TERRE HAUTE —
The four daughters of the Rev. Jacob Smock and his wife Caroline were attractive and very talented.
Josephine was the oldest, born in 1857. Ida was born in 1861 and Maud in 1863. Rosa was the youngest. The four girls had three older brothers, all born in Parke County.
Josephine was the first to aspire to perform on stage before footlights. On May 5, 1880, she married Pearl F. White and, using “Pearl Melville” as a stage name, joined a theater touring company.
Ida and Maud also were attracted by theater. By 1886, the three oldest sisters were touring the Midwest as the Melville Sisters Stock Company. On April 1, Josephine, having divorced White, wed actor-producer Walter Smith Baldwin and, on Jan. 2, 1889, she gave birth to Walter S. Baldwin, Jr. in Lima, Ohio.
Maud was the first to retire while Ida helped Walter and Josephine organize the Walter S. Baldwin Stock Company.
Born Jan. 30, 1867, Rosa had little interest in theater. While her older sisters toured the country, she was busy attending St. Mary-of-the-Woods and Franklin College.
During the summer of 1889, Rosa visited her sisters in Zanesville. Ohio, and was asked to stand in for an ill male actor in “Queen’s Evidence.” Stage-smitten by the experience, Rosa did not return to college and, by season’s end, had mastered 16 roles. Her stage name: Rose Melville.
Ida and Rose Melville left the Walter Baldwin Stock Co. in 1891 to form their own comedy team. Meanwhile, Ida wed Samuel M. Young, Jr., an aspiring Terre Haute playwright who acquired the St. Clair House, a hotel in the 200 block on Wabash Ave. Many years later he renamed it The Indois Hotel.
Among Young’s productions was “Zeb, the Clodhopper” a comedy centered around Hoosier hillbillies. The role of Sis Hopkins was created by Young for his wife Ida. Rose initially was cast as Christina Sanders, “the heiress.”
During November 1892 — about 120 years ago — Terre Haute’s Naylor Opera House booked the Baldwin-Melville Combination “under the personal direction of Walter S. Baldwin” from Monday, Nov. 21 to Friday, Nov. 25, excluding Wednesday. The main star of all four plays was Pearl Melville, “The Charming and Versatile Artiste.”
Ironically, the first night feature was “Queen’s Evidence,” the play Pearl introduced to Rose, her youngest sister, at Zanesville. On Nov. 21, two-year-old Walter S. Baldwin, Jr. appeared on the Naylor Opera House stage as Little Arthur Sydney. It may have been his stage debut.
In “The Black Flag,” an English melodrama presented on Tuesday and Thursday nights, Walter S. Baldwin, Sr. shared the spotlight. During intermissions, Rose Melville and cast member Theodore Stark “introduced specialties from their repertoire.”
George Hanna played the title role in “Uncle Daniel,” a New England comedy centered around a murder, presented on Nov. 24 as the sole matinee.
“The Wages of Sin,” another melodrama, ended Baldwin-Melville Combination’s stint Friday night. Besides Stark, Hanna, Pearl and both Walter Baldwins, the company included W.H. Murdoch, James E. Nelson, James A. Hester, Charles Porter, William Delmar, Jere Conklin, B.F. Runyan, Agnes Carlton and Millie and Nellie Willard.
Young Baldwin went on to a long and spectacular career in theatre (”Of Mice and Men,” “Grand Hotel,” “The Front Page”), motion pictures (”The Lost Weekend,” “Cry of the City,” “Rosemary’s Baby”) and television (”Green Acres,” “Petticoat Junction,” “The Best Years of Our Lives,” “The Andy Griffith Show”). He died Jan. 27, 1977.
His mother was less fortunate. She was seriously injured in an accident in November 1916 and died in Minneapolis on Feb. 6, 1917. Some newspapers asserted that she was severely burned during a gasoline explosion at her home. Other newspapers claim she was injured in a railroad accident.
