"I am not a researcher by occupation, but one by desire."
What a fortunate day for anyone researching Sherman ancestors, when this gentleman was born, April 14, 1915 in Providence, RI. His "Sherman Directories", privately published in 1991, distributed to many libraries, and available on microfiche at Family History Centers, has become one of the premier publications in all genealogy. Over 25,000 Shermans, carefully transcribed and indexed from over 300 genealogical sources (including most of the 1850 census), provide a huge "starting place" for researchers.
John has recently had some serious health concerns, and we are delighted to hear that he reports much improvement, and good spirits after so many well-wishers sent cards and notes.
John was born in 1915, in Providence, Rhode Island - the son of Oscar Truesdale and Laura Harris (DURAND) SHERMAN.
The following is extracted from his letter to SOY member John Dennis, in response to questions about his bio and Sherman research. (Thanks John Dennis)
"I did all my genealogical research and wrote my book without knowing of anyone also interested in the Sherman family. Now that it is done and I am no longer doing any genealogical work, I am hearing about others interested in the Sherman family. It was my book that got them to get in touch with me.
I became interested in genealogy while in my late teens. My Aunt Alice lived nearby, and she was the unofficial family genealogist. She never did any research herself, but she was the holder of several papers prepared by other family members who had died, on some of the family lines on my father’s side.
When I graduated from Brown University with a BA degree in 1937, I got my first job in a bank in New Haven, following in my father’s steps. I soon found out that the New Haven public library had a small genealogy section which included the complete set of the NEHGS "Register", as well as some other family and local histories. I soon added a number of names to my lineage.
In 1941 I moved to Berkley where my mother (divorced) was living, and I got some information on her side of the family. I also discovered the San Francisco public library had a "Sutro collection" of genealogical material originally maintained by one of the Sutro heirs.
I was drafted by the Army in 1941 at the Presidio in Monterey. They kept me there for about six months as a member of the permanent party because I was underweight and did not qualify for overseas duty. I was then transferred to a unit at Byron Hot Springs, just north of Tracy, where I took care of the personnel records and the payroll of an Army unit that interrogated captured Nazi and Japanese officers. When the war ran down and the unit was abolished, I was sent to Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, where I started paying off the soldiers in the separation center.
When I received enough points for discharge, I told my commanding officer, but he didn’t seem too interested and obviously didn’t want to lose one of his two paying tellers. I mentioned my situation to one of the officers shepherding one of the units of soldiers being discharged, and he said he had a vacant spot on a group coming through the next day. He said he would get my records, and for me to join the group just before it reached the paying teller.
The next day I joined his group and got my final pay and honorable discharge and was out. Was the other paying teller surprised when I showed up! After getting out, I took off before my former commanding officer discovered what had happened. I didn’t even stop to get my personal belongings!!
I started out working in a bank, but when I saw little opportunity for advancement in the banks I worked for, I joined the California State Banking Department that chartered and examined State chartered banks. I started as an Examiner, and after about twenty years I was the top civil service employee in the department. The top dog is the Superintendent of Banks, or SOB, who is appointed by the governor. I was appointed to the position on a temporary basis twice. By Governor Ronald Reagan gave me the title and the pay, Governor Jerry Brown put me in charge, but without the title or the pay.
After I retired in 1978, I moved back to Providence to be close to relatives and to do some research at the New England Historical Genealogical Library in Boston, and at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library in Providence.
It was during this time that I decided to put out a Sherman genealogy. On my trip back to Providence after I retired, I researched in a number of libraries and always felt that I should add my contribution. My "Sherman Directory" was the result.
I used the strict alphabetical approach as this was the only way to present all this material when the relationships between many of the individuals were disjointed. Some of the old fashioned reviewers of my book took me to task because I didn’t use the "standard" genealogical format, and because I didn’t add any new original research. My book was never intended to add new research; it is primarily a master index of a number of genealogical books of Sherman information.
I have been pleased that so many have written me that they have found the book useful."
Ed: Thanks for sharing John, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY….
