O'Fallon Progress

25 cents got you into opening night at the ‘opera house’

Brian Keller is the O’Fallon Historical Society president.
Brian Keller is the O’Fallon Historical Society president.

When J.A. Simon’s Star Comedy Company rolled into town in the fall of 1877, they set up shop in the second floor of the “opera house” at 102 W. State for a week’s engagement beginning on a Monday night.

According to John Lienesch, who was there and wrote about it later, the theatrical troupe consisted of 11 actors and actresses accompanied by the six- or eight-member Superb Silver Cornet Band.

“The first cornetist was a big rawboned fellow over six feet tall, with a homely good-natured face, and so tall that when he had to fill in on the stage his head would brush the overhead flies. The bass fiddler was a slim, sprucy, dressy, dudish young man, sprouting a pretty little black mustache. Another was a kind of sawed off kid about 17 or 18 years old,” Lienesch reported.

It was because of their double duty as actors and musicians that Lienesch particularly remembered those three. General admission was 25 cents per play. Reserved seats were 10 cents extra. (To be continued next week.)

75 years ago Feb. 11, 1943

Marcel F. Kuehn, owner and editor of the Progress, received word that his son, Pfc. Russell Elmer Kuehn, age 27, U.S. Marines, was killed in action in the South Pacific.

A 1933 graduate of O’Fallon Township High School, he worked at the O’Fallon Progress and then at the Belleville News-Democrat until his enlistment.

(Kuehn was so distraught at the death of his son that he asked News-Democrat reporter Joseph W. Adam to write the story.)

50 years ago Feb. 8, 1968

Capt. Reginald V. Maisey Jr., 33, husband of the former Joyce Anheuser, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph W. Anheuser of O’Fallon, was killed in action Tuesday, Jan. 30 during an attack on Bien Hoa, located near Saigon.

Capt. Maisey served in the Air Force 11 years, serving at Scott Air Force Base for three years, prior to a four-year tour of duty in Hawaii, which immediately preceded his tour in Vietnam.