Yvonne Dalluge
Kathleen Jacobitz
Marcia Borcher
Sandi Corbitt-Sears
Dick Taylor

The Table Rock Opera House:
Its Beginning and Early Years

by Duane J. Fike

Special thanks goes to the Table Rock Historical Society, especially its officers who were invaluable help.  Officers for the Society are:

Gordon Bethel   President
Elsie Tomek   Vice-president
Nettie Stehlik   Secretary
Joe Sochor   Treasurer

Submitted for American Theater History
Dr. Tice Miller, University of Nebraska

The 1894-95 edition of the Nebraska State Gazetteer and Business Directory lists ninety-nine opera houses in the state.  One of those listed is the Table Rock Opera House with Martin and Lane as proprietors.  While many of these old opera houses have burned or been torn down in the last eighty years, the Table Rock Opera House still stands and is one of the museums of the Table Rock Historical Society.  The early history of the Table Rock Opera House, especially from 1894 to 1900, gives one an insight into the architecture and the uses of this particular edifice, which, to me, seems representative of similar structures in other small Nebraska towns.

The same ninth edition of the Gazetteer gives the following description of Table Rock, located in the southeast part of Nebraska.

Table Rock is situated in the northeastern part of Pawnee County, eight miles from Pawnee City, the seat of the government, at the junction of the A & N and Republican Valley divisions of the B & M RR.  A magnificent farming country surrounds the town, while the little Nemaha river furnishes good water power for the Table Rock mill.  Its growth has been steady and substantial.

The Gazetteer says that the population in 1894 was 1200, but it does not mention that the town received its name from a large rock formation about a mile east of town.  Although the "table rock" does not stand as it once did, many of the building and homes still standing in Table Rock date from the late 1800's.

The opera house building in Table Rock is a three-story structure with the second story being the main floor of the auditorium and with a balcony, high auditorium ceiling, and stage loft making up the third story.  A kitchen and unused dental offices are at the front on the second floor under the balcony.  On the first floor of the building are two stores, a drug store housed in the south half and a appliance shop in the north half.  The building straddles lots eight and nine of block twenty-nine.  According to the assessor's office, the bank occupies 23 feet on the east side of lot eight.  The adjoining 22 1/2 feet of lot eight is the site of the drug store.  The appliance shop, known as the Pope store, straddles lots eight and nine, with nine and a half feet on lot eight and twelve feet on lot nine.  That would mean that the opera house building sits on a piece of property that is about forty-five feet across the front, since it shares the north wall of the adjacent bank building, too. 

The old deeds in the county court house at Pawnee City are informative but somewhat confusing, since the property lines do not seem to remain as consistent as they should and since the property lines do not seem to remain as consistent as they should and since the date of the actual transaction and the date of filing are different, and doubts exist about the actual date the sale was made, not to mention the accuracy of the deeds as recorded.  Such problems make it difficult to determine the exact date that the opera house as it appears today was completed.  Since the opera house proper sits over two stores, and these two stores were treated as separate parcels of land, we must consider the Pope store land and the drug store land individually.  In most of the following transactions, we will be referring largely to the east 75 feet (length) of lots eight and nine in block 29, a block that faces east on the west side of the Table Rock square.  We will not mention the dates the transactions were filed in the court house, only the date the sale was made. 

All of the original buying of land that the opera house sits on was by G. Royce Martin, owner of a meat market, flour, feed, and ice store.  Land purchases begin with E. A. Peck in March, 1889, selling to G. R. Martin the south half of lot nine for $325.  Martin, in December, 1891, purchased the north 25 feet of lot eight from Anna Hoig for $400.  This transaction would leave a strip of land about seven feet wide between his property and the bank on the south corner.  In April, 1893, Martin purchased this seven feet from D. K. Miller for $350.  Martin would own at this time the south half of lot nine, or about 27 1/2 feet, and the north 32 feet of lot eight.  He sold this eleven feet, three inches for $160, a price which seems strange in that Martin had spent $350 for a seven foot strip of this same piece a few days earlier.  A plausible explanation is that Martin and Lane had agreed to build on this tract.  The Martin-Lane joint venture would provide them with a tract twenty-two and a half feet wide, which is the width of the present drug store, with each party owning half the land.  [See diagram.]

But when Martin purchased the north 25 feet of lot eight, had James Carlock been part owner with Hoig?  Martin must have been a co-owner with Carlock at this time, as Carlock put up this part of land for public auction in September, 1893.  This was "an undivided half" and Martin bought this 25 feet for a top bid of $200.  It is in this document that the term "Opera House" is used for the first time in legal deeds.  (The Table Rock Herald, as will be noted later, said the opera house was finished in June, 1893, but the Gazetteer for 1893 does not list it.)  The Carlock deed is worded as follows:

That James A. Carlock, . . . did on the thirtieth day of September A. D. 1893, at two o' clock P.M. and for one hour thereafter, at the Front Door of the Opera House in Table Rock, Pawnee County, Nebraska after having given due notice . . . in the "Table Rock Herald," . . .

But the question comes up of how Martin was able to purchase this 25 feet at a public auction for two hundred dollars when it appears to have had a building on it, and why for half the amount that Martin purchased the same land from Hoig in 1891, especially strange if he was only buying Hoig's half at that time. 

The most confusing document in the Pawnee County court house is the deed outlining the sale of a strip of land which straddles lots eight and nine, the exact site of the Pope building.  According to this deed Martin sold the north nine and a half feet of the east seventy-five feet of lot eight and the south twelve and a half feet of the east seventy-five feet of lot nine to S. G. Wright and M. K. Crocker for $400.  The sale was made March 10, 1894, which is nine months after the newspaper said the opera house had been completed.  But one statement made in the Wright-Crocker deed raises a question as to the date that the opera house was built.  After a description of the land, a phrase adds these words: "--reserving the right to build Opera House over first story and stair way to same."  That statement seems strange when it had been assumed that a building already existed on that location.  On the other hand, $400 is a low figure for a lot with a three-story building on it.

One possibility in trying to make the evidence logical is to assume that the present drug store, sitting on lot eight within nine and a half feet of lot nine, was enlarged.  Earlier mention was made to the Martin-Lane transaction and it appears their building would have been twenty-two and a half wide, which is the width of the present drug store, and each party owned eleven feet and three inches.  While I believe the opera house as it appears today was built originally as one large structure, if the opera house was ever enlarged, it may have taken place during May, 1894.  From April 27 to June 1, no mention is made in the newspapers of any opera house activities, nor are any functions advertised for August, but activities were usually slim during that hot month.  Or the enlarged opera house might have been completed anytime after September, 1894, to before November, 1895, because no city newspapers are available for this period, and checks of newspapers in neighboring cities give no hint of what was happening at the Table Rock opera house.

But the assumption that the building was enlarged does not seem to carry with it any physical proof.  I have carefully examined the present structure, and nothing in the brick work or general architecture of the present opera house gives any hint that it was ever enlarged or added on to.  Even the idea that the opera house was first only a one-story structure and no wider than the present drug store carried very little weight, since the drug store is not very wide, no suggestion of a stage can be seen at its rear, and not enough space exists at the front for two store "rooms," mentioned in an 1893 newspaper.  One suggestion made by a clerk in the Pawnee County court house was that the dates might be off.  She said that their office has found errors before in some of these early records.  It seems so unlikely, however, that the wrong year would be entered.  In any case, these seem to be the only two options, either the opera house was enlarged by being added "over the first floor" of two buildings or the dates on this last deed are wrong.  To me, the latter possibility seems most likely, especially since the Gazetteer for 1894 lists the opera house.

Court records show that by 1895 a substantial structure existed on the Wright-Crocker parcel of ground mentioned earlier.  As stated before, Wright and Crocker allowed Martin to build an opera house "with stairway" above their joint piece of land, site of the Pope building.  In September, 1895, Wright sold his half to G. B. Johnson for $1,000, and in August, 1896, Crocker sold his half back to Martin for $1,500.  This means that half of the opera house was worth $2,500, in 1896.  Martin and Lane still owned the drug store half.  On February 5, 1898, William Sutton bought Lane's half of the drug store for $3,000.  He also purchased Johnson's half of the Pope store for $2,400.  These final transactions placed the opera house in the hands of Sutton and Martin only.  In order to seal the ownership of the opera house and to remove the names of their wives from the deeds, Sutton and Martin "sold" their shares for $2.00 to each other February 21, 1898.  That transaction gives the following information:

. . . an undivided one half interest in the second story of a building located as follows.  Commencing forty five feet and six inches North of the south east corner of lot eight block twenty nine and running north twenty two feet.  Thence east seventy five feet to place of beginning.  Known as the Table Rock Opera House and offices.  Also an undivided one half interest in Stairway to same.  Also the undivided one half of all furniture and scenery belonging to the Opera House.  (Excepting Organ in Opera house and one counter in first floor.)