Within five minutes of viewing a copy of John’s book, I located my g.g.grandfather (whom my Aunt had searched for, for over 30 years), and connected my Sherman ancestry back to 1632. Information about it, how to obtain a copy, and a growing page of update info referenced to Shermans in his book appears on the SOY website – which John was instrumental in founding.
Amusingly, one of the really rare "typo’s" in the 2,874 pages of the book, is John’s "forgetting" to show his father’s (Oscar Truesdale - 22) connection to his grandfather!!!!
Please note the other article in this issue about Sherman genealogical authors and their lines.
John resides at 651 Sinex Ave., Apt. C-112, Pacific Grove,
– and he enjoys hearing from Sherman friends. Please bear in mind that
he does NOT do research any more.
[Ed: In April of 1998, Sue Reitmann wrote me that she had met a new "Sherman". She was attending her grandson’s baptismal in a very old Episcopal Church in Northfield, MN, saw Bonnie’s name in the program for that Sunday's service and asked the minister to point her out. They had a nice chat, and Sue introduced us via emails. We have kept in contact, and, although very busy, she graciously sent the following bio for SOY. Thanks, Bonnie.
Bonnie is the daughter of Roger Durand Sherman, brother of John Harris Sherman (author of the "Sherman Directories"). Her Sherman line is: Philip > Edmund > David > John > Job > Stephen > Obadiah > John > Oscar > Roger > (her)].
"I was born in Appleton, Wisconsin. My father was a
professor in the
art department at Lawrence at the time. Shortly thereafter he went into
the navy as a lieutenant in WWII and was stationed abroad. I was
in Iowa Falls, IA in May of 1942 and have a wonderful photograph of
with my parents (both of them) and other family members, now all
(save my father and I).
|Bonnie Sherman's baptism in May 1942 in Iowa Falls,
Iowa (click to
l-r, front row:
l-r (back row):
During most of my preschool years we lived in RI--in Weekapaug (near Westerly) and in Providence where my grandfather, Oscar T. Sherman, and stepmother lived. I loved both places. I loved the house near Westerly because I could see the ocean from my bedroom and could play on the beach.
I remember writing CAT in the sand, falling and getting sand in my eyes, and learning poetry and nursery rhymes from my mother as we walked. I remember one day when my father was home, we dug for clams and cooked them, and another when we had two lobsters and the two of us droppedthem into a pot of water, watching them turn red. Then we ate together. Mother never touched real seafood or anything that looked like it had ever been alive. [Bonnie is now a vegetarian.]
When the war was over my father came home and we moved to Williamsburg, VA, where my sister was born. I lived in Williamsburg from then until after College. My sister, Laura, and I were in "The Common Glory," an outdoor drama written by Paul Green, which played for 25 years. We acted as the Widow Huzzit's children, sang as Jefferson's nieces, and generally took part in backstage events, some better than others. My brother, David was born in 1952, and he too was in the "Glory" as soon as he could walk. Both our parents taught at William and Mary: my father in fine arts and then in the theatre department, and mother in speech and theatre. In 1999, I attended a "Glory" reunion in Williamsburg at the site of the theatre. Dad is the only founding member of the theatre who is still living, and he was the guest speaker.
I went to William and Mary in 1959, graduating in 1963 with a BS in biology. From there I went to Emory University Medical School with the intention of pursuing a degree in microbiology. I completed a year of the program, enjoying myself very much.
In the summer of 1964, however, I dropped out of this program to marry Milton Wright, a friend from childhood who had just been graduated from the University of the South and ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church [and a year later, ordained a priest]. We were positioned at a church in Norfolk, VA for a year, and then Milton received a call to a small parish in Mecklenburg County, VA where we lived for 7 years. Our children, Elizabeth and Francis were born while we were there.
By 1973, we had a parish in Grifton, NC. It was, for me, a less exciting place, but I was within driving distance of East Carolina University, where I began studying psychology. I had realized at some point that my interests in microbiology were principally what I could see through a microscope. I was interested in what could be seen, and how people could see. Someone told me finally that this interest was properly psychology - perception not microbiology. That was interesting to me since, while in college, I had taken no psychology, having been told that it was not real science. So now, at East Carolina, I took the equivalent of an undergraduate major in psychology during one academic year.
