"Early History of Negro Minstrelsy," by Col. T. Allson Brown. Copyright © 2005 by William L. Slout. All rights reserved.
Ethiopian minstrelsy, with its accompaniments of wit and drollery, became one of the standard amusements because of the strong appeal it made to the masses, who were touched by its simple melodies and its effusions of genuine wit. In its proper place we confess to a tender admiration for burnt cork and we believe that one of the moral uses of colored minstrels is to give increased amusement to the fagged public. We admire the middle man. We respect the quiet and simple dignity with which he endures the jests and ignorance of those frivolous creatures, the end men. We reverence, too, the vast intellectual acquirements he displays when applied to for information by those witless waifs, and his unlimited capacity for propounding conundrums and correcting the errors in grammar and pronunciation of “brudder bones” and “tambo.” He is the minstrel mentor to a brace of African Telemachuses, but he labors under the disadvantage that so many great minds labor under, of being dwarfed by the circumstances by which he is compelled to remain surrounded. He is continually letting himself down to the capacities of the rest of the troupe, now making smooth a piece of disjointed syntax, now letting in light upon some scientific misconception, now ploddingly endeavoring to understand the tangled anecdote that one of his associates is telling, and now the victim of a heartless jest that one of them has perpetuated; but always the same genial, gentlemanly, unruffled creature, surveying the end men---those silly black butterflies at either terminus of the footlights—with the smiling forbearance which comes of innate superiority. Probably without a possibility of doubt we can safely say that William Bernard, of the San Francisco Minstrels, had no living equal as an interlocutor or middle man.
The community owes much to these representatives of the Negro who, by talent and industry, divested the black face entertainment of the coarseness and vulgarity that once characterized it; for amusements have an influence as well as other popular demonstrations; and when that influence tends only to the production of fun and harmony, no sensible or feeling mind can object to the popularity of an entertainment that can certainly do no harm and which will at times help to drive care from the aching heart or tend to divert the musical taste in a channel that is correct, simple and pure.
Many people wonder why minstrel music has so broad a hold on the public taste and why the cork opera, with its threadbare smartness and everlasting repeti-tions, so stubbornly defies the ordinary revolutions of the public taste. But the explanation is furnished on the one side by the talent and ever-springing “animal” wit of such men as Billy Birch and Charley Backus, while, on the other hand, the genius of Tom Moore—denied by artists any lofty place in music--- is the unseen shrine at which, through these touching minstrel tunes, the millions of our race on both sides of the Atlantic who love music solely for its melody, bow down and worship. Nothing could remain heavy or be stale when handled by such men as Birch and Backus. The merest commonplace, under their grotesque touch, became at once imbued with their overflowing fun and every thought received a form so ludicrous that it could not fail to electrify an audience.
It is this singular faculty of diversifying sameness which we have designated animal wit; not because it is groveling and low, but because, instead of depending upon idea or upon verbal turn, it consists mainly of a certain indescribable magnetism of manner, which is usually involuntary with the actor, but which surprises and irresistibly captures the risible of every looker on. A dull story, which in ordinary hands would send every listener yawning to his bed, would, when told by one of those comedians, fairly split the sides of the gravest of his audience. Those who look on everything with a serious face will find, in the popularity of negro minstrelsy among the educated classes, a singular illustration of the close connection that exists between Puritanism and extreme frivolity. Scores of persons who would think it wicked to see the highest work of dramatic art, performed by the finest company in the world, will, with the utmost complacency, spend a long evening with the minstrels.
When negro minstrelsy was in its infancy, the opening part was always the great feature of the evening’s entertainment; the simple yet beautiful ballads touched the great heart of the masses, while the well-told jokes and conundrums of the end men leavened the whole with a spice of life and joyousness which sent the audience to their homes in a delightful frame of mind. In those days the members of the troupe appeared in the first part dressed as humble laborers or slave hands of the Southern plantations, and afterwards as dandy darkies of the North. Many changes have since taken place. Negro minstrelsy of the present time is quite a different amusement to that given in the olden times. If our minstrel managers would give simple, touching melodies more real negro minstrelsy instead of so much tomfoolery and lavish scenic display and wardrobe, it would engender a more healthful tone and prove more attractive and beneficial in the end.
When and why should genuine negro minstrelsy be refined? Was there anything coarse and vulgar about the sports and songs of a group of field hands who enjoyed themselves on the lawn and amused the planter and his friends and family on the verandah? Never! What might be considered vulgar in minstrelsy has been introduced by performers who prefer the boisterous guffaws of the gallery to the more subdued and dignified plaudits of the orchestra.
Origins of Negro Minstrelsy
For nearly seventy years negro minstrelsy has been one of our public amusements. Ever since 1843 it has been steadily improving. The plantation darkie who sang about the ham fat and danced the essence is a thing of the past and “Old Black Joe” traveling back to Dixie is an absurdity and an anomaly in the present day. Much has been said and written of this popular branch of amusement—as to where it had its origin, who were its originators, etc. As early as 1799, a Mr. Grawpner blacked up and appeared at the old Federal Street Theatre, Boston, and sang a song of a Negro in character, in the part of the poor African slave in the play of “Orinoko; or, the Royal Slave.” This was on the 30th of December of that year.
Lewis Hallam the younger was the original Mungo in America. Mungo is a stage Negro, and Mr. Hallam did it at the John Street Theatre, New York, May 29, 1769.
“Potpie” Herbert blackened his face and publicly sang a song on the stage at the Albany (N.Y.) Theatre in 1815. When the curtain rose the immense audience were astonished to see appear before them, dressed and blacked-up, a man the perfect representation of a full blooded African. When he commenced singing to an original air, the excitement was great. The following is the song. It was called “Siege of Plattsburgh.”
As the song proceeded in detail with the incidents of the battle and final success of the American Army, the excitement increased to the highest intensity and the enthusiasm became uncontrollable. The curtain was again rung up and the song again sung and this was continued until the manager was compelled to apologize for the exhaustion of the singer. So great was its success that “Pot-pie” Herbert was engaged to open at the Park Theatre, New York. The tune in which it was sung was the most musical and characteristic of the rich African melody ever heard and the verse was flowing and disclosed poetic talent.
