And now a LADY

LILLIAN “Nell” S. DURHAM

September 6, 1874 – October 16, 1950

Lillian Durham

Miss Durham was a singer and comedic actress of early burlesque and vaudeville. She was married three times, known as “Nell” to family and friends and as Lillian Durham on stage. “Nell” was the youngest of four children and the only daughter of Silas and Prudence Serenia (Tallman) Durham. She was born September 6, 1874 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, her mother Prudence was my 3rd cousin 2X removed. Just three when her father died in 1877, she and her brothers were raised by their mother who didn’t remarry again until 1892. Lillian was a talented vocalist from an early age, by her ability to sing clearly and with no apparent effort she could reach “G” above high “C.” While still just a teenager she dreamt of a career in vaudeville as an operatic soprano and actress. At just 16 in 1890, she met vaudevillian comedic actor Frederick “Fred” James Green and they married. Together they started their own production company the “Lillian Durham Co.”, one of their productions from 1895 was “Jeremiah”. A son, Fred Jr., was born 7 May 1897 while performing in Nashville; their marriage however would end with divorce in 1905.

Her reputation suffered a blow in April 1909, when she was arrested in Philadelphia for allegedly threatening attempts of blackmailing wealthy oilman William Annear. Mrs. Lillian Green, better known as Miss Lillian Durham, an actress, was held under $2,000 bail by Magistrate Harris. Mr. Annear was also held under $1,000 bail by Magistrate Boyle. In her defense, Mrs. Green appeared in answer to proceedings brought by Annear, after she had sued him for $50,000 damages for assault and battery and breach of promise of marriage.

Having taken up residence in Philadelphia, with her career suffering a downturn, she met June Stone, they would marry in January 1910 in Clark County, Indiana. They took up residence in Louisville, KY where June was the Traveling Passenger Agent for the Louisville-Nashville Railroad. June was the son of Henry Lane Stone, a member of the Kentucky State Legislature; General Council for the Louisville-Nashville Railroad; and author of “Morgan’s Men” – A Narrative of Personal Experience’s. By 1912 they moved to Los Angeles with June starting a law practice and they were writing one-act plays. He became ill September of 1913 and returned to Louisville where he died the 22nd of Bright’s disease (kidney failure).

She would finally marry George Knight in California, at the time of her passing she lived in San Francisco. She was interred in Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, San Mateo County, CA. She leaves her only son Fred J. Green, of the United Press International and four grandsons.

The following is a glimpse into “Nell’s” career path. Her early days were spent in trying to make a success of her own Company she’d started with Fred Green. However, by 1896 and beyond she would take work with several vaudeville companies of the day. First with Ferguson & Emerick in 1896; the Holden Comedy Co in 1899; The Murray & Mack Company; Webber & Fields from 1901-1904 in “Hoity Toity” as an understudy of Lillian Russel. It played at the Weber & Fields Music Hall, NYC. Weber & Fields are credited with the first burlesque theater in 1896. Briefly she was with the Charles Horwitz Co. at the Harlem Opera House and the Peters & Green Co.

She appeared with such other noted vaudevillians as W. C. Fields, Lillian Russel, Eddie Cantor, Fay Templeton, Max Bloom, Clara Howard, Harry West, and Sam Howe. Her most noted shows were the long runs of “Hoity Toity”, “The Sunny Side of Broadway” that started in 1908 again with Murray & Mack and the McSorley Twins. I believe her last Broadway appearance was but, as one of a couple of dozen Ziegfeld Glorified Girls in “Whoopee” starring Eddie Cantor with Buddy Epson in a small role. “Whoopee” based on “The Nervous Wreck” by Owen Davis ran from December 4, 1928 through November 23, 1929 (407 performances). For the first time Lillian was billed as Lillian Knight.

Lillian from The Rock Island Argus 11-27-1909

 

THE BEMUS POINT – STOW FERRY

Ferry Wayside MarkerThe ferry’s located at the “Narrows”, a crossing of 968 feet between Bemus Point, New York on the eastern side of Chautauqua Lake to Stow on the western side. Started in 1811 by Thomas Bemus an early pioneer of the County whose father had property on both sides of the Lake. It was the only way to cross the lake until the fall of 1982 when the bridge on I-86 opened to traffic.

