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Return to the Wallace Family Table of Contents | The Durang Family

Durang Family Members on the New York Stage

The following excerpts have been collected by John Bookless, and are presented here with his kind permission.

They are mostly extracted from

  • Ireland, Joseph N., Records of the New York Stage, 1750-1860, Volume I. New York: Benjamin Bloom, 1866.
  • Odell, George C., Annals of the New York Stage, Volumes III and IV. New York: Columbia University Press, 1928.

It is important for the reader to remember that these are transcribed notes taken during his research, presented here in the hope that they may prove useful to others.

Julia and Charlotte Durang

Mrs. Godey - Maiden name, Juliet Catharine Durang. Was born in Baltimore, Md., in 1805, and made her debut as a danseuse, at the Chestnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia. First appeared in New York, January 7, 1822, at the Park Theatre. Made her debut as an actress, December 26, 1831, at the Chestnut, Philadelphia, as Rose, in "Is He Jealous?". Died in Philadelphia in 1849. [History of the American Stage. T. Allston Brown. Benjamin Blom, New York/London 1870.]

The New Park Theater

On the 7th of January, 1822, the Misses Durang, from Philadelphia Theatre, made their first appearance in New York in a Pas de Deux. They were young and graceful, and their dancing gave great satisfaction.

Miss Charlotte Durang died at Philadelphia in 1824, at the age of 21. Miss Juliet Durang (subsequently Mrs. Godey and Mrs. Wallace) became a pleasing representative of boys and chambermaids, and also died at Philadelphia, February 15, 1849, aged 44 years. They were the daughters of John Durang, formerly of the John Street Theatre. [Ireland, Chap. 28, p. 397]

Perhaps the managers relied more than we realize on adventitious help; limpet-like adjuncts to plays, in song and dance, flourished through part of this season (1821-1822). On January 7th, between drama and farce, Charlotte and Juliet Durang, of Philadelphia, graceful girls of eighteen and sixteen, respectively, made their appearance - the first, according to American advertisement - at the Park as solo dancers. The woods were full of Durangs, brothers and sisters; John Durang, the dancer at the John Street Theatre in the '90's, was no less fruitful in gifted offspring than was his successor, Alexandre Placide. In the nine years we are now to traverse the Durangs and Placides will beset our path with bewildering frequency. The Misses Durang danced regularly at the Park for the remainder of the season; they also played small parts in regular drama. Shortly after their debut - on January 14th, and subsequently - they appeared as Red Riding Hood and Lubin, in the ballet of Little Red Riding Hood. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 1, p. 19]

Henry IV, Part II. The great event was the bringing out, on February 4th (1822), of a spectacular "Henry IV, Part II" with the elaborate coronation of Henry V. (excerpt from cast listing)
   Prince Thomas-------Miss J. Durang
   Prince Humphrey-----Miss C. Durang
[Odell, Book Six, Chap. 1, p. 20]

The four American productions so far chronicled were of a patriotic character; the next four, curiously enough, are far removed from things American. The first (on April 18th, 1822) was the "Rose of Arragon, or, St. Marks Vigil", a melodrama by S. B. H. Judah, whose "The Mountain Torrent" seemed, not so many seasons ago, one of the most unnatural plays we ever sat through...A sillier piece was never penned in America, or elsewhere; but as a native production, its first cast must be recorded, including the representatives of the Seasons in the interlude: (excerpt from cast listing)
   Spring----------Miss J. Durang
   Autumn----------Miss C. Durang
[Odell, Book Six, Chap.1, p. 25]

The Misses Durang still danced. [Odell,Book Six, Chap. 1, p.48]

On the 18th ((March, 1822)) a very pretty ballet, entitled "La Belle Peruvienne" was brought out, in which Messiers Labasse and Tatin made their first appearance in New York, thus: (extract from cast listing)
   Princess---Miss J. Durang
   Zuma-------Miss C. Durang
[Ireland, Chap. 28, p. 399]

On the 18th ((April, 1822)), The "Rose of Arragon" a melo-drama, by S. B. Judah, was produced, with decided success; its cast as follows: (extract from cast listing)
   Spring-----Miss J. Durang
   Autumn---Miss C. Durang
[Ireland, Chap. 28, p. 400]

On the 19th ((April, 1822)), Miss Johnson's benefit took place, when she presented, as an afterpiece, for the first time, the excellent little drama entitled the "Two Pages of Frederick The Great": (extract from cast listing)
   Caroline----Miss J. Durang
[Ireland, Chap. 28, p. 400]

May 3rd ((1822)) Mr. Cowell presented, for his benefit, an excellent cast for Colman's amusing prelude, the "Manager in Distress"...He also produced "La Chaperon Rouge" for the first time, cast as follows: (extract from cast list)
   Simplette-----Miss J. Durang
[Ireland, Chap. 28, p. 401]

Cowell had another benefit, on May 3rd (1822) when he presented the "Manager in Distress", ... Cowell also gave, for the first time, "Le Chaperon Rouge": (excerpt from cast listing)
   Simplette------Miss J. Durang
   Fairies---------Miss C. Durang, ...

Something of the splendor of the ballet must have been visible; in the play we see "the Fairy of Roses in her Car", and "a large tree opens and discovers a Nest of Cupids", Finally, "the Demon of Revenge flies across the stage, mounted upon a Dragon vomiting Fire". [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 1, p.26]

A far more lasting adaptation from the prolific Scott was D. Terry's musical drama of the "Antiquary", of which I shall spare the reader not the slightest detail of the cast, as seen here on May 17th (1822): (excerpt from cast listing)
   Patie-----Miss J. Durang
[Odell, Book Six, Chap. 1, p. 27]

The season ended with another Revolutionary drama, produced on July 4th (1822), and repeated on the 6th - the last night of the season. "The Battle of Lexington", by the flowery Judah, was reprinted in 1823 as "A Tale of Lexington". One admits, without reservation, that it is the most ridiculous thing conceivable...young Jocelynde de Valence is the offspring of Alianor and this same English scamp (Osbyn Ethelinde).
   Jocelynde-----Miss J. Durang
[Odell, Book Six, Chap.1, p. 29]

The City Theatre was closed on the 31st of August ((1822)), at which time the yellow fever was creating great alarm in the lower part of the city. [Ireland, Chap. 28, p. 405]

Season 1822-3. The Park Theatre

In the latter part of the month ((February 1823)), the Theatre was closed for a week, re-opening on the 3rd of March, with the performance of Moncrieff's famous burletta of flash, fun and fancy, entitled "Tom and Jerry, or Life in London", which proved to be an extraordinary success. We subjoin its entire cast, in which almost every performer made a professional hit: (extract from cast listing)
   Miss Lightfoot----Miss Durang
[Ireland, Chap. 29, p. 412]

On March 3rd (1823) was produced that in preparation for which the theatre had been ostensibly closed. Moncrieff's adaptation of Pierre Egan's popular work was produced, under the name of "Tom and Jerry, or, Life in London"...At any rate, Tom and Jerry started on a career of success that was to last many seasons. (excerpt from cast listing)
   Mrs.Lightfoot-----Miss J. Durang
   Pirouette-----------Miss C. Durang
[Odell, Book Six, Chap. 2, p. 59]

((From this date onward, the Miss Durang referred to is most certainly Julia Durang. The book, The Durang Family by Edwina Hare, stated regarding Charlotte - "In January of 1822 she was in several plays at the Park Theatre in New York...she made her last appearance on the stage in 1822, when she was seventeen years of age, and then returned to Philadelphia to die in the room in which her Father died (and) Charlotte early ceased with consumption of a painful and lingering illness." Charlotte Durang died on January 13, 1824 at South Street near 6th.)) ((According to Odell, Charlotte Durang appeared on the New York stage at least as late as March 3rd 1823 - see entry above.))

