Friday, May 25, 2018


During its heyday, at the turn-of-the-century, the tumbling run theater presented many an interesting program.

One August  , 1904 the headliner for the theater was Sen. Frank Bell, who had an experience with the famed James and younger brothers, way back in the 60s that he’ll never forget at the close of the war, Bell who had served in Company D, first Pennsylvania rifles, folktales found himself up against an economic proposition.  In St. Louis he  met a man who had $500 and wanted to go into the show business. Bell, who had $500 possessed of a similar yearning, agreed to do a dancing at got a magician and a violin player the aggregation was then turned loose on the public of southeastern Missouri.


At a little town about 100 miles from St. Louis the company late one night to a seven dollar house, Bell, lightly discussed it was just packing up after the performance when there was a clatter of foods outside the hall and seven or eight tall men rough looking men strode in.


“Where’s the wooden shoe dancer?” Demanded the leader. New sentence none too pleasantly, Bell confessed his identity.

“We want you to dance for us”, said the man. “Can’t. You’re too late, when you come to the performance?” Answered the actor .

“Guess you better shake your feet”, coolly answered the big leader; and Bell, looking up, so half a dozen Army revolvers pointed at his feet.

“Delighted to oblige you,” said the thespian, hurriedly digging his shoes out of the carpet bag

the senator gave them every dancing new the strangers wants to invert terribly and retaining their revolvers in their hands.

“Will that do?” He asked at the end of his quarter of an hour.

“Yes, that’ll do,” were much obliged to you, Mr., it ain’t often we get a chance to see the actor people, sorry we had to trouble you.” And, lifting his sombrero politely, and action that was imitated by his followers, the leader and the after a $20 gold piece walked out, followed by his men

Bell returned to his hotel in a state of some excitement and told the landlord of his experience, including by exhibiting the gold piece.

“They, like the drink here for you, too.” Replied the tavern keeper. “You can get it at the bar.”

“Well, where they, anyway?” Demanded the senator.

“You’ve been dancing for the James and younger brothers,” replied the host.

A few years ago Bell, was flying engagement at St. Louis theater and after a few days was told that Frank James, who became a useful and law-abiding citizen after the breaking up of the band, was a doorkeeper at the house. He met James and asked him if he remembered the incident related above

“Are you the fellow that danced  that night” asked the ex-desperado ,for and when answered in the affirmative he shook hands heartily and assure the senator that he had never had forgotten him, and was glad to meet him again.

The senator carries in the back of his head a bullet that he received at Fredericksburg it entered at the corner of the eye and came near terminating his career, the scar is quite discernible.  While he lay in the hospital, Pres. Lincoln visited the Army and walked about among the sick and wounded.


“I’ll never forget Lincoln face” said Bell to the Miners Journal man I had seen him sometime before at Antietam and the chance was startling, his features bore deep burrows that had not been there before, and there was an expression of intense agony that awed me,  why I could have laid a finger in some of the lines of his face I know that just, in that time of uncertainty and discouragement the president was suffering tortures of the damned.”



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