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KUNKEL, George, son of Jacob Kunkel and his wife Rebecca Stine, was born on January 21, 1823. in Greencastle, Franklin county, Pa.: died January 25. 1885. He became a printer in Philadelphia and while earning fifteen dollars a week at the case, in 1844 he left it to get twenty-five dollars to sing and play with the Virginia serenaders. When they disbanded he organized Kunkel's Nightingale Minstrels, Mr. John T. Ford becoming the manager of the troupe, which was very successful. Mr. Kunkel was a noted bass singer. Kunkel's Minstrels were on the road eleven years, and disbanded in Washington in 1855. Mr. Kunkel was the original manager of the Jenny Lind theater, Washington, which stood on the site of the National theater. It was destroyed by fire, by which Mr. Kunkel lost eight thousand dollars.

After the disbanding of his troupe, with Mr. Moxley he managed a theater in Richmond up to the time of the beginning of the war. In his company were J. Wilkes Booth and Edwin Adams, and his stage manager was Joseph Jefferson. Some time during the first year of the war Mr. Kunkel returned to Baltimore and became manager of the museum at Baltimore and Calvert streets. Afterwards he undertook the role of Uncle Tom, in which character he first appeared in Charleston, S. C., in 1861. The city council of Charleston, on the occasion of his first appearance, held a meeting and passed a reso1ution forbidding any colored person from entering the theater under pain of punishment. Parson Brownlow published an editorial in his paper advising the driving out of the troupe from the city.

In 1364, when manager of the Front street theater, he married Mrs. Ada Proctor, who was leading lady at that place. Two children, a son and a daughter, survived him.

In the character of Uncle Tom Mr. Kunkel perhaps pleased more children than any other living actor. In 1883 Mr. Kunkel starred through England in the character of Uncle Tom under the management of Jarrett & Palmer. It was a most successful tour. The last time he played Uncle Tom was in New Haven, Conn., during New Year's week, 1885. He died suddenly at Baltimore, Md., January 25, 1885.

Historical Review of Dauphin County

Transcribed by Becky Tuszynski becky@voicenet.com for The Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project - http://maley.net/transcription.

Date of Transcription: 31 Dec 2000

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