March 20th ((1823)). Performances were for the benefit of Samuel B. Judah, author of the "Rose of Arragon" and the "Tale of Lexington", when both pieces were presented. The latter was produced at the close of the previous season, but we have no record of its cast at that time, which probably varied only in the characters of Haversack and Bothell, from the one we now subjoin: (extract from cast listing)
   Joscelyn-----Miss Durang
[Ireland, Chap. 29, p. 413]

I go back to March 20th (1823) when, for the benefit of the author, were played Judah's "The Rose of Arragon" and that piece brought out on July 4th and 6th (1822) preceding, under the title of "The Battle of Lexington", and now re-christened "A Tale of Lexington", under which title it is printed. The new cast: (excerpt from cast listing)
   Jocelyn-----Miss Durang
Neither of these pieces will bother us again; Judah was a very poor playwright. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 2, p. 61]

Another novelty arrived on June 12th (1823) in the form of a long-enduring farce - "Simpson and Co.", by Poole...Juliet Durang (was) Mme. La Trappe. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 2, p. 65]

Pavilion Theaatre, Chatham Garden - 1823 On July 7th (1823), Durang enacted Vigil, in" Love Laughs at Locksmiths"...On the 14th, Mrs. Burke, after an absence of several years, returned as Isidora, in "Brother and Sister"; on the same evening she played Sophia in "The Rendezvous". Between the two pieces were a comic song by Hyatt and a pas seul by Durang. On July 30th, Durang and Mrs. Robertson presented a new ballet, "Henry and Annette, or, The Village in an Uproar". [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 2, p. 77] ((The "Durang" referred to here was probably Charles Durang.))

Even so, Simpson placated this royal band on October 6th (1823) by a special scenic revival of "The Tempest" - to be sure as diluted by Davenant, Dryden and John Kemble - but nevertheless, "The Tempest". The full cast, gathered from the bill of October 17th, the third night of the revival: (excerpt from cast listing)
   Hippolito-----Miss Durang
[Odell, Book Six, Chap. 1, p. 93]

Vauxhall - 1824. The summer gardens, so plentiful in 1823, seem to have dwindled considerably in the following season; probably the new glories of Chatham Garden caused those of other resorts to wither. Vauxhall, however, announced in the Post of May 1st (1824) that it was "now open". Theatricals were abandoned, and shady nooks, bright lights and occasional fireworks and balloon ascensions were depended upon to attract...the delights of the third figure sent up, on July 5th (Monday) were perhaps too exquisite to be thus graphically forecast. The figure was that of 'the heathen God Bacchus astride of a tun'. On that national holiday, fireworks in profusion were shot off, and the farces of "Animal Magnetism" and "Fortunes Frolic" were acted by...Durang...and Miss Durang. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 1, p. 116-117] ((The Durang individual mentioned above was probably Charles Durang, who began his New York stage career in early 1824.))

Salaries - 1825-1826. These were very hard-working actors, and for a meager pittance. The account book of the Lafayette Theatre is preserved in the Harvard Theatre Collection, and apprises us that during this busy season Francis P Burroughs (I thought his name was Watkins Burroughs) drew a weekly stipend of $50; F. R. Godey and his wife had $22 for the three weeks of July 15-29th - that is, a little over $7 a week. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 7, p. 220]

((The book, The Durang Family by Edwina Hare, states that Julia Durang married Francis R. Godey "about 1824". The death of her sister, Charlotte, in January 1824 and the marriage, possibly in the same year, may account, in part, for her absence from the New York stage for a period from mid-October 1823 until July 1824 and again from July 1824 until November 1825. The marriage to Francis R. Godey must have taken place after July 1824 because she was still listed as Miss Durang in the July 1824 production described above. ))

Lafayette Theatre 1825-1826. Mrs. Godey, formerly Juliet Durang, began to dance on November 14th (1825). [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 1, p. 213]

Mrs. Godey, on November 29th (1825) was Little Pickle ("The Sultan" ). "The Woodman's Hut", on December 1st (1825)...Mrs. Godey as Maria. And on the 9th (January 1826)...the cast of "The Sea Devil"...on February 11th (1826), Mrs. Godey was added as Winefred. In the show about this time were Kelly and D. and H. Eberle in songs, Mrs. Godey in dance...On February 6th (1826) (after a few nights closing), the house brought out another elaborate spectacle "El Hyda", with...Mrs. Godey as Harry Clifton. [Odell, Book Six. Chap. 7, p. 214]

February 23rd (1826) saw the production of a showy "Blue Beard", with...Mrs. Godey as Beda. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 7, p. 215]

Chatham Theatre - Lafayette Theatre - Mount Pitt Circus - Broadway Circus 1825-6-7

We turn now to the Lafayette Theatre, as the ex-Amphiteatre in Laurens Street was now called. Mr. Sandford having made other dispositions of his equestrian corps, confined his efforts here solely to the stage. It re-opened for the season on the 4th of July, 1826, with the farce of the "Three Hunchbacks" and (for the first time in America) the popular minor drama called the "Dumb Girl of Genoa". The latter was thus cast: (extract from cast listing)
   Julietta-----Mrs. Godey
To give a better idea of the capacity of the company, we transcribe the bill for the next evening, July 6th: "She Stoops To Conquer": (excerpt from cast listing)
   Pas Seul-----Mrs. Godey
[Ireland, Chap. 32, p. 499]

In the summer of 1826, the Broadway Circus, after its desertion by members of the Chatham Garden Company, was again occupied by Mr. Colwell, with his detachments of Stage and Ring performers. Mr. Young, formerly of the Park, here made his first appearance in eight years, with the support of Cowell, Gale, H. and W. Isherwood, Jones, Moreland, Mrs. Entwistle, Mrs. Moreland, Mrs. Godey, etc. [Ireland, Chap. 32, p. 503]

The Bowery Theatre 1826-1827. To the Mirror of October 28th (1826), likewise we are indebted for a list of the company, which, with the exception of old Mrs. Barrett, declared to be "the best in the country"...C. Durang...Godey... [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 7, p. 256]

Lafayette Theatre - 1826-1827. The first bill of the Lafayette (November 8th, 1826) ...plays were "The Dumb Girl of Genoa", and "The Three Hunchbacks"; the casts included: (excerpt from cast listing)....Mrs. Godey

Connected with the company at the opening were also the little Fishers - Oceana and Alexina - and H. and D. Eberle, as well as their sister Elizabeth. These last largely figured in songs and dances, as did Mrs. Godey (late Juliet Durang). Lucky the man; as I have before groaned, who can keep distinct the Durangs and the Eberles; the Placides remain individual by sheer force of their talents. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 7, p. 217]

Mrs. Godey appeared as Jacintha, in "Lovers' Quarrels", on the 2nd (December 1826) [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 7, p. 290]

When Villalave left the Lafayette in January (1827), the circus people transferred from Mount Pitt to Laurens Street; perhaps the East River sent in breezes too chill for seekers of the spangles and the motley. At all event, the Lafayette housed the Circus until Easter (April 16th), when it was apparently deemed prudent once more to open the Mount Pitt establishment. The performance at that time began with Parker, Mrs. Godey and Mrs. Coulon, in "Flora's Birthday". Richter, Tatnall. Whitaker, and others did the daring in the ring. Valentine and Orson ended the bill. Burroughs, who once was deemed worthy of the exclusive Park, was advertised for the 17th (April 1827) with Mrs. Godey, in his favorite thriller, "The Dumb Girl of Genoa".

Must our conscience lead us on? "Timour the Tartar" was played on April 26th (1827) by Laidley, Agib by Whitaker, Abdelac by Richards, and Bermeddin by Ray, with Mrs. Robertson as Zorilda, and Mrs. Godey as Liska. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 10, p. 290]

Park Theatre 1827-8 The company engaged for the new season at the Park included Messers...; Mesdames...Godey,... The establishment was re-occupied for the first time by a regular company, September 3rd, 1827. "Paul Pry" was performed... A ballet followed, entitled the "Highland Wedding" in which Mr. Parker and Mrs. Godey appeared,... [Ireland, Chap. 35, p. 535]

The hard-pressed Old Drury threw wide its welcoming doors on September 3rd, 1827, with "Paul Pry" cast as before, except that Placide was Colonel Hardy, and H. A. Williams Frank. The ballet of the "Highland Wedding" followed, with Parker and Mrs. Godey.

The Albion (newspaper) of September 1st (1827), after praising Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. Hacket, Mrs. Sharpe, Mrs. Wheatley and Placide as "performers of great merit" and "a nucleus about which it will not be difficult to create an excellent and complete company", proceeds to the difficulty of getting rid of "miserable retainers...who are hired for third or fourth rate parts"...

