his career was in conjunction with his two brothers.

[224]

He was born in Louisville, Ky., February 28, 1855; died at San Francisco, Cal., March 16, 1886.

Frank Arnold (Francisco Virello Fortinetti Arnold) could dance from the time he reached his seventh year. His first professional appearance in conjunction with his two brothers was made at Mortimer’s Varieties (the present National Theatre), Philadelphia, in “The Old Man’s Drunk Again,” a well-known vehicle for many prominent black-face performers; this was in 1873, and with his brothers they likewise met with great success. In 1875 the three brothers played an engagement of seven months at 585 Broadway, New York City.

Frank Arnold was born in Louisville, Ky., June 28, 1858; he died at Denver, Colo., January 22, 1892.

Lewis H. Davis made his first appearance about 1867 with the late Richard Golden, doing black-face songs and dances; they were billed as Masters Lew and Dick. Their first engagement was with Wheeler’s International Circus, following this they were with Smith, Davenport and Golden’s Variety Company. Early in 1868 Allie’s Mexican Knife Throwers Company claimed their services, and part of the season of 1869-70 they played an engagement with Sam Sharpley’s Minstrels. Later with Golden he joined and did songs and dances with Bob Birdue.

After this and until his untimely death, which occurred in the dressing-room just prior to the performance, he was associated with Billy Chace, and as Chace and Davis they played the principal variety houses of the country, also an engagement with Sweet and Thornton’s Lady Minstrels, in the Spring of 1875.

Lewis H. Davis was born in Bangor, Me.; he died (suicide) at St. Johns, N. B., August 3, 1878.

Billy Barry, one of the funniest Irish comedians our stage has ever known, did black-face business for many years before “McKenna’s Flirtation” with Mary Ellen Ryan.

He was with Haverly’s Minstrels in 1868, leaving that organization on December 8, that year.

September 12, 1870, he opened with Welch, Hughes and White’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., being billed as the “Great Western Comedian,” subsequently he played an engagement with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia. And for several seasons at Pastor’s Theatre in New York City, he played black-face parts in the stock.

Mr. Barry was married to Miss Fanny Fordham, and at the time of his death was survived by seven children—Lydia, Emma, Clara, Robert, Frank, Charles and William J.

Billy Barry was born in Ireland; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., April 15, 1898; age 48 years.

Billy Diamond (Bates), a good general performer, was connected with several of the older minstrel organizations, notably the Morris Brothers, with whom he made his first appearance in his native city at the age of 10.

In 1881 he married Minnie Blaich, at Newark, N. J.

He died at Boston, Mass., January 14, 1893.

[225]

“PONY” MOORE EPH. HORN FRED. WILSON
(The oldest living minstrel)
LEW. BENEDICT DAN. BRYANT
“GENTLEMEN, BE SEATED.”

[226]

Bobby McGown was a first-class clog dancer, and was the first partner of George Primrose, whom he joined in E. Saginaw, Mich., about 1870. With Primrose he played the variety houses, and an engagement with O’Brien’s Circus.

He died (drowned), at Holyoke, Mass., August 22, 1875.

Archie White (Moak), known to patrons of minstrelsy for over forty years, began his professional career in the late 60’s, and early took as a partner, Frank White, of Auburn, N. Y., with whom he did double songs and dances; later they formed an amateur minstrel show, visiting nearby towns. His first regular engagement was with the Park Theatre Company of Brooklyn, N. Y.; it lasted one consecutive week.

In 1870 he became a member of Blaisdell Brothers and Courtright’s Minstrels, opening at Portage City, Wis.; it was with this company that chance gave him an opportunity to do an “end”; and he did it well; this engagement lasted thirteen months. Next came a series of variety engagements. In 1873 he became a “member” of the famous Peak Family of Bell Ringers, doing a genteel song and dance.

His next prominent engagement was with Harry Robinson’s Minstrels; with this company he formed a partnership with the late Charles T. Ellis, of “Casper, the Yodler” fame. After this Mr. White played variety theatres for two years, then a short trip with one of Haverly’s Minstrel companies.

After Lew Benedict withdrew from the Duprez and Benedict organization, Mr. Duprez, who continued to use the trade-mark, chose Mr. White as his late partner’s successor; he joined the company at Scranton, Pa., September 17, 1877, and remained eight years.

Of late years Mr. White has been successful in rural drama, appearing in the plays “Joshua Simpkins” and “Uncle Josh, in Chinatown.”

At the present time he is actively engaged in vaudeville, giving his old darky delineations, of which he is a master.

In the early minstrel days Mr. White ranked high as a tambourine manipulator.

Archie White was born in Cherry Valley, N. Y., January 20, 1850.

Press Eldredge (Preston W. Eldredge), whose sobriquet of “The Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Fun” is known wherever the vaudeville language is spoken, began his stage career at the New Bowery Theatre in 1863, at a benefit for J. W. Lingard; his offering was “Johnny Schmoker,” in Dutch dialect.

His black-face career dates from 1876, at which time he entered the variety business, doing a monologue successfully for two years. In 1878 he made his first minstrel appearance with Harry Bloodgood’s Minstrels, doing an “end,” and as comedian, the tour was a brief one, and returning to New York he resumed his variety engagements until 1880, when he joined Snellbaker and Benton’s Majestic Consolidation, under canvas. In 1881 he opened the American Theatre, New Haven, Conn., as a variety house, remaining until January, 1886, when he went to Koster & Bial’s, 23rd Street Music Hall, New York City, as stage manager and producer. In November, the same year, he made his initial bow at Carncross’ Minstrels in Philadelphia, and continued there until April, 1891, at which time he went to Moore and Burgess’[227] Minstrels in London, England, and played a year’s engagement. In May, 1892, he joined Haverly’s Home Minstrels in Chicago, and stayed there until the company went on tour in November, 1893.

Then came a riotous round of vaudeville, solid until 1906, when Al. G. Field showed him a handsome parade suit and the diagram of the Field private car—and something else and—well, the season of 1906—and 1907, saw Mr. Eldridge back among 11.45 boys for a period of about ten months; since then, vaudeville. Mr. Eldridge was married some years ago to Louise Sanford, from whom he subsequently separated.

Press Eldredge was born in Philadelphia; guess when.

George Horn, was sometimes called “Eph. Horn, Jr.” He was a comedian and very well known in Philadelphia, where he died June 28, 1904.

Burt Shepard, recognized as a clever female impersonator in his early career, commenced professionally with Haverly’s New Orleans Minstrels about 1874, and continued with them three years. In 1878 he became a member of Sweatnam’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, and at the close of the season joined Billy Emerson and the Big 4 Minstrels; season of 1879 and 1880 was spent with Carncross’ Minstrels in Philadelphia; he then joined the Thatcher, Primrose and West Company, and was with them practically from their inception to their dissolution; later he was identified with Thatcher and Rich and Harris’ “Tuxedo” for two seasons.

1892-93 saw Shepard and Billy Rice’s Minstrels, while a year later Burt Shepard’s Modern Minstrels took the field.

In 1895 Mr. Shepard was with Cleveland’s Minstrels, where he officiated in the middle, in addition to doing a black-face specialty; season of 1896-97 was devoted to vaudeville. In 1897 he went to England, and subsequently to Paris, South Africa and Australia, all the time meeting with unqualified success with his monologue and parodies at the piano.

Burt Shepard was born; of that I am sure, but just when or where, he neglected to state.

Fred B. Malcolm, the “male soprano,” and an exceedingly clever one, was a protege of the late Jessie Bartlett Davis, and acquired his early musical education from E. L. Bartlett, father of Mrs. Davis.

His professional career began with the Bartlett Sister’s Concert Company, which was brought to a sudden termination by the death of Miss Arabella Bartlett. Two years were then spent in variety theatres.

His first appearance in female make-up was at the Queen’s Theatre, Toronto, Canada. Later he was engaged by J. H. Haverly for the latter’s new “Mastodons,” with whom he played for three seasons; after the consolidation of the two companies (Haverly’s), Mr. Malcolm continued with Mr. Haverly for nine months; a record of which to be proud.

An engagement of three years with Billy Emerson’s Minstrels in San Francisco followed; during this time Mr. Malcolm was away from the company but four weeks.

A return engagement with Haverly, opening at the Drury Lane Theatre, London, England, May 31, 1884, and continuing as a member of that organization for one year, followed. Returning to America, Mr. Malcolm remained[228] with Mr. Haverly until the latter sold out to W. S. Cleveland. He became a member of McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels in 1886, and continued with them until the dissolution of the organization, about May, 1888; subsequently joining Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels.

Since that time Mr. Malcolm did concert work chiefly. In his early career he did a specialty in the leading variety theatres with the late Arthur Doty.

Fred B. Malcolm was born near Morris, Ill.; he died in Chicago, Ill., April 3, 1910.

Frank H. White began his professional career as a member of the Aeolian Quartette in his native city in 1871, and continued with them for seven years.

He married in 1879, and as Frank H. and Lillian White they played variety engagements until about 1891, when they separated.

He played black-face parts in dramatic companies for a while, and about fifteen or eighteen years ago was with Lew Dockstader’s Minstrels.

A few years ago he joined Lew Simmons in an old-time black-face act, with whom he is still associated.

Mr. White is a great delineator of the scary coon.

Frank H. White was born in Newark, N. J.

Richard Magee, Jr., well known as a vocalist in Philadelphia, joined Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in that city late in December, 1872, terminating his engagement April 5, 1873.

He died February 27, 1880.

“Memphis” Kennedy, a well-known black-face performer, who did a unique musical act, was with Lew Dockstader’s Minstrels about 1893, also other well-known companies.

He was drowned near Hannibal Mo., October 12, 1907.

Bob Height, the well-known colored comedian, who was a favorite with Sam Hague’s Minstrels in Liverpool, England, in the middle 70’s died in Manchester, England, September 8, 1881.

Burton Stanley was famous for his female impersonations. In 1875 he was with Haverly’s Minstrels; September 2, 1879, he joined a dramatic organization in “Larks,” and a few months later was traveling with Stanley’s Juvenile Company. August 24, 1881, he opened with Brooks, Dickson and Clapham’s Minstrels; the tour was a brief one and in November following, Mr. Stanley joined Leavitt’s Minstrels. His next important engagement was with Emerson’s Minstrels in San Francisco; here he met Gus Pixley, later forming an alliance, playing the variety houses for several seasons. Mr. Stanley retired from the profession some years ago, and is now a prosperous boniface in the West.

Harry (Jas. H.) Armstrong or “Handsome Harry” (see portrait) as he was known, began his professional career about forty years ago, and only a short time later launched Armstrong’s Constellation Variety Troupe and Female Minstrels.

[229]

W. W. BLACK CHAS. T. WHITE
JOHN J. BLUE BILLY GRAY
JOE. BROWN JNO. E. GREEN
HOW’S THIS FOR A COLOR SCHEME?

[230]

In 1874 he was with Harry Robinson’s Minstrels and the following year with one of Leavitt’s attractions.

In the fall of 1879 he joined the Big Four Minstrels, and in 1881 became a member of Leavitt’s Minstrels. 1882 saw him with Courtright and Hawkin’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, and the following season he was with Haverly’s Minstrels.

Mr. Armstrong joined Sweatnam, Rice and Fagan’s Minstrels in 1887 for the season; in 1892 he was again with Haverly at the latter’s permanent home of minstrelsy in Chicago; at this house he did acts with Harry Constantine, the female impersonator.

Harry Armstrong was born at Wilmington, Del., April 3, 1850.

Harry Shirley, a well-known singer, who was with Emerson’s Minstrels in San Francisco in 1881, also other prominent companies, died in Los Angeles, Cal., September 22, 1889.

Otis Bowers, of the old minstrel firm of “Beach and Bowers” Minstrels, when last heard of was a contented resident of Maquoketa, Iowa.

After six months of constant practice, the author is able to spell and pronounce properly the name of the thriving little town in the state that produced Bert Leslie.

Harry Shay (Shea) was a well known and capable black-face comedian and general performer. He had been associated with many of the prominent variety theatres as stock comedian, and was especially a favorite in Paterson, N. J., where he died, November 4, 1886.

Hurley and Marr, famous for many years in their black-face songs and dances, formed a partnership about 1869; they appeared with Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., in December of that year.

Subsequently they played successful engagements with Hooley in Chicago in the Fall of 1872, leaving Hooley to join Arlington, Cotton and Kemble’s Minstrels, in the same city.

They also appeared with Bryant’s in New York, and Simmons and Slocum in Philadelphia.

Mr. Marr later separated from Hurley, and for about ten years worked with his brother John, as the Marr Brothers.

J. Hurley died in New York, July 22, 1886.

Billy Marr was born in New York; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., December 13, 1892; age 40 years.

James Holly, of the once well-known and favorite black-face song and dance team of Homer and Holly, died in Memphis, Tenn., January 17, 1891; age 40 years.

Carroll Johnson (James Carroll) is one of the foremost living minstrels, and is justly entitled to the appellation “Beau Brummell” of minstrelsy; his costumes and acting as the dandy darky, making him a likely prototype in black of that famous personage.

[231]

Mr. Johnson’s theatrical career began at the Bowery Theatre in New York, about 1866, doing a singing and dancing specialty.

He played the usual variety engagements until November 1, 1869, on which date he joined Newcomb’s Minstrels in Washington, D. C. The following year, September 5, he formed a partnership with George Powers, doing a high kicking song and dance, starting with Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y.; when that company opened in Chicago, January 2, 1871, Mr. Johnson was with them, and continued for several months.

August 26, 1872, he opened with Birch, Wambold and Backus’ Minstrels in New York, and except during the season of 1874-75, when he was with Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, he was with them until 1882.

In the Summer of 1880 he played a brief engagement with Moore and Burgess’ Minstrels in London, England. Subsequently he played engagements with Courtright and Hawkin’s Minstrels, in Philadelphia; Emerson’s, in San Francisco, and Haverly’s in Chicago; it was here in the Summer of 1883 that Johnson and Powers dissolved partnership. Mr. Johnson later played with Haverly, in Europe, after which he returned to America, and with Charley Reed gave a fine minstrel performance in San Francisco, opening August, 1884, and remaining until July following.

On July 30, 1885, he became one of the proprietors of McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels, opening on that date at Paterson, N. J.; the organization was in existence for three seasons. Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels took the road in 1888; the partnership was dissolved in June, 1889.

September 9, following, Mr. Johnson began a starring tour in white face, appearing in “The Fairy’s Well”; he was with this company two seasons, and the next two years in “The Gossoon,” and the “Irish Statesman” respectively.

In 1893 with George Thatcher he organized, and conducted, for two years Thatcher and Johnson’s 20th Century Minstrels.

Three years in vaudeville in black and white face was followed by an engagement with the William H. West Company of the Primrose and West’s Minstrels, there being two companies of that name season of 1897-98.

Mr. Johnson joined West’s Minstrels in 1898, and continued until 1900; then three more years of vaudeville, followed by two and a half years with Lew Dockstader’s Minstrels.

He was with Dumont’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, season 1909-10. August 3, 1910, he began an engagement with Lew Dockstader’s Minstrels for the season.

Mr. Johnson was married in Boston, Mass., June 15, 1871, and lived happily ever after.

Carroll Johnson was born in Carlingford, Ireland, December 16, 1851.

Tommy Granger, the “Prince Jockey” as he was sometimes called, from the fact that his entrance on the stage was made on a coal black steed arrayed in Tod Sloan habiliments (Granger, not the horse) began “acting up” in 1861, doing a black-face song and dance at an exceedingly tender age, and in black face; this was in Buffalo; “Root Hog or Die” was the song used on this auspicious occasion.

But it was as a dancer that Mr. Granger gained fame; and his “Raffle[232] for an Eight Day Stove,” is recalled by many a theatre goer of 30 years ago. His first minstrel engagement was with W. W. Newcomb in 1865; subsequently he allied himself with such well-known companies as Simmons and Slocum’s in Philadelphia; Thatcher, Primrose and West’s and the “California” Minstrels; his last engagement with a minstrel company was with the Barlow Brothers.

Tom Granger’s Georgia Minstrels in 1878 didn’t conflict with Haverly’s Mastodons of the same year.

Tommy Granger was born in Kingston, Canada, August 9, 1851.

John McVickar (Harrington), one of the original “Bay State Boys,” who did a good clog dancing act, made his first appearance as a member of that quartette at the old Howard in Boston, Mass., September 13, 1869. They played with the Morris Brother’s Minstrels, also with Dougherty, Wild, Barney and Mac’s Minstrels in the Hub.

The four disbanded in 1871. About 1883 Mr. McVickar went to Lothrop’s Theatre in Boston, as manager, later going to the Howard, where he continued until about 1904.

John McVickar died in Boston, Mass., May 24, 1909.

Seamon S. Pettitt made his first professional appearance at the age of nine years.

His first partner was James Sharpley; subsequently with Tommy Moore they worked as Masters Tommy and Willie. In 1871 Pettitt, Phillips and White formed an alliance which continued one year, after which Pettitt and White did a double song and dance until the death of Mr. Pettitt.

He had been with Skiff and Gaylord’s Minstrels and other well known companies. During the Summer season he acted as singing clown in the circus.

Mr. Pettitt was born October 6, 1851; he died at Taylorsville, Pa., August 10, 1880.

Tommy Winnett made his first appearance in 1864 at the Canterbury Music Hall. In 1866 he formed a partnership with Charley Holly, and as Winnett and Holly they continued until July 10, 1868.

Mr. Winnett has been associated with the following well-known minstrel companies—“Campbell’s”; Sam Sanford’s; Kunkel’s “Nightingale’s”; Skiff and Gaylord’s; Hooley’s, in Brooklyn, and Welch, Hughes and White, same city.

Mr. Winnett won a medal in Mobile, Ala., for his dancing, and a silver cup in Memphis, Tenn.

For twenty-five years he traveled with his wife, as Tom and Lottie Winnett. His last professional appearance was in Chicago, at the Olympic Theatre, in 1898.

Tommy Winnett was born in New York, May 25, 1851.

The Gorman Brothers, or the three Gorman boys, as they are invariably spoken of, are synonymous with all that is best in minstrelsy; for these gentlemen had the schooling on the variety and minstrel stage that the present generation of performers never may hope to attain.

[233]

TOMMY GETTINGS DICK SLITER BILLY ALLEN
MIKE KANANE BOBBY NEWCOMB BILLY SHEPPARD
WASH. NORTON TIM. HAYES WALLY THOMAS
DAISY DANCERS OF MANY DECADES.

[234]

Gifted with natural talents that place them on the highest plane in their profession, they used these to the best advantage, and thus hold the enviable positions they occupy to-day.

James Gorman, or “Jim” as we all love to call him, was the first of the trio to make his professional entrée, which he did with Hooley’s Minstrels in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N. Y.; the theatre is now known as the Novelty; the date, February, 1869.

Mr. Gorman’s salary was seventy-five cents per night, most of which he has since squandered.

In 1872 brother John joined brother Jim, and as the Gorman Brothers made their first joint appearance at the Bowery Theatre, in New York.

Three years later little Georgie joined his brothers, then and there creating a trade-mark which subsequently became prominent all over the country.

Several years were spent in the principal variety houses, and on October 21, 1878, at the Adelphi Theatre in Chicago, they made their appearance with the newly organized Haverly’s Mastodon Minstrels, at the initial performance of that famous organization.

The brothers continued with Haverly mostly until 1883, when in conjunction with Gorton’s Minstrels, Gorman Bros.’ Royal Pantomime Company toured the country for several months.

In the Summer of 1884 they rejoined Haverly at the Drury Lane Theatre, London, England, playing there ten weeks; after which they made a tour of the provinces, and returned to the United States, opening in Cincinnati, Ohio, at Heuck’s Opera House, March 18, 1885.

They remained under the Haverly banner until they organized their own company, the Gorman Bros.’ Minstrels, giving their first performance August 24, 1887; they continued as an organization for six consecutive seasons.

In 1893 they played with Primrose and West’s “Monte Carlo” Company. The “boys” next appeared with the “Gilhooley’s Abroad,” as the vehicle for their talents; they continued with this for three seasons.

Subsequently they produced “Mr. Beane, from Boston,” which ran for two seasons.

In August, 1906, the Gorman Brother’s Minstrels again took the field, but owing to gross mismanagement, did not continue as long as the artistic merits of the organization justified it in doing. As a production, this company was an event in minstrelsy.

