Julian A 1833- Selby.

Memorabilia and anecdotal reminiscences of Columbia, S. C., and incidents connected therewith online

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■MM — — ^







3 1833 0230


And Anecdotal Reminiscences
of Columbia, S. C, and Inci-
dents Connected Therewith.



Columbia, S. C.

The R, L. Bryan Company.







Hozv the Idea of Publication Originated.

*> Being blessed with a retentive memory, and disposed to inquire
into matters and things generally; often called upon to give in-
formation on different subjects to parties in various parts of the
State — from the establishment of a library chartered by the Gen-
eral Assembly in 1805; the occupants of the premises northeast
corner of Richardson (or Main) and Taylor streets in 1820; any
particulars as to Count von Hassel, whom the party thought might
. be a relative; and the killing of an individual in 1872 — these are
merely samples, taken at random. To the first I could not give a
definite answer; but suggested, that it was known that a charter
had been granted for a library, and one would reasonably suppose
the organizers had carried out their ideas. The second I happened
to know from reading an advertisement in The Times and Gazette
of about that date, that the "Indian Queen Tavern" was located
on that spot, and the name of the proprietor (who proved to be
the individual about whom the information was wanted). As to the
third, the party was informed that Count von Hassel took an over-
dose of laudanum, died and was buried in Trinity Church-vard;
that his widow soon after gave up a flourishing seminary, located
in a large building which stood opposite to where her husband was
laid to rest, went away and died at the North soon after ; that there
was no property to be disposed of (the Count's estates having been
confiscated, it was understood) ; and as these events had occurred
nearly sixty years ago, I couldn't see any reason for further
inquiry. The last I satisfied the inquirer was a similarity of names
— the one having died in 1858, naturally.

I have from earliest childhood been fond of listening to conver-
sations between and anecdotes told by elderly people, and storing
these statements away on memory's shelves, and it is wonderful
how fresh they keep — turning them over occasionally and airing
some that have been quietly reposing for numberless years. Mam-
evenings I have spent with my old friend. Airs. Mary Hilleeas —
reading to her news and advertisements from files of old papers,
and listening to her interesting comments. Her memory was
wonderful, and I have been enabled to corroborate some of her
information in such a satisfactory manner, that I take the balance


as literally true. We would seat ourselves — the old lady taking a
pinch of snuff, wiping her nose with a red silk handkerchief, hold-
ing her head aside, and then deftly using a handsome linen one
conspicuously. The reading would then begin and the replies to
queries be brought out, besides voluntary information. There are
several other elderly acquaintances from whom I have obtained
intelligence at different times, and I have reason to conclude they
were communicating what they believed was the truth. So that I
can safely venture considerably beyond my own times.

Quite a number of individuals, aware of this fad of mine, and
also the memory, have suggested that I get these reminiscences or
bits of information together, put them in readable shape, and lay
them before the world. This I have endeavored to do in this
volume. Have not pretended to give them chronologically, but just
as they happened to be brought to mind, without actual connection,
but in anecdotal salmagundi shape.

A great many circumstances I am aware of that would be read
with zest and curiosity by some, but cause pain and an opening up
of old wounds to others, so I have omitted reference to them. As
a good priest once said to a dying man, who desired to make a
statement of painful circumstances of which he was aware: "My
son, if you can do no good in your fast-ebbing life, do no harm ; I
prefer not to hear your communication." And he was right. I
don't mean to intimate that this applies to my case, for I have just
passed two or three years over the three-score-and-ten mark, and
hope to see the four-score ; but if the powers above order differently,
I have an abiding faith in the idea that my shortcomings may be
counterbalanced by some good points, and that I will be able — as
with my grammar lessons at school — to pass, through the kindness
of my Master. And with this apology, I put forth what I may term
this Memorabilia.

That in this conglomeration
(Plain talk and versification),
I've hurt no man's reputation,
True — needs no verification.
If it meets your approbation
(S'pose might say, appreciation) —
Testify glorification
By subscribing — demonstration.

Columbia, S. C, September, 1905. JULIAN A. SELBY.



Three to Four Years of Age.

