All posts by Matt Chaney

Song and Dance: Chapter Preview

American Music in the Northern Delta, Post-Civil War

Preview chapter from the book River Shows, Jazz, Blues and Country Music, by Matt Chaney, scheduled for release in 2021

Posted Monday, March 15, 2021, for chaneysblog.com

Copyright ©2021 for original content and historical arrangement by Matthew L. Chaney, Four Walls Publishing

This post is in memory of Steve Sharp, music man

A striking appearance marked Cairo, Ill., following the Civil War: Progress, beginning with brick buildings rising on the riverfront. Troops and artillery had departed and military influence was fading. The Ohio levee no longer glinted “blue with the garb of soldiery.” The four-story St. Charles Hotel stood majestic, providing finest accommodations, no longer headquarters of generals like Grant. Many travelers were impressed, arriving at the storied little city of southern Illinois. “This was our first visit to this famous place since 1844, and, of course, the change is great—indeed wonderful,” remarked an Indiana newsman. “Since then [Cairo] has spread itself greatly.”

Freedom graced the river port and mirth manifested in music. A wide spectrum of song was heard, from symphonic to syncopated, opera to ballad, and multi-ethnic in origin. Cairo welcomed occupation by musicians and dancers after war and armies. “No gunboats block the rivers… and from no source does that contemptible word ‘halt’ come to grate upon the ear, and send its shivering shock through every nerve of the body,” noted a Tennessee writer. “All around you may be seen peaceful symbols, and from every direction music rings out upon the passing breeze. This is as it should be.” A Cairo Bulletin editor felt at ease in late 1865, for “the delicious power” of song postwar. “Music has an influence for good—it soothes one’s feelings and inspires all the ennobling attributes.”

Life remained difficult at intersection of the Mississippi and Ohio, border between North and South. In 1870 the Cairo population was 6,267, about one-fifth being Afro-American, mostly freed slaves. The transient “floating population” could top 20,000 monthly, coming from worldwide on visits legitimate and otherwise. Meanwhile this was frontier landscape, where every class, color and character confronted the forces daily, natural and man-made. Conditions could deteriorate quickly, get primitive. No one was immune to disease, injury or mortality, and there were casualties young and old. Deaths of crime and accidents could tally double figures in a week, without a steamboat wreck.

But achievement flourished here for simmering humanity and nature, particularly developments in artful sound. Pure American music was distilling in the delta, early renderings to become known as gospel, blues, ragtime, jazz, and “hillbilly,” or “country.” Cairo boasted church choirs, brass bands, cornet bands, string bands and full orchestras, performing outdoors, indoors and on riverboats. Strolling musicians played at street corners and building fronts. Dancers patted juba, busted wing moves, jigs, toe spins, reels and waltzes. Dance broke out anyplace except a church.

Black and white performers exchanged ideas, techniques and respect, if hesitant to show together on stage. Dance crowds integrated publicly despite friction that could turn violent. Many whites persisted, unwilling to stay away from music and dance of blacks. Music was universal like little else in segregated society; a church doctrine didn’t rate.

Transients proved good musicians in Cairo, like the morning a stranger picked up violin and bow at a livery stable, “striking suddenly into the tune of The Arkansas Traveler, which he played in astonishing manner.” Men paused in the dirt street and danced jigs, including cops, attorneys, the mayor, a judge, doctor, editor. They competed at toe twirls, won by a court clerk, “making four.” On another day a boy fiddler strolled Cairo, a “musical prodigy” about age 5, reported the Bulletin, accompanied by an unkempt man on second violin. Children gravitated to the wee musician, following him along streets in “admiration and envy.”

Dramatic productions had been popular since floating troupes like the Chapman family, and stage venues on land were established during wartime, when federals strengthened Cairo levees and installed pumps for seep water. Illinois historian Roy Stallings found this vantage location, however remote, competed with Chicago for theater and more western entertainment. “In the post-Civil War period, amidst a general revival of drama in the United States, southern Illinois, and Cairo in particular, were beginning to develop their own brand of drama culture. Originating on the Mississippi and Ohio river showboats, this development passed into the era of the theatrical halls and from this transition period into the final age, that of the opera house.”

“During the Civil War, the gunboats had forced the showboats on dry land. Very few of these boats, but enough to uphold tradition, returned to the rivers after 1865. The river towns were forced to substitute for these showboats. The theatrical halls served in their places. In Cairo… the Atheneum, located on the east side of Commercial Avenue near Seventh Street, became the center of drama for the Civil War decade… The influence of the theatrical halls lasted until 1881, when the Cairo Opera House was opened.”

“Cairo was as important a center to southern Illinois and points farther south, as Chicago was to its surrounding territory,” Stallings concluded. “Cairo was not only immune to Chicago’s brand of drama, but she developed a drama that was more influential and more widely distributed than that of Chicago.”

***

Melodies tooted off the rivers, loudly from calliopes of steamboats, ambient noise of the delta. Steam-whistle organs broadcast for miles over water and flatland. Riverboat calliope music “made mostly everybody want to knock off work right away and start frolicking around,” said pilot Louis Rosche, noting nothing else compared “for fetching a crowd.”

At Cairo, Ill., folks critiqued a calliope player like a pianist or horn-blower. The entire town heard a calliope, which better sound good, as was the case on a holiday afternoon at the wharf in 1868. Approving locals came atop the levee, dancing to greet the musician.

“The calliope of the steamer Silver Moon—a good one very skillfully played—gave the feet of every listener a twitching that very nearly produced a general ‘break-down’ all along the levee,” a newsman reported. “Such tunes as Black CrookRack-Back Davy, and Daddy, Dang It, Shove Along appeared to invite a regular ‘hoe-down.’ ”

Exceptional music was standard for Cairo tastes accustomed to the best of America and Europe. Famed white minstrels appeared locally, including Billy Emerson, Billy Manning, George Wilson, Cal Wagner, E.M. Hall, Johnny Booker, Edwin French, George Primrose, Dick McGowan, Charlie Christy, George Powers, Billy Rice, Cool White, Johnny Bowman, Ned Goss and Jim Fox. McGowan opened a saloon, short-lived, but Bowman profited in ownership of a Cairo theater, the Comique.

Ex-slaves were surging in American music and for America, revolutionizing entertainment and spurring racial progress. Blacks aspired for show business, many dreamt of stardom and affluence, and more were realizing it, such as Billy Kersands. Black talents were eclipsing whites in minstrelsy and leading in the upstart variety formats of “vaudeville” and American burlesque. Opportunities flourished along major river valleys and lakes, from New York to Kansas.

Afro-American minstrels thrilled Cairo in the 1870s stars like Kersands, Bob Height, Tom McIntosh, Burrell Hawkins, Billy Jackson, Sam Lucas, and the Hyer Sisters. A Cairo Bulletin critic gushed over the celebrated troupe originally founded by slaves in Georgia. “Without fear of contradiction, the performance of Callender’s Georgia Minstrels, at the Atheneum, may be pronounced the best minstrel performance ever given in this city… the most artistic, refined, and thoroughly enjoyable.” Jazzy cornet players had opened the entertainment with a street parade.

Bar none the biggest star was  Kersands, hysterical song-and-dance man who ranked among America’s highest-paid performers, any race. Kersands was tall and lithe, commanding spotlight anywhere, Windsor Castle in London notwithstanding. “It is as much the ‘propensity’ of Mr. William Kersands to be funny as it is the propensity of men generally to eat and drink,” an English critic remarked. “The singing of whimsical effusion and the comic expression of face caused roars of laughter. Mr. Kersands has equal talent as a dancer. There never was a more nimble fellow on ‘the light fantastic toe,’ and his imitations of an opera dancer were droll in the extreme.”

Kersands would appear at Cairo for 40 years. The town was a cradle of Afro-American musicians. Groups included the Phoenix Brass Band, Scott’s Saloon Minstrels, O’Brien’s Saloon String Band, and boat bands. The packet Tyrone moved freight and staged entertainment along its route from Cairo to Nashville, traversing the Ohio and Cumberland rivers. Performers black and white comprised the Tyrone crew, working together in shows and boat duties.

Steamer Tyrone was envy of the rivers, deftly mixing business and pleasure—and creed. At showtime the deckhands came “full force with comic and sentimental songs, jests, dances,” per an advertisement, “closing with Capt. Harmon’s inimitable trombone solo.” When rival boats drew up on the Tyrone, the band cranked Shoo Fly. The Tyrone struck a rock and sank in the Cumberland, and a river journalist wrote in epitaph: “Steam-boating on her had been so constantly cheered with music, feasting and revelry that her career had been one continual scene of fun and gaiety.” The steamer wasn’t finished, however, submerged in clear waters of the Cumberland. Salvage men raised the wreck for repair at Paducah and the Tyrone resumed river freight and entertainment from Cairo, eventually a circus craft exclusively. Dan Rice used it.

Cairo experienced an extraordinary black performer in Henry Hart, violinist and composer, born a freeman in Kentucky and educated in the North. During wartime Hart bravely passed down the delta, into Deep South, an Afro-American showman risking all, but his gambit paid off. Hart was a showbiz standout in federally occupied New Orleans and returned north a star, adored by musicians and audiences. Fans called him Henry, from the East to the Rockies. Hart, who would perform for three U.S. presidents, played the Cairo area for decades as a resident of Evansville and Indianapolis. He spoke proudly of “bloods,” fellow blacks in music, while maintaining close friendship with whites like Andy McKee, lightning dancer who began at Cairo.

Henry Hart worked steamboats of the lower Ohio in the 1870s and ’80s, with talents such as Sam Lucas, Joe Johnson, Jake Hamilton, A.A. Thomas, J.H. Ringgold, Cecil Sanders, J.T. Birch and John Lewis. Hart’s music covered the spectrum from symphony and opera to emerging ragtime on banjo and piano, and “farmer” picking. For his Cairo following, Hart presented string bands and small combos that utilized piano, fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass and brass horns, variously adding harp, piccolo and drums.

“The excursion on board the Idlewild last night, from this city to Columbus, was a very pleasant affair,” the Bulletin related in August 1875. “A goodly number of young people, sprinkled with a number of older and more sedate folks, were in attendance, and all enjoyed themselves. After the excursionists had partaken of a most excellent supper, the cabin was stripped of its furniture, and a splendid string band, headed by Henry Hart, took their places and the mazy dance began.”

Gospel music claimed fame on the rising Afro-American singers from Fisk University and Hampton Institute. Most of the college students had been enslaved as children. Sheet music sold by the thousands, prompting Hampton’s release of a volume, Cabin and Plantation Songs. “The slave music of the South presents a field for research and study very extensive and rich,” wrote Thomas P. Fenner, Hampton music director.

Fenner, a white music composer and arranger, believed free Afro-Americans could elevate the art form in a renewed nation. “It may be that this people which has developed such a wonderful musical sense in its degradation will, in its maturity, produce a composer who could bring a music of the future out of this music of the past,” he wrote from Nashville.

Choirs propelled “spiritual” songs into pop culture. The plaintive, bluesy melodies of slaves had appealed to Divinity for delivery to Promised Land, but now the content hit glorious mass sales. Pioneer gospel had been unleashed by Emancipation, and the pious market craved concerts, sheet music and more. Sacred lyrics helped sell newspapers and magazines.

The original Jubilee Choir hailed from Fisk U., institution founded for blacks at Nashville, but top singers abounded in the South. Cairo audiences heard the choir of Memphis State University, headlining a production of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” while jubilee vocalists flourished locally at the African Methodist Episcopal Church. “Those who attended the Plantation Concert, given by the members of the AME Church at the Atheneum last night, were lavish in their praise of the efforts of all connected with the affair,” the Bulletin reported in 1879. “The concert, which consisted of songs sung by the colored people in the days of slavery, proved a capital hit and was the best thing of its kind ever presented to a Cairo audience.”

Excursion steamers boomed and musicians capitalized along the Mississippi and Ohio through end of the century. The publicized Afro-American names included King Hatcher and his Coachwhip Band at Dubuque; H.B. Hunter’s Cornet Band at Alton; the St. Louis Silver Quartette of F.S. Woodson; and the Cape Girardeau Silver Cornet Band. Cincinnati’s Gussie L. Davis was cutting-edge composer, heading black ensembles. Louisville offered the Silver Cornet Band and Falls City Band, among notables, and cornet player W.C. Handy of Henderson, Ky., directed brass for Mahara’s Minstrels.

In Memphis were the Bluff City Cornet Band, Bob Wardlow’s Conservative Colored Band, Sam Ager’s African Brothers Minstrels, and a hot troupe aboard the steamboat Pat Cleburne. Vicksburg had the Electric Band and Wesley Crayton’s Silver Cornet Band, while the Brierfield Cornet Band originated from Jefferson Davis’ old Mississippi plantation. Donaldsonville produced “two of the best colored bands” of Louisiana, the Crescent and St. Joseph’s bands.

New Orleans nurtured a mass of black artists and groups, with just a few examples in Buddy Bolden’s Eagle Band, the Excelsior Band, and the Lilliputian Cornet Band composed of children. Bolden, jazz pioneer on cornet, blew notes “heard across the Mississippi River when he was going right.”

Thomas Wiggins was iconic by 1870, “Blind Tom,” syncopating pianist and composer born of slavery. Mark Twain was floored by Wiggins, who likewise mesmerized people in Cairo. Blind Tom was possibly an autistic savant, mimicking sound to perfection, speeches, battles, gunfire, animal cries and stormy weather. Although musically educated, Wiggins learned melody primarily by ear, in instants, memorizing thousands of piano pieces from concerto to ballad. Wiggins summoned volunteers from an audience to play piano, then sat down and replayed exactly their songs and snatches, precise to the errors.

For syncopating overlay on piano, melody upon melody, the powerful Wiggins keyed two songs simultaneously and sang a third, according to Twain. In Cairo the Bulletin reviewed a Wiggins show: “Of the excellent entertainment given by this wonderful person, we have but little to say, except that the performance of last night was fully up to his former efforts, if not superior. The audience was kept in a state of wonder and delight from beginning to end, frequently making the house fairly ring with their approval.”

“Whenever Blind Tom visits Cairo, he will meet with a most cordial welcome from our citizens.”

***

The children of Cairo, Ill., met an array of heroic models during and after the Civil War, including celebrity Americans and Europeans. Cairo kids encountered steamboat pilots, locomotive operators, military officers, civil engineers, politicians, doctors, authors, poets, philosophers, teachers, preachers and athletes, among intriguing types.

Figures of show business were powerful symbols for a Cairo youngster, regardless of the kid’s socio-economic class, race, or gender. Stage-struck children were common, given the entertainment choices and glittering performers, ranging from circus to theater. Show promoters, talent scouts and writers were regulars around town, juicing atmosphere.

The circus captivated Cairo children. “No less than 86 youngsters white and black, male and female, were at one time today in full chase of the circus bandwagon,” reported the Bulletin on Nov. 18, 1870. “Their object was to hear the musicians in red coats ‘blow.’ ” Cairo kids witnessed America’s best circuses in the postwar, of showmen such as Dan Castello, George W. DeHaven, Bill Lake, Dan Rice, Seth B. Howe, P.T. Barnum, W.C. Coup, James A. Bailey, James E. Cooper, C.W. Noyes, John Robinson, Yankee Robinson, W.W. Cole, James DeMott, A.B. Rothschild, Frank A. Robbins and John B. Doris.

When circus boats hit Cairo the levee crawled with kids doing somersaults, handsprings and handstands, singing and dancing. All ages anticipated arrival of Rice’s boat on a Saturday in September 1869. The steam calliope tooted over flatland, pumping music from far out. Folks hurried to the Cairo wharf and immediate shorelines of Missouri and Kentucky.

“The steamer Will S. Hays, with banners flying, and giving out strains of delicious music, sailed into port this morning… circus on board, under the special management and direction of the irrepressible Dan himself,” the Bulletin reported.

Performers strode off the Hays, down gangplank. Horses were led off and caged animals wheeled out. Circus workers and levee roustabouts hauled equipment for setup. “The canvass was soon spread at the corner of Poplar and Tenth streets, an eager crowd eyeing the operation, in delightful anticipation of the sights and sports of the afternoon and evening. While we write [at the newspaper], the shouts of a delighted multitude reach us from the cover of the canvass.”

The big-top seated 5,000 spectators with more tickets for standing room. Boys with no money plopped down outside the tent, peering under flaps for “a thrilling glance at the horses’ hoofs as the animals lope around the ring,” the paper described. “Other youngsters find small rips in the canvass, not larger perhaps than a finger would fill.”

“They tell eager companions gathered about that they can almost see the clown; that they did see a man in spangles; that the bass drum stands in full view.”

Circus personnel and animals were spectacle by merely passing through town. “Colonel Robert Stickney, the famous bareback rider, arrived here from Memphis with a large circus yesterday, and had his menagerie wagons and other circus paraphernalia strung along [the] Ohio levee, with the intention of have them forwarded by rail to Pana, Ill., where he intends to give a show.”

“Among his curiosities he had a horse—a hump-backed horse—that was about as intelligent as man could make him… At the command of Colonel Stickney, he walked backwards, knelt down, sat on his haunches, stood up and walked around on his hind legs. The cages of the wild beasts were standing just below the stone depot on Ohio levee… surrounded by a large crowd of curious spectators.”

Wild animals were reportedly on the loose north of Cairo after a wreck of circus trains. The story was false, just another circus tale in circulation, like a Missouri report that flew among newspapers. Lions and tigers supposedly broke from cages during a street parade, scattering residents of a town; big cats leaped onto a bandwagon and mauled musicians, killing several—all a hoax, newsmen revealed on follow-up.

But alleged sightings of a giant alligator near Cairo weren’t easily dismissed. Some locals claimed close calls with a 20-footer, a circus escapee in summer waters of the Ohio. A fisherman said the toothy reptile snapped off prow of a skiff, and the Bulletin cracked, “That alligator in the river in this neighborhood has had the effect of keeping all cautious boys out of the water.” A posted reward excited folks, from Cooper and Bailey Circus, offering anyone $400 for live recapture. Nothing further developed.

Circuses visited Cairo year-round at the southernmost tip of Illinois. Show tugs and barges parked at wharf boats and on Missouri landings across the river. Circus trains and special cars parked along tracks encircling the town, hub of the Illinois Central. Performers wintered in the area while show managers restocked talent and revamped programs. Boats and equipment were stored and repaired, new parts shipped in. In springtime circus shows launched from here while others visited to open tours. Cairo anchored northern end of the delta trough where train and wagon routes intersected. Boosters sold the tri-state vicinity as navigation head for river, rail and trail through the heartland, “gateway between the Northeast and Southwest.”

The Barnum Circus brought some 150 railcars, attracting enough humanity to cover the little peninsula of Cairo Township. “There were people of all sizes, shapes, sexes and colors, who came from all around us,” the Bulletin reported. “The trains were all full, the transfer boats ditto, the ferryboat was crowded at each trip, and our streets were full of farmers’ wagons loaded with produce and children. The great Barnum took everything in, and no doubt departed with a snug sum of money.”

