Rabbit Foot Minstrels
[reverse:] Rabbit Foot Minstrels. By the mid-1910s entertainers in tent shows were spreading the blues across the South, and one of most popular groups was the Port Gibson-based Rabbit Foot Minstrels. Minstrel shows presented a wide range of comedy routines, skits, and song-and-dance numbers, and always featured a marching band. In the 1910s they added blues to their existing repertoire of classical, ragtime, and popular music, playing it both instrumentally and in support of vaudeville-style female singers. Many performers later known for other styles of blues also spent time in minstrel troupes, including rhythm and blues pioneer Louis Jordan and Rufus Thomas, who worked as a comedian.
White performers including Dan Emmett and T.D. Rice pioneered blackface
In 1900, Patrick Henry Chappelle, an African American from Florida, produced a musical comedy called “A Rabbit’s Foot,” and by 1902 his Rabbit’s Foot Company was touring as a tent show, though the popular attraction was billed as “too good for a tent.” Following Chappelle’s death in 1911, the company attraction was taken over by F. S. (Fred Swift) Wolcott, a white entrepreneur from Michigan who had been running a small minstrel company. In the spring of 1918 Wolcott moved the company’s headquarters to Port Gibson, where troupe members stayed in the winter, either in train cars or in the homes of locals, and rehearsed on a covered stage
Among the ranks of the Rabbit Foot Minstrels were many blues singers and musicians who at some point lived in Mississippi, including Big Joe Williams, Sid Hemphill, Willie Nix, Maxwell Street Jimmy, Jim Jackson, Bogus Ben Covington, Dwight “Gatemouth” Moore, Johnny “Daddy Stovepipe” Watson, and trombonist Leon “Pee Wee” Whittaker.
Erected 2007 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 21.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1900.
Location. Marker is missing. It was located near 31° 57.555′ N, 90° 59.1′ W. Marker was in Port Gibson, Mississippi, in Claiborne County. Marker was at the intersection of Carroll Street /Rodney Road and Main/Market Street, on the right when traveling east on Carroll Street /Rodney Road. Marker is on the southeast corner of the intersection in front of an old, two-story building (formerly a filling station) two blocks west of Church Street Touch for map. Marker was in this post office area: Port Gibson MS 39150, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. Battle of Port Gibson (within shouting distance of this marker); Commercial Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Port Gibson Bank (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Bernheimer Complex (about 400 feet away); O'Hara Cottage (about 500 feet away); a different marker also named Battle of Port Gibson (about 500 feet away); The Federals Occupy Port Gibson (about 500 feet away); Judge Maury House (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Port Gibson.
More about this marker. Marker and building have been removed.
Also see . . . Mississippi Blues Trail. (Submitted on September 10, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 2, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 10, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,785 times since then and 31 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 10, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 6. submitted on November 18, 2020, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.