Jessie M Vroom 1876 – 1941

Jessie M Vroom was born 1 February 1876 in Bear River, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia.  She was the 8th and final child of John A Vroom and Mary Jane Chute.  Her older siblings were William Eldon, Lalia J, Mary Sophia, Edith M, J Avard, Ella Gertrude, and Carrie Eliza.  The 1881 census lists the family in Clementsport, where Jessie’s father worked as a mason.  In 1891, they lived in Clements West, and her father was still working as a mason. 

Boston passenger lists show that Jessie traveled from Yarmouth, NS, on a ship called “Yarmouth”, arriving in Boston on 6 October 1898.  Her occupation was “lady”, and she listed her destination as Boston.  Jessie traveled back and forth to Nova Scotia in subsequent years.  On 13 September 1900, she arrived in Boston, from Yarmouth, on the “Prince George”.  She was listed as a tourist.  I did not find Jessie in the 1900 US or 1901 Canada census.  Based on this last trip, it looks like she came to the US after the census here, but before  the census in Canada. 

In 1910, Jessie lived in White River, VT, where she worked as a stenographer for an insurance company.  In 1918, Jessie crossed into the US at Vanceboro, Maine.  She had been visiting her sister, Mary Sophia (Mrs. Delacey) Foster.  Her occupation was listed as stenographer.

By 1920, Jessie was living in Washington DC, where she was a clerk for the US government.  In 1927, the city directory listed her as living at 917 18th NW, Apt 30, employed as a clerk for the Veterans Bureau.  By 1928, she was listed at 1808 Ontario place NW, which is three miles north of the Washington Monument. This city directory listing continued through 1938, and she continued her work with the Veterans Affairs office.  The 1930 census indicates that she owned her home, and it was valued then at $12,000.  On-line sources say this home was built in 1917, and now described as a “condo home” valued at about $625,000. 

The 1940 census appears to show her at the same address.  Her information is incomplete, in that it doesn’t say where she lived in 1935, and it doesn’t list an occupation, nor does it say she was retired. 

Jessie died in 1941, and the following death notices was printed in the Washington Post:  VROOM, JESSIE M.  On Monday, June 16, 1941 at Doctors’ Hospital, JESSIE M. VROOM, beloved daughter of the late John A and Mary Jane Vroom.  She is survived by one sister, Mrs. Carrie Churchill, and one brother, Avard Vroom, four nieces and four nephews.  Remains resting at Hysong’s funeral home, 1300 N st nw, where services will be held on Wednesday, June 18, at 4:30 p.m.  Interment Fort Lincoln Cemetery.

Edward Vroom born 1866

Isaac Vroom was born 31 August 1866 in Clementsport, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia.  His parents were Albert Douglas Vroom, farmer, and Charlotte Maria Morse.  He joined four older siblings:  Frederick William, Otis Albert, Mary Elizabeth, and Charlotte M.  The 1871 census lists the family in Clementsport.  They were Wesleyan Methodist and of Dutch origin.  The Vrooms of Nova Scotia were Loyalists who moved north from New York and New Jersey at the time of the American Revolution. 

The family moved to Massachusetts.  Isaac’s father died in Boston in 1874 of “dropsy”.  I am not sure of Isaac’s location in 1880 or 1881.  There is an Isaac Vroom living in Annapolis Royal in the Canada census with the Henry Burno (?) family, who is the right age and religion to be this person.  In 1880, Isaac’s mother was living with her children Otis and Lottie in Philadelphia, but Isaac was not with them.  

At some point, Isaac changed his name to Edward.  The Boston city directory lists an Edward I Vroom, clerk, living at 55 Warren avenue.  If this is the same person, he did not remain a clerk for long.  At age 19 (according to a later publicity notice) Edward became an actor, the career his older brother Frederick also followed.  A news item published in the New York Times on 19 October 1889 lists both Fred and Edward appearing in “Much Ado About Nothing” with Edwin Booth (brother of John Wilkes Booth) and Madame Helen Modjeska.

Old newspapers contain lots of theater notices and cast lists.  For example, in 1890, a story names members of a company led by Edwin Booth and Lawrence Barrett.  The cast list for the week commencing Nov 10, 1890 confirms that Edwin Booth played Iago, Barret played Othello, Frederic Vroom played Montano, and Edward played Ludovico, at Albaugh’s Lyceum, in Baltimore. 

On 19 August 1895 the Trenton Evening Times reported: Edward Vroom, the young American actor, who was a member of the last company honored by being selected as supporting Edwin Booth, is at the head of the scheme for the establishing of an independent theater in New York.  He has succeeded in interesting a sufficient number of persons in the matter, and is at present assured of the necessary financial support.  The patrons of high-class art, in the illustration of which this new theatre is to serve, come from the literary, artistic, financial, and social spheres

