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Cleveland 1893 1895 Columbus
Mar 1895 Cincinnati the city
EJP's Cincinnati Google Map http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=202426891661796490166.0004980b2bec7cb370b54&z=15
Albert Nickinson was born in Cincinnati July 8, 1863. Hattie had been born in Toronto in 1860, so John Nickinson and EJ Phillips probably came to the United States from Canada probably in 1862. EJ Phillips’ handwritten autobiography in AM Palmer’s Union Square papers at the Harvard Theatre Collection records that she was engaged by Pike’s Opera House in Cincinnati in 1862 and remained there until the theatre burned in March 1866. John Nickinson was eventually hired by Samuel Pike, but not until 1863 – so perhaps she was more employable than he was by the time they moved to Cincinnati, where their third child (and my great grandfather) Albert Edward Nickinson (July 8, 1863-1948), was born. Samuel N. Pike (1822-1872), a wealthy distiller had built Cincinnati’s first Opera House in 1859, after hearing Jenny Lind sing and "vowed he would build a theater worthy of such a voice”.
But were EJ Phillips and John Nickinson ever married? One source expressed doubts in a chapter on “Samuel N. Pike and Pike’s Opera House” from Recollections of a Scene painter, E.T. Harvey, Cincinnati Ohio 1914 [via Google Books] . “John Nickerson [sic] was stage manager at this time. He and Miss Phillips lived together as man and wife. There was a mystery about them, however, it was hinted that he had a wife and family living in Canada. [The first Mrs. Nickinson was then living in New York.] Nickerson had been an officer in the English army. He was found dead one evening in a little cigar [drug] store that he used to frequent. Heart disease was the cause it was said.
Phillips continued with the Pike company until the theatre burned down, and if
there was any scandal it was forgotten. She was a pleasant, home-like woman of
about forty [actually 33 at the time of John Nickinson’s death] perhaps. She had
a quiet way with her, and Nickerson and her seemed to live very happily
together. She played what was called ‘Old Women and Heavies” and was very
capable. After Pike’s burned she went to the Union Square, New York [12 years
later] and was in all their big successes.”
EJ Phillips A.R. Miller's Photographic Gallery, Indianapolis No 45 E. Washington St. [about 1866]
John Nickinson Dewey's Gallery 102 W. Fifth St., bet. Vine & Race, Cincinnati  NEW PHOTOS
John Nickinson, CD Fredericks & Co., 587
Broadway, New York, 1863, 19th century actors
de visite collection, Univ. of Washington Libraries Digital Collection
http://content.lib.washington.edu/cgi-bin/viewer.exe?CISOROOT=/19thcenturyactors&CISOPTR=437 Thanks to Allister Hardiman for telling me of this find.
Death of John Nickinson 1864 EJ Phillips, Junius Brutus Booth Jr and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
Albert Edward Nickinson, Cincinnati, Ohio
How old was Albert in this photograph?
Hattie and Albert, Cincinnati c. 1865
Hattie aged four years and nine months
Albert aged one year and ten months
Hattie- Hoag and Quick's Art Palace, 100 4th Street
Albert - Ball & Thomas Photographic Art Gallery, 120 W. 4th St. near Race
EJ Phillips and John Nickinson were associated with Pike's Opera House in Cincinnati. A newspaper clipping gives the program at Pike's Opera-house [Cincinnati] Jan. 25, 1864 as Maggie Mitchell in Fanchon OR the Cricket! with Mr. Nickinson as Father Barbeaud and Miss Phillips as Old Fadet, concluded by a Grand Ballet Divertissement by the renowned Zavistowski Troupe.
Maggie Mitchell in Fanchon ad 1864
Maggie Mitchell as Fanchon, 1864, carte de visite, Univ. of Washington Libraries Digital Collection http://content.lib.washington.edu/cgi-bin/viewer.exe?CISOROOT=/19thcenturyactors&CISOPTR=461&CISORESTMP=/site-templates/search_results-sub.html&CISOVIEWTMP=/site-templates/item_viewer.html&CISOGRID=thumbnail,A,1;title,A,1;subjec,A,0;descri,200,0;0,A,0;10&CISOBIB=title,A,1,N;subjec,A,0,N;descri,K,0,N;0,A,0,N;0,....