With the bank occupying the first twenty-three feet, the land description that begins "forty-five feet and six inches north" of the corner of lot eight would include the first twenty-two feet and six inches occupied by the present drug store.  The next twenty two and a half feet is the Pope building, making the opera house forty-five feet wide.  This legal description of the opera house is found in all subsequent legal descriptions.

The failure of the legal records to pinpoint the construction dates of the opera house leaves only the local newspapers as an authoritative source.  Even the newspaper source is hampered by the fact that articles from only one newspaper for the period are available.  Although two papers were being published, a disastrous fire in about 1896 of the Table Rock Argus destroyed most previous issues of that paper.  The Table Rock Herald, advertised as the only Populist paper in the county, was published from 1893 to 1894, and its columns carried several references to the construction of the opera house, although no change in its physical appearance is ever noted.  As mentioned before, G. R. Martin was buying up portions of lots where the present opera house stands, and completed some of these transactions in April, 1893.  The first newspaper reference to the opera house appears in the Herald, Vol. 1, No. 2, for May 4, 1893:

It is with pleasure we note that the home talent is getting up a splendid play, prepatory to the opening of the new opera house, and that the cast will be made up from no ordinary ability, our people have only to await the rendition to prove.

The next issue of the paper for May 11 further informed the public that "Table Rock has a dramatic company."

Last week the company met and proceeded to elect the following officers: C. R. Judkins, business manager; Dr. R. Wellington, stage manager; C. J. Wood, treasurer. 

They open our new opera house with a play, to be given for the benefit of the band.  The band needs more instruments, and have adopted this plan to raise the money.  By attending this entertainment you not only attend the opening of our new opera house and see a good performance, but you encourage the band.

In its issue number four, May 18, 1893, the Herald reported that the "opera house is progressing finely."  "Dr. J. N. Hopper, of Pawnee City, was in this city Monday to see about roofing the new opera house with his patent roofing."

An accident related to the construction of the opera house is recorded in issue number six of the Herald, June 1, 1893.

While working on the opera house Friday Harry Freeman, one of the carpenters, fell eighteen feet, and escaped with only a few bruises.  A ladder which he was climbing was sitting nearly straight up against the side of the wall and when two thirds of the way up overbalanced and fell back.  Harry started for the floor head foremost but struck some bracin's which straightened him up and he fell on his side.  It was a very lucky escape. 

This incident is noteworthy in that it would suggest the building at this early time was at least a two or three story structure, since the ladder itself must have been 25 to 30 feet long.  The same issue of the Herald leaves the impression that the lower part or first story of the building was finished at this time and divided into two stores.  A meeting is called for Monday evening, June 5, at "the north store room of the opera house building."

The next reference to the opera house appears in Vol. 1, No. 9, of the Table Rock Herald for Thursday, June 22, 1893, and is sort of a "benchmark" in this study: "In ten days past Table Rock has finished an opera house...."  The use of the building was not far behind, as the same issue reports that "Rev. J. F. Kemper will deliver an oration at the new opera house" and "There will be a meeting Saturday night, June 24, at the opera house, for the purpose of discussing the proposition to build a new school house."  But seating must have been limited for these early meetings because the July 6 Herald records that "the chairs for the new opera house arrived Monday."  Several of these original chairs are still in the opera house at this date.  They are wooden, round-backed "kitchen chairs" and were arranged in rows and unattached to the floor.  The July 6 paper also mentions that "Covert and Hood [dentists] have moved into their new rooms in the opera house."  These would be the second story offices under the balcony at the front of the building. 

Since its construction, the opera house has changed hands several times.  In October, 1917, Martin sold his half interest in the whole building to J. H. Hylton for $1,800.  The county court house records show that in February, 1924, the second story and stairway were sold by Sutton, et al, to the Bohemian Z. C. B. J. Lodge #84 for $2,000.  The Lodge used the opera house for club meetings, and that transaction ended much of the public use of the building.  In fact, its public use for many functions had declined before 1924.  The Lodge returned the opera house portion of the building to Gordon Bethel, who owned the drug store, for $1.00 in January, 1963.  He, in turn, sold his interest in the opera house to the Table Rock Historical Society for $1.00 on December 20, 1965.  At the present time, the opera house is one of the museums maintained by the Historical Society and houses many antiques.  The original stage scenery is stored backstage, but several flats and backdrops of more recent vintage are used to decorate the stage.  Besides several original chairs, stoves, electrical fixtures, and stage equipment can all still be found in the opera house.

The outside dimensions of the building, as stated, are forty-five feet by seventy-two feet long.  The balcony, with offices and a kitchen below it, is eighteen feet deep, and the stage is about eighteen feet deep, with the main auditorium floor taking up the remaining thirty-six feet.  The proscenium opening is twenty feet, four inches wide and thirteen feet, six inches high.  To the right and left of the proscenium, the walls angle out into the audience and then curve back to the outside walls.  [See diagram.]  The jutting our of the walls creates two small "rooms" on each side of the stage.  Two main floor doors, one to the right and one to the left of the proscenium, allow one to enter the stage area by going through these small rooms and up about five steps to the stage.  Each room is a little less than twelve feet wide and about four feet deep near the stage to a maximum of seven feet, six inches deep along the wall.  Each little room has an upper level, accessible by a stairway from the stage floor.  These upper areas were used for dressing rooms, probably men on one side and women on the other, and the passageways below these dressing rooms was used for storage.  [See photographs for all stage descriptions.]

Over the main seating area is a skylight ten feet square, but unlike the "glass roof" variety, this skylight is a tiny building about eight feet tall that sits on top of the roof and has large windows on all four sides to admit light.  The auditorium was heated by two large coal burning stoves which are still in place, one long the middle of the south wall and another along the north wall.  Seating was provided by rows of wooden chairs, with about eight rows of ten chairs filling up the middle of the auditorium floor.  These chairs were made slightly stationery by fastening four chairs together with a board.  Some additional chairs were probably used along the sides of the auditorium and another sixty or seventy chairs could be placed in the balcony. 

At the rear of the auditorium is the balcony which can be reached by either of two stairways against the walls to the left and right.  These stairways are only about three feet wide and quite steep and, since they extend out onto the main floor, have a double board railing opposite the wall side.  The balcony is eight feet, four inches above the main floor and has a low solid railing across the front of it.  It is nine feet from floor to ceiling at the rear wall; this variation shows that the rake in the balcony is about a foot and a half within its eighteen foot depth.  Four unevenly spaced windows are at the rear of the balcony.

Below the balcony, on the left facing it, were two small offices.  These were dental offices for many years and now serve as a picture gallery and "reconstructed" bedroom for the historical society.  Next to the offices and in the center under the balcony is the wide stairway that provides access to the opera house.  The wooden steps are quite worn and the iron railing that divided the steps sags a little now.  At the top and bottom of the stairs are double wooden doors.  A little landing at the top of the stairway provided standing room for ticket buyers before entering the top double doors.  The ticket booth is part of the office area and was only large enough to accommodate one person.  To the right, facing the balcony, and below it, was the kitchen area.  This kitchen was used for meals or refreshments and had an old stove and simple furniture in it.  Two large serving windows are still open to the auditorium.  Now it is a "reconstructed" family kitchen of the 1890's.

The stage has only about eight feet of off-stage area on each side when the wing flats are in place.  These flats are about fourteen feet tall and four feet wide.  They are held in place by a "groove system" which is suspended about four feet from the stage ceiling.  Two sets of two grooves, one four foot long and one eight foot, are a couple of feet from the proscenium on each side of the stage ceiling.  About four feet behind this first pair is another pair; in this second set each has four grooves four feet long and two grooves eight feet long.  About four feet behind the second set is the rear pair of grooves, four that are four feet long and three that are eight feet on each side of the stage.  One of the last grooves is capable of holding the main back-drop going across the whole stage.  The many grooves allow not only a quick change of scenery, but more stage depth, as each wing flat needs to be pulled out only a short distance.  The front stage curtain is a "roll-up" canvas drop with painted "draperies" on it framing a pastoral scene.