***

As transportation and communication carried American population westward, so went the entertainment industry. The “Middle West” became distinct between coasts, and the heartland of American circus. “After the Civil War, a generation of midwestern showmen permanently reoriented the center of the American circus industry away from the East,” stated Janet M. Davis, for her book chapter. “Although overland wagon shows were still common, a handful of circuses became behemoth railroad shows, a development that ultimately redefined the American circus.”

Perry Powers was an aspiring circus man of the Midwest, after fire destroyed his varieties theater and livery stable at Cairo. Circuses and personnel clustered around Cairo and Bird’s Point, Mo., with the hugging rivers and crisscrossing trails, railroads. The area benefited year-round of circus business, and Powers organized his Cairo show for travel in 1867.

The Powers Combination Circus boasted “first-class acts despite its small size,” observed Stuart Thayer, circus historian. “Tom Burgess, Willis Cobb, Oliver Bell, Don Santiago Gibbonois (John Fitzgibbons), Fred O’Brien, and Ed Schofield were on the roster. It also appears to be Frank Lemen’s first circus job. [Levi J.] North was again the manager. The circus traveled on a steamboat.”

But problems dogged Powers, age 40. On the business front his show lost money while North’s son died on tour, likely of tuberculosis. In domestic life Powers’ marriage was crumbling. He lost possession of the circus and was arrested in Chicago, for debt to North, famed equestrian. Downstate, Powers’ wife sued for divorce in Cairo. He didn’t give up, determined to realize profit and spotlight as a showman.

Powers debuted a new theater in downtown Cairo, the Palace Varieties, and hired a stock company of minstrels. He opened a circus gym for males in training. Additionally, Powers was building repute as expert handler of circus animals. Bulletin editors favored this personable fellow known for resilience in face of adversity, and who bought advertising besides. “Excepting ourselves we would as soon see Perry Powers make money as any man in town,” remarked a newsman. “He keeps the article in circulation—evidently earning it for the satisfaction of spending it again.”

Powers’ gym was an old stable converted for “flying circus.” Ropes hung from rafters. Young males climbed ladders to grip metal bars and rings and swing about the room. They practiced release moves, twists, flips, flying clutches and landings. On floor the acrobats tumbled and lifted weights for strength and conditioning. The Bulletin urged every young male to patronize the facility and didn’t mention whether injuries were mounting. Powers incorporated circus spectacle for his theater, sports of the ring, staging a human cannonball act and trapeze around music and comedy. And Powers found top acrobats locally.

Cairo children trained variously in gymnastics, “turning” or tumbling in streets, yards and barns. Schools offered instruction and the athletes of upper grades were the main attraction of a variety show, performing “revolutions, motions, jolting, twisting, turning, bending, bowing and stretching,” the paper reported. “The boys were uniformed in red Zouave pants, white shirts and red turbans; the girls in black bloomer dresses and drawers, elaborately trimmed in red.”

Gymnastics and trapeze were hallmark of German Turner Societies in 19th century America, represented by a vibrant organization at Cairo. The Turners, titled after modern gymnastics founded in the “fader land,” established Turngemeinde clubs serving as “athletic, political, and social centers for German communities in the United States,” archivists noted. River valleys of the American interior resembled fabled Rhineland, impressing Dutch scouts, and they directed a mass of German emigration to Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri and Illinois. Gymnastics facilities rose up as did vineyards. The Turners movement coincided with circus industry’s plant in the Midwest, influencing talent and show stunts.

The Turners of Cairo practiced acrobatics indoors and out, and they showed for audiences on land and water, venues such as Scheel’s Hall, Flora Garden and excursion boats. Team acrobats were men and boys presenting “gymnastic and trapeze performances of a daring and interesting character,” the Bulletin reported. A multipurpose facility opened downtown in 1875, at corner of Tenth and Poplar. This gym in new Turner Hall was “furnished with all the modern exercising implements… dumb bells, parallel bars, horizontal bars, rings, trapeze, ropes, sand bags, spring boards.” Muscular immigrant Conrad Alba was a gymnast “altogether beyond the ordinary,” drawing fans and press for the Turners.

Amateur circus acts developed locally, including promising youths at Charleston west of Cairo, led by the Danforth brothers. “Our Juvenile Circus Troupe,” the town paper headlined proudly, reviewing “the boys” for an exhibition of trapeze, gymnastics, trick-riding and strength displays.

Locals entered commercial entertainment. Leslie May performed on trapeze in Atheneum Theatre, and steamer pilot R.W. Dugan moonlighted as circus acrobat. An 11-year-old trapezist and rope-walker, Sidney J. Allen, joined A.B. French’s showboat New Sensation in 1879. Teenager Frank Herbert, a Turners talent, became a daredevil for the Rice Circus and Johnny Bowman’s variety troupe. Herbert was stellar on the high rope and had to be, traversing over city streets and hall floors without netting.

The area teemed with circus animals. Exotic livestock and full menageries passed through constantly on steamboats and railroads. During circus offseason animals were quartered in stables and pasture on the Cairo peninsula and Missouri shoreline, for Mid-South climate. During performance season animals were paraded through Cairo streets and displayed at the wharf and rail yards. There were camels, elephants, hippos, lions, tigers, bears, monkeys, horses, mules, alligators, crocodiles, hyenas, boars, porcupines, canaries and more specimens, with the majority trained for show.

Circus menageries dated locally to prewar appearances of Van Amburgh, Lion King, aboard the old Floating Palace of Spalding and Rogers. Celebrity trainers had frequented Cairo for decades, including Dan Rice with “Excelsior,” his snowy white horse, along with Spencer Q. Stokes, Levi J. North, Sam Stickney and James DeMott.

And so Perry Powers met trainers locally and on his travels, learning from all. He excelled in the care and training of animals for circuses like DeHaven’s, Rothschild’s, and the Rice combinations. Many equestrians knew Powers, entrusting their horses with him, and he was friend of Rice and DeMott, periodic residents of the Cairo area. During wintertime Powers stabled the Rothschild menagerie for DeMott, manager of the circus. The Rothschild and Rice circuses launched tours from Cairo on train, boat and wagon, thanks in no small part to Powers’ presence.

But still he floundered as entrepreneur, for factors of his making and otherwise. Circuses folded which Powers funded or operated, and his training gym closed. A hireling musician swindled him, taking a bandwagon to Memphis for hock. Too trusting of customers at the livery, Powers leased horses and mules that weren’t returned, or he paid for stock already stolen. Powers invested for an “educated hog” that didn’t pan out, and serious injury befell his second wife, an actress “knocked senseless” by a falling post. Powers purchased a fleet of used carriages from a railroad, envisioning his own omnibus line, but nothing materialized except rows of the broken-down hacks. Expensive horses dropped dead on Powers, who surely lost money in thoroughbred racing as trainer and gambler, based on news reports. “Perry Powers has met with another streak of bad luck,” the Bulletin announced.

Powers fell ill and died in January 1878, possibly of yellow fever at Cairo. His live-in nephew, a musician, married his widow and assumed control of the livery business. And that sort of luck came to mark local circus owners. Several Cairo men tried circus operations—steamer captains, boat clerks, railroad personnel, an auctioneer, a lumberman, each on exciting venture—only to lose in prospecting.

On the performance side, circus sports were highly popular in Cairo and southeast Missouri through the late 1800s—for spectating. Youths still fantasized of ring glory but fewer pursued it. Rising team sports led by baseball and football attracted athletes while circus life increasingly drew criticism, particularly regarding young performers. Publicized issues included child endangerment, animal cruelty, low pay, risky stunts evermore, and broken individuals. In Cairo a teen rider was shot accidentally, crippling him, during a fight between circus workers and locals. “It is a dangerous life to live, you may be sure, and a great many who follow it die young, while many are killed,” stated veteran showman C.M. Sherman, retired in Missouri, 1886.

“What mother would wish her son to be a professional rope-dancer or circus-tumbler—not to mention her daughter?” posed a national commentary, reprinted in Cairo. “Aside from the unnaturalness and debasing effect of a such a life, the ‘accidents’ to which even the best-trained and most experienced performers are liable are too frequent and of too sad a kind to be generally known. It is for the showman’s interest to keep [injuries] secret.”

Cairo saw tragic casualties in novice and professional acrobats. Local youths were crippled and killed. William Bambrick, 20, died of a spinal injury from “excessive gymnastic exercises,” the Bulletin reported. Thirteen-year-old Charles Riley became entangled by rope “doing circus acts” in a coal shed; boys panicked and fled, and Charles perished, strangling to death.

Most Delta youths gravitated to show performance of less risk—song and dance—for their pleasure if not career. A few Cairo products were already famous on stage. “Cairo is a city which good music is, of course, always a prominent feature,” the Bulletin editorialized in 1882. “Social entertainments and balls, both great and small, public and private, are the order of the day and night in Cairo. Good music is desired—is a necessity, in fact.”

“The city has been prolific in its production of good musicians.”

***

In 19th Century America, as ragtime music and jazz rose along the Mississippi and Ohio, a pioneer pop artist was remembered again for his great old song.

Nelson Kneass had been famous before the Civil War, playing his hit Ben Bolt on piano and banjo, when the sheet music sold thousands in America and abroad. The legend revived during the 1890s, long after Kneass died in rural Missouri. A popular novel and stage drama featured Ben Bolt, the “plaintive melody” sung by comely heroine Trilby O’Ferrall, and suddenly fans worshipped a dead pop star in Kneass.

Kneass was a Pennsylvania native who sang Ben Bolt as early as May 1847, according to advertisements of the Eagle Ice Cream Saloon in Pittsburgh. Other musicians were adapting the song from a poem, in forgettable versions, until Kneass arranged his smash hit. “Kneass was not only an excellent singer but also a very capable pianist, a versatile banjoist, and a talented composer… first-class entertainment,” observed historian Ernest C. Krohn.

Memphis vocalist Joseph H. McCann said Kneass produced his golden take of Ben Bolt during a riverboat trip they shared around 1847, steaming up the Mississippi and onto the Ohio. Kneass finished his composition on a landing in Kentucky and summoned McCann, according to Will S. Hays, lyricist and columnist. “If we are not mistaken, Mr. McCann was the first person who ever sang [Ben Bolt by Kneass],” Hays reported. “He did so from the manuscript,” McCann toured with the famed Kneass Operatic Troupe among major companies, but ceased in the 1850s to open a music store in Louisville.

Kneass continued in entertainment but his name faded in the war period. Struggling financially, Kneass complained of paltry royalties for Ben Bolt, a tune beloved in America like the classic Oh Susanna—which Kneass had also introduced on stage. A wife of Kneass died in a riverboat accident while his drinking and health posed problems. One story had Kneass arriving at his own funeral, after he’d been missing for days. Family and friends were stunned to see him, gathered round a stranger’s corpse fished from a river.

Kneass felt illness creeping, stomach malaise, as his troupe toured northern Missouri in September 1869. The performer’s condition worsened on a train and he succumbed at a boarding house in Chillicothe, railroad town. Nelson Kneass died in debt, about 46, leaving a young wife and children. His widow could afford $6 for the burial but no gravestone, and the family relied on charity to travel home in the East. Troupe players made do from Missouri on their own.

Praise revived for the showman in his wake. “Nelson Kneass… is dead,” announced a theater critic in the Memphis Appeal. “He was one of those men that worked hard, lived poor and died miserably. He was a genius.” A newspaper commentary, widely printed, noted “Ben Bolt was sung in the lordly mansions and in the lowly cottages all over the land. There was a sadness and sweetness that touched all hearts alike.”

“He was the author and originator of very many popular songs,” said Sam S. Sanford, American stage legend, remembering Kneass. “He and Stephen Foster are the two bards of the minstrels.” Kneass “died poor and unattended by friends,” said Sanford. “The publishers of Ben Bolt made $50,000 from that one song alone, and its author often needed bread.”

Eventually a modest marker was placed on the Kneass grave in Missouri, and the site stood undisturbed for years. Then the Trilby fad happened, sexy storyline made fashionable, spawning neo-fandom for Kneass. Visitors to the Chillicothe cemetery cracked into his tombstone, carrying away pieces.

“Kneass’s grave was marked until within the last year or so, when curiosity and relic hunters have chipped souvenirs from the slab,” reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1899, adding that “scarcely enough of it remains to show that a headstone had ever been there.”

***

Cairo, Ill., suffered economic “panic” of the 1870s, with America at-large, but local entertainment expanded despite no opera house. Rickety Atheneum Theatre and other venues hosted the business. Every musical genre was patronized along with comedy and drama.

Sol Smith Russell and Katie Putnam, former local talents, were renowned in comedy and song. Russell was a Missouri native and Putnam of Chicago, but Cairo proudly claimed the youthful stars. Both had been stock players at the Atheneum and old Defiance Theatre. Now Russell and Putnam headed major troupes touring under their names, with each boosting Cairo by appearing regularly.

Variety format led river entertainment, with requisite sex appeal, and audiences loved Putnam, always applauding for encore. Putnam enjoyed sold-out runs in Cairo and throughout the delta, for “exquisite songs, dances, and her unrivalled banjo solos,” per an advertisement. She adorned herself with diamonds and rubies on stage. The market embraced Andy McKee, comic breakdown dancer who debuted in Cairo stock.

European violinist Ole Bornemann Bull came during bitter winter, drawing 500 to the drafty Atheneum. None was disappointed as the master lived up to hype, performing the best of symphony, opera, and ballad with improvised flurries. When the Norwegian covered Arkansas Traveler by request, fiddler style, folks really warmed to him. “Ole Bull smiled, and his fiddle went through the melody as though it was used to playing it every hour in the day.”

Hungarian violinist Ede Remenyi saw big crowds on his American tours of the 1880s, and a Cairo date was no exception, with many musicians in attendance. “The old gentlemen made the instrument speak to the audience in tones that visibly affected everyone in the house.” Jules Levy was another musician of international acclaim, performing on cornet, the horn of Cairo favor. “Our ear, in youth, was cultivated up to an appreciation of cornet music, and it was highly gratified last night by the blowing of ‘the greatest,’ ” saluted the Bulletin. “Our cornetists went into ecstasy over Levy’s playing.”

Levy, nonetheless, was second billing for the show—opera singer Adelaide Phillips was headliner, American great. “A large and fashionable audience greeted Adelaide Phillips and her concert troupe last night. We have not the time to devote the troupe the attention their merits deserve… Miss Phillips has few superiors in [opera], if any, and she sang As The Years Glide By with a pathos that banished the smiles and invoked the tears of the audience.”

The white Methodist Church hosted Philip Phillips, “The Singing Pilgrim,” epitome of pulpit popularity, best-selling evangelist of “sacred songs.” Phillips went beyond rhythmic preaching to sing hymns during his sermons and lessons. A favorite of President Abraham Lincoln, Phillips “sang his way around the world and into the hearts of kings and heathens alike.” Phillips published a Sunday School songbook, selling it widely, and lent celebrity to a crusade of Cairo churchmen that condemned dancing. Phillips realized fulfillment besides the spiritual—cash, a pile of it, for local concert and book sales.

Harmonists were huge, “barbershop” quartets and such. Steller companies showed at Cairo like the Peak Family and Berger Family, associates of P.T. Barnum, along with the Baker Family and The Alleghanians. But their line increasingly relied on variety accompaniment in bell ringers, harpists, horn blowers, dancers and comics. Sex appeal helped, too. The Bergers presented pretty Swiss bell clangers and an all-female orchestra.

***

Burlesque was labeled sacrilege by some folks, plain obscenity by more in Cairo, Ill., but city councilmen were unanimously in favor. The council meeting adjourned early on Thanksgiving Eve, 1876, as the men rushed off to see the Madame Rentz burlesque show at Atheneum Theatre. The Rentz women were American sex symbols, “voluptuous” and “suggestive” on stage, according to reviews. M.B. Leavitt, later known as Father of Burlesque, managed the troupe on a triumphant tour northward from New Orleans.

Music, stunts, parody and satire comprised early burlesque, interspersing fem imagery and erotica, when bare ankles and high heels were termed risqué. The Rentz company starred curvy Mabel Santley with females “scantily clad,” meaning low-cut blouses, knee skirts, frilly petticoats and bloomers, sheer stockings. Skin exposed below necklines was limited to arms and cleavage. Males did know a burlesquer might wear short pants on stage, for a tantalizing prospect that risked her arrest.

Cutesy, buxom burlesquers sang, danced, cracked jokes, shed tears on cue. They turned flips on stage, jiggled with jump ropes, rode swings over audience, titillating fashion. They smiled and sang funny refrains, making eye contact with men. “The girls” pedaled about on velocipedes—bikes on tall wheels—butts perched atop tiny seats, swaying provocatively. They joined in a leggy line for the can-can dance, high kicking to blaring horns and crashing cymbals. The audience watched every move, virtually all male, whistling and whooping.

The famed Chapman Sisters raised eyebrows for skimpy attire at Cairo, coming out in leotards and silk leggings. A critic remarked “the costuming might seem objectionable, but there was nothing in the play that could be objected to.” Blanche and Ella Chapman were burlesque queens and showbiz royalty, having been reared in theater, learning to “act well, sing sweetly, and dance splendidly,” a scribe commented.

The Chapmans also wrote well—at Cairo the sisters created hilarious satire of local life and personalities, assisted by their mother, actress Julia Drake Chapman. As descendants of showboat and theater pioneers long connected to Cairo, the Chapman women delivered a zinging parody on citizen characters. “It abounded with local hits, nearly all of which were loudly applauded by the audience,” the Bulletin observed. “It is a marvel how the troupe learned so much about Cairo in so short a time.”

The paper endorsed burlesque of the Worrell Sisters accompanied by comedian George S. Knight, but editors took exception with the May Fiske English Blondes. The Bulletin ripped Fiske’s cast of mostly bleached hairdos for selling “nastiness… verbal smut and shapely female ankles.”

Olden drama required spice to play in Cairo, and femme fatale Fanny B. Price was the stuff. She caused the daily paper to suspend publication for threat of a printers’ strike. The young actress entranced gobs of boys and men, particularly along western rivers. Males penned letters and placed print notices for Price at stops like Cairo, where 45 fawning men signed a welcome ad. Price was a tragedian player, “girlish” and “prepossessing” in appearance. She hit in roles such as Parthenia, Greek maiden of myth, and Lady Macbeth.

Bulletin pressmen were riled over prospect of missing Fanny Price at the Atheneum on Thanksgiving, 1873. They grumbled about skipping work until the editor canceled the day’s printing, and the boys saw the show. Fans viewed Price as “chaste and pleasing,” and Cairo men doted until finally she’d been married, divorced and remarried, living in South Dakota.

