Thursday, July 23, 2020

Cartesians: Stripping Away (some of) the untruths ...

Phew! What a couple of days. How much time spent on just a handful of Old Cartesians. And all I wanted to know was ... who were you?

I started off all-rightishly. David Stone sent me another American Princess Ida photo. The three warriors. Played by Messrs Cloney, Ainsley Scott and Early. Of whom I had, vaguely, heard only of the second-named ...

So I went to work, first, on Mr Scott. Mazellah Ainsley SCOTT (b Nashua, NH ?26 July 1840), son of George J Scott, ship's carpenter, and his wife Elizabeth née Danforth. I see them in 1855 living in Charlestown. But Ainsley was on the stage before his teens were out. I see him playing in New Orleans by 1858, and in New York by 1861. And he had already found his niche: in minstrel shows, where he played comedy and burlesque, and sang ballads in 'his fine deep bass voice'. He rose quickly in the minstrel world, playing with the San Francisco Minstrels, Morris brothers, Pell and Trowbridge's troupe, with Billy Emerson's California Minstrels ('he is not only a good basso singer but a capital actor') ... his minstrel career is detailed in several of the careful American books on minstrelsy ... and, in 1874, visited Australia with the Emerson troupe. He stayed in Australia, with his current wife who also performed, playing in various troupes, under his own management until, in 1875 , he went bankrupt. I spot him, in 1880, playing Sir Joseph Porter in HMS Pinafore in Tasmania. 

While in Australia, he fathered a son, George Clarence Ainsley Scott (28 May 1875) of whom the mother was registered as Nellie Moreton. Which was not the name of either or his first two wives. The boy died aged one, but when Scott arrived back in California he was said to have arrived with a wife and a child. But he, nevertheless, briefly married one Ida Ball ('arrested for bigamy ... fired two pistol shots') in 1883 ... Mr Scott's private life life seems to have been extremely irregular. But he carried on. He sent out Ainsley Scott's Jubilee Singers, the Kentucky Jubilee Singers ... and then suddenly he surfaces playing Arac in Princess Ida ...
He didn't make a habit of it. He returned to the minstrel stage, to Ainsley Scott's Concert Troupe' (1888), Mrs Ainsley Scott's Medicine Company (1890, wot?), and in 1901 he got married yet again. He toured, doig readings from Parsifal and lecturing on Wagner (1904) and in 1907 he was giving 'dramatic recitations' billed as '82 years old - the oldest actor in America'. He was 67. Unless.. unless there were TWO of them ... and they were both born in Nashua, and shared the wives ... bah!

I drew an absolute blank on Mr Early. But Edward J CLONEY (b ?Rhode Island, 1857; d New York ?1891) was to lead me into even more complex family details than Scott of the ?five wives. It wasn't his fault, though. I can't find a birth record for him. He comes up before my eyes for the first time in 1878, as the bass singer in the quartet at St Francis de Sales Church in Boston, in 1879 singing in concert at the YMCA in Boston Highlands, in 1880 singing at a memorial service in Boston, and in 1881, again, in Boston. But not in any public documents until 1888, when he turns up on a very scrappy marriage certificate from Jersey City which says, merely, that he is 30 years old. His wife is listed as 19, which is a lie by at least three years. So, I rather suspect 'Cloney' may have been a pseudonym.

I see him, for the first time on the stage, in 1884, playing in a production of The Beggar Student at the Spanish Fort, New Orleans. Adah Richmond is featured, our friend 'Ralph Wreckstraw' Henry Laurent in Janicki, and W A Gillow is Enterich. Spanish Fort usually staged seasons with a stock cast, but this one must have soon finished, because next thing he was up in New York playing Princess Ida!  Sometime around here, he also played with the Selina Dolaro company ... at some stage he was stage manager for John Stetson ... I see him damned for a weak portrayal of the Mikado, and then playing in Ruddigore with J W Herbert, Brocolini and Agnes Stone4 July 1886, he became a father; 5 October 1888 he married the mother of his child, Miss Josephine Folch. My last sighting of Edward is in 1890: assistant manager of the Casino, Parkersburg ... my next sighting of his wife, she is 'widow'.