We are wont to speak of the Gormans as dancers; and of James, as a producer; but the versatility of these “youths” know no bounds.

John and George are comedians of high degree, as attested by their success with Marie Dressler, in “Tillie’s Nightmare” at the Herald Square Theatre, New York, during the Summer of 1910; and they have many other successes to their credit.

George Gorman is conceded to be one of the world’s greatest dancers. And John, the altitudinous one, excels as a character comedian. Such in brief, are the careers of the “Gentlemanly Gormans.”

James Gorman was born in New York City, August 23, 1852.

John Gorman was born in New York City, November 4, 1855.

George Gorman was born in New York City, December 16, 1864.

[235]

Wm. F. Holmes, the favorite baritone vocalist, began his professional career at an early age with the Caroline Richings Troupe.

He was with several prominent minstrel companies, notably Thatcher and Ryman in Philadelphia in 1881, and McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s, with whom he was at the time of his death in Boston, Mass., December 10, 1886. He was 34 years of age.

Charles Brickwood (Brickett), well known as a comedian and banjoist, entered the profession about 1875. He had been successfully identified with the minstrel companies of Whitmore and Clark’s; I. W. Baird’s and George Irving’s California Minstrels. In 1878 he was with Washburn’s Last Sensation.

For several years he had played Uncle Tom in a most acceptable manner; he had likewise played Marks, also in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Mr. Brickwood was a brother of the late Mayor of Haverhill, Mass., and a man of unusual intelligence. Charles Brickwood died at Haverhill, Mass., October 22, 1900; age 48 years.

Everett Weslyn joined Frank Casey about 1872 in a musical act, and continued with him until his (Weslyn’s) death.

He was with Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, in 1877; subsequently with Haverly’s Mastodons.

He died in St. Louis, Mo., November 8, 1879; age 27 years.

Fox and Ward—To Fox and Ward belong the enviable distinction of having existed as partners (perhaps we should say theatrical associates), for a longer period than that of any other team; active partners is the term meant. Their initial joint appearance was in Cincinnati in 1868.

Early in 1870 they played their first minstrel engagement with Dan Shelby’s Company, and the same year they joined Duprez and Benedict’s Minstrels, and were features of this famous organization until 1879, when they joined Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Minstrels.

Subsequently they were with the Skiff and Gaylord Company, and in September, 1882, Fox and Ward’s Minstrels made their first appearance.

In 1884 they were members of Haverly’s Minstrels.

In 1886 they played with Lester and Allen’s Minstrels, and two years later returned to Haverly.

In 1890 they traveled with George Arlington’s Minstrels.

Fox and Ward eschewed minstrelsy for several years, when in 1897 they played their third engagement with Haverly.

Again deserting their burnt cork friends, they played vaudeville and combination dates for a few seasons. They joined Dumont’s Minstrels in Philadelphia in 1905, and the major portion of the intervening time has been since spent with that notable organization.

Joseph Fox (Monahan), was born in Ogdensburg, N. Y., May 7, 1852.

William H. Ward (Marvin Morton Mallison), was born in Canandaigua, N. Y., September 17, 1852.


Did it ever occur to you that of the many minstrel companies of the[236] past in which two or more headed the organization, the last named member of the alliance was the first to pass away?

For example, Skiff and Gaylord; Low. Gaylord was the first to die—there are about thirty other such instances.


George H. Primrose (Delaney), in addition to being one of the most graceful dancers in the profession, is concededly one of its best business men; a rare combination in theatrical history.

Mr. Primrose’s career began about 1867 in Detroit, Mich., with McFarland’s Minstrels, at which time he was billed as Master Georgie, the infant clog dancer; subsequently he joined the New Orleans Minstrels.

In the Summer of 1871 he went to Smith’s Opera House, Saginaw, Mich.; here he met and formed a partnership with Bobby McGown, and shortly afterwards they joined O’Brien’s Circus, where they performed a double clog in the concert; at the end of the tent season, Primrose and McGown dissolved partnership, and Mr. Primrose went with Skiff and Gaylord’s Minstrels; it was here he first met William H. West; late in 1871. A few months later they formed a partnership that continued about thirty years.

About May 1, 1873, Mr. Primrose and his new partner joined O’Brien’s Circus, again playing in the concerts; a little later they played their first joint minstrel engagement with Simmons and Slocum in Philadelphia, closing with them in the Spring of 1874. That same year, November 20, they made their initial appearance with Haverly’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y.; continuing with them until June 14, 1877; two months later Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Minstrels gave their first performance; this was a grand organization; it continued until the Summer of 1882.

In conjunction with George Thatcher, Mr. Primrose and his partner organized Thatcher, Primrose and West’s Minstrels at Elmira, N. Y., August 3, 1882; this alliance was dissolved at the conclusion of the season of 1888-89. In the Summer of 1889, Primrose and West’s Minstrels made their initial bow and continued as an organization until April 30, 1898, when at Milwaukee, Wis., the long partnership that existed between Primrose and West dissolved.

Season of 1897-98, Mr. Primrose headed one minstrel company, while Mr. West piloted another; both companies being under their joint management.

Beginning in 1898, and continuing until the Spring of 1903, Mr. Primrose and Lew Dockstader joined forces, and Primrose and Dockstader’s company was the premier minstrel organization until the Spring of 1903.

Since that period Mr. Primrose has headed his own organization, with an occasional season in vaudeville.

On August 2, 1879, Mr. Primrose married Miss Emma Catlin, at Buffalo, N. Y. The first Mrs. Primrose died some years ago. On April 24, 1904, he married Miss Esther Nerney, at Mount Vernon, N. Y.

George H. Primrose was born in London, Canada, November 12, 1852.

J. Marcus Doyle, the accomplished dancer, producer and comedian, made his first appearance at a concert hall in Buffalo, N. Y., as boy, in the middle 60’s, subsequently joining a circus, and later forming one of the team of Baker and Doyle.

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BILLY EMERSON WM. HENRY RICE
(1870)
BILLY MANNING
SHINING LIGHTS OF MINSTRELSY.

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His best work was done in minstrelsy, and he was identified with such organizations as Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s; Hi Henry’s; Cleveland’s and Barlow Brothers.

About 1896 he joined the May Russell Burlesque Company.

J. Marcus Doyle was born in Elyria, Ohio; he died in Buffalo, N. Y., December 23, 1899; age 47 years.

Harry Woodson (John Archer Shields), considered by many as the greatest delineator of the “aged darky” that the stage ever knew, began his professional career as an amateur in his native city. His first professional engagement was with the Buckley and Morris Minstrels singing in character “Old Black Joe.”

September 2, 1878, he began an engagement at Carncross’ Minstrels in Philadelphia, and in the Spring of 1881 he played another engagement in the same city with Thatcher & Ryman’s Minstrels. Commencing in 1880 he was one of the proprietors of Woodson and Allen’s Minstrels, which made tours off and on until October 28, 1883, when the last performance was given at Cynthiana, Ky. Season of 1886-87 he created the part of “Rufus,” the old negro in “Held by the Enemy.”

He married Miss Laura Bennett, a well-known star of the old variety days; they had one daughter.

Mr. Woodson’s singing of “That Old Gray Mule of Mine” was a classic.

His last engagement was with Cleveland’s Minstrels in 1891.

Harry Woodson was born in Richmond, Va., January 15, 1852; he died at Amityville, Long Island, N. Y., August 30, 1898.

W. S. Belknap, prominent as a bass singer with Haverly’s Mastodon Minstrels; Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s and other minstrel organizations, died at Louisville, Ky., February 15, 1900; age 48 years.

Billy O’Day (Geo. F. Day), who excelled as a “rough wench,” commenced “acting up” late in 1871 at Frank Wild’s Varieties in Buffalo, N. Y.; remained one year at $12 per — not $12.00 per year; but perhaps you have guessed it.

Afterwards he was with Shay’s Quinciplexal Minstrels, and joined Billy Wild; known as O’Day and Wild, the “Ebony Kings,” the partnership continued two years. He then played variety engagements, and was three years at Harry Enoch’s in Philadelphia.

In 1890 O’Day and Jerry Cunningham were partners, and remained so for one year. Mr. O’Day has since that time played white- and black-face characters in several prominent dramatic organizations, including Rufus, in “Held by the Enemy” and Decatur in “Alabama,” not forgetting Uncle Tom in the latter’s Cabin.

I most forgot to say that about 1873 Mr. O’Day appeared as “Master Willie” with the San Francisco Minstrels in New York, and sang “There’s A Letter In The Candle.”

Mr. O’Day was married at Johnstown, Pa., October 13, 1892, to Miss Mary Eagel, a non-professional.

Billy O’Day was born April 1, 1852, in Brooklyn, N. Y.; that’s no joke.

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The Reynolds Brothers were a well-known and popular song and dance team. As early as 1865 as the “Utica Boys” they were with Burgess, Prendergast, Hughes and Donniker’s Minstrels; the year following with Burgess and La Rue’s Minstrels.

They joined M. C. Campbell’s company in 1867, and subsequently appeared with Emerson and Manning’s; Emerson’s, and Arlington, Cotton and Kemble’s Minstrels; the latter in 1872. After the death of his brother Charles, George Reynolds appeared for a short time with Charley Cogill as Cogill and Reynolds.

Charles Reynolds was born in Utica, N. Y., in 1852; he died in San Francisco, Cal., January 7, 1878. George Reynolds died in New York City, March 4, 1895.

Tommy Turner (Trainor) was one of the Three Turner Brothers, and well known as a banjoist.

He was the husband of Lulu Francis, and had been in the profession about ten years prior to his death, which occurred in Leadville, Colo., May 31, 1879, at the age of 25 years. Mr. Turner was born in New York, September 29, 1854.

Fred Walz, during his comparatively brief career as a vocalist in minstrelsy, achieved distinction that has often been denied those of more mature years.

His first professional engagement was with Newcomb and Arlington’s Minstrels in 1871. In 1872 he was with Moran and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, and subsequently with Frank Moran’s Minstrels.

In 1873 he joined Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels for the season, also in the Quaker City. August 31, 1874, he became a member of Bryant’s Minstrels in New York, and continued with them until the death of Dan Bryant, April 10, 1875, when he almost immediately joined Emerson’s California Minstrels in Chicago, and continued with them several weeks.

Subsequently he became a member of Carncross and Dixey’s, and later Carncross’ Minstrels in Philadelphia, where he remained until his death.

Fred Walz was born in Philadelphia about 1852; he died there September 7, 1884.

James H. Cummings was one of minstrelsy’s best dancers. He formed a partnership with John P. Hogan late in 1871, and played an engagement at Moran and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, terminating about February 1, 1872.

Later his partner was W. H. Delehanty, whom he joined August 23, 1875; the alliance lasted about fifteen months.

Mr. Cummings subsequently did an act with Harry Orndorf while with the Emily Soldene Company, where he remained two seasons. He left the profession for a time, and embarked in business in Indianapolis, Ind.

Mr. Cummings married one of the Stanley Sisters, well known performers of three decades ago. James H. Cummings was born in Rochester, N. Y.; he died in San Francisco, February 15, 1889; age 37 years.

Welby and Pearl are not exactly the pioneers of song and dance teams, but[240] they have been associated as partners since 1874, which is enough to make them qualify.

They have been with several first-class organizations, including Al. G. Field’s Minstrels, with whom they were with in 1899; subsequently they joined Gorton’s Minstrels, and continued with them almost to date. Mr. Pearl, of recent years, was manager of the company.

Jake Welby (Bucher), was born October 13, 1852, at Syracuse, N. Y.

Charles C. Pearl (Fell), was born in West Chester, Pa., December 4, 1858.

Dan Collyer (McAnerny), the well known comedian of Broadway fame, was one of the Collyer Brothers as early as 1872, doing black-face acts. Doesn’t look it, does he? November 16, 1889, he opened in New York with “Running Wild,” in which he played the wench.

In the stock with Pastor’s Company, likewise Harrigan and Hart’s, he essayed many black-face roles; he also did vaudeville with Add. Ryman—and there were others, notably Dockstader’s Minstrels in New York, December, 1888. Mr. Collyer was born in Baltimore, Md., March, 1853.

Frank McNish (Francis Edward McNish), like the good American that he is, began his theatrical career on July 4, the year, 1873. Garry Doon shared the honors.

He first appeared professionally April 16, 1877, in Buffalo, N. Y., at the Adelphi.

August 21, 1878, he joined Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Minstrels, continuing with them until February 21, 1879. Mr. McNish later formed an alliance with the Leland Sisters, and played variety engagements with much success for about three years, after which he joined Thatcher, Primrose and West’s Minstrels, August 3, 1882, and was a feature with them for three years.

Mr. McNish was now ripe for stellar honors, and accordingly on July 30, 1885, the first performance of McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels was given in Paterson, N. J.; the organization continued three years, after which McNish, Ramza and Arno’s Minstrels did appear—and disappear.

Mr. McNish was with Al. G. Field’s Minstrels in 1892, and with Hi Henry in 1895—and there were others.

Also did he “star” in “An Actor’s Romance” or “An Actor’s Holiday,” the author forgets which; however, the tour was neither a romance nor a holiday.

January 4, 1887, Meriden, Conn., had the honor of being the first city of witnessing Mr. McNish’s appearance as an end man.

Most everybody knows that Frank McNish was the originator of the Silence and Fun specialty that made him famous, and which has been extensively copied by other performers. In addition to being a good dancer, he is also a good singer; originally a plumber, Mr. McNish always has his pipes in good working order.

An early partner was Edward Gildea; the latest were Joe. Penfield and Frank McNish, Jr.

Frank McNish was born in Camden, N. Y., December 14, 1853.

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BILLY LYONS FRED. MALCOLM CHAS. HEYWOOD
JUSTIN ROBINSON THE GREAT “EUGENE” ERNEST LINDEN
LINCOLN ELLWOOD BURT. SHEPARD PAUL VERNON
FAMED FAVORITES WHO FEATURED FEMININE FANCIES—SECOND EDITION.

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Gus Mills achieved considerable popularity as a female impersonator with Simmons, Slocum’s and Sweatnam’s Minstrels in Philadelphia; Dockstader’s in New York, as well as Emerson’s and other well known organizations; he died in Chicago, Ill., October 6, 1903; age about 55 years.

Johnny Mack entered the profession at an early age. He had as partners at various times Johnny Gardner, Billy Conway and Lew Dockstader. With the latter he played with Whitmore and Clark’s Minstrels in 1874, as Mack and Clapp.

He died at Hoosick Falls, N. Y., February 28, 1891; age 38 years.

Willie (Wm. H.) Guy was the first of the Guy boys to enter minstrelsy, making his initial appearance with Hooley in Brooklyn, N. Y., about 1863; the following year he was with M. C. Campbell’s Minstrels in New York.

Subsequently he joined his brother George, and as George and Willie Guy became quite popular at Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, where they remained for a considerable time.

The next few years he was with the minstrel organization of Kelly and Leon; Moore and Burgess, Harry Robinson’s, Welch, Hughes and White; Smith and Taylor’s, and George Christy’s.

In 1874 he became a member of Guy Brother’s Minstrels, and as such continued practically until his death. Mr. Guy ranked high as a song and dance performer and comedian.

Willie Guy was born in Hartford, Conn., October 16, 1853; he died in Springfield, Mass., February 26, 1906.

Richard Golden (Frank Golden), whose fame as “Old Jed Prouty” will long live, did a black-face song and dance with Lew Davis (later Chace and Davis), in the late 60’s; he was also with Sharpley’s Minstrels.

Mr. Golden was born in Bangor, Me., February 6, 1853; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., August 10, 1909.

Harry M. Morse. It would be a difficult matter to say off-hand whether this gentleman is best known as a minstrel or as a delineator of “rube” characters; in the one he has been associated with several famous organizations; in the other he is as readily recalled by several well remembered characterizations.

He first appeared professionally with Rice’s “Evangeline” in 1877, where his splendid bass voice was used as a member of a quartette.

In 1881 he played his initial minstrel engagement with the Haverly Mastodons; the following year with the new Mastodons saw his first appearance as “middle man.”

In 1883 he was with Sam Hague’s Minstrels, under the Haverly management. Thatcher, Primrose and West’s Minstrels had him for a member in 1884, and the following season he was with the inaugural performance of McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels, and remained with them until the dissolution of the company at Washington, D. C., May 19, 1888.

Right here Mr. Morse’s inherent Yankeeism asserted itself; carefully sealing up his box of cork, he placed it in storage, and went in for “rube” characters exclusively.

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From 1888 to 1892 he played Zeb in “Old Jed Prouty”; Mr. Morse was great in this character; so was the wig.

“Rush City”; Pete Dailey’s “Country Sport”; Joe Hart’s “Gay Old Boy” and four years as the Giant in “Jack, the Giant Killer,” followed; a return to “Old Jed Prouty” and Mr. Morse began to repent.

Primrose’s Minstrels, Dockstader’s Minstrels and Cohan and Harris’ Minstrels, the latter in 1908, followed the repentance.

Now Mr. Morse is showing his “rube” to vaudeville lovers—and they seem to like it.

Taken all in all, Putnam, Conn., may well feel proud of its distinguished citizen.

Harry M. Morse was born in Woodstock, Conn., August 4, 1853.

Frank Cushman (Peter Clishman) was one of the very best singing comedians of minstrelsy; he possessed a peculiar voice, and could reach high C with ease.

At the outset of his career he gave impersonations of the old colored man, which ever after he made a feature of his repertoire; in these delineations he was exceptionally clever.

He made his first appearance with Professor John Hammond’s Company at Havre de Grace, Md., in 1874; subsequently he joined Tommy Jefferson’s company, where his success was pronounced.

After this he went to the Odeon Theatre in Baltimore, remaining a year; likewise he played stock engagements at the Grand Central Theatre, Philadelphia, and other houses. His first prominent minstrel engagement was with Carncross and Dixey, in Philadelphia.

October 21, 1878, made his appearance at the Adelphi Theatre, Chicago, as a member of Haverly’s original Mastodons. He went to England with Haverly, opening in London, July 31, 1880; he continued under this management for a considerable period.

About 1882 he formed an alliance with the “Only Leon,” playing star engagements in the variety houses and minstrel companies; during this period they made a trip to Australia, where they played several months; they separated in the Spring of 1887.

In the fall of that year he became a member of Sweatnam, Rice and Fagan’s Minstrels; he was likewise with Primrose and West’s; Cleveland’s, and Al. G. Field’s Minstrels.

In the fall of 1889 with Ned Thomas he organized the Cushman and Thomas Minstrels.

Mr. Cushman created the black-face part in the production of “Natural Gas”; and in 1898 he was with the last minstrel show Jack Haverly ever put out. He was married to the widow of Billy Welch about 1888, and they lived very happily together.

His last appearance was at Lexington, Ky., a few days before his death.

Frank Cushman was born in Baltimore, Md., March 11, 1853; he died in Louisville, Ky., December 19, 1907.

Edwin French (Adam Kunz) was one of the great banjoists of minstrelsy.

He made his first appearance in St. Louis, Mo., as Master Eddie with Morris and Wilson’s Minstrels.

[244]

He next appeared with Green’s “Mocking Bird” Minstrels, and in 1867 was with Sam Sharpley’s Company.

Subsequently he played a long engagement with Birch, Wambold and Backus in New York City.

He was also with Carncross in Philadelphia; Moore and Burgess in London, England, and Dockstader in New York. In 1882 he was with Leavitt’s Giganteans; and likewise played an important engagement with Haverly’s Minstrels.

Edwin French was born in Cleveland, Ohio, January 31, 1853; he died at Saranac Lake, N. Y., September 16, 1903.

Burt. Haverly (Geo. Burton Oliver), the favorite minstrel and farceur, began in Boston at an early age with a minstrel company headed by the late Andy Leavitt; Mr. Haverly’s vocal offering on this occasion was—“And His Feet Hung Out the Door.”

In 1881 he was with Billy Emerson in San Francisco, a place where Haverly loved above all others; in this city he was highly thought of, personally and as a performer.

It was in 1879 that he attained his first prominence as a member of Hooley and Emerson’s “Megatherian” Minstrels.

In the middle and late 80’s he was with McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s, and Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels.

Shortly after leaving the last company, he went into white-face with the “City Directory”; subsequently, with Laura Biggar, he was co-star in “A Trip to Chinatown,” for several seasons.

