Sidewalks! Court Week Amusements! ...The Schuyler Dramatic Association ...The Idiot Witness…March 21, 1876… [opening lines of broadside].
The Idiot Witness
Dating from the first decade of Nebraska statehood, this unrecorded 1876 theatrical broadside from Schuyler, Colfax County engages the reader right from the start: Sidewalks! Court Week Amusements!
Step this way! Literally. There are new sidewalks in town. Come to the county seat—court is being held and a Mock Legislature will be in session at the Court House. Come and see the new opera house, a new dramatic company of actors, two new plays, and banjoists too.
Schuyler, Nebraska was a booming town during the 1870s as the county’s population grew and after the railroad and the cattlemen came. A new opera house was completed in Schuyler in 1876 and the Schuyler Dramatic Association was subsequently organized.
Since the Colfax County court would then be sitting in Schuyler, it seems probable the Schuyler Dramatic Association would produce John Thomas Haines’ popular nineteenth century melodrama, The Idiot Witness ;or, A tale of Blood.
The name of H. Holcomb, the actor who played the title character, is printed in boldface type, separating him from all the other players. Holcomb was then likely the president of the Schuyler Dramatic Association, an office which he is known to have later held. Further, Holcomb was one of the proprietors of the Schuyler Herald and was the county judge of Colfax County, Nebraska between 1875–1876.¹
The broadside further declares:
This Drama [‘The Idiot Witness’] will be rendered with the finest stage appurtenances and costumes to be found with any Amateur Dramatic Association in the West, and will be followed by the exceedingly laughable farce entitled ‘The Stage Struck Yankee’.
Other entertainments organized for the theatrical evening of March 21, 1876 included a banjo soloist, a five-piece string band with organ accompaniment, and violinists. A charming, unrecorded theatrical broadside emblematic of a young county seat with its law courts and bustle in a new state at the edge of the western frontier.
Description: Sidewalks! Court Week Amusements! ...The Schuyler Dramatic Association ...The Idiot Witness…March 21, 1876… [opening lines of broadside].
[Schuyler, Nebraska, 1876].  p. Broadside. 11¾ x 9 inches. Cream colored wove paper. Folds, short tears and small chips to margins; lightly foxed; very good.
Not in OCLC.
1. History of the State of Nebraska (Chicago, 1882) which notes, in part:
H. HOLCOMB, real estate, collection and insurance agent, also one of the proprietors of the Schuyler Herald, owned by Zentmyer & Holcomb. Mr. H. engaged in the above business in summer of 1869 ... He came West in 1869. He was County Judge of Colfax County in 1875–77. He has been Notary Public for many years, which position he still occupies.