The following year I was accepted in the Ph.D. program in psychology in Chapel Hill, NC, and we relocated there. We lived there from 1974-1981, and I was graduated in December 1980 with a degree in experimental psychology with my dissertation on recognition memory. I worked from January 1981 until the fall at Duke University on a grant in computer science--on the psychology of voice driven computers in offices on campus.
In August we moved to Northfield, MN, as I had a job offer at St. Olaf College, a position I still hold. The children were growing and eager for new things. We bought an old house near the College, put the children in schools, and began a new stage of life. I taught, became active in All Saints Church, and delighted in the College atmosphere. It was like William and Mary.
I had major surgery in the fall of 1988, my first sabbatical at St. Olaf, and recovered over the next year. During a six-moth medical leave, and for a year and a half after that, I worked at the University of Minnesota (on sabbatical) on a public health grant in cognitive psychology. My interest was, and still is, the spatial forms people have for imaging abstract concepts. At the same time I started doing things in the medical school and preparing a new course for St. Olaf, our first course in neuropsychology. (After that two year period, I moved back to Northfield.) This is still a successful course; I teach cognitive neuroscience in the lecture sections and give students human brains from the medical school for dissection during the laboratory portion.
Milton and I divorced in 1990, and sold our house. I bought another house and am still there. I enjoy my garden of vegetables, herbs and flowers; I enjoy my church, All Saints, and have been active in all sorts of things there from the vestry, senior warden, choir (alto), worship committee, altar guild and more. I've written two major grants to the National Science Foundation, set up laboratories in perception and imagery, and in neuropsychology and am having a marvelous time investigating spatial cognition. I started taking Aikido in September 1998, and find the spirituality and physical activity enlivening.
That's sort of where I am at the moment. Perhaps the best part, from my perspective, is that I stepped down (or aside) from being chair of the Department of Psychology at St. Olaf’s in 1999. This was a position that nearly consumed me. So, the past few years, I’ve enjoyed a less stressful life."
[Ed: In John's book, Bonnie is listed as "Bonnie Sue". She explains that was what everyone called her growing up, and that is how John remembers her. As I was finishing up and preparing to send to Tricia for publishing, Bonnie sent several photos, and included one of her Sherman branch's "new Twig", and the following addition.]
"My mother's mother was Bonnie May Sherman before she married Charles Ketchum. And her mother was Susie Phillips married to John Henry Sherman [a second SHERMAN line for Bonnie - see below]. John Henry died about 1934, but I remember Susie since she stayed in Yorktown, Virginia with my grandmother when I was about 10-12 years old and living about 10 miles away in Williamsburg, VA.
A most important thing to Susie was to have a son to carry on the Sherman name. She had a daughter first, Bonnie May Sherman (my grandmother) and then a son Henry. But, when Henry later married Ina, they had no children and Susie was very disappointed. Then Bonnie married a Ketchum and had a daughter, Susanne Elizabeth Ketchum who married a SHERMAN, Roger Durand Sherman (John's elder brother).
Susie was hopeful that the family line would go on and there would be more Shermans. But the first child was a girl (me) and the second a girl (my sister, Laura). Poor Susie!
Finally, ten years after I was born, Mom & Dad had a son, David Durand Sherman (born in 1951). Susie lived to see David and died feeling all was well.
Included in the photos is a baby picture. Carson Michael is the first Sherman of the next generation and it came from the youngest child of the youngest child of Roger and Susanne. My father is pleased. Susie would be too."
[Ed: Bonnie's second Sherman line is: Philip (imm) >
Samuel > Samuel
> Samuel > Stephen > Burden > Samuel
> John Henry m: Susie PHILLIPS> Bonnie
m: Charles KETCHUM > Susanne m: Roger Durand SHERMAN >
(her). [Bonnie is
named after her grandmother and mother.]
Submitted by the Editor
The following is a brief synopsis of the main known SHERMAN genealogy authors. More information is available on the Research Books page.
Charles Atwood WHITE 1833-1909. A lawyer from Connecticut. He was a g.grandson of the Hon. Roger SHERMAN, a genealogist of note, wrote several articles for the NEHGS Register about the early Shermans.