Mr. Haverly married Miss Nellie Carter, in San Jose, Cal., February 21, 1882.

In New York, on March 21, 1901, he married Mme. Dowling.

Burt. Haverly was born in Saccarappa, Me., August 12, 1853; he died in San Francisco, Cal., October 31, 1908.

Hawkins and Collins. This great black-face singing act made their first joint appearance at the Garden Theatre in Chicago, Ill., in the Fall of 1882.

They played successful minstrel engagements with Carncross’ in Philadelphia; Thatcher, Primrose and West’s; Haverly’s and Hyde and Behman’s Company, as well as several first-class specialty organizations.

They continued as a team until the death of Ben Collins.

Lew Hawkins made his first professional appearance as a jig dancer in the Winter Garden, Chicago, Ill., in 1873; he worked in white-face, his weekly stipend was $6.00; he gets more now.

He went to San Francisco from Chicago, played all the variety houses on the way back three years later, and opened with Ed. Hodson, again in Chicago, at the Coliseum, where they did a Dutch act; a year later he separated from Hodson and joined J. W. Kelly, who afterwards won fame as the “Rolling Mill Man”; Mr. Hawkins’ claims, and he undoubtedly is correct when he asserts that he first brought Kelly before the public as a professional entertainer; this was in August, 1878, at the Cosmopolitan (present Olympic) Theatre in Chicago; they separated in 1882, and Mr. Hawkins joined Collins.

Since the death of the latter, Lew Hawkins has worked alone doing a black-face monologue and singing act; he is known as the “Chesterfield of Minstrelsy.”

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“COOL” WHITE “COOL” BURGESS
A PAIR OF “COOL” PROPOSITIONS.
“ADD.” RYMAN “ADD.” WEAVER
NOT A CASE OF ADDITION.
FRANK WILD JOHN WILD
WILD, BUT NOT DANGEROUS.

[246]

Lew Hawkins was born in Hudson, Mich., August 20, 1853.

Ben Collins was born in Chicago, Ill.; he died in Boston, Mass., March 20, 1890; age 31 years.

Wm. H. West (Flynn), famous as a great clog dancer and producer, and for many years associated with George H. Primrose in their many minstrel organizations, made his first appearance in a variety theatre in Buffalo, N. Y., August 20, 1870; the following year he joined Skiff and Gaylord’s Minstrels, where he made the acquaintance of George H. Primrose, and shortly after this they made their first joint appearance, playing variety theatres, and continuing with Mr. Primrose for many years.

November 20, 1874, he joined Haverly’s Minstrels, and remained with them until June 14, 1877.

On Aug. 20, same year, with his partner, Milt. G. Barlow and George Wilson, they gave the first performance of Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Minstrels; the last in the Summer of 1882.

That same year Mr. West, Mr. Primrose and George Thatcher, organized Thatcher, Primrose and West’s Minstrels; they gave their final performance in the Summer of 1889.

From 1889 until April 30, 1898, Primrose and West’s Minstrels took the road; the last season (1897), Mr. West headed his own company, Mr. Primrose another.

In the Summer of 1898, William H. West’s Big Jubilee Minstrels gave their first performance, and he continued with his company until within a few months of his death.

Mr. West was thrice married; his first wife was Fay Templeton, the well-known actress whom he married about 1883; they separated soon after. His second wife was Miss Lizette Morris, of Philadelphia, a daughter of our former Minister to Turkey; on October 27, 1892, he married Miss Emma Hanley, the well-known actress of light opera fame.

Mr. West sat in the middle with his various companies, his style of interlocutor being different from any of his predecessors.

William H. West was born in Syracuse, N. Y., June 18, 1853; he died in Chicago, Ill., February 15, 1902.

Emerson and Clark were a favorite song and dance team of the middle 70’s; they appeared in the well-known variety houses, and in 1877 they played an engagement with Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels; in the fall of the same year they associated themselves with the Daly Brothers, Tom and Bill. The four took a European tour and later were with Hooley and Emerson’s Megatherian Minstrels, in 1879.

Mr. Emerson married Julia Emmonds, and as Emerson and Emmonds they played the variety houses; in the course of time the act received an addition, and as Emerson, Emmonds and Emerson they were well known.

Mr. Emerson also did a black-face specialty with James Cook, of the present team of Cook and Lorenz; this was with Barlow, Wilson and Rankin’s Minstrels about 1885.

[247]

After their separation, Mr. Clark published “Willis Clark’s Joke Book,” which met with indifferent success.

Mort. Emerson was born in Philadelphia, November 27, 1853.

Willis Clark died (suicide) in New York City, December 23, 1899; age 42 years.

The Daly Bros. Tom Daly’s early partner was Bob Birdue; they played an engagement at the Howard Athenaeum in Boston, where they met with pronounced success; subsequently he was joined by his brother Bill.

In April, 1871, as Master Willie and Tommy, they did their specialties with Newcomb and Arlington’s Minstrels in New York City; season of 1875 they played Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia; the next year they were with Haverly, and after the conclusion of that engagement the brothers joined Emerson and Clark, and the four were known as the King High Kickers.

The Dalys were brothers of the lamented Dan Daly; and Tom Daly’s second wife was Lizzie Derious, the well-known soubrette, now Mrs. Sam Tuck.

Tom Daly was a man of exemplary habits; his death was the result of a brutal assault received in Chicago a few years previous to it.

Bill Daly, or “Cap. Bill” as he is best known, has not appeared professionally in several years.

Tom Daly was born at Bathurst, N. B., in 1855; he died at Somerville, Mass., July 20, 1892.

ORIGINAL BIG FOUR—LESTER-ALLEN-SMITH-WALDRON.

Billy Lester (Albert Manasse) made his first appearance as a clog dancer with Sam Colville’s Variety Company, at the age of 13.

His first partner was John Turner, and as Turner and Lester they played the principal variety houses, also an engagement with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, in 1874.

About October 1, 1875, he formed a partnership with Paul Allen, and in the fall of 1876 the team consolidated with Smith and Waldron; this was the original Big 4.

February 28, 1878, saw the first performance of Billy Emerson’s and the Big 4 Minstrels; which continued several months; Lester and Allen joined Tierney and Cronin, and were known as the 4 Aces; this, however, was not the original act of that title.

About 1884 Lester and Allen’s Minstrels took the road, and continued as an organization for three years.

Shortly after this they appeared in “A Plug Hat”; later Mr. Lester separated from Mr. Allen.

Mr. Lester’s first wife was Viola Clifton, whom he married in 1876. November 24, 1887, he became the husband of Annie Hart.

Billy Lester was born in London, England; he died at Fair Haven, N. J., July 11, 1893; age 40 years.

Paul Allen (Kayser) joined Billy Lester in 1875, and while the major portion of his professional career was identified with Lester’s, it was not entirely so.

[248]

In 1880, with Dan Waldron, William Smith and Master Martin the Big 4 Minstrels were on the road.

After separating from Mr. Lester, he did a black-face monologue, and as “Mayor of the Ohio River” met with unqualified success.

Mr. Allen married Louise Montague (Laura Keene Stewart) at San Francisco, in 1877.

Paul Allen was born in Baltimore, Md.; he died in New York City, February 23, 1896; age 43 years.

William Smith associated himself with Dan Waldron in the middle 70’s, doing black-face songs and dances. In 1876 Smith and Waldron joined Lester and Allen, and were associated about three years.

In 1879 the Big 4 consisted of Smith, Waldron, Morton and Martin, and a year later it was Smith, Allen, Morton and Martin.

In 1898 with Haverly’s Minstrels, the Big 4 was Smith, Waldron, Daly and Martin; and at the time of his (Smith’s) death, it was Smith, Waldron, Peasley and Martin.

Mr. Smith was the brother of Helene Smith, the beautiful danseuse of a generation ago.

William Smith died (suicide) in New York City, April 16, 1900.

Dan Waldron (McQuinny), the last of the original Big Four, joined William Smith in a black-face song and dance act about 1875, and continued a member of the various combinations of “Big 4’s” longer than any of his associates.

After severing relations with them he appeared with many prominent minstrel companies, notably George Thatcher’s, and Haverly’s (Nankeville’s) Minstrels.

Dan Waldron was born in New York City; he died April 1, 1905, at Washington, D. C.; age 47 years.


They tell this one about the famous Billy Manning—Manning’s Company and that of Dan Bryant met on one occasion on the road; in the course of the conversation it turned out that Bryant’s Company was to follow Manning’s in at a certain town; Dan Bryant requested Manning to “announce” the coming of his (Bryant’s) troupe; which of course, Manning promised to do.

About ten days later the minstrels met again, and Manning informed Bryant that he (Manning), had played the previous evening in the town already referred to.

Did you “announce” me said Dan? I was just going to, said Manning, when the fellow got up and went out.


Billy Bryant (Wm. Thos. Hanson). Who among theatre-goers of twenty years ago who recall Bryant & Richmond in the act “Imprisoned,” cannot see Billy Bryant as he carefully felt the topmost portion of his anatomy, ruefully exclaiming—“O! my coco.” That was comedy.

Bryant’s career began in 1868 with the Walter Bray Company, where he joined hands with Arthur Hegeney, under the team name of Hanson and Hegeney. It was Bray that suggested a change, and forthwith Hanson became Bryant, in honor of Dan Bryant, and Hegeney was thereafter known as Williams, after the famous Barney Williams, whose early days were spent in minstrelsy.

[249]

LEW DOCKSTADER P. J. NILES
CHAS. DOCKSTADER WILL OAKLAND,
The Famous Contra Tenor
CHAS. E. EVANS
DOCKSTADER BROS. (1879) NILES & EVANS (1878)

[250]

Bryant and Williams played the best variety houses in the country until 1876, when he married Lizzie Richmond, and as Bryant & Richmond they gave “Imprisoned” for many years; afterwards they produced “Keep it Dark”; for seven seasons they played it with much success.

Alice Hanson, an unusually clever and vivacious soubrette, is his daughter.

Billy Bryant was born in Platteville, Wis., October 12, 1853; he died at Chicago, Ill., July 22, 1902.

Bob Slavin was one of the most brilliant comedians in the minstrel firmament; a natural wit; a great entertainer.

About 1874 he did a specialty with George Nelson; and a year or so later he doubled with “Buck” Sheffer; the partnership continued about two years. Subsequently he appeared with unqualified success with Haverly’s, the San Franciscos, and Emerson’s, in San Francisco.

In July, 1885, at Paterson, N. J., McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels gave their first performance; they continued as an organization for three seasons; Mr. McNish retiring, Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels took the road; the partnership dissolved in June, 1889.

July 17, 1890, Mr. Slavin opened for a limited engagement with Wm. Henry Rice’s World’s Fair Minstrels, and closed September 2, at Elmira, N. Y. September 10, he opened with the Howard Athenaeum Company in Troy, N. Y., doing his specialty in white-face; sad to say, this engagement lasted only about a month.

Mr. Slavin subsequently appeared with the May Russell Burlesque Company. On November 19, 1892, he began an engagement with Crawford Brother’s Minstrels in South Bend, Ind.; Mr. Slavin made his last appearance with this company about Christmas, the same year, at Toledo, Ohio.

Mr. Slavin married Agnes Louise Laurence, a non-professional, in 1878.

Bob Slavin was born in Baltimore, Md., November 28, 1853; he died in Toledo, Ohio, December 29, 1892.

William J. Carroll, known as a first-class banjoist and negro impersonator, came to this country at a very early age, and began his professional career while yet in his teens; in 1873 he joined William Harris, and as Harris and Carroll remained with him until 1879; they played various variety engagements. December 20, 1880, he joined Thatcher and Ryman’s Minstrels at the Arch Street Opera House, Philadelphia, doing his specialty, and sitting on the end, opposite George Thatcher; he remained all season. Subsequently he was with Primrose and West, and other organizations.

William Carroll was born in Ireland about 1853; he died in Chelsea, Mass., January 25, 1896.

John F. Fields made his first appearance with the San Francisco Minstrels in New York City, December, 1865, as a boy vocalist. It was in August, 1874, that his professional career began when he formed a partnership with Fred Sharpley, who died in 1879.

His next partner was William F. Hoey, later known as “Old Hoss,” the[251] team name being Fields and Hoey, doing a black-face musical act. Mr. Fields played an engagement with Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels while a member of this alliance. In 1878 he formed a partnership with Frank Hanson. As the straight man in these acts, Mr. Fields excels, and after thirty-six years we find him as good as ever.

At the termination of his partnership with Mr. Hanson in 1885, Mr. Fields’ took another partner, the team name of Fields & Hanson was retained and is still a valuable trade-mark. Since 1885 “Fields and Hanson” have been with Haverley’s Minstrels; Cleveland’s Minstrels, Gus. Hill, Hyde’s Comedians and Reilly & Woods Company; and for five years he had on tour Fields & Hanson’s Drawing Cards.

Mr. Fields and his present partner are now in vaudeville.

Jno. F. Fields was born in Newark, N. J., October 17, 1853.

Frank Hanson worked a year with a performer named Billy Phillips, but only as amateurs. He left Phillips in 1877, and joined a party by the name of Smith, with whom he worked several months, making their first appearance at the Boylston Museum. Then came Hanson and Rich, and a short time after, the famous team of Fields and Hanson was formed in 1878.

In 1885 after the team broke up, Mr. Hanson went in the hotel business in Boston, in which he has been ever since.

Frank Hanson was born at Ossipee, N. H., March 13, 1860.

Fields and Hanson joined hands in 1878, playing variety engagements for that season. Seasons of 1879-1880, 1880-81, were spent with Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West, followed by seasons with Leavitt’s All Star Specialty Company, and Barry and Fay’s organization. In 1883 they began an engagement with the Howard Athenaeum Company, at the conclusion of which they played a season of sixteen weeks in the larger cities of Europe; returning to the United States, they began their last season as a team, with the Howard Athenaeum Company, at the conclusion of which in 1885, they separated.

Manchester and Jennings worked harmoniously as a team for eighteen years, during which period they were associated with some of the best minstrel organizations traveling. As a black-face comedy act they were among the leaders.

Their first joint appearance was in 1870. About 1874 they joined Washburn’s Last Sensation, remaining two seasons.

September 27, 1875, they made their first appearance with Hooley, Haverly and Maguire’s Minstrels in Chicago.

Subsequently they were members of Kelly and Leon’s Company, and then—and then—unable to wait another day—they launched forth Manchester and Jenning’s Minstrels in the Spring of 1878. Without going into details, it may be said that the season was a backward one that year.

The partnership lasted until the death of Johnny Jennings.

Bobby Manchester made his debut on the stage in 1865 with Newcomb’s Minstrels. September 24, 1886, he gave the first performance of his “Night Owls” Burlesque Company; since which date he has been prominently identified with the burlesque world.

[252]

Johnny Jennings was an exceptionally clever dancer; he made his first appearance in his native city at old Farrar Hall about 1864. About a year later he joined Morris Brothers, Pell and Trowbridge’s Minstrels in Erie, and subsequently appeared with them in their Boston theatre. He continued with this company for an extended period, part of which time as Collins, Queen and Jennings, they did an act called the “Alabama Triplets.”

Mr. Jennings is reputed to have been the original skate dancer, in which he was marvelously adept.

Bob Manchester (Aaron Mills), was born in Gloversville, N. Y., July 2, 1853.

John Jennings was born in Erie, Pa., about 1857; he died there, November 7, 1888.

George F. Campbell was one of the original members of the Clipper Quartette, who made their first appearance at Tony Pastor’s Theatre in New York, in 1879.

Subsequently he separated from his partners, and organized a Clipper Quartette of his own.

Several years ago Mr. Campbell retired from theatricals, and entered the mercantile business, in which he is now engaged.

George F. Campbell was born in Baltimore, Md., March 6, 1853.

Fred Huber was a well-known black-face performer more than thirty years ago. In 1878 Huber and “Boots” Allen did a black-face musical act; 1879; Huber and Glidden were known as the “Oyster Can Mokes”; subsequently he married Kitty Allyne, and for many years Huber and Allyne played the principal variety houses. About seven years ago he formed a partnership with John King while with the William H. West’s (Ricaby’s) Minstrels.

Mr. Huber was also well-known as an excellent “bones” manipulator.

He was several years with Gus Hill in an executive capacity.

Fred Huber was born in St. Louis, Mo.; he died in New York City, April 3, 1904; age 50 years.

Fred Oakland (Wright) had the distinction of being one of the leading tenors of minstrelsy about twenty years ago. He had a remarkably fine cultivated voice which he used mostly in concert work until about 1878, when he left England for South Africa, where he played leading tenor roles with the Victoria Loftus Troupe and other organizations, visiting Ceylon, India and other countries.

About 1883 he came to the United States, and joined Thatcher, Primrose and West’s Minstrels, remaining several seasons; subsequently he became a member of Primrose and West’s Minstrels, and while with this company he formed the acquaintance of William H. Thompson, with whom he joined George Thatcher’s “Tuxedo” Company.

With Mr. Thompson he went to England in January, 1895; they remained four years; the partnership was then dissolved.

Mr. Oakland married a Miss Stratton, of Swampscott, Mass., in December, 1887.

Fred Oakland was born in London, England; he died there October 5, 1900; age 46 years.

[253]

J. C.—HARRINGTON & JOHNSON—ARTHUR JAS.—CONNORS & KELLY—JAS.
(Portraits reversed)
ED.—KELLY & O’BRIEN—JOHN C. W.—COGILL & COOPER—FRED

[254]

Charles Queen (Kane) was one of the best clog dancers in minstrelsy. January 26, 1882, at Montreal, Can., he performed for the first time in public on a pedestal fifteen inches square and six feet high, on which he turned somersaults and flip flops; this was while a member of Haverly’s Minstrels.

He was born in St. Louis, in 1854; he died in Kansas City, Mo., June 29, 1886.

The Diamond Brothers were well-known as clever song and dance performers.

They generally played joint engagements, and at various times had been with such well-known minstrel companies as McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s, Primrose and West’s, Haverly’s, Big Four, Gorton’s, Hi Henry’s, and Al. G. Field’s; with the latter organization they had been associated several seasons. A few years prior to their deaths they headed their own organization.

Matt. Diamond died at New Castle, Pa., June 14, 1907; age 53 years.

Lawrence Diamond died at New Castle, Pa., December 15, 1906; age 42 years.

Charley Young began young, and is still young. His career commenced at the Palace Varieties, Cincinnati, about 1865, as Call Boy, remaining two years. Being a natural born dancer, he took the place of Johnny Collins when the illness of the latter prevented him from appearing in the Challenge Dance, a feature of most variety and minstrel shows of the early days.

In 1868 he doubled with Billy Reed, and played variety houses for two years; after which he worked single for some time.

In 1875 Tony Pastor sent him to Albany for five nights; he remained two years, which was much better than going for two years, and remaining but five nights. Mr. Young was so pleased with this two-year engagement that he went to Heuck’s in Cincinnati, and played there two years. Then came a spell of traveling and a season at Leadville, Colo.

In 1880 he formed a partnership with Sage Richardson, and shortly afterwards they joined Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels.

Subsequent minstrel engagements were with Billy Rice and Hooley’s; McIntyre and Heath’s, and J. H. Haverly’s; remaining three years with the latter.

Other companies were Murray and Murphy, seven years; a four-year starring tour in “A Soap Bubble”; four seasons with Bobby Gaylor; in conjunction with Charles A. Mason, one season with Gus Hill’s New York Stars; and a season each with Nellie McHenry; Edna May; and Ward and Vokes. Mr. Young then starred four seasons in melodrama under the management of Percy G. Williams.

Charles Young was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 3, 1854.

Billy Conway (Marble) the well-known comedian, first appeared professionally about 1871, with Mart. Healy, known as Healy and Conway; this was in his native city; he was with Whitmore and Clark’s Minstrels several seasons, where he joined the late Johnny Mack; afterwards Healy, Saunders (Ella) and Conway formed an alliance; subsequently he rejoined Mack, and they went with I. W. Baird’s Minstrels, where they remained about eight seasons. He separated from Mack about three years before his (Conway’s death), and appeared with McIntyre and Heath’s; Dockstader’s, and Wilson’s Minstrels.

