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Mike Pierceall

Joseph Cawthra In The 1890s

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I am doing some research into the concertina in the U.S. and was wondering if anyone is familiar with a Joseph Cawthra, who performed at the Los Angeles Grand Operahouse, on concertina, in the 1890s. Any leads would be appreciated. Thanks. Mike

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I am doing some research into the concertina in the U.S. and was wondering if anyone is familiar with a Joseph Cawthra, who performed at the Los Angeles Grand Operahouse, on concertina, in the 1890s. Any leads would be appreciated. Thanks. Mike

Michael,

 

You might check with Randy Merris, who is preparing a manuscript on many of the earlier music hall and other players in the US (mostly English and Duet, but also anglo). I've been messing about with the history of anglo use in the US over the same period, and am preparing a little paper for PICA. I've heard the name Cawthra but have no information; usually the players at classical venues played English system however. There was an amazing amount of social stratification back then, and what we now term 'traditional' music was considered peasant stuff and not widely accepted in Grand Operahouses (yet); I'd guess based on that that Cawthra was playing English or duet. But then you must already know that. Good luck...and please let me know if I guessed wrong!

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I am doing some research into the concertina in the U.S. and was wondering if anyone is familiar with a Joseph Cawthra, who performed at the Los Angeles Grand Operahouse, on concertina, in the 1890s. Any leads would be appreciated. Thanks. Mike

Michael,

 

You might check with Randy Merris, who is preparing a manuscript on many of the earlier music hall and other players in the US (mostly English and Duet, but also anglo). I've been messing about with the history of anglo use in the US over the same period, and am preparing a little paper for PICA. I've heard the name Cawthra but have no information; usually the players at classical venues played English system however. There was an amazing amount of social stratification back then, and what we now term 'traditional' music was considered peasant stuff and not widely accepted in Grand Operahouses (yet); I'd guess based on that that Cawthra was playing English or duet. But then you must already know that. Good luck...and please let me know if I guessed wrong!

Dan, thanks for the suggestion. The article from the Los Angeles Times, dated December 18, 1892, indicates that Joe Cawthra received several encores. It was also implied that he had performed at that venue in the past. I have some reason to believe that he was a British subject, but that's still to be determined. I'll certainly keep you in tune with what I turn up. Mike

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I am doing some research into the concertina in the U.S. and was wondering if anyone is familiar with a Joseph Cawthra, who performed at the Los Angeles Grand Operahouse, on concertina, in the 1890s. Any leads would be appreciated.
I have some reason to believe that he was a British subject, but that's still to be determined.

Mike,

 

Cawthra is a very unusual surname and, judging by the distribution of it on the census for England, it seems to originate in Yorkshire.

 

However, a quick look at the index to the US census shows two individuals of that name:

 

1850

Name: Joseph Cawthra

Birth: abt 1832 - location

Residence: 1850 - city, Monroe, New York

 

1860

Name: Joseph Cawthra

Birth: abt 1832 - location

Residence: 1860 - city, Monroe, New York

 

1910

Name: Joseph Cawthra

Spouse: Annie

Birth: abt 1868 - location

Arrival: year

Residence: 1910 - city, York, Maine

 

1920

Name: Joseph Cawthra

Spouse: Annie

Birth: abt 1869 - location

Arrival: year

Residence: 1920 - city, York, Maine

 

 

Likewise the Canadian one:

 

1871

Name: Joseph Cawthra

Birth: 1822-1823 - location

Birth: 1823

Residence: 1871 - location, Ontario, Canada

Residence: location

 

1901

Name: Joseph Cawthra

Birth: 1860 - location

Residence: 1901 - city, Muskoka And Parry Sound, Ontario

 

1911

Name: Joseph Cawthra

Birth: mm 1860 - location

Residence: 1911 - Ontario

 

But my subscription is only to the UK records collection, so I can't access the images of these to see if they throw any light on the matter. :(

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If he purchased a Wheatstone Concertina then his sales details will be recorded.This will give date of purchase and type (English or Duet).

I have nothing about this player on my recordings.

Al

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If he purchased a Wheatstone Concertina then his sales details will be recorded.

Though the name of the purchaser, in the surviving ledgers, is not normally listed after May 1870, and the ledgers for 1891-1910 no longer exist. :(

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I am doing some research into the concertina in the U.S. and was wondering if anyone is familiar with a Joseph Cawthra, who performed at the Los Angeles Grand Operahouse, on concertina, in the 1890s. Any leads would be appreciated.
I have some reason to believe that he was a British subject, but that's still to be determined.