Desc: Capt John (imm) > Joseph > William > Hon. Roger > Roger > Martha m: WHITE > (him)
Frank Dempster SHERMAN 1860-1916. He was a Professor in Architecture at Columbia University, and acknowledged as a voracious genealogist. His papers and collections were donated to the New York City Public Library at his death. He did not publish his findings, but produced several studies on individual lines, and researched ALL the Shermans he could find. One son.
Desc: Philip (imm) > Peleg > Thomas > Benjamin > James > James > John > (him)
Much of his work is available on film at FHC’s, and nearly all that is available is incorporated in the two books by Roy Sherman (below). This writer has been informed that a large number of additional Sherman papers of Prof. Sherman’s studies remain in private hands, but attempts to locate the owner have all failed.
Thomas Townsend SHERMAN 1853-aft. 1920. Also a g.grandson of Hon. Roger. A lawyer and Trustee of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. Published the "Sherman Genealogy" in 1920. One daughter.
Desc: Capt. John (imm) > Joseph > William > Hon. Roger > Roger > Edward > (him)
His book is available on film at FHC’s, and reprinted by Higginsons.
Roy Vivian SHERMAN 1902-1994. Professor Emeritus of Akron University in Ohio. Published two books on Sherman genealogy, in 1968 and 1974. Both were based on the research of Frank Dempster Sherman, amplified by additional personal correspondences with Sherman descendants. Three children.
Desc: Philip (imm) > Eber > Elisha > Benoni > Nathaniel > Benoni > Alpheus > Jeptha > Albert > (him)
His books are available in many libraries, but he died without signing a copyright release. Attempts by this writer to contact his children all failed.
Bertha May (LUDWIG) STRATTON 1905 – ?. A very well respected genealogist, and author of two published SHERMAN books and a lengthy study about the issue of the ancestry of Henry (born ca: 1512?). Two children.
Desc: Philip (imm) > Sarah m: MUMFORD > Abigail m: FISH > Ruth m: THOMAS > Joseph > Alexander > Sarah m: McDOUAL > Eliza m: ESMANN > Mary m: REED > Bertha m: LUDWIG > (her)
John Harris SHERMAN 1915 - . Author of the "Sherman Directories", published 1991. a compilation of nearly 60 years of research. (See front page article in this issue of the "Clippings".) No children.
Desc: Philip (imm) > Edmund > David > John > Job > Stephen > Obadiah > John > Oscar > (him)
His book (four large volumes) is available on microfiche at FHC’s, and he has signed a contract with Higginsons for reprints.
Margaret Alice (SHERMAN) LUTZVICK 1942 - . Author of "Going To Palymra; Sherman Deeds", published in 1997. A definitive work on Shermans in general, and one line from Philip in particular. Much of her information is previously unpublished. One son.
Desc: Philip (imm) > Samuel > Ebenezer > David > Gideon > Harvey > Clark > Myron > James > (her)
Her book is currently available by contacting her at MALUTZ@aol.com.
Alonzo Joseph SHERMAN 1927 - . Alonzo has compiled information about Shermans connected with Michigan for many years. He maintains a large computer database of them, and has provided valuable assistance to many other researchers whose families resided in Michigan. Seven children.
Desc: Philip (imm) John > Philip > Jabez > Elihu > Elihu > Alden > William > Alonzo > Grant > (him)
Much of Alonzo’s work is available on microfiche at FHC’s, and he has a website at: www.sherman-roots.com
[In Feb., while looking for something else on a website, I ran across a web link to Bill. My usual "anything/anyone SHERMAN" inquisitiveness led me to email him, and the following comes with his blessing. See his Sherman connection to General W. T., following story. Art Cohan]
I got interested in folk music in the mid 40's while in high school. I started listening to recordings by Burl Ives, The Weavers and Josh White and was immediately hooked. There was an old Gibson archtop guitar that the school kept in the music room with some instructional material by Nick Lucas (how many of you remember Nick Lucas, or Nick Lucas guitar picks?). A group of us formed a folk quartet called The Midland Minstrels and started performing for the students. I started performing professionally in the mid '50's while serving in the Air Force and got involved with a jazz group as well as a country western band that played various private parties and special events in Merced, CA where I was stationed. I never knew that making a little spare cash could be so much fun. It was a great way to spend some time on the weekend and get away from life in the military.
