Josh Billings, Robert J. Burdette,

Henry Ward Beecher

Article taken from The Portsmouth Times, Saturday, June 5, 1965

In 1860, Portsmouth was the center of population in the United States, and a fast developing city. Lectures, entertainments and musical events were highlights of the period.

Celebrities came from all parts of the country to perform at Wilhem's Opera House and later at the Grand. These halls were taking the place of Massie Hall and Melodian Hall.

Josh Billings lectured on "Milk" and Robert J. Burdette on "The Rise and Fall of the Moustache" before large audiences. Henry Ward Beecher was another popular figure on the lecture circuit.

Musical comedies and tableaux were staged by professionals and by hometown talent and there was never a shortage of customers.