Brower, Frank(1820--1874)

Biographical Overview

Birth Date: before 1820-12-12 (Baltimore)
Death Date: before 1874-12-12 (Philadelphia)

Notes

Troupe(s): (the original) Virginia Serenaders, Ethiopian Delineators (possibly)





Role: Bone player; dancer; clown





Info: Frank Brower first took to the stage in 1837 at the age of 17 as a dancer. In 1841 he began working with Dan Emmett and in 1843 became one of the original members of The Virginia Minstrels, often credited as the first minstrel troupe. In such capacity he originated the end-man role of “Bones” and came to be considered one of the preeminent dancers of his day - imitated even by Juba.





Brower toured through the UK with The Virginia Minstrels and then with various circus companies in 1843-1844, then returned to America and formed a new troupe with Dan Emmett. Our database also puts him in the UK in 1847, with a troupe then billed as the Ethiopian Delineators, although it is possible that this was a different “Brower”. In fact, as is the case with many a minstrel performer, history seems to confound the life of Frank Brower with that of one of his contemporaries of a similar name, and it can be difficult to separate the professional activities of one from the other. This fact noted, it appears that in 1851 Brower returned to England, this time performing as a clown with Gen. Rufus Welch’s Circus. During this trip he met and married Louisa Banks. When Brower eventually returned to America he spent the remainder of his career working as a circus clown, until an injury in 1867 prevented this line of work. At this point he ran a bar in Philadelphia until his death at the age of 54. Minstrel chronicler T. Allston Brown notes that Brower was superb as Gumbo Cuff in Oh! Hush! and that he was a particularly versatile performer.





Please see the 'Bibliographic Sources' link at right for a complete listing of materials (both primary and secondary) from which the above information was compiled.

 

Alexis Butler



Additional research by Keren Zaiontz.

Troupe Affiliation

Troupe Name Event # of events
Brower Minstrel 1
Ethiopian Delineators (not Pelham's, 1847) Minstrel 2
Virginia Minstrels, The (1843) Minstrel 6

Events Naming Person

Event Date Location Troupe
Variety 1844-1844 Royal Amphitheatre, Liverpool Lancashire Brower
Minstrel Show 1847-1847 Concert Hall, Liverpool Lancashire Ethiopian Delineators (not Pelham's, 1847)
Minstrel Show 1847-1847 Concert Hall, Liverpool Lancashire Ethiopian Delineators (not Pelham's, 1847)
Minstrel Show 1843-1843 St. George's Assembly Rooms, Liverpool Lancashire Virginia Minstrels, The (1843)
Magic Show 1843-1843 Adelphi Theatre, London London (city-county) Virginia Minstrels, The (1843)
Variety 1843-1843 Adelphi Theatre, London London (city-county) Virginia Minstrels, The (1843)
Magic Show 1843-1843 Adelphi Theatre, London London (city-county) Virginia Minstrels, The (1843)
Magic Show 1843-1843 Adelphi Theatre, London London (city-county) Virginia Minstrels, The (1843)
Minstrel Show 1843-1843 Ludlow Shropshire Virginia Minstrels, The (1843)

Bibliographic Sources

  • Authentic History
  • Dumont, Frank. "The Younger Generation in Minstrelsy and Reminiscences of the Past”. New York Clipper March 27, 1915
  • Dumont, Frank. "The Golden Days of Minstrelsy.". New York Clipper December 19, 1914
  • "Minstrels of the Past".. New York Clipper
  • New York Clipper no year, col 5
  • New York Times June 7, 1874: 7.