Maggie Mitchell (1832-1918) Matthew Brady Studio portrait http://www.npg.si.edu/exh/brady/gallery/100gal.html
Identified as a CD Fredericks & CO 1863 carte de visite photograph at http://www.picturehistory.com/find/p/25060/mcms.html
John Nickinson obituaries 1864
London Era, Mar
The Cincinnati Gazette of Thursday, Feb. 19th, says -- "The well-known actor, Mr. John Nickinson, died suddenly on Tuesday evening, under the following circumstances: -- at nine o'clock he called into the apothecary store of Mr. C.H. Brutton, on the north-west corner of Fifth and Elm streets, and reclined upon a lounge. A gentlemen present, feeling fatigued, placed himself by the side of Mr. Nickinson and fell asleep, but was awakened in a few minutes by a lad who drew his attention to a change in the appearance of his companion, whom he found had quietly died by his side.
Mr. Nickinson arrived in this country [what about Canada?] twenty-seven years ago , as a private soldier of the English army. His term of service expiring while the regiment was stationed at Montreal, he turned his attention to the stage, and soon became an accomplished actor, especially in burlesque parts, in which he was quite prominent in Mitchell's Olympic Theatre in its palmiest days. The highest testimony to the goodness of heart of the deceased is the fact that the members of the Opera House Company were all strongly attached to him, which we can venture to assert can be said of but few men who have held a similar position. Coroner Doherty held an inquest over the body yesterday and the Jury summoned upon that occasion returned a verdict of 'Death from apoplexy'.
DEATH OF MR. JOHN
NICKINSON [as recorded in a typed page, hand annotated with "This is a newspaper
clipping in a Cincinnati paper.]
We regret to announce the sudden decease of the above eminent comedian, late stage manager at Pike's Opera-house. He died of apoplexy at the store of Dr. Brutton, on the northwester corner of Fifth and Elm-streets, last night. Mr. Nickinson, in the early part of the evening, visited the Doctor, and not feeling well he retired into the back room, where he sat down, and was soon in an apparently deep slumber, but it was the sleep of death; for, some time after, when Dr. Brutton went to him, it was discovered that he had breathed his last.
Mr. Nickinson was loved and respected by all who knew him. In his profession he had but few equals in his peculiar walk of the drama, upon the stage, while, in private life, he was recognized by all as a generous, warm-hearted and genial gentleman. The sudden, unlooked-for event has cast a gloomy shade upon a large circle of friends, to whom he was endeared, and who fully appreciated his warm and unselfish nature. He was an Englishman by birth, and for some time an officer in the British army, but his passion for the stage caused him to relinquish the profession of arms.
Clipper of Feb. 27, 1864.
In our last issue we briefly mentioned the demise of Mr. John Nickinson, which occurred at a drugstore in Cincinnati. It appears that abut 5 o'clock in the evening he entered Mr. B.'s store (with which he was intimately acquainted [what does this mean?]) and sat down to rest on the sofa. Shortly after he fell asleep. Prior to the closing of the store the boy in attendance, noticing that he slept very soundly, shook him in order to awaken him, but still he slumbered on. The boy then concluded not to disturb him until the closing of the store, and when he found it necessary to close for the evening , he again approached the sofa and found that Mr. N. was dead.
Word was immediately conveyed to his wife, who at the time of his death was engaged in her professional activities at the Opera House. A messenger was also dispatched for Mr. Brutton , who shortly after arrived with a physician, but on examination, life was found to be extinct. Mr. Nickinson was formerly in the British Army, but turned his attention to the stage, for which he left the service. He was an excellent actor, and dressed and looked certain characters to perfection. It was perceptible to those acquainted with him that of late his memory was less tenacious, and though his make up was exact, his adherence to the script was, to use a stage term, rather "shaky".
He always managed to get through respectably, and very recently gave great satisfaction as Polonius [in Hamlet], Sir Peter Teazle [School for Scandal] and Ephraim Smooth [Wild Oats]. His elder daughters, by a former marriage, are Mrs. [Daniel (Charlotte)] Morrison, now in Montreal, where she is a favorite. and Mrs. C.[harles (Isabella) Walcott, Jr. Mr. Nickinson by his first wife leaves a son and 2 daughters, [what about Eliza and Virginia?] the former an officer in the English service in Canada, the latter prominent members of the theatrical profession.
By his second wife - who is better known by her professional name as Miss Phillips, an accomplished member of the Pike's Opera Troupe , Cincinnati, he leaves two more children of tender age [Hattie was 3 and Albert 7 months old] now solely depending on their mother for support and education. Poor Nickinson was, unfortunately for himself and his family, endowed by nature with too large a heart for his pecuniary welfare, and those he left must struggle on "amid this world's wide way". with no aid but the professional toil of the bereaved mother. The funeral of the lamented comedian took place on the 11th inst. The remains were attended to their final resting place by the friends of the deceased, who will long cherish a vivid remembrance of the genial and amiable departed.
