Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000 Page: 10
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
bartender, Charles Loewendel, perhaps dismayed by the change in ownership, had taken to
drinking heavily. Two weeks into the year, Dick apparently notified Loewendel that he was
not fit to continue work, and, on the morning of January 14, Loewendel committed suicide.'0
Dick's Hall also offered a series of dances by the Columbus Brass Band, and
one more notable attraction, a concert by the pianist known as Blind Tom on May 17, 1875.
The attractions improved markedly after Rau purchased his father-in-law's interest on Oc-
tober 26, 1875. The renamed Rau's Hall featured General Tom Thumb on March 3, 1876,
and S. S. Baldwin, a lecturer who, on March 29, by demonstration and explanation, at-
tempted to expose spiritualism, the religious craze of the time, as a hoax. On June 10 and
June 16, Rau hosted Max Fehrmann, a musical performer associated with the Tremont
Opera House. Fehrmann's show featured a play, a scene from an opera, and "comic songs"
in both German and English. For November 6, Rau booked the Georgia Minstrels, advertis-
ing them as a "celebrated troupe of genuine negroes." In 1877, Rau's Hall featured two
more minstrel shows, and two appearances by the fairly-well-known actress Fay Templeton.
In the first, on March 21, Templeton's company performed the enormously popular play
"East Lynne." By the time of her second appearance, in another popular play, "Colleen
Bawn," in mid-May, the theater had changed owners."
Rau had failed to make a mortgage payment due to Ilse on January 1, 1876,
after which Ilse sued both Rau and Dick. On March 9, 1877, the district court ordered that
the building and grounds be sold at public auction to satisfy the debt. On May 1, 1877, Dick's
wife, Josephine, made the highest bid, and the facility reverted to Dick's control. The theater
lay dormant over the summer, but was revived in November with appearances on two
consecutive Mondays by an obscure comedian named John Dillon. Dillon had played at the
Tremont in Galveston in late October and early November, and stopped to perform in Co-
lumbus on November 12 on his way to another engagement in San Antonio, and again on
November 19 on his way back. Strangely, Dick had evidently hired Ilse to manage the
theater. For the rest of its tenure as the principal theater in Columbus, it would be known as
10 Colorado Citizen, November 19, 1874, December 24, 1874, January 14, 1875, May 11, 1876,
July 6, 1876, November 9, 1876, September 21, 1876, September 28, 1876, May 3, 1877; Colorado County
Deed Records, Book R, p. 495; Colorado County Marriage Records, Book E, p. 215.
11 Colorado County Deed Records, Book Deed S, p. 245; Colorado Citizen, January 28,
1875, May 20, 1875, September 23, 1875, November 18, 1875, March 2, 1876, March 23, 1876, June 8,
1876, June 22, 1876, November 2, 1876, February 1, 1877, February 15, 1877, March 22, 1877, May 10,
1877. The man who was known as Blind Tom, Thomas Green Bethune, was born a slave in 1849. Blind
and of severely limited intelligence, he became celebrated for his ability to play, on the piano, music he
had heard, and toured the United States and Europe demonstrating his ability. Tom Thumb's real name
was Charles Sherwood Stratton. In his early adult years, he is said to have been little more than two
feet tall and to have weighed about fifteen pounds. He was given his stagename by his original
promoter, the highly successful entertainment entrepreneur Phineas T. Barnum.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000, periodical, January 2000; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151408/m1/10/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed April 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.