The exit of Bancker, Mrs. DeLuce and others may have gratified this stern critic; but he found ample room for discontent, I dare say, in the retention of Gilbert Nexen, John Porey, Wray, Wheatley (whose accomplished wife could not raise him out of a wretched mediocrity), Durie, Miss Brundage, Miss Bland, and Mrs. Godey. Of course the Albion ignored the fact that every stock establishment must employ many such nonentities, who usually play the tiniest parts, but whose long experience enables them to substitute, at a moments notice, in far more important roles, when intended impersonators are temporarily incapacitated. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 10, p. 298]

Nov. 12th (1827). The farce of "Bears not Beasts" was first played as follows; (extract from cast listing)
   Fatima----Mrs. Godey.
[Ireland, Chap. 35, p. 544]

Simpson provided on November 12th (1827), a new after-farce - "Bears not Beasts". The cast included...Mrs. Godey as Fatima. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 10, p. 306]

Nov. 23rd (1827). First night of "Peter Wilkins, or, the Flying Islanders", with...and Mrs. Godey, "Hallicarina". It did not prove as popular here as at the Bowery. [Ireland, Chap. 35, p. 544]

Jan 8th (1828). The romance of the "Sleeping Beauty" was first produced, and received much applause, with the following cast: (extract from cast listing)
   Edward----Mrs. Godey.
[Ireland, Chap 35, p. 544]

On May 23rd (1828), she (Clara Fisher) appeared as Victoire in "The Invincibles" ...Mrs. Godey Juliette [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 10, p. 321]

1827-28 - The Lafayette Theatre was entirely rebuilt this season, by Mr. Sandford, from the plans of Mr. Grain, and on its completion was acknowledged to be the largest and most splendid theatre in the Union. The front was of Eastern white granite, presenting a novel and beautiful appearance, and the interior was decorated in a style equally chaste and elegant. The boxes were supported by bronze columns, with Ionic capitals carved and gilded, and a superb glass chandelier hung from the center of the dome - the latter attracting universal admiration for the beauty and harmony of its proportions. The stage was one hundred and twenty feet deep, and, in part, one hundred feet wide, being larger than any then existing in England or America. It was considered a vast improvement that it was lighted from above, and that the stage machinery was also managed from that same elevated position. Mr. Burroughs was retained as stage manager, Mr. Godey was treasurer,... [Ireland, Chap 36, p. 578-9]

Broadway Theatre (also known as Broadway Circus) - 1828

The Broadway Circus, almost lost in the welter of amusements, was opened for a time in the summer of 1828...A new "aqua drama", "The Wizard of the Lake", "with real water", had, on August 20th (1828), Porter as the Wizard and Mrs. Godey as Grace. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 12, p. 371]

((Francis B. Wallace was born on January 10, 1829. If he was actually the son of Francis R. Godey and Julia Durang Godey, as we surmise as a possibility, the absence of Mrs. Godey from accounts of New York stage productions from August 20, 1828 until June 13, 1829 would provide a logical window of time for this event to take place. The 1830 Federal Census for New York City for the Francis R. Godey household lists the following: one male, age 30-39 (Francis R. Godey, born 1800); one female, age 20-29 (Julia Durang Godey, born 1805); one male, under 5 (Francis R. Godey-Wallace, born 10 January 1829??); one female, age 20-29 (this was very likely sister Mary Ann Durang, born 1808. According to Edwina Hare, Mary Ann did not marry. Both parents were deceased. Brother, Ferdinand, was appearing on the New York stage. Brother Charles, by this time, may have moved to Philadelphia. Brother, Augustus, had become a sailor. His date of death is uncertain. It would be logical for Mary Ann to be living in the household of her older sister.); one female, age 15-19 (no identification of this person - no record of a female of this age in any of the Durang siblings households - she could have been a servant girl); one female, age 5-9 (although there is no record to suggest that Francis and Julia Godey had a daughter, this could possibly have been their child. The marriage of Francis and Julia took place sometime after early July 1824. There is no mention of her making a return to the New York stage until 14 November 1825. This would have provided ample time to produce a child who would have been the appropriate age at the 1830 census. This, however, is purely speculation.))

1828-9 - The Park Theatre - June 13th (1829). The farce of "Gretna Green" was produced about this time, and created great amusement, with the following cast: (extract from cast list) - Emily----Mrs. Godey [Ireland, Chap. 37, p. 600]

The cast of London and Paris (Surrey Theatre and Royal Gardens, Vauxhall) gives some idea of the present numbers of the Park company. Posterity cherishes memories of the leaders of the force, but what of Collett, Povey, Parker, Durie, Wray, Bissett, James, Wheatley, Miss Williams, Mrs. Godey, whose names plaintively look out at us from bills of these spectacular shows, begging us to record that they, too, in their humble way, strove to make the performance a success? [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 12, p. 378]

The theatre (the New Bowery Theatre) soon after closed (last performance 24 June, 1829), and disappointed and chagrined at his want of success throughout the season, which, notwithstanding its powerful attractions, had overwhelmed him with losses, and harassed by claims of pressing creditors, Mr. Gilfert, the manager, sunk under his misfortunes, and was overtaken with a sudden death of the 30th of July, at the age of 42 years. [Ireland, Chap 37, p. 613]

((James S. Wallace was a member of Gilfert's Company, at Albany, N. Y. He married Miss Godey, a sprightly little actress, of the Old Park Theatre. - History of the American Stage - T. Allston Brown. Benjamin Blom. New York/London. 1870.))

The Park Regent - 1829-30 - The season was bad. If Ireland had studied the pages of the Mirror from which I will soon quote, he could not possibly have written that this season "was one of the most successful on record". [Odell, Book Six, Chap 13, p. 445]

November 2nd (1829) the difficult burlesque of" Midas"...and Mrs. Godey Nysa. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 13, p. 446]

January 21st (1930) approached the quarter-century mark; the twenty-fourth novelty - an operetta called "33 John Street' - moved into the Park, there to be housed for some time to come. The cast was of familiar material - Simpson as Sir John Crazy, Placide as Thomas Tompkins, Mrs. Sharpe as Lady Crazy, and Mrs. Godey as Eliza Smith. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 13, p. 453]

The Park Company at the Bowery - The first performance (January 26th 1830) consisted of" The Poor Gentleman" and "Tom and Jerry"; the combined casts included...and Mrs. Godey. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 10, p. 454]

Buckstone's comedy, called "Snakes in the Grass", was produced on the 26th (Jan. 1830) (February??) with great applause, and had a most successful run, but we believe was never played after this season. Its cast stood thus: (extract from cast listing) Cecelia----Mrs. Godey. [Ireland, Chap. 38, p. 626]

On February 26th (1830) Buckstone's "Snakes in the Grass" achieved success. The cast was as follows: (excerpt from cast listing) Cecilia...Mrs. Godey ... "Snakes in the Grass" was repeated several times;... [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 10, p. 455] (Note difference in date from Ireland)

The thirty-first new play of the year was (March 11th, 1830) Caroline Booden's farce, "William Thompson, or, Which is He?"...Mrs. Godey Miss Dormer. This was just the kind of farce people liked, especially with the comic perplexity of Barnes; let us therefore, not be surprised at its success. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 10, p. 456-7]

"William Thompson, or, Which Is He?", a farce by Caroline Bouden, was also played on the 11th (March, 1830), as follows: (extract from cast listing) Mrs. Dormer----Mrs. Godey. [Ireland, Chap. 38, p. 627]

The Park Theatre

A novelty was "Past and Present, or, Scenes of the Revolution" produced on September 7th (1830),...other parts were played by Thomas Placide, Foot, Wheatley, Hayden, Collett, Nexsen, Mrs. Wallack, Mrs. Godey, Mrs. Durie, and Mrs. Blake. In spite of pains, vicarious and precarious patriotism, timeliness and hope, neither of the French effusions survived to a third night. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 10, p. 485]

Rodwell's musical romance, called "Valmandi, or, the Tomb of Terrors", was produced on the 11th (October 1830), with new scenery and dresses, and with great success, thus cast: (extract from cast listing) Cristabel----Mrs. Godey. [Ireland, Chap. 39, p. 639]