George Nichols, the clown, attached many years to Purdy Brown’s Theatre and Circus of the South and West, was also among the first of burnt cork gentry. Nichols was a man of no education, yet he was the author of many anecdotes, stories, verses, etc. He was original. He would compose the verses for his comic songs within ten minutes of the time of his appearance before the audience. His “flights of fancy” and “flashes of wit” were truly astonishing and highly amusing. Nichols first sang “Jim Crow” as clown in 1834, afterwards as a Negro. He first conceived the idea from a French darkie, a banjo player, known from New Orleans to Cincinnati as Picayune Butler—a copper colored gentleman, who gathered many a picayune by singing “Picayune Butler is Going Away,” accompanying himself on his four- stringed banjo. An old darkie of New Orleans, known as “Old Corn Meal,” furnished Nichols with many airs, which he turned to account. This old Negro sold Indian meal for a living. He might be seen from morning till night with his cart and horse. He frequently stopped before Bishop’s celebrated hotel and sang a number of Negro melodies. He possessed a fine falsetto and baritone voice. Corn Meal picked up many bits and pieces for his singing.
A brother to Arch Madden, the clown, sang Negro songs on a raised platform at the old Vauxhall Garden in New York in 1828, one refrain of his songs reading,
Bob Farrell, an actor, sang “Zip Coon,” composed by Nichols. Lewis Hyel, of Brown’s Company, sang “Roley Boley” by Nichols. Nichols first sang “Clar de Kitchen.” This song he arranged from hearing it sung by the Negro firemen on the Mississippi River. The tune of “Zip Coon” was taken from a rough jig dance, called “Natchez Under the Hill,” where the boatmen, river pirates, gamblers and courtesans congregated for the enjoyment of a regular hoe-down in the old time. Sam Tatnall, the equestrian, sang “Back Side of Albany.” John and Frank Whittaker sang “Coal Black Rose” in 1830. Bill Keller, a low comedian of Philadelphia, was the original “Coal Black Rose.” John Clements, leader of the orchestra for Duffy & Forrest, composed the music. George Washington Dixon created a furor by singing this song; also “Long- Tailed Blue,” “Lubla Rosa,” and other plantation songs at the Chatham Theatre, New York, under the management of Flynn in 1829, when Sloman commenced singing buffo songs. Dixon commenced singing buffo at the Albany Theatre in 1830. In July, 1830, he was at the Park Theatre, New York, announced as “The celebrated American buffo singer,” and continued to get his name at the head of the bills. The New York Mirror of August 7, 1840, said:
Mr. Dixon first appeared in Philadelphia at the Arch Street Theatre, June 19, 1834, and sang his prize extravaganza of “Zip Coon” for the benefit of Andrew J. Allen.
When the cholera broke out in Philadelphia, he published a “Cholera Gazette,” giving, day by day, the exact state of the city’s health. Just at mid-day each day, there assembled in front of the Health Office a crowd, dense enough to breed a cholera, to listen to the report of the Board of Health on the cases and deaths of the previous twenty-four hours. And as true as the bell struck twelve, so true would Dixon come forth and from the elevated step announce the calamities of the time. But the cholera left and so did Dixon. In May, 1836, he visited Boston; and what his reception was there we refer to the following, which we extract from the Boston Courier of that date:
In 1830 we find him in New York, publishing a paper called the Polyanthus, which dealt in personal abuse. He suffered six months’ imprisonment for an alleged libel on the Rev. Dr. Hawks, rector of St. Thomas’ Church. In 1852 he was living in New Orleans. He is said to have been the cause of the death of Miss Missouri by publishing a filthy article against her in his notorious sheet. Dixon died at the Charity Hospital, New Orleans, March, 1861.
Barney Burns, known from Quebec to New Orleans as a job actor, first sang “Long-Tail Blue” and “Sich a Getting Up Stair,” written and composed by Joe Blackburn. Burns was very eccentric and talented and originated many of the best “gags” still popular with his successors. He was famous as a clown in the circus. He was the first clown to sing “Jim Crow” in a circus, the song having at that time just been popularized by Daddy Rice.
Joe Blackburn was originally trained for the Roman Catholic priesthood but proved a great favorite as a circus clown. He was the first American clown to visit England. He died at Memphis.
The first to do “Lucy Long” were Dan Gardner, Barney Williams and S. S. Sanford. The first black “clown” was William Donaldson. He had been a minstrel performer. He first appeared in the circus ring in Philadelphia. The first song ever sung on any stage by a band of minstrels was “The Boatman’s Dance” by R. W. Pelham.
I went on board de oder da,
Tu here wat de boteman had tu sa,
Wen I lef mi pashun lose
Dey kramm’d me in de kalabuse.
I kum dis time an kum no mor,
Lef me luse and I’ll go on shor;
Dey tole dey was a bulli krew,
Wid a hooser mate an capten too.
Wen yu go tu de boteman’s ball
Dance wid mi wife or don’t dance at all,
Sky blu jacket and tarpaulin hat,
Look out niggers fo de nine-tale kat.
De boteman he is a lucky man,
Nun can do as de boteman kan,
I neber sor a pritte gal in my life
But dat she was sum boteman’s wife.
In 1835 a miscellaneous entertainment was given at the Patriot House in Chatham Square, New York. Dan Gardner was the wench dancer and William Whitlock made his first appearance on the stage here in the Negro sketch of “Oh, Hush.” A young man by the name of Lester first composed and sang a song called “Sitting on a Pail;” also another he called “Gumbo Chaff.” This was about the year 1836. In 1836, P. T. Barnum traveled with Aaron Turner’s Circus and in consequence of some of the Negro performers of the company having left at Camden, S. C., Barnum blacked himself thoroughly and sang the songs, “Zip Coon,” “Gittin’ Up Stairs” and “The Raccoon Hunt; or, Sitting on a Pail.” T. D. Rice accumulated quite a fortune by singing the song of “Jim Crow” and “Long-Tail Blue.”
In 1837 an entertainment consisting of equestrianism and minstrels was given at the Lion Theatre, Boston, commencing on February 22. A burlesque Ethiopian opera was given. “Oh, Hush!” was performed with Harper (the original representative) as Gumbo Cuff, alias Jim Brown. Hall appeared as Sambo Johnson, Reeve as Peat Williams, Ruggles as Clem Green, Churchill as Col. Ben, Knapp as Joe Harris, Robinson as Pompey, and Mr. Nathan as Miss Dinah.
“Daddy” Rice appeared at the Chatham Theatre, New York, in November, 1843, in the farce of “The Foreign Prince; or, Nigger Assurance,” also in “Bone Squash Diable.”
