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Articles on the Cherry Sisters 
from  The Odebolt Chronicle 
1898  -
1901 

transcribed from microfilm by B. Ekse, October, 2002

The Chronicle, Vol. 11, No. 40, February 10, 1898, Page 1, Column 2
The Cherry Sisters will perform at Sac City this evening.

The Cherry Sisters were here last night, but we haven't time before going to press to write our impressions of their performance. We shall probably touch them up in next week's CHRONICLE.

The Chronicle, Vol. 11, No. 41, February 17, 1898, Page 1, Column 2
The Lake View Resort man [the Resort was and is the newspaper in the town of Lake View] went to Sac City to see the Cherry Sisters, and is very indignant over the way they were treated. He fell under the influence of the fair Effie before the show and was hypnotized by that charmer; and in their hurry to get away from Iowa the girls did not see the poor scribe again, so he is still under the influence of the spell.

The Cherry Sisters got a warm reception at Sac City last Thursday night. The audience was small but noisy. At the end of the fourth number on the program the girls refused to go on with the show. The crowd stayed with them, however, and kept them imprisoned for over an hour behind the curtain. Finally they got out the back door and were taken to the hotel in a bus, but several dozen eggs were smashed on the vehicle en route. The sisters were furious, and came near clawing the face of Manager Schallef [Schaller?], whom they accused of putting up a jot on them.

The Chronicle, Vol. 11, No. 41, February 17, 1898, Page 1, Column 5
The Cherries Were Here.

When the curtain went up on Wednesday evening of last week the Cherries saw a good-natured audience, large enough to fatten their exchequer to the extent of $35, net.

The audience saw three creatures surpassing the witches in Macbeth in general hideousness.

Effie is an old jade of 50 summers, Jessie a frisky filly of 40, and Addie, the flower of the family, a capering monstrosity of 35. Their long, skinny arms, equipped with talons at the extremities, swung mechanically, and soon were waved frantically at the suffering spectators. The mouths of their rancid features opened like caverns and sounds like the wailings of damned souls issued therefrom. They pranced around the stage with a motion that suggested a cross between the danse du ventre and a fox trot, strange creatures with painted faces and hideous mien. Effie is spavined, Addie is knock-kneed and stringhalt, and Jessie, the only one who showed her stockings, has legs without calves, as classic in their outlines as the curves of a broom handle. The misguided fellows who came to see a leg show got their money's worth, for they never saw such limbs before and never will again--outside of a boneyard.

The first glimpse of the Cherries was worth the price of admission. One shriek of laughter swept over the house. Not even in the woods around Sac City, nor in the wilds of Monona county, could three such raw and rank specimens of womanhood be found. The men howled and the women shook with merriment. There were no vegetables thrown, but there was lots of talk. It would take the sisters six weeks to answer the questions that were fired at them. At intervals Effie and Addie would jaw back and threaten to stop the show, but the boys never let up. When Jessie came out in her bare feet many solicitous inquiries were made about the condition of her corns, and she was freely advised to trim her toenails. And such feet! No instep, flat .and Z wide. Jessie, however, is not sensitive. She calmly went on with her part, evidently considering her feet her "strong" suit.

Finally the program came to an end and the audience left, well satisfied, as a rule, although some who had never heard of the Cherries before were angry because the noise prevented them from hearing the girls.

The Cherries honestly believe that they are giving an entertainment surpassing anything on the stage, and that their audiences hoot them because they can't appreciate true merit. They have been systematically stuffed by every manager who has engaged them with the notion that they are away up. If they were not stuck on themselves no money could induce them to stand the jeering they get. But having salted down $60,000 in the bank and purchased several large farms with the proceeds of their foolishness they are willing to keep it up as long as they can make it pay. Their personal characters are above reproach; they are virtuous both from necessity and choice, as any one will conclude at sight of them. The most skilful [sic] impersonator would find it impossible to burlesque the Cherry girls. They are nature's own raw material, unique and inimitable.

The Chronicle, Vol. 11, No. 42, February 24, 1898, Page 1, Column 3

Sac Sun: The Cherry Sisters are not sweet-tempered girls. Frequently they exclaimed in passing upon their audience to persons who conversed with them that they would like to have revenge. They stayed in Sac City until Saturday morning, the guests of the Hendrickson House. Before leaving they purchased a knife and a revolver and freely stated their intention of shooting if they met another audience of like character.

The Chronicle, Vol. 11, No. 45, March 17, 1898, Page 1, Column 3

The nasty-nice editor of the Schaller Herald thinks that "the editors who reproduced THE CHRONICLE's write-up of the Cherry Sisters have queer taste." Possibly they have. But say, Whiteside, why don't you take those "Big G" and "Monthly Suffering" ads. out of your own paper, if you are so particular?

The Chronicle, Vol. 11, No. 51, April 28, 1898, Page 1, Column 2

Sac Sun: If the Cherry sisters should get a judgment against THE CHRONICLE and take possession of the paper, its present warlike tendencies would be augmented to complete savagery, and we should all want to move out.

