Tomorrow marks the 121st anniversary of the birth of Esther Thomas, my 1st cousin 4 times removed. I would never have known her story if not for my cousin Sandy St. Clair. Esther, Sandy and I connected through my third great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Warsaw "Betty" Morrow Cameron Miller. For Sandy, "Betty" is her second great grandmother, and she is the maternal grandmother of Esther.
Esther was born on October 18th, 1894 in Pewee Valley, Kentucky, the fifth child of William Grayce Thomas and Gabriella "Ella" Cameron. Sometime between 1910 and 1919 Esther left home and went to Chicago where she performed. It was while she was performing in these little honky tonk's around Chicago that she was seen by agents from New York City. She left Chicago and went to New York City and began using the stage name of Esther Walker, where she became a musical-comedy star and a recording artist.
Beginning in February of 1919 at the Winter Garden Theater, Esther starred in "Monte Cristo, Jr." until August 6th, 1919 when the show was temporarily suspended because of the Actor's Equity strike. The show resumed on September 8th, 1919 and closed on October 4th, 1919. Then beginning on October 7th, 1919 Esther starred in "Hello Alexander" at the 44th Street Theater until November 22nd, 1919.
Between 1919-1920 and 1925-1927 Esther made over 30 recordings for the Victor and Brunswick recording companies. Included in the Victor recordings are the songs "What-cha Gonna Do When There Ain't No Jazz" (1920), "Sahara (We'll Soon Be Dry Like You)" (1919), and "Sweet Kisses" (1919). The Brunswick recordings include "I Don't Want Nobody But You" (1926), "I Love My Baby (And My Baby Loves Me)" (1926) and "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue" (1926). If you would like to hear some of Esther's recordings you can find them on www.youtube.com and at http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/search/results?q=Esther%20Walker.
In 1920, Esther married Karl St. John Hoblitzelle. Karl was a theater owner and philanthropist. Karl built the Majestic Theater in Dallas, Texas in 1921 which is still in use today. Karl also built Majestic Theaters in Houston which opened in 1923 and was torn down in 1971, as well the Majestic in San Antonio which opened in 1929 and is still in use today. Esther and Karl made their home in Dallas, Texas. Esther was very involved in civic organizations such as the USO, the American Red Cross and the Junior League. She was also involved with many social clubs including the Dallas Garden Club, the Dallas Country Club and remain active in local theater productions.
Esther Thomas Hoblitzelle died of pancreatic cancer on July 28th, 1943 in University Park, Texas at the age of 48. She left the bulk of her estate to the Hoblitzelle Foundation which was founded by Karl and Ester in 1942. The Hoblitzelle Foundation continues to this day.
Garrick, David, http://www.jazzage1920s.com/estherwalker/images/78-Sahara%20We'll%20Soon%20Be%20Dry%20Like%20You-Columbia%2018613.jpg
Garrick, David, http://www.jazzage1920s.com/estherwalker/images/Esther-Walker-Hoblitzelle.jpg
Garrick, David, http://www.jazzage1920s.com/estherwalker/images/photo-Karl&Esther-Hoblitzelle.gif
Internet Broadway Database -
http://www.ibdb.com/production.php?id=8842 All rights reserved description of cover art.
Library of Congress, National Jukebox, List of recordings for Esther Walker, http://media.loc.gov/playlist/view/AC6B11D049FA0158E0438C93F1160158
Majestic Empire, www.majesticempire.com
Powell, Sandy, Photograph of Esther Thomas Hoblitzelle in suit
Powell, Sandy, Emails and conversations
"Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images, FamilySearch
(https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KS1L-KN5 : accessed 16 September 2011),
Esther Hoblitzelle, 28 Jul 1943; citing certificate number 31500, State
Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2137308.
Youtube.com, Various recordings by Esther Walker https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=esther+walker+recordings