2016-11-24 / Columnists

Raised in the Shadow – PART 4 Behind the Early Stage Footlights

by Sandi Brewster-walker

During the pre-Great War (World War I) years, Louden Hall and the Long Island Home were growing, and Brunswick Home, the largest, was developing a relationship with the Actors Fund of America.

The idea for the Actors Fund of America started in 1879 when the Dramatic Mirror newspaper (known as New York Mirror) was purchased by Lyman Fiske, a wealthy hotel owner, for his son Harrison Grey Fiske. Soon after, Grey, a journalist, playwright and producer, founded the Actors Fund of America on June 8, 1882, as a charity to provide assistance to men and women of the theatre. By 1887, the Actors Fund purchased a plot at Evergreen Cemetery in Brooklyn, and soon after one in Kensico, (NY).This was where some of the Actors Fund patients from Brunswick Home were later buried.

Reported by the South Side Signal (Babylon) on Jan. 26, 1901, there were 67 vaudeville theaters in the United States requiring 700 acts. By 1902, the Actors Fund was located on Clove Road in West New Brighton, Staten Island.The same year the Fund raised over $163,000 at their annual fair held at Madison Square Garden. In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt opened the Actors Fund Fair, which raised $63,941.60.


Rose Eytinge Rose Eytinge Between 1904 and 1916, two of the early actresses that were sent to Brunswick Home by the Actors Fund of America were Fanny Janauschek and Rose Eytinge.

It was reported in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Aug. 13, 1904, Francesca Janauschek (1829-1904), aka Madam Fanny Janauschek, an aging, famous actress, was at the Brunswick Home, a private sanitarium.The Eagle stated, “It was learned that she was sent here by the Actors Fund Association. She has until recently been an inmate of the Actors Home on Staten Island.”

Originally from Prague, Janauschek came to the United States in 1867 to perform at the Academy of Music (NYC). She became famous as a Shakespearean actress; however, in 1900, Janauschek was partially blind, bankrupt and had a stroke.The newspaper mentioned in 1903, the “Sale of Costumes and Jewels” took place in October at the Old Hilton Mansion in Manhattan.


Brunswick Home ca. 1887 - 1910 – Post Card Brunswick Home ca. 1887 - 1910 – Post Card The Eagle reported her death caused by paralysis in the Nov. 29, 1904 issue. Having no close family, her friends and actors took up a collection to bury Fanny in Evergreen Cemetery.

Four years after Janauschek’s death on Feb. 8, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle told readers, “There are three sanitariums in the Village.The largest of these, Brunswick Home,hasabout200patients;J.E.Irelandissuperintendent. Louden Hall, with John Louden as superintendent, has about 100 patients, and the Long Island Home, O.J. Wilsey as superintendent, has about the same number.”


Younger Fanny Janauschek Younger Fanny Janauschek The Brooklyn Daily Eagle continued reporting on what was happening on Division Avenuestating, John Edward Ireland, superintendent of Brunswick Home, had not resigned!The April 29, 1911 article headline read, “But Brunswick Home Directors, it is said, want him to do so.” When Ireland was asked, he said, “I’d prefer not to say anything about the matter. I have been going to resign for the past two or three years, but haven’t done so yet. Possibly I may and possibly I may not.”

John Edward Ireland (1845- 1913), superintendent of Brunswick, was well known in Amityville. John’s parents were Samuel Ireland (1789-1869) and Jane Phebe Carman (1805-1870). The 1880 US Federal Census found John E. Ireland listed as an insurance agent along with his wife Ann and four of their five children.

John was again enumerated in the 1900 US Federal Census with Ann Eliza (Trembley) and four of their children: Charles, Jennie, Susie (Markham) and Maud. Lillie McNeil, born in 1874 in North Carolina, a person of color, was listed in the household as a servant.


Older Fanny Janauschek Older Fanny Janauschek One son, Rufus A. Ireland, was enumerated in a separate household, along with his wife Grace, their child Edward and a person of color, Mary Scurlock, a servant born in 1866 after the Civil War in North Carolina.

The 1910 US Federal Census enumerated John’s family again at Brunswick Home, living on property with his wife Annie and one daughter, Susie.

On Dec. 21, 1911, the Eagle newspaper was writing about the Brunswick Home and Actors Guild connection again! Rose Eytinge (1835-1911) had died the previous day. She had played the leading woman opposite Edwin Booth, J.W., Lester Wallack and E. L. Davenport.The newspaper informed readers she had been at Brunswick for several months and died from a second stroke.

At the age of 20, Rose married David M. Barnes (1820- 1900), a newsman and author, but was divorced in 1862. She had one daughter, Rose Courtney Barnes, who also became an actress marrying the actor John T. Raymond.

Rose is said to have performed with Edwin Booth in “The Fool’s Revenge, as well as President Abraham Lincoln attended one of her performances. Her life continued to be interesting. In 1869, she married husband number-two Col. George H. Butler, U. S. Consul general to Egypt, and had two children. Butler’s abusive behavior and infidelities caused Eytinge to divorce him in 1882. “Eytinge returned to New York to resume her career with the Union Square Theatre Company. It was at this time that she played one of her most famous roles, Shakespeare’s ‘Cleopatra,’ for which she drew on her Egyptian experiences.”

She married her third husband actor Cyril Searle, but they were separated four years later. Rose published her personal recollections in 1905; and her last performance was in 1907.

Eytinge died of a stroke on Dec. 20, 1911 at the Brunswick Home, where she was supported by the Actors Fund.

Over at Long Island Home, growth continued. Dr. Wilsey broke ground for still another cottage on Bennett Place, according to the South Side Signal on April 18, 1913.

On May 9, the Signal stated, “At about 8:30 p.m. in the brick laundry building in the rear of the Long Island Home afire broke out.The local firemen answered the call to fight the intense blaze! The fire was discovered on the slate roof, with the damage being estimated at about $200.”

The reporter stated, “Dr. O.J. Wilsey said his patients behaved finely, and never exhibited at any time any undue excitement or alarm.”

John E. Ireland, of Brunswick Home, passed away on Nov. 20, 1913, and was buried in the Amityville Cemetery according to the Find- A-Grave website.

Three years later, the April 23, 1916 Brooklyn Daily Eagle discussed how the Actors Fund of America would raise $1,000,000.The article mentioned that “…Brunswick Home, Amityville, L.I., where, as in the Actors Fund Home, each single guest is afforded a separate room, light, airy and well furnished.” A servant of Annie, the widow of John E. Ireland, the late superintendent of Brunswick Home, was Hannah Steele (1873), a person of color with local Native American ancestry. They were both enumerated in the 1920 US Federal Census.

Hannah might have worked as a servant, however, she had inherited most of both sides of Smith Street, as well as property on both sides of Albany Avenue from Smith Street to Steele Place in the Hamlet of North Amityville. Filed in the historic map collection, of the Town of Babylon is a map known as the “Hannah Steele Map”!

Brunswick Home had begun its relationship with the Actors Fund that lasted for over 25 years. All three sanitariums continued to grow, and influence the area, but one thing was changing!

Very slowly the families that had operated the early three Amityville sanitariums were moving from hiring immigrants to more diverse servants at home, and their employee workforce.

The writer is an independent historian, genealogist, freelance writer and business owner. She is the chair of the Board of Trustees and acting executive director of the Indigenous People Museum & Research Institute and served in President Bill Clinton’s Administration as deputy director of the Office of Communications at the United States Department of Agriculture. Readers can reach her in c/o the Amityville Record at acjnews@rcn.com.

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