Monday. 27. th. February. 1843.
Mild, damp, the appearance of Rain.
Julie, and I went out to pay some visits, found the air very unpleasant, and scorching.
Met Dorothea Brinkerhoff in the street, had a chat with her. Called to see Josephine B. now Mrs L. found her rocking her baby a little boy of five weeks standing. Mrs [Filyow], called in also; by some strange fatality we often meet, and yet I do not admire her, Mrs L. looked miserably.
On returning, I found Mr H. sitting in the parlour awaiting our return, he had taken seats for us at the Circus to night.
Snow commenced falling at noon, but did not amount to anything serious. At half past six, we set off on our expedition, had a comfortable ride down. The house was not crowded or fashionable,The performances were very handsome, and the “Virginia Minstrels” quite droll in their performances. Their songs were certainly “unique”. Remmy kept his eyes open, but Louis as usual wished to go home before it was over. Julie was enchanted, and quite naive, in her remarks. Bridget, went with us, never haveing seen such sights before. We rode home in a Cab, much gratified by the amusements.
The Virginia Minstrels or Virginia Serenaders was a group of 19th century American entertainers known for helping to invent the entertainment form known as the minstrel show. Led by Dan Emmett, the original lineup consisted of Emmett, Billy Whitlock, Dick Pelham, and Frank Brower.
After a successful try-out in the billiard parlor of the Branch Hotel on New York City’s Bowery, the group is said to have premiered to a paying audience nearby at the Chatham Theatre, probably on January 31, 1843. They followed with a brief run at the Bowery Amphitheater in early February before an expanded schedule of venues.
Unlike earlier blackface acts that featured solo singers or dancers, the Virginia Minstrels appeared as a group in blackface and what would become iconic costumes and performed more elaborate shows. In March 1843 they appeared in Welch’s Olympic Circus as part of an equestrian act. Although they primarily appeared within a larger schedule of entertainment in their earliest months, they surely were the first minstrels to also be hired to perform by themselves at smaller venues.
Among other things, they are credited with the songs “Jimmy Crack Corn” and “Old Dan Tucker”, which passed into American folk culture.