Price was a dramatist who could dance and sing, standard for top thespians in Cairo. Mary Anderson, stage phenomenon from Louisville, succeeded Price as hot ticket locally, accompanied by actor John W. Norton. Kate Claxton was a hit dramatist, hearing calls for encore. Shakespearean stars Lawrence Barrett and Englishman Frederick Warde were fantastic, according to the paper, while Robert McWade personified a classic Rip Van Winkle, truest to Irving’s character.

The Bulletin scolded readers over lackluster support for serious drama, a national trend. Critically acclaimed actors could go broke in the hinterland, such as Price’s getting stranded on occasion with her outfit. “Those were the days of fat parts and good notices, but no salaries,” recalled Roland Reed, former actor with Price. Once, with the troupe penniless in Illinois, Reed turned to his comedy forte, staging shows that paid fare home for everyone.

With Old World convention on decline in America, classic drama had a problem for lack of fashionable music and movement. In the delta and elsewhere, most Americans wanted popular songs and stirring beats. People wanted dance—“leg ball, fantastic toes”—whether for watching or participating.

***

Mark Twain traveled down the Mississippi again in spring 1882, returning to the lower river after 21 years. Changes in the channel startled him. “I wondered if I had forgotten the river,” he confessed, in his subsequent book Life on the Mississippi. Ste. Genevieve was no longer riverfront, after the channel had cut away toward Illinois bluffs. “Sainte Gen” was hillside property now, overlooking bottomland. The Mississippi “made a ‘country’ town of it,” Twain huffed. “It is a fine old place, too, and deserved a better fate.”

On Twain’s trip the river ran high and easy for steamers headed down, approaching massive flooding in the delta at the Ohio’s convergence. Twain only worried slightly about Hat Island below Chester, old low-water hell for boats, but he shouldn’t have at all. “No vestige of Hat Island is left now; every shred of it is washed way,” he noted. Past Cape Girardeau, into the alluvial bottoms, the Mississippi channel had shifted wildly.

Twain watched in disbelief, down the altered river, ex-pilot aboard the steamer City of Baton Rouge. “I could recognize big changes from Commerce down,” he wrote. “Beaver Dam Rock was out in the middle of the river now, and throwing a prodigious ‘break’; it used to be close to the shore, and boats went around outside of it. A big island that used to be away out in mid-river has retired to the Missouri shore, and boats do not go near it anymore. The island called Jacket Pattern is whittled down to a wedge now, and is booked for early destruction. Goose Island is all gone but a little dab, the size of a steamboat. The perilous ‘Graveyard,’ among whose numberless wrecks we used to pick our way so slowly and gingerly, is far away from the channel now and a terror to nobody.”

Approaching Cairo, jerky turns of Dog Tooth Bend ran cleanly, cleared by government snag boats along the river. Beacon lights burned at night for steamers. Twain suggested he could steer Dog Tooth with eyes closed, as he used to do in effect on foggy nights, “sounding” through on depth calls of hands from bow and yawl. “One of the islands formerly called the Two Sisters is gone entirely; the other, which used to lie close to the Illinois shore, is now on the Missouri side, a mile away.”

Twain enjoyed a high perch coming into Cairo as pilothouse guest. Flood had crested but remained near top of levees. Steamers rolled above houses and buildings. The 1882 flood was worst-case, leaving the Cairo vicinity an inland embayment, water to flat horizon in every direction. But Twain saw major changes, islands gone, and rocks, along with a huge chunk of Bird’s Point. Correspondingly, Cairo had added land directly across the Mississippi, claiming new shoreline extending hundreds of yards from town. “The Mississippi is a just and equitable river,” Twain wrote, “it never tumbles one man’s farm overboard without building a new farm just like it for that man’s neighbor. This keeps down hard feelings.”

Cairo impressed Twain, 40 years after the visit of Charles Dickens, then a young Englishman. Twain disagreed with Dickens for famously branding the locality a rank morass. “Cairo is a brisk town now; and is substantially built,” Twain attested, “and has a city look about it which is in noticeable contrast to its former estate, as per Mr. Dickens’s portrait of it.” Twain didn’t much like reading Dickens, on anything. “Cairo has a heavy railroad and river trade,” declared the former boatman Sam Clemens, as Twain, “and her situation at the junction of the two great rivers is so advantageous that she cannot well help prospering.”

Maud Rittenhouse echoed Twain, writing in her diary. Rittenhouse was another precocious teenager of Cairo, committed to arts and entertainment, and proud for her hometown. She rebuked haughty critics and jokers. “Every rickety old house looks familiar and sweet, every tree an old friend,” Maud wrote. “I was born here and have lived here and can never do ought but love our dear ugly Cairo.”

Maud, someday a best-selling author, saw positives even in the flood Twain witnessed, lapping at the levees, forcing groundwater into homes. For this girl, highwater under moonlight in Cairo assumed Venetian splendor. “I can scarcely express to you the lovely time we had last night. The moon full, the water just rippling lightly, the skiff large and light,” Maud recorded of rowing over submerged streets in spring 1882. “There was a barge of musicians floating, too, and the clear notes of the guitar and cithern [harp] rang dreamily over the water, and the singing was very sweet. It was delicious floating off under the locust trees, past the new white church with its tall spire reflected in the water.”

“Verily, we are a modern Venice.”

Rittenhouse was an aspiring actress, good singer, serving stage support for touring professionals. Several locals shone alongside stars, no skill gap apparent. Headliner soprano Imogene Brown won the audience, for example, but particularly of her accompaniment by a Cairo insurance man, W.H. Morris, subbing as bassist for the company. “Mr. Morris sang three songs with fine effect, receiving the long continued applause of the audience,” the Bulletin gushed. Morris, of the stellar choir at Cairo Church of The Redeemer, entertained regionally as baritone and humorist until his sudden death in 1879. Additional accomplished locals complemented stage pros, led by Frank Howe, tenor; Annie Pitcher, salaried church singer; and Walter McKee, cornet whiz and choir director at the Methodist Church.

Local youths were coming on. Soprano actress M. Adella Gordon stole limelight in school productions, church choir, and in the new Grand Opera House. “Miss Adella Gordon… was really the feature of the evening,” a Bulletin critic concluded for a show in 1883. “Although she was known to be one of the best singers in Cairo, the power and richness of her voice as developed on the Opera House stage was a surprise to her friends and the audience. It filled the house with melody without any apparent effort of the singer. Every verse and almost every turn of the song was applauded to the echo. For an encore Miss Gordon sang a beautiful little waltz song, Peek-A-Boo.”

“Miss Adella scored a triumph in ‘Engaged,’ both in acting and singing.” The critic also praised Gordon for calliope play, “one of the musical gems of the performance.” She later married a physician and the couple moved to New York and London. Their daughter born at Cairo, actress Ruth Bower, became noted internationally.

Local history of opera divas traced to Jenny Lind, “The Swedish Nightingale” who passed through on a steamboat with Barnum in 1851. The money P.T. Barnum paid the songstress, an astounding $250,000 for 150 dates in America, along with his shrewd merchandising of Jenny Lind items, left lasting imprint on the country. Youths were inspired while elites pushed for Americans to capture the opera world. In the postwar opera stars came frequently to Cairo stages, male and female, including Americans Emma Abbott, Clara Brinkerhoff, Imogene Brown, and Madame Bailer, a black songbird sponsored by AME congregations.

Marie Litta, or Litta, billed as “America’s Greatest Soprano,” hit Cairo only months before death struck to inflate her legend. The young woman wasn’t Italian but actually Illinois Dutch, named Marie Von Elsner, reared at Bloomington and groomed for opera royalty.

In one sense, Litta’s brief career signified the European dogma stifling American music and talent. The problem rested with American “society” and industry, stuck on trying to do everything European, better than the Europeans. Belief transferred from East to the West and South, and Von Elsner seemed a prime case, or victim profile. Her father, an impoverished immigrant musician, saw rare gift in his first born.

Benefactors surfaced round her in rural Illinois and the girl was sent to music conservatory in Cleveland. She made the requisite jump abroad, studying in France through her adolescence, accumulating debt and favors owed. On advice she swapped her German surname for an Italian-sounder, typical of opera aspirants, and took her shot at concert acclaim.

Litta was hyped by Paris handlers and their crony pressmen, and hired by the Strakosch Italian opera company for American tours of 1879. She arrived in New York under heavy fanfare, as latest native hope for opera, but Litta didn’t remotely perform like an American Jenny Lind.

Skeptics cried humbug! New York reviewers skewered her, led by nemesis critics of The Times and The Herald. “A perfect failure,” carped a Buffalo critic. Even Litta’s name change was ridiculed. Maurice Strakosch placed her in lead roles but she faltered vocally and stunk for acting, said the critics. The company released Litta after two seasons, and the New York Times bade a parting shot: “As an operatic prima donna (she) could not expect to hold a leading position.” The Boston Globe intoned that “Marie Litta… is at home in Bloomington, Ill., where she belongs.”

She appeared at Cairo a discard of big-time opera. Merchandise bearing the Litta name barely sold anywhere, a few Illinois towns. A small hall in her homestate canceled Litta for lack of interest. An Illinois preacher had to deny snoring through her concert. Litta was 26, failing in health, heading her own troupe, trying to meet payroll and expenses. She held debt to creditors and old handlers, as provider for her siblings and invalid mother. A small fortune had been frittered on diamonds and wardrobe for Litta and family entourage.

A good Cairo crowd applauded the Litta Opera Company in 1883, calling for encores. The Bulletin lauded the fading star, if politely. Soon she died in Bloomington, reportedly for symptoms of neural degeneration, “chronic meningitis.” Opera queen Clara Louise Kellogg pledged benefit concerts to stall home foreclosure on the Von Elsners. Bloomington  residents raised thousands of dollars for a massive cemetery monument, declaring the greatness of Litta in stone, their last word.

In retrospect, Marie Von Elsner may have been better off in pop music, playing right at home, the American West. As she died young, song and dance swept the nation despite elitists fixed on Euro convention. Perhaps the statuesque Von Elsner would’ve preferred frontier opera houses and riverboats, playing banjo, singing dance songs, flashing blonde tresses and pink stockings, hot steps, just showing off. Because Marie Von Elsner would’ve only been normal, gravitating to popular song and dance as a talented young American.

Boys and girls were pouring into variety entertainment, consuming, learning and performing. In the northern delta, the talent pool was exceptionally strong. Homegrown musicians of every focus were headed upward, the region’s first showbiz generation, laying path for more to come. And they could keep their own names.

***

Baseball served as tonic for Americans following the Civil War, rising in appeal across race and class. The Cincinnati Red Stockings of professional baseball became national darlings, winning 80 straight games over challengers like the New York Mutuals, the Philadelphia Athletics, and New Orleans Southerns.

The Red Stockings built national audience for the team and sport. Other cities responded, producing fully paid baseball clubs to rival the famed “Red Legs,” such as the White Stockings in Chicago. By the time the Red Stockings finally lost, an upset at Brooklyn in 1870, fans were hooked on baseball’s daily drama. Scribes hailed it the National Game.

Amateur teams attracted hopeful players along the Ohio and Mississippi, where the Red Legs had thrashed best clubs of Louisville, St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans. “Baseball is becoming the rage with our old and young boys,” observed the Bulletin at Cairo. Nearby in Massac County, “cockfighting and baseball are Young America’s amusement.”

Baseball games in Cairo streets constituted a nuisance, already, banned by city officials. Vacant lots filled with players in warm weather, for games typically segregated but sometimes mixing whites and blacks. Ball clubs of both races organized in the tri-state flatland, men’s teams of name like the Deltas and Shoo Flies, with junior squads for boys. Young males were mindful of pro baseball and Cincinnati, but the game was crude in form from equipment to playing fields.

Many Cairo kids and adults strove for careers in the amusements of convention—drama, music and circus. Local products were working in show business, on stage and in management, and some would realize that old cliché, fame and fortune, or former if not the latter.

Cairo in the postwar offered theater clubs and instructors, schools of music and dance, gymnastics and equestrian classes, even training in trapeze, the crowd favorite introduced by Jules Leotard. Athleticism was asset in each and paramount for circus, where spectators demanded “break-neck gymnastics” of performers. Sports of the ring anchored circus entertainment. Fans clamored to see acrobats fly fast and high, including child daredevils, on floor, horseback, high wire and trapeze. And Cairo witnessed many greats.

Henry Magilton, superstar of bareback tricks, tumbling and trapeze, appeared for years at Cairo with Spalding and Rogers Circus. Later Magilton was paralyzed of a 25-foot fall in trapeze at London’s Alhambra Theatre. The Hanlon brothers were with DeHaven’s Circus at Cairo, famed acrobats on trapeze and horseback. The Siegrist brothers appeared—Louis, Toto, and young William—in their “phenomenal gymnastic groupings” for Batcheller and Doris. The Leslie brothers performed “graceful and daring double trapeze” in Rothschild’s Circus. And “leaper” Frank Gardner vaulted into “a double somersault over four camels and one elephant,” stealing the show in Cole’s Circus, reported the Bulletin.

Maggie Claire of Cole’s was “Queen of Air” on the “flying rings.” A brilliant talent, Claire debuted in Memphis vaudeville as a child contortionist in 1867. She appeared at Cairo in 1880, going up ropes, grasping rings by hands and feet, twirling and flipping to band music at 50 feet high, no safety net.  Decades later she admitted, “Cold chills sometimes run over me, when I think of my daring, and, especially, the ease with which I performed. It wasn’t work, it was mere play. My happiest hours were those when I swung high over the heads of my audience.”

In the big-top at Cairo, Maggie Claire “captivated all present,” a scribe recounted, adding “her dangerous and quick movements, at so great a height, stamp her as an altogether superior artist.” During a quarter-century of ascents in tents and theaters, thousands, Claire fell four times, each due to rope malfunction. Her final drop was 44 feet to floor, causing hip dislocation and brain concussion among injuries, and she retired.

Barnum brought a breath-taking aerialist to Cairo, Rossa Matilda Richter, Zazel, Paris teenager in America. Barnum collected name performers by the dozens for his circus, and ZAZEL! dominated advertising for 1880 touring. Richter was a pioneer “human cannonball” but likewise an elite athlete, climbing like a spider, unshakable on high. A big tent fell silent as Zazel reached the darkened ceiling crest. There she pranced and danced across a wire, frolicking child-like, toting a pink parasol. Suddenly Richter would launch away, midair in her “eagle dive,” timing a half-flip on descent to bounce off net.

“She is on her feet again in an instant to perform the crowing act of her feat,” a newspaper reported. “She enters the muzzle of a large cannon suspended over the ring, and is ejected from its mouth with a loud report and a smell of powder, rising some 20 feet in the air and landing in the net about 50 feet from the cannon. This act concludes the performance, which is certainly the best that Barnum has ever prepared.”

High-wire females drew Cairo audiences. Ella Zuela rode a bicycle, pedaling tent heights for Coup’s Circus. Zuela starred at Cairo the night of Aug. 19, 1882; hours later, two trains of the show crashed together in southern Illinois, at Tunnel Hill. Ella Zuela apparently wasn’t hurt in the collision, but circus animals were rumored loose in woods north of Cairo, proven false.

Legendary rope-walker “Professor Leon” frequented Cairo, performing downtown on lines from rooftops. Professor Leon, birth name Jesse Albert St. John, had crossed Niagara Falls by tightrope numerous times, famously toting a little nephew on his back. The maneuver was repeated at Cairo. “The rope was stretched from the roof of Dr. Wardner’s building to the roof of the Arlington House… perhaps 60 feet above the ground,” the Bulletin reported, “more than once the spectators were held breathless and trembling while Leon performed some of his most difficult parts.”

“When he started to cross on the rope with the little boy, Master Curtis Hackett, a child less than 7 years old on his back, an expression of fear and uneasiness was visible on the face of nearly everyone present. But Leon made the trip as easily as if he had been walking on a plank a foot wide, and the little fellow on his back seemed to delight in the undertaking.”

Child performers relied on supple body and steely mindset for circus success. Some kids couldn’t cope but many reeled off cold-blooded feats and smiled, charming crowds. In 1876 small acrobats were prime acts for Howe’s circus at Cairo. Little Willie Dorr was billed as “The wonderful child gymnast… who throws 14 consecutive double-somersaults.” Frederick and Willie O’Brien were hyped as “only 6 years old… the finest actors on the trapeze ever seen in America.”

Equestrian skill rated highly in the delta, and thousands came to Cairo for circus children on horseback. The Stokes sisters of the Noyes Circus were beloved riders, Ella, Emma and Katie, displaying cunning and flash. Noyes also featured a boy who stood out among men on horseback. “Master Woody Cook is a prodigy… a miracle of agility, fearlessness and daring,” declared the Bulletin. “Although a mere lad, he is entitled to rank among the first equestrians and gymnasts of the period.” Cook turned forward flips, back flips and double-somersaults in one ride. “A standing challenge of $10,000 that Woody Cook, a mere boy, is the best bareback somersault rider in the world stands unaccepted,” promoted Noyes agents.

Equestrian star Lizzie Marcellus-Stowe first appeared at Cairo around age 12, with the Dan Rice Circus. She trained and performed in the area for a decade, until her death of steamboat fire in 1882. She had been “in early life a pupil of the renowned Dan Rice, and under the name of Lizzie Marcellus she won renown as one of the best female riders in the country,” reported the Bulletin.

Mollie Brown was first female to forward flip on horseback in circus. Brown drew a fan mob at age 19 in Cairo, starring for the Batcheller and Doris Circus. “Superb,” the Bulletin reviewed of the show. “The crowd at the circus… was the largest we ever saw anywhere at an afternoon performance. It is estimated that over 3,000 people were present. At night the immense canvas was jammed and crammed full.”

“The city was literally crowded yesterday with country people. Commercial Avenue and Ohio Levee were thronged with them.”

Adult equestrians, of course, were most anticipated by Cairo audiences. In 1880 Barnum brought Lizzie Marcellus, Emma Lake, and Parisian import Eliza Dockrill, known worldwide for gymnastics across haunches of galloping horses, six at once. Barnum paid huge salary to “Madame Dockrill,” who headlined his shows for years, and contracted her husband as equestrian director. Male riders headlined postwar circuses at Cairo, led by James Robinson, C.W. Fish, Sam Stickney, Levi J. North, James DeMott, Frank Melville, and Dan Rice.

Rice, native of New York City, first landed at Cairo with a circus in the 1840s. During the 1870s and ’80s the aging celeb often made home of the area, conducting business in southern Illinois and Missouri. He apparently liked distancing from Pennsylvania creditors and his estranged wife, in-laws. Rice had been America’s most famous entertainer in his prime, and columnists mused how boys confused Old Dan for Biblical Daniel.

Some delta folks weren’t laughing though, the anti-circus parents, preachers and others. They seethed, contending children should understand circus was sinful with false idols like Rice.