John Nickinson is
buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. History of Spring Grove
Cemetery and Arboretum
Garden LN, Section 23, Lot 1, Space 24
Cincinnati map, 1860 http://davidrumsey.artselect.com/perl/frMagnify?artID=21655&matID=920&frameID=405&collectionID=4709
Received after Mr. Nickinson's death from Judge Carter addressed to Miss Phillips
Pike's Opera House, Cincinnati (Confidential)
Cincinnati March 4th, 1864
Mrs. Nickenson [his spelling]
Enclosed you will please find a communication to you purporting to come from your departed husband John Nickenson. I thus send it to you because there is something mentioned in it about a dream occurring to you last Sunday night, and if you had such a dream it will be good evidence of the verity of the communication from the other world, and because the spirit purporting to be John Nickenson directed it so to be done.
The communication was written by a medium Mr. William C. Oden who never knew, ever heard of your husband by name. And it was written in a most singular manner too. The medium held the pencil - by the top in his fingers, and the paper moved instead of the pencil. It was indeed a very curious spiritual manifestation.
I know not what you think of those so called spiritual manifestations, but I have seen enough to convince me - that the spirits of the other world -- whether good or bad, do communicate with us here - through mediums - and you will not be surprised when I tell you that with your husband of whom I thought a great deal in life, I believe have held several communications through mediums, since his decease
A G W Carter
[A note written in
pencil was enclosed with Mr. Carter's letter]
I am Jno Nickinson
Player commedien parts at Pike's Opera
My wife thinks I have gone to Hell, tell her if you please that I have not. I want a talk to her but she fears Spirits. Last Sunday night, I came to her in her sleep. She thinks it was a dream. But it was not. Say to her that I am satisfied with my condition here. I see not such hell as I see on Earth as yet and think I can see before me there is something I wish to say to her and not have the public to know it. [three illegible words]. She fears me -- say to her - watch here.
She lives 208 West
by Jim King
We don't know whether EJ Phillips had such a dream, or what she thought of the letter. But she kept it, and it has been read by a number of generations since. I'd heard about it long before I saw it.
Theatre historian Mary Shortt wrote in Feb. 1979 "I wonder whether the message from the medium suggesting that JN's wife expected him to have gone to hell was intended for [Mary] Ann Talbot? The fact that she never acted here, while little Isabella was being pressed into unsuitably adult roles may indicate a refusal to pull her weight in the family business, which must have caused friction. In justice to the poor lady, she must have had a difficult time raising five children on an actor's uncertain income, and with a husband of autocratic temper.
EJ Phillips was leading woman in Pike's Stock Company in Cincinnati, playing in the Shakespearean and "standard drama".
She was performing with Junius Brutus Booth, Jr. at Pike's Opera House in Cincinnati the night that John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865 he acting company had to leave town under the protection of a covered wagon to protect their lives. Charles Seymour Jr. "Theater in his blood" http://www.cloche-dor-productions.com/overview.htm
EJ Phillips was Emelia in Othello with Junius Brutus Booth, Jr. as Othello.
Life on the Stage," 1901,Clara Morris Harriott, S. S. McClure Company, New York http://www.authorama.com/19th-century-actor-autobiographies-5.html An excerpt include Some Recollections of John Wilkes Booth, which provides some insight. EJ Phillips never mentions the Civil War but she did know William Jason Ferguson (1841-1930) who was famous as the actor who saw Lincoln shot. His stage career had begun at Ford's Theatre as a call boy.
Othello playbill April 1865, Pike's Opera House, Cincinnati, Ohio
Othello enjoyed tremendous popularity in both the South and the North before the Civil War. In fact, Othello was performed so frequently in the United States that it was sometimes called “Shakespeare’s American Play” (Kaul 8). Elaine Brousseau, Othello, Shylock and the Face of White Anxiety, Univ. of Massachusetts at Amherst dissertation, 2002 http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~elaineb/Chapter.html http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI3078670/
Octoroon by Dion Boucicault Uncle Tom's Cabin
previous: Richmond, Jan .10, 1893
The Burnet House Hotel Co.