After spending some time in college, I became involved with the folk music boom of the '60s and '70's and that was the end of my educational career. I started playing at a coffee house in San Diego called The Ballad Man (the first folk music club in San Diego county) and started hearing some of the civil rights protest songs as well as work songs by such artists as Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and Odetta. I soon expanded my performance schedule to include coffee houses and clubs in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas.
After about fifteen years of this, my wife told me that I had to go and get A REAL JOB and I soon dropped out of the music scene altogether.
About 1988 or '89, interest in acoustic music, including folk, had a resurgence. During this period I met Bill Craig, a very talented Irish singer and musician who now makes his home in Toronto, Canada. He introduced me to a lot of new material and talent that filled in a lot of the gaps from the previous twenty years. I now perform on a regular basis at many of the coffee houses and clubs where traditional folk music is still appreciated.
If you are in the San Diego area and happen to see my name listed in the entertainment section of one of the local papers, come on by the coffee house and say hello. I have a great time at these places and I'm sure you would to. Bill Sherman
By Art Cohan
It’s nearly impossible to put this story in some kind of order, and impossible to connect all the dots. A fun tale of meandering from a Sherman family travelling to California on a wagon train in 1860; a chance "postit" added to the on-line California Death Index; another lady writing an Environmental Impact Report for a house to be torn down in San Jose, family tales of working in the circus; missing gravestones; the SHERMAN-L@rootsweb; a special museum in San Antonio, Texas; Tom Thumb falling off a stagecoach in Europe; P. T. Barnum's early financial troubles; the on-line Clown's Hall of Fame; etc., etc. Not many endings, but lots of Shermans!
In 1806, Peleg SHERMAN (imm. Philip > Edmund >
David > Edmund > Daniel
> him) married Lucinda SHELDON in Adams, Mass. After the birth
sixth child, they removed and settled in Cuyahoga Falls, Summit Co.,
by 1824. By 1840 they were settled in the Wilson’s Mills area of
Township, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio – and had six more children. A future
coming to your "Clippings" will highlight this family, their first
built there in 1834 (still standing, and nearby the home of Cleveland
great – Bob FELLER), and the many Sherman contributions to the area.
Greer - 1854-1952
Peleg and Lucinda’s fourth child was Joel B. SHERMAN. Joel married Jane LUSK, and they began their family in Ohio, and then removed to Fremont, Lake Co., Illinois by 1840. By 1860, they’d had ten children, and joined the Donner Party, heading by covered wagon over the southern route to California.
The youngest child of Jane and Joel was Achsah, born in Illinois in 1854. She married Jerome GREER in Oakland, California in 1873. (Jerome’s family had traveled to California over the Oregon Trail in 1852.) They lived in Oakland for many years, before purchasing a prune ranch in San Martin in 1916. They had five children.
Jerome and Achsah’s son William Eugene GREER was born in 1875, and his son William Lawrence GREER in 1902. He married Marjorie BROWN, and they had a daughter Patricia.
Around 1999, Patricia’s daughter Eileen GILLETTE, doing a bit of Family History work, posted a note on the California Death Index (CADI) (on-line), seeking information about her grandfather.
Following all this? (Easy - so far.)
In July of 2000, Charlene DUVAL was preparing an Environmental Impact Report for a new development in San Jose. (She later wrote me " -- to make sure there are no historic houses, butterflies, or salamanders present.") One of the houses to be torn down was built in 1915 by William Eugene GREER, and – while doing the research – she located Eileen’s "note" on the CADI. She emailed Eileen, and the story has now opened much wider!
As they exchanged emails, and Charlene was able to provide new information to what Eileen already knew, two important leads surfaced. In short, Eileen was able to locate the graves of Joel (her g.g.g.g.grandfather), Achsah and Jerome, and some other SHERMANs in the Pacheco Pioneer Cemetery, in Contra Costa County. The ownership of this cemetery is in the midst of a legal battle, and the site badly neglected. Eileen is working to clean it up.