The wife. Ah, the wife. THIS is where all my time went. Chasing her. Because wife and baby daughter were to make much, much more splash in American showbiz than poor papa.

Josephine Juliette Sophia Folch was born 14 February 1866 to a lady who had seemingly started life as Annie Josephine (or Anna Apollonia) Howlett and who was, apparently, a vocalist. In 1851 she had married fellow opera singer Pietro Intropidi and had a son, Fred, who would go on to become a successful theatre conductor, and a daughter, Anna. Then I lose track of Pietro, but in 1866 Annie produces a daughter, Jospehine, whose birth certificate says that the father is one Don Joseph Folch or Casta. Another opera singer? Spanish. She next appears to have married one 'John Henry' (J H Tooss), produced a child christened Harold Morris Henry, ?before marrying one Julius Krzywoszynski ...  Anyway, she ignored all other mates and called herself Ann Intropodi till her death.
Josephine also gave up the Folch and called herself Josie INTROPODI (b 14 February 1866; d NYC 19 September 1941), and under that name made herself a long and fine career as a comedienne in musical comedy. 

Josie's daughter, Ethel Josephine Clony, ka Ethel INTROPODI (b NYC 17 May 1883; d 18 December 1946) is surely the Ethel who made a fine career as a dancer and actress ...  I see that Uncle Fred also had a daughter named Ethel Josephine ... or was he just claiming little sister's out-of-wedlock babe ... you never know, with this family! Anyway, the press just 'forgot' that she had a father

I've wandered a little far from Mr Cloney (or 'Mr Cloney'), haven't I, but this is how a morning can disappear once you get on rails ... and there was worse to come!

But lets have just one slightly less hectic one. Back to Britain!

This identification may be, just MAY be wrong. I lack the one final poussière of proof. But I'm pretty sure I'm right, even though there are a couple of odd joins in my tale. Between 1886 and 1901, with gaps (see David Stone's archive) a gentleman by name 'Harold Charles' performed as a baritone with the Carte company at the Savoy Theatre. And, at odd periods during that time, an aspiring concert singer by name H C Portway appeared in London and the provinces. I posit that they were one and the same baritone.
Harold Charles PORTWAY (b The Croft, Halstead, Essex 1869; d 139 King's Avenue, Clapham 10 July 1918) was the son of a well-off ironmonger, Charles Portway and his wife Anne Winifred née Attfield. In 1881 he can been seen at Faversham Grammar School. In 1891, he is back in Halstead: but not with the family, boarding, solo, with an elderly lady, and professing to be 'ironmonger's assistant'. In between times, according to me, he had spent four years as a chorister and etcetera at the Savoy. Had he given up? Was he aiming for a career in the concert world. Or did he just not know quite what his direction was? In March 1894, he can been seen returning from America ... yes, he's been singing in St Paul's church choir in Los Angeles! It seems that he ('pupil of Modini-Wood') then tried something else

The notices were from a tryout of a local opera The Lady of Bayonne at Cheltenham (9 February). 
Harold had a go. in 1897, he appeared singing Schumann songs in a concert where Rutland Barrington was also on the bill, he staged a concert of his own, performing In a Persian Garden with Emily Squire, Adealide Lambe and Gregory Hast, and he went back to the Savoy to play a small part in His Majesty. In 1888, Mr Portaway appeared in concert again, promoting an evenung if Browning lyricked songs at St George's Hall, in 1889 he took a part in C J Abud's tour of A Pantomime Rehearsal (Tomkins), in 1900-1 he was back at the Savoy. I see him just once more, in 1905, playing 'a waiter' in a tour of The Orchid. In the 1911 census, living in two rooms in Streatham, he insisted he was living 'on his own means'. When he died in 1918, he had 55 pounds to his name.

