Feb 192016

The roots of handcuff escapes go back to cabinet séances in the mid 1800’s. The medium hands were bound, usually with rope, to “insure” that they were not producing the spirit phenomena. The Davenport Brothers were the most famous exponent of this type of performance. Various types of restrains, including handcuffs, were used. This then evolved to performers claiming they could escape, some under spirit guidance, from any pair of handcuffs. Rewards were even offered if the performer failed to escape. So began the concept of the handcuff challenge.

There are probably many magicians who did similar escapes, including Professor Harry Cooke and George Everett.

Professor Cooke, “the exposer of spiritualism”, performed in Charlotte, NC on October 22 and 23, 1877. His act consisted of the usual pseudo spirit effects (mind reading, thought transfer, spirit manifestations, etc.) and included an escape from a pair of borrowed cuffs. The review of his show stated:

” … A surprisingly clever trick was the ease which this wonderful performer released himself from the iron grip of a pair of hand-cuffs furnished by deputy sheriff Griffith …”

For a show in Cairo, IL Professor Cooke advertised:

“The Great Handcuff Test

I hereby challenge Marshal Gossman or any other officer of the law to bring to my séance any handcuffs from which I cannot escape”

Another challenge escape was made by George Everett when he played Charlotte, NC on January 11, 1877. He was advertised as “The most remarkable materializing test medium in the world for the illustration of spiritualism by physical manifestations”. His show consisted of the usual spirit cabinet and slate writing effects. However, he also advertised:

George Everett handcuff escape clip

(click to see full advertisement)

The review in the next day’s Charlotte Observer stated:

“…Among the most noteworthy feats was that of freeing one hand from handcuffs, which were furnished and put on by men in the audience and transferring them to his ankle…. In short here were some very clever tricks but purely spiritual manifestations were scarce.”

The secret of challenge handcuff escapes did not really enter the world of magic at large until 1895. This was when the brilliant inventor, mechanic and magician B. B. Keys was reported escaping from various handcuffs provided to him by the Captain of the local Boston police station. The Boston magic dealer W. D. Le Roy then offered Keyes’ routine to the magic fraternity. Houdini was one of the first purchasers. George Brindamour, long term Houdini challenger, also bought the routine at about the same time.

Martin Beck first realized the potential of a handcuff escape act as a successful vaudeville attraction after seeing Houdini perform at a Dime Museum in 1899. Houdini’s act consisted of general magic and challenge handcuff escapes. Beck quickly signed Houdini for a tour the Orpheum Circuit, had him drop most of the magic and the rest is history. The challenge handcuff act was born.

Houdini had the personality, stage presence, and knowledge to successfully perform an escape based act. However, it was though Beck’s astute show business sense that the challenge handcuff act was invented and brought to the vaudeville stage.

(Note: an earlier version of this article was published on the website Magical Past-Times)


Charlotte Observer, January 11 and 12, 1877, Charlotte, NC

Cairo Bulletin, April 29, 1877, Cairo, IL,

Charlotte Observer, October 20 and 23, 1877Charlotte, NC

Kenneth Silverman, Houdini!!!, Harper Collins Publishers, 1996

Letter from W. D. Le Roy to Houdini February 5, 1901, Harry Ransom Center collection, Austin, TX

Mahatma, May 1895, New York

William Kalush and Larry Sloman, The Secret Life of Houdini, Atria Books, 2006

Hope you enjoyed and and good hunting

Jul 282015

An important resource for researching magic history are theatrical publications. They provide reviews, tour routes, advertisements, photographs and of course gossip. Issues of Variety from December 1905 to July 1947 are now available on the Internet Archive site. Each month is in a separate PDF file that you can search on-line or download. There is no way to search across all issues. A work around is to use the Variety Archive (a pay site) to do the search, find the issue you need and then read/download the issue from the Internet Archive. Here is the link to Variety at the Internet Archive.