The stage floor is unfinished tongue-and-groove flooring and has a thirty inch square trap door cut in it.  Under the stage is an area that is forty-eight inches high at the back wall and about forty-three inches toward the front of the stage.  The actual front stage apron, which is curved and extends in the center twenty inches past the proscenium frame, is forty-one inches high.  According to these under-stage measurements, it is apparent that the stage is raked about six or seven inches.  No loft is above the stage, but a three foot crawl area exists between the stage ceiling and the building's roof.  Access to the roof is gained by a ladder stage right and a trap door in the roof.  Besides the groove system suspended form the ceiling, two parallel one-by-eight boards about ten feet apart support the lighting system--eight (four on each board) incandescent bulbs with reflectors behind them.  This system is probably about 1920 vintage and is controlled stage right, by a box containing sixteen fuses and eight pull handles, each one carefully labeled with a pencil.  The switches control the four chandeliers in the audience and the one in the balcony, the bulbs in the proscenium arch, and the footlights.  The footlights are in two shiny tin troughs hung on the apron, and consist of ten porcelain sockets (two sets of five) for incandescent bulbs. 

The proscenium arch resembles a giant gold-tone picture frame.  It is twenty inches wide or thick, and the front edge flush with the wall is six inches wide.  On each side of the arch, recessed panels, each about six feet long and nine and a half inches wide, are on the face of the twenty-inch frame.  Four similar recessed panels extend across this same twenty-inch frame at the top of the proscenium opening.  On the two upper side panels and all across the top are a total of sixteen porcelain light sockets.  The opening extends to the auditorium ceiling and four narrow panels decorate the front of the opening on top. 

Although the stage itself is an interesting topic, it is even more interesting to discuss what took place on the stage.  Plans for the Table Rock opera house to be used for dramatic presentations go back to the time it was being constructed.  Following the formation of the local dramatic company, an article in the Herald for May 18, 1893 revealed this news:

The Table Rock Dramatic Company has selected that great, sensational, temperance drama, "The Victims of the Bottle," a play in five acts, highly endorsed both by pulpit and press.  The following is the cast of characters:


CHAS. THORNLEY . . . . . . . . . . . . . .DR. R. W. HOOD

Dr. Slater . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C. J. Wood

Harrold Hadley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Henry Shaw

Jno. Farley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Elmer Wood

Bob Brittle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Geo. Scott

Jas. Hollis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .S. E. Roberts

MRS. EVA THORNLEY . . . . . . . . . . . . MISS MAMIE SUTTON

Nettie Nettleby . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Miss Hattie Goodel

Mrs. Farley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Miss Linnie Layman

This play will be put on the boards as soon as our new opera house is completed. The cast are already hard at work and are under the management of C. R. Judkins, business manager, and R. W. Hood, stage manager, the entertainment cannot but be a success both moral and instructive. 

In its next issue on May 25, the Herald carried this further update:

The Table Rock Dramatic Company is under full headway now, and are making every effort to set an example for coming entertainment! They will give the people of Table Rock all that can be asked from a home talent play.  The cast have been well selected, and the audience, of a pleasant evening's enjoyment.  The play is a good one, while the moral is well calculated to make a good impression upon an audience.

That first season in the new opera house was a varied and busy one.  During the month of July, 1893, the Herald reported that the ball held in the opera house on the fourth was a "social success"; that the ladies of the Christian Church who served a supper made $42.00; and that there would be a social dance Friday night, July 22.  One evening's program was rather representative of the kind of offering that would be found frequently in the opera house.

The first entertainment of the season in the new opera house will be Saturday night and an excellent program is before us.  Miss Irene Slayton, elocutionist, will present some of her choicest readings, and our people know that they will be excellent.  The male quartet will sing some selections and this part of the program will be and unusual treat for our people.  The new instrumental Quintet Club will also render some good selections of music especially arranged for the occasion.

In the August 31 Herald a notice appeared about Canfman's Merry Makers giving "Fogg's Ferry" and that "the dancing of Little Nina is especially attractive," but no mention is made if this show was in the opera house.  The Merry Makers may have been like the Gross Brothers' show which was in the "new, large canvass," and presented the "famous New Kit Carson," not to mention "Comedians, Black, Dutch, and Irish." A later editorial comment said that the Gross Bothers played to a small house.  "The money stringency makes it almost impossible for any kind of entertainment to draw a crowd." It was probably also hot in the opera house during August and September, because only one event on September 25 is mentioned for the early fall.

Two gentlemen from Pawnee have rented the opera house for Monday night to give a scientific boxing exhibition, for a purse of $50.

About a week later, as part of a "DuBois Item," a comment was made about the boxing match: ". . . if the same amount of muscle and means had been put to a wood saw or other means of honest livelihood, the effect on the youth of the town would not have lost anything for good."

Activities at the opera house increased during the fall with about every issue of the Herald carrying a notice of some upcoming event.  The October 19 issue told of an "exhibition" by the public school children, with the proceeds to be used for singing books for the school.  Admission was 10 and 20 cents.  An editorial in the October 26 issue promoted Eli Perkins, a speaker who "has eared a national reputation for his humorous lectures." "Everybody ought to go you cannot afford to stay away." November editions of the Herald told of an "entertainment" at the opera house on November 8 with a ball afterwards; a concert for the ninth; and Child's Comedy Company and Baby Band at the opera house on Saturday night, November 11.

Since Table Rock was a smaller town and not on the main circuit for many of the road shows that appeared in the larger cities, much of the entertainment at the opera house was "home talent." One concert that was "reviewed" in the November 16 Herald is rather typical of the many programs which would be mentioned in future issues of that paper, although not all evenings had such variety.

The Humboldt band gave a good concert Thursday night.  The Wilson sisters always favorites with a Table Rock audience, appeared in two songs.  Miss Jennie Fellers gave a very entertaining recitation, and the band played some very fine selections.  The comedy given at the conclusion was very entertaining and was well acted.  A dance was given at the conclusion of the program.

And besides Humboldt, other communities were represented at the Table Rock opera house, such as the DuBois Columbia Band, "composed of ladies and gentlemen," which gave a Thanksgiving concert.  And that first year, 1893, concluded with a masquerade ball on December 22, but the Herald did not indicate if it was held in the opera house.  Tickets to the ball were one dollar, with spectators admitted for twenty-five cents.

The Herald for January 26, 1894, carried a rather cryptic notice that "It will only cost you five cents to admit you to the breach of promise cases tonight in the opera house." And in February the possibility of the Mikado being presented was mentioned and a Martha Washington tea for the twenty-second was held for the benefit of the Table Rock library with "old fashioned games" after tea.  And the GAR sponsored an address by a Dr. Johnson in honor of Washington's birthday.  The only March event listed in the opera house was a lecture by L. C. Smith on "Ethics of Equality."

On April 17 the DuBois Columbia Band presented "The Turn of the Tide," which was billed as a nautical and temperance drama in three acts.  Reserved seats were 35 cents, general admission was 25 cents, and children under 12 were 15 cents.  Included with short news items for the April 6 and 13 issues were play teasers such a "Little Sue on the ocean waif.  Tuesday evening, April 17th at Opera House" and "'My name's Pepper! Papper Mace, I's despisn' de whole family.' At the Opera House." The April 20 issue reported that in spite of the threatening weather, a "good house greeted the DuBois Company."

The play was well rendered, and the audience showed themselves well pleased with it, though the outbreak of a violent wind during the concluding scene caused many to leave their seats hastily and somewhat interfered with the effective rendering of the close of the play.

The paper noted that when "The turn of the Tide" was given several years before in the school house that a thunderstorm set in that kept a number of the audience in the school house till daylight.  The April 20 issue also carried an article about the celebration of the "Diamond Anniversary" of American Odd Fellowship in the opera house, with an oration by the Rev. Dr. P. C. Johnson.  About this event, the next issue said:

A good audience assembled at the opera house last week.  There was some good music, and Edgar Wood gave and inspiring recital of an extract from Lowell's "Present Crisis." Dr. Johnson spoke on founding and "answered some of the current objections to secret societies in general and Odd Fellows in particular."