Britain, alas, has its annoyingly coy folk too. And before I write up the tale of the lady who called herself Evelyn KINGSBURY [KEATSON, Elizabeth Louisa] (b London c 1861; d 6 Braidley Road, 
Bournemouth 5 April 1936) I'm going to have one last hour devoted to trying to discover who she was. 
Well, one more paver in the crazy paving of this story ... but no final answer, so here's what I have. See if you can fill in the gaps.
1861 A child named Elizabeth Louisa * was born 'in London'
1878 A child named Alfred William Keatson was born in Bloomsbury to said Elizabeth and a chap named [George] William Keatson of whom I can find no other record
1884 A second child was born the said parents, in Boston, 8 November. Father is listed as 'physician'. Child named Georgie Leora. (Why?). Most of the boxes on the form are left blank/
1887 Miss Evelyn Kingsbury is on tour with the D'Oyly Carte Opera as Rose Maybud in Ruddigore. Her home address is 7 Woburn Place, Russell Square. During 1887-8 she tours as Josephine, Yum Yum in the British provinces.

1889 she is in America, but back in Britain in time to play Fairy Queen in panto at Glasgow.
1891 she is advertising weekly for work. On census day, she 'widow' and Georgie are 'visitors' at the home of a carman named Cooper at Victoria Street, Ventnor, Isle of Wight. Alfred is at boarding school. Mr Keatson is, apparently, dead.
1892 Evelyn is performing at the Holborn royal, Music Hall, before going on tour in the provincial musical Bonnie Boy Blue
1893 'Musical drama' Devil may Care and Boy Blue in Little Red Riding Hood at Aberdeen
1895-7 Mrs Keatson of 15 University Garden Terrace, Glasgow 'late prima donna ...' teaching singing

1898 '16 Eaton Place, Hillhead...'
1899 Albert emigrates to New Brunswick. He is already 'resident' there
1911 Evelyn ('singer') and Georgie ('chorus girl') in a large ?hotel in Kensington
1912 Georgie becomes Mrs George Bayard Hynes (d 21 April 1973).

So, professionally, why did she find it so hard to get another job after her Carteing-years? And who the hell was ?George William Keatson?

While I was in the 'K's, I tried a couple of other inhabitants. Neither would render there veritable identity. For now.

Arthur KENNETT came from the so-called Royal English Opera Company of John O'Connor (1883-4, O'Moog in The Lily of Killarney) to join the Savoy Company (1885). He later worked as a ballad vocalist, and I see him last at Ashton-under Lyme in 1892.

Rose/Rosa CARLINGFORD seems to have been a lady. Maybe, a rather quirky one. She came from, seemingly, nowhere to make a hit of the role of Peronella in Boccaccio (1882) at the Comedy Theatre ('acts with a keen sense of humour and possesses one of those rich and rare voices which the French term 'contralto par exception basse''), and followed up by taking over as the Fairy Queen in Iolanthe at the Savoy (1883). But the follow-up was made up merely of bits and pieces. She (and Hayden Coffin) lent their names to the attempt to popularise the 'Ammoniaphone'; she joined Louisa van Noorden and her pupils in concert for Children's penny dinners at Steinway Hall (11 December 1885), and she went to America with the Vokes Family playing that 'society-amateurs' triple-bill piece A Pantomime Rehearsal (Lady Rosa Tralee) and The Tinted Venus (1885-6).
Back home, she sang in Arthur Helmore's concert at Crystal Palace, acted with amateurs at St GEorge's Hall, and in 1894 took part in an attempt to reproduce the hit of the Court triple-bill at the Avenue Theatre (Lady Barker in The Depths of the Sea). She won much more column space when she gave her name and address (258 King's Rd, Chelsea) as a reference for a nation-wide advertising campaign for some voice cure. I see her last playing Ibsen at the Stage Society (1900), and in Mice and Men (1902) at the Lyric ...  So far, I have found no suitable alter ego in the King's Road ...