During the year of 1838, E. P. Christy, Dick Sliter, John Daniels and John Perkins (a Negro jig dancer who played on the jawbone) were giving entertainments in Child’s Alley (now Pine Street), Rochester, N. Y. They charged three cents each admission. They all blacked up and had bones, tambourine, banjo (made out of a gourd), fiddle, jawbone (horse’s), and triangle. The bones used were horse rib fifteen inches long. E. P. Christy was the originator and manager.
In 1838, James Sanford played the “Black Doorkeeper” at the Franklin Theatre, New York. Charles Jenkins and G. W. Pelham appeared at the Museum, New York, in January, 1842. The same month Frank Diamond, Billy Whitlock and Tom Booth appeared at the Arcade Garden, 255 Bleecker Street, New York. At the same time, Dick Pelham, Master Chestnut, Dick Van Bremen and Joe Sweeney performed at the Bowery Amphitheatre, New York. In April of the same year, Frank Diamond and Whitlock were at the Chatham Theatre, New York.
In the Spring of 1839, John Diamond was dancing jigs at the Franklin Theatre, New York; and in the fall of 1839 he went to the New Chatham Theatre, where, in addition to dancing, he became an actor, playing Black Ike in “Shabby Genteel” and appearing in extravaganzas with Barney Williams, William Whitlock, John Smith, and Master Coleman. When Diamond danced, Barney Williams used to keep time. In those days, Barney Williams was a dancer and on one occasion he was announced to dance the ‘“Cawchoaker,” a burlesque of Fanny Elssler’s “Cachuca.’’
While P. T. Barnum was managing Vauxhall Garden, New York City, he brought out John Diamond, the jig dancer. Negro delineations had become a popular amusement with the public. Having some trouble with Diamond, he let him go.
Diamond was accidentally discovered about the wharves of New York by Barnum. Barnum was then as poor as Job’s turkey; but having an eye to business, conceived the idea (i.e., gag) to write a life of Master Diamond. A greater amount of nonsense is seldom if ever put together—but it took! Barnum reaped a harvest. He cleared $1,500 the first night at the St. Charles Theatre, New Orleans, on Sunday evening. The types said it was a grand match dance for $2,000. Barnum, finding that the Diamond excitement was played out and the dancer was an uncontrollable and vicious youth, dropped the burnt cork speculation and left for New York.
Diamond was of a revengeful and passionate disposition. He narrowly escaped with his life in Mexico. Having enlisted in the American army, he made an attack on his superior officer. For this he was sentenced to be shot, but fortunately for Diamond the treaty of peace saved his life.
He danced for many years with Jim Sanford. They both lived fast, dressed in the height of flashy extravagance. They both died in Blockley Alms House, Philadelphia. Diamond died October 29, 1857, aged thirty-four years. Diamond was brought from the Alms House and buried from the domicile of Mr. Grear, in Sansom Street, a man of good heart and full of philanthropy and kindness.
Jim Sanford was a Baltimorean. His correct name was Blandford. He dressed in the height of fashion, with never a hair on his head out of place. He commanded a large salary, lived fast, and died one of the most miserable objects at the Alms House that human eyes ever beheld.
The original Diamond and Dick Pelham were rivals. They had a match dance at the Chatham Theatre, New York; on February 13, 1840, for $500 a side, and Diamond was declared the winner.
Shortly after Barnum lost the original Diamond, he drummed up an opposition “Diamond,” whose right name was Frank Lynch. He was a jig dancer. We would here state that there have been two Jubas and three Master Diamonds. Every night was Vauxhall Garden crowded to witness Diamond’s antics by anxious spectators who suffered themselves to be inveigled into an excitement which formerly could have been conjured up at the old Haymarket by the production of half a score of thoroughbred darkies, eager to dance themselves to death’s door to acquire the paltry trophy of a string of eels. There was also another Diamond (No. 3), but he never amounted to much as a performer. The last we heard of him was in Philadelphia, where he danced a trial jig at Jayne’s Hall, December 7, 1857.
The original Juba, whose real name was William Henry Lane, was a colored boy. He was the greatest jig dancer ever seen. He was a great attraction wherever he appeared. He danced a match with Diamond, the original, at the Bowery Amphitheatre, New York, on July 8, 1844, for $200. Juba’s father and mother were both living at this time. His step-father’s name was Zachary Reed, well known in those days as a frequenter of Pete Williams’ dance house.
In 1849, Tom Briggs, the banjo player, and Gilbert Ward Pell, brother of Richard Pell (Pelham), took Juba to England, where he became quite a card. He was married there to a white woman, lived a fast life, dissipated freely, and died miserably during the season of 1851-52. It has been stated that his skeleton was on exhibition at the Surrey Music Hall, Sheffield, England.
For the benefit of John Smith at the Bowery Amphitheatre, New York, in June, 1842, T. Coleman, Chestnut, Hoffman and Smith put on burnt cork and appeared.
On November 14, 1842, the Franklin Theatre, New York, was re-opened with a variety entertainment. Dan Emmett, Frank Brower and Master Pierce were billed as the “Southern Gentlemen,” Master Pierce being specially called “The Little Darkie Ariel.” At the same time, Tom Backus, Masters Gil W. and R. W. Pelham were playing at the Franklin Theatre. Brower shortly after withdrew, while Emmett and Pierce alternated their performances between the Franklin and the “Amphitheatre of the Republic” (the Bowery Circus), 37 Bowery. Pelham withdrew from the Franklin and Frank Kent took his place. Tom Backus, called the “Negro Paganini,” was the violinist.
At the Amphitheatre (now the Arch Street Theatre) was announced a performance of Negro singing, etc., by Frank Whittaker, Bob Williams, Master Bob Edwards and Tom Vaughn, on January 4, 1843. But this was not a minstrel performance. They used bones and banjo.
On January 16, 1843, Dick Pelham took a benefit, when he appeared in sixteen songs and dances as a Negro clown and [in] the Ethiopian opera of “Negro Assurance.” Leaving the Amphitheatre, Pelham went to the Chatham, where he took a benefit on January 31. It was at this time that “the original 1842 band” were using the stage of the Chatham during the day, rehearsing for their early public debut.
