The Clipper
New York: Frank Queen, 3 March 1877


XENIA, O., Feb. 19, 1877.

  EDITOR CLIPPER.—I think you have made some mistakes in your cast of "Uncle Tom" at the Chestnut-street Theatre, Philadelphia, as published in your issue of Feb. 10. You put Chas. Kemble Mason in Legree, and Dolly Davenport in Haley. It seems improbably that C. K. Mason would have consented to play Legree, while Dolly, if he had been in the cast, would certainly have been the St. Clair. At the period you mention, George Mason was the heavy man at the Chestnut-street. N. T. Davenport was also a member of the company, and, I presume, is the party who was cast for Haley. Some time during the Winter—owing, I think, to an attempted reduction of a traveling troupe, presenting to the public, throughout the interior of Pennsylvania, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," "The Drunkard," and "The Six Degrees of Crime," opening at Reading, and closing a very successful tour in the Spring at Easton. James Martin was the Uncle Tom, george Mason the Legree, Rose and Jerry Merrifield respectively Topsy and Cute, and T. S. Cline the St. Clair, while Mrs. Cappell was the Aunt Ophelia, Cordelia personating Eliza Harris, the representative of Eva being found in her younger sister. Mr. Cappell, a dignified, white-haired gentleman, was the treasurer of the concern, and the responsibilities of management rested upon Martin & Mason, Rose and Jerry Merrifield being equal copartners in the profits. The scenery had been painted for the party by Joseph Jefferson. Have I made a case? Yours, etc.,


  Not exactly; but we thank you all the same for an endeavor towards absolute accuracy. Our own judgment was that the Legree could not have been C. K. Mason, but we deferred to what we regarded as the superior judgment of others. Dolly Davenport seems to have been in the cast, and to have played Haley. We have a bill with his name in full—"Haley the slave-trader, A. H. Davenport." Except in the Scotch ballad-opera of "The Covenanters," his vocal talents were not in request that season at the Chestnut-street Theatre, and Rensselaer Sheppard was the St. Clair. "Dolly" afterwards did leading business there—Charles Surface, Claude Melnotte, and (more wonderful still) the Ethiop in the drama of that name, Armand in Mrs. Mowatt's play, and Huon in "Love." He probably consented to play Haley in order to seemingly strengthen an otherwise strong cast, just as his wife, Lizzie Weston, clearly went out of her way in stooping from Pauline Descapelles to play Topsy for a few nights. N. T. Davenport was at the Walnut-street Theatre a season or two before, but does not appear to have been at the Chestnut-street in 1853-4. And if, as you state, George Mason was doing heavy business at the latter house, so was R. A. Sheppard, whose usefulness enabled him to also play St. Clair. It is not wise to attempt to identify an actor wholly by his line of business, for we have known one of the finest "heavy men" in this country to impersonate Hector Placide in "Led Astray," for which a woman or Stuart Robson is best suited. At Barnum's Museum, C. W. Clarke should have played George Harris, but he chose St. Clair instead. Regarding the secession you speak of, Sheppard was among the seceders. It seems to have occurred about the middle of March, 1854, when George W. Gile, now of the regular army, took Sheppard's place. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" had been revived Feb. 13, and ran throughout that month.


  COMING TO LIGHT.—The Thompson who played Sam in the first cast of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" at Barnum's Museum, this city, in 1853, and of whom we remarked that he had "passed down the long lane of oblivion," is said to be the gentleman who, last week, as W. F. Johnson, was playing Jim in "Divorce" at the Bowery Theatre, this city. The Charles Whittle whom our correspondent "Mnemosyne" spoke of as personating Uncle Tom to the Eva of Little Mary Marsh, in Chicago, about 1853-4, is not in this city, being better known as Charles W. Barry, actor, author and manager. At the death of Greene C. Germon, Mr. Barry was called upon to fill the gap, and temporarily resumed the name under which he had already done minor business.