Mike,

 

Cawthra is a very unusual surname and, judging by the distribution of it on the census for England, it seems to originate in Yorkshire.

 

However, a quick look at the index to the US census shows two individuals of that name:

 

1850

Name: Joseph Cawthra

Birth: abt 1832 - location

Residence: 1850 - city, Monroe, New York

 

1860

Name: Joseph Cawthra

Birth: abt 1832 - location

Residence: 1860 - city, Monroe, New York

 

1910

Name: Joseph Cawthra

Spouse: Annie

Birth: abt 1868 - location

Arrival: year

Residence: 1910 - city, York, Maine

 

1920

Name: Joseph Cawthra

Spouse: Annie

Birth: abt 1869 - location

Arrival: year

Residence: 1920 - city, York, Maine

 

 

Likewise the Canadian one:

 

1871

Name: Joseph Cawthra

Birth: 1822-1823 - location

Birth: 1823

Residence: 1871 - location, Ontario, Canada

Residence: location

 

1901

Name: Joseph Cawthra

Birth: 1860 - location

Residence: 1901 - city, Muskoka And Parry Sound, Ontario

 

1911

Name: Joseph Cawthra

Birth: mm 1860 - location

Residence: 1911 - Ontario

 

But my subscription is only to the UK records collection, so I can't access the images of these to see if they throw any light on the matter. :(

Thanks, Stephen. I'll follow through on these leads. You are very helpful. I appreciate it.

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I am doing some research into the concertina in the U.S. and was wondering if anyone is familiar with a Joseph Cawthra, who performed at the Los Angeles Grand Operahouse, on concertina, in the 1890s. Any leads would be appreciated. Thanks. Mike

Michael,

 

You might check with Randy Merris, who is preparing a manuscript on many of the earlier music hall and other players in the US (mostly English and Duet, but also anglo). I've been messing about with the history of anglo use in the US over the same period, and am preparing a little paper for PICA. I've heard the name Cawthra but have no information; usually the players at classical venues played English system however. There was an amazing amount of social stratification back then, and what we now term 'traditional' music was considered peasant stuff and not widely accepted in Grand Operahouses (yet); I'd guess based on that that Cawthra was playing English or duet. But then you must already know that. Good luck...and please let me know if I guessed wrong!

I'm not so sure we can make the assumption that Cawthra was playing an English or duet, Dan. Also on the bill for that evening's performance was a Miss Rosa, whose "banjo playing and dancing brought down the house." I'll have to research the Grand Operahouse itself to learn of its history and, ultimately, it's demise. Thanks. Mike

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Also on the bill for that evening's performance was a Miss Rosa, whose "banjo playing and dancing brought down the house."

Mike,

 

Though in the 1890s the banjo was a hugely fashionable instrument, and popular with ladies. Even the then Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) in England played it, though he was popular with the ladies too! ;)

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DEAR MICHAEL: as Stephen noted, the sales ledgers bite the dust on May 23rd, 1870. . . .so any purchases of a Wheatstone after that date would not be recorded. . . . . .

 

you probably noted that Dan is preparing an article for PICA, vol. 4. . . . . .let me extend an invitation to you. . . . if you're interested. . . .best to be in touch at aatlas@gc.cuny.edu

 

Allan

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I am doing some research into the concertina in the U.S. and was wondering if anyone is familiar with a Joseph Cawthra, who performed at the Los Angeles Grand Operahouse, on concertina, in the 1890s. Any leads would be appreciated. Thanks. Mike

Michael,

 

You might check with Randy Merris, who is preparing a manuscript on many of the earlier music hall and other players in the US (mostly English and Duet, but also anglo). I've been messing about with the history of anglo use in the US over the same period, and am preparing a little paper for PICA. I've heard the name Cawthra but have no information; usually the players at classical venues played English system however. There was an amazing amount of social stratification back then, and what we now term 'traditional' music was considered peasant stuff and not widely accepted in Grand Operahouses (yet); I'd guess based on that that Cawthra was playing English or duet. But then you must already know that. Good luck...and please let me know if I guessed wrong!