An "aside" here, is that this is NOT the cemetery where Achsah’s obituary indicated she was buried, and it took some hunting to locate the actual site. Strangely, Eileen’s husband lived across the street from this cemetery when he was growing up!
With a burst of new interest, Eileen recalled a family story, that Achsah had, at one time, worked for a circus. The SHERMAN Circus! She posted a note to SHERMAN-L, we met, and I got interested in trying to help.
One internet friend sent me the URL for the Clown’s Hall of Fame, another the URL for the huge museum in Baraboo, WI, and another mentioned that there was a circus museum in San Antonio that she had once visited. A few phone calls, and I was in touch with Judy BARBORAK, at the HERTZBERG Circus Collection and Museum, a part of the San Antonio Library System. (A wealthy collector named Hertzberg had donated thousands of rare books, and his collections of circus items when he died. It’s a wonderful place to visit.) Debbie and I made the four hour drive to visit, and Judy spent several hours with us in the "vault" section, searching through their collections for anything about a Sherman circus.
One item that was germane to Eileen’s search, was a large, very faded, advertisement (no newspaper name, or date, or place) advertising "SHERMAN & HINMAN’S European Circus" coming to the Amphitheater (prices of 25 and 50 cents!), and featuring John SHERMAN and his educated horses, Tommy and Barney. Also, his clown horse, Jack.
Some other tidbits about SHERMANs, but nothing to help Eileen’s story.
I next phoned the museum in Baraboo, WI. They mailed me a packet of info, which included a listing of everything in their files with "Sherman" on it. I ordered a copy of everything. They also have a book loan program, and I ordered four books which looked promising for some leads. The books were interesting, but had no information that was pertinent to our search.
The copies of about ten advertisements from the New York Clipper (show business paper) they later sent, however, were obviously about the same John SHERMAN, and his educated horses! There were several other Shermans listed as part of the circus (but no Achsah), and the advertisements cover about three years, 1882-1884, as they toured central California, plus a few weeks in Hawaii. The advertisement I located at the Hertzberg was a performance in San Francisco!
Then, in September of 2000, Charlene was researching something completely unrelated, and suddenly noticed some clippings in the Daily Herald from San Jose, dated from the 10th to the 17th of September, 1881. Bingo! Same circus.
The timing and location was right – was Achsah, or Achsah and Jerome, somehow connected with this circus? Lots of hunting, and the fading memories of Eileen’s elderly cousin Laverne has left us now with tantalizing questions, but no firm connection.
During the beginning of the hunt for "the" SHERMAN circus, I mentioned that someone sent the URL for a Clown site, and their page on the Clown’s Hall of Fame. That was sent by SOY subscriber Alice Neeley. On that site, under the 1995 inductees to the Clown Hall of Fame, appears:
"Nineteen year old Joe Vani answered an ad looking for an experienced acrobat to fill an opening in the Kenneth Waite Trio. The other members of the trio were Kenneth Waite and Chester Sherman. As part of the trio, Joe spent 18 years watching, learning and developing his skills as a performer. When Kenneth Waite retired, Joe and Chester formed a partnership that became known as the Sherman Brothers. So closely were the men identified as brothers, that many newspaper articles identified Joe as Chester's "baby brother". The Sherman Brothers entertained circus audiences across the United States for over 43 years (1932-1975). They toured with the Howard Circus, the Pollack Brothers Circus, Carden-Johnson, and The Orrin Davenport Shrine Circus. The Sherman Brothers performed in over 139 different Shrine Circuses. Joe and Chester worked with all of the greats: Otto Griebling, Emmett Kelly, Sr., Felix Adler, Shorty Flemm, The Black Brothers, Jimmy Davison, Bobby DeKoe, and many others. While they learned from those wonderful clowns, they also developed their own classic routines. They remained active partners until Chester passed away in 1976. "
In the Hertzberg Museum, we had located a large (over half page) colored spread with photos of Chester and his dog Lucky, from the Chicago Daily Tribune on 7 Mar 1960. Chester was 65 at the time.