JAS.—McINTYRE & HEATH—THOS. K.
(1874)
THE “GEORGIA MINSTRELS” JAS.—McINTYRE & HEATH—THOS. K.
(1910)
McINTYRE & HEATH—YESTERDAY, TO-DAY and TO-MORROW.

[255]

Mr. Conway was one of the Four Invincibles—Conway, Mack, Gardner and Clark.

His last appearance was in New Haven, Conn., February 29, 1892.

Billy Conway was born in Hartford, Conn.; he died in Boston, Mass., March 8, 1892; age 38 years.

McINTYRE and HEATH

are beyond all question the greatest duo of black-face delineators of the real Southern darky that the stage ever has or ever will know.

They give an absolutely faithful portrayal of the black man as he really exists.

Mr. McIntyre as a pessimistic coon, and Mr. Heath as the colored gemmen with pronounced optimistic ideas of life, are excruciatingly funny in everything they do; but as the “Georgia Minstrels” their talents probably appear to the greatest advantage.

McIntyre and Heath joined hands in San Antonio, Texas, in the Spring of 1874, at the Vaudeville Theatre. They played many variety and circus engagements until the fall of 1878, when they organized McIntyre and Heath’s Minstrels. A year later they made their first New York appearance at Tony Pastor’s Theatre; their success was instantaneous and pronounced.

In the Fall of 1880 they engaged with the Alice Oates Company, playing “Long Branch.”

In the Fall of 1881 they again headed their own minstrel organization, and the following season McIntyre and Heath’s Specialty Company took the road.

In 1883 they were under the management of Hyde and Behman, and the following season headed their own company under the direction of Primrose and West. In 1886, Spencer, McIntyre and Heath’s Minstrels toured.

Their next important minstrel engagement was with Lew Dockstader’s Company in 1891. Subsequently they played extended engagements with Hyde & Behman’s Company, and Weber and Fields’ organization.

It was with the latter company that their famous “Georgia Minstrels” was first produced at the Gayety Theatre, Brooklyn, N. Y., in August, 1894.

McIntyre and Heath played vaudeville until 1906, when they starred in the “Ham Tree,” a big musical production written, around the talents of these famous funsters. They continued with that play for three seasons. In 1909 they appeared with “In Hayti,” another pretentious musical offering, in which they, of course, played black-face parts.

James McIntyre began his professional career at Chicago in the Fall of 1868, at Pete Kerwin’s, doing a song and dance in black-face; this particular song was called “My Name Was Little Ned.”

The following year he went with Katie Putnam’s Company, where he played Willie in “East Lynne,” and did a double clog with Peter Lester it is now, but at that time, Peter Johnson. McIntyre and Johnson played engagements[256] with McKenzie’s Circus and Burton and Ridgway’s Minstrels and a return to Katie Putnam’s Company.

The Minstrels closed at Indianapolis, Ind., in the Winter of 1871, and Mr. McIntyre met Billy Fleming, and they decided to become pedestrians; they “pedestered” from Indianapolis to Terre Haute, giving performances at the various school houses en route.

Evansville, Ind., was the next objective point, after which Mr. Fleming became enamoured with Mr. McIntyre’s professional attire, and without permission from the latter young man, took them for his own.

* * * Mr. McIntyre’s next engagement was in a livery stable in Henderson, Ky., where he remained two months, during which time he organized an amateur minstrel company from local talent available; they played four nights, the receipts of which were donated to McIntyre to get him a new wardrobe, and a ticket to Louisville.

Several of Henderson, Ky’s. most prominent future citizens blacked up in that memorable year of 1871, among whom were Jeff. Davis, Harry Gilligan, Newton Shaw, John Reichert, Jr., and “Killis” Callender; and when thirty-seven years later McIntyre and Heath returned to play an engagement in the thrifty Blue Grass City, many of those “minstrels of ’71” responded to Mr. McIntyre’s invitation to a banquet, and pleasant recollections were recalled.

Mr. McIntyre subsequently formed a partnership with Mike Butler, and as McIntyre and Butler worked for several months; subsequently William Carroll, (afterwards one of the Miaco Brothers), and Mr. McIntyre were partners.

In the Spring of 1874 he again joined Butler and continued with him until he met Mr. Heath.

Thomas K. Heath first “acted” at Mr. Kit Burns’ Theatorium in New York City, 1867; the salary was $12 per week, most of which has been invested in real estate at Deer Park, Long Island.

Mr. Heath then learned the trade of book binder, and continued at it until he became programmer for Joseph Murphy in “Help”; this was in 1872. That same year he formed a partnership with George Howard, and as Howard and Heath they did a black-face song and dance act, playing the many variety theatres, finally landing at San Antonio, Texas, where he formed a partnership with Mr. McIntyre.

James McIntyre was born in Kenosha, Wis., August 8, 1857.

Thomas K. Heath was born in Philadelphia, August 11, 1853.

Al. Decker (Ladd) entered the profession about 1873 as partner with Walter Gibbs.

A few years later he formed an alliance with Charles H. Yale, doing black-face songs and dances, and pantomimic business. He continued with Mr. Yale for several seasons, and after the latter branched into the managerial field, he also was with him.

Mr. Decker died at Fall River, Mass., January 24, 1898; age 44 years.

Billy Williams (Carmody) ranked with the best of wench impersonators.

His stage experience began at the age of three years at the Front Street Theatre, in Baltimore. Later he did acrobatic work in circuses until 1870, when on September 30, that year, he joined Billy Manning’s Minstrels in Chicago.

[257]

EDDIE MAZIER SAM. LEE
EARL BENHAM HARRY JOLSON
CLARENCE MARKS ARTHUR GUY
THEY’RE WORKING NOW; THAT’S WHY THEY SMILE.

[258]

He remained with Manning for a long period, and then played the variety houses until 1876, when he formed a partnership with William J. Sully, and as Williams and Sully did a black-face song and dance act for eleven years.

Since which time Mr. Williams did mostly dramatic work. Billy Williams was born in New York, July 1, 1854; he died in Elizabeth, N. J., July 25, 1910.

Patsy Howard, one of the original “Bay State Boys,” made his first appearance as a clog and jig dancer in his native city in 1868, at the old Globe Hall.

September 13, 1869, he organized the above act comprising John Harrington, Jimmy Fitzpatrick, Henry Drummond and Patsy Howard, making their first appearance on that date at the Howard Athenaeum in Boston; they remained there five weeks, doing clog dances. After that engagement they played two weeks at Morris Brother’s Minstrels in the same city. After several variety engagements they returned to their native heath and joined Dougherty, Wild, Barney and Mac’s Minstrels. The four disbanded in 1871, Mr. Howard forming a partnership with Harrington, who took the name of McVickar; Howard that of Sully; they were known as McVicker and Sully until they separated in 1873, after which he formed an alliance with Billy Sully; this lasted a year. Mr. Howard then retired from the profession in 1874, and lived happily ever afterwards.

Patsy Howard was born in Boston, Mass., June 26, 1854.

George Richards, the well-known comedian, for many seasons associated with the late Eugene Canfield, was a member of Emerson’s Minstrels about five years, commencing 1870; he was a regular comic.

Mr. Richards was born in Somerville, Mass., January 3, 1854.

Mackin and Wilson were one of the premier song and dance teams of minstrelsy during a period when that style of performance had its greatest vogue many years ago.

Jimmy Mackin and Francis Wilson (then known as Frank Wilson) were boys in their ’teens when they formed a partnership that lasted for seven years; during which time they played engagements with some of the foremost minstrel organizations of their day.

Their initial appearance as a team was at the Metropolitan Theatre, Indianapolis, Ind., August 7, 1871.

July 1 following, they began a brief engagement with Sam Sharpley’s Minstrels.

Their first New York appearance was at the Comique, commencing September 16, 1872; they reappeared there October 28, following, after which they opened in Chicago with Arlington, Cotton and Kemble’s Minstrels, December 2, same year. They remained with the above organization the balance of the season, and part of the next one, commencing August 26, 1873. September 3, 1874, they began a season’s engagement with Birch, Wambold and Backus’ famous San Francisco Minstrels in New York, after which they joined Emerson’s Minstrels, July, 1875.

[259]

Later they were with Hooley, Haverly and Maguire.

They rejoined Emerson’s Company in Detroit, September 30, 1875; January 13, 1877, they left Emerson; and nine days later became members of Sweatnam and Fraser’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

There Mackin and Wilson decided to head their own organization, and accordingly on the twenty-first day of May, 1877, Mackin and Wilson, Sutton and “Bernardo’s” Minstrels left Philadelphia to win fame and fortune; they did neither. The thrilling account of the trials and tribulations of this little band are best explained in Mr. Wilson’s own letter, which will be found elsewhere in this volume.

The name of the company underwent several changes before its dissolution in September, 1877; the obsequies were held in Cleveland, Ohio.

Mackin and Wilson next engaged with Neil Bryant’s Minstrels in New York, opening October 8 following; they closed December 8.

Shortly after this they joined Simmons, Slocum and Sweatnam’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, where they remained until the end of the season, May 11, 1878; this was followed by a supplemental tour, after which Mackin and Wilson separated, each going their respective ways.

James F. Mackin was an exceptionally clever clog dancer and good performer, when with Tom Sullivan he joined Harry McCarthy’s Minstrels in Indianapolis, Ind., September 14, 1870. The team was known as Mackin and Sullivan; they continued with the company until it closed, January 26, 1871.

After separating from Mr. Wilson, he joined the late John D. Griffin in New York, doing a black-face song and dance, week of July 1, 1878; he continued with Griffin a few weeks, after which he became a member of Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Minstrels; he remained with this company until 1881.

Mr. Mackin played various variety engagements after this until his death.

Francis Wilson first made the acquaintance of burnt cork in his native city in the middle 60’s; Mr. Wilson’s parents was not made aware of the acquaintance until some time later. It was not all honey, and not all jam in those days, as Mr. Wilson will Frankly admit (jest).

It was not until October 29, 1868, that he saw his name in print, for it was on that date that the first performance of the “Amateur Minstrels” at the Assembly Buildings in Philadelphia was given; the entertainment closed with the “Grand Duchess, 2d.” Whether or not Mr. Wilson was the Duchess on this august occasion, history does not state.

After severing relations with Mackin, Mr. Wilson entered the ranks of the Chestnut Street Theatre Stock Company in Philadelphia, where, on September 9, 1878, he played his first part in white-face; that of Cool, in “London Assurance.”

He made rapid strides in his new field of endeavor, and continued as a member of the stock until February 21, 1880; two days later he joined “Our Goblins,” a musical comedy, playing the role of Octavius Longfellow Warbler. Subsequently Mr. Wilson purchased an interest in the company, and played the more important part of Alfred Comstock Silvermine.

[260]

August 1, 1881, he began a two weeks’ engagement at the Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, as Moe Jewell, in the “World.”

Mr. Wilson afterwards returned to “Our Goblins,” and he also played Templeton Fake with Annie Pixley in “M’liss.” His subsequent career in light opera and other amusements are too well known to require further mention.

Probably no one man in the annals of theatricals has achieved more in his chosen profession than Francis Wilson.

When Mackin and Wilson dissolved partnership the team were getting a good salary; and when Mr. Wilson applied for a small position in the stock company in Philadelphia he was told he would have to begin all over again; Mr. Wilson, however, was willing; and the weekly stipend was just about 25 per cent. of what he received as a song and dance performer. But Francis Wilson had the courage of his convictions, for he never considered his minstrel and variety days in any other than a school for the talents he later intended to develop.

Mr. Wilson was always a student; and when his companions would invite him to participate in their nightly dissipations, he would politely but firmly refuse; study was more to his liking.

Francis Wilson is a man of letters; the author of “Reminiscences of a Fellow Player,” “Recollections of a Player,” and the comedy in which he is now appearing, the “Bachelor’s Baby.”

Likewise did he write the “Life of Jos. Jefferson,” the “Eugene Field I Knew,” and contributed several short stories to magazines.

He is co-proprietor with Mrs. Wilson (formerly Miss Myra V. Barrie) of the Misses Adelaide and Frances Wilson.

James F. Mackin was born in Providence, R. I.; he died in Sturgis, Dak., May 4, 1883.

Francis B. Wilson was born in Philadelphia, February 7, 1854.

Billy Ginniven, the well known black-face song and dance performer, worked at various times with John E. Henshaw, Charley Gilday, and his wife, professionally known as Frankie Lee, whom he married about 1878.

He died in Denver, Colo., January 11, 1879.

Petrie and Fish formed a partnership in 1876, doing a black-face act.

In 1878 they were joined by Connors and Kelly, and as the Original Four they met with great success in the United States and Europe. They subsequently separated, Mr. Petrie doing an act with his wife in the variety houses, billed as Petrie and Elise, in “Passing the Toll Gate.”

In 1896 Mr. and Mrs. Petrie, with their two sons, formed the Four Olifans, a grotesque act, which they performed successfully for several seasons. Mr. Petrie married Margaret Cockrell in 1880.

Mr. Fish formed one of the team of Fish and Quigg, a “big and little act,” and was very successful after separating from Mr. Petrie.

William O. Petrie was born in Lockport, Ill., in 1855; he died in Chicago, Ill., May 26, 1901.

Fred C. Fish died in New York, December 8, 1900; age 40 years.

[261]

BARLOW, WILSON AND RANKIN’S MINSTRELS.
Frankfort, Ky., 25 Years Ago.

[262]

Keating and Sands were one of the earliest and best of black-face musical acts.

They formed an alliance in the 70’s, which practically continued until Mr. Sands’ death.

They were said to be the first act of their kind to visit Europe; they played a two years’ engagement there with Hague’s Minstrels.

Subsequent to the death of Sands, Mr. Keating worked with several partners, notably Harry Barton, Harry Leopold and Tom Ardell. He was also of the team of Keating and Harris.

John J. Keating died in Boston, Mass., April 26, 1897; age 43 years.

Edw. Sands (Stanstedt) was born in Boston, Mass.; he died there February 12, 1887; age 30 years.

Murphy and Morton were equally as well known in black-face specialties as they were in white. They made their first appearance about 1874 with Tony Pastor in New York. They played the principal variety houses, and were with such well-known minstrel companies as Hooley’s; Thatcher’s, in Philadelphia; Emerson’s, in San Francisco; Hooley’s, in Chicago; Haverly, same city, and Carncross, in Philadelphia. About 1880, they joined forces with Griffin and Rice, and did a “four” act for about two seasons. All told, Mr. Murphy has spent about twenty years at Carncross’, and half that at Dumont’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

He has been also associated with Alf. Gibson, and produced Murphy and Gibson’s Minstrels in Atlantic City, N. J., for several years past.

John E. Murphy (DeAngelis) was born in Philadelphia, July 26, 1855.

Jos. Morton (McGarvey) was born in Philadelphia; he died there July 17, 1884; age 29 years.


The highest salary ever drawn by any black-face team in the history of theatricals was paid to McIntyre and Heath.


The Three Rankins achieved enviable distinction for their musical act, which was one of the best. Originally there were four brothers, Carl, Will, Rit and Fitch, and they played an engagement with E. M. Hall’s Minstrels, opening in Chicago, June 29, 1878. In the Fall of the same year Fitch Rankin retiring, the Three Rankins joined Wagner and Cotton’s Minstrels for a short season.

The following year with Lew Simmons, they organized Simmons and Rankin’s Minstrels, and after the dissolution they re-organized as Three Rankin’s Minstrels, opening at Columbus, Ohio, November 27, 1879, and closing same date.

December 20, 1880, they joined Kyle’s “Christy” Minstrels in Boston for a brief engagement.

After the death of Rit his place was taken by John Mosure, and as the “Three Rankins” they played with Leavitt’s Giganteans, in 1882. The death of Will broke up the act, and Carl joined Thatcher, Primrose and West’s Minstrels July 3, 1885. A few weeks after this he left the company to become a partner with George Wilson in his company, which was known as Barlow, Wilson and Rankin’s Minstrels.

[263]

Carl Rankin’s last appearance was with Lew Dockstader’s permanent minstrel company in New York, which he joined in 1887.

Carl Rankin had a superb bass voice, and as a comedian had developed into one of the best in minstrelsy. His death was a severe blow to the profession.

Rit Rankin died in Columbus, Ohio, December 11, 1881.

Will Rankin died in Philadelphia, January 31, 1885; age 30 years.

Carl Rankin was born in Columbus, Ohio, October, 1859; he died in Philadelphia, November 25, 1888.

Harrigan and Hart formed a partnership in the Spring of 1871. Prior to this Tony Hart, who was known as Master Anthony Cannon, appeared with various minstrel companies as a ballad singer.

February 26, 1872, they began an engagement with Arlington, Cotton and Kemble’s Minstrels in Chicago. In later years they each played in black-face on several occasions, notably Mr. Harrigan as “Pete.” Mr. Hart was probably the best “genteel wench” that ever trod the boards.

Edw. Harrigan was born in New York, October 26, 1845.

Tony Hart (Anthony Cannon) was born in Worcester, Mass., July 25, 1855; he died there November 4, 1891.

George Robert Guy, the senior member of the famous Guy Family, blacked his face for the first time in 1863, and has been successfully following his profession ever since; and is now fairly in sight of the half-century mark as a minstrel performer. This is a record that is probably unique in the annals of minstrelsy; more than forty-seven years continuously and exclusively as a black-face performer; and the end is not in sight, for those who know, declare George Guy is as alert and active as any performer of half his years.

Mr. Guy’s first appearance was in New York in 1863, dressed as a little clown; the following week at Newark, N. J., he blacked his face for the first time.

About two years later, with his brother Willie, they joined Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., remaining several months, subsequently playing an engagement with Geo. Christy’s in New York.

October 1, 1866, they were at the opening performance of Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels in New York, where Mr. Guy and his brother soon after produced for the first time on any stage, Mr. Guy claims, a “boy and girl” duet, portraits of which may be seen elsewhere. Mr. Guy continued with Kelly and Leon for several years, and in the Summer of 1869 went to England with Smith and Taylor’s Minstrels, and later appeared with Moore and Burgess’ Company in London. About 1870 he joined Harry Robinson’s Minstrels, and some months later was with Welch, Hughes and White in Brooklyn, N. Y.

Next came the organization of the Guy Bros. Minstrels; subsequently the Guy Family in concerts, after which the Guy Bros. Minstrels were reorganized, and Mr. Guy has been continuously identified with that company for more than thirty-five years. For several seasons past he has been sole proprietor and manager. Truly George Guy is a monument to the profession he so befittingly represents.

George R. Guy was born in Hartford, Conn., October 7, 1855.

[264]

THE FROHMANS IN MINSTRELSY.

Gus Frohman was manager of Callender’s Colored Minstrels in 1874; early in 1882 he was one of the proprietors. He was born in Sandusky, Ohio, about 1855.

Daniel Frohman became advance agent for Callender’s Colored Minstrels in 1874; subsequently he was with Haverly in an executive ability. Mr. Frohman was born in Sandusky, Ohio, about 1850.

Charles Frohman, one of the world’s foremost theatrical managers, was treasurer for Haverly’s Mastodon Minstrels at their inception in Chicago, October 21, 1878. In 1880 he went to Europe with them, and while there, December 25, 1880, the members of the company, to show the high esteem in which they held their treasurer, presented him with a handsome gold watch, chain and locket suitably engraved.

Mr. Frohman subsequently became manager of the company and continued with Haverly until January, 1882, when he left, and in conjunction with his brother Gus, became proprietor of Callender’s Colored Minstrels a few weeks later, and continued with that company about three years.

Charles Frohman was born in Sandusky, Ohio, July 20 or 22, 1857.

Foster and Hughes were one of the great black-face acrobatic song and dance teams of the minstrel and variety stage. They formed an alliance about 1876 and continued for several years.

They traveled with their own specialty company in 1886. Subsequent to their separation, Mr. Foster married Fannie Lewis, and did an act with her up to the time of his death.

Mr. Hughes joined John Slavin in a knockabout act after separating from Mr. Foster; he has retired from the stage.

Dave Foster (Patterson) died in New York, December 6, 1898.

Artie Hughes (Quigg) was born in Albany, N. Y., March 28, 1855.

John T. Kelly, the favorite Irish comedian, was an end man with Leavitt’s Minstrels. Ask him when.

Mr. Kelly was born in Boston, Mass., August 26, 1855.

Wm. F. Hoey, better known to later generations of playgoers as “Old Hoss,” was one of the cleverest of black-face musical comedians. His first appearance was in his native city at the Thirty-fourth Street Theatre in 1873.

