Monday, February 04, 2008

I Wish I Knew You

Many fascinating, untold stories about our valley lie buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. Many pioneers went to their graves with "the song still in them." Wandering through the cemetery and reading the old stones is like walking into the past. I sometimes ache to know the real stories. Who were these people? What did they know and understand about life? Were they happy and fulfilled? Did they suffer tragedies?

One stone in particular caught my fancy one day while I was looking for another grave and I needed to learn more about the young woman buried there.

Near this stone rests the remains of
A native of Derbyshire, England who passed from
earth at Salt Lake City, November 18, 1869 in the
33rd year of her age.
This tablet is erected by Henry & Minnie Edwards
two friends who loved her well and who cherish
her memory with an affection that can never fade.

Fear no more the heat of the sun
Nor the furious winter rages
Thou, thy worldly task hast done
Home hast gone and taken thy wages.

Perhaps it was the word comedienne that peaked my curiosity. Although, comedy is not a modern day innovation, I hadn’t realized that there were women comediennes in the middle of the 19th century. Perhaps because my own great-grandfather was born in Derbyshire about the same time as Annie, I felt a sort of kinship to this woman. Not a great deal more was learned about Annie from her death record or her obituary. In the Salt Lake Record of Deaths, it simply states: " Annie Lockart (sic), actress, about 32 years old, born Derby, England, died 18 November 1869 of inflammation of bowels, in the 13th Ward." Her obituary reads as follows:

Deseret News, November 19. 1869, pg. 1
FUNERAL OBSEQUIES.--"The funeral obsequies of Miss Annie Lockhart took place this morning at the 13th Ward meeting house. The stand was draped with black, and the Hall was crowded to overflowing with citizens, who had assembled to pay the last tribute of respect to the deceased, a stranger, who had died far from her home and kindred, and native land. Among those present were President Young and many prominent citizens; also Kate Denin, the actress, who seemed to be deeply affected, and all the gentlemen and ladies of the Salt Lake dramatic company, and the attaches of the Theatre. On the stand were Elder George Q. Cannon, President Joseph Young and Bishop E. D. Woolley. The Tabernacle choir, with its leader, Brother George Careless, and the 13th Ward choir, led by Bro. John Tullidge, sen., were present and combined. Professor Orson Pratt accompanied on the organ and played voluntaries while the audience was passing out.
The service commenced with the hymn, "O my Father, thou that dwellest.
"The opening prayer was offered by Elder George Q. Cannon.
Hymn, "Farewell all earthly honors.
"Elder Geo. Q. Cannon read a portion of the 15th chapter of the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, and made suitable remarks thereon.
The hymn, "We have met dear friends and brethren," was then sung and the assembly was dismissed by prayer by President Joseph Young. After the conclusion of the services, the coffin was borne near the entrance of the hall by the pall bearers, Messrs. John B. Kelly, WilliamDerr, R. F. Neslen, Daniel J. McIntosh, John C. Graham and Jas. M Hardie, when the audience, which had hitherto remained seated, arose and passed out, all who desired having the opportunity of taking a last look at the features of the deceased. The remains were followed to the cemetery by Managers Caine and Clawson, Kate Denin and ladies, Treasurer, Thos. Williams, and Messrs. Margetts, Lindsay, Thorne, Crowther, Harris, Reed, Haines, Baker andScrace; and Mesdames Bowring, De Bar, Misses Ward, Clive, Evans and Platt, all of the Dramatic Company, and a large number of citizens. The coffin was very elegant, being covered with purple velvet and silver mounted. On the lid was a plate with the following inscription:
Annie Lockhart,
aged 32;
Died Nov’r. 18, 1869
The portion of the lid covering the face of the deceased was thrown back while the congregation was passing out, affording a full view of her features. After the interment, while in the cemetery, Manager Caine, thanked President Young and other citizens for their carriages, and all present for their attendance on the occasion. Everything that could be done for the deceased lady’s comfort, both before and after death, was done by Mangers Caine & Clawson and by those in attendance upon her; for being a stranger in a strange land the keenest sympathy of all around her were enlisted and each vied with the other in acts of kindness in soothing her passage to the grave."

Annie was obviously well known and loved by the members of Salt Lakes theatrical society. But was she well-known and popular in England or in other parts of our country? Was she beautiful and funny? Did she suffer long with her illness? Did her family in England learn of her death and long to have her buried in her native land. Most of these questions will go forever unanswered, buried along with Annie.

It is assumed that Annie Lockhart was one of those "traveling stars" and since she was in Salt Lake in late 1869, she may have arrived on the new Transcontinental railroad. Annie Lockhart may have been a "stage name". However, the Lockhart name does appear in Derbyshire. The last name "Wilson" on the gravestone is a puzzle, because her death record and obituary do not mention that name. Was she married to a man named Wilson? Or was Wilson her name at birth?

Only one reference to Annie Lockhart was found in any Salt Lake history. In the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers publication entitled Heart Throbs of the West (Volume Four), there is a history of the Salt Lake Theater and dramatics in Utah which includes short biographies of some of the "players." The Caine family was a major influence for many years in the success of the theater and many old relics of the Salt Lake Theatre remained in their family.

The following story is told on page 90:
"One other prized relic that has been passed around among the women of the family is a yellow brocaded silk dress which was worn on the stage by Annie Lockhart. She was an English actress whose career was cut short while she was playing Salt Lake City. She had left no money for funeral expenses, and her costumes were sold for that purpose. Mr. Caine bought the dress for his daughters and more than one of them has worn it at costume parties."

Annie, I wish I knew more.

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