T.W. Zimmerman, Treas & Manager
Jan 20th 1893
My dear Son
I hope McMacardell [the original spelling in Ireland, later changed to Macardell] was successful in his suit yesterday.
We leave here Sunday night for Canton Ohio for 1 night, Tuesday Alliance, Wed Zanesville Ohio 1 night, Thursday Cleveland for 3 nights. I have seen a few old acquaintances here, but more that knew me than those I knew. Have not heard from the Egans or Mrs. Bass -- all my other friends have died or gone away. It makes me feel sad.
We are going to play The Judge tomorrow night. We are busy rehearsing it. It is only for the 1 performance at present to secure the right of the play. Love and Kisses to my dear children Albert, Neppie & Ted from their loving Mother
Enclosed in this letter is a clipping, no date THE
The production in Cincinnati by Ramsay Morris' Comedy company of The Judge was a success, as the Mirror's special wire chronicled. Criticisms of the comedy since received indicate that Mr. Ramsay has secured a valuable piece of property. He will not need to use it for some time to come as Joseph maintains popularity. In the production of the Judge hits were made by George Giddens, Jameson Lee Finney (1863/68-1911), Elsie De Wolfe, Mrs. E.J. Phillips, and Helen Stockwell. Mr. Giddens and Miss De Wolfe received unusually high praise. John Glendenning, an able actor in many lines, seems to have been miscast.
Did Neppie get the [letter] I sent from Cin'iti on the 18th in which I put a V? I hope so. Love and Kisses to my dear daughter Neppie and my grandson Ted from your loving Mother I hope the boy keeps well.
Jany 27th 1893
My dear Son,
Miss [Elsie] de Wolfe is quite ill -- so ill that I thought she would not be able to play last night but she did! She and her Mother are being entertained here by one of the Cleveland 400 in grand style -- have their carriage to and from the theatre -- a servant allotted each to wait on them while they remain here. Must cost the man as much as [illegible] dollars per day to keep up such an establishment as Miss De Wolfe described to me last Eve. I am glad she is having such a good time, as I think it will brace her up and next week will be a comparatively easy one as we go on Monday to Columbus for 3 nights and Indianapolis 3 nights.
next: New York Mar. 1893
$3.00 to $5.00 per day
European plan rooms
$1.00 to $2.50 per day
Cleveland, Ohio Friday Novr 17th, 1893
My dear Son,
The clipping you sent from the Sun is one of many in which Mr. [AM] Palmer still uses my name, but I do not think it will do him any good. I think Chas Frohman will fulfill his contract with me for this season, and then will perhaps want me for the next season. In going to California with Palmers Co I would still be under Chas Frohman's & [Al] Hayman's management. It is a mixed up affair all around. In fact a game of Battledore and Shuttle-cock. And the Actor is the latter and the manager Battledores him where ever he pleases.
Miss Elsie deWolfe did not gain her bit of diplomacy as Miss Ada Dyas & Mrs. Thorndike Boucicault are engaged for A Woman of No Importance. It was a cheeky bit of work for Miss deWolfe and she did not deserve to succeed. And it is well for herself she didn't for, it would have been her third dramatic failure.
We had an accident coming across the Lake Wednesday night. The Steamer, City of Detroit, ran into a schooner and we were near the spot. I feared something was the matter as our engines stopped and bells sounded, whistles blew but I kept quiet and did not know about it until Morning, though I did not sleep until about an hour before landing in Cleveland. Nobody was hurt. The schooner was loaded with lumber which prevented her sinking and a tug took her into port at Amherstburg. The Lake was very rough, but I did not get seasick.
We opened to a very nice house last night and two performances tomorrow. We go to Louisville for three nights. Then to Evansville 1 night, Lafayette 1 & Peoria 1. Three miserable bad towns, hotels and theatres bad. Then go to St Louis. Play in the old Olympic where I used to belong to the Stock Co [with Benedict DeBar].
I do not know where I shall stop in Cincinnati. The Burnet House I did not like last Winter. It was expensive and not particularly comfortable. This is a splendid house. Wish I had one like it everywhere.
I feel pretty well but not as strong as I used to be. And have to be careful what I eat. Indigestion has got hold of me & I have to eat plain food or I have to pay up for it in pain and nervousness. Love and Kisses to all three of you, dear children from your loving Mother
Novr 23rd 1893
My dear Son,
Enclosed find order for $20. A Thanksgiving and anniversary remembrance to you, wife and Son. I wish you all a pleasant time, a good Turkey and plenty of cranberry sauce.