She is interred as Pearl Baldwin at Woodlawn Cemetery in Terre Haute.
On Saturday, Nov. 26, two performances of “Sam M. Young’s World Fair Comedy Success, ‘Zeb’” were presented at the opera house. Ida Melville was cast as Sis Hopkins while Christina Sanders was played by Miss Rose Adelle.
Zeb Featherlike, “The Clodhopper,” was played by actor Frank Buoman, who later married Miss Adelle. Other cast members were Irvin T. Bush, W.L. Woodson, Robert W. Bowers, Bert Winters, Irvin T. Bush Jr., Frank Watson, W.J. Corns, Cool Winters, Elmer Grimes, Little Loveall and Maxie Molyneaux.
The Irvin T. Bush collection of theatrical ephemera is housed at the Charles E. Young Research Library at UCLA. Bush performed in vaudeville on both coasts and managed the Club Theatre in Los Angeles.
Buoman, Winters, Grimm and Corns made up the Clodhopper Quartette, which sang several of Buoman’s comic compositions including “Don’t Quite Cut It That Time.”
In 1892, “Sis Hopkins,” the character Rose Melville nurtured to perfection during 5,000-plus productions before more than 5 million people, was in a very early stage of development.
The play returned to the Naylor Opera House on Dec. 26, 1892, exactly one month later, offering a matinee at 2:30 p.m. and an evening performance at 8 p.m..
There was only one change in the cast: Harry R. Vickers replaced W.L. Woodson as Deacon Jeremiah Eldridge. According to Young, several tweaks were made between the two Terre Haute performances. Though he was not listed in the program, it was noted that Terre Haute actor George Mahare had joined the Young company.
Playwright Edward Everett Rice added “Siseretta” Hopkins to other scripts and booked the two comedic Melville sisters as “The Two Jays from Indiana.” Ida retired from touring in 1895 and returned to Terre Haute. The Youngs eventually sold all rights to the characters in “Zeb,” including Sis’s new soulmate Obidiah Odium, to Rose.
In 1899, playwright Carroll Flemming wrote “Sis Hopkins’ Visit,” a vaudeville skit so successful it was expanded to three acts. ”Sis Hopkins,” transformed by Rice, Flemming and Rose Melville, was essential American theater for two decades.
Rose also appeared as Sis Hopkins in 21 silent film shorts, all released in 1916.
TERRE HAUTE —
The four daughters of the Rev. Jacob Smock and his wife Caroline were attractive and very talented.
Lizzy Long, Little Roy Lewis to perform at Union Christian Church in March
Lizzy Long and Little Roy Lewis are scheduled to take the stage at 7 p.m. March 28 at Union Christian Church, 5350 E. Hulman Drive.
THE JOY LADY: Don’t let the grouchiness seep in with the snow
I don’t know if you’ve noticed it or not, but people are starting to get… well… umm… how can I say it gracefully? People are starting to get grouchy. And that makes me kinda grouchy, too.
- CHURCH BRIEFS: Feb. 22, 2013
Lenten book study series set
Those who wonder what happened during the second Vatican Council can plan to attend a Lenten study series based on John W. O’Malley’s book, “What Happened at Vatican II,” scheduled for the four Thursdays in March.
National Catholic Sisters Week
Sister Editha Ben, vocation director for the Sisters of Providence, will attend the first National Catholic Sisters Week March 8-14 along with Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College student Josephine Nieto.
Joy Lady: Finding the importance of truth described in the Bible
The Bible. It’s my favorite book of all time. I read it. I study it. I teach it. I quote from it. I write about it. I sing songs about it. I love the Bible in many formats, for I use several translations and paraphrases. And I’ve even been known to borrow my husband’s Greek New Testament to check on some phrase or word from the original.
