Part Two of History of Cincinnati Music: Puttin’ On the Ritz – Southwest Ohio Show People

Dunbar,_Paul_Laurence_Advertising  oneillll

Last month, David Lewis and I presented  History of Cincinnati Music: Puttin’ On the Ritz – Southwest Ohio Show People

at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

The original plan was for me to present information on three figures: Powhatan Beaty, James O’Neill and Paul Laurence Dunbar. That plan had to be amended due to limited time and I focused on Powhatan Beaty and Henry Boyd, to whom Beaty was apprenticed early in his life.

David gave fantastic presentations on Charles Urban, Arthur V. Johnson, Theda Bara and Harry Richman.


This month, on Saturday, we will be presenting Part Two. I will be presenting the information on James O’Neill and Paul Laurence Dunbar that I had to reserve earlier, while David will tell us all about Burton L. King, Ted Lewis and Harry Reser.

Here is his radio piece on King:

 A commentary about Burton L. King, Cincinnati native and silent film director 

buildingpic copy

And here is his recent radio interview with Joseph Rubin, curator of the Ted Lewis Museum in Circleville:

Learn About Ohio-Born Jazz Musician Ted Lewis

And here is the event page for part two of this talk:

History of Cincinnati Music – Puttin’ on the Ritz Part II: More Cincinnati Show People

I think it was David who wrote this description of it:

“A continuation of Rebecca Forste and Uncle Dave Lewis’s series of historical sketches of Cincinnati figures in entertainment. On this program, Rebecca will present on 19th century actor James “Count of Monte Cristo” O’Neill, father to playwright Eugene and, for the first time, tell the untold story of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar’s connection to mainstream, Broadway entertainment. Uncle Dave will narrate, in summary fashion, the careers of Harry Houdini’s film director Burton L. King, and musicians Ted Lewis and Harry Reser.

Program will be held in the Reading Garden Lounge located on the first floor of Main Library’s south building.”


So, here is some of what I presented last time on Powhatan Beaty:

“The three (Beaty, O’Neill and Dunbar) were contemporaries, but Powhatan Beaty was born first, in Richmond, Virginia on October 8, 1837. pbeattydeath Most sources state that Beaty’s parents are unknown, but I have located a copy of his death certificate which lists his mother as A. Leigh. We know that Beaty named his first-born son Albert Lee Beaty. Also, the 1900 census shows a sister named Ellen Lee and a niece named Carrie Lee living in his household. These facts provide more evidence for Leigh/Lee as a family surname.


Beaty was born a slave and is believed to have come to Ohio in 1849 at around the age of 12. It is not known exactly when or how he was freed. He was listed as free in the first record I found of him: the 1860 federal census, where he is found living in the household of furniture maker Henry Boyd on June 18 in the thirteenth ward of Cincinnati.

4282520_00059 - Edited

beat boyd - Edited

It is thought that Beaty was apprenticed to Boyd, who had been a slave in Kentucky before coming to Cincinnati, where he became a prominent furniture maker known especially for his beds. The bed shown here is at the Golden Lamb in Lebanon. Boyd employed both black and white workers. He  is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery. Beaty’s occupation in early records is usually given as turner or sawyer, both woodworking jobs.


Beaty is believed to have received schooling before this apprenticeship. He showed promise as a scholar and actor and is known to have studied with actor James E. Murdoch, who moved to the Cincinnati area around 1850.  


In 1862, Beaty served in the Black Brigade formed to help protect Cincinnati from attack and in 1863 he enlisted as a private in the Union Army at Camp Delaware, Ohio. He was promoted to sergeant two days later. Beaty was awarded a medal of honor for his actions at the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, where “took command of his company, all the officers having been killed or wounded, and gallantly led it.”


As impressive as Beaty’s military career was, we are more interested in, for the purposes of this presentation, his stage career. ”  –To be continued….

pbold - Edited

Please come down to the main library in Cincinnati on Saturday, August 29 at 3 PM to hear more!! Looking forward to seeing you there!!

“Dialogue with Cassandra” in Form Quarterly


My sonnet, “Dialogue with Cassandra,” appears in the first issue of Form Quarterly. 

The publishers say this about the issue:

“Featuring sonnets from a number of wonderful contributors and with an amazing foreword by Mindy Kronenberg, this issue offers a glimpse at the beauty of the 21st century sonnet. With details outlining the various different forms of the sonnet with instructions on how to write them yourself, this issue stand as both an educational tool and a showcase of the brilliance of contemporary form poetry.”

Form Quarterly, Issue One


History of Cincinnati Music: Puttin’ On the Ritz – Southwest Ohio Show People


Saturday, July 25

 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

 Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

800 Vine St, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

Dunbar,_Paul_Laurence_Advertising  pb james-oneill-circa-1896-photo-bw-resized

“Cincinnati has contributed a multitude of major talent to show biz, stretching back into the nineteenth century. Through thumbnail sketches, audio and video clips, Rebecca Forste and Uncle Dave Lewis will present summary profiles of seven key players in mainstream entertainment from 1870-1930: Powhatan Beaty, James O’Neill, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Charles Urban, Arthur V. Johnson, Theda Bara and Harry Richman. The one thing these key historic figures in entertainment have in common is that they all called Southwestern Ohio home. ” Text by David Neal Lewis


This going to be great! Hope you can be there!

History of Cincinnati Music: Midwestern Hayrides – The Sons of the Hayloft Gang

When we think of historic live country music and entertainment in the mass media, what immediately comes to mind is the National Barn Dance at WLS in Chicago, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and, in a later context, the syndicated television program “Hee Haw.” But from the 1930s to the 1960s there were dozens of broadcasts of this kind across the nation, with a heavy concentration of them in states bordering the Ohio River: Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Among them was WLW’s “Midwestern Hayride,” the Renfro Valley Barn Dance in Kentucky, and the WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling, West Virginia. Uncle Dave Lewis will provide a broad, regional survey of these types of programs in addition to the local history and will include some short thumbnail sketches devoted to artists involved in these programs.

The_Daily_Courier_Fri__May_24__1946_ (1)   Wilmington_News_Journal_Tue__Jan_11__1938_

Program will be held in the Reading Garden Lounge located near the lobby on the first floor of Main Library’s south building.

Midwestern Hayride hay

The_Piqua_Daily_Call_Mon__Feb_13__1939_ (1) Wilmington_News_Journal_Mon__Jul_31__1939_ Freeport_Journal_Standard_Sat__Feb_18__1933_

Saturday, June 27, 2015

 3:00pm – 5:00pm



Found at Last: The Orloff Trio

Originally posted on Uncle Dave Lewis:

The Orlaff Trio played on this side and three other Rainbows, but were never credited on the label. Author's collection, The Orloff Trio played on this side and three other Rainbows, but were never credited on the label. Author’s collection.

It has been more than ten years since I went through the Rainbow Records catalogs of the 1920s, looking for a way to reconcile the confusing number series that Homer Rodeheaver employed, a mystery to that time that no one seemed able to unravel. One important clue to the answer was the listed accompaniments; Rainbow catalogs were quite careful in connoting the specific kinds of accompaniments on records, if not the people playing them. In the 7 or 800 Rainbow records that I have handled since that project, I found only one instance where the catalog listings were in error in regard to accompaniment. I deduced that if the accompaniment had changed, then the record had been remade, and this has helped to open the door to understanding the Rainbow…

View original 1,377 more words