I'm not so sure we can make the assumption that Cawthra was playing an English or duet, Dan. Also on the bill for that evening's performance was a Miss Rosa, whose "banjo playing and dancing brought down the house." I'll have to research the Grand Operahouse itself to learn of its history and, ultimately, it's demise. Thanks. Mike

 

Mike,

I said I was guessing, not assuming! :)

 

My guess is based on the fact that most of the 'Opera Houses' of that time were for mid-to-high brow popular entertainment...light classics, sentimental ballads, that sort of thing. They would have done some operas too of course, but the sort of evening with concertina and banjo and other musicians that you describe was a typical variety show. Most of the references to concertina players I have seen at these events in late nineteenth century US, where it is clear what type of instrument is being played, were English or duet system players, like the one I've attached for Alfred Sedgwick (they even name the tunes he was recalled for in encore). A banjo would not have been out of place here, if played in a reasonably 'refined' way. Perhaps the opera houses in LA were more rowdy, though....a clue would be if you see minstrels playing there.

 

References to concertina music played outside these polite venues and other such 'soirees' found documented in the Brooklyn Eagle for this period are unfailingly negative or condescending; note the snide comment on concertinas in the other piece I attach! If you search this Forum you can see some pieces I posted on concertinas at Salvation army events, typically thought ghastly, low brow and completely unmusical at the time by correspondents in the Eagle. There were also a few concertinas played in the minstrels, decidedly lower-brow and rowdy affairs on the whole (think early rock 'n roll). My best US 'anglo' sightings in the nineteenth century were at these two sorts of affairs, as well as on ships in the hands of sailors, and among Irish and other immigrants. Not that EC and duet couldn't also be found in all those places. I'm always on the anglo lookout, however...let me know if you find some other clues!

 

As for Cawthra, let's hope you find some facts for him. I'm pretty sure I've heard Randy Merris speak of him.

 

Cheers, Dan

 

edited to say Alfred Sedgwick (who also wrote concertina tutors) rather than Adam.

Edited by Dan Worrall

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I am doing some research into the concertina in the U.S. and was wondering if anyone is familiar with a Joseph Cawthra, who performed at the Los Angeles Grand Operahouse, on concertina, in the 1890s. Any leads would be appreciated. Thanks. Mike

Michael,

 

You might check with Randy Merris, who is preparing a manuscript on many of the earlier music hall and other players in the US (mostly English and Duet, but also anglo). I've been messing about with the history of anglo use in the US over the same period, and am preparing a little paper for PICA. I've heard the name Cawthra but have no information; usually the players at classical venues played English system however. There was an amazing amount of social stratification back then, and what we now term 'traditional' music was considered peasant stuff and not widely accepted in Grand Operahouses (yet); I'd guess based on that that Cawthra was playing English or duet. But then you must already know that. Good luck...and please let me know if I guessed wrong!

I'm not so sure we can make the assumption that Cawthra was playing an English or duet, Dan. Also on the bill for that evening's performance was a Miss Rosa, whose "banjo playing and dancing brought down the house." I'll have to research the Grand Operahouse itself to learn of its history and, ultimately, it's demise. Thanks. Mike

 

Mike,

I said I was guessing, not assuming! :)

 

My guess is based on the fact that most of the 'Opera Houses' of that time were for mid-to-high brow popular entertainment...light classics, sentimental ballads, that sort of thing. They would have done some operas too of course, but the sort of evening with concertina and banjo and other musicians that you describe was a typical variety show. Most of the references to concertina players I have seen at these events in late nineteenth century US, where it is clear what type of instrument is being played, were English or duet system players, like the one I've attached for Adam Sedgwick (they even name the tunes he was recalled for in encore). A banjo would not have been out of place here, if played in a reasonably 'refined' way. Perhaps the opera houses in LA were more rowdy, though....a clue would be if you see minstrels playing there.

 

References to concertina music played outside these polite venues and other such 'soirees' found documented in the Brooklyn Eagle for this period are unfailingly negative or condescending; note the snide comment on concertinas in the other piece I attach! If you search this Forum you can see some pieces I posted on concertinas at Salvation army events, typically thought ghastly, low brow and completely unmusical at the time by correspondents in the Eagle. There were also a few concertinas played in the minstrels, decidedly lower-brow and rowdy affairs on the whole (think early rock 'n roll). My best US 'anglo' sightings in the nineteenth century were at these two sorts of affairs, as well as on ships in the hands of sailors, and among Irish and other immigrants. Not that EC and duet couldn't also be found in all those places. I'm always on the anglo lookout, however...let me know if you find some other clues!

 

As for Cawthra, let's hope you find some facts for him. I'm pretty sure I've heard Randy Merris speak of him.