No events during May in the opera house were cited by the but the June 1 paper mentioned the upcoming high school commencement "next Wednesday night" and the following issue reported that the building was "tastefully decorated and the class motto, "Honors Wait at Labor's Gate" was worked in evergreen and hung over the stage." Each of the six graduates gave an oration, with special songs between the orations.  One other event in the opera house during June was more exciting.

A couple gave an alleged mind reading and musical entertainment at the opera house Friday night.  The crowd was so small that they failed to make expenses.  During the night, Mr. Ryan, the sewing machine man who occupied an adjoining room at the hotel, heard the man proposing to his wife that they jump their board bill.  She objected, and quite a row ensued, the man threatening the woman with violence, till, finally Ryan interfered and by threats of arrest restored peace. In the morning, the man had left his bill and the woman.  She received aid from the town to pay her bill and to buy a ticket to go on to Humboldt.

A Fourth of July ball was held in the opera house as well as one on July 26 sponsored by Supt. William Combs, who had "one of his periodical balls" and another ball with an Italian orchestra is reported in the September 7 paper.  The September 21 issue told of a "rag baby show" featuring a Punch and Judy episode, sponsored by the Republicans.  And for October, a large advertisement appeared for "Fruit of his Folly." [See ad.] Of those connected with the production, R. H. Wessel was editor of the Herald as well as manager of the local dramatic company, and Mr. Murphy was manager of the opera house.  The issue for October 5 carried a review of the play.  [See reprint.]

The Herald went out of print shortly after this and a gap in newspaper accounts exists until November 22, 1895 (about a year later) with Volume 14, #24 of the Table Rock Argus, as fire had destroyed previous copies.  In the November 22 issue, two items appeared.  One mentioned that the Table Rock Dramatic company would produce the "New York Book Agent" at the opera house in Humboldt the next evening.  The other item said that Prof. Fulton (just admitted to the bar and from Pawnee) led the Table Rock singers in "H. M. S. Pinafore" at the opera house "on Tuesday evening and repeated it on Wednesday evening." The first night the opera house was well filled one of the largest paid audiences ever assembled in our opera house being present.  The manner in which it was rendered demonstrated that Table Rock has real ability . . ." Those in the cast were Miss Grace Talcott, Charley Linn, Dr. Covert (as captain), Lotta Talcott, W. S. Turman, Louie Johnson, and Ruby Allen.  "Prof. Fulton was loud in his praises of our singers and say that they sang the parts as well as any amateurs he ever heard."

The appendix to this paper includes many of the speech, school, and club activities that took place in the opera house.  Of more interest for this study are the many dramatic or "road show" types of entertainment that took place in Table Rock.  Some information of these is rather brief, such as the notice that the Kittelo Electric Comedy Company would commence a one week's engagement on February 15, 1896.  With an admission fee of ten cents, the nightly entertainment would be "strictly moral and refined."  In the February 28 Argus, an article refers to some "hypnotic" entertainment.  "The hypnotist did not deem our town worthy of real work, or else he cannot perform any so he provided several strangers and two or three prearranged local subjects to go through the performances, which were sometimes laughable."  In August the Terry Company performed "Uncle Tom's Cabin," but in their own pavilion. 

Some of the touring "theatrical companies" at the turn of the century were rather small and limited to this area of the Midwest.  Perhaps one of these groups was the Pond-Berlin Theatrical Company.  Miss Lilo Berlin was a young actress who had won a medal in the elocutionary contest in Table Rock three years before her group appeared in December, 1896.  The December 11 Argus said that the company's performance on Wednesday and Thursday night's drew a small attendance but the pays were "above average, both in excellence of merit and the absence of objectionable features.  Several members of the troupe are performers of extensive experience and ability, and all appear to be ladies and gentlemen."

Not much dramatic activity took place in the opera house until spring, 1897, when the March 5 Argus reported that the Pond-Berlin Musical Company "held the boards at the Opera House Tuesday and Wednesday evening of the week, rendering 'Davy Crockett' the first night and 'Jerry the Tramp' the second.  They did a fair business." The paper also reported that one of the band members with the show broke one of the large glasses in the store door of H. C. Moore.  And that same issue carried and advertisement for the Table Rock Dramatic Company's production of "White Mountain Boy."  [See ad.]  This show was first announced in the February issue that the production had been postponed for a couple of weeks.  A teaser in the March 12 Argus said, "If you want to find out how much of a villain Sam Roberts is, go to the Opera House tonight and hear George Cotton denounce him."  A review of the play appeared in the March 19 issue.  [See review.]

Another kind of local entertainment was provided by the small town of Tecumseh, as given in the April 9 Argus:

The Tecumseh Ticklers have come and gone and a big audience would undoubtedly greet them at a second appearance here.  The boys gave their entertainment at the Opera House last night to only a fair sized audience. . . The program was made up of new and catchy songs, jokes, dancing, and other specialties, which for two hours held the attention of the audience.  The music by the orchestra was very fine.

By May the Table Rock Dramatic Company had put together a musical farce called "Fruits of the Wine Cup."  This was in conjunction with a band concert and the band cleared ten dollars, according to the May 14 Argus.

The opera house did not see much activity over the summer of 1897.  On September 3 the school girls of Table Rock presented a cantata, "Little Red Riding Hood's Rescue," under the direction of Miss Campbell.  It featured a cast of over fifty performers and was set to music by Asto Broad.  Later that winter season, according to the January 28, 1898 Argus, the Wade Opera Company rendered "For a Million" to a "fair sized audience Thursday night, giving a fairly good performance."  And the Cardo Medical Company performed for a week during the middle of February.  The February 18 Argus announced that the "Black Detective; or Over the Hills to the Poor House" would be presented the next Thursday for the benefit of the band.  The play was under management of F. E. Farrell and was given to benefit the band.  A later edition said that the play had netted over $30 and would be repeated.  [See ad.]  The February 25 paper announced "The Deestrict School" program and the March 4 issue said the following:

The Deestrict School held forth at the opera house on Tuesday evening to a large audience; the W. S. A. adding a snug sum to its treasury from the proceeds.

The snug sum was $16.10 and Sammy Roberts was master, with members of the society as pupils.  The costumes were in harmony with the school dress of fifty years ago.

A "really big show" came to Table Rock on March 18, 1898, when Burk's Big Uncle Tom's Cabin "one of the finest organizations now traveling" appeared for a one night stand.  The March 11 Argus reported:

This company comes well spoken of by the press of Southern Missouri and Kansas, where they have been for the past two months playing to crowded houses.  Don't fail to see their fine street parade at noon on day advertised, the company carrying their own special scenery, and the wonderful illuminated transformation scene entitled "The Gates Ajar," is in its self the finest spectacular production of any Uncle Tom's Cabin company, as a pledge of good faith, the manager will return money to those not satisfied with their performance, after the first act.

Seats were on sale at Roberts Restaurant and the public was told to "read what press says of this excellent company" in the same issue which had a rave review from the Carthage Missouri Morning Democrat for Sunday, February 20.  The March 25 Argus carried an item about a new piano being purchased for the opera house and another item about some black singers.

The Tennessee Jubilee singers will appear at the opera house in Table Rock on Tuesday evening March 29th.  This announcement will be received with pleasure by music loving people, for this aggregation of singers are popular with our people and they come with all the prestige of a national reputation as the best company of jubilee singers before the public.  The company is better than ever and you may be sure of getting your money's worth and have the best laugh you have had for a long time.

That "puff" was followed in the March 25 issue with a small reminder about "the best troupe of colored singers on the road."  That same issue carried an announcement that the management of the opera house planned on April 15 to give a reception with free refreshments to the community.  However, a later paper said that since Mr. Maynard was gone, the reception had been postponed.

Some scientific entertainment was billed in the April 1, 1898 Argus, when the public was told to see the wonderful "vitascope" next Monday and Tuesday nights. 

There are 36 numbers on the program.  You can also hear McKinley and Bryan speak, and vocal and instrumental music."

