info re: Black minstrel documents 1850s : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

Searching for any information regarding one Napier Lothian, who from reading all documents found in old American Express pouch, was a Black minstrel entertainer. Have his marriage certificate to a Clara Rivers dated December 6, 1853 signed by Rev. Albert Williams, Minister at San Francisco. Papers also include deeds, letters from England, ect. Do they have any historical significance?

-- Edward P. MacLeod (, July 23, 1998


You might get in touch with the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum. They have a website. You might also check the Calif. State Library's California Information File (on microfiche at a library near you), and UC Berkeley's "GLADIS" catalog (on-line).

-- Dorothy (, July 24, 1998.

Dear Mr. MacLeod,

Napier Lothian was not a black minstrel. He was a white violinist and conductor. He was born in New York City in 1836 and first became involved with the theatre when he was five. He and his father moved to California in 1849 (the Gold Rush) and at first the young Napier earned money by entertaining in saloons. In 1854 he made his first appearance as a conductor at Maguire's Opera House in San Francisco and in 1858, returned east with Christy's Minstrels. In 1862, Lothian came to Boston, where he spent the rest of his life. He was named music director of the Boston Theatre in 1868, a position he held for forty seasons. Lothian died on 18 March 1816 (a month shy of his 80th birthday), while attending a performance at Boston's Colonial Theatre.

Lothian had 14 children, six daughters and three sons. Three of his sons followed him into the theatre: Thomas B. Lothian, who was the first business manager of the Colonial Theatre; Albert E. Lothian, who served as box office manager first at the Boston Opera House and later at Jordan Hall (in the New England Conservatory and Charles Lothian, who assisted with tours of foreign artists in America.

I hope this information is useful. You can find more by consulting Lothian's obituaries in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald and the Boston Post. All of these obits, however, are virtually identical. I believe they were submitted by the family.

Jerome Cohen

-- Jerome Cohen (, October 29, 2003.

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