In 1875 he formed a partnership with John F. Fields, and as Fields and Hoey continued until 1878; during this period they played an engagement with Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels in 1876.

In 1878 they dissolved partnership, and Mr. Hoey subsequently and for several seasons did an excruciatingly funny act with Fred Bryant.

Bryant and Hoey played with Thatcher and Ryman’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Minstrels in New York.

In 1882 Mr. Hoey, Bryant, and Charles E. Evans formed the “Meteors,” Hoey appearing in a sketch called the “Book-Agent,” as a tramp; this was the inception of the “Parlor Match,” with which he was identified for several years.

[265]

W. S. BUDWORTH E. M. HALL
LEW. BRIMMER TOM. WARFIELD
DANA H. CLAUDIUS HARRY STANWOOD
BRILLIANT BANJOISTS OF MINSTRELSY.

[266]

Mr. Hoey was married to Helena French, of the French Twin Sisters, and was a brother of James F. Hoey.

William F. Hoey was born in New York City, January 1, 1855; he died there June 9, 1897.

The Russell Bros., famous for many years in practically every variety and vaudeville theatre in the land for their great act, the “Irish Servant Girls,” began their professional career in January, 1877, doing the old-time specialty of changing from white to black in full view of the audience.

About 1880 they joined Woodson and Allen’s Minstrels, James doing an end, and John singing in the first part.

John Russell was born in New York City August 19, 1854.

James Russell was born in New York City October 26, 1859.

Hyde And Behman, whose theatre in Brooklyn, N. Y., for many years played all the prominent black-face, as well as other luminaries, were the proprietors and managers of a first-class minstrel organization bearing their names in 1885.

Richard Hyde was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., May 22, 1849.

Louis Behman was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., June 4, 1855; he died there, February 27, 1902.

Frank C. Geyer, an excellent acrobatic song and dance man, made his first professional appearance at Deagle’s Varieties, St. Louis, Mo.; shortly after this he formed a partnership with George A. Turner and Billy Mendel, being known as the Big 3; Mendel soon dropped out, and the team was known as Geyer and Turner, and as such continued for several years, finally separating. Mr. Geyer then allied himself with James B. Mackie, and as Geyer and Mackie they continued giving black-face specialties; subsequently the team was known as Geyer and Sylvester, and Geyer and Lord.

He managed the opera house at Bellaire, Ohio, several years.

Mr. Geyer’s first wife was Amy Nelson, a prima donna, with whom he was professionally associated a considerable period; subsequently he married Mamie Forrest, of the Forrest Sisters; they played the principal variety houses.

He traveled with O’Brien’s Circus for two years; and was one of the three Geyer Brothers—Frank, Charles and Albert; an odd coincidence concerning the latter was that for a brief period he did a black-face song and dance act with Frank Turner, of the Three Turner Brothers, known as Turner and Geyer; in one case a Turner was associated with one of the Three Geyer Brothers; in the other a Geyer worked with one of the Three Turner Brothers; the two Turners were not related.

Frank C. Geyer was born in Newark, N. J., September 5, 1855; he died at Lexington, Mo., June 4, 1900.

Donald Harold (O’Donnell Harrold) was once the “boy tenor”; you wouldn’t think so to see him now, but bear in mind that was in 1872, on the first day of that year at Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

Mr. Harold continued with the minstrels until August, same year; his voice changing, he also changed his job, and two years and one month later[267] he identified himself with the famous Holman Opera Troupe, remaining until May 20, 1878.

Since that date Mr. Harold has been associated with many musical and farcical productions—but no minstrels.

Donald Harold was born in Philadelphia, December 5, 1855.

Bobby Beach (Anin W. Gardner) entered the theatrical profession at the age of 15, doing a contortion act; subsequently developing into a good dancer.

He was with Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Minstrels in 1881, and about a year or so later with Otis Bowers formed the Beach and Bowers Minstrels, which were prominent for several seasons.

He was seriously injured while doing a pedestal act.

Bobby Beach was born in Rome, N. Y.; he died in Watertown, Wis., December 1, 1905; age 50 years.

Tommy Harris (McGuigan), one of the very few men left capable of playing the old-time nigger acts, made his first appearance at Fox’s Theatre, Philadelphia, in 1875, with a partner, whose name was Ward; the team name being Ward and Harrison; subsequently they played an engagement in Philadelphia with Skiff and Gaylord’s Minstrels; late in 1876 they separated. His next partner was Jack McNeil; joining Fattie Stewart’s Company, the team was accidently billed as Harris and McNeil; and Harris it has remained ever since. In 1879 they joined the Three Arnold Bros. Minstrels, and while with this company they dissolved partnership; McNeil died about 1902.

Mr. Harris then played variety engagements with his wife, the team being known as the Harrises, until 1889; he then taking a stock engagement at the Odeon, Baltimore, remaining there 10 years.

A season with his son and daughter, known as the 3 Harrises followed; then he worked with his daughter Laura (now of Cartmell and Harris) for about four years, after which he joined Lew Simmons for a season; then a brief season as one of the 4 Cartmells, after which was Smith and Harris.

Tommy Harris was born in Philadelphia, February 3, 1855.

Harry Kennedy (W. H. Kennedy), the well-known ventriloquist and song writer, played many minstrel engagements, notably with Haverly’s Mastodons.

In the Fall of 1884 he was associated with Billy Birch with the San Francisco Minstrels.

Harry Kennedy was born in Manchester, Eng.; he died in Brooklyn, N. Y., January 3, 1894; age 39 years.

Charley Reed. “Just the Plain Comedian” he was termed, and he was a comedian, as anyone who remembers him will testify.

Charley Reed’s professional career began and ended in white-face, but the major portion of it was given to minstrelsy, where he was always a star.

About 1872 he went to the California Theatre in San Francisco, where he became successively call-boy, prompter and low comedian.

In 1873 he joined Maguire’s Minstrels at the latter’s opera house in the[268] Western metropolis. August 31, 1874, he opened for the season in Philadelphia with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels; the following August he joined Emerson’s Minstrels in Cincinnati. In 1876 he returned to San Francisco, and for the next three years he continued there with the minstrels at Maguire’s Opera House and comedian at the Bella Union Theatre.

July 7, 1879, with a variety company under the management of Martin Simon, he sailed for Australia, remaining away for more than a year. On February 7, 1881, he began an engagement with Thatcher and Ryman’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

A season with “Muldoon’s Picnic,” with Hyde & Behman, and Mr. Reed returned with Emerson’s Minstrels in San Francisco, subsequently becoming a partner of Emerson, and later Charley Reed’s Minstrels held sway at the Standard Theatre until April 10, 1886. August 16, 1886, he opened at the Madison Street Theatre in Chicago, with a minstrel company. He continued here a few weeks, and in the following October he appeared with Lew Dockstader’s Minstrels in New York, playing a brief engagement; this was his last appearance in black-face. Later he appeared as Ko-Ko in the “Mikado,” “A Rag Baby,” “City Directory” and other farcical plays.

At the time of his death he was associated in partnership with William Collier in “Hoss and Hoss.”

Charley Reed was born in New York City, May 22, 1855; he died in Boston, Mass., November 21, 1892.


Nat. C. Goodwin in minstrelsy? Why, yes. He commenced an engagement with Haverly’s Minstrels at Chicago, September 11, 1876, doing a specialty consisting chiefly of imitations.


Griffin and Rice ranked with the premier black-face song and dance teams of minstrelsy.

They made their first appearance as an act in Pittsburg, Pa., about 1873. September 15, 1875, they opened with Buckley’s Serenaders in Boston; the season closed October 25, 1875.

December 20, same year, they began an engagement with Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, and continued throughout the season.

On November 20, 1876, they opened with Sweatnam’s Minstrels, also in the Quaker City, an engagement that terminated December 16. Two days later they returned to Carncross and Dixey, where they remained the major portion of the time until the dissolution of their partnership in 1883.

In June, 1878, they played a limited engagement with Neil Bryant’s Minstrels in New York. August 6, 1880, they were with Sweatnam and Dougherty’s Minstrels, and September 6, 1881, with Murphy and Morton, opened with George Thatcher’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, as Murphy, Morton, Griffin and Rice.

In 1883 Mr. Rice broke away from his black-face affiliations, and with Geo. S. Knight’s “Over the Garden Wall,” played a German comedy role.

About 1885 Mr. Rice formed a partnership with Geo. W. Monroe, and for several years they starred in “My Aunt Bridget.” Subsequently he was identified with May Irwin’s and other high-class farcical productions.

Mr. Rice excels as a neat dancer, and as a light comedian, leaves nothing to be desired.

[269]

CHARLES HILLIARD.

[270]

Of course, everyone knows that Sallie Cohen, of Rice and Cohen, is none other than Mrs. John C. Rice; as a guess, the author would say the change occurred about 1890.

James Griffin formed a partnership with Ned Ainsley in the late 60’s, doing black-face songs and dances, and as Ainsley and Griffin were together for several years.

In 1872 Mr. Griffin was with Purdy, Scott and Fostelle’s Minstrels.

After separating from Mr. Rice, Griffin played engagements with Carncross’ Minstrels in Philadelphia and Lew Dockstader’s Minstrels, in New York City; in 1893, he made a trip to South Africa with Serrill’s Minstrels.

He also played in various melodramatic productions.

John C. Rice (Hildeberg) was born in Beaver Kills, N. Y.—the reader must guess the rest.

James Griffin (McNally) was born in Rochester, N. Y., September 10, 1852; he died in Philadelphia, May 10, 1904.

Fred Hallen (Smith), prominent for many years as one of the famous farcical duo of Hallen and Hart, was “Master Ad. Weaver” as late as April, 1875, doing black-face parts in acts with that once well-known minstrel, Ad Weaver.

If Mr. Hallen has any regrets, he doesn’t look it.

Harry Le Clair, the famous protean player, had his experience with cork.

About 1876, at the Terrace Garden, Buffalo, N. Y., Manager Dan Shelby suddenly confronted LeClair and asked him if he could play Topsy. Mr. LeClair said he could play pinochle and seven up, but had never heard of Topsy, except in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” That’s the same party, said Shelby. So Mr. LeClair blacked up, and he blacked-down, he blacked in and he blacked out; he blacked his lips and he blacked his teeth; and he probably would still be blacking if the cork had not run out. After the show they had to run him through a washing machine to un-black him.

Smith and Byrne were a well-known black-face musical act thirty years ago. Their first appearance was at Washington Hall in New York, in 1878, on which occasion they introduced the famous “dislocated organ” solos, of which Mr. Byrne claims to be the originator—and to date no one has disputed it.

The team separated in 1884; Mr. Smith later ran for several years Smith’s Opera House in Bridgeport, Conn.

Mr. Byrne became a monologuist, but before that, a pessimist.

He is now a playwright, and is willing to prove it on the slightest provocation.

Ed C. Smith is said to be a resident of Boston or its environs.

John H. W. Byrne was born in Celbridge, Ireland, May 4, 1855.

Harry Lacy, the well-known actor, and star for many years in the “Still Alarm,” was a member of Harry Robinson’s Minstrels as early as March 29, 1873, 8:15 P. M.

He sang a ballad in the first part, and sang it well.

[271]

Michael F. Hennessy, one of the Hennessy Bros., was a well-known minstrel performer. He went to Europe with Haverly in 1884; subsequently appearing with other companies. For two seasons he was associated with Hennessy Bros. Minstrels.

His last engagement was with Cushman and Thomas’ Minstrels. He died in Milford, Mass., April 24, 1890; age 35 years.

Percy G. Williams, the prominent vaudeville manager and theatre owner, played many black-face parts while a member of the Park Theatre, Brooklyn, N. Y., Stock Company, many years ago. To be specific, he enacted the role of Goliah, a colored boy, in the play of “Echoes” week of October 23, 1876. I have the programme.

Dan Mason, the tangled Teutonic talker, was a comedian on the minstrel first part at the old National Theatre, Cincinnati, Ohio, in the Spring of 1874.

Dan says that was the beginning of the “end.”

Mr. Mason was born in Syracuse, N. Y., February 9, 1855.

Niles and Evans were an excellent song and dance team; Mr. Evans’ “make-up” as a wench was something remarkable. They made their first joint appearance at Rochester, N. Y., January 1, 1872, appearing in white faces in “Under the Gaslight.”

They subsequently played in black-face, and made their initial appearance in minstrelsy with John Hooley’s Company in Brooklyn, N. Y., in April, 1873; they remained a few weeks and liked it so well that they joined Purdy and White’s Minstrels May 19 following. There is reason to believe that they did not like this so well. In December, 1874, Mr. Evans temporarily retired, and with Burt Wayne, Mr. Niles joined Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels.

Subsequently they again joined hands and continued until March 18, 1882; owing to the illness of Mr. Niles, they made their last appearance as a team in Louisville, Ky., on the above date.

Mr. Evans’ career since then is well known.

On August 18, 1882, he formed an alliance with Bryant and Hoey, and for two years headed a variety company in which the principal act was that of the “Book Agent”; this was the inception of “A Parlor Match,” which was first produced September 5, 1884, and which had a continuous run for ten years, since which time Mr. Evans has been successfully manager, producer, actor and vaudevillian.

P. J. Niles was born in Syracuse, N. Y., February 8, 1851; he died at Lewis Station, N. Y., October 17, 1882.

Charles E. Evans was born in Rochester, N. Y., September 6, 1856.

Delmore and Wilson are recognized as clever performers in white face, but that they were equally clever disguised with cork, not all are aware. They made their first appearance in Hoboken, N. J. (most anyone can tell you where it is), in 1880, doing a neat black-face character change act.

Their first minstrel engagement was with Cal. Wagner in 1884; subsequently they played with the following well-known companies: Duprez and Benedict’s; Barlow Bros. and Frost’s; Hi Henry’s; Beach and Bower’s;[272] two seasons with Carncross’ Minstrels, in Philadelphia; their last appearance in black-face was with Haverly’s Minstrels about fifteen years ago.

Subsequently they played six seasons with “Finnigan’s Ball” and two years with “The Irish Pawnbrokers.” These gentlemen also played several weeks in London and the provinces, and thirteen weeks in South Africa.

Len Delmore was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., March 23, 1861.

Fred Wilson was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., September 10, 1856.

Jerry Hart is a black-face comedian whom we should see more of, and I am sure we will.

Mr. Hart was raised in New Orleans, La., which gave him an opportunity of studying the “darky” at close range.

During Mr. Hart’s career he was associated with such companies as Barlow, Wilson and Rankin’s; Haverly’s; Al. G. Fields’, and Schilling’s Minstrels.

In 1897 he starred with Ned Monroe in the “Gay Matinee Girl.”

About ten years ago he went to England, and later to Africa, where Hart and Leo played for eight years.

Jerry Hart was born in Boston, Mass., January 23, 1856.

James M. Tierney made his first professional appearance at the age of 10 years; he was billed as Master Eddy.

About 1872 he joined Tim Cronin, and as Tierney and Cronin they constituted one of the best song and dance teams of their day, during which period they played the principal variety houses, and some of the famous minstrel organizations, notably Kelly and Leon’s; Neil Bryant’s and Hooley’s, in Brooklyn.

Mr. Tierney separated from Cronin about 1881, subsequently engaging with Harrigan and Hart in New York; he left them April 18, 1885, after which he joined the Alice Oates Company, where he remained until his death.

James M. Tierney was born in New York in 1856; he died in St. Louis, Mo., July 28, 1885.

Billie Barlow (Wm. S. Wyatt), a clever female impersonator who was with Hi Henry’s Minstrels in 1888, died in Mobile, Ala., September 2, 1897; age 41 years.

Fred. Dart was considered one of the best and most versatile “wenches” in minstrelsy; he was for many years with Sam Hague’s Minstrels in Liverpool, and when Mr. Hague came to this country in 1881, Mr. Dart was with him, subsequently joining Carncross’ Minstrels in Philadelphia, where he remained until the time of his death.

Fred Dart was born in Liverpool, England; he died in Philadelphia, March 30, 1890; age 34 years.

Billy (Wm. H.) Chace began his professional career in his native city, doing an “essence” in black-face; this was in September, 1870. His first minstrel show was Huntley’s Minstrels; other minstrel engagements were Harry Robinson’s; I. W. Baird’s; Barlow, Wilson’s; Emerson’s; Alex Comstock’s. With Will Culhane and Wm. R. Weston they traveled as Culhane, Chace and Weston’s Minstrels for 8 years.

[273]

EDNA MAY SPOONER SALLIE COHEN CECIL SPOONER
TRIXIE FRIGANZA LOTTA JENNIE YEAMANS
MAUDE RAYMOND ARTIE HALL BEVERLY SITGREAVES
THEY ALL BLACKED UP.

[274]

He was of the song and dance teams of Chace and Davis, Chace and Yale and Chace and Buckley.

Other engagements were Washburn’s “Last Sensation,” 3 years; at the Theatre Comique, Providence, R. I., 3 years, and Rentz-Santley Company, 3 years; also clown with Howe’s London Circus and other circus engagements; James R. Waites Company, 3 years, and played Joshua Simpkins in the play of that name for one season, also with Rice and Barton’s Company.

Mr. Chace was married to Miss Kitty Elzel, at Worcester, Mass., April 18, 1882; subsequently he became the husband of Henrietta St. Felix, of the 4 St. Felix Sisters, at Bainbridge, Ga., February 1, 1893.

Mr. Chace says that he is of the opinion that Chace and Davis at the Wigwam Theatre, Paterson, N. J., February, 1873, were the first to do a black-face “gagging” turn; I place it up to my readers.

Billy Chace was born May 31, 1856; at Providence, R. I.

LEW DOCKSTADER (Geo. Alfred Clapp).

Minstrelsy didn’t commence with Lew Dockstader, but Lew Dockstader commenced with minstrelsy, and has been associated with it ever since, always appearing in black face, a distinction enjoyed but by few burnt-cork artists. Mr. Dockstader’s success is due to many things, the most conspicuous being his ability to ascertain just what the public wants and when it wants it; and then giving it to them.

The name of Dockstader has been a household word for many years; the fame of Dockstader will live forever.

Mr. Dockstader’s initial appearance dates back to 1873, when, in his native city he was a member of an amateur organization by the very minstrel name of Earl, Emmett and Wild’s Minstrels; with Frank Lawton he did a song and dance act under the team name of Lawton and Clapp. That there was some class even at that early date to the great artist in embryo, is evinced from the fact that the late Harry Bloodgood, who was at that time organizing a company, engaged young Clapp, and he forthwith became a member of Bloodgood’s Comic Alliance, opening in Springfield, Mass., about September 1, 1873, and continuing the season.

The following year he formed a partnership with Johnny Mack, and as Mack and Clapp joined Whitmore and Clark’s Minstrels, remaining until the Spring of the next year.

From 1875 to 1876 he was associated with Mart Healy, also Healy and Ella Saunders, playing the variety houses, and billed as the “Big Three.” Then something happened. Mr. Dockstader fell into some money; but how fall out? Have a theatre of your own, someone suggested. Accordingly, on the 11th day of September, 1876, Newton’s Varieties, in Hartford, Conn., was opened under the management of Lew Clapp; four weeks later the name of the theatre was changed to the Adelphi and as the Adelphi it continued until January 13 following, when Mr. Clapp surrendered the reins of management to the more venerable Ad. Weaver.

LEW. DOCKSTADER.

[275]

Thinking he had said goodby to the theatrical business for good and all, Mr. Clapp (who still retained some of his inheritance) set out for California, where he reached in due time. This was before the day of “Seeing San Francisco” cars were in evidence; nevertheless he saw all that was worth seeing before it dawned upon him that the end of his money had been nearly reached.

Fate in the guise of Cogill and Cooper appeared on the scene, and in May, 1877, opened the new Adelphi Theatre in the great Western metropolis; Lew Clapp doing a song and dance, “Peter, You’re in Luck This Morning,” was one of the features of the bill.

After a pleasant and profitable engagement of several months he joined Sargent’s Minstrels for a tour, opening early in September and closing in Sacramento, Cal., December 10, 1877.

He gradually worked his way to New York, where in August, 1878, he formed a partnership with Charles Dockstader, doing black-face songs and dances; the alliance, which was known as the Dockstader Brothers, continued until the illness of Charles Dockstader caused a severance of their business relations in Philadelphia, in March, 1883. Mr. Dockstader made his initial appearance with his new partner in Jersey City, September, 1878; they remained there several weeks.

