Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000 Page: 11
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
Ilse's Hall, or, as it would be referred to for a brief time in 1880, Ilse's Opera House. Ilse's
intermittent program of dances and concerts in 1878 and 1879 was interrupted only by
another appearance in town by Blind Tom on February 18, 1878. The blind pianist appeared
again on March 28, 1880, before, in early April 1880, Fay Templeton brought drama back to
To be sure, the citizens of the county were entertaining themselves in other
places and in other ways during the late 1870s. By 1876, public entertainment facilities had
opened in both Eagle Lake (Newsom's Hall) and Weimar (Richter's Hall). In December
1874, a circus played Columbus. Though it was reviled by those who attended, other cir-
cuses came in December 1875, November 1876, and November 1878; and a pair of tight-
rope walkers made two appearances in town in the summer of 1879. In warm weather,
people commonly went to Eagle Lake for picnics, or to go boating or fishing. In 1877, one
estimate had it that 500 fish were caught on Eagle Lake every day. And, the lake served as
a tourist attraction. In May 1876, a train load of Harris County citizens joined the residents of
Eagle Lake for a large-scale picnic at the lake. The Harris County contingent brought a
band; the Eagle Lakers erected a pavilion at the lake and provided boats and fishing equip-
ment. The growing population on the west side of the county did their boating, fishing, and
picnicking on Adkins Lake, though without the company of tourists. In the summer of 1871,
a steamboat named Providence plied the river, taking people on pleasure cruises. Gambling,
despite being against the law in some forms, was also popular. For a few months in 1876, an
illegal gambling establishment apparently flourished on Spring Street in Columbus. For more
edifying entertainment, in 1872 a short-lived gentlemen's club, which featured periodicals
and other material in a reading room, was organized in Columbus. In 1874, it nearly evolved
into a modest library, but lack of interest or lack of money forced its failure. Debating
societies in Columbus, Weimar, and Osage, the last of which was known as the Plow Boys
12 Colorado County District Court Records, Civil Cause File No. 3429: Henryllse for the use
of James H. Simpson & Co. v. Reinhard Dick and Charles W. Rau, Civil Minute Book G, p. 135;
Colorado Citizen, October 18, 1877, November 15, 1877, February 14, 1878, August 1, 1878, September
11, 1878, October 10, 1878, October 17, 1878, February 13, 1879, July 3, 1879, July 10, 1879, July 24, 1879,
March 25, 1880, April 1, 1880, June 17, 1880, July 15, 1880. The Citizen of November 15, 1877 indicates
that Dillon had appeared in Galveston in two productions, "Our Boys" and "Lemons." The first was
performed at the Tremont on October 29 and 30, the second on October 31, November 1, and Novem-
ber 3 (see Joseph S. Gallegly, Footlights on the Border (The Hague, The Netherlands: Mouton and
Co., 1962), p. 190).
It has been assumed that Dick hired Ilse to run the theater because (1) after November 1877,
the theater was known as Ilse's Hall, and (2) a contract by which Dick hired Ilse to run the theater for
three years beginning on October 1, 1883 is on record, and if, as seems reasonable, this was Ilse's third
consecutive three-year contract, then Ilse's employment would have started on October 1, 1877, a
date which fits in nicely with the date of the theater's change in name (see Colorado County Bond and
Mortgage Records, Book M, p. 122).
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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/m1/11/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed October 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.