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Cast of Characters EJ Phillips: Her dramatic career

The first of these letters -- describing climbing Pike's Peak on horseback in August 1883 -- from actress EJ Phillips to her son Albert Nickinson was written from San Francisco traveling with the AM Palmer theatre company.  
 EJ Phillips about 1877 (1830-1904)     
 Albert Nickinson, Middletown NY about 1886 (1863-1948)    

That these letters were saved is both a reflection on the travel and adventures reported by an intrepid actress, and (it must be admitted) the habits of a family of packrats.  John Nickinson, actor, the father of EJ Phillips' children (and possibly her husband) had died in Cincinnati in February 1864, aged 56, leaving EJ Phillips (aged 33) with Hattie, aged 3 and Albert, aged seven months and herself to support.  

 John Nickinson   (1808-1864)   Theatre manager AM Palmer (1838-1905)  EJ Phillips joined the Union Square Theatre Company in New York in 1877, part of what has been described as the "Golden Age of American Theater". Palmer Theatre Company colleagues included Maurice Barrymore (father of Ethel, Lionel and John), Agnes Booth, wife of Junius Brutus Booth Jr. and sister-in-law of Edwin She was in San Francisco when Palmer produced Oscar Wilde's first play Vera the Nihilist, but later toured in his Lady Windermere's Fan. Palmer's company performed at Grover Cleveland's 1885 inauguration and met Cleveland at the White House as part of their trip to Washington for a sold out Actor's Fund benefit performance in April 1887.

Dr. and Mrs. Dr. John T. Nagle kept a boardinghouse on East 21st Street and were friends as well as landlords.  He was a public health physician at 301 Mott Street, and as an enthusiastic photographer collaborated with Jacob Riis in investigating New York slums.

Daughter Hattie Nickinson Dolman (1860-1946)  married Philadelphia lawyer John Dolman Jr. (1837-1939) in 1887.    Dolmans and their quilts
Albert married  Mary Penelope Macardell Nickinson (1864-1955) in Middletown, New York on Thanksgiving 1889. 

Grandsons Jack Dolman (1888-1952) and Edward Phillips Nickinson (1890-1948) were quite young in these letters. Each died fairly young, too soon to know their grandchildren.

I could never have produced this website without my mother's transcription of them.  Em Turner Nickinson Kuhl (1928-2000) grew up in Pensacola and delighted in the company of Albert, her grandfather.  I never knew him -- he died the weekend my parents met.  Nor did I know her father Ted. But I grew up in Florida, going to Pensacola every summer and hearing stories of lots of relatives.

Mother 1996 reading the second edition 

 Beachnuts 1999, 619 North Baylen St., Pensacola Florida  Only child Edward Phillips Nickinson had three children, 12 grandchildren and 20+  great-grandchildren, and now at least six great-great grandchildren 2010-2017.   

Nickinson Family Tree   I count myself lucky to have grown up with so many fine examples of "terrific old ladies", starting of course with my maternal grandmother the Poor Old Lady. What I hadn't realized was that the prototype went back so far. I never expected to know a relative so well who died 46 years before I was born.  Mary Glen Kuhl Chitty 

The Zavistowskis  Christine (Aunty) and Uncle Antonio, daughters Emmeline Zavistowski Shailer and Alice Zavistowski Webb were dancers who had worked with John Nickinson and boarded Albert and Hattie as EJP worked and traveled after John Nickinson's death.  

Theatrical Friends and Colleagues  
Toronto Royal Lyceum  During my first ten years I played in the chief cities of Canada and in the western cities of New York State. Playing with nearly all of the prominent “stars” of the time, whose kindness and encouragement are still happy memories with me,  Among whom I may mention C.W. Couldock [1815-1898], James Anderson, John Brougham [1814-1880], James Wallack Jr. [1818-1873], James Wallack [1794-1864] and Charles Mathews [1803-1878] Sir Wm Don [1825-1862], Charles Dillon [1819-1881], James Bennett? Mrs. Barnes?, Mrs. Fannon? Miss [Fanny 1821-1900] Morant, Mrs. Chas. Mathews [Lizzie Weston Davenport Mathews d 1899], Mr. [died 1882] and Mrs. D[aniel]W[ilmarth] Waller [Emma 1819-1899] and many many others.

Post Cincinnati and pre-Palmer Lawrence Barrett    Charlotte Cushman    Ben  and Mrs. DeBar    Drews and Barrymores    Samuel Pike    Sol Smith Russell    Willie Seymour  

Palmer Companies colleagues  Maurice Barrymore  Agnes Booth  Maud Harrison  William LeMoyne  AM Palmer  Walden Ramsey   Annie Russell   JH Stoddart   

Union Square colleagues  Kate Claxton, Rose Eytinge, Virginia Harned, Sara Jewett, Fanny Morant, Clara Morris, John Parselle, and Charles Thorne don't appear in these letters.  Thorne died in 1883 and Parselle in 1885.

post-Palmer  Elsie de Wolfe   Charles Frohman   Daniel Frohman   Gustave Frohman   Charles Hoyt   Ramsay Morris   Olga Nethersole

Playwrights  Dion Boucicault   Robert Williams Buchanan   Bartley Campbell   James A Herne  Bronson Howard   William Dean Howells    Henry Arthur Jones  
Brander Matthews    Peter Robertson   Clinton Stuart   Augustus Thomas  Denman Thompson  
Oscar Wilde

Theatre managers  Lawrence Barrett   James Collier   William Henry Crane   Augustin Daly  Ben DeBar  Oscar Hammerstein  Al Hayman  Charles Hoyt  James Humphreys  Henry C Jarrett   BF Keith  FF Mackay  Steele MacKaye  James H McVicker  Marcus Mayer    AM Palmer   James Wallack Lester Wallack  George Woods

People briefly mentioned include PT Barnum, Sarah Bernhardt,   Edwin Booth,   Joseph Jefferson, Laura Keene, Helena Modjeska

Last revised April 8, 2018

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