Their first minstrel engagement was with Jerry Thomas’ Minstrels in New York at the Brighton Theatre (present site of Bijou) December 30, 1878.

They then played the principal variety houses until the commencement of the season of 1880 when they joined Carncross’ Minstrels in Philadelphia for the season; the following year they returned there, and remained until about January 1, 1882, when they joined George Thatcher’s Minstrels, also in Philadelphia, for a brief engagement, terminating January 21st; a week later they opened with Haverly’s Minstrels in St. Louis, Mo., for the balance of the season.

In the Fall of 1882 they again returned to Carncross’, in Philadelphia, where after the sickness of Charles Dockstader in March, 1883, Lew Dockstader remained until the season closed; drawing the double salary for his individual services, and generously sharing it with his afflicted partner.

Mr. Dockstader began his fourth season with Carncross in the Fall of 1883; he continued there until the Spring of 1886. On the 17th day of September that year, Dockstader’s Minstrels opened as a permanent institution in New York City, where for more than three years he held forth, surrounded at all times with the luminaries of the minstrel world; during this period he made a trip to California with his company.

The final performance was given December 9, 1889.

December 23, 1889, he opened with Hermann’s Trans-Oceanic Vaudeville Company for a limited engagement.

The following month he became a member of Primrose and West’s Minstrels and continued with them until the Spring of 1891, after which he joined George Thatcher’s Minstrels in San Francisco, and finished the season with that company.

Dockstader’s Minstrels were next organized for a road tour and made their first appearance at Dayton, Ohio, July 23, 1891. They traveled successfully until February 20, 1895; on that date giving their closing performance in Cincinnati.

Mr. Dockstader immediately entered vaudeville, and continued in it successfully[276] until 1898, when in connection with George Primrose, a minstrel company bearing their names was organized. It traveled for five years during which time it gave universal satisfaction.

In 1903 Mr. Dockstader again headed his own aggregation; each year since then successfully conducting it on lines that have long since made it synonymous with all that is best in minstrelsy.

Mr. Dockstader does what no other black-face monologuist has ever attempted, namely, to give a different specialty every season, each one being an expensive scenic affair that requires generally a full stage to properly produce.

Lew Dockstader was born in Hartford, Conn., August 7, 1856.

Tom Sadler, a well-known comedian, was a member of Haverly’s Mastodons at their inception in 1878; he went to England with them in 1880, and continued with them several years after. He was of the team of Green and Sadler, and later Morton and Sadler. Mr. Sadler was born in Nashville, Tenn., October 16, 1856; he died in Liverpool, England, December 31, 1893.

Billy Stiles (Lyons), a well-known performer of three decades ago, who was at one time connected with Haverly’s Minstrels, and Washburn’s Circus, was a native of Bridgeport, Conn. He died in Newark, N. J., October 10, 1909; age 53 years.

Rice and Barton, famous for many years for their burlesque productions, did a great black-face act in 1882, and three years later headed Rice and Barton’s Minstrels.

Rice and Barton were brothers, and up to the time of the death of the former, comprised one of the oldest theatrical partnerships in existence.

George W. Rice (Swope) was born in Three Springs, Pa., September 13, 1858; he died at Centreport, Long Island, N. Y., December 22, 1909.

Charles Barton (Swope) was born in Three Springs, Pa., in 1856.

Chas. H. Yale had a varied experience as a black-face performer before he could tack the words, “Manager of Devil’s Auction,” to his name.

Mr. Yale first appeared professionally at Haverhill, Mass., in 1873, doing a black-face banjo act. He next worked in acts with Neil Burgess, in white-face. Subsequently he did a black-face act with George Austin, and later with Harry Fielding.

About 1875 he formed a partnership with Al. Decker, and as Yale and Decker they traveled for several seasons. Mr. Yale also achieved marked success as a pantomimist.

Charles H. Yale was born at Laconia, N. H., February 13, 1856.

The Hogan Bros. formed a partnership in the middle 70’s, doing black-face songs and dances; their greatest success was with the “Happy Hottentots.”

They had been with various minstrel and specialty companies during the eighteen years they were associated together.

Harry Hogan had been business manager at the Bijou Theatre in Jersey City, N. J., almost fifteen years.

Gus Hogan had been manager for various burlesque companies, after their separation.

[277]

NED—GOSS & FOX—JAS.
(Portraits reversed)
JAS.—GRIFFIN & RICE—JOHN C.
(1875)
(Portraits reversed)
JNO. F.—FIELDS & HOEY—WM. F.
(Portraits reversed)

[278]

Harry Hogan (Hornidge) was born in New York, in 1857; he died in Jersey City, N. J., October 26, 1905.

Gus Hogan (Rohling) was born in New York; he died at Fair Haven, N. J., May 30, 1908; age 50 years.

Hooley and Thompson formed a partnership about 1871, doing black-face songs and dances.

Their first prominent engagement was with Welch, Hughes and White’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y. They were with Haverly’s Mastodons in 1878, and went to Europe with them in 1880, and continued with Haverly some time after that.

Subsequently they were with Wilson and Rankin’s Minstrels. In September, 1887, they joined Rice, Hart, and Ryman’s Minstrels; this was their last joint engagement.

They separated about August, 1888; Mr. Hooley subsequently acting in an official capacity at his uncle’s (R. M. Hooley) theatre in Chicago.

Mr. Thompson afterward played in white-face with Joe Murphy’s Irish dramas, and for several seasons was the latter’s manager.

Bob Hooley was born in Brooklyn, N. Y.; he, died in Chicago, Ill., January 24, 1899.

Dan Thompson (Sallows) was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., August 27, 1857.

Maurice Haley, one of the original Electric Three, comprising Callan, Haley and Callan, was a comedian and dancer, and one of the organizers of the Electric Three Minstrels about 1887.

He died in New York August 28, 1890; age 33 years.

J. W. Kelly (Shields), famous the country over as the “Rolling Mill Man,” and one of the greatest natural wits the world ever knew, did a black-face act with Charles Dockstader at the London Theatre, New York, on the night of October 23, 1884, called “Worse and Worse.”

Mr. Kelly, who was a wonderful Irish comedian, was born in Philadelphia, in 1857; he died in New York, June 26, 1896.

Tim Cronin made his first appearance at the “House of Commons” in 1869. This was not the famous place where the Britishers make their laws; not, not; for Timothy did not have political aspirations for many years after that.

It was in 1870 that he played his first minstrel engagement as “Master Charley,” doing a jig and song and dance, with Bryant’s Company in his native city.

A year or two later he joined James Tierney, and as Tierney and Cronin one of their great acts was the “Ashante Recruits.”

During the decade they were together they played several important minstrel engagements, such as Kelly and Leon’s; Neil Bryant’s, and Hooley’s, in Brooklyn, N. Y. With Tierney and Lester and Allen, Mr. Cronin formed the “Four Aces” in 1877, continuing as a quartette for one season.

Mr. Cronin next went with Harrigan and Hart in New York, where about 1881 he left Tierney, and subsequently allied himself with Master Martin, Dan Waldron and William Smith, and for several seasons traveled as the “Big 4.” In 1886 he joined Lew Dockstader’s Minstrels at their permanent home in New York City.

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For several years Mr. Cronin has been playing white-face comedy parts, the first of which was with Tony Hart in “A Toy Pistol”; he continued with Hart until the sad ending of the latter’s career.

Since then he has been identified with many famous farcical fellows, and also has to his credit a three-year engagement with Augustin Daly in New York.

After Mr. Cronin’s long experience in the varieties, it was but natural that he should take “A Trip to the Vaudevilles”; and he did; George M. Cohan wrote it, and Tim Cronin played it in fourteen parts; that is, he portrayed fourteen different characters.

Tim Cronin was born in New York City, November 4, 1857.

Connors and Kelly. Jimmy Connors, of the old team of Connors and Kelly, joined the latter about 1871, and continued together 19 years. They went to England in 1876, and remained eight years. He was once of the “Big 4.”

Maggie Weston, well known for her comedy characterizations of the rough Irish woman, was his wife; they were married July 3, 1888.

Jimmy Connors was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., April 1856; he died in New York City, January 3, 1909.

Jimmy Kelly died about 15 years ago.

“Buck” Sheffer (Chas. Sheffer) at a very early age appeared in acts with Otto Burbank. In the middle 70’s he worked with Bob Slavin, as Sheffer and Slavin, subsequently appearing with Mike Foley, as Sheffer and Foley.

About 1880 he joined Harry Blakely and continued with him until the death of the latter.

In the character of a rough wench he excelled.

Of late years Mr. Sheffer has been working in vaudeville with his daughter, a young lady of unusual talents.

“Buck” Sheffer was born in Baltimore, Md., January 25, 1857.

Harry Blakely (Blacklock) joined Sheffer about 1880, and together were one of the greatest teams of their day in the characters of plantation negroes. Prior to Mr. Blakely’s stage appearance, he was a page in Congress for many years, and was a man of unusual intelligence.

Harry Blakely was born in Alexandria, Va., 1859; he died in New York City, June 1, 1891.

John Blackford, a most excellent portrayer of the plantation darky, was with Cleveland’s Minstrels season of 1895-96, and 1898 he was a member of Haverly’s last minstrel company; he subsequently joined Al. G. Field’s Minstrels, where he remained until his death.

Mr. Blackford’s “Coon from Arkansaw” was one of the gems of latter day minstrelsy.

John Blackford died at Charleston, W. Va., December 7, 1903; age 46 years.

Fred A. Bell (Herrick) with his partner, Sam Howe, created considerable stir by dancing a clog on a marble pedestal and turning a somersault in the[280] air. He was with Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Minstrels in 1881, and the following season joined the Barlow, Wilson Minstrels.

Fred A. Bell was born in Toledo, Ohio; he died in Louisville, Ky., March 17, 1884; age 27 years.

Pete Mack (McGlone), the well-known and capable comedian, joined J. C. Harrington about 1873, doing double songs and dances; the partnership continued about four years, when Mr. Mack, who was working under his own name, went with the New Orleans Minstrels. October 21, 1878, using the name of Mack, he joined Haverly’s Original Mastodon Minstrels in Chicago, and continued with Mr. Haverly off and on for several seasons; in the Fall of 1881 he was with Emerson’s Minstrels in San Francisco.

Mr. Mack was with Haverly on the latter’s second trip to England, in 1884; while there he received an offer from “Pony” Moore to join Moore and Burgess’ Minstrels in London; he accepted and remained several seasons.

Subsequently he was with Dockstader’s Minstrels in New York City, and with the “City Directory”; his last engagement was with Donnelly and Girard in “Natural Gas”; always appearing in black-face.

Pete Mack died in Pittsburgh, Pa., March 15, 1892; age 35 years.

Wm. R. Weston, of the firm of Culhane, Chace and Weston’s Minstrels, previous to the inception of that organization in the middle 90’s, was with Emerson’s Minstrels and Dockstader’s Minstrels. Was also with Reilly and Woods Co., and the St. Felix Sisters organizations. He was an accomplished musician and leader.

At the time of his death he was musical director of the orchestra at the Music Hall, Yonkers, N. Y.

His wife was Charlotte St. Felix, of the 4 St. Felix Sisters.

William R. Weston was born at Stafford, Conn., April 6, 1857; he died at Brooklyn, N. Y., September 25, 1906.

David Belasco.—The author had been told that the subject of this sketch played black-face parts during his very early career in San Francisco; and on September 12, 1910, wrote to Mr. Belasco asking him to verify the report.

Under date of November 7, 1910, Mr. Belasco sent the following:

“Pray pardon me for the delay in replying to your letter, but I have been much absent from town and my time wholly occupied with rehearsals.

“I am sorry to say that I’m afraid I can’t give you any definite information, as it is from twenty to twenty-five years ago, and I really don’t remember. I only recollect that I played many little parts. Faithfully,
David Belasco.”

Wonder if Mr. Belasco has any ideas in that fertile brain of his, as to how a minstrel show should be run? Bet he has.

Sallie Cohen played Topsy in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” when she was a little girl; she told me so herself.

But that couldn’t have been such a very long time ago; now was it, Mrs. Rice?

Sam Rickey (Rich. T. Higgins), one of the greatest stage Irishmen ever known, and who was an early partner of Edw. Harrigan, played frequently in black-face during his early career with Add. Weaver. He was also with Hart, Ryman and Barney’s Minstrels in 1871.

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JOHN A. LANG BOB. TYRRELL RAYMOND SHAW
HAYDON TILLA THOS. B. DIXON HARRY SHIRLEY
GEO. W. HARLEY HARRY W. ROE HORACE RUSHBY
MORE SINGERS.

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He died in New York, September 10, 1885.

Edmond G. Corbin, the Apollo banjoist, formerly of Claudius and Corbin, Hale and Corbin, and just Corbin, was one of the features of the Primrose and Dockstader’s Minstrels in 1901.

Mr. Corbin’s ideas of comedy frequently conflicted with those of Jas. H. Decker.

Mr. Corbin may soon mingle midst the mirthful and merry monologists.

Edmond G. Corbin was born in Troy, N. Y., May 23, 1877.

Will J. Davis, the popular and efficient manager of the beautiful Illinois Theatre in Chicago, writing to the author from Hot Springs, Ark., March 27, 1909, said: * * * “Lew Dockstader is billed for a night here about the middle of April. Wish I could stay to see the performance.”

Of course, you did, Mr. Davis, for you haven’t forgotten your associations with Jack Haverly, and when you took his famous Georgia Minstrels to California in 1876. They were the first real colored troupe to visit the coast; their success there was in no small way due to your executive ability. Then there was a “Will Davis’ Minstrels” that toured Canada, some years ago. Wonder who that was?

“Coal Oil Johnny” (John W. Steele), whose extravagances of about 45 years ago while “financial manager” of Skiff and Gaylord’s Minstrels, are yet recalled by many in and out of the profession, is said to be living quietly in Hazleton, Pa.

“Coal Oil Johnny” was a poor boy in the 60’s, when his foster parents, who had suddenly acquired fabulous wealth through the finding of oil on their property, died and left their all to young Steele. Then came a riotous round of dissipations and extravagances. It was a common thing for Steele to buy a carriage and team, and a few minutes later give it away to any stranger he happened to meet. It is said he gave a hotel away in the same manner. Mr. Steele furnished the money for the minstrels, and diamonds for the promoters, on the sole condition that his name should be used on all printing as “financial manager,” as already stated.

It is said that he has seen no minstrel show in late years.

Chauncey Olcott, the favorite singing Irish comedian, was many years a minstrel.

On the 21st day of February, 1876, Mr. Olcott, full of hope, became a member of the Alabama Serenaders, a minstrel company, which closed at St. Thomas, Canada, at the end of the third performance. Had the treasurer of the organization been as good as the show, they might have still been traveling.

In the Fall of the same year he joined Lew Benedict’s Minstrels. Mr. Olcott’s banner year as a minstrel was in 1879; here’s the record. September 13, opened with Simmons and Slocum’s Company in Philadelphia; November 27, he played a full season with the Three Rankin’s Minstrels, opening at Columbus, Ohio, on the above date, and closing with the company (which also closed) November 27, 1879, after a consecutive run of one consecutive night. Was Mr. Olcott discouraged? Not much; he became a member of Haverly’s[283] Mastodons at Buffalo, N. Y.; prior to which he was with Hooley and Emerson’s Megatherians. July 31, 1880, he opened with Haverly at the Drury Lane Theatre, London, England.

October 17, 1881, he opened in San Francisco with Billy Emerson’s Minstrels. About January, 1884, he married Miss Carrie Armstrong in Philadelphia.

Mr. Olcott was with Carncross’ Minstrels in Philadelphia, where he remained about two or three years. Seasons of 1884-85-86 he was with Thatcher, Primrose and West’s Minstrels. September 11, 1886, he again joined Simmons and Slocum’s Company in the Quaker City.

A short time after that he became a member of the “Old Homestead”; later he played Nanki Poo in the “Mikado”; subsequently entering the field of Irish drama.

Chauncey Olcott was born July 21, 1857, at Providence, R. I.

Harry M. Price, prominent in many musical productions for his many successes in Dutch comedy parts, was one of the Price Bros., from 1877 to 1882, doing black-face song and dance acts.

Theo. Price, his brother, has retired from active theatricals on account of illness.

Harry M. Price was born in Baltimore, Md., May 20, 1857.

Banks Winter first appeared theatrically as a member of an amateur minstrel company in his native city; that was in 1877.

Mr. Winter became a real minstrel November 9, 1879, at Dayton, Ohio, when he joined Haverly’s Mastodons—and there were others, notably Billy Arlington’s; Skiff’s California; Leavitt’s Gigantean’s; Haverly-Cleveland’s; Cleveland’s and five years with Thatcher, Primrose and West’s.

In November, 1900, Mr. Winter, accompanied by his charming and talented young daughter, entered the vaudeville field, and as Banks and Winona Winter, traveled for several seasons.

In the Fall of 1907 Mr. Winter played a brief engagement in a vaudeville act, appearing in black-face. The report that Mr. Winter didn’t black his ears or eyes on this occasion is manifestly absurd.

Mr. Winter was born in Macon, Ga., February 8, 1857; after which he wrote “White Wings”; and incidentally no one ever sang it better, for Banks Winter was one of minstrelsy’s great tenors.

John D. Gilbert (Donohue) formed a partnership with Billy Courtright about 1871, in an original black-face act called “Big and Little”; they subsequently had many imitators. Courtright and Gilbert made their first New York appearance at Charley White’s, 585 Broadway, October 12, 1872. Mr. Gilbert later eschewed burnt cork, and subsequently with Henry V. Donnelly and Eddie Girard starred in “Natural Gas.” Mr. Gilbert’s time is now mostly devoted to authoring theatrical sketches.

John D. Gilbert was born in Dublin, Ireland, September 3, 1857.

Wm. J. Sully (Sullivan) formed a partnership with Patsy Howard in 1873, doing a black-face act; they remained together one season. In 1876 he[284] joined Billy Williams, and as Williams and Sully were well known on the variety stage, where they played for eleven years.

Mr. Sully afterwards married Nellie Germon, and as Sully and Germon did sketches, also in the variety theatres.

In 1884 Williams, Sully and Germon’s “Three Sunflowers” Company toured.

Of late Mr. Sully has been doing a single specialty in vaudeville. Mr. Sully was born in Boston, Mass., June 23, 1858.

Alf Gibson, the well-known comedian, made his first appearance at Columbus, Ohio, as a clog dancer, during the festivities that attended the Goss-Allen fight.

In 1875 he was with William Lawrence Allen’s Statue Company; after this Gilmore and Gibson did a song and dance with Mons. De Rea Circus.

Several years were spent in stock at the Bella Union and Adelphi Theatres in San Francisco.

Subsequently he went to Carncross’ Minstrels in Philadelphia and remained four years.

A trip to England, and on the return he played an engagement with Haverly in Chicago, in 1893. Mr. Gibson was twelve years at Dumont’s Minstrels in Philadelphia; two seasons with George Primrose’s Minstrels, and one season with Cohan and Harris’ Minstrels (1908).

Mr. Gibson formed a partnership with John Murphy that existed twelve years.

He married a Miss Davis October 27, 1880, and as Gibson and Davis they played several seasons.

For the past ten years he has been associated with the company known as Murphy and Gibson’s Minstrels at Atlantic City, N. J., during the Summer.

Alf. Gibson was born at Ashland, Ohio, September 11, 1858.

“Master” Martin has been “Master” Martin for forty odd years, or ever since his first professional appearance at the Old Bowery Theatre in 1867; N. B. Clarke was the stage manager, and ’twas he that gave him the sobriquet.

“Master” Martin essayed many roles before he played his first minstrel engagement with Bryant’s company in New York, early in 1875.

February 12, 1877, he opened with Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels also in New York. Other minstrel engagements were with Moore and Burgess in London, England, where he remained two and a half years.

In August, 1877, he became a member of the Big Four; Smith, Waldron, Morton and Martin; Mr. Martin continued a member of the Big Four through its many changes, for nearly a quarter of a century.

In the Summer of 1879 the Big Four Minstrels opened in New York City.