The Bulletin countered, charging hypocrisy on part of the circus critics, primarily churchgoers prone to praise team sports—baseball and tackle football—for so-called Muscular Christianity. Editorial writers scoffed:

“The weather permitting there will be another game of baseball played in the Fifth Ward on next Sunday, and also a game of football. The whole to be concluded by a rousing fight. These kind of amusements are becoming very fashionable, and yet our good Christian people do nothing to prevent them.”

“We do however maintain that pugilistic encounters should not be put down upon the list of recreations. Several Christians also called upon us to say they had prayed for the reformation of the baseball men, but to little effect.”

***

Shortly following the Civil War, a riverboat dance was set for young people of New Madrid Bend on the Mississippi. This area of delta Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee had experienced terrible fighting of clashing armies, a no-man’s land of war with thousands killed, more victimized, including children. Citizens suffered atrocities, seeing communities, homes and farms shot-up by soldiers, guerillas and more gangs. Assorted marauders committed wanton robbery, arson, sexual assault and murder.

Peace declared, now was time for “wild enchantment of the dance,” urged the New Madrid paper. Steamer T.L. McGill picked up belles and beaus along Kentucky landings of Madrid Bend community and Island Number 10 then docked at New Madrid Wharf on the Missouri side.

Music and dancing had begun when “a shot was fired into the circle from the top of the boat, through the sky lights,” killing a young man. A passenger shot dead the assassin, identified as a 70-year-old man from Illinois with “deep-seated hate” for Southerners and the defunct Confederacy. The war had ended in 1865, but viciousness would carry for generations in the river wilderness.

“The Civil War took a very heavy toll on the area,” said Frank Nickell in 1992, regional historian at Southeast Missouri State University. “The civilian population suffered, and no one has written at this point, to my knowledge, about the devastation of the Civil War upon this region, how it touched the lives of civilians. Vance Randolph in his folklore has touched on that… he has written a lot of books. One of those is entitled We Always Lie to Strangers, and there’s a reason for that. He’s got another book entitled Never Trust a Stranger. And the reason for that is, I think, the Civil War.”

“Because the men went off to war; the women stayed at home and took care of the kids, and tended the cows and the hogs, and they could survive with a garden. They could raise their food and they could survive. But they were subject to every group of men that came through. I think rape was very common. I think women were exploited, brutalized… and I think that feeling, never trust a stranger, is still in some parts with southeast Missouri.”

Modern historian T.J. Stiles, biographer of Jesse James, observed that politics of Civil War Era were complex, tough to unravel for context and blame. “In Missouri, more than anywhere else, neighbor literally fought neighbor, invading homes, looting, burning, and murdering unarmed partisans of the other side. It would be remarkable indeed if wartime allegiance had not become a defining element in postwar politics. Could the average farmer or merchant honestly be expected to forget the fact that his neighbor stole his horses, killed his son or brother, or burned his house?”

Criminality rampaged in the Missouri bottoms postwar, plaguing the Mississippi shoreline for a hundred miles below Cairo and Bird’s Point. The range encompassed three counties: Mississippi, New Madrid and Pemiscot, with port towns New Madrid, Gayoso, Caruthersville and Cottonwood Point, and way landings. “Southeast Missouri has been infested by a gang of horse thieves, guerrillas and desperados,” complained the Cairo Bulletin, after the killing of villain Pope Conyers, “whose hands were stained with the blood of more than a score of victims.”

The Bootheel region was branded for bad men and evil events, oft-sensationalized in print. Novelty news included the elderly woman who fought back against swamp hoodlums. Bold cutthroats operated a store boat, working the Mississippi and bayous, passing counterfeit paper, and they defrauded the woman of $71 on Island Ten. She hopped aboard a steamer at New Madrid to pursue the bandits downriver— becoming cause célèbre of headlines, the Old Lady of Swampeast Missouri—and caught them at Gayoso to see their arrests.

An old boat pilot recounted “bloody deeds” along Pemiscot landings. “I don’t think there is a bend in the river between Cairo and Memphis but has a tragic history, not because the Mississippi River is or has been more criminal than other localities, but you must remember it has always been a highway where people from all over the land meet,” wrote the pilot for Waterways Journal, under penname Jackstaff. “I wonder why writers of fiction resort to their own imagination for such themes, when truth furnishes so much.” An Osceola paper reported a “general feeling of insecurity” at Caruthersville, “badly afflicted with tramps who rob and plunder promiscuously.”

The region produced prime crime in 1874, amidst charged politics. Incidents of New Madrid County included the man struck with an ax in a fight, “completely severing the head from the body.” A man shot his close uncle, arguing over welfare of a child. Masked “nightriders” adopted Ku Klux Klan terror, trying to drive out blacks over farm jobs and hate. Racial murders and gunfights shook communities, with the district attorney and citizens pleading for help to protect Afro-Americans. “Life Cheap,” declared the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, headlining wickedness of southeast Missouri, always a tasty read elsewhere.

A band of outlaws showed up in historic fashion, becoming America’s most notorious gang of the century. Five horsemen came up from the South, identified as Missouri fugitives back in Louisiana, following a stagecoach robbery in Bienville Parish on January 8th. They looted a stage and passengers near Hot Springs on the 15th and continued north through Arkansas, bound for their home state. Initial reports named Arthur McCoy as gang leader, former Confederate spy and guerilla of St. Louis. The others were ex-bushwhackers of western Missouri and avowed Rebels till death: Cole Younger and a brother, likely John Younger, and Jesse James with his brother Frank. There was a $1,000 bounty on the James brothers, each, tripling the normal reward for wanted men in Missouri.

The desperados were fully armed and well-dressed on “fine-blooded horses,” sporting new saddles and bags. They wore plush leather overcoats and neck furs, packing Colt .45s and shotguns holstered on belts and saddles. The gang had committed years of robbery and killing in the Midwest and South, armed assaults on banks, stage lines and more. The new target was railroads, with the gang responsible for a stickup on the Rock Island in Iowa. Their mission in southeast Missouri was the state’s first train robbery.

The James brothers and accomplices crossed Arkansas border into Butler County, Mo., about January 27th, along the delta rim with Ozarks Plateau. They picked up the Iron Mountain Railroad at Poplar Bluff and rode northward along Black River Valley. This was all familiar for the James boys, Black River of the Ozarks, their route to and from Kentucky, old family ground and a getaway state. Frank James had slipped through southeast Missouri during the war with William Quantrill, guerrilla leader later killed in Kentucky on their trip.

As their routine, the five horsemen “took dinner” at a farm along the Black on Jan. 30, 1874, outside Mill Spring village. The place was in a hollow off the bottoms and train tracks, home of William T. Leeper, who figured the strangers to be hunters, without prying. Leeper was a Democrat but likewise a Union loyalist during the war, then-captain of the Enrolled Militia of Wayne County, a fact perhaps lost on his visitors. Mounted again with full bellies, the James Gang followed the rails from Mill Spring north to Piedmont, boom town on the Iron Mountain.

“That night, they asked for shelter at the home of the widow Gilbreath, three miles north of Piedmont,” Stiles related in his Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War. “Three of them set down double-barreled shotguns, she noticed, and when they took off their overcoats, she saw that each of the five carried a pair of large revolvers. They had maps, a compass, and a spare horse; they also came with a fair knowledge of the countryside and the Iron Mountain’s schedule.”

“At perhaps three in the afternoon the next day, they trotted their horses into the hamlet of Gads Hill, just north of where they had spent the night.”

Gads Hill was a flag stop on the railroad, and around 5 o’clock Engine Number 7 chugged up, southbound from St. Louis. Topping the mount the train was diverted onto sidetrack and locked in with switches, thrown by the gang. The engine halted for a flag-waving bandit, and the theft operation took but minutes. “While two of the band stood guard, the remaining three bandits looted the express car and robbed the astounded passengers,” stated an account. “The train robbery at Gads Hill is said to be the second committed in the United States. All the robbers were masked, and as they robbed the passengers, kept up a constant flow of conversation and banter.”

Total take for the American train robbers likely exceeded $5,000 at Gads Hill, and, unchallenged, they remounted and rode into the pines, headed west for Current River Valley. Posses left Piedmont next morning, pursuing fruitlessly, for the James Gang was long in front, riding to Springfield along trail and developing roads. The five spread 100 yards apart in a forward line, guerrilla style, defending against attack. Families of many posse members didn’t want loved ones to catch and confront these outlaws, each a killing machine.

Jesse James was a multi-talented sociopath, intelligent, athletic and handsome; a marksman, expert horseman and elite warrior; and a decent writer, superior scholar. He loved reading periodicals, books, classics. Jesse surely produced the gang’s prewritten release at Gads Hill, left behind on the train, addressed to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “MOST DARING ROBBERY ON RECORD!” proclaimed the copy. “There is a hell of an excitement down here… You had better send a reporter.” The release was signed “JOHN A. MURRELL,” indicating Jesse grew up consuming Land Pirate literature like Sam Clemens at Hannibal, so many Missouri youths.

Down in the delta, a fearsome family of gunslingers made news once again from Madrid Bend, of the surname Darnall, also spelled Darnell. Patriarch Henry M. Darnall, Sr., was known for violent episodes with neighbors and strangers since before the war. In 1869 Darnall and sons became infamous for their feud with the Lane family, gunning down three male targets in front of wives and kids at Darnall’s Landing.

In summer 1874 it appeared Henry Darnall was finally vanquished, having been “mortally wounded” in gunfight, taking two shots to the chest from a ferryboat competitor. The Memphis Avalanche reported of him as essentially past-tense, done for. “General Darnell is a gentleman of about 65 years of age, a man of large property and unbounded hospitality. He had a very vindictive temper, and when once aroused it was uncontrollable, and has figured in several deadly feuds. He leaves a large family.” But Darnall recovered within months and showed in Memphis, “looking hale and cheerful,” corrected the paper. “The General is the same who was perforated in a half a dozen places with bullets and buckshot last summer, and who for a while was reported dead and buried, all of which was a mistake.”

Darnall was charged repeatedly for violent crime, but he defied local authorities, “bulldozing” judges and sheriffs, accompanied by armed men in court, and was never convicted—“Wholesale Murderer,” decried the Memphis Appeal; “Disgraceful,” added the Nashville American. Old Darnall died among family in 1880, afflicted of past wounding. His namesake son was already dead of gunfire, and a second would follow same. Twain discussed the family and feuding clans around Island Number 10 in his nonfiction. Surviving was the Darnall son who avoided trouble to complete medical school and training—Dr. Walter Darnall became a top physician residing at New Madrid, preferring song and dance over gunfights.

An outfit of Jesse James wannabes launched from New Madrid on a tear in May 1881. Newspaper coverage exploded for these imitators who had come together in Wayne County at Mill Spring, along the Iron Mountain Railroad famed of the James Gang.

The upstart “New Madrid Gang” was led by Jasper “Jesse” Myers and Frank Brown, neither a native of Missouri. The five in number was the only commonality for these drifters with legendary banditti of Gads Hill. They robbed nothing, managing only to shoot and wound adults and a child in ambush at New Madrid. They fled up King’s Highway to Sikeston, with barely a good horse and firearm among them. They dreamt on, discussing their escape to the West and maybe Mexico, committing great train robberies and more attacks against society and the rich. But live posses were in pursuit, swelling by the hour for publicity, and armed riders didn’t fear these characters. The desperadoes killed a sheriff’s deputy and matters got hot.

Driven west off Sikeston Ridge, the gang crossed marshland, running, walking and swimming, starving and bickering with each other. Hundreds of armed riders awaited them in Wayne County, a publicized manhunt that grew upon itself through news and talk, accurate or not. Gunmen swooped in to slaughter two gang members, and another was hung by vigilantes. Surviving fugitives Myers and Brown made it to Mill Spring, only to be apprehended by posse leader W.T. Leeper, former unwitting host of the James Gang. Lawmen secreted Myers and Brown to St. Louis to avoid lynch mobs, taking trains to Cairo and a steamboat upriver.

Myers and Brown ultimately were hanged, anyway, satisfying a crowd of 5,000 at New Madrid in July. Before execution Myers confirmed he emulated the James brothers “to get up a gang.” He told the New Madrid Record he didn’t know Jesse, Frank, or the Youngers: “Not personally, but I have read a good deal about them. Oh, yes, those books are calculated to load a man off—they excite his evil passions.”

Soon after, James sightings were reported from New Madrid into Kentucky. “It is said Jesse James attended Dan Rice’s circus in Bardstown last spring, and that his wife visited friends in the county during the summer,” noted the Louisville Courier-Journal.  “It is certainly true [Jesse and Frank] have many friends in this county, where they spent several years after the war.”

Missouri offered a $10,000 reward for the James brothers, each, and on April 3, 1882, Jesse was shot in the back at his home in St. Joseph, assassinated by Bob Ford. A few months later, Frank surrendered at the governor’s office in Jefferson City. Governor Thomas T. Crittenden paid out bounty money then boasted of stopping the James brothers, the “Meyers Gang” of New Madrid, and “outlawry” statewide. Crittenden stated:

“Since the close of the war Missouri has been infested by bands of train and bank robbers, whose lawless deeds not only rendered railroad travel and banking dangerous, in certain localities in the state, but also gave the state an unenviable reputation at home and abroad.”

“I paid $20,000 in rewards to various persons for the capture and overthrow of the [James] desperadoes, not one dollar of which was taken from the State Treasury. It is not probable that Missouri will again be cursed and disgraced by the presence of such a band of men, confederated together for desperate purposes. [Missouri] is fully redeemed and acquitted of that unwarranted appellation of ‘Robber State.’ ”

“It is done, and Missouri is today one of the most peaceful states in the Union. Fewer crimes are committed within her borders than those of surrounding states.”

Lusty thugs still roamed southeast Missouri, however, unspeakable acts kept occurring, and the Jackson Cash-Book newspaper wasn’t buying talk of civil tranquility. “Our hangings should be speedier and more frequent,” the paper editorialized. “There is altogether too much leniency and red tape exhibited in dealing with criminals.”

***

The Grand Opera House opened at Cairo, Ill., in 1881, a spectacular showplace amidst riverine marsh. Teen sensation Fay Templeton headlined on opening night, singer and dancer, starring in the comic opera Les Mascotte. The curtain rose and “a large chorus of pretty and shapely girls in pink fleshings and short skirts pranced forth in a huge sensation.”

In the audience sat Maud Rittenhouse, schoolgirl actress, spellbound. “Oh! It was grand!” she recorded in diary. “Seated in that comfortable, spacious, lovely theatre with its blaze of lights, immense stage, artistic scenes, I couldn’t realize I was in Cairo until I looked around me and beheld the familiar faces… all the people in town, and many from abroad. Not a seat in parquet or parquet-circle, only a few in dress-circle, and some in gallery.”

Thirteen hundred spectators packed the auditorium trimmed in Victorian woodwork, ornamental plaster and crimson drapery. There were “perfect” acoustics and gas-jet lighting, chandeliers, globes and foot lamps, and 36 fire exits, reported the Bulletin. The brick building stood four stories, occupying most of the 600 block bounded by Commercial Avenue and Railroad Street [later renamed Halliday Avenue]. The facility culminated a long drive of local supporters since Perry Powers and W.H. Morris, deceased showmen.

The Opera House joined theaters, halls, saloons, gardens, showboats and excursion steamers among stage venues of Cairo, amusement hotbed of 9,000 residents, 250,000 visitors annually. American vaudeville flourished for family entertainment, and burlesque thrived, too, despite opposition of churchmen and others.

Variety was staple, a series of short acts in musical ditties, dance steps, laughs, acrobatic stunts and animal tricks—“A  Veritable Mardi Gras,” declared an advertisement. Variety carried fast-hitting programs and melodramas from opening scene to climax. Companies touring Cairo included the Alice Oates English Comic Opera, Ada Richmond Comic Opera, Harry Webber in “Nip and Tuck Detectives,” the Milton Nobles Comedy Company, Wallack’s Comedy Company, Felix Vincent with Mollie Anderson, and Alf Burnett with Helen Nash.

Homegrown performers came back as American stars in the 1880s: Katie Putnam, banjo and dance maven, and Sol Smith Russell, singing comedian. Both began locally under the tutelage of Putnam’s mother, Mary McWilliams, actress and theater manager. Popular actress Minnie Maddern Fiske made a return of sorts, having been on stage in the womb at Cairo; her mother was actress Lizzie Maddern, who performed while pregnant at end of the war.

Circus of the Opera House characterized Tony Denier’s pantomime troupe, presenting clown characters amidst spectacles of melodrama, comedy, music and stunts. Dernier’s signature production, “Humpty Dumpty,” turned profit on multiple runs at Cairo. The troupe came replete with orchestra, military band, wire walkers, jugglers, gymnasts and chalk-face mimes to accompany the star clown. Denier was Brooklyn-born and roundly skilled, authoring how-to books on theater and circus performance. He studied in France as a youth, immersed in Old World circus and vaudeville.

Show venues proliferated around southeast Missouri in the 1880s and ’90s, modeling after Cairo for indoor and outdoor sets. The big trend was so-called opera houses, various forms from the elegant grand down to drafty hall, or barn. Opera houses opened at Cape Girardeau, Commerce, Benton, Morley, Sikeston, Charleston, New Madrid, Portageville, Caruthersville, Kennett, Campbell, Malden, Dexter, Bloomfield, Greenville, Poplar Bluff and Doniphan.

Top troupes visited the Missouri delta and foothills, covering the gamut in music and theatrics, acts like the Emma Warren Company, Si Perkins Comedians, Orton’s Comedians, Watty Wallack and J.A. Rider, “Blind Tom” Wiggins, John William “Blind” Boone, the Georgia Minstrels with Billy Kersands, and Mahara’s Minstrels with W.C. Handy.

Touring shows often employed “home talent” to augment bands and play casts, instilling professionalism in local musicians and actors, nurturing careers in many. A wave of northern delta products would excel in show business, greats among them, in the new century.

***

“Old-fashioned songs” coursed through America, variously labeled as frontier tunes, farmer songs, rural music, cowboy songs, quadrille, folk, plantation melodies—and country music, destined as the umbrella classification.

During winter 1887 the term “country music” appeared in print for a square dance in Illinois, east of Decatur, reported by a newspaper. That evening drivers in bobsleds and snow cutters fetched guests for a party at the farm estate of Bering Burrows. “There was dancing in country style to country calling, and country music, and at 11 o’clock an old-fashioned country supper was served. After supper, dancing was resumed and continued until 12:30.” Horse-drawn sleighs returned folks home, zipping over moonlit snow cover until 2 a.m.

The Cairo region was thick with country fiddlers and banjo pickers, white and black. Southern songs resounded such as Dixie and Turkey In The Straw. Henry Hart’s Afro-American band showcased his fiddling at square dances from Indiana to Missouri. Tom Lewis played fiddle and poured drinks in his Gem Saloon at Cairo. Local bandleader Charles Wittig, with sons and daughter, formed a fiddling family for dances and stage shows. Other top musicians heading string groups included Harry O’Brien, George Eisenberg, Lee Boicourt, Edward Dezonia, George Storer, A.L. Goss and Edward Lemon.

