Homepage   People   Places    Plays      Site Map   

Recreation & sports
Amateur theatrics
   Baseball   Bicycles   Dancing   Fishing   Music   Sleighing   Swimming   Masons   Volunteer fire department

New York, Dec. 6, 1886 Mrs. Dr. N[agle] gave Hattie & Lottie [Powell] tickets to go to the Athletic Club on Sat -- it being "Ladies Day" -- to see the sports swimming, Boxing, fencing &c &c.  They went and enjoyed the performance very much.

San Francisco, July 31, 1890 I asked [Maurice] Barrymore about the 5 A's which he was one of the founders, but has not taken an active part lately.

5 A's American Actors Amateur Athletic Association, founded by Barrymore, Steel MacKaye and London comedian Jimmie Powers.  The club met at Browne's chophouse.  "The members seldom exercised more than their tongues, although the drinking arm was occasionally tested with some Indian wrestling." [Kotsilibas-Davis]  King New York City says the club "usually called the Five A's" was organized in 1889 and incorporated in 1890 "for the encouragement of athletic sports among actors and for social purposes".  The initiation fee was $25 and annual dues were #12.  The club was at 43 West 29th Street.

Chicago, July 19, 1886  I am glad you refrain again for Base Ball, it is a dangerous game. 

Boston Sept. 7, 1887 Yesterday I went with Messr's [EM] Holland, [Eugene] Presbrey & [Alessandro] Salvini to see the Bostons and Philadelphians play.  Phillies won.  I will send a Globe with the score of the game to you.  The Philadelphians are stopping at this hotel. 

Philadelphia, August  29,1887 On Saturday [son-in-law John Dolman] took us and Mrs. Dolman & Walter [Dolman] to see a game of baseball by the "Philadelphias" & Detroits.  Mrs. Dolman & I got pretty excited over the game.  I standing up at a home run and Mrs. Dolman crying out "Stop, stop" to one of the men who was running from 3rd base.  We quite disgraced ourselves. 

In 1883, [second baseman Al] Reach founded the Philadelphia Phillies with Colonel John I. Rogers, a politician and lawyer. In 1887, Reach built the new Philadelphia Base Ball Park at Huntington and Broad. The stadium cost $101,000 and seated 12,500. In 1894 the stadium burned to the ground. The next year, a new Philadelphia Ball Park (later Baker Bowl, home of the team till 1938) opened, seating 18,800, and considered the first modern ballpark built for baseball.  Atwater Kent Museum http://www.philadelphiahistory.org/akm/collection/object/ 

Baker Bowl http://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/past/BakerBowl.htm 

Boston, May 31,1888  Yesterday was wet and cloudy but notwithstanding the "Philadelphias" won their second game of ball from the Bostons.  Friday the opening day the Phillies were 4 to 1.  Yesterday 1 to 0.  Great excitement and interest in the game here.  They play again tomorrow & Tuesday.  Think I shall go tomorrow, if the day is fine & warm. 

Chicago, June 3, 1896  Hope your benefit for Asylum baseball club will net something handsome.

A Bibliography of Published Baseball Music and Songs, US Library of Congress United States Department of Agriculture,  
APPENDIX A: CHRONOLOGICAL INDEX List of 48 19th century baseball songs.

Milwaukee Novr 2nd. 1896  Does [grandson Ted] enjoy his tricycle?  I dare say he keeps you in constant dread of something happening to him.  I hope he will be very careful and look out for wagons, Bicycles, Trolleys & Steam cars!  But he is a good little boy and I think he will be careful for his Papa and Mama's sakes. 

Detroit,  Mich., May 15th 1896 The business has not been good since we left N.Y..  Men, women and children are all riding bicycles in every town.  No business being done anywhere in any line save bicycles!  There never was such a general craze before.  About 8 men and two women in our Company have their bicycles with them, and ride from 10 to 20 miles a day.  Gustave Frohman is an enthusiast on the subject, and I think will kill himself overdoing the thing. 

