Henderson Stock Company
Table of contents
After Harold Rosier’s death, his widow Waunetta Rosier Oleferchik donated to Michigan State University a large collection, comprising not only the Henderson Stock Company materials, but also a trove of scrap books on the Henderson Stock Company, The Rosier Players and other theatre troupes as well as videotapes of productions, a theatre curtain, and her husband’s musical saw and his “chalk talk” boxes. These additional items are available for viewing and research through the MSU Museum’s Michigan Traditional Arts Program. A copy of Waunetta’s memoirs of her life in a traveling troupe, entitled I Always Said Goodnight, can be found in both collections, as can copies of the large collection of typed scripts.
Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information:
Box number, Folder number and/or title, Henderson Stock Company Inventory, MSS 289, Special Collections, Michigan State University Main Library
Copyright is retained by the author of the items in this archive, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Spanning the late 1890’s to the 1950’s, the collection consists of over 200 photographs, theatre business papers, account books, some personal correspondence, a memoir, some original handwritten scripts and over 230 copies of typed scripts (circa 1920’s -?). It also includes Henderson’s personal address book and a type-block for printing show tickets. Overall, because of the large and diverse nature of items, the collection conveys an informed sense of the vanished art form that was the small-town traveling acting troupe.
Richard Henderson (1876 – 1935) of Mason, Michigan, was the founder of the longest running traveling repertory theatre company. His father, Wade J. Henderson, owned a photography studio, had served as an advance man for touring companies, and encouraged his son in acting. According to a playbill in this collection, at age six Richard Henderson was touted as “the most wonderful child in the world . . . who recites Shakespeare and other difficult selections with all the embellishments of a polished elocutionist.” In 1898 he founded the Henderson Stock Company in Otsego, Michigan and toured theatres and opera houses throughout the mid-west and the east coast. He was highly regarded as a performer. As historian Dawn Nicely writes, “The Henderson company maintained a high level of professionalism, preferring to present only legitimate theatre, not Toby or parody of melodrama, a then popular art form.” Henderson was particularly admired by other actors for playing Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde: “ . . .when Jekyll began the transformation into Hyde, Henderson would turn away from the audience, put in fake teeth and muss his hair . . . he wore two little dots of black grease paint near the inside corners of his eyes that, while turned away, he would smear under his eyes to give his eyes a sinister, sunken look. According to Harold’s story, when Henderson quietly turned and gazed out into the house, the effect was so frightening that people would nearly faint.” (quoted from Dawn Nicely, citation below).
Henderson was married twice, both times to actresses in the company, but had no children with either wife. Details of his first marriage to actress Edith Prettyman are scant but a note in the collection (Box 2, Folder 2) indicates she left him sometime between 1901 and her death in 1908. His marriage to Fannie Henderson lasted from 1912 or 1914 (sources differ) until his own death from a heart attack in 1935. His wife continued to run the show until 1937, when she sold it to Harold Rosier and Waunetta Rosier Oleferchik, two young actors in the company, also from Michigan. Fannie Henderson continued acting with the troupe until 1940. The Rosiers, who renamed the company The Rosier Players, directed the rep company through the war years and into the 1950’s. In 1966 they bought the Collier Show, a tent show complete with trucks, chairs, scenery, props, scripts and a tent trailer, and began to travel sometimes with the tent, keeping The Rosier Players as their name and featuring “Toby shows”. Eventually they donated the show to Jackson Community College after collaborating with them on summer productions throughout the 1970’s. Even after Harold Rosier’s death in 1980, in the middle of a show, Waunetta worked with the college troupe until JCC discontinued the program in 1991 and put the show’s equipment in storage. The show was later bought by theatre historian and director, Dawn Larsen Nicely, who has continued the tent tradition with her company, The Hard Corn Players, in Tennessee.
Collection was processed by Anne-Marie Rachman, MSU Special Collections, in Spring 2007.
Henderson Stock Company collection materials, Michigan State University Special Collections.
Ingham County Democrat (MI newspaper), July 15, 1908 (death notice for Edith Prettyman).
Nicely, Dawn Larsen, “Corn Under Canvas: Reconstructing Toby Shows in Tennessee.” (1999) As viewed at: http://www2.volstate.edu/tobyshow/diss%201hist.htm on 5/2/07.
Oleferchik, Waunetta Rosier. I Always Said Goodnight. Edited by William L. Slout (1988).