My recollection is unusually good — at least, many people so
think. On some occasions, after relating circumstances that
occurred when I was but three and four years of age, I have had
insinuations made as to my data. One instance in particular in
proof of my assertions I recall: The good Father Birmingham
(afterwards Vicar General of the Catholic Church in South Caro-
lina) was in charge of St. Peter's Church in this town in 1837, and
for several years before and after that. The old gentleman must
have been a lover of children and unusually pleasant— children are
excellent readers of dispositions, and generally govern themselves
accordingly. I distinctly remember his looks — square black cap on
head, and black gown, walking slowly around the church-yard,
missal in hand, and conversing freely with me. The fence enclosing
the church premises in front was unusually low, and I would almost
daily clamber over to pay a visit to Rev. Mr. B. I was then three
years of age: the record says I was born February (>. 1833. To
corroborate my statement as to age : during the early seventies, the
Holy Father paid what, I believe, he knew would be his last visit
to his old parishioners here and elsewhere. I should have stated
that he would occasionally minister to his religious brethren in
different sections — Camden, Newberry, Edgefield, etc. — where there
were no regular houses of worship. I even remember the appear-
ance of the reverend gentleman on his raw-boned horse — an
unusually large animal, while the Father was a rather small-sized
man — with his old-fashioned saddle-bags, on his labor-of-love jour-
neys, as I would occasionally see him depart. During the morning
service on the occasion referred to, the Rev. Mr. B. spoke from the
altar very pleasantly about my mother and myself, and told of my
visits and perambulations around the church-yard with him, while
I was in my third year. That settled the "Doubting Thomases" —
even though at a very late date. Father Birmingham made his
rounds among his old parishioners, and returned to his home in


Charleston, where he soon afterwards died, at an extreme old age —
not, however, before the completion of the pretty little chapel on
Sullivan's Island, "Star of the Sea," which he was so much inter-
ested in. I paid several flying visits to him, and shaking his cane
at me, he would often threaten to knock some of my old Methodist-
ical ideas out of me.

To Charleston by Stage and Railroad.

On the fourth anniversary of my birth — February, 183" — my
mother and a party paid a visit to Charleston during the famous
"Race Week." Some went by steamboat from Granby down the
Congaree to the Santee, then through the Santee Canal to Cooper
River, and so to the "City by the Sea." The others took the land
route — stage coach to Branchville, then by steam cars — passenger
coaches, short seats running across (something like our summer
electric cars) and a footboard on the outside for the accommodation
of the conductor. There were some freight cars attached — short,
light affairs, with wooden frames and cloth sides. The rain poured
during nearly the entire trip. Hogabook Swamp, a few miles
below Columbia, was almost impassable, I heard said. On reaching
our quarters in the city, we were asked whether we came by land
or water, when "Smart Ike" I promptly replied "Water." "No,
my son," my mother put in; "we came by land." I responded, in
an unsatisfied way, "Well, it rained all the time." During our
peregrinations around the city, I received several presents from
lady clerks in the stores, among them a "false-face." I merely
speak of this to show that my memory is all right. In my hurry to
"scare" the inmates of our boarding house with the mask, I tripped,
fell and thoroughly demolished the nose, and gave my own some-
thing of a bat.

An elderly gentleman in the house took quite a fancy to me, and
trotted me over the city almost daily — visiting the shipping (and
the masts of the vessels looked thick as dead trees in a swamp) and
other objects of interest — invariably winding up our morning
excursion with a visit to the old "French Coffee House," on the
north side of the Bay, near Broad street, where I was regaled with
a wee glass of "Perfect Love" cordial and a slight lunch. In those
days, I am informed, Madeira and Sherry wines, Hock and Port ;
Maraschino, Noyau, Curacoa and other cordials and liqueurs, were
considered "the thing." I was particularly attracted by the paper
on the wall — life-size battle scenes, etc. Although the building was
used for various purposes in after years, including a newspaper


office, it happened that I never went in it again until some time
during the seventies, when I was struck with the familiar appear-
ance of the wall papering, and a gentleman remarked that this
paper had been on the walls since the place had been used as the
"French Coffee House," forty or fifty years before. My old friend
seemed to be afraid that I would get away from him, and so he
invariably, before we started out, tied his handkerchief around the
wrist of each of us, and so we would sally forth.