The First Minstrel Band
Much has been said and written as to the first regular band of minstrels as we came to know them. That Billy Whitlock was the originator no one will deny. One day in July, 1842, Whitlock, who happened to be with Dan Emmett at his (the latter’s) boarding house in New York, suggested to Emmett the practicing with him of the banjo and the fiddle. After practicing several times at the boarding house (in Catharine Street), Frank Brower (who happened to call in) was added to the party and played the bones. In a few days Dick Pelham joined the party and played the tambourine. They continued to practice until the winter of 1842 fairly set in. One day they all happened to meet at the North American Hotel in the Bowery and, while chatting together, Whitlock proposed going across to the Bowery Circus and serenade the manager, Nat Howes; which they did, the result of which was an offer of an engagement to the party, provided they could sing together. When asked if they could sing, Dan Emmett vocalized “Old Dan Tucker,” etc.
Dick Pelham, who was playing an engagement at the Chatham Theatre, took a benefit January 31, 1843, and the party played for him. They styled themselves The Virginia Minstrels. Frank Brower played the bones; Dan Emmett, the violin; Billy Whitlock, the banjo; and R. W. Pelham, the tambourine. This was the first time a regularly organized minstrel band ever played in America.
The party continued their rehearsals at Bartlett’s billiard room in the Branch Hotel, a leading sporting house on the East Side, opposite the Bowery Amphitheatre and at one time kept by Tom Hyer, the pugilist.
Emmett, Whitlock, Pelham and Brower were engaged by the management of the Bowery Amphitheatre; and, as The Virginia Minstrels, they opened at that house February 6, 1843, and repeated their performance given at the Pelham benefit. This was the first regular engagement of this party (their first performance having been a complimentary one) and it was at this house that they got their first real recognition from the press, which probably accounts for the fact that the date of February 6, 1843, has so long erroneously been recognized as the birthday of minstrelsy. They met with such success that they were at once secured by Welch & Rockwell (then managers of the Park Theatre, New York), and appeared there for two weeks in conjunction with the original Diamond. Then they went to Boston and for six weeks they played to large audiences at the Tremont Temple. Returning to New York, they appeared at the Park Theatre three nights for manager Simpson. They were making great additions to their entertainment. The quartette were gradually improving in their performances, which consisted of “songs composed expressly for the minstrels by their leader, old Dan Emmett,” banjo solos, jig, reel and trial dancing, “Dinah’s Serenade” and “Locomotive Lecture.”
The party had met with so much success that they concluded to take a trip to Europe. They took a benefit at the Park Theatre and sailed for England in the packet ship New York, under the direction of George Wooldridge (afterwards known as “Tom Quick”), who had accompanied them on their Boston trip as agent.
They sailed on April 23, 1843, and arrived in Liverpool on May 21. The entire capital of the party when they started was five dollars. On the voyage a frivolous quarrel caused a separation, Brower and Emmett sticking together, while Whitlock clung to Pelham; but Emmett’s song of “Dandy Jim” was the means of speedily bringing the four into harmony again. During the voyage, a German with a fondness for poker had an hour’s sitting with Pelham, who won all his money; and, relying upon this unexpectedly acquired wealth, the party were in no hurry to begin operations after reaching Liverpool, especially as all had heavy colds. They put up at the Bear Tavern, where (unknown to Whitlock, Brower and Emmett) a German from Charleston, S. C., beat Pelham out of all his winnings from the Teuton aboard ship. This forced the minstrels to go to work and they opened at Concert Hall, Concert Street, Liverpool, on May 25, 1843. This was the first “minstrel” entertainment ever given in Europe.
They then went to Manchester, where they gave six entertainments at Sloan’s Theatre. The following week they appeared at the Queen’s Theatre, same city. Thence they went to London, appearing at the Adelphi Theatre in conjunction with the well known wizard, Anderson. The following is a copy of an advertisement from one of the newspapers of the day:
On the appearance of the “band” upon the stage, the reception they met with was anything but encouraging. An officer in the first tier of boxes saluted them with:
“Go home! You d—d humbugs! Go home, I say!”
While the disconcerted minstrels were debating as to whether they should “go home” or begin their entertainment, a white-haired old gentleman arose to their relief:
“Gentlemen, Americans, go on with your performance. There is but one fool in this house. He sits up there with a soldier’s coat on.”
The father of the officer had lost money through Pennsylvania’s act of repudiation. The officer essayed to retort. The old gentleman began to hiss him. The whole house joined in. The officer was ejected and there was no further interruption throughout the minstrels’ engagement in London, the terms of which were that they were to share equally with Prof. Anderson after deducting £10 for expenses. But the house was filled nightly with orders; so that during their four weeks’ engagement the Americans did not get enough to pay their board.
Their London engagement having terminated, Billy Whitlock and Wooldridge returned to America. Frank Brower, with Joe Sweeney, went traveling with Cooke’s Circus through Scotland. Emmett and Pelham went to Astley’s in London, where they performed eight weeks. While at this theatre, the stage manager annoyed Emmett in every conceivable manner. He would not permit him to tune his banjo in his dressing room. When Emmett first attempted to tune it, he was asked by the stage manager:
“Can you play the 104th Psalm?”
“Yes!” was the quick answer. “My daddy played it for yours in 1812. If I mistake not, it goes like this.” And the banjoist thrummed “Yankee Doodle.” Whenever he related this incident, Emmett added: “Broadfoot, the stage manager was such a fool that he couldn’t see the point.”
Leaving Astley’s, Emmett went on a traveling tour with June & Sands’ American Circus, finishing out the summer of 1843. In the following spring (1844), Whitlock opened (April 22) at the Theatre Royal, Dublin, with Brower, Emmett and Joe Sweeney for four weeks, the party having joined fortunes once more. From Dublin the party went to Belfast, Cork, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and a return visit to Glasgow. The party then broke up. Brower and Sweeney returned to America. Dan Emmett joined Cooke’s Circus for a few weeks, after which he returned to America.
Soon after Whitlock’s arrival in America he met Barney Williams, who persuaded him to accept an engagement at the Chatham Theatre. Barney Williams in those days was an ambitious performer. He was anxious to become a minstrel. One night he would play the bones, the tambourine the next, or anything they chose to put him at. He played at the Vauxhall Garden in 1838 with Sam Johnson, Jerry Bryant and Tom Booth. His great specialty was “Dandy Jim,” Irish stories and “Fox Hunter’s Jig.” It was while at the Chatham that Whitlock sang for the first time (in America) “Dandy Jim.”
Thackeray, the great British novelist, thus spoke of negro minstrelsy, (A more comprehensive criticism on the “black art” than is here rendered never emanated from man.).
