Moderator Control Panel ]


From Annie Lennox and Gregg Wallace to Alex Kingston and Patrick Stewart, join us every week to share your thoughts about the most recent series of WDYTYA?


Postby KatherineL » Mon Jul 06, 2015 7:30 pm

Jessie Almer & our relative Ruth Jezard performed together in New York.

Ruth Thrasher later known as Ruth Jezard/Ruby Jezard is described with her theatrical family in this post.

Jessie Almer sailed to America in 1897 (Jessie Almer is found just above Ruth on the UK outward bound passenger list travelling with a group of theatricals to America with their manager Charles Hedersley).

UK Outward Bound Passenger List
Name: Miss Ruth Jezard
Birth Date: abt 1876
Departure Date: 7 Aug 1897
Port of Departure: Southampton, England
Destination Port: New York, USA
Ship Name: Paris

This makes sense as according to the programme Jessie Almer left her daughter Beatrice at Nazareth House on 29 July 1897.

Samantha Womack visited Nazareth House & was shown Children's Admission Register which showed that Beatrice's parents were Peter Garraud & Jessie Ryder (Jessie Almer) & that she was received on 29th July 1897 & taken away by her grandparents in May 1902.

This also makes sense as Jessie Almer is reported in the New York Times on 15 August 1897.

"Cynthia Harris, manager of the New Jersey Room, had done research on Samantha Womack’s great-grandmother prior to the video shoot. In an August 15, 1897 article in the Theater section of The New York Times, reference was made to her great-grandmother, by maiden name, “Miss Jessie Almer has been over to America before, as the clown in Barnum’s Circus, & by right of larger experience, she was much respected by the other members of the group. They met at the pier, however, by a representative of the Academy of Music, who took care that none of them should stray away. Once he lost his count.” ... _York_City)

Travelling with Jessie Almer & Ruth Jezard was their manager Charles Hedersley, they are cast as Coryphees in 'Nature' at the Academy Of Music, New York an extremely lavish production that bankrupted the financier Benjamin Cohen of Coney Island & owner of the Albemarle Hotel & sent the stage producer William E De Verna to an early grave
New York Times
15 August 1897

American Musical Theater: A Chronicle
By Gerald Bordman
Page 174 Nature

Benjamin Cohen the promoter of Nature lost $50,000 - $1.5 million in today’s money & by 1899 he was bankrupt
However, the cast are paid in full,0.185,0.16,0

A History Of The New York Stage
Page 13 William E De Verna and James Schonberg produced the show Nature
William spent years trying to bring Nature to the stage but tragically died a few days before the first performance, although he had seen the cast practicing

William E De Verna produced Nature
Benjamin Cohen helped finance

Advert & Article about Nature
Image 7 of New York Journal & Advertiser (New York [N.Y.]), August 27, 1897,0.373,0.321,0

Barnum's circus came to England in 1897 & Ruth’s family lived in Earl’s Court near Olympia at that time,did Ruth perform with Jessie Almer in the circus, the circus had various water based entertainments that Ruth performed in 1917 as a Diving Belle

"Most outstanding of the foreign tours was the five-year stay of the Barnum & Bailey Circus in European countries from the fall of 1897 through the 1902 season. The circus was transported to England at the close of the tenting season in America in 1897 & played an indoor winter engagement at the Olympia in London.

Ruth performed with Dan Leno & Herbert Campbell in the lavish Drury Lane Theatre pantomimes in 1898&1899 & is remembered in Whimsical Walker's memoirs From Sawdust To Windsor Castle.

V&A Museum/Theatre Collection has photograph of Ruth Jezard as Columbine in production of The Forty Thieves which was printed in The Sketch on Jan 25th 1899.

V&Albert Museum/Theatre Collection have programmes of the pantomimes Ruth performed in listed as playing Columbine:
1898: The Forty Thieves at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
1899: Jack and the Beanstalk at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

Charlie Chaplin would watch these pantomimes honing his comic skills from Dan Leno - as Ruth emigrated to America we wonder if she knew Charlie Chaplin & also became involved with silent movies.