Banjo music was trademark of Cairo and Missouri landings since the instrument was established by African slaves and freemen. White minstrel Emory M. Hall performed a banjo history lesson on stage, playing artifact instruments and songs in progression. Hall began with a gourd banjo and its three strings on a stick, presumably from that instrument class of cornstalk fiddle and sassafras bow. He concluded on his customized 13-inch Clarke banjo, “The Thunderer,” picking five strings on a fretted fingerboard. Hall was amazed at technological advancement in his time, having been a Union drummer boy in Louisiana during the war, rigging together his first banjo, a cheese box with horse-hair strings. “I made music out of the thing,” the Maine native recalled in 1898.

Hall played masterfully and knew music evolution better than professors, garnering repute as Paganini of Banjo, America’s “best twanger of strings.” A solo by Hall sounded “simply wonderful,” saluted an Alabama paper, “playing as he does the most difficult variations on favorite themes [like] Home Sweet Home.” A Memphis critic raved: “He is to the banjo what Ole Bull is to the violin… sweetest and most touching melody.” E.M. Hall was among Chicago minstrels closely associated with southern Illinois, a group that included dancer Andy McKee and singing stepper Cal Wagner. Hall played Cairo for J.H. Haverly and other managers until his death of the disastrous theater fire at Chicago in 1903.

Minstrel Dick McGowan was a superior banjo talent in Cairo, along with George Powers and Edwin French, a pair on par excellence with Hall. Actress Kate Partington picked banjo for encores at the Opera House, starring in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” as heroine Topsy in blackface.

Afro-American banjoists picked ragtime and country melodies at Cairo before the Civil War, according to numerous sources of 1800s news coverage. Charles E. Trevathan was a white songwriter and journalist, native of west Tennessee bottoms along the Mississippi. In 1896 he wrote that ragtime originated “as a simple beat, but practice brought it to the dignity of a rhythm, weird, in no degree like any other musical expression, and intensely characteristic of the people who gave it birth. Now you may go anywhere along the Mississippi River from St. Louis to New Orleans, at Cairo, Memphis, Natchez… and you will hear the rag.”

Black troupes brought extraordinary banjoists, notably the Georgia Minstrels in their combinations. “The Georgias” put a banjo orchestra on stage, upwards of a dozen artists coming together in strings “made to talk.” The Bohee brothers, James D. and George B., were star pickers along with Dick Little, John H. Taylor, J. Locke Warwick, James Layton, C.F. Stanbury and Horace Weston. “The Georgias have no superiors and are favorites with the Cairo public,” the Bulletin raved.

American music pioneer James A. Bland headlined for the company at Cairo while introducing his popular songs from 1874 to 1881. Bland had grown up a free black in Washington, D.C., becoming a professional entertainer at 14 and later graduating from Howard University. Bland was multi-skilled, a composer, banjoist, singer, dancer and comedian. His classics Carry Me Back to Old Virginny and O! Dem Golden Slippers were among tunes he debuted with the Georgia Minstrels, pleasing audiences across ethic lines.

Ford’s Theater in Washington proudly billed “The Great James Bland” in spring 1881, prior to his departure for Europe and international acclaim.

***

Famous persons often passed unrecognized in Cairo, Ill., before photography’s mass dissemination of images. Luminaries were many in town during the latter 19th century, recognizable names but unfamiliar faces, like Susan B. Anthony, American suffragette; James Milton Turner, civil rights pioneer; James B. Eads, steel bridge master; John H. Tice, “weather prophet”; burlesque icon Lydia Thompson; and Ben De Bar, actor and theater mogul. Tell-all author Ann Eliza Young, internationally known as divorced Wife No. 19 of Brigham Young, was just another face off a train until introduced for her eager audience at the Atheneum.

Annie Oakley and husband Frank Butler were sharpshooters appearing at Cairo, little known yet. But Oakley was a sure-fire show promoter, tossing up tickets and shooting the airborne flutter, picking off pieces. Onlookers scrambled for bullet-ripped ducats to gain free admission. A holey shot paper was an “Oakley,” prized among her instant fans. Annie Oakley was dazzling in Comique Theatre, firing .32- and .22-caliber rifles from various positions, like behind her back, a mirror to sight. She nailed targets, popping glass balls, snuffing candles, and snapping off lit cigars. In 1885 Oakley and Butler joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Annie highly impressed Chief Sitting Bull, co-headliner; he named her Watanya Cicilia, Little Sure Shot, adopted member of the Lakota Indian Nation.

Some celebrities were easily identified for their likenesses en masse, engraved on news pages, magazine covers, showbills and product advertisements. And alerts usually preceded such arrivals at Cairo, where locals rushed atop the Ohio levee in 1882 to await John L. Sullivan, heavyweight boxing champion of the world. They watched railcars with Sullivan and entourage cross the river on transfer barges and unload on the Cairo side. The reassembled train climbed up from wharf to level tracks for layover, and townspeople ran on beelines for the private cars.

Kids and adults raced to see Sullivan, man and myth. “He was finally discovered near one of the windows of the Chicago sleeper, and after much solicitation and begging on the part of the crowd to show himself on the platform, he walked to the rear end of the car and descended to terra firma,” the Bulletin reported. “He was kept busy shaking hands with the crowd until the train moved out to Chicago.” Before departure the champ wired a St. Louis paper, rebuking the report he was “drunk and on a carousel for two days” in New Orleans. “Absolutely false,” fumed John L. Sullivan.

The little showman known as “Tom Thumb,” Charles S. Stratton, needed no introduction in Cairo, attracting crowds. Three hundred children attended a theater matinee starring Tom Thumb, Commodore Nutt and their wives—The Lilliputian Quartette—in song, dance and comedy. Rare few Americans were recognizable like Tom Thumb for his illustrations pervading pop culture. William “Buffalo Bill” Cody was another, the western scout turned entertainer.

Locals had heard plenty, read plenty of Buffalo Bill by the time his Wild West troupe arrived via railroad for a theater production. Cody was unmistakable stepping from the car, a ringer for his portraits plastered about on fences and buildings. An admiring mob trailed Buffalo Bill from train depot to the Halliday Hotel. “It was really amusing to see men of all ages stand with hands in their pockets and open mouths, staring in mute wonder at the tall, finely formed, neatly dressed, long-haired, pleasantly faced hero of novels and of the plain—exact counterpart of the fine engravings of him on the fancy bills.” Black and white kids filled the walk affront the hotel; boys jostled to peer inside for Buffalo Bill, “their eager faces against the large windows, expressing awe.”

Cody drew the biggest attendance yet at the new Opera House, upwards of 2,000 jammed in seats and standing space. Children crowded in and blacks filled segregated seating in the dress circle. Buffalo Bill’s western extravaganza featured musicians, dancers, American Indians and cowboys. Cody took spotlight for his marksmanship, shooting tiny objects around the stage while “holding the gun in many different positions,” recounted the Bulletin. Apparently no ricochet bullet reached the audience.

Future analysts would lambast such entertainment for racial and gender stereotyping, and firearms, child endangerment, among issues. But all shades of people loved the content in real time, 1880s America. Buffalo Bill’s western show rocked the Cairo Opera House on the delta frontier. “When the curtain went down upon the last act, the house shook with wild shouts, clapping of hands and stamping of feet, and there was a general expression of the wish that the company would remain another day.”

“Yesterday morning about 11 o’clock, headed by a cornet band, [Cody] led his band of Indians picturesquely uniformed and on horseback through the principal streets. The sidewalks along the line of march were crowded almost densely with people, and the streets were alive with noisy boys. From here the company went to Evansville, leaving on the Wabash train.”

Matt Chaney is compiling companion books on Southern music, tentatively titled River Shows, Jazz, Blues and Country Music and, the sequel, Rockabillies in the Missouri Delta. See the page Stories from River Music to Rock in the Northern Delta. For more information, including Chaney’s previous books, visit www.fourwallspublishing.com.  Email: mattchaney@fourwallspublishing.com.

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Amusements. (1868, May 19). Pittsburgh Post PA, p. 1.

Amusements. (1868, Nov. 15). New Orleans Times-Picayune LA, p. 8.

Amusements. (1869, Sept. 19). Memphis Appeal TN, p. 4.

Amusements. (1871, Nov. 28). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Amusements. (1871, Nov. 30). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Amusements. (1873, Jan. 25). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

Amusements. (1874, Aug. 3). St. Louis Post-Dispatch MO, p. 4.

Amusements. (1877, April 5). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Amusements. (1878, Nov. 5). Fort Wayne Sentinel IN, p. 4.

Amusements. (1879, Jan. 13). New York Times NY, p. 4.

Amusements. (1879, Jan. 22). New York Herald NY, p. 10.

Amusements. (1879, June 24). Chicago Inter Ocean IL, p. 8.

Amusements. (1879, July 1). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 5.

Amusements. (1879, Oct. 14). Cincinnati Enquirer OH, p. 8.

Amusements. (1879, Dec. 30). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Amusements. (1882, Feb. 24). Decatur Review IL, p. 8.

Amusements. (1889, June 2). Louisville Courier-Journal KY, p. 13.

Amusements. (1898, April 10). Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln NE, p. 4.

Amusements. (1898, Aug. 13). Washington Star DC, p. 24.

Amusements. (1904, Aug. 5). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 6.

Amusements This Evening. (1865, Oct. 5). Cairo Evening Times IL, p. 1.

An Editor’s Impression Of Cairo. (1865, Oct. 13). Cairo Evening Times IL, p. 1.

An Expedition From Cairo! Battle Near Columbus, Ky. (1861, Nov. 8). Cleveland Leader OH, p. 3.

An Experienced Boy. (1878, Nov. 29). Indianapolis News IN, p. 3.

An Immense Affair. (1881, March 29). Decatur Review IL, p. 4.

An Interesting Event. (1875, Sept. 22). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

An Old-Time Sugar Camp. (1886, June 18). Mattoon Gazette IL, p. 7.

Andrews’ Eagle Ice Cream Saloon. (1847, Aug. 12). [Advertisement.] Pittsburgh Post PA, p. 2.

Andy McKee. (1869, Feb. 8). Evansville Journal IN, p. 4.

Ann Eliza Young, Brigham Young’s Wife No. 19. (1876, April 20). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Announcement: Madame Dockrill. (1872, Dec. 9). [Advertisement.] New York Times NY, p. 7.

Another Theatre. (1910, March 21). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Another ‘Trapeze’ Accident At The Alhambra. (1861, April 10). London Standard, England, p. 6.

Around About Cairo. (1869, Aug. 14). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Around Town. (1879, Jan. 14). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Around Town. (1879, Jan. 18). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Arp, B. (1884, Oct. 1). Arp’s Counsels. Our Mountain Home, Talladega AL, p. 1.

Asbestos Curtain In Theater Death Trap Annihilated By Blast Of Air During Fire. (1904, Jan. 1). Chicago Inter Ocean IL, pp. 1, 4.

Assassination of Bill Lake. (1869, Aug. 28). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

At Cairo! (1883, Sept. 21). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

At Cairo One Day Only. (1870, April 29). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

At Cairo, Thursday, Oct. 5. (1876, Oct. 5). Rothschild & Co.’s Great European Shows. Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

At Cairo, Saturday, May 1st. (1880, April 20). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Atheneum. (1865, Oct. 13). Cairo Evening Times IL, p. 4.

Atheneum. (1865, Oct. 14). Cairo Evening Times IL, p. 4.

Atheneum. (1865, Oct. 29). Cairo Evening Times IL, p. 4.

Atheneum. (1865, Nov. 8). Cairo Evening Times IL, p. 4.

Atheneum! (1870, April 23). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Atheneum! (1870, May 28). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Atheneum. (1870, May 30). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Atheneum. (1871, Jan. 6). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum. (1872, March 20). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Atheneum! (1872, Nov. 27). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Atheneum. (1873, Feb. 25). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Atheneum! (1873, April 9). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Atheneum! (1873, April 29). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Atheneum. (1873, Dec. 25). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum! (1874, Feb. 17). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum. (1874, Feb. 20). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum. (1874, Feb. 24). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum. (1874, Feb. 25). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum. (1874, Oct. 18). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Atheneum! (1874, Nov. 14). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum. (1876, March 4). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum. (1876, Nov. 15). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum. (1877, Feb. 27). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum. (1877, April 13). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum! (1877, Oct. 25). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum. (1877, Nov. 11). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum! (1878, March 10). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum. (1879, May 1). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Atheneum! (1879, Oct. 17). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 6.

Atheneum. (1880, Nov. 3). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Atheneum. (1881, Jan. 14). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Atheneum. (1881, March 13). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Atheneum. (1881, March 31). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Atheneum. (1881, May 6). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Atheneum—April 23. (1875, April 18). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum—Cairo. (1876, Jan. 20). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum—One Night Only. (1875, Feb. 20). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atheneum—One Night Only. (1877, Dec. 7). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Atrocious Murder. (1869, March 21). Nashville Union and American TN, p. 1.

Attempted Assassination. (1881, May 13). New Madrid Record MO, p. 2.

Auction. (1865, Sept. 9). Cairo Evening Times IL, p. 4.

Auction Sale of Bar Fixtures, Wines, Liquors, &c. (1865, Sept. 1). Cairo Evening Times IL, p. 4.

Await The Coming. (1872, May 28). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Banjo Playing. (1882, Oct. 12). New Orleans Times-Picayune LA, p. 9.

Barbecue At Bartlett. (1878, July 26). Memphis Appeal TN, p. 4.

Barnum. (1880, Sept. 14). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Barnum Again On The Road. (1880, April 9). New York Times NY, p. 8.

Barnum Day! (1880, Sept. 16). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Barnum, P.T. (1927). Barnum’s own story. Viking Press: New York NY.

Barnum’s Show. (1880, Sept. 29). Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock AR, p. 8.

Base-Ball. (1869, April 15). [Advertisement.] Cincinnati Enquirer OH, p. 5

Base-Ball. (1870, June 15). Memphis Appeal TN, p. 4.

Base Ball. (1870, April 14). Woodstock Sentinel IL, p. 2.

Base Ball As A Money-Making Profession. (1869, Nov. 29). Buffalo Commercial NY, p. 3.

Beckham, A.F. (1859, Aug. 28). Compromise, Ky., Aug. 23, ’59. Memphis Appeal TN, p. 3.

Ben Bolt. (1869, Oct. 1). Fort Wayne Gazette IN, p. 1.

Ben Bolt. (1894, Oct. 21). Washington Post DC, p. 4.

“Ben Bolt” Author In Missouri Grave. (1913, March 9). St. Louis Star and Times MO, p. 24.

“Big Black Boom.” (1890, July 25). Davenport Democrat IA, p. 4.

Billy Manning’s Wit. (1881, Feb. 5). Coverdale Reveille CA, p. 3.

Birthplace Of The Banjo. (1900, July 8). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 43.

Blind Tom. (1875, April 24). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Blind Tom. (1878, Jan. 9). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Bolton, S.K. (1885, Sept. 6). Ole Bull. Louisville Courier-Journal KY, p. 13.

“Booking” for the Season. (1888, July 26). Pulaski Citizen TN, p. 1.

Boyle, A. (1940, March 20). Basin Street now hearing bluest of notes. Monroe News-Star LA, p. 12.

Brevities. (1871, Jan. 12). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Brevities. (1871, May 4). Base ball is becoming the rage. Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Brevities. (1871, May 17). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Brevities. (1871, May 27). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Brevities. (1871, Sept. 19). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Brevities. (1872, Nov. 28). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Brevities. (1876, March 30). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Brief Locals. (1877, Oct. 25). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Briggs, H.E. (1954, Autumn). Entertainment and amusement in Cairo, 1848-1858. Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, 47, pp. 231-251.

Brinkman, G. (1968). Life in an isolated pocket near Bootheel. St. Louis Post-Dispatch MO, p. 2G.

Broke His Arm. (1869, Aug. 5). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

C.W. Noyes’ Crescent City Circus. (1869, Sept. 24). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

C.W. Noyes’ Great Crescent City Circus Coming! (1869, June 22). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

C.W. Noyes. (1869, Sept. 24). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

Cairo. (1869, May 7). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Cairo. (1869, May 12). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Cairo. (1877, Sept. 25). [Reprint from St. Louis Journal MO.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

Cairo Actress Lives On Farm. (1905, May 15). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

Cairo Bulletin. (1873, Feb. 26). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo, Friday, Aug. 15. (1884, Aug. 13). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Cairo, Ill., March 4th, ’63. (1863, March 13). Randolph Journal, Winchester IN, p. 3.

Cairo, Ill., Sep. (1861, Sept. 14). Ashtabula Telegraph OH, p. 3.

Cairo Local News. (1873, Oct. 7). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Cairo, One Day Only. (1874, June 16). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Cairo Opera House. (1881, Dec. 12). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1881, Dec. 20). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1882, Feb. 4). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1882, Oct. 10). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1882, Oct. 20). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1882, Nov. 11). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1882, Dec. 12). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1883, Jan. 19). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1883, Aug. 9). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1883, Oct. 12). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1883, Nov. 1). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1884, Jan. 18). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1884, Oct. 7). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Cairo Opera House. (1884, Nov. 11). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1884, Nov. 23). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1884, Dec. 2). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1884, Dec. 27). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1905, April 5). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 8.

Cairo Opera House. (1906, Dec. 6). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo Opera House. (1907, Dec. 17). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Cairo’s Pride! (1881, Dec. 16), Cairo Bulletin IL, pp. 1, 4.

California, Like Missouri, Is Infested With A Gang Of Desperados. (1874, Jan. 16). Jefferson City State Journal MO, p. 4.

Capt. Eads. (1877, Nov. 8). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Capt. Tom Harmon. (1872, Oct. 18). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Carlton, W.M. (1871, May 5). Betsey and I are out. Neodesha Citizen KS, p. 1.

Carlyon, David. (2001). Dan Rice: The most famous man you’ve never heard of. Public Affairs: New York NY.

Chances For A College Of Music. (1882, Dec. 20). St. Louis Post-Dispatch MO, p. 1.

Chaney, M. (1997). Belmont. In Legend in Missouri. Four Walls Publishing: Warrensburg MO.

Chapman. (1839, Aug. 15). New Orleans Times-Picayune LA, p. 2.

Charleston, Mo., Robbed. (1863, Nov. 6). Perryville Union MO, p. 2.

Cherub’s Chat. (1883, Oct. 20). St. Louis Post-Dispatch MO, p. 9.

Cherub’s Column. (1883, April 28). St. Louis Post-Dispatch MO, p. 9.

Chillicothe Cullings. (1883, Dec. 11). St. Joseph Gazette-Herald MO, p. 3.

Chillicothe’s 1897 Yesterdays. (1928, June 8). Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune MO, p. 2.

Chilton, O.W. (1934, July 6). Side glances. Caruthersville Democrat-Argus MO, p. 4.