We arrived here 7 PM last Sunday. Have not had a very pleasant time so far. Yesterday a Matinee and today is very cold and dark. Think snow will fall before night.
We will leave here on Sunday for Louisville. And I shall be in Evansville, Ind on Thanksgiving Day. Hope we will not get there in time for the Matinee, but we may as I do not think the journey is very far from Louisville. On the 4th St Louis. We play at the Olympic Theatre there and I shall stop at Southern hotel which is just opposite theatre.
From Hattie you will get a trifling Souvenir of the [Columbian Exposition] Fair. I did not have time to send them right to you for I got them after the Fair was officially closed. Do not expect much. They are only trifles, for funds were low and time short. Wishing you and Neppie many happy returns of the [wedding] anniversary, and with love and Kisses to you both dear children and to my darling grandson Ted. I remain as always your affectionate Mother
next: Louisville, St. Louis, Philadelphia for Christmas
March 1st 1895
My dear daughter Neppie,
Mr. Smith's farm must be a very desirable one to have caught a purchaser so soon and no doubt at this season farming implements and livestock will meet with a ready sale. Poor Mr. Smith will feel lonely, and I suppose imagine he will soon follow his wife [Neppie's sister Grace had died at 22, after a long illness]. He no doubt feels terribly lonesome without her.
Yes, Nellie's family is nicely alternated, girl & boy, girl & boy. But whether there ever will be a reconciliation or not remains to be found out. Will [Law] called and saw the baby Sunday after its birth, and Mrs. Law called a few hours after its birth, knowing it had occurred. Nellie had a very easy time, and is doing well with plenty of nourishment for the baby They have not yet decided on a name for him.
Mrs. Cady and Mrs. McKenzie called on me, the latter Albert's Sunday School teacher's wife. Mrs. Glessing called at the hotel and wanted to take me home, and if I had had another three days, I think I should have seen everyone from Christ Church [Indianapolis]. Love and Kisses dear children Albert, Neppie & Ted from your loving Mother
March 7th 1895
My dear Son,
Mr. Dolman is very ill. Dr says it is consumption. He has had hemorrhages and he said to the Dr on Monday night, "Dr, this is the beginning of the end". I have wondered for some time how he got about. And I do not think he will last very long. And no one to take his place in that big family. This in haste from your loving Mother
Cincinnati's magnificent art deco style railroad terminal building, now the home of Cincinnati Museum Center, was dedicated on March 31, 1933. Union Terminal was first proposed in the early part of the 20th century as a solution to the chaotic existing railroad system, which consisted of seven lines operating out of five stations. History of Cincinnati Union Terminal, Cincinnati Historical Library http://library.cincymuseum.org/uthisthelp.htm more on Railroads
Cincinnati in the 1860s - 1890s
Walking through the Cincinnati airport in March 2006 I passed a large photograph of Roebling's 1866 suspension bridge, which predated the Brooklyn Bridge http://www.cincinnati-transit.net/suspension.html and was happy to find two Cincinnati history books in the airport bookstore. Not much seems to be left of John Nickinson's Cincinnati, but EJ Phillips almost certainly saw that bridge, the 1871 Tyler Davidson Fountain, and possibly the 1886 (posthumous) HH Richardson Chamber of Commerce building, 1874 Grand Hotel, West Fourth St. [John Nickinson and EJ Phillips lived on West Fifth St.
Palace Hotel is now the Cincinnatian, Burnet house 1850, Pike's Opera House,
Fourth and Vine, opened 1859, held more than 3,000 people. Burned in 1866, was
rebuilt and burned again in 1903 and was replaced by the Hotel Sinton.
Spring Grove Cemetery History http://www.springgrove.org/sg/history/History.shtm has a record of John Nickinson's burial No 12758 Garden LN Section 23 Lot 1 Space 24. http://www.springgrove.org/SG/PDF/SGMap.pdf Section 23 is labeled Masonic Lot.
Grace, Kevin, and Tom White, Cincinnati Revealed: A photographic heritage of the Queen City, Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2002. http://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=arcadia&Product_Code=0738519553&Product_Count=&Category_Code=
Grace, Kevin and Tom White, Cincinnati's Over-The-Rhine, Charleston SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2003. http://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=arcadia&Product_Code=073853157X&Product_Count=&Category_Code=
http://www.cincinnati-transit.net/ Bridges, tunnels, ferry and rail photos
Cincinnati Historical Society http://library.cincymuseum.org/
Last updated Nov 23, 2013
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