Friday, March 27, 2015

page 159 -- Old Jed Prouty, White Sewing Machines

updated 7 February 2016
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~Agnes Wakefield~
actress, had role in "Out of the Shadow" (1919)
An issue of Harper's Young People, 22 September 1885, mentions a drawing of Agnes Wakefield, "The Little Dreamer" that appeared in an earlier issue. Of course, Agnes may be dreaming in the portrait above. However, I'm not sure if this is the portrait to which the Harper's reader referred. Please comment below or email me if you know. I can't find a copy of "no.116" of Harper's to verify the story. Thanks!


"seven girls and two boys" was not an unusually large American family in the late 19th century

Richard Golden was a very popular comedic actor.
Old Jed Prouty was his most famous role.
According to Wikipedia,
"Golden's Old Jed Prouty, which he wrote with William Gill, premiered in New York's Union Square Theatre on May 14, 1889, and moved to the Harlem Opera House later that same year. Prouty was a comedic Maine yankee tavern keeper living in the coastal town of Bucksport, the birthplace of his wife Dora Wiley and not far from Golden's own home-town of Bangor. The play began touring nationally in 1890 to rave reviews. Golden would go on to other plays and other parts, but would continually revive Prouty in the course of his career, ultimately playing it over 3,000 times in venues all over the eastern half of the U.S."
Bangor (ME) Daily News' reporter Wayne E. Reilly's article on Richard Golden is an excellent biographical sketch of his life on and off the stage. It includes this interesting tidbit:
"There are many other stories about Golden’s career. As a boy, he was locally famous as an amateur minstrel. He joined the circus at age 13. He first performed onstage in Newport, Maine. He played the hind legs (or front legs, according to some reports) of a dancing heifer in “Evangeline,” a popular play in the 1870s. He achieved success in light opera, stage comedies, burlesque and vaudeville. He was married twice, once to Dora Wiley, known as “the sweet singer of Maine.” They had a daughter, Bernice, who was a professional actress. Much was made in the newspapers of her appearance on May 19, 1908, in “Brown of Harvard” at the Bangor Opera House."
The play became a book by Richard Golden and co-authored by Mary Cornelia Francis. A free signed eBook copy is available for reading/download via Google Books.

The Chicago Public Library displays a playbill online from a performance given in Chicago's Grand Opera House (east side of Clark Street between Washington and Randolph Streets):


For more information on Chicago's Grand Opera House and a few pictures of it as it might have appeared when this play was presented, see Chicagology.



Founded in 1858 by Thomas H. White in Templeton MA, the White Sewing Machine Company moved to Cleveland, Ohio eight years later. See Wikipedia for a summary of White corporate history.



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