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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

HOWARD, Curry. (Dubuque, IA--Unknown). Curry Howard made his entertainment debut on November 27, 1888 with other local boys in a show at Smith and Wagner's Music Hall. Curry did a monologue prior to the MOHRING BROTHERS performing an act. Curry taught the brothers their first stunt in a sawdust pile on 7th Street in Dubuque. The three later toured the United States and Europe. (1)

Curry joined the C. J. Phillips "Uncle Tom's Cabin" Company in 1891 as a singer in a quartet. He felt confident enough in 1893 to branch out on his own in an act called "Howard's Boston Athanaeum" at the Marlowe Theatre on the south side of Chicago. This proved to be a financial failure, and he joined his wife in Wright's Entertainers in 1894 in Chicago. (2)

In 1895 Howard returned to Dubuque and joined Jack Noonan, another Dubuquer, in a show called "Howard's Minstrels." Other members of the troupe included Johnnie Fox, a "hand balancer," and the Yount Brothers. The group toured the upper Midwest, but eventually disbanded. (3)

Howard and Harvey Reese had enough money to return to Chicago a develop a Chinese acrobatic act. With his earnings, he joined "Farlando's Great Britain Shows." Success encouraged him to joined the "C. B. Taylor Shows" the next year. During the winter, he joined Frank Creto in a comedy company which played small towns in Wisconsin. (4)

Around 1897, Howard formed a partnership with Billy Gorman. They developed a minstrel show that toured Nebraska and surrounding states for two years. Returning to Dubuque, he found that his daughter, Hester, could sing so they joined BEACH AND BOWERS in Maquoketa. They toured all the way to Vancouver, British Columbia. (5)

Howard, his wife, and Hester joined Canada Frank's Shows and toured through the Dakotas and Montana. The mother and father did a revolving ladder act while their daughter sang. (6)

Around 1903 the family joined the "Five Brothers Amusement Company" which toured through Wisconsin. Perhaps this success with others in previous years encouraged Howard to again form his own group. In 1904 it took three weeks to lose $2,500--the family's entire savings. (7)

In early 1905 the Curry Howard Minstrel Company disbanded after a series of bookings that failed for reasons ranging from weather to the murder of a local resident. (8) The family joined Beach and Shultz' "Uncle Tom's Cabin" with Howard playing "Uncle Tom," Hester playing "Eva," and his wife taking the role of "Aunt Ophelia." Their tour of the Dakotas and Nebraska proved profitable at every stop. (9)

Howard joined Tom Culligan of Cascade in 1906 to form that a group that profitably toured Illinois. Again past success led Howard to attempt his own show, "Curry Howard's Greater Minstrels." (10) When this one almost immediately failed, he secured employment as the chef at the DUBUQUE CLUB. In 1908 his wife, son and daughter performing in a vaudeville act earned enough that Howard put together another act and joined the "Parker Shows" in Oklahoma City. (11) In 1909 Hester Howard was part of a wire act by children featured at the BIJOU THEATER. (12)



1. "Curry Howard and His Flights Into Realm of Things Theatrical," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, July 18, 1909, p. 9

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. "Minstrels Have Hard Luck," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, May 27, 1905, p. 11

9. "Curry Howard..."

10. "Curry Howard is at it Again," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, November 7, 1906, p. 5

11. Ibid.

12. "Dubuque Children in Act," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, January 10, 1909, p. 5