James Burton Pond Collection: Boston Transcript Obituary


Major J. B. Pond
Boston Evening Transcript, Monday, June 22, 1903


Major J. B. Pond
Famous Lecture Manager, Printer, Editor and Soldier

   Major James Burton Pond, for thirty years a well-known lecture manager, died Sunday at his home in Jersey City, as the result of an operation on June 17, in which his right leg was amputated. He was sixty-five years old. Major Pond was born in Cuba, Allegheny County, N. Y., June 11, 1838. He was a son of Willard Elmer and Clarissa (Woodford) Pond. His boyhood was spent in Wisconsin, where, as he says, the Bible and the Tribune were about the only library advantages he had.
   Before he was fifteen years old he ran away from home and secured employment in a country printing office in Fond du Lac, Wis., as printer's devil at $25 a year. Later he worked in Oshkosh and other places. Then he turned up in Kansas, where for three months he carried a rifle with John Brown, alternating his military duties with setting type on the Herald of Freedom. As a journeyman printer he worked in many parts of the country, tramping about and seeing the sights. He was one of the Denver, Col., pioneers, and he was also among the first who went to Pike's Peak in 1859.
   He organized on Oct. 6, 1861, Company C of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry, and served through the Civil War as captain and finally as major in the regiment. He was one of seventeen survivors of a band of 118 in the Baxter Springs massacre by the guerilla chief Quantrell in 1863.
   With James Redpath, Major Pond organized the Redpath Lyceum Bureau, and was the New York representative of the firm's interests. Later he established himself in the business in which he made such a great success. He was the first manager to introduce a military band as a concert attraction, and after the closing of the World's Peace Jubilee in this city in 1872, he managed the famous Gilmore's Band, and made a great success with that organization in a concert tour which embraced most of the larger cities of the country.
   During the great popularity which the Gilbert and Sullivan operas enjoyed a few years ago. Major Pond dabbled  in the productions of those authors, and made much money, with the "Pirates of Penzance," particularly, having secured the New England rights for its production.
   In recent years his particular star was Thompson Seton, a lecturer on wild animals. He brought before the public Tissof's paintings illustrating the life of Christ, which were viewed by thousands, and one of his recent successes was Florizel, the boy violinist, whom he introduced to the American public.
   Major Pond was lecture manager for Henry Ward Beecher for eleven years, and he leaves a complete collection of lectures and correspondence of the famous preacher. His first star was Ann Elizabeth Young, one of the great Mormon prophet's wives, who lectured throughout the country, exposing the Latter Day Saints. He was also manager for Mark Twain, Wendell Phillips, Canon Farrar, Ralph Waldo Emerson, T. DeWitt Talmage, Martin Farquhar Tupper, Clara Louise Kellogg, Annie Louise Cary, John B. Gough, and, in fact, almost all the leading American speakers and the Europeans who visited America professionally, and many singers.
   Blood poison which affected his heart was the immediate cause of Major Pond's death. The poison developed from an ulcer on his right foot. The leg was amputated at the knee last Wednesday and his condition improved after the operation, but owing to the weakness of the heart, he collapsed on Saturday morning. He became unconscious and remained so almost until the time of his death, at 4:15 yesterday afternoon.
   He leaves a widow and two children. Funeral services will be held at his home on Tuesday night. They will be conducted by Rev. Dr. Hillis of Brooklyn and Rev. Dr. Charles Herr of Jersey City. He will be buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.

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