Business for these two weeks has been so bad that we all feel our season in Chicago cannot last for 12 weeks, and we look for closing much earlier.  Some say 6 weeks and I say four.  But by the time June comes people may be tired of riding the bikes and like to take the theatre in.  

Harper's Weekly has bicycling pictures   bicycles NY Times indexes, ads from programs 

We have a number of Albert's dance cards. 
A charming one is from the Fifth Grand Annual Children's Carnival and Ball, at the Academy of Music, New York, Feb. 7, 1881 for the benefit of the Western Dispensary. 

 The Carnival Programme included a procession of four jesters, three tableaux by the Goddess of Liberty and the thirteen Original States, Sixteen columbines, followed by clown, harlequin and Pantaloon.  Banner bearers, from different countries, on horses, followed by a CONGRESS of SOLDIERS, each introducing his peculiar military dance (Hungarian d Austrian , Zouaves, and Russians (Fan-Fan Militaire4, Cossack Dance), a company of infants with their comic instrumental Baby Polka, the BUTTERFLY and the PINK and WHITE ROSES, followed by a large number of Children representing Leaves and one representing the SUN, the GODDESS FLORA, in a brilliant TEMPLE OF FLEECY VEILS, surrounded by a Collection of Children, representing various flowers, followed by General Washington ON HIS HORSE, with his army of young soldiers, attired in full Continental uniform. with the GRAND TABLEAU and FINALE - GENERAL WASHINGTON and his soldiers, crowned by the GODDESS OF LIBERTY< assisted by the THIRTEEN STATES, while the GODDESS FLORA with her accompanying FLOWERS and LEAVES form a Wreath around GENERAL WASHINGTON, and the remaining actors of the Carnival view the scene and applaud from a distance.

The inside back cover notes (under TOWN TOPICS) Colored gems are fashionable.  In a bric-a-brac case at Tiffany's is a chatelaine and watch worn by Marie Antoinette.  Reproductions of the Trojan glass exhumed by Dr. Schliemann are to be seen at Tiffany's  Hammered gold gipsy rings, with precious stones embedded into he gold, are among the novelties at Tiffanys. 

San Francisco  July 10, 1890  The [rail]road [between Portland and San Francisco] runs with the Sacramento River, a beautiful stream and a great place for fancy fishing.  Mr. [Frederic] Robinson was wild with delight over the prospect of throwing out his lines there.  He travels with fishing tackle worth a $1000 & goes fishing whenever & where ever he gets an opportunity.  It is a great hobby with him, and I felt sorry he could not stop and have a days sport.  He is in every "bill" however, and will not get much chance to fish this trip. 

San Francisco  July 29, 1890  Albert must be working pretty hard but so long as he is not too tired to go fishing he will get on all right.

New York, Dec. 12, 1886 Glad you had such a nice sleigh ride.  We have had lovely moonlight here the past week, and plenty of sleighing for those who were able to enjoy the luxury.  The rain however will spoil their sport. 

New York, Jan 9, 1887 Snow has been falling all day. .. Hattie says she would like to join you in a sleigh ride. Those who have sleighs here will be sliding along nicely tomorrow.  

Buffalo Christmas Day 1892 I dined alone but had a very good dinner.  Snow going on all day.  Splendid sleighing

Washington DC, Jan 6, 1893 Astonished to hear you have no sleighing - the sleighs are running here in fine order and the swells are displaying their fine "turnouts".  I went out at noon to take a walk but was glad to come back. 

Montreal, Jan. 23, 1894 Opened last night to a bad house - and I am afraid business for the week will not be good - sleighing and moonlight for the week is too good for people to go to theatre.  ... I refused a sleigh ride to-day on account of my cold - was sorry to do so. The snow is not so deep here as I expected it to be - but - still there is good sleighing, and no vehicles but sleighs to be seen. These are of all shapes and sizes - and some look very funny bobbing along. 