When large steamers started operating on the lake in the 1860’s it created numerous problems for the ferry. A steel cable was installed in 1887, replacing ropes, thus being harder to break but expensive to repair. Ferry & Steamer from 30's or 40'sIn 1901 the Lakes Navigation Commission issued a requirement that steamboats sound their whistle as they approached the narrows. This gave the Ferry time to reach the shore, and allowed the drive cable to sink to the bottom and the boat passed through without incident. The last steamboat the “City of Jamestown” ceased operation at the end of 1958. In 1960 the State of New York took over control of all inland lakes.

There were numerous operators until May 3rd, 1886 when Albertus Rappoe’s Charter expired.  William Wallace Ball, Jothan Bemus & W. H. Urmson obtained a new Charter and took over the operation.  In 1887 a man named “Mep” Mason built a new ferry which operated by a steel cable, pulleys and hand crank.  When William died in 1898 the operation became a Company enterprise with Alton Wells Ball as President. Alton W Ball & Nora A Tallman (2)Alton married my first cousin twice removed, Nora A. Tallman on 18 June 1892 in the Ashville Methodist-Episcopalian Church by Rev. J. P. Burrows. Alton and Nora both came from early pioneer families to the County. Nora once was interviewed by Floyd L. Darrow for his book on the History of North Harmony about the Tallman’s. She was 10 when her Grandfather John James died in 1883 and retold the story he passed on to her of the family move in 1848 from Chestnut Ridge in Dutchess County to their new farm in what was then the Town of Harmony. John “traveled with his children by wagon pulled by oxen, camping along the way.” His wife Sally stayed with her family until John was settled on the new farm.

Manual operation of the ferry ended in May of 1902, when, Alton and his brother Ralph installed a naphtha fired steam engine. Then in 1908 it was again changed this time to a single cylinder gas engine. Alton W BallAlton was also known as a boat builder and may have been involved with building some of the steamships. The winter of 1915 he built a new ferry that began service April 1st, 1916 with a capacity to carry 6 automobiles and now using a four cylinder engine. The family business was incorporated in 1921 as the “Bemus Point to Stow Ferry.” 1924 saw another growth of the business with two ferries operating simultaneously from both sides of the Lake passing in the middle. Alton bought out the business in 1925 becoming the sole owner and built what would become the last ferry in 1928. Alton and Nora had two sons Gerald Alton in 1898 and Earl Cecil in 1901. Both, as youths helped out with the operation. Gerald entered the Army Tank Corps in October 1918 and was discharged December 1st from Camp Dix (1). Gerald went to work for Curtiss Aeroplane in Buffalo before entering the service and again upon discharge. When Curtiss closed he moved to Detroit there he married Adeline Stella Barnes in 1922. Prior to 1930 however, he returned home and re-entered the family Ferry business. Earl became an accomplished mechanic, in 1926 he married his cousin Gladys Ball and permanently moved to Los Angeles (2). On an average day, 80 trips would be made and 350 motor vehicles would be transported, at a fare of 30 cents for an automobile and 10 cents for each passenger.

With Alton’s sudden death at the start of the “42” season Gerald took over and promised to run it for at least that season. In 1943 the ferry was sunk at Stow, Gerald said he didn’t know what happened, but most people thought he sunk it so he could leave and go to Erie, Pa., for a good-paying wartime job, which he did. Nora would begin a routine of spending winters with Earl in Los Angeles and return to Stow in the spring. Alton and Nora are buried in Magnolia Cemetery, North Harmony, New York alongside several of their Ball and Tallman ancestors.

With the end of the of the 1942 season the Ball family would leave a lasting Chautauqua Lake legacy of being its longest operators. 1944 the County acquired and operated it until the I-86 Bridge opened. Today, it’s operated seasonally by a non-profit organization running as a tourist attraction. It remains as one of the last cable drawn Ferry’s in America.