But Britain wasn't totaly fruitless. I don't know why I chose to investigate Alice YORKE [FRANKISS, Alice Lightfoot] (b Hull 5 May 1863; d 8 Walsingham Rd, Hove 29 February 1952). She's rather outside my field, as most of her fine career was made as a leading or nearly-leading lady in drama and comedy in London and in the provinces. But she had a 'melodious voice', and at the age of twenty she fulfilled an engagement, in 1883, with the Carte touring company, playing Edith in The Pirates of Penzance and Hebe in HMS Pinafore. It seems to have been her only appearance in a book musical, although she spent time playing in An Adamless Eden in 1884, played a number of pantomime engagements and displayed her nice soprano in several dramatic pieces.
The daughter of a seed-merchant, Thomas Frankish, and his wife Annie née Young, she was born in Hull, but brought up in Islington, and like her sisters, was sent out as a governess. But not for long: rechristened 'Alice Yorke' she joined Edgar Bruce's company at nineteen, followed into the business by her younger brother, Hugh William, who became 'Gilbert Yorke' and began a solid career at nineteen, and by sister Emily Schofield Frankish who became 'Ella Yorke' (Mrs Robson Lambert). 
Alice's list of credits is long and wide, and includes time as leading lady to Edward Terry (The Rocket, In Chancery, Culprits), Gervaise in Drink opposite Charles Warner, The Private Secretary opposite Penley at the Comedy Theatre, top-of-the-bill tours in Alone in London, As in a Looking Glass, A Dead Man's Gold, The Arabian Nights, A Woman's Revenge, et al, in repeated London engagements (Royalty, Novelty, Comedy, Olympic, Standard, In Sight of St Paul's at the Princess's etc) and a long tour with May Fortescue playing The Lady of Lyons, Forget-me-Not, As You Like It and, particularly, Moths in which, as Fuschia Leach, she seemed to get better notices than the star. I see her as Sybil Grey in The Duchess of Coolgardie, Lady Algy in Lord and Lady Algy, Lady Sneerwell in The School for Scandal, Princess Eliza in Madame Sans-Gêne ... as well as in the role of Jenny Pigtail in Robinson Crusoe at the Crystal Palace, as Aladdin at Liverpool, as Morgiana at Plymouth and even, briefly, as Talbot to the Joan of Arc of Kate Neverist in a touring burlesque.
In 1892, Alice married Charles Edward James Blyth Pratt, sometime assistant to Albert Gilmer, then the manager of the Oxford Music Hall, and 28 February 1894 gave birth to Violet Alice Blyth Pratt. As 'Violet Blyth' she created the role in the musical Who's Hooper? which her mother hand played so successfully in the Pinero comedy, In Chancery, three decades earlier. Violet, after a breach of promise case (which she won), married twice, but seems to have been ?unofficially the wife of Lupino Lane, with whom she played in his Victoria Palace musicals, and the mother of Lauri [Henry] Lupino Lane.

The family spreads even more widely in British show business if you count marriages and remarriages. Violet's first husband was John Oliver Twiss ... and the story is told . And there's more .. but that will do.

Finally, today, I dip back into America, for a 'third little maid', who also caused me a long, time-consuming wander. Unconsummated. The archive tells us Mamie CERBI [CERBI, Matilda E] died in Providence, Rhode Island 11 August 1896.  And there she is: 'Mary McGee'. Typical. VSE. I have spent hours chasing up these people, getting more and more muddled by contradictory 'facts'  ... but, first of all, their careers.

Mamie. Apparently, she played for E E Rice in Adonis and Billee Taylor, but I first spot her in late 1885 and early 1886, cast as Peep-Bo in The Mikado, alongside such folk as J W Herbert, Mary Beebe, Agnes Stone and Augusta Roche/Alice Carle.