Here are links to other American theatrical publications of historical interest:

New York Clipper 1853-1924

Billboard 1940-2010. A few miscellaneous volumes from 1894 to 1911 are available in the Internet Archive. A searchable complete file of the Billboard is available through Proquest’s Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive. This database is only available through subscribing universities.

The New York Dramatic Mirror (1879-1922), Spirit of the Times (1838-1890), and Billboard (1894-1922) are included in the newspapers available in the searchable database at Old Fulton NY Post Cards.

Hope you enjoyed and good hunting.

Sep 252014

Minerva with handcuffs“Minerva is the only woman before the public today who juggles with the handcuffs as though they were gold bracelets and comes out of a locked up straight jacket as if she were wriggling out of a silk negligee.” Cumberland Evening Times, July 13, 1908

Minerva learned the intricacies of being an escape artist from her husband, William van Dorn. He had toured for a number of years as part of the escape act “Vano and Arno”. After he married Minerva in 1903 she was quickly added to the act. They toured as the “Vanos” until they went their separate ways in 1906. By this time Minerva had become the principle performer of the escape act and her husband had developed an act using liquid air.

In the summer of 1908, Minerva was finding success touring summer theaters and amusement parks in the eastern states. She was contracted to play a week at Merryland Park in Cumberland, Maryland for the princely sum of $75. Arriving early, she met with the park manager who complained of poor attendance and hoped that Minerva would do some publicity stunts to draw in the crowds. Of course this was to be at no additional fee. Being the trooper she was, Minerva agreed.  So on a Monday evening we find her standing on the famous Blue Bridge with a pair of handcuffs tightly clasped around her lily-white wrists. blue bridgeThe shores of the Potomac River were crammed with more than 2,000 people and hundreds more watched from boats in the river. She lightly sprang to the railing and poised for a moment before jumping into the cold water below. Arising to the surface she shook her blonde head and yelled out “Look, chief, the cuffs are off!” Minerva was picked up by a waiting boat and taken back to Merryland Park just in time for her first performance.  The park manager had gotten the publicity he wanted and then some.

Minerva performed the typical escape act of the time. This included escaping from handcuffs, both her own and any brought by the audience, and from a straight jacket done in full view of the audience. By all accounts her performance at the Merryland Park was a success. Though, the park manager did ask her to shorten it up a bit as it drew people away from the dance hall and other paying attractions.

On Wednesday, the park manager came to Minerva’s hotel and got into an argument with her and her assistant. The manager using what was described as insulting language made an offensive proposal to Minerva. She would not stand for this and threatened him with arrest if he continued. As she walked away the manager shouted “I’ll fix you for this.”

On Thursday evening she appeared at the park to do her show, but was told to collect her money and get out. However, she was offered only a half week of pay. Refusing this, Minerva showed up each night until the end of the week ready to perform. At the end of the week the park manager still refused to pay her and furthermore stated that Merryland Park was all powerful and it was no use to sue.

However, he should have realized who he was dealing with; this was someone that makes a living jumping handcuffed off bridges! So the following week we find Minerva in court suing Merryland Park for her remaining salary of $50. That day the judge found before him a petite young lady in a fashionable dress with her blond hair done up, not at all what one would expect of an escape artist. Minerva was the only witness for the plaintiff. The defense called four witnesses and while never questioning the contract, did contend that Minerva did not do all of the work demanded of her. The judge took all of this under advisement and as one would expect decided that Minerva was owed the $50. washington times aug 9 1908 minerva photoThe park’s lawyer’s immediately appealed the decision.

Needing funds Minerva had to get back on the road. She already had several offers and accepted engagements in the Washington, DC area playing Luna Park and the Lyric Theater. Minerva received great reviews and did a handcuffed bridge jump into the Potomac River.

On October 6, 1908 the Maryland Circuit Court announced that the Merryland Park case had been settled. By this time Minerva was just beginning her successful tour of the British Isles with her “death defying water trick.” Once again on this tour another manager tried to get the best of her, and quickly found out that you do not mess with an escape artist. Especially one of the female variety. But that is another story.

