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Author Topic: Junius Brutus Booth, Jr. and Family  (Read 4035 times)
Dave Taylor
« on: December 13, 2011, 10:13:33 PM »

With Laurie's post about the further wanderings of his brother John and Randal's post in the trivia thread about his son, Sydney, it got Lindsey and I thinking about Junius Brutus Booth, Jr:

I'm never really looked into Junius, Jr. before.  But here are the biographical details we've quickly thrown together.

Junius Brutus Booth, Jr. was the eldest son of Junius, Sr. and Mary Ann Booth.  He was born on December 22, 1821.  He first married Clementine DeBar, 13 years his senior.  With her, he had one daughter, Blanche, born in 1844.  Junius apparently abandoned Clementine and Blanche, though he eventually legally divorced Clementine.  Blanche was taken in and adopted by her uncle Ben DeBar, Clementine's brother.  It is believed (by at least Ed Steers) that the first picture in John Wilkes Booth Himself by Richard and Kellie Gutman, is not of young Wilkes but of Ben DeBar.  After leaving Clementine and Blanche to fend for themselves, Junius escaped west with another actress, Harriet Mace, who became his mistress.  Junius would later drop Harriet and meet Marion Agnes Rookes.  Agnes was an Austrialian immigrant and actress herself.  She had already been married once having been widowed after two years of marriage.  She and Junius got married in 1867.  From this union, four boys were born: Junius III, Algernon, Sydney, and Barton.  Algernon died in 1877 at the age of 7.  Barton died in 1879 at the age of 4.  Junius, Jr. himself, died on September 16, 1883 at the age of 61.  He left behind his widow, Agnes Booth, his daughter from his first marriage, Blanche, and his two surving boys, Junius III and Sydney.  All of Junius' heirs followed the family business into the theatre.  Blanche and Sydney would become moderate stars of the stage, with Sydney even being in a few early silent films.  It is Junius Brutus Booth, III, however, who has the more interesting tale.  I quote from Junius, III's FindaGrave page:

"Junius Brutus Booth was eldest son of a former manager of the Boston Theatre, also named Junius Brutus Booth, and of Agnes (Perry) Booth, in her later life married to John B. Schoeffel.

Junius Brutus Booth was the last but one of the family of actors, Sidney Booth surviving Junius Brutus Booth was an actor of only moderate ability. He had appeared frequently in Boston, having been at one time in the Boston Museum Stock Company and later was seen at the Tremont Theatre.

Mrs. Junius Brutus Booth III, killed recently, was an American. Her maiden name was Noah and she was the daughter of the publisher of the old-time Noah's Sunday Time a newspaper making a specialty of theatrical news, in New York.

Junius Brutus Booth was the eldest son of the late Agnes Booth of Boston, the noted actress. He was born in the South End, in the shadow of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, about 45 or 46 years ago. He was educated in private schools and then, following the example of his illustrious ancestors, he decided to go upon the stage.

His first important stage experience was obtained with the Boston Museum Company, where, with Jack Mason and other great actors and actresses, he remained two or three years playing juvenile roles. About this time an ambition to become a physician seized him and he left the museum to study in a medical school in New York.

His expectations in medicine not being fulfilled, Booth returned to the stage about 10 years ago. He played two seasons at a theatre in London and later formed a stock company of his own and played in the smaller cities and towns, chiefly manufacturing centers in England. One of his greatest successes was in "Monte Cristo".

Success, however, did not remain long, and in recent years Mr. Booth is said to have found it hard to make both ends meet. Mr. and Mrs. Booth had no children. His brother, Sidney Booth of New York, [was] his nearest surviving relative."

If you noticed, it stated that Mrs. Junius Brutus Booth III, was "killed recently".  In fact she was killed, by her own husband, Junius Brutus Booth III.  He drugged her and then shot her before turning the gun on himself:

New York Times Dec 8, 1912

Nephew of Edwin Then Shot Himself,
Probably While Insane.

Brightlingsea, England, Dec. 7,--A verdict of "Willful murder and suicide, while insane," was returned by the Coroner's Jury at the inquest today on the bodies of Junius Booth, and American, and his wife, who were found here yesterday, shot dead in bed.

None of the witnesses called was able to identify Booth, definitely. They all described him as an American, who conducted cinematograph shows, and some of them declared that he was addicted to the taking of drugs. Evidence was given to show that he was very excitable and was much worried because his show had failed to pay.

A note found in the bedroom said:

"I have given my wife a sleeping draught, to ease her pain. As I cannot live without her, I will give myself another."

We'll have to look a little harder to see if either Blanche or Sydney had any heirs to continue Junius' line.  From a cursory glance, I don't think Blanche had any children, because she is buried as Blanche DeBar Booth without any married name attached. And while Sydney married, I'm not sure if he had children. 

Feel free to post any stories or facts you might know about Junius Jr. or his heirs. 
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« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2011, 11:40:28 PM »

The 1930 United States Census lists Sydney in Connecticut, Stamfield, Fairfield, with wife Minnie, and a daughter Elizabeth, 25.  However, the birth place for Elizabeth is listed as New York, with her father's birthplace as Louisiana, mother's District of Columbia.

Sydney's birthplace is listed as Massachusetts, father's Massachusetts, mother's Australia. 

Minnie's birthplace is  listed as District of Columbia, father's Maryland, mother's England.

The census says Sydney was married at age 32, Minnie at age 30.  Their ages in the census are, respectively, 52 & 50.  If the ages are correct, Elizabeth (25) would have been born when her mother was 25.  But the census says they were married at age 30.  Because the birthplace of Elizabeth's father is listed as Louisiana, if it is correct it's probable that he was not her natural father.

The WW1 draft registration has Sydney living in Westchester New York with wife M. Elizabeth.  Date of the registration is 1917 - 1918.

I found this brief bio:
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« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2011, 05:52:18 AM »

Great research Christine!  Wink

"Go to Heaven for the Climate, or go to Hell for the Company". Mark Twain
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