 

Cheers, Dan

Dan, I've done a little more research into the Grand Operahouse. Two years after Cawthra played there, it became part of the Orpheum vaudeville circuit. Photos available online at the lapl website show it to be in various stages of distress until it was demolished, I believe, in 1936. Anyway, this is all very preliminary, and I need to educate myself on the dynamics of that period of time. You've been most helpful, and I thank you. Mike

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... a quick look at the index to the US census shows two individuals of that name ... Likewise the Canadian one ...

And it looks like those two in Ontario might be descendants of Joseph Cawthra (1759 – 1842) the Canadian merchant and politician: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Cawthra

Thanks, Stephen. I'm also looking to find living descendants. Cawthra, also spelled Cawthora, (either one might be correct) must have left a paper trail, though; and if he does have living descendants, they may be totally unaware of his involvement with the concertina. Mike

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I spoke with Randy. He thinks your man might be Joseph Cawthorne, who was very active on the early vaudeville circuit at the time you mentioned (1890's). After Dutch Daly (who was more or less top of the charts for concertina playing in vaudeville/music halls at the time in the US) left the US in the 1890's to live in England, Joseph Cawthorne was the next best concertinist in the US, according to Randy's research (Randy is working on a fascinating history of Dutch Daly and other early music hall and vaudeville players in the US). Dutch played mainly English, and Randy guesses so did Cawthorne.

 

You can Google Cawthorne, who left vaudeville (and concertinadom) for a very long film making career; he made scores of films, lasting into the 1940's.

Edited by Dan Worrall

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I spoke with Randy. He thinks your man might be Joseph Cawthorne, who was very active on the early vaudeville circuit at the time you mentioned (1890's). After Dutch Daly (who was more or less top of the charts for concertina playing in vaudeville/music halls at the time in the US) left the US in the 1890's to live in England, Joseph Cawthorne was the next best concertinist in the US, according to Randy's research (Randy is working on a fascinating history of Dutch Daly and other early music hall and vaudeville players in the US). Dutch played mainly English, and Randy guesses so did Cawthorne.

 

You can Google Cawthorne, who left vaudeville (and concertinadom) for a very long film making career; he made scores of films, lasting into the 1940's.

Dan, I just returned home from the central library to read your note, and you are right. Joseph Bridger Cawthorn is the man. I apologize for the early error in spelling. My digital output is difficult to read. He was born in New York in 1868 and began acting on stage at the age of four. His parents were both from England, where he then began performing in the musical halls there at the age of nine. He then returned to the U.S. where he performed on stage in variety shows and, later, motion pictures. According to the 1910 census, he was living on Bangs Avenue in New Jersy. His wife, Queenie, was born in Scotland and was an actor as well. Now, if I can only dig up a picture of him with the concertina... Thanks for all your help -- Mike

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Joseph Bridger Cawthorn is the man. He was born in New York in 1868 and began acting on stage at the age of four. His parents were both from England, where he then began performing in the musical halls there at the age of nine. He then returned to the U.S. where he performed on stage in variety shows and, later, motion pictures. According to the 1910 census, he was living on Bangs Avenue in New Jersy. His wife, Queenie, was born in Scotland and was an actor as well.

Mike,

 

In that case; on the 1901 Census he was staying at the St. Ermin's Hotel, Westminster, London, age 33, single, and gave his occupation as Actor, born United States. Whilst four lines above him may well be his future bride (?); Queenie Vassar, 30, widow, Actress, born Scotland. (If you let me have your email address, I can send you the Census return.)

 

And he was living in LA in 1930:

 

Name: Joseph Cawthorn

Spouse: Queenie

Birth: abt 1868 - location

Residence: 1930 - city, Los Angeles, California

 

The California Death Index, 1940-1997 Record lists his death in 1949:

 

Name: JOSEPH BRIDGER CAWTHORN

Birth: date - NEW YORK

Death: dd mm 1949 - city

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Nothing like the internet for focused research!

 

Here is his photograph in a movie poster, where he co-starred with the glamorous Ida Lupino in Smart Girl (1936).

 

Which male in the photo is Cawthorne? Easy. As he was a concertina player, he must be the one who is grey haired and bald! :D If anyone thinks that is too much guessing, check out the photos someone posted on the Forum of the attendees at Jody Kruskal's workshops in England earlier this month. I rest my case. :lol:

 

More studiously, he was 66 years old when he made the movie....hence he is on the left.

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