(Note: This article first appeared in Raymond Ricard’s “The Collector” No. 1 and was also posted on the original Magic Footnotes site.)


  1. The Evening Times, Cumberland, Maryland, July 11, 1908 to July 25, 1908 and October 6, 1908
  2. Washington Times, Washington, DC, August 9, 1908
  3. Minerva with handcuffs newspaper photograph from the collection of Byron Walker

Hope you enjoyed and good hunting.

Sep 242014


effie lorraine photoWhen Houdini opened in Boston at the end of February 1906 his performances became the talk of the town (1). Over the next 6 weeks Houdini escaped from handcuffs, ropes, packing cases, paper bags, wicker hampers, straight jackets, and even a witch’s chair. He even made the front page with his escape from a jail cell in Boston’s famous Tombs Prison. There was so much interest in seeing Houdini’s performances that standing room only crowds occupied part of the stage. The Houdini craze was on.

Two weeks after Houdini closed, Austin and Stone’s Museum announced that Mons. and Mme. Bellyea would introduce “ ‘The Missing Princess’ a la Houdini” (2). In the advertisements the billing was “Bellyea, King of Cards”, with no mention of Mme. Bellyea.

May 6 1906 boston herald first time

That changed the next week. Mme. Bellyea’s performances must have been the highlight of the act as the billing changed to “Bellyea and Effie Lorraine introducing the most Marvelous Trunk Mystery.” Their main effect was Lorraine escaping from a box, placed inside of a trunk and locked within a wooden crate (3). She did this within 26 seconds. Bellyea and Lorraine performed again at the Museum in August.

The novelty of the act was not so much the escape but the escapee. One critic stated she is large, fair and distinctly feminine. She tips the scale at over 200 lb and is very light on her feet.” (4) Another wrote after describing her box escape; “It should be borne in mind that she is twice as large as any performer doing any similar feat.” (5). Lorraine was not Bess Houdini.

Houdini returned to Boston at the beginning of January 1907 and again had a long and very successful run, leaving the city in mid-February (6, 7). Soon after he left a
Boston newspaper reported that (8):

“Effie Lorraine, a recent arrival from Europe, will tonight allow herself to be locked in the old bank vault of the Winthrop Bank building and says she expects to be able to release herself in a very short time. Miss Lorraine claims to attempt the feats of Houdini.”

The next day the Boston newspapers all carried the story of the escape. Here is one example (10):

“There was a sensation in the old Winthrop Bank Building at 2169 Washington street yesterday noon, when Effie Lorraine, a 200-pound Venus, out Houdinied Houdini by escaping in 18 minutes after being securely locked in the old bank vault.

Miss Lorraine is a Roxbury girl, and as fair as she is big.

Miss Lorraine was carefully searched, and was then ushered into her temporary prison. The office was then closed and the crowd waited without.

In a few minutes the office door opened and out walked the young woman. A careful inspection revealed the vault still locked, apparently just as before.

Miss Lorraine has been engaged to show some of her similar stunts at Austin and Stone’s Museum. The principle claim made for her is that while Houdini is a lithe, well-built man, Miss Lorraine is an unusually large woman, yet has all the poise and grace of a ballet dancer.”

Since this was not a challenge there was amble time for Bellyea and Lorraine to work out a way to escape from this unused 60+ year old vault (11).

Bellyea and Lorraine revamped the act and performed 5 feature escapes at the Austin and Stone’s Museum (12):march 3 1907 boston herald list of effects

They received great reviews that were headlined: “The ‘Female Houdini’ Rivals Her Namesake” and “Female Houdini in Starting Feats” (13, 14).