Choked In Couples. (1881, July 16). St. Louis Globe-Democrat MO, p. 5.

Christmas Eve Ball. (1869, Dec. 12). Charleston Courier MO, p. 2.

Cincinnati. (1869, Nov. 8). Evansville Journal IN, p. 1.

Circus. (1840, April 18). New Orleans Times-Picayune LA, p. 2.

Circus. (1851, Jan. 14). New Orleans Times-Picayune LA, p. 2.

Circus Days. (1899, Nov. 4). Wheeling Intelligencer WV, p. 8.

Circus Performers. (1895, June 7). New Orleans Times-Picayune LA, p. 8.

Circuses, Circus Players, Circus Patrons. (1828, Aug. 8). Missouri Intelligencer, Fayette MO, p. 1.

City And County. (1866, Aug. 2). Janesville Gazette WI, p. 1.

City And County News. (1882, Jan. 19). Alton Telegraph IL, p. 3.

City And County News. (1886, July 6). Alton Telegraph IL, p. 3.

City Council. (1876, Nov. 23). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

City Council. (1881, Jan. 13). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

City Department. (1879, July 6). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

City Department. (1879, Aug. 12). Decatur Republican IL, p. 3.

City Matters. (1869, July 9). Cincinnati Enquirer OH, p. 8.

City News. (1875, Oct. 31). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

City News. (1876, April 22). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

City News. (1876, Aug. 22). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

City News. (1878, Jan. 6). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

City News. (1879, Nov. 29). Indianapolis Leader IN, p. 4.

City News. (1880, April 17). Indianapolis Leader IN, p. 4.

Col. H.J. Deal In Ste. Genevieve County. [LTE reprint from Cape Girardeau Argus MO.] Charleston Courier MO, p. 1.

Col. Will S. Hays. (1878, July 30). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Colored Fair. (1878, Sept. 13). Interior Journal, Stanford KY, p. 3.

Coming! (1869, Sept. 24). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Coming! Kennett Opera House. (1893, Oct. 12). [Advertisement.] Dunklin Democrat, Kennett MO, p. 1.

Concert. (1871, Feb. 21]. [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Conner, E.S. (1881, June 5). New York Times NY, p. 10.

Correspondence. (1866, June 7). Lancaster Gazette OH, p.3.

Correspondence. (1869, March 5.). Vicksburg Herald MS, p.3.

Crescent City. (1884, Feb. 11). [Advertisement.] New Orleans Times-Picayune LA, p. 5.

Crime And Sensational Literature. (1882, Feb. 4). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Crime Near Hickman! (1867, Aug. 3). Murder, arson and rape! Charleston Courier MO, p. 2.

Crossing The River. (1874, Aug. 20). A quarrel among ferrymen—Three men killed in a minute [Reprint from Memphis Avalanche TN]. St. Louis Post-Dispatch MO, p. 2.

“Dan Rice Brings Suit.” (1881, Feb. 27). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Dan Rice On The River. (1880, Feb. 29). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Dan Rice, The Veteran Showman, Is Dead. (1900, March 1). Southeast Missourian, Portageville MO, p. 4.

Dan Rice’s New Show. (1876, April 14). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Dan Rice’s Only Own Circus. (1869, Sept. 3). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Dastardly Murder. (1868, Jan. 9). Missouri Republican, St. Louis MO, p. 1.

Davis, J.M. (2012). The Americanized circus. In Weber, S., Ames, K.L., & Wittmann, M. [Eds.] The American circus, pp. 22-53. Bard Graduate Center: New York NY, & Yale University Press: New Haven CT.

Dead Beat. (1870, April 4). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Dead, Or In Custody. (1881, May 28). Bloomfield Vindicator MO, p. 2.

Death Of A Desperado. (1882, April 8). Jesse James at last laid low by a bullet in his brain. Bloomfield Vindicator MO, p. 1.

Death Of General Darnell. (1880, Feb. 24). Memphis Public Ledger TN, p. 4.

Death’s Domain. (1882, April 1). The steamer Golden City burned and thirty lives lost. Grenada Sentinel MS, p. 1.

Deem, D.B. (1924, Dec. 18). Man known here killed by raiders. Poplar Bluff Republican MO, pp. 4-5.

DeGive’s. (1875, March 30). Atlanta Constitution GA, p. 3.

DeHaven’s Circus Coming. (1869, Aug. 6). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Des Arc Items. (1923, Sept. 20). Wayne County Journal and Piedmont Banner, Piedmont MO, p. 5.

Dick Turpin Outdone. (1874, March 29). Knoxville Press and Herald TN, p. 3.

Dickens, C. (1842). American notes. John W. Lovell Company: New York.

Died. (1875, Jan. 3). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Disgraceful. (1877, Aug. 11). A court bulldozed by a criminal, aided by twenty-five armed men [Reprint from Nashville American TN]. Memphis Appeal TN, p. 1.

Doomed! (1881, June 17). New Madrid Record MO, p. 2.

Dramatic Notes. (1878, Nov. 24). Philadelphia Times PA, p. 8.

Dramatics On A Flatboat. (1884, Jan. 20). Louisville Courier-Journal KY, p. 14.

Dugan, R.W. (1877, July 18). Dugan’s dose. Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Dunklin Democrat. (1898, Dec. 2). Dunklin Democrat, Kennett MO, p. 4.

Educative, Instructive, Entertaining! (1884, Nov. 16). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Edwards, W.H. (1878, May 28). Kansas City Times MO, p. 2.

Ellis, C.E. (1910). An authentic history of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Author: Chicago IL.

Ellsler’s Atheneum. (1864, Sept. 1). Ohio Statesman, Columbus OH, p. 2.

Emancipation Celebration. (July 17, 1874). Cairo Bulletin IL, p.4

Episcopalians to Celebrate Anniversary 50. (1912, Nov. 3). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 5.

Everything Grand, New, Fresh and Bright. (1875, June 12). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p.2.

Facts For The Curious. (1881, Jan. 27). Stockings. Clay Center Dispatch KS, p. 2.

Fatal Affray At Compromise, Ky. (1859, Sept. 10). Missouri Republican, St. Louis MO, p. 8.

Fenner, E.P. [Arr.] (1874). Cabin and Plantation Songs, As Sung by the Hampton Students. Musical Department, Hampton Agricultural and Industrial School: Hampton VA.

Ferguson Hall. (1889, May 2). [Advertisement.] Poplar Bluff Citizen MO, p. 5.

Fair Items, Personal and Otherwise. (1873, Sept. 27). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Farewell Tour! (1869, Sept. 2). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Fate Of An Acrobat. (1882, May 5). [Reprint from St. Nicholas Magazine.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Fifth Avenue Opera House. (1899, Aug. 28). [Advertisement.] Arkansas City Traveler AR, p. 2.

Fired Cannon to Win Crowd. (1929, Jan. 5). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 6.

Fires. (1870, Nov. 23). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Fisk Singers’ Music Given To World Years Ago. (1946, Jan. 10). Kingsport News TN, p. 12.

Five Bandits. (1874, Feb. 10). Some information about the men who have made Gads Hill memorable. St. Louis Post-Dispatch MO, p. 4.

Force of Example. (1878, Aug. 1). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Ford’s… The Georgia Minstrels. (1881, May 16). [Advertisement.] Baltimore Sun MD, p. 1.

Forstall, R.L. (1996, March). Population of states and counties of the United States: 1790 to 1990. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of The Census: Washington DC.

Fort Benton Strategic Pint During Civil War. (1995, July 24). Springfield News-Leader MO, p. 9.

Fraternal Opera House. (1898, Dec. 15). [Advertisement.] Poplar Bluff Citizen MO, p. 8.

Free Concerts Every Evening This Week At The Eagle Saloon. (1847, May 27). [Advertisement.] Pittsburgh Post PA, p. 2.

Friday And Saturday. (1880, Oct. 12). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

From All Around. (1881, June 1). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

From Cairo. (1863, March 16). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 1.

From Cairo. (1864, Sept. 1). Indianapolis Star IN, p. 3.

From Cairo And Below. (1865, Oct. 9). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 1.

From Canton. (1880, Nov. 25). McPherson Republican KS, p. 2.

From Commerce. (1895, June 15). Benton News Boy MO, p. 1.

From Exchanges. (1902, Sept. 25). Caruthersville Democrat MO, p. 12.

From Fulton County. (1867, Aug. 1). Louisville Courier KY, p. 4.

From Morley. (1894, Jan. 27). Benton News Boy MO, p. 1.

From New Orleans. (1870, April 27). Memphis Appeal TN, p. 1.

From New York. (1879, Jan. 19). Buffalo Courier NY, p. 4.

From The 25th Missouri. (1863, Sept. 1). St. Joseph Herald MO, p. 1.

From The 25th Regiment. (1863, Aug. 15). The murder near New Madrid by negroes. St. Joseph Herald MO, p. 2.

From The St. Louis Evening Chronicle. (1880, Aug. 7). Ste. Genevieve Fair Play MO, p. 2.

From Thursday’s Daily, Sept. 16. (1869, Sept. 18). Weekly Atchison Champion KS, p. 3.

Full Of Peril And Adventure. (1895, Oct. 20). St. Louis Post-Dispatch MO, p. 25.

Fun In The Country. (1887, Jan. 7). Decatur Herald IL, p. 3.

Funeral of Mr. Perry Powers. (1878, Jan. 24). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Gads Hill Robbery Fifty-Eight Years Ago. (1932, Feb. 4). Wayne County Journal-Banner, Piedmont MO, p. 1.

Gad’s Hill. (1874, Feb. 2). St. Louis Post-Dispatch MO, p. 1.

Gadshill. (1874, Feb. 3). Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock AR, p. 4. General Items. (1875, Sept. 23). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Gen. Grant in Cairo. (1880, April 17). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General. (1874, Oct. 24). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Items. (1871, Nov. 21). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Items. (1872, April 4). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Items. (1875, March 30). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

General Items. (1875, April 10). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

General Items. (1875, Aug. 6). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

General Items. (1875, Sept. 23). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

General Items. (1875, Sept. 26). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 5.

General Items. (1875, Oct. 7). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

General Items. (1875, Nov. 14). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

General Items. (1877, July 26). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

General Items. (1877, Aug. 29). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

General Items. (1877, Sept. 5). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

General Items. (1877, Sept. 27). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

General Henry Darnell. (1877, Aug. 14). Memphis Appeal TN, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1878, Aug. 27). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1879, Aug. 14). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1879, Dec. 13). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1879, Dec. 19). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1880, Jan. 15). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1880, Jan. 16). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1880, June 3). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local News. (1880, Sept. 23). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local News. (1880, Sept. 24). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local News. (1880, Oct. 10). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1880, Oct. 22). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1880, Nov. 7). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local News. (1880, Nov. 16). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1880, Dec. 16). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1880, Dec. 17). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1880, Dec. 23). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1881, March 5). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1881, April 6). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1881, April 26). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1881, April 29). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

General Local Items. (1881, April 30). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1881, May 7). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local News. (1881, May 13). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1881, Aug. 3). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1881, Dec. 17). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1882, Jan. 8). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1882, Feb. 4). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1882, Feb. 21). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1882, April 2). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1882, April 29). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1882, May 11). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1882, June 22). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1882, July 9). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1882, Aug. 24). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1882, Aug. 31). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1882, Oct. 24). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1882, Nov. 15). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1883, Jan. 18). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1883, Jan. 20). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1883, Jan. 24). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1883, June 28). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1883, Sept. 22). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1883, Oct. 9). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

General Local Items. (1883, Nov. 10). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

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General Local Items. (1884, Dec. 4). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

General Local Items. (1884, Dec. 5). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

General News Of The City And County. (1900, Dec. 28). Caruthersville Democrat MO, p. 3.

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Good Show Coming. (1899, Dec. 8). Dunklin Democrat, Kennett MO, p. 2.

Goss, A.L. (1880, Sept. 28). A card. Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

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Governor’s Message. (1883, Jan. 13). Bloomfield Vindicator MO, pp. 1, 4.

Graham, P. (1951). Showboats: The history of an American institution. University of Texas Press: Austin TX.

Grand Excursion. (1883, May 17). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Grand Gala Night! (1876, Jan. 7). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Grand Old-Time Fiddlers’ Contest. (1902, Sept. 25). Pemiscot Press, Caruthersville MO, p. 12.

Grand Opera House. (1880, Nov. 14). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Grand Opera House. (1882, Feb. 11). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Grand Opera-House. (1882, Aug. 27). [Advertisement.] Chicago Tribune IL, p. 16.

Grand Opera House! (1893, April 22). [Advertisement.] New Madrid Record MO, p. 4.

Grand Picnic. (1873, May 13). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Grant, U.S. (1885-1886). Personal memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant: Volumes I & II. Charles L. Webster and Company: New York NY.

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Great Central Emigrant Route. (1868, March 31). Stanford Banner KY, p. 3.

Great Excitement In Madrid Bend. (1874, June 25). Ste. Genevieve Fair Play MO, p. 3.

Green, L. (1956, March 18). Profile of Cape Girardeau. Globe-Democrat Magazine, St. Louis Globe Democrat MO, pp. 6-11.

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Guerrilla Warfare. (1862, May 22). Missouri Republican, St. Louis MO, p. 2.

Guerrillas Again. (1864, June 15). Louisville Journal KY, p. 1.

Gussie L. Davis—Cincinnati’s Colored Composer of Music. (1881, Feb. 12). Indianapolis Leader IN, p. 1.

Gymnastic School. (1878, Jan. 9). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Hallowed Songs. (1870, Sept. 12). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Handy, W.C. (1941). Father of the Blues. The Macmillan Company: New York NY.

Harmonic Echoes. (1879, Aug. 3). Boston Globe MA, p. 3.

Harper’s Weekly. (1871, June 12). Fort Wayne Gazette IN, p. 4.

Hart, G.O. (1863, Aug. 15). Horrible murder. [Reprint LTE from St. Louis Republican MO.] Palmyra Spectator MO, p. 2.

Haverly’s Black Minstrels. (1881, Aug. 6). London Era, England, p. 14.

Haverly’s Genuines. (1881, Aug. 1). Chicago Inter Ocean IL, p. 8.

Haverly’s Minstrels. (1874, Sept. 25). Memphis Appeal TN, p. 4.

Hays, W.S. (1883, May 26). The late Joseph McCann. Memphis Public Ledger TN, p. 1.

He Is Truly American. (1889, Sept. 1). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 7.

Henry Hart As A Composer. (1870, Aug. 16). Evansville Journal IN, p. 4.

Henry Hart, Colored, is Dead at Age 75. (1915, Dec. 7). Indianapolis News IN, p. 22.

Here Is A Story For Those Little Boys. (1881, July 26). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

Here’s All About “Jazz.” (1917, Nov. 10). Oshkosh Northwestern WI, p. 4.

Herring, H.C. (1906, Feb. 4). Music to-day and then. Charlotte Observer NC, p. 2.

High-Class Vaudeville. (1904, Aug. 24). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 8.

Holiday Ball. (1869, Dec. 20). Evansville Journal IN, p. 4.

Home Items. (1883, April 17). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Hon. J. Milton Turner Last Night. (1879, Jan. 23). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Honor Composer Who Wrote St. Louis Blues On Cigar Box Lid. (1937, Aug. 23). Jefferson City Post-Tribune MO, p. 4.

Hot Locks Of Jam. (1946, March 26). Sydney Herald, Australia, p. 16.

Houghtaling’s Battery. (1865, June 17). Ottawa Free Trader IL, p. 2.

How They Liked It. (1869, April 24). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Humkorous Clippings. (1870, Aug. 27). Charleston Courier MO, p. 4.

Hunter And Jones’ Colored Cornet Band. (1879, May 5). Alton Telegraph IL, p. 3.

Husking Bees. (1906, Oct. 20). Washington Times DC, p. 7.

Illinois Items. (1874, April 10). St. Louis Republican MO, p. 3.

Immense Posters. (1869, Nov. 24). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Important Military Order. (1863, April 28). Missouri Republican, St. Louis MO, p. 3.

In And Around The City. (1878, March 10). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

In And Around the City. (1879, Aug. 10). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

In And Around the City. (1879, Aug. 20). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

In And Around The City. (1879, Aug. 24). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

In And Around The City. (1879, Aug. 30). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

In And Around The City. (1879, Sept. 9). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

In And Around the City. (1879, Sept. 27). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

In And Around the City. (1879, Oct. 7). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

In And Around The City. (1879, Oct. 8). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

In And Around The City. (1879, Oct. 11). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

In And Around The City. (1879, Oct. 19). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

In And Around The City. (1879, Oct. 28). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

In And Around The City. (1880, April 20). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Interesting Foreign Letter. (1874, April 4). Nashville Union and American TN, p. 4.

Interview With Myers And Brown. (1881, June 24). New Madrid Record MO, p. 2.

Invasion Of Southeast Missouri. (1864, Oct. 1). Missouri State Times, Jefferson City MO, p. 2.

Isaac Chilton’s Death Recalls Train Robbery. (1934, Feb. 22). Wayne County Journal-Banner, Piedmont MO, p. 2.

Isaac Wyatt. (1871, Aug. 11). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

Island Number Ten. (1884, Jan. 10). National Tribune, Washington DC, p. 1.

It Will Be Here. (1881, April 24). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Items. (1857, March 3). Louisville Courier KY, p. 3.

Items. (1869, Aug. 7). Green Bay Weekly Gazette WI, p. 4.

Items In Brief. (1876, Oct. 5). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Items In Brief. (1878, May 3). Quad-City Times, Davenport IA, p. 1.

Justice at Last. (1895, Oct. 5). Buffalo Morning Express NY, p. 12.

Katie Putnam. (1882, Dec. 12). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Knight’s Combination. (1877, Nov. 14). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Knapp, E.M. (1876, Dec. 7). Talks with My Music Scholars. Saline County Journal, Salina KS, p. 1.

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Jackstaff. (1892, July 1). [Reprint from Waterways Journal.] Caruthersville Democrat MO, p. 2.

Jazz Tooter Dies. (1949, July 9). Long Beach Independent CA, p. 4.

Jeff Davis At Home. (1882, July 21). Idaho City Semi-Weekly World ID, p. 2.

Jenny Lind’s Proposed Visit To America. (1850, Jan. 22). Liverpool Mercury, England, p. 8.

Jesse And Frank James. (1882, May 6). Agents wanted for the only authorized history. Bloomfield Vindicator MO, p. 4.

John B. Doris’ New Monster Shows. (1884, April 12). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

John B. Doris’ Reminiscences Of Sawdust Arena. (1899, Nov. 4). Dan Rice as a trainer. Wheeling Intelligencer WV, p. 8.

Johnson’s Circus. (1871, May 25). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Jones, W. (1870, Feb. 3). A card from Mr. Willis Jones. Memphis Public Ledger TN, p. 2.