When minstrelsy was in its infancy, the banjo was the favorite instrument. It was a simply made instrument and its invention was not due to the Negro. J. G. Wilkinson, in his work on the ancient Egyptians, shows a picture of the Egyptian lyre that, in every vital respect, is a modern banjo. It has an oblong hoop, a neck and head, with pegs and strings running from the head across the skin, stretched over the hoop. There were no places for stopping the four strings, and hence only four notes could be made.
The “tack-head” banjo, made in the old minstrel days, was the one that possessed beauties of its own. The calfskin head was wet and stretched over the rim as tightly as possible and then tacked down around the edge. James Buckley, father of the Buckley Brothers, made the first important improvement on the instrument, which was tightly fitting a narrow iron ring over the outside of the skin at the top of the hoop, so that pulling the ring downward all around would tighten the skin on top. Brackets were fixed to the side of the hoop in the middle of the outside and pierced for screws, which ran upward into the iron ring. A key worked the screws and pulled the iron ring that stretched the hide to the desired tension. Joe Sweeney made the innovation of adding the short, fine catgut string beside the wire string, making the banjo a five string instrument.
David Jacobs was the first banjo manufacturer. He had a little store on Grand Street, New York. In 1858, a German named Harless commenced the manufacture of banjos at from $3 to $5 each. In less than ten years he returned to Germany with $20,000.
The first time the banjo was ever used in the orchestra of a regular dramatic establishment was at Wallacks Theatre, New York. Charles E. Dobson was engaged by Thomas Baker, the musical director, and was one of the features every evening of the week, commencing March 4, 1867.
The First Minstrel Entertainment Under Canvas
This was in 1843 under the management of Hugh Lindsay, familiarly known as Old Hontz, the clown. Dan Rice, Dan Minnich, Master Frank Rosston, Hen Nagle, and S. S. Sanford comprised the company. Sanford was then known as the champion dancer. Hugh Lindsay, through his connection with the show business, acquired a widespread popularity and acquaintance and, in his day, by his natural born talent and wit, probably contributed as much to the hilarity, mirth and amusement of mankind as any man living. He was born in Philadelphia in April, 1804. At the age of fifteen years he engaged himself as an apprentice to the show business with J. H. Myers and Lewis Mestayer, who kept a sort of show room in Market Street, above Fourth, in Philadelphia, consisting of gymnastic performances, wire walking, jugglery, etc. Subsequently, he became connected with the traveling circus and menagerie of John Miller (the pioneer of the business) of Allentown. While with Miller he attended to the door, acted clown and drove the camels. Subsequently, he engaged with Weyman’s traveling company. This was in 1832-34.
After this he re-engaged with Miller’s company, then under the management of Rufus Welch.
In 1825, Mr. Miller sold out his menagerie to Mr. Crosby of New York for $4,000, and Lindsay engaged under the new proprietor. The performances in those days consisted of ground and lofty tumbling, slack rope vaulting and tight rope dancing, still vaulting on a spring board over men and horses, and, in fact, nearly all kinds of acting that you see now in the circus, except riding in the ring. They had a spotted horse who was well trained and performed many tricks of sagacity. He introduced to the public S. S. Sanford, a son of his sister. A few years prior to his death he left the profession and went to tavern keeping in Northumberland County, Pa., and afterwards moved to Bucks County, where he died.
Minstrelsy Well Advertised
From the days of Edwin P. Christy down to date, the minstrel managers have been good advertisers. Christy, like some of the ambitious politicians, “claimed everything in sight.” Very naturally, the early minstrel managers, shrewd and observant, patterned after the circus in the method of advertising, especially in poster billing and press work and later on as to the street parade. To begin with, the pioneers of minstrelsy did not employ the posters to any great extent, for the reason that the placing of the pictures on the walls was limited, the billposting business still being in its infancy. The billposter was most instances the janitor of the hall and “the hall” was bare of scenery and the stage but little more than a platform.
Probably William W. Newcomb was the first minstrel manager to appreciate the poster at its full value. Over the routes which he played, he caused to be placed and maintained at his own expense a number of small stands, which on each recurring visit were covered with his pictorial work. During the interim, the billposter was permitted to use the boards, but in no case to be used by any rival minstrel organization.
Three-quarter sheets, printed on both sides, came into use and they were usually illustrated in the highest style of the then crude art of wood engraving.
Some of the minstrel managers were ready writers. Such was W. W. Newcomb, accounted for by his advantage of education and superior intelligence. Sam Sharpley also wrote a good bill and knew his English, as did Charley Morris, M. T. Skiff, J. A. Raynor and William Foote, originator of J. H. Haverly’s Mastodons and the ever-to-be remembered “Forty, Count ‘em Forty.” Charles Duprez could get up a stunner of a bill, piling adjective upon adjective, paying no regard to Webster’s Dictionary or Lindley Murray. And some of the brilliant advance men took their first lessons in practical show advertising in passing ‘round the quarter-sheets. I have been there myself and know how it was.
Morris Bros., Pell and Trowbridge used stands of posters in plain black. Alington had an effective bill. It was a large half-sheet printed in red and bearing two attractive illustrations.
James W. Morse was the discoverer of pine wood engraving. Not many years ago he was still alive and in good health, at the age of eighty-six. He resided on West Twelfth Street, New York. Before pine wood was used, cuts were made on mahogany and only block printing could be done. After experimenting a great deal, he found that he could use soft wood on the side grain and that a picture could be cut on pine as well as mahogany and that show bills could be printed in many colors and at a much lower cost. The first posters of this kind were made for Seth B. Howes, the circus man, who took them to England, where they were regarded as a great novelty. He never took out a patent, although he kept his discovery a secret for six years. Mr. Morse was related to the great telegraph inventor.
The first lithograph ever used was in the spring of 1871. It was a twenty sheet stand, made by Mears of Buffalo, N. Y., for Johnny Thompson’s “On Hand” Co. It cost 12¢ a sheet of plain black. The subject was a large hand with the word “On” in the center.
In 1850, Dick Sliter, who billed himself as the “champion dancer,” challenged the world to produce a white man or boy to dance a trial dance with him for a sum of $50 to $1,000, he to dance his original rattlesnake jig, Tar River dance, and Lucy Long. For his masterly dancing on the morning of December 12, a public presentation of a champion belt was made to Mr. Sliter by the citizens of Cincinnati, with the word “Champion” engraved thereon in silver letters.