The magic community first heard about Effie Lorraine in the March, 1907 issue of Houdini’s Conjurers’ Monthly Magazine. Frederick Roche reporting in his Boston Bits column discussed Lorrain’s escape from a bank vault and her upcoming appearance at the Museum where she would escape from a box and hamper. He thought it would be a tight fit (13). In the April issue Roche must have witnessed a performance and gives a rather negative description of one effect (16):

“While at Austin & Stone’s museum, Miss Effie Lorraine presented a box mystery. A large heavy base on legs was shown first the sides of quarter-inch wood, were placed upon the base, the Venus entered and the top was strapped down, not nailed. The complete box was placed in a crate which was locked with several locks. This particular escape is evidently meant for a deaf audience judging by the amount of noise made by the lady escape artist in getting out, which great feat she accomplished in about five minutes. She was assisted by Prof. Bellyea. “

An interesting article about Lorraine appeared in the Boston Journal describing her escape from a large camera, about four foot square, at a local photography studio. Lorraine was placed inside, a plate was inserted and the shutter was closed. The journalist then left the room. Trapped within the body of the camera she was able to escape in less than eight minutes, appearing in the outer office “wearing a rosy flush and her hair was out of place – that was all.” The camera was then examined and further the plate developed and showed that “not a ray of light had touched its sensitive surface. There was no hint at how Lorraine had escaped. The article proclaimed that Effie Lorraine has stepped into the limelight as Houdini’s most dangerous rival. (4)

Huber MuseumTheir success, or at least some good press, must have secured a run at Huber’s Museum in New York City in June of 1907. The interesting thing is that they were performing opposite Houdini. The New York newspapers carried advertisements for both performers (17). Houdini must not have been very happy.

Bellyea and Lorraine returned to performing in Boston. They would periodically perform at Austin & Stone’s Museum, Theatre Premier, Howard Athenaeum and Bowdoin Sq. Theatre for the rest of 1907 and 1908 (18-21).  Sometimes Bellyea would also perform his card manipulation routine on the bill.

In June 1909 they were again performing for a month long run at Austin & Stone’ Museum (20). However, on June 21st Lorraine was replaced by Pearl Abbott for one week, then the billing changed to Bellyea and Arnold for the last week (22, 23). This was the last time that Bellyea or Effie Lorraine were ever mentioned in the press.

Now what happened to Effie Lorraine? There is no conclusive proof, but here is one possible scenario. She may have had some health problems, which lead her to stop performing. In late June Boston experiencing a heat wave and June 25th set new records with many deaths and prostrations. The June 26, 1909 Boston Journal reported that:

“Mrs. Effie Loraine, 39 year old, was prostrated by the heat at her home, 83 Williams street, Roxbury, yesterday afternoon.  A physician who attended her advised her to go to the hospital, but she refused to leave her home.”

She may have not been well enough to perform and that was why substitutes were used for the last two weeks of the run. Effie must have used “Lorraine” as a stage name.

Interestingly an Effie Loraine in the mid-1890s to around early 1900s was active in traveling burlesque shows (25-27). She used Lorraine and as her stage name, as did our Effie. According to the 1900 Census she was born in Cleveland, OH on October 1874, which would make her 36 in 1907 (26). Close to the age mentioned in the article. So could this be our Effie? There is no conclusive evidence, but for now she is the best candidate. The search goes on.

Hope you enjoyed and good hunting.