Jottings. (1878, July 26). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Jottings About Town. (1887, April 21). Vicksburg Herald MS, p. 4.

Jubilee. (1879, Dec. 27). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Ke-Arve Dat ’Possum. (1879, Aug. 1). Indianapolis News IN, p. 3.

Killing At Madrid Bend. (1908, July 23). Hickman Courier KY, p. 4.

Knight of Freedom. (1879, Sept. 26). Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock AR, p. 8.

Krohn, E.C. (1971). Nelson Kneass: Minstrel singer and composer. Anuario Interamericano de Investigacion Musical, 7, pp. 17-41. University of Texas Press: Austin TX.

“La Mascotte” Makes a Hit. (1905, April 18). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 6.

Lake County Outlawry. (1877, Aug. 13). Knoxville Tribune TN, p. 3.

Lake County Tragedy. (1874, Aug. 25). Nashville Tennessean TN, p. 3.

Lansden, J.M. (1910). A History of the City of Cairo, Illinois. Southern Illinois University Press: Carbondale IL.

Late News. (1881, Jan. 11). Harrisburg Telegraph PA, p. 1.

Latest War News. (1863, March 27). Charleston Courier MO, p. 2.

Lawrence Barrett. (1877, April 17). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Lead Pencil Jottings. (1891, Aug. 8). Cape Girardeau Democrat MO, p. 3.

Lead Pencil Jottings. (1892, Oct. 29). Cape Girardeau Democrat MO, p. 3.

Lennox’s Floating Theatre. (1848, Dec. 12). Louisville Courier KY, p. 1.

Letter From Balloon. (1858, April 10). Louisville Courier KY, p. 1.

Lexington Turner Society. (1859-1867, 1882-1965). Lexington, Missouri, records. State Historical Society of Missouri: Columbia MO.

Life Cheap. (1874, April 2). St. Louis Post-Dispatch MO, p. 2.

Life In The Ring. (1886, Dec. 30). Clinton Advocate MO, p. 7.

Little Willie Dorr. (1876, June 3). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Lizzie Davene’s Death. (1881, May 15). Philadelphia Times PA, p. 1.

Local Brevities. (1869, Jan. 23). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Local Brevities. (1869, Jan. 25). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Local Brevities. (1869, Feb. 17). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 5.

Local Brevities. (1869, Sept. 27). Louisville Courier-Journal KY, p. 4.

Local Brevities. (1870, Nov. 18). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Local Brevities. (1876, March 3). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Local Brevities. (1876, Nov. 22). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Local Brevities. (1909, June 17). Iron County Register, Ironton MO, p. 5.

Local Happenings. (1878, Dec. 31). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Local Intelligence. (1874, Oct. 9). Montgomery Advertiser AL, p. 3.

Local Intelligence. (1879, Feb. 22). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Local Intelligence. (1879, May 2). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Local Intelligence. (1879, May 25). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Local Items. (1877, Feb. 27). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Local Items. (1877, Feb. 28). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Local Items. (1877, March 6). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Local Items. (1877, Nov. 22). Topeka State Journal KS, p. 4.

Local Items. (1899, Jan. 5). Blind Boone and corps of musicians arrived this morning. Poplar Bluff Citizen MO, p. 4.

Local Jottings. (1875, Dec. 30). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Local Jottings. (1878, April 20). Donaldsonville Chief LA, p. 3.

Local Jottings. (1881, Sept. 1). Decatur Republican IL, p. 7.

Local Matters. (1898, April 1). Bloomfield Vindicator MO, p. 3.

Local Matters. (1898, Nov. 17). Bloomfield Vindicator MO, p. 3.

Local Melange. (1871, Nov. 3). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Local News. (1869, Feb. 3). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Local News. (1869, May 28). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Local News. (1869, June 19). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Local News. (1869, July 27). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Local News. (1883, Aug. 4). The Jackson Cash-Book [Reprint]. Bloomfield Vindicator MO, p. 3.

Local News. (1891, Sept. 25). Albany Ledger MO, p. 4.

Local News. (1893, July 8). New Madrid Record MO, p. 5.

Local News. (1897, Dec. 23). Southeast Missourian, Portageville MO, p. 10.

Local News. (1898, Dec. 8). Southeast Missourian, Portageville MO, p. 6.

Local Paragraphs. (1872, Nov. 16). Memphis Appeal TN, p. 4.

Local Paragraphs. (1876, March 26). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Local Paragraphs. (1882, Feb. 15). Decatur Review IL, p. 4.

Local Pocket Pieces. (1877, May 3). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Local Report. (1879, Jan. 22). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Local Short Stops. (1877, Nov. 23). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Local Short Stops. (1877, Dec. 7). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Local Short Stops. (1878, Nov. 8). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Locals—General. (1874, Oct. 23). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Locals Of The Week. (1872, Sept. 8). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Locals Of The Week. (1872, Oct. 20). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Look Out For The Calliope! (1857, Sept. 3). [Advertisement.] Glasgow Times MO, p. 3.

Look Out For The Circus. (1865, Oct. 21). Baton Rouge Tri-Weekly Gazette and Comet LA, p. 3.

Louisville. (1870, April 22). Memphis Appeal TN, p. 1.

Loved A Chalk-Face. (1885, May 7). Buffalo News NY, p. 7.

Ludlow, N.M. (1880). Dramatic life as I found it. G.I. Jones and Company: St. Louis MO.

Macdonald, M. (2017, July 5). Female firsts. Anderson Valley Advertiser, theava.com, Boonville CA.

Madame Brinkerhoff’s Concert. (1873, June 10). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Madame Rentz’s Minstrels. (1876, Feb. 3). Minneapolis Star Tribune MN, p. 4.

Madrid Bend, Ky. (1902, April 6). Where the ability to “Draw” still counts for something. St. Joseph News-Press and Gazette MO, p. 11.

Madrid Bend, Ky., Really Is The End Of the Road. (1994, Jan. 9). Lexington Herald-Leader KY, p. 17.

Malone, B.C. (1979). Southern music/American music. The University Press of Kentucky: Lexington KY.

Man Claims He Is Jesse James. (1932, Jan. 15). Caruthersville Republican MO, p. 1.

Marie Litta. (1883, Jan. 17). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Marie Litta. (1884, Dec. 11). Bloomington Pantagraph IL, p. 3.

Marvelous Gymnastic Feats. (1859, Nov. 18). London Guardian, England, p. 4.

Matters of Local Import. (1878, Nov. 27). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Matters of Local Import. (1878, Dec. 6). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Matters of Local Import. (1878, Dec. 12). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Matters of Local Import. (1878, Dec. 13). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Mayne, I.M.R., with Strout, R.L. [Ed.] (1939). Maud. Macmillan & Company: New York NY.

McWade. (1876, Nov. 12). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Memoranda. (1851, March 19). Louisville Courier KY, p. 3.

Memphis Club Hall. (1873, Aug. 2). Memphis Public Ledger TN, p. 3.

Mere Mention. (1886, Oct. 5). Sedalia Weekly Bazoo MO, p. 8.

Merry Makers. (1882, July 12). Alpena Argus MI, p. 3.

Mershon, P. (2016, July 15). History: Rope walker called Mansfield home. Mansfield Journal OH, www.mansfieldjournal.com.

Metropolis. (1871, April 2). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Michigan-Av. Theatre. (1872, Feb. 4). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 7.

Michigan Items. (1876, Sept. 22). True Northerner, Paw Paw MI, p. 2.

Minstrel Men Disagree. (1900, March 8). Florence Herald AL, p. 1.

Minstrels. (1877, Jan. 14). Brooklyn Eagle NY, p. 3.

Minstrels At Airdome. (1910, July 19). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Minstrels Coming. (1899, Sept. 14). Poplar Bluff Citizen MO, p. 1.

Mirth and Melody. (1875, Aug. 25). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Miscellaneous. (1865, Dec. 26). Birmingham Post, West Midlands, England, p. 3.

Miscellaneous. (1866, Aug. 13). New York Times NY, p. 2.

Miscellaneous. (1872, Sept. 17). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Miscellaneous Items. (1869, July 20). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Miss Kate Claxton. (1880, March 30). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Miss Ruth Bower. (1914, Aug. 16). Buffalo Express NY, p. 12.

Missouri Points. (1897, Feb. 18). Kansas City Journal MO, p. 4.

Missouri Romance And Tragedy. (1889, Aug. 5). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 2.

Mixed Up. (1899, March 18). Cape Girardeau Democrat MO, p. 5.

Mlle. Maria Litta. (1879, May 11). San Francisco Chronicle CA, p. 1.

More About the Concert. (1882, Jan. 22). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Most Melancholy Accident—Death Of Mrs. Kneass, Late Mrs. Sharpe. (1848, Feb. 26). Poughkeepsie Journal NY, p. 2.

Mrs. Hart. (1858, Aug. 28). Southern Shield, Helena AR, p. 2.

Mrs. Imogene Brown’s Concert. (1871, Feb. 21). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Mrs. Stowe. (1882, April 2). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Much Interest. (1902, March 14). Paducah Sun KY, p. 7.

Musgrove, C.H. (1899, Feb. 5). Louisville Originated Rag-Time Umti-Diddy-Dum Music. Louisville Courier-Journal KY, p. 17.

Music. (1848, Oct. 2). New Orleans Crescent LA, p. 1.

Music. (1868, Feb. 15). Memphis Appeal TN, p. 2.

Music. (1879, Feb. 22). Every Saturday, Buffalo NY, p. 7.

Music. (1879, Aug. 30). Every Saturday, Buffalo NY, p. 3

Music. (1881, Oct. 8). Chicago Inter Ocean IL, p. 13.

Musical and Dramatic. (1879, May 5). Rochester Democrat and Chronicle NY, p. 4.

Musical Matters. (1895, Aug. 18). Buffalo News NY, p. 7.

Naming Theatre “Ben Bolt” Revives Famous Old Song. (1949, Aug. 16). Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune MO, p. 11.

Native Music. (1893, May 15). New York World NY, p. 4.

Negro Killed. (1868, June 6). Hickman Courier KY, p. 3.

Negro Songs. (1881, Feb. 17). Marion Commonwealth AL, p. 1.

Nelson Kneass’ Double. (1896, April 12). St. Louis Post-Dispatch MO, p. 34.

New Band. (1875, May 14). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

New Chicago Theatre. (1876, Jan. 15). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 3.

New Livery Stable. (1872, Feb. 20). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

New Publications. (1876, April 4). Pittsburgh Commercial PA, p. 2.

News About The City. (1900, Aug. 30). Florence Herald AL, p. 1.

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News Of The City. (1870, May 6). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

News Of The City. (1870, July 8). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

News Of The City. (1870, July 9). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

News Of The City. (1870, July 20). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

News Of The City. (1870, Aug. 12). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

News Of The City. (1870, Aug. 31). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

News Of The City. (1870, Sept. 10). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

News Of The City. (1870, Sept. 21). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

News Summary. (1869, June 23). Wheeling Intelligencer WV, p. 1.

News Summary. (1881, July 21). Indiana Progress, Indiana PA, p. 9.

Nick and Tuck. (1880, Feb. 22). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Nick Campbell, Escaped Murderer From Van Buren Jail, Captured. (1923, Aug. 23). Wayne County Journal and Piedmont Banner, Piedmont MO, pp. 1, 5.

Nickell, F. (1992, Aug. 27). Interview with author in Cape Girardeau MO.

Notorious Outlaw Known Locally. (1934, Jan. 12). Leadwood Press MO, pp. 1, 4.

Ohio. (1858, July 21). New York Times NY, p. 2.

Old Dan Rice. (1876, April 13). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Old Dan Rice Is In Trouble Again. (1876, May 21). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

Old Days On The River. (1888, Feb. 6). St. Louis Post-Dispatch MO, p. 8.

Old Showboat Is Prepared For Its Grave. (1931, Jan. 2). Carbondale Free Press IL, p. 4.

Old Time Minstrel Dead. (1897, Feb. 13). Kansas City Journal MO, p. 6.

Old-Time Minstrelsy. (1874, Sept. 11). National Republican, Washington DC, p. 1.

Ole Bull At The Antheneum To-Night! (1873, Jan. 28). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Ole Bull’s Concert. (1873, Jan. 29). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Olympic Circus. (1813, Feb. 19). [Advertisement.] Liverpool Mercury, England, p. 1.

On Friday Evening. (1873, Dec. 21). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Opera House. (1882, Jan. 29). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Opera House. (1882, Nov. 26). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Opera House. (1883, Dec. 18). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Origin of Vaudeville. (1901, Feb. 22). Emporia Times KS, p. 2.

Our Commercial Position. (1865, Nov. 26). Cairo Evening Times IL, p. 2.

“Our Dorothy.” (1898, March 18). Bloomfield Vindicator MO, p. 2.

Our Friend, Dr. Condon of Anna. (1873, Jan. 30). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Our Juvenile Circus Troupe. (1869, Aug. 20). Charleston Courier MO, p. 3.

Our Neighbors. (1863, Sept. 25). Charleston Courier MO, p. 2.

Our Neighbors. (1863, Oct. 16). Charleston Courier MO, p. 2.

Our Picayunes. (1886, March 7). New Orleans Times-Picayune LA, p. 4.

Our Round-About Pocket. (1874, March 4). Amusement Matters. Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Our Roundabout Pocket. (1870, March 31). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Our Singers. (1878, April 6). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Over the River. (1879, June 22). Brooklyn Eagle NY, p. 3.

Owsley, D. (2006). City of Gabriels: The history of jazz in St. Louis, 1895-1973. Reedy Press: St. Louis MO.

P.T. Barnum. (1880, April 27). Brooklyn Eagle NY, p. 2.

P.T. Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth, 1880. (Accessed 2018, Aug. 30). classic.circushistory.org.

P.T. Barnum’s Own and Only Greatest Show on Earth. (1879, Oct. 8). [Advertisement.] Delaware County Times, Chester PA, p. 4.

Paris. (1878, May 23). Buffalo Commercial NY, p. 1.

Passed Paducah. (1898, Jan. 10). Paducah Sun KY, p. 4.

Patent Bell-Ringing Apparatus. (1869, April 30). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Perrin, W.H. [Ed.]. (1883). History of Alexander, Union and Pulaski counties, Illinois. O.L. Baskin and Company: Chicago IL.

Perry Powers. (1869, Nov. 29). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Perry Powers’ Opening. (1869, Nov. 10). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Personal. (1868, July 4). Nashville Tennessean TN, p. 2.

Personal. (1874, Nov. 21). General H.M. Darnell. Memphis Avalanche TN, p. 4.

Personal. (1874, Dec. 12). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Personal. (1876, Feb. 29). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Personal And Pertinent. (1894, Aug. 25). Cape Girardeau Democrat MO, p. 5.

Personal And Pertinent. (1894, Sept. 29). Cape Girardeau Democrat MO, p. 5.

Personal Mention. (1881, March 31). Decatur Republican IL, p. 7.

Personals. (1883, Dec. 12). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 4.

Persons And Things. (1878, July 27). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Pfening, F.D., Jr. (1976, November-December). Human cannonballs. Bandwagon, 20 (1), pp. 4-15.

Philip Phillips. (1870, Aug. 31). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Philip Phillips’ Compensation. (1870, Sept. 12). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Pith And Point. (1878, July 11). Batesville Guard AR, p. 1.

Port List. (1876, July 1). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Positively One Night Only. (1871, Nov. 25). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Powers, P. (1871, May 25). Perry Powers to the people of Cairo [LTE]. Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Powers’ Palace Varieties. (1869, Nov. 23). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Prize Zouave Drill. (1884, Oct. 23). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Probable Homicide. (1853, June 22). Nashville Union and American TN, p. 2.

Prof. Leon, The Rope-Walker. (1877, Nov. 24). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Prof. Mayer’s Brass Band. (1872, Dec. 28). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Property Changes. (1882, Nov. 25). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Prostration Of Mr. Perry Powers. (1878, Jan. 22). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Proud Of Our People. (1897, Jan. 9). Benton News Boy MO, p. 1.

Public School Exhibition. (1868, Dec. 28). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Pursuing Thompson Through Swamps Of Southeast Missouri. (1862, Feb. 3). Missouri Republican, St. Louis MO, p. 3.

‘Queen of Air’ Bows To Age. (1922, Jan. 22). Detroit Free Press MI, p. 6.

Queen’s Circus. (1874, May 9). Rock Island Argus IL, p. 1.

Radical Meeting. (1868, March 26). Louisville Courier KY, p. 1.

Raffling. (1871, Aug. 22). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Reason Dethroned. (1892, Sept. 16). Decatur Republican IL, p. 4.

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Red And Green Stockings. (1870, May 4). Memphis Appeal TN, p. 4.

Reilly, W.E. (2004, Oct. 4). Maine man became ‘Paganini of the banjo.’ Bangor Daily News ME, bangordailynews.com.

Religious Notes. (1880, June 12). Cincinnati Star OH, p. 2.

Return of the Veterans! (1869, Feb. 8). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p.4.

Review of Amusements. (1874, June 14). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 7.

Reward For Murderers. (1869, May 25). Nashville Union and American TN, p. 4.

Rice, E.L. (1911). Monarchs of minstrelsy, from “Daddy” Rice to date. Kenny Publishing Company: New York NY.

River News. (1870, Jan. 20). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

River News. (1870, May 17). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

River News. (1870, May 28). Evansville Journal IN, p. 3.

River News. (1870, June 16). Evansville Journal IN, p. 3.

River News. (1872, May 28). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

River News. (1872, May 28). Evansville Journal IN, p. 3.

River News. (1872, Oct. 8). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

River News. (1872, Dec. 10). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

River News. (1875, June 29). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

River News. (1875, Dec. 21). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

River News. (1876, Feb. 23). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

River News. (1879, June 26). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

River News. (1880, Dec. 1). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

River News. (1882, May 12). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

River News. (1884, April 20). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

River Intelligence. (1873, Dec. 9). Memphis Public Ledger TN, p. 3.

Robert D. Watson. (1900, July 19). Southeast Missourian, Portageville MO, p. 4.

Rockwell & Co’s Circus. (1848, Sept. 30). Saturday Morning Visitor, Warsaw MO, p. 3.

Roland Reed Dead. (1901, March 31). Boston Globe MA, p. 1.

Rosche, L. (1938, March 20). “Old Man River.” Nashville Tennessean TN, pp. 48-49, 54-55.

Rothchild’s Great Show. (1876, April 22). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Rothchild’s Menagerie. (1876, April 6). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Rothchild’s Show. (1876, April 13). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Ruger, A. (1867). Cairo, Illinois, 1867 [Map]. Chicago Lithographing Company: Chicago IL.

Rural Music. (1894, April 26). Sterling Standard IL, p. 16.

S.B. Howe’s Great American Circus! (1865, Nov. 24). [Advertisement.] Cairo Evening Times IL, p. 1.