A match dance took place at the Melodeon, Boston, on March 16, 1859, between Mickey Warren and Hank Mason. They danced two jigs, a reel, and a walk around. Mickey was declared the winner. A. Ronne, banjoist, played for both.
It was in 1862 that the match dance controversy was started among the friends of R. M. Carroll, who was at the Canterbury, and Tommy Peel of Bryant’s. Many other dancers laid claim to being the best, or chanpion dancer. After much talk, a “match” was made between Carroll and Peel for $250 a side and the championship. The trial took place at Wallack’s Theatre, Broadway, near Broome Street, New York, on Wednesday afternoon, April 16, 1862, at about 4 p.m. Tommy had the first put in, Frank Converse furnishing the music on his old cremona. Carroll followed, with William Ross as his “musicianer.” The result was Peel was decided the victor. The amount of stakes (said to he $500) was deposited in the hands of a Mr. VanTine, who was chosen stakeholder. The attendance at the theatre was large. A short variety entertainment preceded the dance. Robert Hart, judge for Carroll, announced that the audience would keep quiet and no applause indulged in. In tossing for choice, Carroll was the winner and Peel was sent on to dance first. He was attired in pink striped shirt, dark blue velvet knee breeches, white stockings and black pumps. Converse took his seat upon the upper part of the stage with one banjo by his side and another in his hands. All being ready, Converse struck up and Peel stepped out to the sound of the music.
During the dancing a dog was very thoughtlessly permitted to make his way upon the stage and walk towards the dancer. The canine was called off and again made his appearance. At the expiration of 10 minutes 4 seconds from the time the first step was taken, the last movement of the wind-up was given and Peel retired amid a perfect storm of applause. Once during the dance and while Peel was executing a very fine step the people applauded and that was the only time while the contest was in progress. Peel and Converse then made their exit and Mr. Carroll appeared with his banjo player, Mr. Ross. Carroll wore a dark blue shirt, trimmed, with lapels and collar thrown open, disclosing a white shirt underneath; trousers of bright red, reaching to the ankle, around which they were tight, but somewhat loose upwards; white stockings and black pumps. Early in the dance he made one very bad break. As he progressed he executed some difficult steps. He appeared to labor more than Peel and was apparently more distressed. Towards the latter portion of the dance he revived by performing a side-step, going clear around the stage, moving the feet sideways, in and out. This was a sort of rest for him and enabled him to make a most capital wind-up, in which he performed some of the most novel, attractive and difficult steps of the match, surpassing in execution the most difficult exhibited by Peel. Like his predecessor, he was loudly applauded at the finish, the time occupied by him in actual dancing being 11 minutes 16 seconds, a minute and more longer than Peel. Bob Hart then stated that the judges and referee would retire and render a verdict in five minutes. It seemed to be a conceded thing, however, that there could be no difficulty in declaring in Peel’s favor; when the judges appeared at the expiration of ten or fifteen minutes and announced that it would be impossible to give a decision. There and then much dissatisfaction was expressed and a good many asserted that it was a “set thing,” and that the crowd was sold; but upon Hart explaining the difficulties under which the judges labored in arriving at the true facts of the case, a better feeling prevailed. He said that there were points in dancing which the casual observer might not be able to detect but which the judges and referee had been very particular in noting,. It was stated that the decision should be made known on the morrow and the audience dispersed. In about half an hour after, the judges and referee having been closeted that length of time, a decision was arrived at, which was that Peel was the winner of the match and the money. As both judges agreed that Peel was the winner, the referee was not appealed to. Robert Hart was judge for Carroll, Mr. Tousey judge for Peel, and John Landers referee. There was much dissatisfaction on the part of Carroll and he published a card offering to dance Peel a jig in private for $1,000, the best dancer to win the money; the most difficult steps and best time constituting the best dancer; and each party to select twelve friends to witness the contest. Peel replied to this and agreed to make the match. A meeting was held at the Clipper office, May 12, but after much talk nothing was arrived at owing to a difference of opinion in reference to the points on which a jig dance should be decided. Carroll wanted style left out, while Peel wanted it included. The affair was finally settled by spreading themselves before a basket of wine. After this, sundry challenges and counter challenges were issued but no more matches were made and Tommy was fully recognized as the champion jig dancer of America.
A match dance between Hank Mason and Alex Ross took place in March, 1863, at the Bowery Theatre, St. Louis, Mo., for $100 a side. Mason danced 79 steps and Ross danced twenty-eight. Charles Vorce was judge for Mason and Mr. Morris for Ross.
A match dance for the championship between Otto Burbank, Tommy Peel, and Billy Sheppard came off at the Metropolitan Theatre, San Francisco, Cal., August 12, 1864. Ben Cotton played for Tommy Peel. William Bernard for Otto Burbank, and Charley Rhodes for Sheppard. The judges were selected from the audience, who, when the dancing was over, adjourned to a private room to write their decision, and they decided in favor of Burbank, and the champion jig belt of California was given to Otto Burbank. The belt was a magnificent silver one, with three old stars attached and used as slides, with the name of each of the contestants in the center of the stars.
A match clog hornpipe for $250 a side and the receipts of the house after expenses, between Tommy Peel and John R. Mason, took place August 24, 1864, at the American Theatre, San Francisco, Cal. Mason was backed by Leslie Blackburn and Peel by himself. Peel proved the victor. Peel: 35 steps; time, 6 minutes, 30 seconds. Mason: 27 steps; time, 5 minutes, 30 seconds.
A championship dance for the “belt” of California took place at Maguire’s Opera House, San Francisco, Cal., December 15, 1864, between Tommy Peel and Otto Burbank, the former having challenged the latter for superiority in jig dancing. Peel danced seven minutes and Burbank five and a half minutes. The heel-and-toe business was so nearly balanced between the parties that the judges were unable to decide and the match was repeated on December 17 at the same house. The judges were selected by Maguire, who disagreed, and it was left to the audience. Seven judges finally volunteered from the audience and settled the question by ballot—one going for Burbank and six for Peel.