The June 23, 1898 Argus carried a large three column by nine inch advertisement announcing "Frank E. Griswold's RAILROAD UNCLE TOM'S CABIN CO."  A short article in the same issue provided the following information:

This company in their own car carry a car load of special scenery and mechanical effects.  One of the finest bands on the road will give a band parade at noon.  This company has been organized at an actual cost of $40,000 and should not be confounded with other so-called companies playing this piece.  Mr. Griswold was the first and only manager to produce the piece in the South, being actively connected with the play for over 20 years.  He has played the piece in all the large cities in America including Cleveland, Indianapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, and San Francisco.

The next extravaganza to hit the town was brought by Johnnie and Ida Pringle in a double comedy, "A Happy Pair" and "Love Flown Away."  Patrons were invited to see the battleship Maine and "a hundred other features," according to the August 4 Argus.  [See ad.]

The Pringles have appeared in all the larger cities of the U. S., Canada, and South America and have no equal in their profession.  They are neat and artistic and never fail to please every one.  [They do] the wonderful French Kaleidoscopic dance, for which they carry $500.00 worth of calcium and electric light effects; in this dance, Miss Pringle will wear a dress containing over 100 yards of pure white silk and she will change the color, material, and design of the dress over 100 times in full view of the audience.

The August 18, 1898, issue carried a news item about another touring company.
Sutton's Big Double Company of twenty people with a superb band and orchestra will be here for one night only, Saturday, August 20th, presenting the latest and greatest war drama written, entitled, "Cuba Libre."  This great play in four acts pertains to our difficulty with Spain shortly after the destruction of the Maine.

The admission was twenty-five cents and a "review" on August 25 noted that the Sutton company included a number of performers "who are capable of high grade work in their profession, and the rendition of the new war drama drew forth tumultuous and repeated applause." But it seems some traveling shows had difficulty on the road.  The September 8 Argus reported that an Uncle Tom's Cabin troupe playing in Wayne was stranded and the sheriff sold the tent, bloodhound, and fixtures for $85.

Musical programs were always popular at the Table Rock opera house.  Miss Grace Talcott, who had developed her "magnificent voice by a year's course of training under one of the best teachers in Chicago," gave a song recital at the opera house that the July issue called a "musical treat."  "She reached high C with clearness and ease." Since she was a local girl, she appeared at various recitals during the summer in the area.  The September 22 Argus announced that the Lotus Male Quartet and concert company of the Lincoln Conservatory of Music would give one of their "pleasing entertainment" at the opera house.  "W. F. Lint . . . is regarded as the leading base [sic] singer of the west, and the other singers are experts."

In the issue for Thursday, October 27, 1898, a small headline within a column announced:

Lewis Carnival of Wonders
Nights of Enchantment

This event on Friday and Saturday nights promised its "stage settings and paraphernalia are of the most costly and beautiful, excelling anything of the kind ever on the opera house stage."

The performance consists of a refined combination of exciting acts, sensational scenes in East India, magnetism, Hindu sports, Aerial tableaux, dramatic eccentricities, laughable absurdities and illusions and a melange of literary and lyric patchwork.

Evidently Lewis tried to offer something for everyone.  His acts might have been almost as exciting as another "event" reported during a speaker's address a week later.  According to the November 3 paper, "A rat at large in the opera house last night caused no little commotion, in the audience."

The year of 1898 closed with Lew Hall's Georgia Minstrels.  The December 1 Argus talked about the entertainment last night consisting of:

plantation songs, solos, duets, quartets and chorus singing.  In the company are some artists of rare ability and the entertainment contained enough of the humorous to keep the most dyspeptic audience in a roar of laughter.  The entertainment will by repeated tonight with an entire change of program.

The year 1899 started rather promising at the opera house, but, in general, the entire year was a disappointment in that few outstanding attractions made it to the stage.  The February 16 Argus proclaimed that "the Table Rock Dramatic Company are arranging to put on the stage at the opera house in about three weeks a four-act play entitled, "What Became of Parker?"  And the March 2 issue further announced that:

On Friday evening, March 17th, the Table Rock Dramatic Company, will put on that up to date and popular four-act comedy, What Became of Parker? at the Table Rock opera house.  The proceeds will be devoted to the newly organized fire company and the cast of characters contain our talented young people, so that a crowded house is anticipated.

But that notice was followed by another on March 9, informing the public that the play was being postponed a few weeks, "but our people are asked to keep it [sic] mind and be prepared to give them a big house when they do appear."  It is doubtful that the public ever learned what became of Parker as no further mention is ever made of the play in the Argus for 1899.

According to the March 2 Argus, "Keabe's great attraction will hod forth at the opera house on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, showing the dark side of city life."  Since no further mention was made of this production, it is a little difficult to ascertain its nature.  No other large productions were advertised for March, but the March 30 paper reported that the opera house management had added a new piano to its fixtures.  Other than a few musical concerts, not much was scheduled in the opera house the rest of that spring, with the exception of April 28, when the Freeman Brothers brought their "Midway Attraction at the exposition" to Table Rock, with its depiction of various scenes, including:

Dewey's victory at Manilla, bombardment of Mantanzas, Destruction of Cervera's fleet, Battle of Santiago, capture of Moro Castle, and many more such as the Spanish Bull fight, Quarrel at cards, Barnum and Bailey's St. parade, Rough riders, Mamma's pets, and many more, comprising 25 living pictures.

The public was cautioned not to class this group "with any inferior outfits, who can carry their apparatus in a hand satchel."

Remember we have no Magic lantern views but are full of life and action.  Don't miss this as it is an opportunity to view our navel engagement without ndangering your self.  We are the only people who have the exclusive right of the State of Nebraska and pay a large royalty to exhibit same.  These water scenes are enuine Edison stock and are taken during the engagements with Telescopic lenses retouched, refinished, and brought out true to life.  Our entertainment is s sanctioned by the public and press and there is nothing that will displease the most select.

The summer of 1899 was to be especially slow.  A smallpox epidemic hit Table Rock and no events in the opera house are reported in the Argus from June until August.  Not even the usual Fourth of July celebration was held.  The entire town was under a smallpox quarantine from Friday, June 16, until Friday, August 11.  "Forty-two persons were afflicted, some coming out of it badly marked." A vaccination operation was carried on during the epidemic.

The fall season brought in another road show.  On October 5 C.H. Colson, supported "by the best talent of Table Rock and two members of his road company, presented the four-act comedy drama 'The Vagabond.'"   But no follow-up story of the play's success appeared.  A "review" did appear, however, in relation to a November 13 program presented by the members of a music class conducted my Miss Emma M. Clema.  The Argus, on November 16, was to the point:

The musical entertainment given by the members of Miss Emma M. Clema's class was not by far a success, owing absence of her pupils, but Miss Clema bore her disappointment exceptionally well and gave a most interesting talk upon Music and Education.

A major improvement in the lighting at the Table Rock Opera House occurred in November, 1899.  The opera house owners prepared to have the entire building "fitted out with Conklin acetylene gas," and the new plant would include Martin's butcher shop, the State Bank, the post office, and Brown's barber shop, according to the November 30 Argus.  And the December 28 issue informed the public that the pipe installation was complete, "preparatory to lighting the buildings with the Conklin gas lights."  But an early problem with the has was mentioned in the January 11 issue.  An explosion occurred in the Knights of Pythias Hall in the State Bank building when a leak in the newly installed pipes caused some gas to be trapped under the low lecture platform.  A.C. Boyd and John Sutton were looking for the leak and had an ankle and a leg sprained.

December had about as much entertainment as any month in 1899.  The December 7 Argus announced that an "entertainment" would by presented Wednesday, December 18.  (Subsequent notices gave December 13, the correct date.) the program, sponsored by the W. S. A., was to consist of "comic quartets, solos, recitations, duets, tableaux, a tennis drill and dialog."  The follow-up story, December 14, said the program was attended by a large audience.

One of the best numbers was a recitation by little Rudolph Kovanda, and the Tennis drill was very pretty, the boys Quartet sustained its reputation and the entire program was well rendered.  Arrangements have been made to repeat it on Saturday night with some new features added.

The December 14 issue also announced that "the Lorenas will hold forth at the opera house all next week."  This group, actually the La Renos, was a traveling medicine show called the Mexicana Herb Company.  The Argus called them good performers and "they give one of the best 10 cent entertainments ever given in our city."  One night they gave "Ten Nights in a Bar Room."  They also held voting contests. 

