George, Frank Pendleton(born: February 9, 1874 - died: March 25, 1922)
Frank P. George was prominent in Chicago, especially during his career as a stage performer and manager of the Oakland Music Hall.
George did not come from a family with wealth. He was born February 9, 1874, in Winchester, KY, the only son of Hubbard P. and Ruth Wills George [source: Ancestry.com, Cook County, Illinois Deaths Index]. His father, Hubbard, was a veteran of the U.S. Civil War and was about 19 years old when he enlisted on July 14, 1864. He served in the 1st U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery [source: U.S. Colored Troops Military Records, Ancestry.com]. After his war service, in 1875, Hubbard worked as a carpenter in Springfield, OH, and was a border at 114 E. Main Street while his family remained in Kentucky [source: p. 61 in R. C. Hellrigle & Co.s Springfield, Urbana, Piqua, Sidney, and Bellefontaine City Directories 1875-6].
Around 1879, Hubbard George moved his wife and four children from Winchester to Springfield, OH. All are listed as mulattoes in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census. Everyone in the household was born in Kentucky. Hubbard, born around 1846, had probably been enslaved. He died November 27, 1886, in Springfield [source: Find A Grave]. His first wife, Ruth Wills George, was born in 1856 and died in 1883. They are buried together in Springfield.
Hubbard George had been a saloon owner and former policeman. Six months before he died, Hubbard George married his second wife Dora Wade in May of 1886 [source: last paragraph in the column "At Hymen's alter," Springfield Globe-Republic, 5/21/1886, p. 4]. In 1887, widow Dora Wade George applied for Hubbard George's pension for her and their son James [source: U.S. Civil War Pension Index, Ancestry.com].
Hubbard George's children by his first wife included Nora, their oldest daughter, who was a singer and stage performer in Springfield [sources: "The Champion city," Cleveland Gazette, 5/30/1885, p. 2; and "Missionary Society," Cleveland Gazette, 1/14/1888, front page]. In 1892, Nora George was back in Winchester, and she made several trips to Chicago [sources: "Educational Meeting," Cleveland Gazette, 3/12/1892, p. 2; and "To Aid the Negro," The Freeman, 7/9/1892, p. 2]. By 1894, Nora George was living in Parsons, KS [source: "Miss Florence Turner...," Parsons Weekly Blade, 1/6/1894, p. 3]. She was a school teacher whose name appeared in the society section of the newspaper on several occasions.
In 1895, the youngest sister, Nettie George, moved from Kentucky to Kansas to be with her sister Nora. Nettie attended high school in Parsons [source: "Local and personal news," Parsons Weekly Blade, 11/9/1895, p. 4]. The entire George family had previously lived in Springfield and at some point after their parents' deaths, Nettie moved back to Winchester. From there, she lived in Kansas briefly, then returned to Winchester, where she was a school teacher [source: 1900 U.S. Census]. All of her moves to and from Kentucky took place years before she became the well-known newspaper journalist Nettie George Speedy.
There was also a third sister named Mary George. At this time no additional information has been found on Mary George.
While his sisters were in Kentucky and Kansas, Frank P. George was in Chicago where he had lived since at least 1896 [source: 4th division in the column "That True Friend," Cleveland Gazette, 2/1/1896, front page]. In 1898, he was referred to as "Chicago's noted dramatic reader" in the Illinois Record, 1/1/1898, front page. Frank George performed at private and societal events that were mentioned in the Negro newspapers. His prominence gained him membership into the Chicago Top 400.
Frank P. George was moving up in the Chicago world: In August 1898, newspapers reported that he had foolishly challenged Julius Avendroph for the reign of societal leadership [source: 4th paragraph in the column "Chicago Weekly Letter," Illinois Record, 8/13/1898, p. 3].
By 1900, Frank George was in the U.S. Navy, 49th Infantry, Philippine Islands [source: U.S. Census; and see "Black Americans in the U.S. Military from the American Revolution to the Korean War," a New York State Military Museum website].
After his time in the service, Frank P. George returned to Chicago. In 1905, he was married and still counted among Chicago's 400 Afro-American leaders [source: "Patronesses and managers of Frederick Douglass Centre Charity Ball," Broad Axe, 4/29/1905, front page]. In 1907, he was among the Afro-Americans whose opinions were sought in reference to the mayoral election [source: "More prominent Afro-Americans come out in favor of the re-election of Edward F. Dunne as Mayor of Chicago," Broad Axe, 3/9/1907, p. 2].
Frank George's popularity did not preclude the media from telling of his personal trials. In December 1907, Mr. and Mrs. Frank P. George's marriage was on the rocks and the couple separated [source: paragraph 13 in the column "Chips," Broad Axe, 12/7/1907, p. 2]. The following year Frank P. George and Mrs. C. C. Lewis teamed together for a dramatic reading, and vaudeville and dance performances at the Oakland Music Hall in Chicago [source: "Frank P. George," Broad Axe, 3/7/1908, front page]. A month later, the newspaper reported that Mrs. Anna B. George had sued her husband Frank for a divorce [source: 9th paragraph in the column "Chips," Broad Axe, 4/4/1908].
Frank George still was not an exceptionally wealthy man. He was working as a dining car waiter with the New York Central Railroad at the LaSalle Street Station, according to the census records. He is listed as "single" in the 1910 U.S. Census. Yet, though his marriage had ended, his entertainment career was on the rise. In 1911, he was billed as the "popular manager and dramatic reader" at the Oakland Music Hall [source: theater news on p. 5 in the Freeman newspaper, 3/25/1911].
Frank P. George was preparing for the performance of his play "Danabagay," [sometimes spelled Danebegay] that was to be augmented by Garfield Wilson's Orchestra. He also managed other entertainers. In November 1911 he was the manager of violinist Miss St. Claire White who was to perform in Cleveland [source: 3rd paragraph in the column "Chips" in Broad Axe, 11/28/1911, p. 3].
His play "Danabagay" was still being performed in 1913 [source: "Announcement in Advance of Frank P. George's Danebegay," Broad Axe, 11/1/1913, p. 3], but his fame also ended around 1913 when his name was rarely mentioned in the Broad Axe newspaper.
In 1918, Frank P. George listed on his World War I Draft Registration Card that he was a dining car waiter and that his sister Nettie George Speedy, who also lived in Chicago at the time, was listed as the closest next of kin. In the 1920 U.S. Census, Frank P. George was listed as a widower, still employed as a waiter with the railroad company. On March 25, 1922, Frank P. George died [source: Illinois, Cook County Deaths, in FamilySearch]. He is buried in Lincoln Cemetery in Chicago.