On that night (October 11th, 1830) was triumphantly produced G. Rodwell's "Valmondi, or, Tomb of Terrors". The cast was huge: (excerpt from cast listing) Christabel-----Mrs. Godey. This thing be it remembered, was set forth on the classic stage of America - a stage that should have been devoted to Hamlet, Macbeth, The School for Scandal, etc. Well, here, instead was the Tomb of Terrors, and its glories were revealed for many nights to come. [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 10, p. 487]

Miss Fisher's benefit, and first performance in America of Howard Payne's play, called the "Spanish Husband, or, First and Last Love", occurred on the 1st of November (1830). The piece was thus cast: (extract from cast listing) Flora----Mrs. Godey. [Ireland, Chap. 39, p. 640]

And now, on November 1st (1830), for her (Clara Fisher) benefit, came another husband - John Howard Payne's comedy, "The Spanish Husband, or, First and Last Love": (excerpt from cast listing) Flora----Mrs. Godey [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 10, p. 488]

On the 25th of November (1830), in honor of the anniversary of the city's evacuation, and of the late revolution in France that raised Louis Philippe to the throne, the Theatre was brilliantly illuminated, transparencies displayed, and the interior decorated with great elegance. A new historical drama, called "Charles the Terrible", was thus performed: (extract from cast listing) Bertha----Mrs. Godey. [Ireland, Chap. 39, p. 642-3]

And on December 11th (1830) was revived "The Wigwam, or, Templeton Manor". (excerpt from cast listing) Louise Grant----Mrs. Godey [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 10, p. 492]

Mr. Barnes took his benefit on the 28th (December, 1830), when he produced G. W. Parke Custis's drama of" Pocahontas", cast as follows: (extract from cast listing) Omaya----Mrs. Durang. [Ireland, Chap. 39, p. 644]

Jan 8th (1831). Was played, for the first time in America, and with great magnificence, an historical drama, entitled the "Field of the Cloth of Gold", its characters thus distributed: (extract from cast listing) Madelette----Mrs. Godey. [Ireland, Chap. 39, p. 644]

Miss Emery made her first appearance on this stage, on the 14th (January, 1831), as Portia, to Master Burke's "Shylock". After which was acted, for the first time, the noted Irish farce of "Barney Brallaghan" with the following: (extract "from cast listing) Biddy Brallaghan----Mrs. Godey. [Ireland, Chap. 39, p. 644] On January 8th (1831) came a spectacular thing called "The Field of the Cloth of Gold" - announced on the bill of February 17th (its second night) merely as "Cloth of Gold". The resources of the company must have been taxed to make up the huge cast of French and English: (excerpt from cast listing) Madelette Blaize----Mrs. Godey

After the eleven-year "Shylock", Burke closed the evening (January 14th, 1831) with the first performance in America of "Barney Brallaghan", an afterpiece which at once aligned itself with "Whirligig Hall" and "The March of Intellect" as the main staple of popularity in his repertoire: (excerpt from cast listing) Biddy Brallaghan----Mrs. Godey [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 10, p. 495]

The "Wreck Ashore" was first performed for Mr. Barry's benefit, January 18th (1831), thus cast: (extract from cast listing) Lucy----Mrs. Godey [Ireland, Chap. 39, p. 645]

The third January portent was "The Wreck Ashore", produced for Barry's benefit on January 18th (1831), and given for the third time on the 25th: (excerpt from cast listing) Lucy----Mrs. Godey [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 10, p. 496]

On Monday evening, January 24th (1831), the long-promised opera of "Cinderella" as arranged by Rophino Lacy, from several of Rossini"s works, was presented for the first time in America, with all the elegance and perfection that taste could suggest or liberality accomplish...The entire cast stood thus: (extract from cast listing) Second Fairy-----Mrs. Godey. Its success was unprecedented, and on the last night of the season it was performed for the forty-seventh time. [Ireland, Chap. 39, p. 645]

(Cinderella) It was an English adaptation by Rophino Lacy, and the advertisements of the first day (January 24th 1831) announced that the music by Rossini was selected from Cenercentola, Armida, Aaometto, and Guillaume Tell...the fairies were played by Mesdames Godey... [Odell, Book Six, Chap 10, p. 497]

Feb. 24th (1831). A version of Cooper's "Water Witch" was produced, but was less successful than C. W. Taylor's compilation, afterward brought out at the Bowery. It was thus played here: ....(This item included to illustrate the popularity of James Fenimore Cooper's story with playwrights. The version by James S. Wallace is not mentioned by the author of this book in Volume I.) [Ireland, Chap. 39, p. 646]

March 24th (1831). First night of a farce, called the "Jenkinses", which was played as follows, with great applause: (extract from cast listing) Master Jenkins----Mrs. Godey [Ireland, Chap. 39, p. 647]

Two little plays crowd into attention. The first was the highly successful farce of "The Jenkinses" -, or, as the bills invariably print it, "The Jenkins'" (March 24th, 183l). (excerpt from cast listing) Martha----Mrs. Godey. I doubt if Mrs. Godey, after the part of Martha, be not a misprint; Mrs. Durie's name is in that position of the bill of April 1st. In any case "The Jenkinses" was one of the most successful of recent farces; the reader meets it frequently in old programmes. [Odell, Book Six. Chap. 10, p. 500]

On the 18th (April ? 1831), Mr. Hackett brought out a comedy in three acts, to which was awarded one of the prizes he had offered for an American drama, entitled "The Moderns, or, a Trip to the Springs". It was thus cast on its first representation, and met with considerable success: (extract from cast listing) Hannah----Mrs. Godey [Ireland, Chap. 39, p. 648]

On April 18th (1831) he (Hackett) brought out a prize play, "written by a gentleman of this city" - "The Moderns, or, a Trip to the Springs". (excerpt from cast listing) Hannah Flattenbarrack, a matter of fact personage----Mrs. Godey [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 10, p. 501]

Hackett's benefit took place on the 25th (1831) when he brought out James K. Paulding's prize comedy, the "Lion of the West", in which he created a great sensation as the representative of the redoubtable Colonel Wildfire. This personation ranks among his very best, and has received unanimous approbation wherever performed. The play was afterward remodeled, but the Colonel's character remained substantially the same. Its original cast was thus arranged: (extract from cast listing) Pullet----Mrs. Godey. [Ireland, Chap. 39, p. 648]

The next piece produced by the ambitious and redoubtable Hackett came on his benefit night, April 25th (1831). This was another prize play - James K. Paulding's "The Lion of the West, or, a Trip to Washington", whose chief character, Colonel Nimrod Wildfire, gave Hackett what remained to the end one of his best chances in interpreting native traits. The play was re-written at least twice, but the core of it always remained this uncouth Kentuckian just elected to Congress. The original cast was as follows: (excerpt from cast listing) Pullet---- Mrs. Godey [Odell, Book Seven, Chap. 1, p. 502]

Mrs. Gilfert died in latter months of 1831. (See note above re the death of Mr. Gilfert with whom James S. Wallace was associated earlier.) [Ireland, Chap. 39, p. 651]

((The entry for the 25th of April, 1831, above, is the last record in both the Ireland and Odell works of a stage performance by Julia Durang Godey in New York City. She most likely returned to the family home and theatre stage in Philadelphia after the close of the 1831 season in New York. She returned briefly for the 1837-38 season as Mrs. James S. Wallace following the death of her first husband Francis R. Godey in Philadelphia in 1836.))

The Franklin Theatre - And on September 12th (1837) came Louisa Johnson and Fletcher "portraying beautiful compositions of celebrated masters of painting and sculpture, with appropriate music". This was followed by the comedietta of" Departed Spirits", with J. S. Wallace as Sparkle,...According to Ireland, Mrs. J. S. Wallace, in the company at this time, was the former Mrs. Godey (Juliet Durang). [Odell, Vol. IV, p. 238]

On October 2nd (1837), the sinking ship gave "Alonzo the Brave" and "Imogene the Fair"; in the persons of Mr. and Mrs. Sutton; with it was played Kabri the Wooden Shoe Maker, with Eberlie as Kabri and Mrs. Wallace as Annette; Mrs. Wallace gave a "wooden shoe dance"... [Odell, Vol. IV, p. 238]

The last performance of the season occurred on October 7th (1837)..."The Shipwreck of the Medusa" presented Wallace as Jack Gallant, "with a hornpipe"; "The Page and the Fisherman" ended the bill, with Mrs. Wallace, Sefton, etc. The wonder is that with such ballast the venture could so long have breasted the waves. [Odell, Vol. IV, p. 239]

Re-Opening of the Franklin, November 1837 - The Franklin was never again to know the success of its earlier days. It began once more, however, on November 13th under the management of William Earle "formerly of the Drury Lane Theatrical Committee", and with the unbreakable A. J. Phillips as stage manager, Dodge as treasurer and Wallace as Prompter.