Wednesday night they voted for the homeliest man in the house, and J.P. Ewing won the prize; tomorrow night they give a prize to the lady who proves the best nail driver and on Saturday night a prize will be given for the handsomest baby.  Their entertainment is clean, yet fun provoking.

The year 1900 began with an announcement in the January 4 Argus that Jacob Hildebrand, the Modern Hercules, would be at the opera house next Saturday evening.  "He has some fine press notices, and those who delight in seeing marvelous feats of strength will be pleased."  Evidently not too many people delighted in seeing him.  The January 11 paper said that the "German Samson was poorly attended, the receipts not meeting the expenses."

On January 17, 1900, the Argus reminded the public that on the next Monday the Blind Boone Concert Company would be in town, "and our music lovers are anticipating a royal treat."  Blind Boone was a pianist who had a vocalist "of rare talent" with him.  The review of January 25 said that Blind Boone was greeted by a large audience and the concert "gave universal pleasure."  Miss Rivers, the vocalist, had "a sweet voice" and proved "a great hit."  Perhaps Boone had a good "ear," as he "successfully reproduced a piece played by Miss Bessie Sutton, and his other work was up to its usual high order."

The March 15 Argus carried a notice about an upcoming "popular temperance drama" by the home dramatic company.  "A Social Glass" would be presented on Tuesday evening with proceeds going to the W. C. T. U. fund, with admission at 10 cents; "so that everybody can attend."  But the usual postponement must have occurred as the March 22 issue also announced the play for "next Tuesday evening."  Interspersed would be "good music" by the orchestra and songs by local singers.  The March 29 Argus had this follow-up story:

A home talent company rendered T. Trask Woodward's temperance drama, "A Social Glass," at the opera house on Tuesday evening.  Under the direction of S. Edward Roberts, and those who heard it say it was well played as professionals would have done.  the Table Rock orchestra rendered some excellent music and Alwyn Scism sang delightfully "The Cake-Walk in the Sky."  As the old maid who "loved to make people happy." Millard DeBord, was a hit; S. E. Roberts was at his best in the role of Robt. Britte, Esq.; Misses Gertie Norris and Nellie Cotton, each played their parts well, and Ben Johnson looked and acted like the typical booze dispenser; while Bob Wood, Will Ellis, John Phillips, and Paul Pangburn played and acted their parts well.  The proceeds about $15.00 net was turned over to the W. C. T. U.
Dancers, dinners, and school programs were held in the opera house during the rest of the spring, 1900.  The June 21 Argus promised "Penelope," a comic opera, to be put on in the opera house "in the near future," by the Table Rock singers.  As a benefit of the fire department, the program would have "lots of fun and some splendid music," and "our singers will do it ample justice."  And while patrons were told to "watch for the date" no mention is ever made of the opera for the rest of 1900.  Another summer event was heralded by a press notice in the July 5 Argus.

Grand Vocal Concert by the far-famed Fisk Jubilee Singers, Chas. Mumford, Manager.  Original Company, organized Oct. 6, 1871 at Fisk University, Nashville, Tenn.  Lately returned from a most successful tour of Northern Europe.  Nine public concerts in Leipzig, 11 in Amsterdam, 19 in Berlin, 24 in Hamburg, 50 in Stockholm.  One more chance to hear the songs that have touched the heart of the world, sung as only the Fisk Jubilee Singers can sing them.  Opera House, Table Rock, July 13.

Admission, 25, 35, and 50 cents.

The Argus had no follow-up story on this program.

In the fall of 1900, politics took up much of the space in the Argus and political speakers held forth at the opera house.  [See political ads.]  In November, the Quaker Medicine Company was at the opera house for a week.  The November 8 Argus said, "These entertainment's are free to adults, but children are charged for every night.  The Quaker Medicine Company gives the best and most refined entertainment of any organization traveling."  Besides this road show, two local musical companies performed in November and December.  The Table Rock Argus for November 22 promised "the treat of the season" when the "Grand Concert" appeared on November 30.  "The Pawnee Concert Company is composed of the best talent in the West.  The star of the company is Mr. Frank Gregory, whose ability as a whistling soloist, is known throughout the West."  The other local company was the "Aeolian Quartet"; this was a "regularly organized musical company," with Dr. C. C. Covert, a Table Rock dentist, as president.  Rev. W. H. Parker was business manager.  Others in the company were Miss Laura Holmes, soprano, who had "few equals in the west," and Miss Kate Moore, alto, "very pleasing to an audience." The December 6 paper said they would be at the opera house on December 15.  And the same issue assured the public that "The Foaming Sea" by the boys' quartet would be "worth the price of admission."  The end of December, 1900, had its disappointments.  The December 20 issue foresaw "waves of fun; oceans of laughter; music and wit" for Cooper's Musical Comedy Company of Christmas Day.  But the December 27 Argus stated that the Arthur Dayton show for Saturday night, and the Cooper Comedy Company, for Tuesday night, "failed to make their appearance."

In the years since 1900, other productions, dances, and banquets have been held in the Table Rock Opera House.  For a short while it was a movie theater, with M. V. Johnson as manager of the movie house.  In about 1917 or 1918, a new movie house was erected in Table Rock and shortly after that the opera house became the meeting hall for the local Bohemian ZCBJ Lodge.  The last play to be presented on the opera house stage was in 1955.

One of the pleasures of a writer doing a study such as this is the opportunity to talk with some of the townspeople.  Mr. Gordon Bethel, president of the Table Rock Historical Society and present owner of the opera house, has many fond memories of the old building.  As a small boy, Mr. Bethel worked in the opera house beginning in 1910.  His jobs included starting fires in the big wood stoves in the early evening, sweeping, and setting up the chairs.  He received no pay for his work, but was allowed to see the performances free.  He remembers the high school "graduation" plays and several traveling shows.  He recalls that acrobats performed from rings hung in the opera house ceiling.  One popular troupe that performed for a whole week had a man and wife team, plus another partner.  This male partner had a beautiful high voice, and as the front curtain was raised to about his waist, the man, in female garb, was taken to be a woman singing.  The man and wife played drinking glassed by rubbing their hands on partially filled glasses.  And the woman was also a quick-change artist.  Her last costume consisted of stars and stripes, and little Gordon Bethel was impressed.

But those exciting road companies are gone now, along with the suffrage speakers, medicine shows, masquerade balls, and temperance dramas.  Someone has said, "Who knows only his own generation remains always a child."  And I have found that going back three generations has been an enlightening experience.  The Table Rock Historical Society is to be commended for retaining glimpses of the past through such old buildings.  A visit to the Table Rock Opera House will impress any nostalgia buff that the old magic, the very "essence" of the opera house, lives on.


A complete listing of references in the Table Rock Argus from August, 1896, to December, 1900, of non-dramatic events held in the opera house.  The dates are those of the Argus issues; direct quotations are indicated.


    Aug. 28: A social ball will be held tonight.

    Oct. 9: The democratic ladies formed a Bryan Club.

    Oct. 16: ". . . a fair-sized audience greeted Dr. G. W. Collins . . . last Friday night." A Pawnee City glee club sang.

    Oct. 23: "The tramp orator addressed a big audience at the opera house Friday evening."  "The tramp is a young fellow who embarked in the rug business on borrowed capital in an Indiana town just before Cleveland's election in 1892.  When the hard times came, he went broke and has since been tramping the country."

    Republican Club Meeting at the opera house, Friday evening.

    Oct. 30: Republicans will hold a meeting Oct. 30 and will be addressed by Hon. R.D. Stearns.

    Nov. 6: Epworth League Lecture Course talk by Dr. H. D. Fisher of Topeka, Kansas.  He is "one of the west and will deliver his splendid lectures on "Quantrele's Raid." It's a noble lesson in American patriotism and liberty."  On Nov. 10.  "Dr. Fisher saw what he tells."  Admission, 10 cents.

    Nov. 13: R. H. Thorpe, the boy tramp orator, will give a lecture next Monday evening. Admission, 15 cents.

    Nov. 27: Concert and supper, by the Table Rock Band on Monday evening.  Admission, 15 cents.

    Epworth League Lecture Course talk by Bishop Bowman, whose subject will be "Travels in India."  Bishop Bowman is known "throughout the world as one of the greatest living orators."  On Dec. 8.  Admission, 25 cents.