Montreal, Jan 1, 1895 A Happy New Year to you all.  Sleighs are gliding along to the music of their bells and the people seem to be enjoying themselves. 

New York, Oct. 21, 1887  Did I tell you that I went to visit Miss Ellie Wilton at Whitestone, L[ong] I[sland]  Went Sunday 10 AM.  Met Maud [Harrison] at Ferry.  Had a very nice time -- nice drives and returned Monday.  Miss Wilton's residence is beautifully situated on the banks of the L.I. Sound. In the bathing season Miss Wilton puts on her bathing dress in the house and goes down the lawn and a short staircase, on to the beach and then into the water. The distance from the house to the water is scarcely as long as the paddock was between "Mountain Spring Villa" and the road. Must be delightful in hot weather.  All the large Sound boats pass the place. 

Salt Lake City, Sept. 28, 1888  Today have been to the Lake by special train.  Have had a very pleasant time.  Mr. Palmer, [James H] Stoddart, [EM]  Holland , [Clarence] Handysides, Mr. & Mrs. [Louis F] Massen, Mr. & Mrs. [Eugene W] Presbrey, Mrs. [Frederic] Robinson, Miss [Virginia] Buchanan.  Misses [Clara] Lipman & the two [Gertie (8 yrs old) and her mother?] Homans, Miss [May] Brookyn, [Jessie] Millward, [Harry] Woodruff, [Alessandro] Salvini, [AC] Hillsdorf & self of the [Madison Square] Company and several ladies and gentlemen of the City.  All went in to bathe, excepting Mr. Stoddart, Mrs. Robinson & self.  We had lunch and I have just returned.  The lake was lovely. The bathing accommodations are much improved since I was there four years ago. 

San Francisco, July 10, 1890 [Hattie writes that she] feels all right [after a miscarriage], but the doctor told her not to go in bathing for two weeks for fear of catching cold.  That will seem a long time for her, for she is so fond of sea bathing. 

Amateur theatrics
Albert  frequently acted in Middletown amateur productions. 

Middletown amateur theatrics
Natalie Weygant, George Iseman, Bertha Cheeseborough, Albert E. Nickinson 
Mrs. Cheeseborough had been Albert's first landlady in Middletown.

Various Dolmans have been (and are) active in the Swarthmore Players Club, Swarthmore PA.  Add information about recent renovations and plaques.  

New York,  Mar. 12,1886  Tonight [Hattie] is going with Mrs. Dr Nagle to hear the Cowboy Pianist who is now making a sensation with his wonderful musical abilities. 

New York,  Mar. 29, 1886  George Riddle sent me tickets for his course of readings, the 1st on Saturday night at Chickering Hall.  Hattie went and took Mrs. Kirby.  A Midsummer Nights Dream was the subject, with [Walter] Damrosch's orchestra playing the music.  

Chickering Hall Concert hall was at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 18h Street.  [Kings NYC]

Walter Damrosch (1832-1950) succeeded his father Dr. Leonard D. Damrosch (after his father's death) as director of the Oratoria and Symphony Societies and became assistant director of the Opera.

Several Madison Square Theatre programs list music (under the direction of Frank A. Howson) and credit Mason & Harris organs and a Weber piano.   scan in some piano ads.

Salt Lake City, Sept. 14, 1886  Went this morning by invitation of the Mormons to hear the big organ in the Tabernacle.  It is fine! 

Gilbert & Sullivan's Gondoliers 1890

New York, Nov. 2, 1890 I told Aunty about the Opera business and she said you did quite right not to have anything to do with it.  The Opera itself is a very trashy affair.   What is this about?

Salt Lake City, Sept. 22, 1896 Glad you had such a nice trip on the Republic and that my grandson enjoyed it.  Also that he sings "Annie Rooney" in the same style I do -- words and music to suit ourselves.  I heard it so often at DeYoungs that I cannot get the air out of my head - all other airs come instead of it - yet all to the words of little Annie Rooney.  I told Maud [ Harrison] in the dressing room the other night that if I was annoying her just to mention it, for I was not conscious of the noise I made, and if she asked me to stop I would remember it. 