  1. Boston Herald, February 25, 1906, Boston, MA
  2. Boston Herald, February 29, 1906, Boston, MA
  3. Boston Herald, May 6, 1906, Boston, MA
  4. Boston Journal, March 27, 1907, Boston, MA
  5. Boston Herald, September 29, 1908, Boston, MA
  6. Boston Herald, January 7, 1907, Boston, MA
  7. Boston Herald, February 16, 1907, Boston, MA
  8. Boston Herald, February 26, 1907, Boston, MA
  9. Boston Post, February 27, 1907, Boston, MA
  10. Undated clipping from a Boston Newspaper, ca. February 27, 1907
  11. Norfolk Democrate, May 7, 1841, Dedham, MA
  12. Boston Herald, March 3, 1907, Boston, MA
  13. Boston Herald, March 5, 1907, Boston, MA
  14. Boston Herald, March 12, 1907, Boston, MA
  15. Conjurers’ Monthly Magazine, March, 1907
  16. Conjurers’ Monthly Magazine, April, 1907
  17. Sun, June 9, 1907, New York, NY
  18. Boston Herald, November 24, 1907, Boston, MA
  19. Boston Herald, May 19, 1908, Boston, MA
  20. Boston Herald, September 27, 1908, Boston, MA
  21. Boston Herald, October 18, 1908, Boston, MA
  22. Boston Herald, June 6, 1909, Boston, MA
  23. Boston Herald, June 20, 1909, Boston, MA
  24. Boston Herald, June 29, 1909, Boston, MA
  25. Buffalo Courier, November 11, 1895, Buffalo, NY
  26. Constitution, January 5, 1896, Atlanta, GA
  27. Cincinnati Post, October 26, 1894, Cincinnati, OH
  28. 1900 United States Census, June 14, 1900, New York, NY
Sep 232014

Herrmann the GreatThe Harry Ransom Collection at the University of Texas at Austin has put scans of scrapbooks and posters from the Houdini Collection on their site. So do check out the Houdini Scrapbook Collection and the Magic Posters and Playbills Collection. Most of the scrapbooks were assembled by other magicians. The most amazing one is simply titled “Magician’s Scrapbook”. Do check it out, and please no drooling on the keyboard…. you have been warned. One word of caution, while the scans of the scrapbooks and posters are very high quality, the site only allows low quality images to be downloaded. So if you need a good quality image you can purchase one from the Library for a reasonable fee, I have done this a number of times, or take a screen shot.

For many years the above scrapbooks and posters were only accessible through Victorian Popular Culture. This is an expensive subscription database available only through university libraries. However, it is now available as part of the subscription to Ask Alexander! This makes the small subscription price of only $9.99 a month a real steal. Victorian Popular Culture covers magic, spiritualism, circuses, sideshows, music halls, early cinema and much more. It draws on collections from the Harry Ransom Collection, Harry Price Library of Magical Literature, National Fairground Archive, UK National Archives and many others. Go to Victorian Popular Culture to find out more about the collection.…..and then join Ask Alexander…..you will never regret it….except when you find yourself sleep deprived.

Hope you enjoyed and good hunting.

Sep 222014

Search many of the free historical newspaper databases at Elephind.com. This site searches over 2,600 newspapers from 20 newspaper collections. Most of the newspapers date from the mid to late 1800’s. The largest collections are from the Library of Congress and the National Library of Australia. For some reason the issues of the New  York Clipper (1853-1924), Player (1911-1913) and Vaudeville News (1920-1929) are no longer included. You can search these from the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection at the University of Illinois.

Hope you enjoyed and good hunting.

Sep 212014

An interesting site is the Digital Public Library of America. This is a visionary effort to bring together the digital resources from libraries, universities, archives, and museums across America. The digital library aggregates information and thumbnails for millions of photographs, manuscripts, books, sounds, moving images, and more. This effort is being funded by a wide range of foundations and is based at the Boston Library. There are currently just a few magic related items but this will grow as more collections are added. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to search collections across the country in one place? This is what the internet is all about.  Try searching for Adelaide Herrmann and see some wonderful photos from the Billy Rose Collection at the New York Public Library. By the way a number of other countries have been doing this for years. The National Library of Australia’s Trove is one of the best examples.

Hope you enjoyed and good hunting.

May 302013

Even the most experienced magicians can make a mistake. This is a story about what happens when an untrained assistant is used in a potentially dangerous illusion. Fortunately quick  action by the magician prevented a more serious injury. The magician is Alexander Herrmann and the assistant is Adelaide Herrmann’s maid. The article is from the the New York Herald-Tribune, April 29, 1889.

