Sunday, March 6, 2011

A beer-jerker at the famous Melodeon

Part of the fun in doing these write-ups is the odd bits-and-pieces of history that I stumble across while looking for something else altogether.

A case in point:

H. Barttele, accused of using insulting and abusive language to Mrs. Hyre, a beer-jerker at the famous Melodeon, (a friend at our elbow suggests "infamous," but we are opposed to calling hard names) was discharged, and the case dismissed without costs. [Galveston Daily News, November 15, 1868]

Some things never change, do they?

I did a little further research into the Melodeon, but I honestly didn't expect to find much about the saloon. To my surprise, I found that maybe the bar deserved its disreputable reputation.

It seems that earlier that year, on January 21, 1868, young Mr. James Day had committed suicide by taking morphine. Day, aged 18, was a native of Canada, and a clown and female impersonator [!!] with the Haight & Chambers' Circus. At the time of his death he was employed by the Melodeon Concert Hall in Galveston.

In March of that year it was reported that the circus stock of Haight & Chambers’ Palace Show and Menagerie was sold off by order of the Houston court. All the saddles, harness, tents, assorted livestock, and even the trick horse "Stonewall" (which brought $250) were auctioned off. All told the stock brought just over $2,400.

I have read that Galveston was used as winter quarters for travelling circuses. It could be that this circus was wintering in Houston, and ran out of funds. If anyone knows about this subject, drop me a line.

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