Collection is in four series:
|1||1||Richard R. Henderson: Family/early years|
|2||Richard Henderson: In costume. Envelope 1 – 9 (11 photos)|
|3||Richard Henderson: Portraits/Snapshots. Envelope 1 – 8.|
|4||Richard Henderson: Portraits, with others|
|5||Edith Prettyman Henderson (1st wife). (See below for additional oversize items)|
|6||Fannie Asbury Henderson (2nd wife)(See below for additional oversize items) IDENTIFIED:|
|7||Henderson Stock Company|
|8||Misc. Identified Subjects|
|9||Misc. Identified Subjects (continued)|
|10, 11, 12||Unidentified Subjects (75 photos)|
|13||The Hendersons with Dogs (6 photos)|
|1||13||Henderson Stock Co. Account Books, chronologically:|
|14||- April 1900 – Sept. 1900|
|15||- Sept. 29th, 1900 – Dec.29th, 1901|
|16||- 1908 Season (Jan. 22 –Aug. 10)|
|17||- Aug 11, 1908 – Sept. 29, 1909|
|18||- Sept. 1909 – June 1911|
|19||- Dec. 1922 – July 1924|
|20||- April 1926 – June 1927|
|2||1||- 1934 to closing in 1935. Also Misc. financial sheets.|
|2||Henderson Stock Co. Correspondence|
|- company business, personal correspondence (includes note re. Edith Prettyman)|
|3||Henderson Stock Co. Newspaper Clippings|
|4||Henderson Stock Co. Playbills, Tickets, Cue Lines|
|(includes playbill from Henderson’s performance at age 6)|
Other Correspondence, Writings
|5||Hart, Guy W. (show printer) Correspondence with L.Verne Slout of the Slout Players (customer and friend)(1925 – 1943).|
|6||Hart, Guy W. (show printer). Business correspondence with show companies (1927)|
|7||Hart, Guy W. (show printer). Business correspondence with show companies (1928)|
|8||Hart, Guy W. (show printer). Business correspondence with show companies (1929)|
|9||Hart, Guy W. (show printer). Business correspondence with show companies (1930 – 1951)|
|10||Hart, Guy W. (show printer). Misc. business correspondence and printing samples (circa 1920’s).|
|11||Nye, Russell. Letter re. this collection (undated).|
|12||Oleferchik, Waunetta Rosier (wife of Harold Rosier). I Always Said Goodnight, her memoir of a life in a traveling theatre company.|
|Edited by William L. Slout (1988).|
|13||Rosier, Harold (1912 – 1980)(successor to Richard Henderson). Photo, letters, misc.|
|2||14||Five handmade script books for five character parts in unidentified play.|
|15||1) Alphabetical List of Play Titles: 2) Alphabetical List of Play Summaries (including genre, # of acts, # of characters, location, time, and plot summary for each play). See below for electronic versions (searchable).|
| 1.) Alphabetical List of Play Titles (pdf)
2.) Alphabetical List of Play Summaries (pdf)
PLEASE NOTE: ALL SCRIPTS INCLUDED IN THE LISTING
ARE LOCATED IN SPECIAL COLLECTIONS EAST WALL FILE CABINETS.
|3||1||Photographic portrait. Writing on back reads, “Mrs. Dick Henderson?” (11”x 14”)|
|2||Photograph: On back, “ ‘Bunco in Arizona’ Henderson Stock Co.|
|Left to right – Dave Campion, Mrs. And Dick Henderson.” (12” x 14.5”)|
|3||Photograph: On back, “Henderson Stock Co. as appeared in “The Vendetta” (11” x 14”)|
|4||Photograph: On back, “Henderson Stock Co. in “The Vendetta” (10” x 12”)|
|5||Photograph: On back, “Henderson Stock Co. in ‘The Vendetta’ Henderson is at right side of his 1st wife” (10” x 12”)|
|6||Photograph of Richard Henderson with announcement: “Opera House/Henderson Stock Company/One Week /Commencing Sunday”|
|7||2 Photographs mounted side by side: On back, “Mrs. Richard Henderson (1st wife)” (12” x 12”)|
|8||Photographic portrait. Unidentified but probably Edith Prettyman.|
|4||1, 2||Two mylar envelopes containing script booklets for play, “The Red Spider,” property of Joseph J. Dowling|
|(6 total and 2 sheets of paper with cue lines) FRAGILE|
|3, 4||Six mylar envelopes containing script booklets for play, “Kentucky Girl.” (15 total and loose papers). FRAGILE|
|5||Bound ledger book with handwritten script for play, “A Kentucky Girl.” Property of Sadie Hasson. (Also signed by Hasson, in pencil). 1898 newspaper advertisement pasted in book announces “A Kentucky Girl” performances and describes Sadie Hasson as “the dashing comedy actress.” FRAGILE|
|6||Richard Henderson’s Personal and Professional Address Book|
|7||Henderson Stock Co. Type-Block for printing tickets|