She played in the local musical, The Mystic Isle, at the Temple, Philadelphia and, in July 1886, she allegedly married. 'Miss Ulmar's understudy as Yum Yum' reported the press had married the fine young light comedy actor-singer Robert E Graham. The young couple, thereafter, most often appeared together: in The Little Tycoon ('a stunning soubrette'), in The Crystal Slipper, where Graham played the Baron and Mamie took-over from May Yohe as the Price when that lady was dropped after first night, in a touring version of the flop The Sea King (1890-1)

 and in their own vehicle, Larry the Lord, in which Mamie performed 'her Italian specialities'.

In between times, Mamie bore a son, Robert (9 May 1891) and either one daughter with two different names (Matilda, Naomi) or twins (10 August 1893) at E13th Street. And then she died. I wonder why?

Well, this is what I've dug up. The parental names on the birth certificates of her children are Matilda E Cerbi and Robert E Graham McGee. There aren't and weren't many folk named Cerbi in the USA. I've picked up just a handful. A I refuse to believe that there is more than one Matilda E. Even though I can't find her birth registration, I can find, in 1881, 'Matilda E Cerbi aged 18, daughter of Benedetto Cerbi (1825-1885) and Marianna née Tognini (1844-1905). Benedetto was a bookbinder from La Spezia, settled in New York, and he also had sons, George (1864-1940), Henry (1870-1963) and Francis (1872-1913) .. I could scarcely believe that was our sweet soubrette, though. For the document was a marriage certificate ..

and it was closely followed by another, for the birth, a 69th Street, of Martha Caroline Bennette or Bennett ... 23 March 1881 ...  so our little Peep-Bo, our stunning soubrette, had already done a bit of Peep-boing when she married (or 'married') Bob Graham. I don't know what became of Henry and little Martha: none of these people seem to partake of censi et al ...

So, Mamie was now Mrs Graham. Or Mrs McGee. Or was she? Next ball of wool. 'Robert Graham or McGee, born Baltimore, 1859'. Nix. Oh, look, here's a learned piece about early movie makers: 'Born in New York, New York in April 1896, Shadrack Edmond Graham was the son of a Broadway actor
/producer Charles Edmond Graham and prima ballerina Edith Craske Graham. The Graham family moved to Hollywood shortly after Shad was born'... another adds 'his Uncle was Robert E Graham...' and calls Edith 'international prima ballerina at the Drury Lane Theatre, London'. 

Oh dear. And now I'm irredeemably sidetracked. But the movie world, of course, deals in mythology. Edmond Shadrick Joseph Walstrum (ps Graham) was born NYC 26 April 1896. His father was Charles Edmond Walstrum (ps Graham), actor, and his mother the former Mrs Catherine Eliza[beth] Pierpoint, wife (1875) of music engraver William Pierpoint and mother of Catherine, Percy Valentine and William Pierpoint. Yes, Eliza's birthname was indeed Craske, she was the daughter of a hotel waiter of that name, and yes she tardily began a career as a music-hall and theatre dancer. (Shadrack wrote a book titled Mama was a Ballerina but was good enough to call it a novel!). 'Edith' actually appeared on stage wth Robert and Mamie, but I challenge the filmies to find a lien of parentage with Bob. Though the Walstrum descendants of Peter Walstrum, a British cordwainer of that name, were indeed Baltimore-born folk ... don't say I have to check Sophia, Rosalie and Amelia to see if they married a McGee ...  Baltimore marriage records are crap, as I found out when going all the way there to find 'Alice May'. Bah! I've strayed too far from Mamie ... I would guess that she died as Mamie E Graham McGee ... and nobody took much notice.

Bob died 17 July 1916. Son Robert went into the theatre as R E Graham jr, later into films, and died 12 November 1959 in Cincinnati. The girl or girls ..? I see Matilda (Mrs Boesch then Mrs Thomas Phillips 1941) ...

This could go on, with details and extensions in every corner ... but let's end with Mamie's son ... 

I think I'll need a day or two off after that lot. Perhaps I should give my house a going over ... a spring dusting in mid-winter ... that means taking all the books off the shelves ... and, of course, I'll open one or three ...

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