Mr. Martin has been associated also with Simmons and Slocum’s; Dockstader’s, Rice and Sheppard’s, Cleveland’s, and Haverly’s Minstrels; the latter in 1898. In his earlier career “Master” Martin was famous for his impersonation of the monkey; and for five years he played Dragonfin in “The Black Crook.”

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CHAS. AND GUSTAVE FROHMAN AS MINSTREL MAGNATES; 1883.

[286]

He also played black-face parts in “Easy Dawson”; “The Ninety and Nine,” and the “Millionaire’s Revenge.”

He likewise created the character of Banty Tim, a dumb negro in “Jim Bludso.” Mr. Martin’s playing of this most difficult pantomimic role was most artistic.

“Master” Martin was born in New York City, August 27, 1858.

James Ten Brooke (Sheridan), first appeared professionally in 1876; Brooklyn, N. Y., was where it happened.

A year or so later he joined Larry Dooley in a “nigger act,” and continued with him until 1881; in 1880 they were with the Big Four Minstrels. Mr. Ten Brooke subsequently played stock engagements for several seasons, and in 1898 rejoined his former partner, and later played an engagement with Primrose and Dockstader’s Minstrels; with this organization Mr. Ten Brooke officiated as interlocutor; and he is one of the best.

He next appeared in white-face with the “Volunteer Organist”; after which with his daughter and son-in-law, as Ten Brooke, Lambert and Ten Brooke, he played vaudeville. Subsequently Ten Brooke and Henry formed a partnership, and are now in vaudeville.

James Ten Brooke was born in New York, January 23, 1858.

James Mack (McAvoy), who attained some prominence with minstrel shows as a female impersonator, died at Elyria, Ohio, November 5, 1890; age 32 years.

The Girard Brothers ranked with the great black-face song and dance teams of minstrelsy. Their first appearance was made at the Wigwam Theatre, in Paterson, N. J., in 1874.

In 1876 they were with Washburn’s Last Sensation, and two years later they played a brief engagement with Ben Cotton and “Happy” Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels.

In 1879 they joined Hooley and Emerson’s great Megatherian Minstrels; about 1880 they formed an alliance with Seamon and Somers, and were known as the “Grotesque Four”; and incidentally this was one of the greatest “four” acts ever put together.

The quartette opened with Thatcher and Ryman’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, December 20, 1880, and remained until the closing of the season. In 1881 the four joined Leavitt’s Giganteans for the season.

Early in 1882 the four joined forces with Lester and Allen, and as the “Funny Six” met with considerable success.

Subsequently the Girard Brothers separated, and Eddie Girard joined Haverly’s Minstrels, continuing with them for several months; with this company, in conjunction with Callan, Haley and Callan, they produced “Down Where the Cotton Grows.”

In 1884 with the same organization, Eddie Girard also worked with the late Charley Seamon.

After this engagement Eddie Girard went to San Francisco, and played with Charley Reed’s Minstrels, after which, in conjunction with Billy Arlington and Harry Wyatt, the late manager of the Mason Opera House, in Los Angeles, Cal., Arlington, Girard and Wyatt’s Minstrels made a brief tour.

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This was Mr. Girard’s last appearance in black-face.

Subsequently as Gilbert, Donnelly and Girard, and later Donnelly and Girard, “Natural Gas” played several seasons; this was succeeded by “The Rainmakers” and “The Geezer.”

For several years past, Mr. Girard and his wife, as Girard and Gardner, have played successfully in vaudeville.

Willie Girard (Maloney), died in New York, September 5, 1892.

Eddie Girard was born in Paterson, N. J., August 28, 1858.

John Daly, one of the best known and most capable dancers of modern minstrelsy, made his first appearance at St. James Hall, Buffalo, N. Y., doing a black-face song and dance. August 9, 1878, Mr. Daly became a member of the Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West Company, and continued with them until the dissolution of the organization in 1882; he then joined the Thatcher, Primrose and West Company, at their inception, and continued with them during their existence, seven years.

Mr. Daly next allied himself with the Primrose and West Company, and remained two seasons.

Season of 1891-92, he was with Cleveland’s Minstrels, and for the two seasons following he cast his fortunes with George Thatcher in the “Tuxedo” and “Africa” companies.

Mr. Daly then became a real legitimate actor with the “Bowery Girl,” “Paradise Alley” and “Sis Hopkins” and “A Daughter’s Devotion” Company’s, and he also took the regulation trip to vaudeville as Daly and Miss Paine (Mrs. Daly), and Daly and George Lewis.

Our John was now really sorry, and with tears in his eyes he “saw” Lew Dockstader; that gentleman was forgiving, and for six years Mr. Daly was a fixture with that gentleman’s organization, remaining until 1910.

O! yes, in 1898 “John” was with the Haverly Minstrels, and one of the Big Four—Smith, Waldron, Daly and Martin.

Mr. Daly was born in Buffalo, N. Y., May 14, 1858.

Harry Mann (Emanuel Hayman), brother of Al. Hayman of the theatrical syndicate, was identified in an executive capacity with Haverly’s Minstrels in 1878; subsequently he managed the tours of Evans and Hoey for many seasons, also other prominent organizations. Previous to his death he was business manager of the Knickerbocker Theatre, New York City.

Harry Mann was born in Wheeling, West Va.; he died in Saratoga, N. Y., July 11, 1901; age about 52 years.

Mark Sullivan, well known for his character impersonations of prominent actors, and who lately scored a success with Raymond Hitchcock in “The Man Who Owns Broadway,” was a black-face song and dance man with the Megatherian Minstrels in 1879, and a good one “mark” you.

He was born in Erie, Pa., April 16, 1858.

Clarence Burton (De Witt Norris) had the distinction of being one of the youngest banjoists and comedians in minstrelsy.

His career began with the Holman Opera Company about 1870, when he had barely entered his teens. The following year he was in Chicago with[288] Hooley’s Minstrels; and in December, 1872, he was with Arlington, Cotton and Kemble’s Company in the same city; he became a member of Washburn’s Last Sensation Company in 1873, and a year later he was with Cool White’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y.

Subsequently he formed an alliance with John and Lottie Burton, and they played the principal variety houses for a few years.

Clarence Burton was born in Erie, Pa., about 1857; he died there March 12, 1885.

Thos. Adams, of the well-known black-face musical team of Bunnell and Adams, was identified with several prominent companies, and played the principal vaudeville theatres.

He was born in Boston, Mass.; he died in Little Rock, Ark., March 10, 1893; age 35 years.

Billy Golden (Wm. B. Shire) started theatrically in 1874 with Frank Merritt as a partner, remaining with him one year. In 1875 he joined Billy Draiton, and for ten years they appeared in all parts of the United States as Golden and Draiton.

In 1885 with his wife, May Golden, played for several seasons as The Goldens; later this alliance was augmented by Dick Schalpan.

Mr. Golden retired in 1900 to enter hotel life in Washington, D. C., where he remained three years.

September 25, 1904, he joined Joe Hughes as the team of Golden and Hughes, and as such they are now playing.

Mr. Golden’s wench business is genuinely funny, and it’s worth going miles to hear him sing “Turkey in the Straw.”

Billy Golden was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 9, 1858.

J. C. Harrington made his first appearance with Leslie, Raynor and Smith’s Minstrels, at the Temple of Music in San Francisco, 1868; nigger acts? Why, yes.

Harrington and McGlone (Pete Mack), were at Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia in 1873; to look at J. C. to-day, you’d never believe it. But I digress. Harrington and McGlone continued as a black-face song and dance team until about 1877; next came Harrington and Cummings for a couple of seasons, and Harrington and Johnson for eight years. Mr. Harrington then decided to go it alone, and for three years, commencing about 1891, he was one of the principal comedians of Dockstader’s Minstrels (traveling).

Afterwards he made an extended trip to Europe, where he worked with Burns, of Blocksom and Burns.

For the past few years Mr. Harrington has been associated with Cohan and Harris’ attractions; appearing in white-face.

J. C. Harrington was born in Rochester, N. Y., September 8, 1858.

Edw. C. Dobson, the well-known banjoist and banjo instructor, made his first appearance with the San Francisco Minstrels in New York City, about 1868, meeting with much success in his imitations of the bell chimes.

[289]

NED.—HARRIGAN & HART—TONY
(Portraits reversed)
JAMES—ADAMS & LEE—JOHN H.
JAKE—WELBY & PEARL—CHAS.
(Portraits reversed)
DELMANNING BROS.

[290]

Other minstrel engagements were with Sam Sanford’s traveling company, and subsequently with Thatcher, Primrose and West’s.

Mr. Dobson spent fifteen years in London and the provinces, appearing in the principal halls.

June 9, 1885, he won the gold medal presented by the Prince of Wales (the late King) in a competition.

Edward C. Dobson was born in Newburgh, N. Y., September 12, 1858.

Wm. E. Hines (Timothy Edwin Hines) made his first appearance as a super at the Bowery Theatre, New York City, with George L. Fox.

His initial black-face appearance was at Jake Acker’s Theatre, Troy, N. Y., in 1873. Early in his career he had as partners Billy Ginniven and George Turner. In 1876 he joined Frank Cummings; the team being known as Cummings and Hines; they played extended engagements at Harrigan and Hart’s, New York City, and Ben Cotton’s Minstrels in Chicago.

January 1, 1879 he joined Nat Blossom, the team being known as Hines and Blossom; their first engagement was at Montpelier’s Theatre, Cleveland, Ohio; subsequently Hines and Blossom and Monumental Quartette Minstrels—all at one time, and in one theatre; honest; ask Bill. Afterwards they were with Cooper and Bailey’s Great London Circus.

Hines and Blossom separated, and Hines joined his wife, Daisy Remington, now known as Earle Remington, whose recent volume of rhymes have attracted considerable attention, both in and out of the profession; this alliance was formed in the Fall of 1881, and has continued ever since.

Mr. Hines claims to have been one of the original “Four Aces”—Sheffer, Nelson, Turner and Hines, at Deagle’s Theatre, St. Louis, 1876; and in 1887, was one of the “American Four,” Pettengill, Gale, Hines and Hoyt; also Niles, Evans, Cummings and Hines as the “Boss Four.”

William E. Hines was born in New York City, July 4, 1858.

Billy Wood (Max Gottlieb). It is generally conceded, that as a black-face comedian musical moke, Billy Wood never had a superior; Wood was funny when he made his entrance in that long dark brown ulster with padlocks substituting as buttons; he was funny when he spoke, and funny in whatever he did—and a real musician; his performance on the “cello” brought tears to the eyes of his auditors on more than one occasion.

His first appearance was about 1874, when he did a clog with the Girard Brothers. Wood and Beasley shortly after formed an alliance, which continued about six years, the act being augmented by the Weston Brothers, and as Wood, Beasley and the Weston Brothers, they continued for about five years longer.

In 1885 Wood was treasurer and general performer with Lester and Allen’s Minstrels; here he met Frank Sheppard, and with the addition of Fred Bryant (Bryant & Hoey), they formed a trio that continued about up to the time of the latter’s unhappy death; Wood and Sheppard then continued as partners until the latter’s decease, after which he allied himself with William Bates, and as Wood and Bates they continued for five years. Owing to partial deafness, Mr. Wood does not play regularly.

William Wood was born in Buda Pesth, Hungary, August 17, 1858.

[291]

Frank Sheppard (Fash) began his minstrel career about 1882 with Leavitt’s Gigantean Minstrels, as a cornettist. In 1885 he joined Lester and Allen’s Minstrels, here he formed a partnership with Billy Wood. Sheppard was a superb “straight” man, and a splendid musician; and as Wood said “A better fellow than Frank Sheppard never lived.”

Frank Sheppard died in London, England, December 30, 1899; age about 37 years.

Wood and Sheppard began their joint careers in 1885; shortly after Fred Bryant’s death they went to London, England, and played an unsuccessful engagement. So far as the writer knows, where the performer is concerned, this was “the first and only unsuccessful engagement on record.” The intelligence is from the most authoritative source, from Billy Wood himself. Subsequently they played five seasons with the Howard Athenaeum Company; also successful engagements with Tony Pastor’s road show; Leavitt’s Gigantean Minstrels and Thatcher, Primrose and West’s Minstrels, two years, and in 1895, a feature with “Town Topics” Company.

Shortly after this they went to London, and this time success was theirs, their engagements being extended on several occasions, after which they were equally successful in the principal cities of Continental Europe.

Dan. E. Lyons entered the profession at the age of twelve years, subsequently joining James Leary, and as Lyons and Leary did an entertaining black-face specialty. They joined Hooley and Emerson’s Megatherians in 1879, and in 1882 in conjunction with Kelly and O’Brien, were with Billy Rice and Hooley’s Minstrels as the Megatherian Four.

Lyons and Leary separated about 1886, and Mr. Lyons subsequently appeared with the Hyde and Behman Company.

He was the author of several prominent songs, among which were “Cigarette McCarthy,” and “It’s A Long Lane That Has No Turn.”

Daniel E. Lyons died in Boston, Mass., January 3, 1890; age 31 years.

Chas. Gilday entered the profession as a partner of Frank Bennett; subsequently forming a “four” act with Charley Seamon, Tom Sommers and Billy Ginniven.

Later they separated, and he and Ginniven formed an alliance which continued practically up to the time Mr. Gilday married Fannie Beane, August 1, 1877, at Deadwood, Dakota, after which and until his death they were known as Beane and Gilday.

Charles Gilday was born in Detroit, Mich., about 1859; he died at sea, September 9, 1889.

R. G. Knowles (Richard George Knowles), the well-known lecturer and globe trotter, began his professional career at the Olympic Theatre, Chicago, Ill., September, 1878, doing a black-face monologue. Subsequently he had as partners at various times, Joe. Morton (Hardman), Dick Ford, Ben Collins, Frank Kennedy and Charley Turner.

Mr. Knowles has done more for the benefit of the American performer in England than any other one. He enjoys the distinction of having received[292] a larger salary in Europe, than any other male performer doing a “single” act.

R. G. Knowles was born in Hamilton, Canada, October 7, 1858.

Vic Richards (Harry Veerkamp) found out long ago that he could make more money as fun-smith than he could as a lock-smith, and forsook the latter for the former, and at once became a hit-smith.

He first appeared professionally as the “Rube” in Frank Jones’ “Si Perkins” Company.

His debut as a minstrel was with Sol San’s Company. Mr. Richards next allied himself with Dumont’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, where he continued for about twelve years—and that speaks volumes.

In this year of 1910 he has arranged to do a nigger act with Dan Quinlan. That’s good enough, isn’t it?

Vic Richards was born in Philadelphia, July 10, 1858.

Jeff DeAngelis (Thomas Jefferson D’Angelis), one of America’s foremost light opera comedians, played many black-face parts while in the stock of a San Francisco Theatre in 1878; but, to be exact, and skip a couple of years or so; at Bombay, India, June 8, 1881, with the Victoria Loftus Troupe, Mr. D’Angelis did an end on the first part and sang “Sweet Evalina” without permission from Hughey Dougherty. Yonkers, N. Y., papers, please copy.

Jeff D’Angelis was born in San Francisco, Cal., about 1859.

John T. Keegan made his first appearance at Hyde and Behman’s Theatre in Brooklyn about thirty years ago, and immediately jumped into the front ranks of song and dance performers; his first partner was Connie Lynch, with whom he did a white-face song and dance; he remained with Lynch about two years. Subsequently with Jack Sheehan, Tom Haley and Harry Talbott, they formed the Four in Hand.

Mr. Keegan was with Leon and Cushman’s combination, Thatcher, Primrose and West, and McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels.

In August, 1884, with his partner, Billy Wilson, and Hooley and Thompson, he did a “Four” act with Charley Reed’s Standard Minstrels in San Francisco.

John T. Keegan was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., September 27, 1859, where he died June 1, 1902.

Jerry Cunningham (Isaac Depew), made his first appearance in Albany, N. Y., doing a dancing turn; this was in 1869; on this auspicious occasion Jerry picked up $18.00 which was thrown to him on the stage; but remember that was 1869; in 1909, he would have had to split 50-50 with the manager, besides “greasing” sundry other officials.

His first minstrel engagement was with Smith and Brown’s—sounds like a job in a hardware store to me, but Jerry says this actually happened in 1872. Variety engagements single and with Billy O’Day followed until 1879, when he decided to do an old darky turn, imitating Harry Woodson; incidentally Mr. Cunningham could not have selected a better pattern to follow.

[293]

GEO. THATCHER GEO. EVANS
JIMMY MACKIN JOHN DALY
GEO. H. PRIMROSE GEO. WILSON
JUST GEORGES, JOHN AND JIM.

[294]

In 1882 he joined Billy Baker in Kansas City, doing a black-face act; this partnership lasted until 1885.

Mr. Cunningham played character parts in “Oliver Twist,” “Streets of New York,” “Ticket of Leave Man” and other plays.

In 1904 he joined Dumont’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, where he remained several seasons.

Jerry Cunningham was born in Boston, Mass., September 27, 1859.

Henry E. Dixey (Dixon), America’s most versatile actor, did the black-face act of “Funny Old Gal” in imitation of Billy Ashcroft, in Boston, Mass., about 1872.

Mr. Dixey was born in Boston, Mass., January 6, 1859.


E. N. Slocum, famous as an interlocutor, sat on the end with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, April, 1874.


“Jack” (E. L.) Williams, of the once prominent black-face team of Lester and Williams, died in New York, July 31, 1901.

C. Edward Dicken, a well-known interlocutor and singer of the present generation, who was with Cleveland’s Minstrels in 1895, and subsequently with Vogel’s Minstrels, died at La Salle, Ill., May 19, 1900.

George Marion, recognized as one of America’s most efficient producers and stage-managers, played the “bone end” with Lew Dockstader’s Minstrels located in New York, in 1888.

George Marion was born in San Francisco, July 16, 1860.

Ned Thatcher, for many years prominent as one of the song and dance team of Thatcher and Hume, and later Thatcher and Adair, separated from the latter about August 1, 1887.

Mr. Thatcher died in W. Superior, Wis., June 14, 1895.

James Pell (McGinty) was for several seasons the partner of Tom Lewis, whom he joined in a black-face act called the “Hottentot Musketeers” about 1877.

After they separated in the early 80’s, Mr. Pell did sketches with Lily Wilkinson.

He died at Taunton, Mass., October 16, 1887.

Frank C. Durell (Otto C. Dickman), of the well-known Durell Twin Brothers, first appeared professionally at the Grand Opera House, Indianapolis, Ind., with his brother Ed., doing acrobatic black-face songs and dances.

Subsequently they played engagements with W. W. Cole’s, also Sell’s Brother’s Circus. They toured the country for several years playing the principal variety houses, and were with Pat. Rooney’s and other well-known organizations.

Frank C. Durell died in Indianapolis, Ind., March 25, 1898; age 39 years.

[295]

HURRAH FOR THE MINSTREL BAND.

Dedicated to Harry Sanderson. Originally sung by Frank Lewis.

There is not a man in the whole Minstrel Band,
Who would ever go back on a friend;
Tho’ dark be his face, yet the black can’t efface
The kind deeds which through life him attend.
I hear the trumpet sounding, sounding,
In notes loud and clear through the land—
I list to its voice, and it bids me rejoice;
Then hurrah for the Minstrel Band!
Then hurrah! then hurrah!
Then hurrah for the Minstrel band.
I will speak first of one who we loved in the past,
He’d a heart that was noble and brave—
Nelse Seymour, who never refused his last dime,
If he thought you from hunger would save.
I hear his praises sounding, sounding,
In notes loud and clear through the land—
The tall Son of York, he died at his work,
And the pride of the Minstrel Band!
And the pride!—and the pride!
And the pride of the Minstrel Band!
Brave Unsworth, he stood like a Minstrel so true!
’Till defeated at last by grim death;
And Budworth, alas! broke his old banjo string,
Which he loved ’till he parted with breath,
I hear their dirge now sounding, sounding,
In notes loud and clear through the land,
They lived and they died with the boys that they loved,
The dear boys of the Minstrel Band!
The dear boys! the dear boys!
The dear boys of the Minstrel Band!
But now I must speak of the Prince of them all—
Who is that but our own gallant Dan!
Let every one mourn, for our Chieftain is gone—
Dan Bryant! the Minstrel and Man!
I hear his praises sounding, sounding.
In notes loud and clear through the land.
He lived and he died, both our glory and pride;
He was King of the Minstrel Band!
He was King! he was King!
He was King of the Minstrel Band!