I searched the internet white pages for "Joe Vani", and sent letters to all I could find. TWO different addresses located him (one was a nephew), and I eventually had the pleasure of a phone conversation with Joe, and we exchanged several letters. He provided me with some wonderful insight into their life together as clowns, and referred me to Chester’s niece, who lived nearby. Unfortunately, she was not very responsive, and offered no clue as to Chester’s ancestry.
There are a couple of Chester Shermans I find b: 1895 (incl: in the SSDI), but I have been unable to indentify him, as yet.
P.T. BARNUM, and TWO MORE SHERMANs
During all this searching, both in our local library and in the Hertzberg museum, two more SHERMAN connections to the circus life appear, associated with P. T. Barnum.
From the book "P. T. Barnum – The Legend and the Man" by A. H. Saxon, comes two mentions of a gentleman identified only as H. G. SHERMAN.
Briefly, Mr. Barnum’s early success in show business centered around Tom Thumb. Tom was a midget who Mr. Barnum discovered at an early age, and began touring with him as a novelty. He was very intelligent, and loved to perform. He was referred to as "General" Tom Thumb, as he dressed and acted as one. His many exploits, are very entertaining reading. Part of Mr. Barnum’s association with Tom, and several other youg performers, was to see to their education. In this regard, the following appears in the context of one of Tom’s tutors, ca: 1845:
"He was shortly succeeded as Tom Thumb’s "moral instructor" by H. G. Sherman, a quirky "old stager" with a passion for antiquarianism who had worked for Barnum in the past. Sherman’s chief duty now was to take over the day-to-day management of the Tom Thumb Troupe, leaving his employer free to run about Europe."
No other mention of Mr. Sherman appears, until several chapters later, where this interesting ancedote appears concerning an incident while they were touring Britain in August of 1844:
"In mid-August, Barnum reported in genuine terror, Tom Thumb came near to suffering a fatal accident while out for an airing in a full-sized carriage. In the course of a drive through the picturesque countryside around Clifton, the General along with his "tutor" H. G. Sherman, had mounted the driver’s box in order to obtain a better view. On descending a steep hill the horse ran away, crashing into a high stone wall with such force that it broke it’s neck, and the carriage itself experienced considerable damage. Sherman and Tom Thumb were nowhere to be seen, and Barnum, who was seated inside when the accident occurred, jumped out and began frantically searching for them under the wreckage of horse and carriage. "All right – there’s no danger, don’t be frightened." Called a tiny, high-pitched voice from over the wall. It turned out that Sherman, who had seen the crash coming, had taken the General in his arms, and, at the last moment, made a heroic leap over the wall into the soft field beyond. "It was a most remarkable escape, and for which we all feel truly grateful." Barnum wrote. "Every person who examines the wall is astonished that any man could have leaped it at a single bound, and have escaped as Sherman did, free from injury."
In numerous other books about Mr. Barnum, I find no other mention of Mr. Sherman. At this point, I am unable to identify him further.
In several other books outlining the financial difficulties that Mr. Barnum had in his many enterprises and undertakings, there are a series of correspondences with Mr. Roger M.SHERMAN. Also, on my visit to the Hertzberg museum, I copied the original of two letters signed by Roger M. SHERMAN, Esq. Of Fairfield, Connectcut, dated in 1834. This is Roger Minot SHERMAN, 1773-1844, son of the Rev. Josiah Sherman, and the nephew of Hon. Roger Sherman (signer).
There are also, in another book about Mr. Barnum, several letters and references to a "Mr. Sherman of the firm of Duncan & Sherman, Bankers" in 1854, regarding financing for a new showplace – the "Crystal Palace", on the Boston Common. Mr. Sherman is committing $25,000 of the bank’s money toward that enterprise. No further identity of this Mr. Sherman has been located, yet.
Finally, for now, there appears in the 14 Jan 1956 copy of Billboard, a death notice for Mays C. SHERMAN, who died 14 December 1955 in Allegany, NY. He had been a tuba player with several circuses from 1902-1927, and was later employed in the oil fields of Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and New York. He was survived by his brother, M. N. SHERMAN of Allegany. I have also been unable to identify them further.