The opening bill (according to the Post) comprised "The Soldier's Daughter", a new farce by Moncrieff, entitled "How to Pay Your Note", and a new American drama, "The Snow Fiend, or, the Far, Far West". The cast of the first included...Wallace ...and Mrs. Wallace - a far stronger array than that with which the house closed in October. "How To Pay Your Note" was thus cast: (excerpt from cast listing) Mr. Barnaby....Mr. Wallace

The native contribution to the drama - "The Snow Fiend" - carries in its programme indication of its constituent elements: (excerpt from cast listing) Kangaree, an Indian girl, sister to Onteloni...Mrs. Wallace [Odell, Vol. IV, p. 239]

The house was opened again on December 18th (1837), Thomas Flynn being the new manager. He began with "The Ice Witch", casting...Hecla to Mrs. Wallace... "The Ice Witch" was given nightly for more than a week. Its companions during that time were "The Ransom" (December 20th 1837), with Wallace... [Odell, Vol. IV, p. 241]

On the same evening (March 5th 1838) came a parody -" Babebibobu, or, Cards and Dominoes" - with Wallace in the name part... The new double bill was repeated several times. [Odell, Vol. IV, p. 241]

((Ellen Amelia Wallace, the first child of James S. Wallace and Julia Durang Godey, was born on March 8, 1838, three days after the final mention of James S. on the New York stage. If Ellen Amelia was a full-term child, Julia would have been approximately 5 months pregnant at the time of her last reported appearance on the New York stage on December 18th, 1837.))

((Julia Durang Godey Wallace appeared in at least 67 different productions on the New York stage between 1822 and 1837, including dance features, ballet, plays and opera.

Some productions consisted of only one performance for unpopular productions while others ran for longer periods - one of which, noted above, ran for forty seven performances. She usually performed in secondary roles, particularly in plays, and the commentaries in the sources cited above often provided only the names of the leading performers for many of the productions. Therefore, an accurate and comprehensive listing of her performances is not possible from the sources cited. Aside from her dancing, in which she was usually a featured performer, she was clearly a second-tier talent as an actress and, while she was never singled out for critical praise for her acting, neither was she the object of critical scorn as her brothers, Ferdinand and Charles, sometimes were. One testament to her talent is the record of consistency of her appearances over the years in a time when many performers of lesser skills appeared and disappeared with regularity.))

John Durang - father of
Julia, Charlotte, Richard Ferdinand and Charles

John Street Theatre - In the summer of 1767 a new theatre was built on the northerly side of John Street, near Broadway. It stood much longer than any of its predecessors, and was used for the purpose for which it was erected for more than thirty years...The building was an unsightly object, principally of wood painted red, and stood about sixty feet back from the street, having a covered way of rough wooden material from the pavement to the doors. [Ireland, Chap. 4, p.42]

John Street Theatre - The people, who had endured so much in their contest with the mother country, were little inclined to welcome those who had neither shared in their sufferings nor hoped for their success. Nor did the players themselves, after the proclamation of peace, hurredly undertake a journey into the land that (notwithstanding the occasional rebuffs they received) had flowed for them as with milk and honey. They undoubtedly were in dread of a cool reception. At length, however, as if to try the temper of the town, after having spent a few unprofitable months at Philadelphia, Lewis Hallam, the son of Lewis Hallam, Sr., of 1753, and the successor of David Douglas, arrived in New York with a feeble company, and opened the John Street Theatre on the 24th of August, 1785, . The entertainments were announced as a course of lectures by Mr. Hallam, beginning with a prologue and terminating with a pantomime, to be supported by Messers. Hallam, Moore, Lake, Bentley, Durang, Miss Durang and Mrs. Allen. John Durang was a native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and the first native American who obtained reputation on stage as a dancer. He was born January 6th 1768, and made his first appearance in the profession during the company's late sojurn in Philadelphia, and died in that city, March 1822, leaving a numerous family of descendents well known to the stage. His sister, Miss Catharine Durang, became the wife of M. Busselott, a French officer, afterwards an artist attached to the American stage. [Ireland, Chap. 6, p. 65]

Mr. Bentley, on the 27th (September 1785) offered Foote's farce of the "Devil on Two Sticks", cast as follows: (extract from cast listing) Camphire----Mr. Durang; Margaret-----Miss Durang (The Miss Durang noted here most likely was Catharine Durang, second child of Jacob and Catharine Arter Durang and younger sister of John Durang. The Durang Family by Edwina Hare provides the following information about Catharine Durang: Married Charles Bussellott on July 17, 1787. Bussellott was a young Frenchman who had previously been an officer of the Guards of Louis XVI. He was an expert swordsman and clever with mechanical devices. He joined the Hallam theatre troop in Philadelphia, in which John and Catharine Durang were members. After a season in New York, the company returned to Philadelphia where Bussellott and John Durang collaborated in the production of "shadow plays".) (The Dance Index, filed with John Durang's folio at the York (PA) Historical Society, notes: Evidently the Durang family spoke French at home for John's sister, Catharine, was seriously hampered in her ambitions as an actress by her inability to speak English. Shortly after her marriage she retired from the stage.) [Ireland, Chap. 6, p.66]

On Oct 4th (1785), Mrs. Allen's night, "Catharine and Patruchio" (extract from cast listing): Bianca----Miss Durang.

Oct 7th (1785), Mr. Lake's night. "Lethe"...(extract from cast listing): Tailor----Mr. Durang.

Oct 11th (1785) "Cross Purposes" ...(extract from cast listing): Emily----Miss Durang. [Ireland, Chap. 6, p. 66]

Oct 14th, (1785) "The Mock Doctor"...(extract from cast listing): Charlotte-----Miss Durang.

Oct 24th (1785). First performance noticed of Hartson's tragedy, "The Countess of Salisbury...(extract from cast listing): Eleanor----Miss Durang; and the first of the long-admired farce of "The Ghost". (extract from cast listing): Belinda----Miss Durang [Ireland, Chap. 6, p. 67]

The theatre was not reopened until the 14th of April, 1789 (having closed at the end of May 1788 and the company proceeded to Philadelphia), when the "Beaux Stratagem" and the "True-born Irishman" were performed, -- with a hornpipe by Mr. Durang. [Ireland, Chap. 6, p.79]

November 3rd (1789), Mrs. Williamson's benefit. The "School for Wives" and the "Fair Americans". Postponed to the 5th (November 1789), with the "Provoked Husband", a comic dance by Mr. and Mrs. Durang, and the "Fair Americans". Again postponed, with a positive assurance of its taking place on the 9th, with the "Maid of the Mill", "Half an hour after Supper" and the "Fair Americans". [Ireland, Chap. 6, p. 83]

(The Mrs. Durang, mentioned above, was most likely Mary McEwen Durang, wife of John Durang. She married John on February 27, 1787 and died on September 1, 1812, in Harrisburg, PA at the age of forty-four, of consumption. At the time of her death the theatre company was making the "summer circuit" tour. According to son, Charles Durang, she performed occasionally on stage. From The Durang Family by Edwina Hart.)

John Street Theatre, 1791-2 - Nov. 23rd (1791). Beaumont and Fletcher's comedy, "The Chances" (extract from cast listing): Anthony----Mr. Durang.

Dec. 5th (1791). "Richard 3rd" and the pantomimical romance of "Robinson Crusoe"...(extract from cast listing): Friday----Mr. Durang.