New York, Jan 24, 1892 I had a ticket for the [Adelina] Patti concert last Wednesday afternoon, but Mrs. [Agnes] Booth was taken ill and Miss [Ada] Dyas was sent for to play Mrs. Ralston [in Jim the Penman] - the consequence was that the rehearsal was called at 2:30 PM and it was nearly 5 when I got through. 

Adelina Patti (1843-1919) Spanish singer, who sang at  the May 1892 Actors Fund Fair (along with "other distinguished soloists, a chorus of 1,000 volunteers and a grand orchestra, to three of the largest audiences [7000 the first night and 12,000 at the last matinee.] ever assembled at concerts.  As the price of seats was set at popular figures the audiences were composed for the most part of people who had never heard Patti sing and on each occasion the enthusiasm rose almost to the point of hysteria." She sang the Jewel Song from Faust , the Gounod Ave Maria Home Sweet Home and Comin' Thro' the Rye.    [Kings NYC and Odell]  Made NY debut in 1859. 

Volunteer fire department
This seems to have been a popular social organization, as well as useful. EJ Phillips was concerned about the expense however.

San Francisco, Aug.  9, 1886 How can you afford to join the Volunteer Fire Co?  When you are yet so deeply in debt?  Your loss of time is running to fires will cost you a great deal more than the $40. 

Albert Nickinson in his Middletown Fire Department uniform

San Francisco, Aug. 10, 1883  The Knights Templar are congregating -- and by next week the city will be full -- 5000 are expected with their wives and daughters. 

The Knights Templar are part of the York Rite Masons.  John Nickinson was a Mason.  See the letters of April 19, May 5 and May 12, 1893. 

Troy, NY, April 19, 1893  Monday May 1st Phila for one week.  I will then ransack my trunks for your [Masonic] apron.  I think I have it still.  I offered it to you when you were leaving me to go to M[iddle]'town but you said it would not be of any use to you. I am glad you have changed your mind, and hope you will be a good and faithful servant to the noble and time honored Fraternity -- even if you did not tell your Mother anything about it.

Phila Pa May 5th 1893  This morning John [Dolman] did up the [Masonic] apron and took it down to post office.  Hope you will get it tomorrow.  I do not suppose it will be of any use to you as it is soiled from old age but you now know its use and value, and it will be a keepsake.  The rosettes also belonged to the regalia, but your father got a new one and used the other part of the old one for something, I retaining the rosettes. 

Pittsburg, Pa, May 12, 1893  Your father was a mason many, many years before I met him.  Where he first joined the order I cannot tell you.  It may have been before he came to the U.S., which was in 1836.  He used to attend lodges wherever he happened to be.  Was a Arch Mason & Knight Templar.  I dare say he told me when & where he joined the order, for we often talked about the funny devices of the curious to find out the "secrets" but so many years have passed that I cannot recall it.  I think though it was in Quebec he was initiated.  And that would be about the time I was born.  He was an Orangeman also, but never paid much attention to it, as far as I know. The apron I sent you is not the original one I think, by a good many, but it is some years older than you are and has been worn by your father.   Practically it cannot be of value to you, only as a memento. 

Orangeman Members of the Loyal Grange Institution, an Irish society in the province of Ulster.  Established in 1795 to maintain Protestant ascendancy.   

John Dolman's Masonic funeral in Philadelphia, July 1895 is described in a letter written from New York the next day. When the Masons stepped forward and went through their lovely services -- throwing a scroll of parchment and an apron and some evergreens into the grave and bidding farewell to their "departed brother" it was a solemn scene, and I wished you had been there.  We hoped for you until about 9 AM, but while I hoped, I was not disappointed, for I did not think you would be able to get away.

Last updated May 15, 2005

Homepage   Bibliography   People   Places    Plays      Site Map