NOTES:

(1) World War I had ended, Gerald was discharged on demobilization of US Troops.

(2) Alton had two brothers (Frank & Ralph) living in the Los Angeles area and another in Oregon which may have been part of Earl’s lure there. After Alton’s death Nora would spend many winters with Earl and his family in Los Angeles and summers at Stow until her passing in 1959.

REFERENCES:

“A Ferry Tale” by Art Thomas published 2011 by the Town of North Harmony.

Sea Lion Project Limited, the current operators of the Ferry.

Byron M. Talman in the 22nd New York Cavalry

Byron M. Talman in the 22nd New York Cavalry

by Anne van Leeuwen, descendant, Colorado

with editing by Jon Tallman, distant cousin

This article is about Perinton, New York’s Byron Talman (1838-1909); the 22nd NY and the capture of Confederate raider Major Harry Gilmor.

The 22nd NY Cavalry existed during the last eighteen months of the Civil War, when fighting closed on the Confederate capital in Virginia. Much of this time, the 22nd NY Cavalry regiment was assigned to the 3rd Division of the Cavalry Corps. The 3rd Division was commanded by General George Armstrong Custer, who had established a reputation at Gettysburg. The Cavalry Corps was under the overall command of General Philip Sheridan, whose battle experience included Stones River, Chattanooga, and Chickamauga.

The 22nd participated in two great campaigns — the Overland Campaign and the (Shenandoah) Valley Campaign. During the Overland Campaign, Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps was attached to Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Potomac as it progressed southward toward the Confederate capital, fighting battles at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. When battle lines became entrenched at Richmond and Petersburg, Grant made Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps into the autonomous Army of the Shenandoah. Their mission was to halt Confederate military operations in western Virginia and to eliminate the threat of attack on Washington. The Valley Campaign fought battles at Opequon or (Third Winchester), Cedar Creek, and Waynesboro. All of these battles, from the Wilderness to Waynesboro, are considered major battles, critical to the war’s outcome. The valley being rich fertile farmland serving as the breadbasket to Confederate troops (6). The 22nd fought them all within a six month period and suffered high casualties. 22nd casualties included 3 officers and 22 men killed, or died of wounds; 1 officer and 178 men died of disease, accidents and all other causes; total, 204. Of this number, 87 men died in Confederate prisons (6). The regiment especially distinguished itself at Kearneysville, Dinwiddle Court House and White Oak swamp.

The legacy of the 22nd or Rochester Cavalry and the Cavalry Corps is significant. When the war began, the Union Army had no effective cavalry. In contrast, the Confederacy had the illustrious cavalryman Maj. General J.E.B. Stuart. By the end of the campaigns, Stuart had been removed and the reputations of Custer and Sheridan established. In his farewell address to the division, Custer said, “In the past six months, although confronted by superior numbers,… you have never lost a gun, never lost a color, and have never been defeated.”

At Perinton on 12 October 1863, Talman was among the first to enlist in Company A of the 22nd NY Cavalry. He was elected (6) their First Sergeant, as more men volunteered, Companies B through M were formed. Talman was 25, had a wife (1), and had already sailed the Atlantic and Mediterranean. His father was an abolitionist who had campaigned for Lincoln in Perinton and Rochester. Talman served as First Sergeant through the Overland Campaign. For the Shenandoah Campaign, he was commissioned 18 Aug 1864 to second lieutenant in Company H. Later, he would command Company M as a Brevet (6) Captain and would frequently be in command of the battalion or regiment. He was mustered out 1 Aug 1865 officially as a second lieutenant.