Dec 7th (1791). "The Tempest" (extract from cast listing): Sycorax----Mr. Durang. [Ireland, Chap. 7, p. 88]

Jan. 2nd, 1792, "The Busy Body"; "The King of the Genii". (extract from cast listing): Porter----Mr. Durang. [Ireland, Chap 7, p.89]

March 12th (1792), Mr. Wooll's benefit, "King Henry 4th", (extract from cast listing) Carrier----Mr. Durang. [Ireland, Chap. 7, p. 91]

April 12th (1792), Messrs. Ashton and Durang's benefit, "The School for Wives"; (extract from cast listing) A hornpipe----Mr. Durang. ... and, first time, with new scenery and machinery, a pantomime, called "The Birth of Harlequin", (extract from cast listing) Harlequin----Mr. Durang. [Ireland, Chap. 7, p. 92]

John Street Theatre, 1793 - March 13th (1793), "Don Juan, or the Libertine Destroyed" (extract from cast listing) Sailors----Messrs West, Jr., Durang, etc.

March 18th (1793). Never performed here, O'Keefe's comedy of "Wild Oats" or the "Strolling Gentleman", still one of the most popular stock pieces of the stage. (extract from cast listing) Lamp----Mr. Durang. [Ireland, Chap. 8, p. 100]

May 29th (1793). Mr. Ashton's benefit, "The Jealous Wife"; (extract from cast listing) Paris----Mr. Durang. [Ireland, Chap. 8, p. 103]

June 7th (1793), Messrs. Durang and Bisset's night. "The Fashionable Lover", concluding with a new miscellaneous comic Pantomimical Entertainment, in grotesque characters, called "The Grateful Lion, or the Lilliputian's Power". "Messrs. Durang and Bisset respectfully inform the public, that the above entertainments are so arranged as to require but a few minutes interval, and notwithstanding their variety, the audience will be dismissed at an early hour; and in order to render this entertainment more worthy of their attention, there's no pain spared in completing the machinery and decorations for this pantomime, and trusts it will give particular satisfaction to those ladies and gentlemen who intend honoring the Theatre this night." "Vivat Respublica" This was probably the last night of the season. [Ireland, Chap. 8, p. 104]

John Street Theatre, 1793-4 - March 3rd (1794), first time on any stage, an operatic spectacle written by Mrs. Hatton (a sister of Mrs. Siddons and the Kembles) entitled "Tammany", produced with new and brilliant scenery by Charles Cireri. (extract from cast listing) Indian Dancers----Messrs. Durang and Miller ... Dunlap pronounces the piece a "mélange of bombast". [Ireland, Chap. 9, p. 109]

March 14th (1794). a tragedy, written by Shakespeare, called "Julius Caeser"; with the death of Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi, and the remarkable orations of Brutus and Antony, over the body of Caeser...(extract from cast listing) Titinius----Mr. Durang. This is the first cast of "Julius Caeser" found in New York. [Ireland, Chap. 9, p.109-110]

April 26th (1794), Mr. Ashton's benefit. First time in New York, Mrs. Inchbald's comedy of "Every One Has His Fault"...(extract from cast listing) Hammond----Mr. Durang. [Ireland, Chap. 9, p. 111]

May 12th (1794), Mr. King's night. A comedy by O'Keefe (never acted here) called the "Young Quaker; or the Fair American"...(extract from cast listing) Twig----Mr. Durang. [Ireland, Chap. 9, p.111]`

June 11th (1794), Mrs. Wilson, and Messrs. Miller, Bergman and Durang's benefit. "The Patriot", a comic opera, called "Patrick in Prussia, or, Love in a Camp"; - being the second part of the "Poor Soldier"; and a ballet, called "The Huntress, or, Tammany's Frolics". (exerpt from cast listing) Dancers and Hunters----Messrs. Durang, Miller, West, etc. [Ireland, Chap. 9, p. 115]

John Street Theatre, 1794-5 - Ricketts Ampitheatre The company engaged for the season consisted of.....Durang... with Mesdames...Durang. [Ireland, Chap. 10, p. 117] ((Mesdame Durang, cited here, was probably Mary McEwen Durang, wife of John Durang, who accompanied John on his acting travels and died in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1812 while on tour.))

Jan 1st 1795, "The Rival Queens" and "Harlequins Animation, or,Triumph of Mirth" (extract from cast listing)... Lover----Mr. Durang. [Ireland, Chap. 10, p. 120]

Jan 14th (1795). Macbeth was revived with unusual care, with Locke's music, and new scenery by Ciceri. Selections of Scotch music, arranged by Mr. Carr, were given between acts. The Witches Dance was led by Madame Gardie and Mr. Durang; and the whole strength of the Company, principals included, was embodied in the vocal parts. [Ireland, Chap. 10, p. 121]

March 21st (1795), "George Barnwell" and the farce of "The Spoiled Child", written by Prince Hoare. (extract from cast listing)... Thomas----Mr. Durang. This is the first cast found of this still favorite farce,... [Ireland, Chap. 10, p. 122]

April 22nd (1795), Pantomine Interlude entitled "Poor Jack", with new music, and an overture compiled from Naval Melodies, by Mr. Carr...(extract from cast listing) Poor Jack----Mr. Durang [Ireland, Chap. 10, p. 123]

May 6th (1795), never performed here, Mrs. Cowley's comedy, entitled "Which is that Man?" for the benefit of Mr. Hallam. (extract from cast list) Tom----Mr. Durang [Ireland, Chap. 10, p. 124]

June 1st (1795), Mrs. Fawcett's benefit, "The Critic" for the first time this season; and Garrick's selection from the Winter's Tale, entitled "Florizel and Perdita". (extract from cast list) Clown----Mr. Durang [Ireland, Chap. 10, p. 125]

Chap. 11 - John Street Theatre, 1796

Feb 9th, 1796. "The Provoked Husband, or, A Journey to London" (extract from cast listing)
   William----Mr. Durang
   Trusty------Mrs. Durang
And the farce of "The Spoiled Child"
   Thomas----Mr. Durang
   Susan-------Mrs. Durang
[Ireland, Chap. 11, p. 129]

Mar 16th (1796) "The Deserters Daughter"; and first time here, Dibdin's burletta of "Poor Vulcan; or Gods upon Earth". (extract from cast listing).. Apollo, alias Wiseman, the Attorney----Mr. Durang. [Ireland, Chap. 11, p.135]

March 26th (1796)...a new pastoral pantomime, called "The Whims of Galatea; or, the Power of Love", with new scenery painted by Mr. Jefferson. (extract from cast listing)
   Alexis------Mr. Durang
   Phillida----Mrs. Durang
[Ireland, Chap. 11, p. 136]

John Durang was born on January 6th, 1768 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of Jacob and Catharine Arter Durang, natives of Strasborg, Alsace-Lorraine who came to America in 1767, landing at Philadelphia on October 5th of that year. They settled shortly thereafter in Lancaster. According to Prowell,s History of York County, Jacob served during the Revolutionary War in the First Battalion of York County Associators in 1775 as a private and in December 1776 was serving under Captain Michael Hahn. He was apparently living in Philadelphia as early as 1782. Catharine Arter Durang died prior to December 1788, when Jacob married Mary Chandler, a widow, on December 28th, 1788. A son, John Louis Durang, was born to this union on June 23rd, 1792. Another son, William Chandler, was born in 1782 from Mary's first marriage to Jeremiah Chandler, who died prior to 1785. Mary Chandler Durang died on November 25th, 1798. Jacob lived in Philadelphia until at least 1803 and died in Charleston, South Carolina in 1805.

John Durang married Mary McEwen on January 25th, 1787. She was the mother of the six Durang children - Charles, Richard Ferdinand, Augustus (who specialized in comic songs as a child but gave up the stage as soon as he was old enough to become a sailor and was lost at sea at an undetermined date), Charlotte, Catherine Juliet (Julia), and Mary Ann. Mary McEwen Durang died in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on September 1st, 1812 following a two-year illness of consumption while the Durang theatrical troupe was on tour. A will written by John in 1817 mentions a second wife, Elizabeth, but nothing further is known about this person. He made no provision for her in his will except to provide for her a share of his estate equal to that provided for his children. There were no known children by the second wife. John Durang died in Philadelphia on March 29th, 1822.