The Charleston Hotel was then being constructed, and the scaf-
folding was still around the immense structure. Speaking of the
matter a few years ago before a latter-day Charlestonian, he
remarked that I had made a mistake as to dates — that the Charles-
ton Hotel was not commenced until the forties. My reply was,
"See Mr. M. H. Berry when you next come to Columbia, and he
will prove to you by his memoranda that he was sent to Charleston
bv his employers in Newark, New Jersey, with furniture, curtains,
etc. , for the new hotel in the winter of 1 838. ' ' He made the inquiry
but never afterwards referred to the subject.

Stage Upset — His Stuttering Saved Him.

Returning from the before-mentioned trip to Charleston, we had
an upset ; but fortunately no one was seriously hurt. There were
four or five ladies in the stage-coach, and in being lifted from the
overturned vehicle, they left their low-quartered shoes behind.
Gaiters were unknown then for young people ; elderly ladies wore
cloth shoes, which were laced up over the ankles, called prunellas —
but whether the name referred to the shoe or the material is beyond
my ken. The jar extinguished the oil lamps, and as matches were
not much in vogue, the ladies had a time of it in selecting their foot
apparel, when Mr. Lemond (a Scotch gentleman living in Fair-
field) had gathered up the slippers and dumped them on the ground.
The shoeless ones felt with their toes, and finally secured their
property. One little lady declared that she had gotten hold of one
which would hold both her feet ; when my mother, who was a larger
specimen of humanity, said she had one which she could not get
two of her toes into comfortably — they exchanged.

A short time before the upset, one of our passengers, an out-and-
out Yankee, by his questions, carried a box very carefully on his
knees, and was thought to be a surveyor, complained that his legs
were so badly cramped that he would like to get out and walk
awhile. He was a terrible stutterer. An elderlv gentleman, who


carried a heavy cane, offered to look after the precious box, if he
would like to try the road. He availed himself at once of the offer.
The driver directed him to keep to the right, there was no danger of
getting lost, as the river was in sight all the way. The horses were
walking slowly and the little man soon got considerably ahead of
the vehicle. The upset occurred, but the old coach was soon righted,
the baggage re-packed; and we began jogging along again, when
somebody commented on our not overtaking the walker. Another
said that when the little fellow heard of our mishap his first inquiry
would be about his property. "If he says a word about his box,
before he inquires about the passengers, or at least the ladies, I'll
thrash him with this stick," holding up his bone-breaker. Just after
daylight, near the Congaree Bridge, we came up with our stutter-
ing passenger, who was waiting for us on the side of the road.
"Hello, driver," he said, with a stammer: "what's the matter?"
"Upset," replied our Jehu, gruffly. "Is my b-b-b — anybody hurt?"
was the next inquiry. There was a roar from the amused passen-
gers at the break in his inquiry. "Lucky for you," put in the elderly
party, "that you stammered ; for if you had inquired about your
box before you did about the passengers — or the ladies at least —
you would have been forced to go under a surgeon's hands before I
got through with you." The Yankee's property was uninjured.
I should have stated that our Scotchman, after things were made
right, exclaimed earnestly, "We all kem doon in a loomp thegither,"
which was indelibly impressed on my memory.

Happy Jack and Elisabeth.

"Happy" Jack was the sobriquet of our driver, and I saw him
many times afterwards — a hearty, good-natured soul. His wife
had a comfortable home near Sandy Run, I think. It was said that
at one point the road passed within a mile of the house but a turn
required over two miles to reach it. The good dame would prepare
coffee, biscuits, meat, etc., bank the fire in the big fireplace and
retire. When Jack with his vehicle reached the nearest point, he
would blow "The White Cockade and the Black Cockade." or some
other simple air, on his horn, give a loud wind-up toot, and yell
"Elizabeth!" which would have the effect of arousing his passen-
gers and waking up his faithful helpmate. By the time the stage
arrived, a hot breakfast would be on the table — much to the grati-
fication of the weary travelers and the pecuniary advantage of