- Church briefs; Feb. 15, 2014
Ministry hosts teen suicide presentation; announces call for actors
Innovative Anointed Ministries in Terre Haute is hosting a presentation Saturday, Feb. 15, on teen suicide, and how people should not be afraid to speak out and help save lives among their peers.
“Speak Life — Show Love” begins at noon Saturday in Saints Home Church of God In Christ at 2210 N. 13th St.
Church presents ‘Love Languages’ author’s video seminar on Valentine’s weekend
Gary Chapman wrote the original edition of “The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted” in 1979.
Now a nationally known author and relationship counselor, with a radio program heard on more than 100 stations across the United States, Chapman first published the book under the title, “Toward a Growing Marriage,” 35 years ago.
- CHURCH BRIEFS: Feb. 8, 2013
THE JOY LADY: A half-crazed squirrel, Sister Bertha and secret sins
Today we’re going to discuss Sister Bertha Better Than You. She’s the dear sister who was immortalized in Ray Stevens’ “The Mississippi Squirrel Revival.”
Brenda Doreen Murphy
MARTINSVILLE, Ill. — Brenda Doreen Murphy, 66, of Martinsville, passed away at 5:55 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, at her home.
THE JOY LADY: Be joyful, pray continually, give thanks for God’s glory
There’s a special framed picture in our house.
- RELIGION BRIEFS: Feb. 1, 2014
- CHURCH BRIEFS: Jan. 25, 2013
THE JOY LADY: Those good Old Testament stories teach us many lessons
I love a good story — the kind of story that makes me think about it long after I’ve heard it or read about it.
Joy Lady: Jesus’ last words give step-by-step approach to personal evangelism
We all want to have the last word, don’t we?
- Church briefs: Jan. 18, 2014
‘Winter Night of Prayer’ set for Thursday
The Sisters of Providence invite people of all faith traditions to St. Mary-of-the-Woods for “A Winter Night of Prayer” in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday.
Joy Lady: Wish we would all be a bit more child-like; don’t you?
Recently, our two oldest grandchildren spent a few days with us. When their parents came to pick them up, their daddy asked them, “What was the best thing about staying here?” Without hesitation, they both pointed to my husband and me and said, “Being with Nonnie and Papaw!” It melted our hearts.
- Church briefs: Jan. 11, 2013
Joy Lady: Want a way to keep your resolutions? Resolve to change your thinking
It should come as no surprise to my regular readers that I don’t “do” new year’s resolutions. Nope. Don’t believe in them. In fact, the entire time I’ve written this little column — going on 14 years, now — I have not once dedicated a column to any new year’s resolutions. I’ve confessed that I know any resolution or promise I make will be one I will break before the new year is even a week old. I’m just that kind of gal.
- Church briefs: Jan. 4, 2013
Joy Lady: We shouldn’t play the exchange game with God
The packages have been opened and the wrappings discarded. The toys have been played with. The electronics have had their batteries charged and their software downloaded. The cookies and candy have been passed around and eaten. The leftovers have been forgotten in the back of the refrigerator. That’s because Christmas is … well, it’s ummm … it’s over. Now it’s the season for The Great Gift Exchange.
- Church briefs: Dec. 28, 2013
Seven Sisters of Providence celebrate 70 years
This year, seven Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods will celebrate 70 years in the congregation.
Joy Lady: At the top of my list of favorite things …
Here is this year’s list of a few of my favorite things.
- Church briefs: Dec. 21, 2013
Four celebrate 75, 80 years as Sisters
This year two Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods will celebrate 75 years in the congregation, and two will mark 80-year anniversaries.
New Providence Associates commit to works of love, mercy, justice
Recently 21 Providence Associates pledged “to make a commitment that will honor Divine Providence and further God’s loving plans through works of love, mercy and justice in service among God’s people.” Most did so in a ceremony Nov. 9 in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at St. Mary-of-the-Woods.
- More Religion Headlines
- Lizzy Long, Little Roy Lewis to perform at Union Christian Church in March