During his lifetime, John Durang had a varied career in the theatre. His major claim to fame was his talent as a dancer. He is regarded as the first professional actor born in America. One biographer states that, although he played straight dramatic roles, he was actually more of a variety showman. He ran away from home at the age of 15 to join a theatrical company in Boston. He performed in Philadelphia when he returned home and became a member of the Lewis Hallam troupe, accompanying them to New York to perform at the John Street Theatre. He learned the art of pantomime, learned to play at least five musical instruments and even performed wire-walking routines. He may possibly be the first American actor to perform in blackface in his role of Robinson Crusoe's "Man Friday" on the New York stage (noted above in a performance on December 5th, 1791). After several years as a variety actor, John Durang appeared for at least two years with the Rickett's Circus as a clown, traveling widely, including tours to Canada. He eventually formed his own traveling troupe of performers which toured Pennsylvania, Maryland and parts of Virginia. During his later years, John Durang apparently did little performing himself, describing himself as a "dance instructor" in the years before his death, which occurred in Philadelphia on March 29th, 1822. ((All of the above summarized from The Durang Family by Edwina Hare.))

Charles Durang (son of John, brother of Julia)

The Chatham Garden Theatre opened 17 May 1824. C. Durang member of the company.

((C. Durang is probably Charles, brother of Juliet and Richard Ferdinand Durang, (1791-1870) who had a varied career in the theatre and authored "A History of the Philadelphia Stage." Charles married Mary White. Summarized from The Durang Family by Edwina Hart.))

Opening night, Chatham Garden Teatere, 1824. (extract from cast listing)
Mrs. Durang ((probably Mary White, wife of Charles Durang)) as Mrs.Malfort in the comedy "Soldier's Daughter".
Mrs. Durang as Peggy in the farce "Raising the Wind". [Ireland, p. 443]

May 17th (1824). "The Soldier's Daughter" was thus played: (excerpt from cast listing) Mrs. Malfort-----Mrs. C. Durang
In "Raising the Wind", the afterpiece----and Mrs. Charles Durang, Peggy. [Odell, Vol. IV, Book Six, p. 121]

On the second night, (May 18th, 1824) the main play...Lady Francis Touchwood, by Mrs. Durang, touched every heart. [Odell, Vol. IV, Book Six, p. 121]

Surely the company might now be considered strong; on the very next night, however, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Wallack were added. (Mrs. Wallack) on her first night (May 25th), she followed with the favourite ballet of "Love Among the Roses", in which she had the very distinguished support of Charles Durang (how those Durangs could dance!) and Miss P. M. Clark.

...on May 29th (1824)..."The Critic" followed, with ...Mrs. Durang as Tilburina. [Odell, Vol. IV, Book Six, p. 122]

...the Mirror ((a newspaper))...June 12th (1824)...Finally, Mrs. Durang "conceives her characters well, but she must rid herself of a monotony of voice, never varying in the height of passion, or the trifling salutations of the day." [Odell, Vol. IV, Book Six, p. 123-4]

(on July 13th) the Mirror...on July 17th says...Durang's "awkwardness" in the Duke was "abominable"...Charles was a dancer and actor with Barriere's forces, Mrs. Charles Durang being a sort of walking lady in the dramatic corps. [Odell, Vol. IV, Book Six. p.126]

"Twelfth Night" has not often figured in our chronicle, and I therefore reproduce from Ireland its cast on August 10th (1824): (excerpt from cast listing) Valentine----Mr. Durang; Maria----Mrs. Durang [Odell, Vol. IV, Book Six, p. 129]

On the 10th (August 1824), Shakespeare's comedy of "Twelfth Night" was played for the first time in twenty years, with a cast which, as a whole has never been surpassed on the New York stage: (extract from cast listing)
   Valentine----Mr. Durang
   Maria---------Mrs. Durang
[Ireland, p. 449-50]

This is what the Mirror of September 4th (1824) has to say...of the unlucky Mrs. Charles Durang:...It is at all times a disagreeable task to censure, particularly a lady, but certainly some one could have been found to play Mrs. Racket, besides Mrs. Durang. Has it become necessary that she should be thrust on in everything? Where are Mrs. Henry and Mrs. Waring? (August 27th performance of "Letitia Hardy".) [Odell, Vol. IV, Book Six, p. 131]

Meanwhile, at the Chatham on November 2nd (1824), for C. Durang's benefit, Noah's "She Would Be a Soldier, or, the Plains of Chippewa" was revived.

Vauxhall Theatre - 1824 - The summer gardens, so plentiful in 1823, seem to have dwindled considerably in the following season; probably the new glories of Chatham Garden caused those of other resorts to wither. Vauxhall, however, announced in the Post of May 1st (1824) that it was "now open". Theatricals were abandoned, and shady nooks, bright lights and occasional fireworks and balloon ascensions were depended upon to attract...the delights of the third figure sent up, on July 5th (Monday) were perhaps too exquisite to be thus graphically forecast. The figure was that of 'the heathen God Bacchus astride of a tun'. On that national holiday, fireworks in profusion were shot off, and the farces of "Animal Magnetism" and "Fortune's Frolic" were acted by----Durang ---and Miss Durang (Julia). [Odell, Vol. IV, Book Six, Chap. 1, p. 116-117] ((The "Durang" mentioned here was probably Charles Durang, who began his New York stage career earlier in the year.))

The Circus - 1826 - On May 26th, (1826) Mrs. Charles Durang joined, as Zorilda, in "Timor the Tartar";...On the 7th of June, two genuine war-craft were taken into the Circus; Mrs. Entwistle - think of it! - replaced Mrs. Durang as Zorilda... [Odell, Vol. IV, Book Seven, p. 225]

The Bowery Theatre 1826-7 - First Opening - The company engaged consisted of....C. Durang.... The Theatre was first opened to the public on Monday evening, October 23rd, 1826, and the brilliant experiment of lighting the stage with gas, then first attempted, was hailed with the greatest satisfaction by an audience which crowded the building in every part. [Ireland, Chap. 34, p. 522]

The house opened on October 23rd, 1826 with hope equal to that of any enterprises past, present or future in the history of the New York stage. The opening play was - absit omen! - "The Road to Ruin", ---(excerpt from cast listing) Tradesmen------Mr. C. Durang [Odell, Book Six, Chap. 4, p. 256]

On the latter evening (11 June 1827), a grand ballet of action, entitled the "Deserter", was produced, under the direction of Mons. Achille, with the following cast...(extract from cast listing) Jean Louis----Mr. C. Durang [Ireland, Chap. 34, p. 531]

The "Hundred Pound Note" which attained great popularity, was next played on the 18th (July 1827), with the annexed cast..(extract from cast listing) Bilker----Mr. C. Durang [Ireland, Chap. 34, p. 534]

A much more popular offering was the "Hundred Pound Note" (July 18, 1827). The cast was imposing: (excerpt from cast listing) Bilker-----Mr. C. Durang [Odell, Vol. IV, Chap. Seven, p. 273]

Bowery Theatre 1827-8 - Sept. 3rd, (1827). For the first time in America under the direction of Mons. Labasse, was performed the grand ballet, entitled the "Caliph of Bagdad"; the music selected from Rossini, and the cast as follows: (extract from cast listing) Cadi----Mons. Durang [Ireland, Chap. 36, p. 555] ((Presumably Charles Durang, due to his recorded connection with the Bowery Theatre the previous season.))

Richard Ferdinand Durang - son of John, brother of Julia and Charles

Edwina Hare, author of The Durang Family, writes that Richard Ferdinand was born in Hartford, Conn. in 1796. She quotes T. Allston Brown, History of the American Stage, that "He made his first appearance on any stage as a dancer at the Chestnut Theatre, Philadelphia. He came to New York in 1825 (sic) and became attached to the Chatham Theatre. He succeeded from the Chatham and became a member of the Bowery Theatre".

On the 20th (July, 1824), Richard Ferdinand Duranag, from the Philadelphia Theatre, first appeared in New York as Aboellino, Sylvester Daggerwood and Tristam Fielde. Without possessing extraordinary merit, he was a useful performer in almost every line - a good swordsman and dancer - excelling principally in melo-dramatic and French characters. He was born at Hartford, A.D. 1796, married Miss Susan Plane, of New York, and died in this city of consumption in 1831. [Ireland, p. 448]

Edwina Hare states further that Ferdinand first married Jane Petit on May 17, 1812 in Baltimore and later married Susan Plaine (sic) on March 2nd, 1826 in Newtown, Long Island, New York. Charles Durang, in his "History of the Philadelphia Stage", noted that both Susan Plaine and Jane Petit were actresses.