Tragedy, Song. Dance and Farce.
In the good old days, "'fore de wah," as the darkies express it. in
all dramatic performances, there was a comedy or tragedy, followed
by a song, dance and farce. The elder Booth (Junius Brutus),
Dan Marble, Xed Forrest, Wm. H. Crisp and other heavy men (and
women, too. for that matter) have played engagements here in
"stock" companies. One season, T. G. Booth (the only comedian
in the family ) was the comic singer. His father had an engage-
ment, and finding that his son was disgracing himself by such
employment, attempted to break his contract ; but found he could
not do so. He pocketed the affront and went on with the perform-
ance. "The L'sed-up Man," the popular song of the day, was
frequently given, with such emendations and local gags as the
singer could ring in. The following is a specimen of the original :

I aint got no steady home,

Nor nothing else, I s'pose,
.Mi-fortune follows me

Wherever about I goes.
I supposes when I dies,

From Satan I'll he driven,
And made to wander round

Outside the walls of Heaven,
With none to take me in,

Xo critter for to greet me,
And when I wants a drink.

Not a soul to treat me.

The "Exchange" saloon was an extensive establishment and
well kept — first class, in every way ; and was situated on Main,
below Washington, where David's restaurant now is. Messrs.
William Beard. Thomas Baker and Charles Xeuffer were the part-
ners — the latter silent, as he was then a candidate for Sheriff, an
office that he was elected to and satisfactorily filled. Mr. X. was
present at the theatre one night, a little "loaded," and was so pleased
at the rendition of the following verse, that he stepped forward
and extended this invitation in a loud tone of voice : "You come to
the 'Exchange,' after the show, tell 'em Charley Xeuffer send you.
and you get all the peach and honey you want. Bring your friends."
The incident "brought down the house," and ready compliance fol-
lowed :

I aint got no good friends,

Likewise short of money.
Baker and Beard won't trust

For their peach and honey.

The same season. Wise, the famous aeronaut, was to make a


skyward voyage in a large balloon filled with gas. Mr. Fayette
Howe, a school-teacher, obtained permission, and made the ascen-
sion successfully. Booth, that night, added this to "The Used-up
Man" — the recollections of the Harrison campaign had not yet
died out:

We aint got no log cabins,

Xo hard cider nor no coons,
But have way of traveling

In smashing big balloons;
It would not take up Wise,

And so to stop a row,
They sent off a schoolmaster,

His name was spelt some Howe.

Of course, hearty applanse was the response. The reference to
a row arose from this circumstance : A so-called balloonist came
through here, strapped, and succeeded in getting some gullible par-
ties to advance the necessary funds to construct an aerial apparatus.
The fellow evidently knew something about the business, employed
a number of females to work on the job, and at the promised time
a presentable-looking balloon was brought out of ''Carolina Hall."
But a slip-up was made in the varnish to cover and protect the
apparatus. It was carried to Coleman's Circus lot, where an
immense crowd had gathered to witness the ascent. The "Profes-
sor" made a short, descriptive speech, and the inflation began. As
soon as the balloon was expanded with the gas, cmeer sounds were
heard, and rents made in numerous places in the airy vessel. The
crowd got unruly, broke through the ropes and soon destroyed
the flimsy affair. The "Professor" escaped through the back way
with the entrance money and disappeared. Mr. Howe became
infatuated with ballooning, and took up making airy flights as a
business. He made several successful ascensions in different places,
and finally drifted to Columbus, Georgia, where resided Mrs. Beach
(nee Miss Caroline Neuffer), a young and handsome woman,
whom he had attempted to address in Columbia some time before,
but she declined his attentions. This was his last aeronautic effort.
He ascended, his light support disappeared, and sixty years have
elapsed, but his return to terra firma has never been recorded. He
literally went "Up in a balloon, boys, up in a balloon."

An Actor at the Age of Ninety-Six.
C. Toler Wolfe, "a general utility man," who, like the late Eugene
Cramer, was good in tragedy, farce or comedy, played here several
seasons. He remained on the stage until he was nintey-six years of
age, and then, although seldom out of an engagement, died poor.
He "had a skeleton in his closet," which kept him down.