Note.—Between February 2 and April 10, 1875, Nelse Seymour, Jim Unsworth, Jim Budworth and Dan. Bryant passed away.—Author.

[296]

Wilton Lackaye, one of America’s foremost actors, played Uncle Tom, in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” at the Academy of Music, New York, commencing March 4, 1901. There is no truth in the report that Mr. Lackaye is to head his own minstrel company next season.

Billy Benson (James Corrigan), who was a clever female impersonator with various minstrel companies, died in Cincinnati, Ohio, April 29, 1900.

Arthur Christie was an exceptionally clever song and dance performer and comedian, and one of the Christie Brothers.

He played successful engagements with the minstrel companies of McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s; George Wilson’s, Duprez and Benedict’s, and Rice’s World’s Fair Minstrels in 1890.

Mr. Christie died in New Castle, Pa., April 12, 1899.

Charles Guy, one of the famous Guy Brothers, entered the profession about 1873, doing a triple song and dance with his brothers George and Willie. He subsequently became identified with the Guy Brother’s Minstrels, and has continued with them ever since.

Mr. Guy is exceedingly clever as a clown.

He was born in Hoboken, N. J., July 4, 1860.

William Gray (his correct front name is “Billy”), prominent for several years past as playwright and manager, and author of the “Volunteer Organist,” was one of the Glenroy Brothers, a black-face act twenty odd years ago when they played an engagement with Carncross’ Minstrels in Philadelphia.

Tom Lewis (McGuire). One night about ten years ago, Tom Lewis blacked his face for the last time, and at that precise moment minstrelsy lost one of its most brilliant lights and able entertainers. Mr. Lewis is an unctuous comedian; and that tells the story.

He made his first appearance professionally with Charley Wilkinson’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in the late 70’s with Jimmy Pell; and as Pell and Lewis they did a black-face act for several years, with no fears, as the “Hottentot Musketeers.” Later, and for two seasons he was one of the American Four.

Mr. Lewis then went into the partnership business, first with Tom Martin; then Tom LeMack, then Charley Ernest, and finally Sam J. Ryan; with all of these he did black-face. Some of his more prominent minstrel engagements were—George Wilson’s; Cleveland’s; Haverly’s in Chicago; Carncross’, in Philadelphia, and with William H. West’s Minstrels, which was the last, season of 1899-1900.

For the past few years he has been extraordinarily successful in “Little Johnny Jones” and the “Yankee Prince.” As Steve Daly in the latter play, Mr. Lewis has given to the stage a piece of clever, comedy characterization that is in a class by itself.

Tom Lewis was born in St. Johns, N. B., May 18, 1860.

Herbert Cawthorne, with his brother Joe did a black-face act at the Grand Central Theatre, Philadelphia, in April, 1876.

Several years later he was again “A Cork Man.”

[297]

BERT. WILLIAMS.

[298]

D. W. McCabe, well known as one of the proprietors of McCabe and Young’s Minstrels, which toured the country for several seasons, died at Moorcroft, Wyo., October 20, 1907; age 47 years.

Billy Payne, the well-known banjoist, made his first professional appearance in his native city in 1875, at the St. Charles Theatre, playing for Lotta to dance in the “Little Marchioness.”

Mr. Payne’s first minstrel engagement came two years later.

Mr. Payne married in 1881, and as Billy and Alice Payne toured the variety houses for several seasons; later he worked alone, and played the vaudeville houses.

He joined Dumont’s Minstrels in Philadelphia, in 1903, for an extended engagement, and likewise did meritorious work in white-face, playing a comedy character part with the “Village Postmaster”; also in black-face was he partly responsible for the “Redemption of David Corson.”

Billy Payne was born in New Orleans, La., July 16, 1860.

Chas. K. French (Krauss) made his first professional appearance in his native city in 1878, with the Sargent-Bailey Stock Company. Subsequently, as Master Vive Williams, he did a black-face song and dance in the variety theatres.

Then came French and Palmer for a season in variety; then French and Perry Ryan, after which French and Alice Clarke played together for five years. Mr. French had by this time attained recognition as a banjoist.

In 1887 he joined (Wm. Henry) Rice, (John) Hart and (Add) Ryman’s Minstrels; the following season he was with Barlow Brothers and Frost’s Minstrels.

Subsequently he created the part of Uncle Ned in “In Old Kentucky,” and continued with the company for six seasons.

Other black-face parts were Jim, in “Huckleberry Finn”; Uncle Joshua, in “Under Southern Skies,” and with Irene Bentley, in “The Girl From Dixie.”

Then there was some more minstrelsy; Will Davis’ California Minstrels, in Canada, and Moran and Thomas’. A few years ago Mr. French “doubled” with “Buck” Sheffer, doing a “darky” turn.

Also did he appear “outside of cork” with several prominent plays, notably “The Still Alarm”; “Blue Jeans,” and with James J. Corbett, in “Gentleman Jim.”

Charles K. French was born in Columbus, Ohio, January 18, 1860.

Billy Buckley (Delehanty) was an exceedingly clever black-face comedian, and played with many first-class minstrels and specialty companies including the Rentz-Santley Company in 1881, and the Gigantean Minstrels in 1882.

Early in 1890 he doubled up with Billy Jerome and performed in the variety theatres.

Mr. Buckley married Lizzie Daly, of the famous Daly family, about February, 1882; Vinie Daly, the clever dancer, is his daughter.

Billy Buckley died in New York City, January 13, 1894.

[299]

Boyd and Sarsfield were known as the “Two Solitaries”; they became partners in the late 70’s, and continued until about 1887; as a black-face song and dance team they were considered good. About two years prior and up to the death of Boyd, he did an act with Frank Hines and wife; known as Boyd, Miller and Hines.

Clarence Boyd (Maretta), died in Chicago, Ill., May 25, 1889.

Steve Sarsfield, at last reports was in Chicago, an object of pity and commiseration.

Chas. R. Bugbee, the well-known agent and manager of several minstrel organizations, began his theatrical career as a member of Woodson and Allen’s Minstrels, about 1881; later he was with Haverly’s Minstrels; with this company he played a cornet solo in the band, and was known as Charles Baxter.

Mr. Bugbee was absent from minstrelsy for two years after the “Baxter” episode, when he was in the mercantile business in Philadelphia; after this came another two years in the same city as advertising agent of the Park and Walnut Street Theatres.

Subsequently he was with the Haverly-Cleveland Minstrels; Cleveland’s, William H. West’s and Haverly’s (Nankeville’s) Minstrels; with the last two he was manager.

Mr. Bugbee was general agent for Charles E. Blaney’s attractions for five years, and for a brief period in the Summer of 1908, was advance agent for Cohan and Harris’ Minstrels.

Charles R. Bugbee was born in Philadelphia, August 8, 1860.

Frank Casey, or little Frankie Casey, as he was known in the Fall of 1873 with the Sharpley, Sheridan and Mack Company, was billed as “the best song and dance artist living.”

A few years later he joined Everett Weslyn, and as Weslyn and Casey, the “Musical Wonders,” they played at Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels in Philadelphia in the Fall of 1877.

Subsequent to the death of Weslyn, Mr. Casey formed an alliance with James Adams and Frank Howard, and as Adams, Casey and Howard they played many prominent minstrel and variety engagements, doing their comedy musical specialty; later Mr. Howard retired from the trio, and Adams and Casey opened with Thatcher, Primrose and West’s Minstrels in July, 1885.

About fifteen years ago Mr. Casey gave a splendid interpretation of Pepat, the black-face comedy part in “Wang.”

At the present time Mr. Casey is said to be doing an act in vaudeville with Dan Swift.

Chas. A. Mason, the well-known Dutch comedian, formerly Mason and Mason, also formerly Kelly and Mason, was very much a minstrel before gaining fame as Teutoner.

In 1880 he was with Billy Arlington’s Minstrels, and up until 1887 he played extended engagements with M. T. Skiff’s Minstrels, likewise Whitmore and Clark’s.

Charles A. Mason was born in Dürkheim, Bavaria, Germany, July 14, 1860.

[300]

J. Arthur Doty (Oakman) was a clever female impersonator, and a bright writer of sketches, burlesques, etc.

In 1879 he worked with Fred Malcolm doing acts in the variety houses.

September 11, 1886, he began an engagement with Simmons and Slocum’s Minstrels in Philadelphia; subsequently, and for about eighteen months, he did an act with Belle Fairmont.

March 23, 1879 he was announced to marry Eva Belfontaine, a non-professional of Denver.

J. Arthur Doty died in Detroit, Mich., April 13, 1890.

The three Crimmins Brothers made their first appearance as a team in 1872, although John and Steve had preceded their younger brother in the profession about two years previous.

They were among the earliest of the three brother acts in minstrelsy, and their services were eagerly sought after by managers in general.

They were identified with such prominent organizations as Haverly’s; Sam Hague’s, Billy Arnold’s, California’s (Norcross’), and Sweatnam’s Minstrels.

John Crimmins died while with Haverly; and Steve and Mike did a double act until about two years prior the death of the latter; Mike then worked with Emma La Mause, whom he married in 1882; subsequently associating himself with Tom Dunn.

John Crimmins died in Chicago, February 7, 1884; age 26 years.

Steve Crimmins died in Chicago, March 3, 1889.

Mike Crimmins was born in Detroit, Mich. March 5, 1864; he died in Peoria, Ill., July 8, 1890.

Geo. M. DeVere made his first first appearance at Booth’s Theatre, New York, in 1872, in King Henry V, as a page—now for a new paragraph.

The following year he made his first black-face appearance in the concert of Cook and Nelson’s Circus.

From 1874 to 1878 he did a nigger act with Matt McElroy; 1878-79 he was associated with Joe. Flynn, of subsequent McGinty fame; also in black-face.

When Tommy Devere died, George DeVere took his place with William Devere, and continued as the Devere Brothers, until the death of the latter in 1882.

Some of the minstrel companies Mr. DeVere has been associated with were—Skiff and Gaylord’s, Welch and Barlow’s, Andy Leavitt’s, Welch and DeVere’s and Bill Friday’s—this troupe did not open on the 13th.

Also did he play both white and black face parts in “Ninety and Nine”; “The Clansman”; “Rudolph’s Ambition”; “Captain Barrington”; “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” and many others.

In 1889 he assumed the stage management of the Eden Theatre in Paterson, N. J., and remained ten years; subsequently was manager of the Bijou, same city, two years.

Seasons of 1909-10 Mr. DeVere played the black-face comedy part in “The Traveling Salesman.”

George M. DeVere was born in New York City, April 28, 1860.

Geo. T. Martin, who was also known as George Trewellyn, began his minstrel career in Wales, 1874, where he sang in the choir, under Caradoc; subsequently, and for many years, appearing in concert work.

[301]

“BUCK” SHEFFER HARRY BLAKELY
(SHEFFER & BLAKELY.)
WM. H. DELEHANTY THOS. M. HENGLER
(DELEHANTY & HENGLER.)
BILLY ASHCROFT JOHN W. MORTON
(ASHCROFT & MORTON.)

[302]

In 1887 he made his first appearance in the United States, at Great Falls, Montana. Season of 1888-89 he was with the Bostonian Opera Company.

Mr. Martin was instrumental in forming the famous Verdi Quartette of Boston, and was a member of it until 1897; subsequently he appeared on the Keith circuit.

In October, 1899, he joined the Harry Davis Stock Minstrels in Pittsburgh; the organization was short lived, and Mr. Martin then identified himself with Primrose and Dockstader Minstrels, and continued with them until 1901. A concert tour was next; then William H. West’s (Ricaby’s) Minstrels in 1903, and Haverly’s (Nankeville’s) Minstrels, 1904.

Mr. Martin joined the Al. G. Field forces in 1906, and has been a valuable acquisition with that company until November, 1910.

A feature of Mr. Martin’s repertoire is the singing of the old Highland ballads in full Scottish costume. His voice, a pure cultivated tenor, after thirty-five years’ usage, remains as sweet as ever.

George T. Martin was born in Cornwall, England, July 23, 1860.


As soon as Lew Dockstader was able to talk, someone asked him how he liked Hartford, Conn. Capitol, said the future merry minstrel; this was his first offence.


The Original American Four were Joe Pettengill, Peter Gale, Peter F. Dailey and James F. Hoey.

Mr. Pettengill is authority for the statement that the team’s initial appearance was made in New York City, in the Fall of 1879. Originally two acts, Pettengill and Gale, and Dailey and Hoey, it was at the suggestion of Jac. Aberle that they combine and do a “four” act; the title, “American Four,” was given by Mr. Pettengill in honor of the theatre where they made their first appearance.

About 1884 they split; Pettengill and Gale continued in the “four,” and Hoey played dates. Dailey and Hoey subsequently doubled, and continued as partners until 1888. Pettengill later did an act for several seasons with Nat Haines; of recent years he has been acting in an executive capacity.

Pete Dailey was with Weber and Fields’ Company in New York for several seasons. He was a brother of Robert Dailey, the well-known comedian.

Jimmy Hoey did a black-face monologue for several years, and later worked in white-face; he was great in black or white. He was the brother of Old Hoss Hoey. Mr. Hoey is now in retirement.

Jos. Pettengill (Geiger), was born in New York City, January 13, 1854.

Peter H. Gale (Durrigan), died in New York City, July 10, 1891; age 36 years.

Peter F. Dailey was born in New York City; he died in Chicago, Ill., May 23, 1908.

James F. Hoey was born in New York City, March 10, 1857.

[303]

Jack Symonds (John P. Salmonde) began his career as a black-face performer in his native city in 1879, playing variety engagements until 1885.

Formed a partnership with Joe Hughes at Pensacola, Fla., in 1887, later this alliance was known as Symonds, Hughes and Rastus; subsequently Hughes retiring, Symonds and Rastus joined “The South Before the War,” remaining four years, after which Symonds and Rastus dissolved partnership.

Mr. Symonds was afterwards identified with William Collier’s and other well-known organizations, and in 1899 a return to the “South Before the War” Company. Season 1900-01 with Gorton’s Minstrels; The Flying Jordans Company in 1901, when he toured China and Japan; returning to America, played vaudeville for several seasons, also at Dumont’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

Mr. Symonds has been working in white-face for the past seven years. “Jack” Symonds was born in Portland, Me., May 3, 1860.

The Higgins Brothers were well-known song and dance boys, and had been associated with some of the best minstrel companies, notably Primrose and West’s; Primrose and Dockstader’s, Gorton’s, and Lucier’s Minstrels.

In 1892 while with the latter company, with La Barre and Mullen, they formed the Four Electrics.

Jos. Higgins died in Providence, R. I., March 30, 1903.

William Higgins died in Providence, R. I., September 11, 1905.

Dan. Daly, of the great Daly family, brother of “Cap” Bill, Tom, Bobby, Lizzie, Margaret and Lucy Daly, and a great comedian, did a black-face act with his brother Bobby, Barney Fagan and another, called the “Black Surprise Party,” at the Howard Athenaeum in Boston, Mass., week of January 31, 1876.

Dan Daly died in New York, March 26, 1904.

Eddie Manning (Egan) was the protege of Billy Manning, and a comedian of unusual talent. His first professional appearance was about 1870. About 1880 he joined Haverly’s Minstrels, and remained with them practically until his death. Mr. Manning was born in Columbus, Ohio; he died there April 25, 1892; age 32 years.

W. L. Dockstader (Wm. Lee) is known to vaudevillians and others, far and wide, as the manager of the Garrick Theatre, Wilmington, Del.

In the late 80’s in conjunction with Charles Dockstader, they traveled as the Dockstader Brothers, doing a black-face act.

Charles Turner (Trainor) made his first professional appearance with Sam Price’s Minstrels.

About 1874, with his two brothers, he did a black face act in the variety houses three years. About December, 1877, he formed a partnership with Charley Gilday.

He was with Haverly’s Mastodons; Rice and Hooley’s, also Carncross’, and Dumont’s Minstrels in Philadelphia.

In 1896 he formed a partnership with John Murphy, which lasted several[304] years. Outside of minstrelsy, Mr. Turner has been with David Henderson’s Extravaganzas, also the “Twelve Temptations.”

Charles Turner was born in New York City, January 20, 1860.

Edw. P. Gildea, a song and dance performer, and early partner of Frank McNish, died in Rochester, N. Y., July 28, 1890.

Tom English is Irish, originally from Great Britain, now of New Britain. Wonder if he knows Charley Britting, the rotund restaurateur of New York?

Mr. English did a musical act of more than ordinary merit. His first appearance was as an amateur in Turner Hall, New Britain, Conn., in 1876. Four years later he made his professional debut with Heywood Brothers’ New York Serenaders.

In 1881 he joined Hi Henry’s Minstrels, where for five years he was one of the features of that organization.

After two years in the variety houses, Mr. English went to London, and subsequently most of the principal cities of Continental Europe.

Returning to the United States, he joined Hyde’s Comedians, September 5, 1892. Mr. English made several trips to Europe after his American engagement, and likewise met with success in Australia and South Africa.

His last professional appearance was at the Palace, on the Isle of Man, August, 1902. He is now an old resident of New Britain, Conn.

Tom English was born in Portarlington, Ireland, September 4, 1860.

Frank McKee, the well-known theatrical magnate, was press agent for Leavitt’s Gigantean Minstrels in 1882.

Arthur Johnson, of the old song and dance team of Harrington and Johnson, is now with Mrs. Johnson’s Pickle Company. This is not a farce-comedy as one might believe, but a permanent organization with headquarters at Richmond, Va. The author hopes to sample those pickles on his next trip to the Old Dominion capitol.

Charlie Haywood (Wilson B. Howard) was one of the original members of the Clipper Quartette, organized in 1879, of which he was the bass singer.

He remained with the quartette about three years.

He was born in 1861, and died at Peak’s Island, Me., July 12, 1889.

Matt McElroy was a banjoist of uncommon ability. He made his first appearance with Hooley’s Minstrels in Brooklyn, N. Y., in 1876.

In 1877 he joined George M. DeVere in a double banjo act, and continued with him two years, after which he worked with Harry Colby, as Devere and McElroy.

Subsequently he had various other partners.

In 1886 he married Nellie Mordaunt.

Mr. McElroy was born in Boston, Mass., July 16, 1861; he died in Pittsburg, Pa., July 6, 1894.

Mark Murphy, the celebrated Celtic comedian, was not always thus. In the Spring of 1877 he was a member of Sargent’s Minstrels in California.

Mr. Murphy was not born in Cork—but knows how to use it.

[305]

(Courtesy of Byron Studio, New York)

PRIMROSE AND DOCKSTADER’S MINSTRELS;
Victoria Theatre, New York City, about March 1, 1902.
Reading from left to right—Neil. O’Brien, Harry Howard, Edw. Le Roy Rice, Geo. Sinclair, Harry A. Ellis,
Fred. Gladdish, Franklyn Wallace, Jas. B. Bradley, Wm. H. Hallett, Geo. Primrose, ——,
Wm. Scott, Charles Parr, ——, ——, Eddie Leonard.
Puzzle—Find “Slim Jim” Dukelan, “Mike” Latham and the Foley Twins.

[306]

Wm. S. Cleveland for several years held one of the highest positions in the realms of burnt-cork amusements.

It was of him that the late William H. West once said—“that he was the greatest executive that minstrelsy ever knew.” Like several of his contemporaries, he began his professional career in an humble capacity in his native town, and shortly after went away with a circus.

In 1882 Mr. Cleveland was lithographer with Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West’s Minstrels; the three succeeding years he was with the Gigantean Minstrels; Barlow, Wilson’s Minstrels, Cal. Wagner’s Minstrels and Hallen and Hart’s Company.

July 30, 1885, he assumed the management of McNish, Johnson and Slavin’s Minstrels at the inception of that organization, and continued in that capacity for two seasons.

July 18, 1887, he became manager for Haverly’s Minstrels, and one year later the famous Haverly-Cleveland Minstrels blossomed forth.

A few years later Mr. Cleveland launched the company that bore his name, and the trade-mark continued as Cleveland’s Minstrels for several seasons; at one time there was three or four minstrel companies on the road under his name.

In August, 1898, in conjunction with George Wilson, he organized the Cleveland-Wilson Minstrels, a splendid company that had a brief existence.

His next minstrel venture was in Chicago, where on September 28, 1901, at Steinway Hall, he opened with Cleveland’s Minstre