Byron Talman CalvaryByron Talman, a cavalry officer in the field (ca. 1864)

Talman received a gunshot wound to his left arm at Opequon (Winchester). There are several accounts. General Custer reported, “The enemy upon our approach delivered a well-directed volley of musketry, but before a second discharge could be given my command was in their midst, sabering right and left.” Talman’s brother, a journalist and historian, wrote, “he was shot in the left arm while leading a charge, but fought on until, faint from loss of blood, his colonel forced him to the rear.” In his promotion to Brevet Captain and the command of Company M, the Army record cited his “gallant and meritorious services at the Battle of Winchester, Va.” A report dated March 16, 1865 from George Sperry, Assistant Regimental Quarter Master, 22nd NY Cavalry stated in an assault near Rock Fish Gap that “four of the nine battle flags were captured” and lists Lt. Talman among many others being present.

Major Harry Gilmor was a Confederate raider who destroyed railroad bridges near Washington in Maryland and West Virginia. As the Confederacy grew desperate, Gilmor terrorized civilians and burned the town of Chambersburg, Penn, under orders from General John McCausland (6) nearly to the ground.

Gilmor’s Capture, recorded from another regimental history of that time, told that, Sheridan had scouts “Jessie Scouts.(2) Union soldiers who had been selected for their courage and fitness for this dangerous work. They tracked Gilmor, and on 4 Feb 1865, they found him in bed, sound asleep, his revolver on a chair nearby. Gilmor was imprisoned for the remainder of the war. (Military records indicate the 22nd Cav were at Moorefield, WV Feb 4-6.)

Byron Talman’s role in Gilmor’s capture is unclear, as the story was not told during his life, but it is consistent with the known facts.

  • Was Talman ever a scout for Sheridan? (Probably(6)) In the Monroe County Mail (3 4) dated 13 Feb 1919, Talman’s brother wrote, “In the Battle of the Wilderness, Byron led a squad of troopers detailed to carry dispatches between Gen. Grant and his corps commanders who included Sheridan and half the time was inside the Confederate lines.” This is consistent with deployment of the regiment at the Wilderness.
  • Was Talman serving as Sheridan’s scout in February 1865? (Probably(6)) The Army record indicates that he was present but unattached to a command from January through March 1865.
  • Was Talman involved with Gilmor’s capture? (Doubtful, “Jessie’s Scouts” were all handpicked men working mostly in enemy territory(6)) In the Monroe County Mail (3 4) dated 15 Nov 1909, Talman’s brother writes, “he was the captor of Major Harry Gilmor, the famous Baltimore officer, whom he chased for three days and nights. (5)

(1) Probably unbeknownst to Byron, his wife Elizabeth was already pregnant with their first child.

(2) From Wikipedia: created by John C. Fremont as irregular troops operating in the south dressed as Confederate wearing a white handkerchief over their shoulders and commanded by Maj. Henry Young.

(3) Byron’s younger brother John Talman Jr. held a career in the newspaper industry from the 1870’s thru 1908. In 1909 he went to work for the Minnesota Historical Society; even then he contributed numerous articles on many subjects in both newspapers and magazines. In studying a number of his articles it may be noted he often embellished them.

(4) In 1866 Col. Harry Gilmor wrote “Four Years in the Saddle” published by the Harper Bros. and on pages 173-4 he describes Union Major Harry Young along with four men as his captors. Additionally, he went on to describe that they were dressed as Confederates. That upon leaving there were an additional 200 Union Cavalry drawn up across the river. “The 22nd Pennsylvania Cavalry and Ringgold Battalion” by S. C. Farr 1911 pages 448-9 tells a similar version. This unit served in the Shenandoah and many of its soldiers were from Chambersburg, which was burned 30 July 1864.

(5) John’s account of “he was the captor” mocks Gilmor, who was an exceptional braggart, boasting in the newspapers and defying his pursuers.

(6) Editors comments, additions, corrections.

 

Byron Talman SittingByron Talman

After the war, Talman and his wife Elizabeth Thompson first moved to Minnesota before moving on to Iowa and the quiet life as a farmer. They would become the parents of eight children, 4 sons and 4 daughters. Byron and was buried in Williams Cemetery 1909 near his grandchildren in Williams, Iowa. Tragically, an 1896 tuberculosis epidemic took the lives of three of his grandchildren (by daughter Ida May) — except my grandfather Frank.