    Dec. 11: [Follow-up on Bowman]  "There were many who had never before seen a bishop of the Methodist Church and Bishop Bowman's appearance was in harmony with their ideas of what a bishop should be."

    Dec. 18: Social dance on Christmas night.

1897 Argus issue dates:

    Jan. 8: Epworth League Course lecture by Chaplain Howe of the Nebraska State Penitentiary on "Life and Experience in the Penitentiary."  On Jan. 12.  Admission, 10 cents.

    Jan. 29: Epworth League Course Lecture by Dr. Dean on Travels in Europe.  On Feb. 2.   Admission, 10 cents.

    Feb. 19: Masquerade Ball on Feb. 22.  "Participants are expected to furnish their own costumes."  Tickets, 50 cents; gallery, 15 cents.

    Mar. 5: The original Tennessee Jubilee Singers.  On March 20.

    Epworth League Course lecture was by Dr. Shepard, of Lincoln.  His talk on "Ghosts" was last Monday night.

    Masquerade Ball on March 17.

    May. 19: Rev. T. H. Worley to lecture on "Superstitions of China."  On March 26.  "The proceeds will go to the High School to buy books and apparatus for the school."  Admission, 10 cents.

    Apr. 2: Worley's talk netted $13.00 for high school library fund.

    May 21: Commencement exercises for high school next Friday evening.  Class of 13 - 4 boys, 9 girls.

    W.S.A. entertainment last Friday night was "one of the best of the numerous home talent entertainment which have recently called the people of Table Rock together."  S. E. Roberts delivered an address "replete with arguments for women's suffrage."

    May 28: Invitation ball under the management of F. D. Maynard and H. A. Talcott.  On June 4.

    July 2: Grand Ball on Saturday evening.

Aug. 27: Dance last Wednesday evening.  "The managers had money to burn."

Oct. 29: Popocrats will hold meeting Sat. evening with Prof. Falton.

Nov. 19: Band supper and entertainment Thanksgiving night.

Nov. 19: Ewing Herbert lecture on "A Mother's Boy."  On Dec. 10.  Admission, 15 and 25 cents.

Dec. 17: Program with band, songs, and speeches to be given soon.

1898 Argus issue dates:

Jan. 8: Imperial Quartet on Saturday evening.

Feb. 4: Band entertainment on March 4.

Feb. 11: Band entertainment postponed for two weeks.

    Banquet by the H. H. Auxiliary of the Women's Suffrage Association given at Knight's of Pithias Hall and the opera house.  H. H. stands for "hen-pecked husbands or happy husbands."  This "most unique entertainment ever given in Table Rock" included a "Negro character delineation by Capt. Jennings and his two daughters, Miss Fannie Jennings and Mrs. McBride."

Feb. 18: Thelma Heathman Specialty on March 3.

Feb. 25: Dance given by community Bohemians on Tuesday.

Apr. 1: Rev. Redding was to speak, but he was ill and house was small; he left town without speaking.

    Mass meeting of citizens for Cubans has Ex-governor Thayer and Hon. H. C. Russell of Lincoln as speakers.

Apr. 8: Spring Festival in opera house.  Two day event included Easter gifts and a May Day picnic.  On April 8.  Admission, 10 cents.

Apr. 15: Maypole Dance under management of Charles Munsen.  Hays orchestra to furnish music.  On May 2.

Apr. 22: Dance to be given by Bohemian ladies.

Apr. 29: Banquet given by Royal Neighbors last Friday night.

May 6: Remember the Maine Monument meeting Sunday evening.  "The collection will be sent to the treasurer of the National Committee to help erect a suitable monument to the memory of the brave boys who perished in the Havana Harbor."

May 13: Nine dollars contributed to Remember the Maine monument.

    A dance under the management of the orchestra.  On May 27.

    "Take Mixed Pickles tonight and tomorrow night."  (Some troupe?)

May 20: "Mixed Pickles" did not prove a financial success because of stormy weather.

    Commencement exercises on June 3.  No student orations for first time.  Address by Dr. H. B. Ward, University of Nebraska.  Admission, 10 cents, with some free tickets.  Eight in the class.

    "The persons who took the bunting from the opera house are hereby notified to return the same and thereby save themselves trouble."

May 27: Botany specimens on exhibition by graduation class.

    Program by public school on June 2.

    Decoration Day program announced.

June 3: Meeting to discuss July 4th celebration.  On June 4.

July 7: Recital by Miss Grace Talcott, assisted by sister Lotta and Miss Bessie Sutton.

Aug. 11: Miss Stoddard, elocutionist, gave a "pleasing entertainment."

Sep. 29: "The Table Rock dramatic company is rehearsing a play, which they will put on in the near future."   (Probably the first reference to "What Became of Parker?" frequently postponed, the play is never mentioned as having been performed.)

Oct. 6: Hon. E. J. Burkett, Republican candidate for Congress, to speak.  On Oct. 14.

    Hon. George Hibner to open campaign for fusionists.  On Oct. 12. He will "discuss political issues from a Free Silver republican standpoint."

    "The opera house management has donated the use of the opera house to the cemetery association to hold dinner and supper in on election day.  Every citizen ought to patronize the association on this day as funds are necessary to put the cemetery in a proper condition."

    Dr. P. S. George of Lincoln to speak next Sunday evening. Oct. 13: The spiritualistic lecture by Dr. George attracted a large audience.

Oct. 13: James Manahan, fusion candidate, speaks.  On Nov. 3.

      G. M. Lamberton to speak.  On Nov. 2.  "One of Nebraska's greatest lawyers."   "Has a national reputation."

Oct. 27: V. H. Miles of Omaha addressed voters.  On Monday evening.  "A small but enthusiastic crowd."  Town had a three inch snowstorm.

Nov. 17: Bohemian dance to be held Monday evening.

      A grand masquerade ball on Thanksgiving evening.  "Promoters promise it will be a pleasant affair."

      "W.S.A. banquet at opera house tomorrow night will prove one of the social events of the year."

Dec. 8: Epworth League lecture by Rev. A. B. Whitmer on "Things That Make Me Tired."  He spoke for nearly two hours on Tuesday evening "during which the audience laughed and applauded."

Dec. 22: Christmas ball tomorrow night; it will be masquerade and the managers "promise a good time."

Dec. 29: Epworth League lecture by Dr. Wharton, pastor of St. Paul ME church in Lincoln.  Talk on "The Birth of a New World."

1899 Argus issue dates:

Jan. 12: Annual banquet of the H. H.'s on Jan. 19.

Jan. 19: Epworth League lecture by Dr. Sheperd next Tuesday.  Talk on "War and Weapons" and he brings his personal $10,000 gun and sword collection with him.  Admission, 15 cents.

      Dance Friday evening under management of L. Bowen and F. E. Purcell.

Feb. 2: Epworth League lecture by C. S. Dudley on "Luck and Pluck."

Feb. 23: Grand masquerade ball.  On March 3.

Mar. 9: Grand ball on Friday, March 17.

1899, continued:

Mar. 16: "A caucus of those who believe in licensing a saloon in Table Rock will probably be held in the opera house on Saturday evening to name candidates for members of the board of village trustees."

Mar. 16: (small box in same issue)  "All qualified voters who support an anti saloon license ticket are requested to meet in the Martin building on the northwest corner of the square at 8 o'clock Saturday evening, March 18, for placing in nomination five candidates for village trustees."  (Did G. R. Martin own both the opera house and the Martin building at this time?)

Mar. 23: "Wet" candidates named: M. N. Fellers, James Karas, W. C. newlin, J. M. Lane, A. M. Fuller; and "dry" candidates: B. W. Ballou, J. R. Sutton, A. C. Boyd, O. D. Tibbets, W. H. Talcott.  (This issue did not affect the opera house, but revealed some community sentiment, especially since Fellers and Ballou were lumber partners.  The April 6 Argus said the dry issue won.)

Apr. 6: Meeting at opera house next Sunday afternoon to which all men were invited.  Speaker would be Rev. St. John, who was conducting a revival meeting at the ME Church.

      Masquerade ball on Friday of next week.

Apr. 20: Musical recital to be given May 6.

Apr. 27: Silver medal contest sponsored by W. C. T. U. was held on April 24.  Contestants were seven young girls who gave recitations with songs between.

