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Collins Genealogy, By Ethel (Buxton) McLean 





(Richmond) Dispatch                               August 11, 1895

Home    >     Newspaper Articles    >    Death of Mary Partington




 Death of Mary Partington

She Was Once the Premier Danseuse at the Old Marshall



The death of Miss Mary Partington which occurred at her residence, in Hanover County, on Monday, recalls to mind the by-gone days of the Confederacy, when this lady was the premier danseuse of the old Marshall Theatre in Richmond.

The Partingtons were English, coming from Torquay in the county of Devon, and were settled here before the war. The family consisted of three sisters -- Mary, Sallie, and Jenny and two brothers John and William. Mary, who possessed much salutatorial knowledge soon after her arrival, opened a dancing academy, which was extensively patronized by the young ladies of that time. When the war came on her talents were developed in the direction of stage-dancing while her sister became players in [illegible] parts, especially Miss Sallie, who was a universal favorite with the public. The latter supplied the old-time place of Maggie Mitchell, who had then [illegible] temporarily, at least, to be a Southern-favorite, because she went North. Miss Jenny, who was also a great favorite, married Mr. Edwin Forrest Barnes, of this city, and died within a year after her marriage. [Editor's note: There was a fourth sister named Kate or Katie who was also in theatre]

Miss Mary Partington was in the 74th year when she died, and she passed away at the residence of her sister Sallie, at Pole Green, Hanover county. Both of the brothers were devotedly Virginian in feelings and served in the Confederate army with credit to themselves. Since the war, William Partington began a business here, with Mr. G. F. Dela?ue as a partner, but the firm long ago disolved.





The theatrical aggregation performing at the old Marshall in war-time consisted of Captain Charles, Harry McCarthy, E. R. [illegible] and wife, Harry Allen, Jim Wells, F. M. Bates, Mr. Thorpe, Ella and Eliza Wrenn, Katie Estell, W. Harrison, Mrs. De Barr, Dorsay Ogden, Walter [illegible], Charles Morton, and Mary, Sallie and Jenny Partington.

It is needless to say that the combination, led by Ogden, was equal to the production of any dramatic effort, however ambitious in conception. Thorpe generally played the heavy villain, [illegible] father, relentless uncle, or Yankee general, as the [illegible] of the occasion demanded, while Ogden would be found equally at home as a Corsican Brother, Richelieu, Richard the Third, the Stranger, or Uncle Tom in the Cabin of that name. No matter what the play was there was always room for a dance by Mary Partington, and some pieces were presented which were especially constructed to show off the proficiency of a ballet corps under her management. Mary and Sallie were ever welcome in those days. Some of the plays produced were, "East Lynne," "Slasher and Crasher," "King's Gardener," "Ten Nights in a Bar-Room" "Black-Eyed Susan," "The Stranger," and "Swiss Cottage," not to speak of hundreds of higher drama and scores of adaptations.




In those days, no matter what sort of play was put up, the place was crowded nightly. One appealing to the patriotism of the Confederates was sure to bring down the house in a roar that would have caused a commotion even in Grant's army could it have been heard. In those days the regular theatre door-keeper was reinforced by two local-defense men, armed with muskets, to keep out the soldiers, but when the latter wanted to get in they formed company by twos, made a rush for the door, and soon its guardians were brushed aside like so much chaff.

Ella Wrenn during the war married a Kentucky soldier named Blair, and became the mother of Eugenia Blair now Mrs. Robert Downing.

Eliza Wrenn married Mr. Pat Redford, of Manchester.



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