Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums
John & Bertha (Wiles) Himmelein
Scope and Content
The John and Bertha (Wiles) Himmelein Collection is part of the Charles E. Frohman Collection. Mrs. Gus Sun, daughter of the Himmeleins, donated the collection to Mr. Frohman in 1973.
Born at Kelley's Island, Ohio, in 1868, John A. Himmelein was the son or an area hotelier. After attending business college in Evansville, Indiana, Mr. Himmelein returned to the island to manage his father's hotel. Involved with theatrical groups at the establishment, Mr. Himmelein took over a theater production company in 1890. By 1903, Himmelein had purchased the Sandusky Theater and the Rialto Theater in Elyria, Ohio. Himmelein financed the construction of a theater in Tiffin, Ohio. During the next twenty years, Himmelein organized, managed, and owned numerous stock companies. After nearly two decades of touring, Himmelein began managing his companies from a central location in New York City. Himmelein married Bertha Wiles in 1894, daughter of Jennie and Jacob Wiles. A native of Lawrenceburg, Indiana and a graduate of the Cincinnati College of Music, Ms. Wiles first performed with the Spencer Opera Company of St. Louis. She later joined the Robert Wayne Stock Company managed by John Himmelein. Using the stage name of "Beatrice Earle," Ms. Himmelein sang and performed as a dramatic actress, comedian, and a vaudevillian. Ms. Earle performed in Howard Wall's Ideals Stock Company, where she was featured in such plays as: The Corsican Brothers, Dashing Widows, A True Blue Yankee Girl, and Kitty O'Connor. Her final performance was at the Sandusky Theater where she played Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch. The Himmeleins were the parents of a daughter, Mrs. Gus Sun, Jr. Bertha and John Himmelein retired in Sandusky, Ohio, maintaining a summer home on Kelley's Island until their deaths in 1955 and 1956 respectively.
Scope and Content
The collection consists primarily of undated publicity photos of Bertha (Wiles) Himmelein appearing as "Beatrice Earle," husband John A. Himmelein, and images of Himmelein's stock companies and theaters. Although undated, the photographs appear to be from the years between 1895 and 1919. A scrapbook of newspaper clippings (reviews, publicity announcements, etc.) provide additional information about the Himmeleins and their theater activities in the midwest at the turn of the century.
1. Cabinet card images of Bertha (Wiles) Himmelein appearing as "Beatrice Earle" in a variety of theater
2. Images of Bertha (Wiles) Himmelein appearing as "Beatrice Earle" (7)
3. Cabinet card images of John Himmelein, John and Bertha (Wiles) Himmelein, the Himmelein Home on
Kelley's Island, and the Sandusky Theater (9)
4. Stock company photos - Ideal and Howard Hall (2)
5. Photo of Old Soldier Fiddlers (Confederate Civil War veterans), including Jacob Wiles (father of
Bertha (Wiles) Himmelein; (possible date: 1919 ?)
6. Scrapbook containing play reviews, publicity announcements, and articles about Beatrice Earle, from
midwestern newspapers, 1894-1896
Program booklet Colonial Theatre, 1909
Theater tax document, 1918
7. Sandusky Theater Account Ledger, 1919-1922
Transferred to Frohman Oversize Photos: Image of Beatrice Earle