Firsts and Oddities
Nelson Kneass took a benefit at Palmo’s Opera House, New York, in 1845, on which occasion a burlesque on “The Bohemian Girl,” written by Mr. Kneass and called “The Virginia Gal,” was produced in black. Joe Kavanaugh, the basso, appeared; also Mrs. Sharp, Mrs. Phillips, Clara Bruce, Nelson Kneass, Joe Murphy, James Lynch, Ned Huntley, and George Holman (manager of the New Holman Opera Troupe). This was the first operatic burlesque ever “negroized” in this or any other country. So great was its success that Palmo at once engaged the party to run it. Success ruined the company, as they all became possessed of too much cash. After a tour South and West, they returned to Palmo’s Opera House June 16, 1845; but their continued success they could not stand. All wanted to be managers and so they disagreed and disbanded.
The Dumbolton Serenaders is referred to by the old burnt corkites as one of the great landmarks in the history of negro minstrelsy and the old band is referred to with pride and pleasure. It was in England where this party first introduced white coats and vests and black pants for an introduction performance. The London public was in ecstasy over this troupe. The public was made familiar with the true Negro life and the laugh, the wild gestures and strange dialect with which they were regaled by the end men, who produced such a novel mixture of wonder and delight that they fairly worshipped them. At first a few endeavored to stem the popularity of the company by declaring that the artists were real blacks. Far from wishing to pass themselves off for veritable niggers, they lost no time in publishing portraits of themselves with the white faces bestowed upon them by nature, in addition to others in which they wore the sable hue of their profession. They set a fashion in the strictest sense of the word. The highest personages in the land patronized their performances. An ingenious young gentleman who could play on the banjo and sing “Lucy Neal” or “Buffalo Gals” was a welcome guest in the most aristocratic drawing rooms; and if four amateurs clubbed together and imitated the entire performance of the professors, they were regarded as benefactors to their species. Let the music books of 1846 be turned over and it will be found what an enormous influence the company had over the social pianoforte performances of the day.
“Coal Oil Johnny” became a phenomenon identified with the negro minstrelsy. We will give a brief account of him. His right name was John W. Steele. Some four miles above Oil City, directly on the line of the Oil Creek and Allegheny River Railway, lies a tract once celebrated as the “Widow McClintock Farm.” Here for some years, ignorant of the boundless wealth beneath their feet, the McClintocks, in common with the other natives of that little more than half civilized region, plodded along, day after day. No children came to cheer the solitude and eat the flapjacks of the worthy matron—probably a wise dispensation of Providence, as the products of the farm were not extensive enough to fill many mouths with any degree of certainty. At last, however, as old age came creeping in their direction, thoughts regarding the disposal of their valuable property began to trouble them and the conclusion was at last reached to adopt some healthy boy and make him sole heir. But a short distance from the McClintocks lived a man by the name of Steele; and as the barrenness of the land had not extended to his wife, he found himself the father of a numerous progeny, and often was sorely puzzled about plans for keeping the wolf from the door. To him due application was made, and without hesitation he gave them the pick of the flock, remarking that he had ten or twelve more to dispose on the same terms. As the most promising one, ‘‘Johnny’’ was selected and thereafter he was trained up in the way he ought to have gone.
In the fullness of time came the discovery of petroleum and the accompanying army of seekers after the greasy fluid. One eruption after another swept across the McClintock farm, literally tramping out the expected harvest; and at the age of three score and ten, the old man saw starvation staring him in the face. Besides this, he was continually pestered by offers for the purchase of the old homestead until finally his ancient body succumbed and he was gathered to his fathers.
For a long time the old lady refused to have anything to do with the outside barbarians; but at last, in sheer despair, she leased a portion of the farm, every portion of which afterward proved wonderfully productive. Being forever ruined for agricultural purposes, the venerable widow now employed some household assistance and spent her days in cording up bonds and greenbacks in the cellar, though she was afterward induced to purchase a safe, as being more secure. In this pleasant pastime she might have passed the remaining period of her useful life, had she not attempted to make the fire burn one morning by pouring on it a bucketful of crude oil. In an incredibly short space of time she was in a country where petroleum is supposed to be unknown; and from that date began the career of her heir, soon known far and wide as “Coal Oil Johnny.”
After the mortal remains of the old lady had cooled and been properly interred, Steele, who up to this time had been busily engaged in hauling oil, took $75,000 from the safe, and, with three or four teamsters, started out on a cruise into that outside world of which they had heard strange rumors. these companions were soon shaken off, however, and their places seized by a number of parasites, who clung to the young man as long as he had a penny left. Prominent among these was one Seth Slocum, who installed himself as “financial agent,” and, afterward inseparable, the two then plunged into the wildest species of excess. Spending the greater portion of the time in Philadelphia and New York, one may hear there yet the stories of their extravagance and wild orgies. Doubtless many of these tales are exaggerated, but enough is known to mark Slocum down as a most successful swindler and Steele as the most consummate fool of the present generation. The chief aim of the latter’s life appeared to be to literally throw away his fortune as rapidly as possible, and he succeeded so well that he squandered nearly two million dollars in less than twelve months. His methods of doing this were very peculiar and perhaps original. Gifts of five and ten thousand dollars, sets of diamonds to his male and female friends were matters of every day occurrence, while to vary the monotony he would sally into the street, purchase the finest barouche and span he could find, take a short ride and give the turnout to the driver. Another favorite freak was to lease the hotels where he might be stopping and allow none of the guests to pay bills during his administration; while his losses at faro were heavy and continuous, John Morrissey’s bank having won $50,000 in one night. But what, perhaps, gave him as much notoriety as anything else, was the organization of SKIFF & GAYLORD’S MIN- STRELS.
He gave two members of the company a diamond pin and ring and to each member of the company a complete wardrobe; and they started on their way rejoicing. He purchased an interest in a large hotel in Meadville for $45,000, and getting a little hard up one day sold it back for $l0,000; while other property in and around the same place was bought and sold in about the same proportion.
Through the medium of these and other devices, success crowned his efforts, and the wells gave out and the bottom of the old safe was reached at last. The McClintock farm was sold to satisfy a little hotel bill of $32,000, incurred at the Girard House, Philadelphia, while enough other mortgages were placed on record to cover the old place a foot deep. Steele, “Coal Oil Johnny” no more, now disappeared for a season from the scenes of his triumphs, but some time afterward came to the surface in the position of doorkeeper for the minstrel troupe of which he was the founder. We next heard of him trying to keep a seven by nine tavern in Franklin, but he was not so successful as in his previous efforts to play Boniface. In the present instance he was willing to take pay from his patrons. At last, however, “Johnny” found his level again, and he was seen daily in the neighborhood of his old home, guiding an ancient pair of equines attached to a dilapidated wagon. Sitting perched above his half-dozen barrels of oil, he was a picture of greasy contentment. Must not the man be happy who can so gracefully adapt himself to circumstances?
