CHAPTER XIV.
Late Men of Literary, Professional
and Artistic Note

Late Captain Frank Johnson of Philadelphia, the most renowned band leader ever known in the United States, was a man of science, and master of his profession. In 1838, Captain Johnson went to England with his noble band of musicians, where he met with great success, played to Her Majesty Queen Victoria and His Royal Highness Prince Albert, Captain Johnson receiving a handsome French bugle, by order of her Majesty, valued at five hundred dollars, returning, he held throughout the Eastern, Northern, and Western States, grand concerts, known as "Soirees Musicales." He was a great composer and teacher of music, and some of the finest Marches and Cotillions now extant, have been originally composed by Captain Frank Johnson.

On his Western tour, by some awkwardness of management, he lost at Buffalo, original music in manuscript, which never had been published, as much of his composition had been valued at one thousand dollars, which, although advertised, he never got. But his name was sufficient to give additional value to the prize; and there is no doubt, but the world is now being benefited by the labors of Captain Johnson, the credit being given to others than himself.

This was an unfortunate circumstance, and had his amiable and excellent widow, Mrs. Helen Johnson of Philadelphia, now this composition, she could support herself in ease, by the sale of the published work. Captain Frank Johnson, died in Philadelphia in 1844, universally respected, and regretted, as an irreparable loss to society. At his death the band divided, different members taking a leadership.

Andrew J. Conner, one of the members of Captain Johnson's band, also became a distinguished composer and teacher of music. Mr. Conner taught the piano forte in the best families in the city of Philadelphia, among merchants, bankers, and professional men. He contributed to the popular literary Magazines of the day, and very many who have read in Graham's and other literary issues, "Music composed by A. J. Conner," did not for a moment think that the author was a colored gentleman. Mr. Conner died in Philadelphia in 1850.

James Ulett, formerly of New York, became quite celebrated a few years since, as a comedian. He played several times in the old "Richmond Hill" Theatre, and quite successfully in Europe. Mr. Ulett was not well educated, and consequently, labored under considerable inconvenience in reading, frequently making grammatical blunders, as the writer noticed in a private rehearsal in 1836 in the city of New York. He, however, possessed great intellectual powers, and his success depended more upon that, than his accuracy in reading. Of course, he was a great delineator of character, which being the principal feature in a comedian, his language was lost sight of in common conversation. Mr. Ulett died in New York a few years ago.

Doctor Lewis G. Wells, was a most talented orator, and man of literary qualifications. Residing in Baltimore, Maryland, he raised himself high in the estimation of all who knew him. He studied medicine, and was admitted into the Washington Medical College, attending the regular courses, and would have graduated, but for some misunderstanding between himself and the professors, which prevented it. He was a most successful practitioner, and effected more cures during the prevalence of the cholera in 1832, than any other physician in the city. Doctor Wells was also a most successful practical phrenologist, and lectured to large and fashionable houses of the first class ladies and gentlemen of Baltimore, and other cities. Being a great wit, he kept his audiences in uproars of laughter.

Mr. Wells, was also an ordained minister of the Gospel, belonging to the white Methodist connexion; and was author of several productions, among them, a large Methodist hymn book, containing several fine poems. Dr. Wells died the same year of cholera, after successfully saving many others, because there was no physician at that time who understood the treatment of the disease.

Return to Home Page|Index