...the Mirror ((newspaper)) of the perplexing Durangs made an only appearance on the 20th (July, 1824) in the dual characters of Abaellino, as well as in Sylvester Daggerwood and as Tristram Fickle; this was Ferdinand Durang, whose brother, Charles, was a dancer and actor with Barriere's forces...Most assuredly the Mirror of July 24th did not like his performance in these parts a whit better than it had liked Charles Durang's Duke of Venice, on July 13th: It "sincerely" hoped his first appearance would be his last. "In some of the most pleasing scenes" of Abaellino, he "made love more like a clown than a nobleman". [Odell, Vol. IV, Book Six, p. 126]

The Theatre in Chatham Garden - 1824-25 ...the Mirror ((newspaper)) on "Virginius"...on the 26th (October 1824)..."Mr. F. Durang fairly burlesqued the character of Dentatus...he deserves credit, however, for being the worst Sicinius that was ever seen upon our boards".

Chatham Garden Theatre - 1825-6-7 ...two new plays were played, January 18th (1825) for the first time in America - "The Innkeeper of Abbeville", and "False and True, or, the Irishman in Naples". In the latter----Durang as Caliari... [Ireland, Chap. 5, p. 157]

On the 19th (Sept 1825), the "Lady of the Lake" was produced with brilliant success. The scenery, dresses and appointments were of such unusual excellence, and the various Scottish marches, dances and vocal music introduced with such effect, that its performance created a perfect furor throughout the community. Its cast was also of extraordinary merit, and the acting of Scott and Wallack caused much controversy as to which displayed the greater ability. It stood thus: ...(extract from cast listing) Red Murdock----Mr. Durang [Ireland, Chap. 32, p. 487-8]

The "Lady of the Lake" was produced for the sixteenth time on the 6th of October (1825). [Ireland, Chap. 32, p. 488]

Dimond's melo-drama of the "AEthiop" was produced for the first time here on the 19th (December 1825) with unexampled magnificence of scenery, dresses and decorations, and, like the "Lady of the Lake" had a long-protracted run: It was thus cast: (extract from cast listing) Giaffer----Mr. Durang [Ireland, Chap. 32, p. 490]

In consequence of the death of Mr. Barriere, late manager of the Chatham Theatre, the lease of that establishment was assigned to Mr. Henry Wallack, who re-opened it on the 20th of March, 1826, with the play of "Pizzarro" and the farce of the "Poor Soldier". The first new piece presented was M. Lewis's version of the "Bravo of Venice", previously dramatized by Mr. Dunlap, under the name of "Aboellino". The present, entitled "Rugantino" was thus cast:...(extract from cast listing) Falieri----Mr. Durang [Ireland, Chap. 32, p. 493]

On the 19th (June 1826), a drama by George P. Morris, called "Brier Cliff, or a Tale of the Revolution" was first put upon the stage, and met with very decided success. It had some strongly marked and well-contrasted characters, and, being carefully played, retained a long popularity. It was thus cast:..(extract from cast listing) Maj. Waldron----Mr. Durang [Ireland, Chap. 32, p. 494]

June 15th (1826) - "Briar Cliff, or a Picture of Former Times", by George P. Morriss, at that time editor of the Mirror, and one of the more distinguished of the now forgotten New York group of literary men, had a pretty success and its cast must be remembered. (excerpt from cast listing) Major Waldron----Mr. Durang [Odell, Vol. IV, Chap. Seven, p. 210]

"Speed the Plough" had this cast (October 9th, 1826): (excerpt from cast listing) Morrington----Mr. Durang [Odell, Vol. IV, Chap. Nine, p. 278]

A far more successful novelty was Knowle's "Hibernian melodrama", "Brian Boroihme", brought out on January 22nd (1827): (excerpt from cast listing) Tormagnus----Mr. Durang ... The play was given nightly up to and including February 15th. [Odell, Vol. IV, Chap. Nine, p. 283]

Jan. 22nd (1827). Knowles' national play of "Brian Boroihme" was brought out, with every attention to correctness of scenery, costumes and appointments, and was played with so much merit, that it had a run of over thirty nights. Mr. Anderson made the part of Terrence entirely his own, and has never since been equaled in it. The entire cast stood as follows: ...(extract from cast listing) Tormagnus----Mr. Durang [Ireland, Chap. 32, p. 497-8]

"Marmion" for Mrs. Wallack's benefit on the 7th (March, 1827) enlisted...F. Durang as Douglas... [Odell, Vol. IV, Book Six, p. 284]

For Mr. Anderson's benefit on the 16th (March 1827) O'Keefe's "London Hermit" (played a few times at the Park in 1815) was revived, with the following cast:...(extract from cast listing) John Grum----Mr. Durang [Ireland, Chap. 32, p. 498

January 8th (1828), as I have said, was a gala day at all theatres. The Chatham contribution was "The Battle of New Orleans"...with Durang (which Durang I beg?) as General Carroll... [Ireland, Chap. 30, p. 357]

Bowery Theatre - Chatham Theatre 1830-1 - The Indian drama of "Miantonimah", in which Mr. Addams made a great hit, was first played (Bowery) on the 12th of November, (1830) as follows: (extract from cast listing) Content----Mr. Durang [Ireland, Chap. 40, p. 656]

"Miantonimoh -, or, Wept of Wish-ton-Wish" produced on November 12th (1830) with this cast: (excerpt from cast listing) Content----Mr. F. Durang [Odell, Vol. IV, Book Ten, p. 518]

We recall that David Williams, last surviving captor of Major Andre, visited the Park Theatre on December 3rd (1830), and had the felicity of seeing Placide act him in Dunlap's "The Glory of Columbia". He visited the Bowery on the next evening, and saw Ferdinand Durang do the same thing. If Williams had any dramatic sense, he must have thought Placide a better Williams than was Durang; I wonder if it passed through his head that both actors were better than he himself had been in the original capture? [Odell, Vol. IV, Book Ten, p. 519]

After the middle of February (1831) a vacation again occurred, which lasted until the 14th of March (1831), when Mr. Hamblin re-opened the campaign with Shakespeare's play of "Henry IV", cast in the following manner...(extract from cast listing) Sir R. Vernon----Mr. Durang [Ireland, Chap. 40, p. 657]

March 21st, (1831) C. W. Taylor's drama of the "Water Witch" was first played, and received unbounded applause. Its cast stood as follows: (extract from cast listing) Trysail----Mr. Durang [Ireland, Chap. 40, p.658]

Richard Ferdinand Durang died in New York City on September 24th, 1831, aged thirty-six years. Both Ferdinand and his brother, Charles, served as members of the First Regiment, First Brigade of the Pennsylvania militia during the War of 1812. They were assigned to the American battery at North Point in Baltimore during the British bombardment of Fort McHenry on 13-14 September, 1814, which inspired Francis Scott Key to compose his poem which became the Star Spangled Banner. Roger Brooke Taney, brother-in-law of Key and, later, the fifth Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, provided the first detailed account of how the Star Spangled Banner came into being. In Taney's account, Key gave the poem to another brother-in-law, Judge J. G. Nicholson, who suggested that the poem be set to the music of an old English drinking song called "Anacreon in Heaven". The "Dance Index" a magazine published by the Ballet Caravan, New York City, credited Ferdinand with setting the words of the poem to music. In any event, both sources credit Ferdinand with being the first person to sing the song in public, at the Holiday Street Theatre in Baltimore. Brother, Charles, is said to have led the chorus. (Preceeding summarized from Edwina Hare, The Durang Family.)

((Despite the early savage criticism of Ferdinand by the theatre critic of the Mirror newspaper, he did not disappear from the New York stage. Between 1824 and 1831 he appeared in at least seventeen productions for which full cast listings have been cited. He was never mentioned as appearing in a leading role in any production, with most accounts describing him as a versatile, although workmanlike actor who performed in supporting roles.))

Effort has been made to eliminate errors, but their absence is not guaranteed. This document is copyright 2010 by John Bookless. Permission is hereby granted to individuals seeking family history information to copy the contents of this document for their personal use. It may not be sold, either separately or as part of a collection, without the written permission of the copyright holder; nor may it be placed at any other location on the internet without said written permission.

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