The Chronicle, Vol. 11, No. 51, April 28, 1898, Page 1, Column 5
Sued by the Cherries

The Cherry sisters evidently do not appreciate refined dramatic criticism. In February last the Des Moines Leader clipped from THE CHRONICLE and published a paragraph of personal description of the Cherries as they appeared in Odebolt. The other day the proprietors of the Leader were notified that the three charmers had brought suit against them for libel, claiming $15,000 damages by reason of the publication of said "false and malicious" paragraph.

The attorney for the Cherries is one W. B. Crosby, of Des Moines. He announces that action will be begun against every newspaper which published THE CHRONICLE's comments; and as several hundred papers in Iowa and the Chicago dailies were guilty of the unpardonable sin, Crosby will have a job that will last him a lifetime.

Thus far no legal notice has been served on THE CHRONICLE; but as it was the fountain-head of the alleged libel, it can hardly hope to escape. Should we have to defend an action, we shall set up a plea of justification, demand the appearance of the Cherries in court in full stage costume, the exhibition of certain physical peculiarities to the jury and the rendition of the vocal selection entitled "Cherries Ripe and Cherries Red." We shall also summon as witnesses the people who attended the Cherry performance in Odebolt. It will be a hard-hearted jury, indeed, that will give the sisters a verdict after hearing our defense.

To be on the safe side, we think of giving a bill of sale to the first man we can find who is foolish enough to want a newspaper.

The Chronicle, Vol. 12, No. 1, May 12, 1898, Page 1, Column 3

Lake City Graphic: There was a case in Calhoun county court some time ago wherein a lady sought damages on the ground of having been damaged by a fall on a sidewalk, and threw up her case rather than show the jury where she was hurt, in open court. Perhaps the Cherries will also balk rather than show where they hurt, as they will have to do if they go through with the suit.

The Chronicle, Vol. 12, No 11, July 21, 1898

The Cherry Sisters have commenced another action against the Des Moines Leader for alleged libel. Effie claims her character was damaged beyond repair to the extent of $15,000 and Addie asks for an equal amount. Jessie, the sweet tempered damsel who impersonated Trilby, evidently concluded that THE CHRONICLE's write-up of her feet was good enough and has no kick coming.

The Chronicle, Vol. 12, No. 34, December 29, 1898

The Cherry Sisters were unsuccessful in their second suit against the Des Moines Leader, so THE CHRONICLE has probably nothing to fear from them. The girls are playing to big houses in Chicago and threaten to go to Cuba--as if that unhappy isle had not suffered enough!

The Chronicle, Vol. 12, No. 51, April 27, 1899

THE CHRONICLE scribe was in Des Moines last Thursday as a witness for the defence [sic] in the case of the Cherry Sisters vs. Strauss & Dawson, publishers of the Des Moines Leader. The Leader reprinted a paragraph from a criticism of the Cherries which appeared in THE CHRONICLE after the latter gave a performance in Odebolt, and each of the sisters sued for $15,000 damages. The girls swore that no disturbance had ever occurred at any of their exhibitions. After the writer gave his testimony, Judge Bishop instructed the jury to return a verdict for the defendants, on the ground that as public performers the plaintiffs were subject to criticism which did not assail their personal characters. We had lots of fun out of the case.

The Chronicle, Vol. 14, No. 43, February 28, 1901

The Cherry Sisters will give their unique performance in Lake City next Monday evening.  The editor of THE CHRONICLE has a special invitation.

Death of Effie Cherry

The Odebolt Chronicle, Vol. 57, No. 31, August 10, 1944
Older Folks Recall Days Of Cherries
Famous Theatrical Trio Appeared Here in 1898; Chronicle Had Hot Story

A number of Odebolt oldsters took a trip down memory's lane Sunday when they read of the death in Cedar Rapids of Effie Cherry, last of the noted Cherry sisters.

The passing of Effie Cherry drew aside the curtain that hangs across the corridor of time and vividly brought back in mind the night of Wednesday, Feb. 10, 1898, when the three Cherry sisters, Effie, Addie and Jessie, appeared at the local opera house in a gypsy skit relating in song, dance and gesture to a fate "worse than death" which awaited the virtuous maiden who ignored the gypsy's warning and succumbed to the wiles of a Spanish cavalier--the cavalier was a scoundrel portrayed by Addie.

Billy Hamilton, editor of The Chronicle in the issue of Feb. 17, 1898, in the inimitable manner of country journalists of that period, dipped his vitrolic [sic] pen into sulphuric acid and wrote of the Cherry sisters and their act so contemptuously that the story and the resultant aftermath has long been a fireside yarn in Odebolt homes.

Hamilton's story was so good that it was reprinted by the Des Moines Leader and a hundred other newspapers including the large city dailies. The Des Moines Leader was made defendant in a $15,000 libel suit by each of the sisters, and dire threats were made by the Cherry sisters to the Chronicle editor. The case was decided against the Cherries.


CHERRY v. DES MOINES LEADER et al., 114 Iowa, 298,  86 N. W. 323, (Supreme Court of Iowa.  May 28, 1901)

Billy Hamilton and the Cherry Sisters

Read more about Billy Hamilton

Read more about the sisters:
Cherry Bomb, the Story of the Awful Cherry Sisters, by Irwin Chusid
Cherry Sisters, Vaudeville Performers, by Tom Longden, the Des Moines Register
The History Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa has an exhibit which includes the Cherry Sisters

 

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