      Further announcement of "grand musical entertainment" on May 6 by Myrta Howe and her pupils.  Argus printed the program of the various 27 organ, vocal, and piano numbers.  Admission, 10 cents for the benefit of the cemetery fund.

May 11: Commencement exercises on May 26.  Ten graduates.

May 18: Botanical exhibit by Senior class next Wednesday afternoon.  "Last year a similar exhibit was largely attended and the eyes of many people were opened for the first time to the beauties of the flora of this region."

      Members of the G. A. R., Union and Confederate, and the W. R. C. were to march to the opera house where a program would be given on May 10, Decoration day.

June 8: Musical contest next Saturday night with Miss Nellie Cotton in charge.  Admission, 10 cents.

June 8: Stockholders meeting of Nebraska Central Loan Building Association held on Friday afternoon, June 2.

Aug. 10: G. A. R. Post and Women's Relief Corps called a meeting last Tuesday "for the purpose of arranging for a welcome home of all soldiers of the late war."

Aug. 17: A finance committee was formed for the "reception of our soldier boys." G. R. Martin was one of those appointed.

Aug. 24: Dance tomorrow evening.

Aug. 31: Meeting tonight for more plans on the soldier reception.

Sep. 28: Illustrated lecture on Oct. 3 by Prof. George R. Roomer, a member of Co. C., 1st Nebraska Volunteers.  Over 100 pictures taken by the speaker and other soldiers in the Philippines.  "The pictures will give the hearer a good idea of what the 1st Nebraska boys saw and went through.

      Gen. J. B. Weaver of Iowa spoke on Saturday evening.  His talk was "devoted largely to expansion and aroused little enthusiasm, although there was sufficient applause at the close to awaken the chairman of the meeting who is said to have gone to sleep on the platform."

Oct. 5: Ladies of the cemetery association are making plans to serve dinner and supper in the opera house on election day.

Oct. 12: Republicans to open their campaign Oct. 21 with a "rousing meeting."

Oct. 19: Chaplain Mailley and Hon. C. F. Reavis to speak Saturday night.

      George W. Berge talked Fusion politics Tuesday evening to a medium sized audience.

      W. S. A. county convention program printed in Argus.  Meeting in opera house on Monday and Tuesday.  One of the symposium topics was "Should Women Voters Hold Office?"

Nov. 23: "One of the most pleasing entertainment's given in Table Rock during the season was the one given at the opera house on Wednesday evening of last week in commemoration of the 84th birthday of Elizabeth Cady Stanton."

Nov. 30: The Woodmen to give banquet on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

Nov. 30 Epworth League announces its lecture course, and gives list of speakers and prices.  Family tickets, $1.50; season tickets, $0.50; single admission, adults, $0.15, children, $0.10.

Dec. 21: Masquerade ball on Monday night.

Dec. 28: Epworth League lecture on Friday evening, Jan. 5.  "Dr. Rollands, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln, one of Lincoln's most popular divines, and an orator of acknowledged superiority throughout the country, has been secured . . to open the lecture course with his famous lecture, 'Tantalus.'"

1900 Argus issue dates:

Jan. 4: Grand ball next Wednesday evening.

Jan. 17: Dance next Wednesday evening.

      Epworth League lecture by Dr. C. N. Dawson, pastor of the Omaha Walnut Hill ME church, kept his "audience laughing for nearly two hours and even then the people were not tired."

Jan. 25: Third annual W. S. A. banquet held on Thursday evening.  "Report gives it first place in the history of the social affairs of the association; covers were laid for one hundred guests and each place was occupied.

Feb. 1: Epworth League course lecture last Saturday by Miss Edith Cogswell of Crete who gave an elocutionary program.  "The attendance was large and the artist greatly pleased her hearers, her enunciation and acting being fine." Feb. 8: Dance on Wednesday, February 14.

      Epworth League lecture by Dr. Shepard of Nebraska City on "Jonathan and John" last Thursday evening.  "He is an orator of great ability and one of the most wonderful word painters in Nebraska."

Feb. 15: Masquerade ball on February 22; admission, 75 cents, spectators, 15 cents.

      Edward Reno at the opera house tonight.

Mar. 8: Epworth League lecture last night by Dr. Wharton of Lincoln on "That Preacher's Boy." He gave "one of the most pleasing lectures of the course."

Mar. 15: The Royal Neighbors to entertain the Woodmen and their families next Wednesday.

Mar. 22: Musical concert by Miss Myrta Howe and her music class on March 31 for benefit of the cemetery fund.  "It will be participated in by the best musical and elocutionary talent in the community." Admission, 10 cents.

Apr. 5: "A Social Glass" to be reproduced by local dramatic company on Friday night.

Apr. 12: A "Guess and Eat" Social on Saturday evening, April 14.  "Crokinole and other amusements will be indulged in and supper will be served, from six o'clock till twelve."   (A later item said proceeds netted $14 for the W. S. A.)

      Dance tomorrow evening.

Apr. 26: May-pole dance next Tuesday evening.

      Mrs. E. Norine Law will lecture Friday, May 4.  According to a Muskegon, Michigan paper, "Mrs. Law is a woman of magnetic presence, a clear, forcible speaker, has a voice eminently adapted to her mission and withal heart and soul devoted to the grand work of temperance in which she is engaged."

May 3: "Mother Goose Entertainment" given by high school on May 11.

      Part I: Mother Goose Festival

      Part II: Boys Quartet Dinah is My Best Gal

      Ring Drill First Primary

      Song (6 Little Girls) Pop-corn

      Red, White and Blue Drill Second Primary

      Dialogue A Precious Pickle

      Song The Milkmaids

      May 17: Commencement exercises on May 29.  Five graduates: 3 girls, 2 boys.

May 24: Memorial Day services in opera house at 10 a.m.

June 28: Silver Medal Contest on Monday, July 2.  Music by the Boys Quartet and other singers, recitations by Max Marble, Marion Mitchell, George Curry, Bernice Gates, Fred Cotton, Mable Barned, and Artie Scism.  "Come and enjoy a good entertainment by the little folks.  Admission 10 cents for all over twelve years old, under that age, free."

July 12: At the Demorest contest last Monday first prize went to Max Marble and second to Bernice Gates.

Aug. 2: Fusion Senatorial convention met on Friday afternoon.

Aug. 16: (boxed notice) "REPUBLICANS--male and female.  You are invited to attend the meeting of the McKinley and Roosevelt Club at the opera house on next Saturday evening.  That eloquent and logical speaker, Judge Tucker, will be with us and you are expected to come out and help give the republican campaign a good start."

Sep. 13: Republican Club meeting next Wednesday.  Seven numbers of "songs and addresses, papers and poems will be rendered."

Sep. 27: (boxed advertisement)  "HON. G. L. DOBSON, Secretary of State of Iowa, will speak in the Table Rock opera house on Saturday evening, Sept. 29.  Everybody come!"

Oct. 4: (boxed advertisement)  "HON. FRANK MARTIN, Republican candidate for State Senator, will address the citizens of Table Rock and vicinity at the opera house on Saturday evening.  The Flambeau and ladies' marching club will parade before speech.  Special quartet singing.  You are cordially invited to come out and hear the next senator."

      Fusionist meeting with Lieut.  Smith speaking next Tuesday.

      Dance on Thursday, October 11.

      Illustrated lecture on October 19 by Rev. J. M. Campbell, D. D. Slides will represent scenery in the Black Hills, "especially snap shots of the famous bear hunt by the 'Knights of the Piscatorial Art.'  Come and see W. H. Andrew on the screen and laugh."

Nov. 1: Candidate Berge, democrat, spoke last night.

      School entertainment on Friday night, Nov. 9.  "The program will be divided into three acts, and will abound in humor, pathos, and patriotism, liberally interspersed with good music.  All the parts will be short and spicy.  This will be a good program and you will have to go early to get a good seat." Admission, 10 cents.

      Republican meeting Monday evening. Judge Tucker to be present.

Nov. 15: Dance on Thanksgiving evening.

Nov. 22: Pawnee Concert Company on Nov. 30.

Dec. 6: "The entertainment given by the Twins at the opera house, Wednesday evening, gave very general satisfaction."

Dec. 13: (Program was printed for "Aeolian Quartet" concert.  Eighteen numbers were listed.

Re-typed and submitted by Kim Vrtiska 1999

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