When Ruth & Albert Edward Court marry in 1900 Albert is a private secretary (possibly a theatre private secretary at The Empress Theatre, Lillie Road, Ruth & Albert are living there in 1901 census), their wedding witnesses are Arthur Brooks comedian, later recording gramophone pioneer, Albert Kingsley artist, along with Mrs Ellen Seymour.

Arthur Henry Brooks recording gramophone pioneer & comedy actor

The Court family are known theatrical and entertainment people, their family history is lodged at the British Museum.

Ruth & Albert (known as Ruby and Edward) have a daughter Pearl Ruby Court in 1902 who tragically dies of an abdominal tumour removal complicated by measles & pneumonia in early 1904 & their son Edward Leslie Court is born in late 1904, Ruth emigrates to America from 1905/1912 & forms a common law marriage with married Edward Warren Congdon.

Bert Levey, the San Francisco vaudeville agent, has moved into his magnificent new offices in the Alcazar Theatre building on O’Farrel Street, between Powell & Mason. He has leased all the front rooms on the first floor directly over the lobby of the theater, forming an elegant suite of five beautiful rooms fitted out for the comfort of the manager, artist & agent. Mr Levey went to considerable expense in fitting up such spacious quarters, & he can safely boast of having the finest vaudeville agency offices this side of Chicago.

Edward Warren Congdon worked for Bert Levey as a theatre manager at the Alcazar Theatre in his 1917 US WWI draft registration cards & calls Ruth Jezzard Congdon his wife. Edward died in 1919 after completing a successful road tour in a fire engine collision.

Edward’s wife Jennie F Congdon (Montena/Montine) bigamously marries Walter Guy Shannon in 1917 having called herself Edward’s widow & Walter is found in prison during the 1920’s. Jennie’s brother Albert had previously died in terrible circumstances running across a railway line & falling under a train trying to escape from the crimes he committed.

Ruth's husband Albert Edward Court is still alive in England in 1916 according to his WWI soldiers records working at Brook Green Skating Rink - rollerskating was a popular pastime in Victorian/Edwardian times with entertainment provided alongside - Albert had been working as a rink manager in the 1911 UK census.


Ruth Jezard performing with the Diving Belles at the Casino Theatre, San Fransisco, Bert Levey, Edward Congdon’s boss is on the same page, along with the Alcazar Theatre where Edward & Bert worked, so Ruth and Edward are known to each other working on the same circuit.

Ruth is running the Sentinel Hotel, Eddy Street by 1930 in San Fransisco, her son Edward Leslie Court living in England with his aunt Grace Solomon in 1911, emigrated to Canada in 1926.

Horace Thrasher/Horace Courtenay was the son of Ruth’s sister Alice Thrasher/Grace Courtenay & so was Ruth’s nephew. Horace’s son Michael Courtenay born 1934 couldn’t believe this story at first but then later remembered as a young five-year old boy regularly visiting an Uncle Percy (Percy Frederick Atkins) who was in his 80’s by then & had been married to Ruth's sister Louisa - & also remembered the family talking of a cousin Leslie (Edward Leslie Court) who was Ruth’s son & so Horace’s cousin. Michael’s family however knew nothing of this theatrical connection or of Alice’s sisters, Eliza, Louisa & Ruth or Eliza’s daughter Violet. Louisa died young & Percy remarried but Eliza, Violet and Edward made another life somewhere, probably with completely new names again so we have been unable to trace them any further, only a DNA match might help now we think.

We asked the Earl Of Devon, Lord Courtenay about Horace Courtenay and was asked 'is he one of ours' but the Earl known to have sired several illegitimate children died in January 1891 & Horace was born in January 1893 - could his mother have left it so long to register his birth? The next religious Earl destroyed all papers about these children. Horace died in 1959 & his wife Adelaide in 1987 & so this was the first time we knew of his father being someone quite important - Horace had wanted to tell his son his story at the end of his life but unfortunately died suddenly - Horace had told one trusted member of the family his secret & that they could tell the family after he & his wife had died - that Horace's father was an 'illustrious member of the aristocracy, someone of considerable note.' When Horace died in 1959 his solicitors were unable to trace his birth certificate as he had been registered as Horace Thrasher, the earliest we know Horace as Horace Courtenay is 1901.
Posts: 80
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:49 pm

Return to Who Do You Think You Are? 2012

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests