Eisenbarth-Henderson Showboat

Eisenbarth-Henderson Showboat

 

Ellsworth Eugene Eisenbarth was born October 22, 1864, in Ironton, Ohio. The family later moved to Wetzel County, West Virginia. By 1889, Eisenbarth was traveling the mid-Atlantic states in “The Oregon Indian Medicine Show,” which featured such entertainment as real cowboys and “Indians.” He next bought a floating store, which he refitted as a showboat and christened “The Eisenbarth Wild West & Floating Opera.” The endeavor lasted from 1891 to 1895. By the late 1890s, Eisenbarth and his wife Julia had founded “The Eisenbarth & Henderson Mammoth and Combined Uncle Tom’s Cabin Company,” complete with calliope, band and orchestra, which also traveled throughout the middle states by rail. In February of 1900, E.E. and Julia converted a glass barge named the E.V. Poke No. 2 into “The Eisenbarth-Henderson Floating Theatre, Temple of Amusement.” This showboat and its successor (“The Eisenbarth-Henderson Floating Theatre-The New Great Modern Temple of Amusement”) were devoted to bringing Shakespearean plays and other dramas, such as “Human Hearts” to the waterways. Eisenbarth also worked with a traveling company of players, perhaps to remain off the rivers during the winter months. The Temple cleared more money than almost any other boat on the Ohio River, even though it only played four nights a week and never on Sunday. Julia Eisenbarth died sometime after, and E.E. remarried in 1908 to Jennie Salina Brown. In 1909, he presented his last show on a riverboat, “The Castle.” He sold The Temple showboat to the Needham-Steiner Amusement Company that year, and although he made bids on other boats, these proved unsuccessful and The Temple ended up being his last showboat.

A photograph showing the interior and performers of the first “Temple of Amusement” showboat, owned by E. E. Eisenbarth.
Portrait of Julia Ann (Henderson) Eisenbarth, wife of E.E. Eisenbarth.

 

Eisenbarth’s first showboat at anchor on an unidentified river. The side reads “Eisenbarth’s Combined Wild West and Opera.”
The Eisenbarth family seated in a convertible automobile with a calliope in the back seat. A calliope, also known as a steam organ, was a musical instrument commonly used on riverboats or in circuses.
isenbarth-Henderson Floating Theater poster advertising a production of “Faust” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

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