1889-04-29 New York Herald-Tribune

Hope you enjoyed and good hunting.

May 202013

Robert A. Whitehand, known to everyone as Bob, was a well-known Washington D.C. silversmith, engraver, craftsman, and dealer/collector of curiosities. His business was named the “Old Curiosity Shop,” but was known to everyone as the Ark. The little shop was filled to the brim with unique and rare antiques and relics. Whitehand even had the purported bloody shirt that Steve Brodie wore when he jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge and a short length of the transatlantic cable. He was 55 years old at the time of his death in 1896.

What the public did not know was that he also built and repaired apparatus for many of the major professional magicians of his time. The following article from the January 9, 1897 issue of the “Evening Star” gives a small insight into his endeavors.

 ‘The late Bob Whitehand, the silversmith, will be much missed by magicians,” remarked an attaché of a professional magician, “for he could always be depended upon to fix up our properties and apparatus and to keep the secret of their operation to himself. He was very, very clever at tinkering with metal, as many in our business found to our satisfaction. Whitehand made much of the apparatus with which Heller started on the road as a magician. Heller, you may not remember, was named Palmer when he originally resided in this city, when he was the organist at Epiphany Church. He did nearly all his practicing in the room over the drug store at the corner of 13th and F streets. As he thought out the apparatus he needed he gave his orders to Whitehand, who put them into shape. The latter did many hundred dollars of work for Heller then and afterward. Whitehand also did considerable jobbing during the past twenty-five years for the late Prof. Herrmann, and Prof. Wyman, the father of magicians, and Prof. Anderson, the wizard of the north, who was such an attraction years ago.

 Among the odds and ends recently sold at auction in Whitehand’s old curiosity shop – and it sold for old metal, by the pound – was the plans for one of Heller’s famous tricks. It never worked satisfactorily, and was sent back to Whitehand to be remade. It was nearly completed when word was received here that Heller had died. It was the apparatus by which Heller apparently grew a tree of oranges from a pot located in the midst of the audience. The flower pot was filled with tubes, attached to the end of which was a rubber balloon bag, which when blown up resembled in color and size an orange. The growing was done by pumping air into the rubber oranges until they were sufficiently large. The pump was a bellows at the bottom of the pot, the magician using the bellows. Whitehand had done over hundred dollars’ worth of work on the apparatus.”

 After Whiteshead’s death the contents of the shop were sold to Mr. H. E. Rafferty of Alexandria, VA for just $100.

orange treeI always thought the idea of inflating balloons to imitate growing oranges was a fanciful explanation of the Orange Tree. So I was surprised that Heller used a pneumatic method.   This was first described by Henri Decremps in his “exposure” of Pinetti’s effects in La Magie Blanche Devoilee, 1784. The figure shows an pneumatic example described in Wiegleb’s “Die Natuerliche Magie” published in 1794 and reprinted in Houdini’s “The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin.” The more familiar mechanical method was perfected by Robert-Houdin in the mid-1800s.

Hope you enjoyed and good hunting.

May 182013

A mature looking woman walked unannounced into a Denver Police Headquarters and boasted she could escape from any pair of handcuffs they had….and she did. Here is the event as described in a June 19, 1899 article in the Denver Evening Post:

Woman Mystifies the Police

 ClementineHandcuffs, shackles and patent belts which officers use in conveying prisoners have been shown to be as worthless as so much paper.

Mlle. Clementina Starr was the demonstrator and she was so successful that the detectives at police headquarters are thinking of selling their handcuffs for scrap iron.

Mlle. Starr is a large and fleshy 45 years old. She has discovered a way to unlock any lock, but she makes a specialty of handcuffs and leg-irons. She arrived in Denver Thursday and at once went to police headquarters where she told of what she could do. She was only laughed at.