It may be a source of satisfaction to some who read this sketch to learn that Slocum, who was responsible more than all others for Steele’s course, died in jail at Erie, where he had been for some months incarcerated, being unable to obtain one hundred dollars bail. This Slocum should not be confused with the late E. V. Slocum, who was also associated at that period with Steele.
The Bamford and Norman shooting affair took place an the afternoon of July 26, 1867. Bamford and Norman, soprano and balladist of Newcomb Minstrels, had previously been warm friends, but through some misunderstanding a coolness had sprung up between them. They became jealous of each other and several altercations had occurred between them, when they finally met in a drinking saloon on the above mentioned date and again renewed their wordy quarrel, during which Norman laid violent hands on Bamford, who did not attempt to retaliate immediately, but in the course of a few minutes slipped out and borrowed of an acquaintance a small sized, four barreled Sharp’s pistol with revolving hammer. Norman refusing to take back what he said, Bamford drew his pistol, cocked, and aimed it at Norman’s breast. He took a deliberate aim as he said:
“Take it back, I’ll give it to you if you don’t take it back by the time I count three. One—two—three!”
With the “three” came the sharp report of a pistol and the ball went straight into Nor- man’s body above and to the left of the navel. The victim threw up his hands with a yell of fright and pain and with the words, “Oh God, I’m killed,’’ sank back into the arms of a barkeeper, with a stream of blood spouting out from his wound. Bamford walked to the station house and surrendered himself.
In a few weeks Norman recovered and, refusing to make a charge against Bamford, he (Bamford) was discharged. On August 19 both Norman and Bamford made their re-appearance with the company. The quick recovery of Mr. Norman and the release of Mr. Bamford was the wonder of all. It was truly a remarkable case (the release of Bamford). Mr. Newcomb exerted all the influence he could bring to bear to procure his release, and this, aided by Mr. Norman declining to appear as prosecutor if Mr. Bamford would abide by such decrees as he would give and made valid and binding by legal authority; set him at liberty.
In December, 1867, Edwin Leon shot Sam Sharpe. The particulars of this sad affair are as follows. It occurred on the afternoon of December 11, 1867, at the close of the matinee of the Fifth Avenue Opera House, on Twenty-fourth Street near Broadway. When Kelly and Leon came to New York and leased Hope Chapel as a place of amusement, they met with every opposition from those in the same business in this city and were looked upon with naught but jealousy; but thinking there was room enough for all, they went to work attending to their own business. During the summer of 1867 they appeared in Boston at the Theatre Comique; and Sam Sharpley with his minstrel band appeared at the Howard Athenaeum in the same city. Quite a rivalry was kept up between the two bands and the merits of each were pretty freely canvassed by the public. The ill feeling existing toward the Kelly & Leon party grew stronger when it was known that Add Ryman, the end man with the Sharpley party, had engaged with Kelly & Leon for one year, to commence with their re-opening in New York; and to make the matter still worse, Delehanty and Hengler also went over to the Kelly & Leon party to open with them in New York. From the day the two companies re-appeared in New York up to the day of this sad occurrence, quite an ill feeling existed between the two managers, occasioned by someone repeating to Sharpley that Leon had prejudiced Delehanty and Hengler against him (Sharpley) by saying he (Sharpley) was an irresponsible party and that all his property in New York was mortgaged, which Leon afterwards denied ever having said. On the afternoon mentioned, Kelly and Leon visited the Fifth Avenue Theatre to see the performance. Sharpley also attended the performance. At the close and while the audience were dispersing, Sharpley stepped up to Leon, tapped him on the shoulder, and told him he had heard he had been talking about him and that he was a d—d liar. A quarrel soon followed and Kelly joined in the melee. Suddenly Tom Sharpley (brother of Sam Sharpley) showed up, when a general fight took place. Kelly drew a revolver, fired at Tom Sharpley, and he fell dead. Sam Sharpley then drew his revolver, fired at Kelly, and was about to fire again when an officer seized his hand and arrested him. The pistol was discharged, the ball going through Sharpley’s own hand. The first shot from Sharpley’s pistol struck Kelly on the head, between the eyes and ear, from the effects of which wound he laid in the station house some days, the writer of this spending much time with him. As soon as Kelly got better he was discharged, as Sharpley refused to make any charge against him or appear. Kelly also refused to appear against Sharpley. At midnight of’ the 13th, Sharpley was discharged on his own recognizance and Leon entirely discharged. On the morning of the 14th, bail was accepted for Kelly to the amount of $5,000. Nothing of its kind that has ever transpired in this city caused so much excitement as this. While Sharpley had hosts of friends calling upon and sympathizing with him in his misfortune, the station house was besieged by the friends of Kelly and Leon, including a delegation of the Jesuit priests of this city.
The trial of Edwin Kelly came up in the General Sessions on April 24, 1868. After swearing three jurymen, one was obtained who had not expressed an opinion, after which the court was adjourned until April 28, when the trial commenced and lasted all that day. Then the court adjourned until the 30th, when the case was resumed. All the evidence went to show that Kelly was wholly unacquainted with Tom Sharpley and throughout he acted on motives of purely self-defense, as he anticipated another attack. Recorder Hackett, in charging, said the accused could not be convicted of murder in the first degree, nor could he be convicted of manslaughter in the second degree. The jury, after being out fifteen minutes, rendered a verdict of “Not Guilty.” Seldom has there been more unmistakable demonstrations exhibited in a court of justice of approval and gratification with the verdict of a jury than that which greeted the acquittal of Edwin Kelly.
The well known circus proprietors, Dr. Spalding and Charles Rogers, had the steamboat Banjo built expressly for Ned Davis’ Ohio Minstrels, which were organized in Cincinnati, Ohio, in October, 1855, for the purpose of visiting the river towns of the West and South. They gave their first show at Lawrenceburg, Ind. The boat was a stern wheeler. A regular stage and scenery occupied nearly two-thirds of the forward part of the saloon deck, while behind the stage were the state rooms for the “boys,” who ate and slept on board. The balcony of the saloon was fitted up in regular hall fashion, with seats, etc. Performances were given every afternoon and evening (and Sunday in the South), and frequently in the morning.
Last modified October 2005.