S.I. Sabbath School Convention. (1870, Sept. 7). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Sabbath School Convention. (1870, Sept. 9). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Salaries Of Negro Minstrels. (1882, Oct. 18). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

Sam Hildebrand. (1869, Nov. 3). An authentic sketch of his career [Reprint from St. Louis Globe-Democrat MO]. Harrisburg Telegraph PA, p. 1.

Sanjek, R. (1988). American popular music and its business: The first four hundred years: II, from 1790 to 1909. Oxford University Press: New York NY.

Saturday Last. (1867, Aug. 13). Louisville Courier KY, p. 3.

Scranton. (1878, Aug. 2). Wilkes-Barre Record of the Times PA, p. 1.

Select Council. (1871, June 16). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Settle, W.A., Jr. (1966). Jesse James was his name. University of Missouri Press: Columbia MO and London, England.

Sherman, C.M. (1886, Dec. 30). Life in the ring. Clinton Advocate MO, p. 7.

Shocking Affair. (1874, Feb. 27). A man’s head cut off in a fight. Sedalia Democrat MO, p. 1.

Show Him Up! (1875, Nov. 18). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

Sickness, Death and Burial of Mr. William H. Morris. (1879, Jan. 24). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Simpson, R. (2010, April 9). Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins (1849-1908). www.georgiaencyclopedia.org.

Slout, W.L. (1998). Olympians of the sawdust circle: A biographical dictionary of the 19th century American circus. Borgo Press: San Bernardino CA.

Smith, G.L., McDaniel, K.C., & Hardin, J.A. [Eds.] (2015). Kentucky African American Encyclopedia. The University of Kentucky Press: Lexington KY.

Smyth-Davis, M.F. (1896). History of Dunklin County, Mo.: 1845-1895. Nixon-Jones Printing Company: St. Louis MO.

Social and Personal. (1911, Sept. 12). Is successful actress. Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Sol. Smith Russell. (1882, Nov. 26). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Some Somersaulting. (1869, April 22). Lancaster Gazette PA, p. 1.

Songs We Used To Sing. (1890, Sept. 20). Sterling Gazette IL, p. 3.

Southall, G.H. (1999). Blind Tom, the black pianist-composer (1849-1908): Continually enslaved. Scarecrow Press: Lanham MD.

Southeast Missouri. (1890, Nov. 13). Poplar Bluff Citizen MO, p. 4.

Southeast Missouri. (1891, July 2). Poplar Bluff Citizen MO, p. 1.

Southeast Missouri. (1897, Nov. 4). Caruthersville Democrat MO, p. 4.

Southeast News. (1896, April 10). Caruthersville Democrat MO, p. 1.

Southeast Notes. (1895, Feb. 9). Benton News Boy MO, p. 4.

Southeast Notes. (1897, Jan. 23). Benton News Boy MO, p. 1.

Southeast News Notes. (1897, Jan. 9). Benton News Boy MO, p. 4.

Southern News By Way Of Cairo. (1863, Jan. 7). Memphis Appeal TN, p. 2.

Spalding & Rogers. (1857, April 2). Memphis Appeal TN, p. 3.

Spalding & Rogers. (1859, April 27). [Advertisement.] Louisville Courier KY, p. 2.

Spalding’s Monster Circus. (1848, March 22). Louisville Courier KY, p. 2.

Special Local Items. (1880, April 14). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Special Local Items. (1880, Sept. 12). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Special Local Items. ((1882, Jan. 20). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Sprague’s Original (?) Georgias. (1879, Nov. 24). Harrisburg Independent PA, p. 1.

St. Louis, March 13. (1862, March 20). St. Joseph Herald and Tribune MO, p. 4.

St. Louis, April 25, 1876. (1876, April 25). St. Louis Post-Dispatch MO, p. 4.

St. Louis, Cairo and Paducah. (1880, July 30). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Stage Talk. (1879, Sept. 17). Decatur Republican IL, p. 3.

Stallings, R. (1940). The drama in Southern Illinois (1865-1900). Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, 33, pp. 190-202.

Strang, L.C. (1900). Sol Smith Russell. In Famous Actors of the Day in America, pp. 248-259. L.C. Page and Company: Boston MA.

State News. (1871, May 16). Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock AR, p. 1.

State Items. (1874, Feb. 12). Sedalia Democrat MO, p. 1.

Statements Of Myers And Brown To The “Record” Reporter. (1881, July 23). New Madrid Record MO, p. 1.

Steamboat Register. (1865, Nov. 12). Cairo Evening Times IL, p. 4.

Stiles, T.J. (2002). Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War. Vintage Books: New York NY.

Stopped The Music. (1887, Jan. 11). Vicksburg Herald MS, p. 4.

Streycemans, F.B. (1940, Feb. 8). The name is familiar. Dexter Messenger MO, p. 9.

Such is Fate. (1865, Nov. 23). Cairo Evening Times IL, p. 4.

Sudden Death Of John Terrell, The Musician. (1882, Oct. 12). Huntsville Independent AL, p. 3.

Suhr, J. (2002, Aug. 4). Life goes on quietly in small town that became famous for bloodshed [The Associated Press]. Park City Daily News, Bowling Green KY, p. 32.

Sunbeams. (1889, July 18). Poplar Bluff Citizen MO, p. 5.

That Educated Hog. (1875, July 11). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Taylor, B. (1899, July 22). Governor Taylor’s love letters to the public. Grenada Sentinel MS, p. 6.

Terrible Affair In New Madrid County. (1881, May 19). Iron County Register, Ironton MO, p. 4.

Terrible Tragedy In New Madrid. (1867, Feb. 6). Two men killed—crowded ballroom fired into. Louisiana Democrat, Alexandria LA, p. 3.

Thalia. (1872, March 6). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

That Soiree. (1875, March 20). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Thayer, S., & [Ed.] Slout, W.R. (2005). Levi J. North, ‘America’s Own Horseman.’ In Stuart Thayer’s American Circus Anthology. Circus Historical Society, classic.circushistory.org.

The Alleghanians. (1878, Feb. 1). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

“The Arkansas Traveler.” (1886, March 19). Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle TN, p. 1.

The Atheneum. (1869, Oct. 14). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Atheneum—The Metropolitan Star Troupe. (1869, Oct. 14). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Atheneum To-Night. (1877, Nov. 15). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Atheneum Was Crowded Yesterday. (1869, Oct. 12). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Atlantic Monthly. (1873, Jan. 19). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 12.

The Average Small Boy’s Ambition. (1879, April 3). Lawrence Chieftan, Mount Vernon MO, p. 1.

The Bakers. (1869, Feb. 4). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

The Best Show Traveling. (1873, May 20). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

The Big Circus. (1868, May 16). Louisville Courier KY, p. 3.

The Big Hit They Made. (1885, April 3). Brookville Transcript KS, p. 2.

The Bombardment Of Island No. 10. (1862, March 21). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 1.

The Cairo Turngemeinde And The Fourth. (1869, June 30). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Calliope Of The Steamer Silver Moon. (1868, Dec. 31). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

The Candidates At Forrest City. (1888, July 14). Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock AR, p. 1.

The Centennial Carnival! (1876, June 3). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Centennial Fourth. (1876, July 6). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Champion Pugilist. (1882, Feb. 11). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

The Chapman Sisters. (1873, March 12). San Francisco Examiner CA, p. 3.

The Chapman Sisters. (1873, Nov. 14). Montgomery Advertiser AL, p. 3.

The Charleston Leap Year Ball. (1872, Feb. 10). Charleston Courier MO, p. 3.

The Chief Sensation Here Of Late. (1865, Oct. 26). Baton Rouge Tri-Weekly Gazette and Comet LA, p. 2.

The Circus. (1874, April 26). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

The Circus is Coming. (1869, June 7). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Circus Tonight. (1869, Oct. 2). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The City. (1865, Nov. 21). Cairo Evening Times IL, p. 4.

The City. (1866, Dec. 7). Theater. Vicksburg Times MS, p. 3.

The City. (1870, May 5). Turned Blue. Memphis Appeal TN, p. 3.

The Colored People. (1883, Sept. 25). Louisville Courier-Journal KY, p. 6.

The Colored Population Will Hail The Proclamation. (1870, March 3). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Commercial Position Of Cairo. (1865, Oct. 5). Cairo Evening Times IL, p. 3.

The Concert Last Night. (1870, Nov. 30). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Contract Awarded. (1884, May 10). Decatur Herald-Despatch IL, p. 6.

The Cotton Season. (1875, Sept. 16). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

The Country Dance. (1883, June 6). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Dance. (1901, May 30). Pemiscot Press, Caruthersville MO, p. 12.

The Dead Bandit. (1882, April 18). Bourbon News, Paris KY, p. 1.

The Delta City Cornet Band. (1873, June 6). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

The Dispatch. (1874, March 20). St. Louis Post-Dispatch MO, p. 2.

The Drama. (1875, April 18). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 3.

The End. (1881, July 15). New Madrid Record MO, p. 2.

The Event of the Season! (1874, Jan. 29). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Excursion Last Night. (1875, Aug. 29). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Excursion This Evening. (1875, July 17). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Excursion To-Night. (1876, July 8). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Exhibition Last Night. (1869, June 19). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Famous Rentz Santley Novelty & Burlesque Co. (1890). [Poster.] Courier Lithograph Company: Buffalo NY.

The Gad’s Hill Gang. (1874, March 30). Rochester Democrat and Chronicle NY, p. 3.

The Georgia Minstrels. (1865, Oct. 10). Detroit Free Press MI, p. 1.

The Georgia Minstrels. (1865, Oct. 26). Cleveland Plain Dealer OH, p. 4.

The Georgia Minstrels for Europe. (1866, May 26). Buffalo Courier NY, p. 8.

The Georgia Minstrels in England. (1866, July 24). Buffalo Courier NY, p .8.

The Georgias. (1878, Sept. 24). Sioux City Journal IA, p. 3.

The German In Cairo. (1871, Jan. 8). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Girl Rider In O’Brien’s Show. (1873, Aug. 4). Rochester Democrat and Chronicle NY, p. 4.

The Great 7 En-Route To Cairo! (1879, Oct. 8). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

The Great Chicago Show!! (1873, May 13). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

The Great Fire In Cairo. (1864, Sept. 21). New Orleans True Delta LA, p. 1.

The Great Show-Boats. (1858, Aug. 5). Glasgow Times MO, p. 3.

The Great U-Rope-In Combination. (1875, July 27). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Greatest Show on Earth for 25 Cents. (1879, June 21). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

The Horrible Story. (1870, June 28). Kansas Tribune, Lawrence KS, p. 3.

The Humboldt Celebration. (1869, Sept. 15). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Idlewild Excursion. (1875, July 7). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Iowa Homestead. (1873, Aug. 8). Holt County Sentinel, Oregon MO, p. 3.

The James Brothers. (1881, July 29). Hickman Courier KY, p. 4.

The James Brothers. (1881, Nov. 4). Louisville Courier-Journal KY, p. 1.

The “King Laugh Makers” To-Night. (1873, Aug. 1). Buffalo Post NY, p. 3.

The Kneass Opera Troupe. (1847, Oct. 16). [Advertisement.] Cincinnati Enquirer OH, p. 3.

The Largest And Best Show In The World. (1882, Aug. 16). [Advertisement.] Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

The Last Stupid Hoax. (1846, June 27). New Orleans Delta LA, p. 2.

The Lilliputian Quartette. (1869, Jan. 20). Nashville Tennessean TN, p. 4.

The Little Detective. (1883, Feb. 8). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

The Minstrels. (1875, Feb. 21). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Minstrels. (1875, March 16). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Mirth Maker. (1878, Sept. 7). Quad-City Times, Davenport IA, p. 1.

The Mississippi Seat Of War. (1862, March 29). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 1.

The New Combination. (1875, July 1). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Obion Tragedy. (1869, Dec. 24). Memphis Public Ledger TN, p. 1.

The Odd Fellows. (1874, April 28). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

The Only Legitimate And Reliable Show This Year. (1877, Oct. 21). Robbins’ Great American and German Allied Shows [Advertisement]. Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

The Outlaws. (1881, May 27). New Madrid Record MO, p. 2.

The Palace Varieties. (1869, Nov. 25). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Party Of Ladies and Gentlemen. (1872, July 7). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 5.

The Peace Jubilee. (1872, June 26). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

The People Want Peace. (1870, Oct. 27). Carthage Banner MO, p. 1.

The Peace Jubilee. (1872, June 26). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

The Pemiscot Argus. (1905, Aug. 18). Pemiscot Argus, Hayti MO, p. 2.

The Phillips Concert. (1871, Jan. 11). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Pleasure Excursion on the Armada. (1869, July 23). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

The Power of Music. (1873, Sept. 14). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The October Magazines. (1870, Sept. 23). Philadelphia Telegraph PA, p. 6.

The Opera. (1881, Dec. 11). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

The Red Stockings Victorious In 60 Straight Games. (1869, Nov. 18). Highland News OH, p. 2.

The Reign Of Terror Following Civil War. (1932, July 21). Wayne County Journal-Banner, Piedmont MO, p. 9.

The Richings-Bernard Concert. (1875, Feb. 11). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 7.

The Sequel. (1881, May 13). New Madrid Record MO, p. 2.

The Sikeston Desperadoes. (1881, May 24). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 7.

“The Singing Pilgrim” Dead. (1895, June 26). Buffalo News NY, p. 7.

The Springfield ‘Register.’ (1873, May 16). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 2.

The State Fair and Soldiers’ Re-Union at Topeka. (1882, Sept. 23). Pleasanton Observer-Enterprise KS, p. 2.

The Strakosch Italian Opera. (1880, Jan. 20). New York Times NY, p. 5.

The Terrible Story. (1870, June 23). Alexandria Gazette VA, p. 2.

The Third Fair. (1897, Oct. 21). Caruthersville Democrat MO, p. 1.

The Train Robbers. (1874, Feb. 4). Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock AR, p. 4.

The Train Robbery At Gad’s Hill. (1909, June 17. Iron County Register, Ironton MO, p. 1.

The Turner Hall. (1875, Aug. 8). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Turner Pic-nic Yesterday. (1870, May 2). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

The Turners at the Flora Garden. (1869, July 6). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Turners’ Feast Yesterday. (1870, Sept. 12). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

The Vanished Minstrel. (1919, Feb. 25). Sikeston Standard MO, p. 3.

The Varieties Is in Full Blast Again. (1869, Dec. 21). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Vicinity Of Cairo. (1871, Jan. 14). Belmont and Wolf Island. Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

The “White Stockings.” (1870, Sept. 30). Kentucky Advocate, Danville KY, p. 2.

The Young Men Of The City. (1869, May 28). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

The Younger Brothers And Frank And Jesse James. (1881, Jan. 1). Bloomfield Vindicator MO, p. 3.

Theatre Next Week. (1896, Oct. 16). Dunklin Democrat MO, p. 4.

Theatre Royal. (1910, May 3). London Guardian, England, p. 7.

Theatrical And Musical. (1846, April 29). New York Herald NY, p. 2.

They Had a Dream. (1972, May 13). New Castle News PA, p. 25.

‘They’ve Got.’ (1876, June 2). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

This Is The Day To Honor The Maine Martyrs. (1898, March 10). San Francisco Examiner CA, p. 16.

Thompson, R. (1955, March 19). Dixon Telegraph IL, p. 4.

Three Men Killed. (1869, March 20). A bloody affair at No. 10. Hickman Courier KY, p. 3.

To Be Sold. (1875, July 30). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

To Heaven Or Hades? (1881, July 19). Sedalia Bazoo MO, p. 4.

To-night—To-night! (1869, Nov. 30). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Today Enters Fiftieth Year. (1907, Jan. 1). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 5.

Tony Denier, Famous Clown. (1905, Nov. 19). Minneapolis Star Tribune MN, p. 31.

Torn to Pieces. (1870, June 15). Philadelphia Telegraph PA, p. 3.

Town And Country. (1888, March 21). Miss Annie Oakley. St. Joseph Gazette-Herald MO, p. 3.

Town Chit-Chat. (1873, May 24). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Town Topics. (1879, Feb. 4). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Town Topics. (1879, Feb. 8). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Town Topics. (1879, Feb. 15). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Tragic Affray. (1869, March 19). Memphis Public Ledger TN, p. 3.

Trapeze. (1875, July 7). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Travel On The Western Waters. (1869, Nov. 15). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

Trenton & Price. (1886, Sept. 19). [Advertisement.] Boston Globe MA, p. 11.

Trevathan, C.E. (1896). Something about ‘The Rag’ in music. Wilkes-Barre Record PA, p. 3.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. (1900, Sept. 11). Caruthersville Democrat MO, p. 2.

Turner Celebration. (1871, Sept. 15). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Twain, M. (1883). Life on the Mississippi. James R. Osgood and Company: Boston MA.

“Uncle Josh.” (1898, Dec. 22). Poplar Bluff Citizen MO, p. 9.

Unfairness. (1874, April 2). Nodaway Democrat, Maryville MO, p. 4.

Upholds “Singing Preacher.” (1915, Dec. 28). Portsmouth Times OH, p. 11.

Vagaries Of A Clown. (1848, April 1). Louisville Courier KY, p. 2.

Vaughan, R. (1975, March 29). The Battle of Island Number Ten. Scope Magazine, Sikeston Standard MO, pp. 3, 7.

Vaughan, R. (1975, June 14). The last days of John Sikes, Part 1. Scope Magazine, Sikeston Standard MO, pp. 6-7.

W.W. Cole’s Show Yesterday. (1880, May 2). Cairo Bulletin IL, p.4.

Wait For Monday, Sept. 11. (1882, Aug. 19). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 1.

“Wait For The Wagon!” (1858, May 6). Glasgow Times MO, p. 1.

Wait Until Saturday, Sept. 30. (1882, Sept. 10). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 9.

Wait! Wait! Wait! (1881, April 27). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 4.

Walker, F.A. (1872). Ninth Census—Volume I: The statistics of the population of the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington DC.

War News In Missouri. (1861, Oct. 11). Charleston Courier MO, p. 2.

War With Desperadoes. (1881, May 23). Oshkosh Northwestern WI, p. 4.

We Are Reliably Informed. (1881, Nov. 5). New Madrid Record MO, p. 4.

We Said So. (1869, Aug. 26). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

We Understand. (1869, Dec. 8). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Weekly Record. (1881, Oct. 15). New Madrid Record MO, p. 2.

Werlein Hall. (1884, Aug. 29). [Advertisement.] New Orleans Times-Picayune LA, p. 2.

West And South. (1892, Sept. 17. Cape Girardeau Democrat MO, p. 1.

West, Anne. (1940). It happened in Cairo. The Rockledge Company: Flushing NY.

What He Meant. (1876, March 21). Cairo Bulletin IL, p. 3.

Where There Is No Law And Life Is Cheap. (1901, Nov. 3). Chicago Tribune IL, p. 45.

Who Shall Rule? (1874, Sept. 3). St. Louis Post-Dispatch MO, p. 4.

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