November 7: Elizabeth Crocker Bowers McCollum (1895)

Elizabeth Crocker Bowers McCollum was an American stage actress and theatrical manager. She was born March 12, 1830 in Ridgefield, Connecticut, the daughter of harness maker William Crocker and Anna Seymour. She was from early childhood fond of dramatic presentations. At age 16 she made her debut in the Park Theater, in New York City, in the play, A Child of Nature. Two years later, she was married to David P. Bowers, an actor in the same company. They went to Philadelphia in the same month, and in the Walnut Street Theater she appeared as Donna Victoria in A Hold Stroke for a Husband. She was successful from the beginning. She next filled a successful engagement in the Arch Street Theater, in Philadelphia, where she remained until the death of her husband, in June 1857. In December, 1857, she leased the Walnut Street Theater, which she managed successfully until 1859. She then leased the Philadelphia Academy of Music for a season. Her roles in the 1850s were described by The New York Times as “the high-born, sympathetic ladies of the romantic drama, the tearful heroines of tragedy, and the coquettes of old comedy.”

In 1860 Elizabeth was married to Dr. Brown, of Baltimore, Maryland, who died in 1867. Mrs. Bowers retained the name under which she had won her reputation. In 1861 she went to London where she played Julia in The Hunchback, in Sadler’s Wells Theater. She was successful with the London public and played an engagement in the Lyceum Theater, appearing as Geraldine d’Arcy in Woman. In 1863 she returned to the United States and played an engagement in the Winter Garden, in New York.. In the winter of 1879-80, she and Edwin Booth toured and starred together. Edwin was the older brother of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth. Late in life she married actor J.C. McCollum, with whom she had performed for many years. A year after this marriage, Elizabeth McCollum was baptized and confirmed at Epiphany. “Mrs. Bowers acquired a good deal of money and retained her vogue for many years,” The New York Times said in her obituary.

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