W. C. Forbes and his wife, with a fine company, played here two
seasons. They afterwards attempted a performance in a town in
Florida, but a party of Indians made a raid on them, killed several
of the actors and carried off the costumes and properties. The
military authorities sent soldiers to punish them ; so when they
came across a buck with a fancy garment on, they shot him down.
This raid broke Forbes, and he wound up his career in New York.
Laura Keene, the well-known English actress, played in Forbes'
company for a short time ; and it was terrible to hear her hollow
cough while taking the rollicking part of Lady Gay Spanker in
"London Assurance." She returned to New York, built a theatre,
which was named for her, played a celebrated engagement with
Joe Jefferson and Sothern in the "American Cousin," lost her
theatre through some trickery, and died. Actors are unfortunate
proprietors. Lester Wallack made a failure with his theatres, and
Edwin Booth was equally troubled.

Joe Jefferson's First Appearance Here.

Jefferson & Ellsler (Joseph Jefferson and John Ellsler), with
their wives and an unusually good company of comedians, played
an engagement here the winter and spring of 1849-50 — first in the
old theatre and then in American Hall, the site of the building now
occupied by Sligh & Allen. They depended on their company and
had no "stars." The town authorities were so delighted with the
performance that they refunded the license fee of $10 a day for
the entire season. Joseph Jefferson, Jr., was disappointed when he
discovered that he was two years older than he thought himself.

I had a pleasant chat with Mr. Ellsler on his last visit to Colum-
bia, six years ago, with his daughter, Effie. Notwithstanding his
years, he took the part of "Adam," in "As You Like It." He
remembered me perfectly — owing to a pleasant circumstance which
occurred during their engagement here. As I was about to leave,
he took one of my hands in both of his, and feelingly said, "When
you visit New York again, come straight to my house, so that we
can talk of old times before we cross the river." He crossed.

I called on Mr. Jefferson in his car two years ago, and was
pleasantly received. I told him, that night, if never before, he
would play to three generations — myself and wife, several children
and grand-children. He proffered me "passes," but I assured him
I had secured tickets several days before. In response to a curtain
call that night, he referred to his having been the manager of a
theatre here in 1851, and that he was pleased to say that in one case,


at least, he had played to three generations that night. The old
partners, Jefferson & Ellsler, were not long separated. Mr. Ellsler
died about two years ago, and Mr. Jefferson recently. My earnest
wish is that they may meet in a better land, and if not permitted to
enact parts as in our world, to pass as satisfactorily before the bar
of the Great Judge as they did that of public opinion here.

It was principally through Mr. Jefferson's influence that the
Church of the Transfiguration, in New York City, was brought
prominently before the world, and obtained the sobriquet of "The
Little Church Around the Corner." Mr. George Jordan, a well-
known comedian, died, and as he had been a frequent attendant
at a church on Fifth avenue about 2?th street (called by the "boys"
"The Church of the Holy Chicken Cock," from the fact that the
vane on the steeple was a rooster), Mr. Jefferson, with a com-
mittee of actors, applied to the rector for permission to have the
funeral services performed there. The reverend gentleman objected
on account of the profession of the deceased ; but suggested that
there was a little church around the corner where they might be
accommodated. "God bless the little church around the corner,"
was Mr. Jefferson's fervent reply. Dr. Houghton politely agreed
to their request, and the services over the dead actor were performed
there. Edwin Booth and other eminent actors and actresses of
note have been buried from the beautiful edifice. Mr. Booth has
a handsome memorial window there.

An Old Landmark Removed.
The removal of the theatre, situated on the northwestern corner
of Assembly and Plain streets, was regretted sincerely by the resi-
dents of Columbia — it was looked upon as a landmark and one of
the oldest buildings in the town. It was erected in the early
twenties, I am informed, by a Dr. Harrison, and was originally
a three-story building — the upper floor to be used as a ball-room ;
but it was thought to be unsafe, and the upper story was taken down.

An Unfortunate Manager.
Mr. De Camp, a prominent actor from England, managed the
Charleston, Savannah and Columbia Theatres. He is said to have
been Frenchy in his manners, dressed well, and was very genial.
He would personally deliver his theatrical programmes, but in such
a suave manner as to make himself unusually popular. Col. John

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Online LibraryJulian A 1833- SelbyMemorabilia and anecdotal reminiscences of Columbia, S. C., and incidents connected therewith → online text (page 1 of 21)