“I can prove to you that all your handcuffs are absolutely useless if you will only give me a chance,” and Mlle. Starr to the detectives, and it was then arranged for her to come to the station and perform what she termed her wonderful feats. When she left the station it was said that she would never come back and she was forgotten.

However, mademoiselle appeared again and said she was ready to prove her former statements were correct. The detectives, captains and sergeants were all called into the room to witness the act, and a pair of common handcuffs, were placed upon her wrists.

The secrets she has she guards carefully and will not perform the act in the presence of anyone. She was allowed to go into the next room, where she opened the cuffs in a few seconds. That seemed easy and another and much better pair was placed upon her wrists and were opened just as skillfully. Then the belt around the waist, the cuffs holding the hands down to the side. This belt is considered the best of the kind made and is used in handling the worst criminals in the country.

She does not slip out of the cuffs, but unlocks them and leaves them open. She does not do this with keys, as there are only two keys that will fit one pair of handcuffs, and the cuffs used were the property of the detectives who had the keys in their possession all the time. When she got through with her exhibition the detectives were convinced that she has made a great discovery.

“If the thieves knew that secret we could no more get them to prison than we could fly,” said an old time detective as he threw a pair of “invincibles” that had been opened by the mysterious woman into a drawer and locked them up.”

This is the earliest mention of a female escape artist in the press I have yet found.

Clementine, or Clementina as she sometimes used, was born about 1858 and grew up on farms around Marshalltown, Iowa. Her first marriage ended in divorce and she was left with a daughter born about 1879. She named her daughter after herself, a real bane to any researcher. She remarried in 1880 and vanishes until she shows up in Denver almost 20 years later.

How she got into the escape business is unknown. She may have performed in museums, small vaudeville theaters, burlesque or touring companies. So she was under the notice of most newspapers and trade publications. There is a wonderfully ornate letterhead in one of Houdini’s scrapbooks for the trio: Neptune “The Water King”; Clementine “You Cannot Keep Her Handcuffed”; and Bertina “The Wonderful Magnetic Girl”. The photograph on the letterhead shows three mature, and a bit worn, performers.

We do know Clementine left Chicago and arrived alone in Denver about two months before her appearance at Police Headquarters. Her successful escapes and the generated publicity did not lead to any work in the area, though she and her daughter soon settled down in Denver.  Around this time a publicity shot was made by a Denver photographer. It was titled “Clementine” and shows a mature woman standing next to a small locked cage containing a younger handcuffed woman. This is probably Clementine and her daughter. The act was being passed onto the next generation.

In June of 1902 it was announced that a high-class vaudeville tent show would be presented at Colorado Springs’ Prospect Lake and Mlle. Clementine would be the headliner. Problems ensued when it was discovered such performances were banned under the terms of the contact Prospect Lake’s management had with the city. So the tent was moved to property adjoining park. However, as Clementine was performing her act, the sheriff was arresting the vaudeville company’s manager for trespassing and trying to close down the show. It seems that Prospect Lake’s management had not actually gotten a lease for the land.

Not letting this stop her the next month Clementine headlined a vaudeville company playing at Colorado Springs’ Bott’s Park. She also did a challenge handcuff escape at the sheriff’s office to publicize the show.

A “Ventia Starr” with her handcuff mysteries appeared for a week beginning August 24, 1903 at Denver’s Rocky Mountain Lake. This could have been Clementine’s daughter. She had listed her vocation as actress in a Denver City Directory.

The Denver Post on June 18, 1903 announced the marriage of Clementine Starr with William Woodman of Chicago. Sadly, the same paper announced their divorce just three years later. Soon Clementine moved to Colorado Springs, eventually owning and managing a farm outside the city.  She married Samuel Irvin in 1913 and since both were busy on their farms they had to get the marriage license through the mail.

Clementine Starr last shows up in the 1920 Census. She owns a farm in Jasper, Texas and was a widow. After this date she escapes from written history.

Hope you enjoyed and good hunting.