Along with his acting career, Edward was active in support of the Republican Party.  A story in the New York Tribute from 27 September 1896 reported the following: AN ACTOR IN POLITICS.  EDWARD VROOM TO SPEAK FOR SOUND MONEY-HIS VIEWS ON THE SITUATION.  Edward Vroom, who is soon to make his initial appearance on the political platform at Nobach’s Hall, under the auspices of the North Side Republican Club, is a member of a family that, through several generations, has been prominently identified with political affairs. Starting at the time of the American Revolution, when one ancestor, who had fought under Washington found it his painful duty to arrest his brother, who had remained loyal to the King. Next in line came Governor Peter Vroom, of New Jersey, and since that time the family has been more or less in public life. Edward Vroom has for some ten years been an actor, having served his apprenticeship in the companies of Edwin Booth, Lawrence Barrett and Mme. Modjeska. For the last four years Mr. Vroom has been a star, making some important productions, notably Francois Coppee’s “For the Crown,” which was given last winter in this city at Palmer’s Theatre. Regarding his views on the political situation, Mr Vroom says “I have given considerable study to the great historical plays of the past, and believe that in many of them the dramatic strength lies in the authors having utilized as a theme the conditions created by political struggles. In connection with historical research for dramatic material, I have become somewhat of a student of the theory of politics although this is my first practical connection with political affairs. I believe that the futile struggle made at different times, under different guises, against natural conditions has caused many National uprisings. and I find a similarity between the conditions of the past and those existing in the United States to-day. I go on the political platform with the hope that the fruits of my historical research may be utilized by me to assist in warning our voters against the pitfalls and snares now being set by Mr. Bryan and his colleagues under the guise of free silver.”

It should be noted that while some Vrooms did stay in the US and were active in the Revolution, Edward’s ancestors moved to Nova Scotia.  I have no way of knowing if the reporter who wrote the story jumped to the conclusion that Edward was from the New Jersey and not the Nova Scotia Vrooms, or if Edward or someone on his behalf gave out that information.  I’m sure that it would have been better for his career to be linked to the American branch of the family. 

A news story from the New York World from 21 July 1897 reported: Mr. Vroom’s Valuable Wife  A very pretty black eyed and black haired woman is a conspicuous figure among the horde of many colored office seekers who haunt the White house even during the death-dealing heat of a Washington summer.  She usually comes early, takes a seat in the coolest part of the corridor leading to the president’s office, fans herself as she smiles in such a genial manner as to make everybody around her good natured, and stays late.  She is Mrs. Edward Vroom of New York.  Her husband is an actor.  Mrs. Vroom is his manager.  A year or more ago she induced a number of Wall street men to act as “angels” for her husband’s production of Francis Coppee’s “For the Crown” which was more of an artistic than a financial success.  She also managed her husband when he went into politics last year and made speeches in New York for Mr. Hanna’s committee.  Now she is trying to have him appointed to a French consulate.  As she is a woman of persistency she will probably succeed.

I have not found any marriage record for Edward.  A later ship’s list records Edward and Mary Vroom arriving in New York from England.  This could be them.   

On 14 May 1900, a news story from San Francisco reported that Edward’s brother Frederic was shot but not seriously wounded by his wife, Grace Addison.  The article said that Frederic was a brother of Edward Vroom, the London playwright.   A ship’s passenger list shows Edward Vroom, artist, and Mrs. Edward Vroom, travelling from New York to London on the Minnehaha.  This ship was only a month old when they sailed.  It was torpedoed and sunk in 1917.  Edward worked many years in the London theaters as an actor, producer, and playwright.

A story published 24 March 1908 in the Trenton (NJ) Evening Times reported:  The Luck of MacGregor” – The name of Vroom has been famous in New Jersey in law and in the politics of the state and the national government for sixteen generations.  For several seasons a member of the great Booth Barrett and Booth-Modjeska organizations, eighteen years ago Edward Vroom received his early training as an actor and such a training is as denied the young actor of the present day. These great actors have passed away.  Fortunate, indeed therefore is the young actor who gained a knowledge of his art under those great masters whose genius stamped their names upon the page of history.  After Mr. Barrett’s death and the disbanding of the famous company with Mr. Booth’s retirement from the stage, Edward Vroom entered the list as a producing actor and toured the country .  Two months ago, Mrs. Vroom sailed for American and will be seen in New York in a new play about Easter.  Prior to the New York engagement, however, Mr. Vroom will appear at Taylor’s Thursday night, in his new play “The Luck of MacGregor”. 

Reviewers said the drama wasn’t interesting, but said that Mr. Vroom displayed considerable ability and his co-star, Katharine Mulkins played as well as she could with what she was given to say.   Edward didn’t give up on his play, and took it to New York.  Edward Vroom Will Try “The Luck of McGregor” at the Garden.  Edward Vroom, in his own play, “The Luck of MacGregor,” will begin an engagement at the Garden Theatre on Monday night.  The play tells a story of British Army life during the struggle of the United States for independence, contrasting the indolent and luxurious manner in which the British officers and men lived an gambled and made merry, with the struggle of the Continental forces in the face of poverty and unequal numbers.  Mr. Vroom will appear in the role of a young Scotch-Irish officer of the British army, who falls in love with the daughter of a Continental spy and puts his own neck in danger to save her from the scaffold.  With Mr. Vroom will be Katherine Mulkins, Margaret Sayre, William Walcott, Henry Norman, William F Haddick, George Burleigh, and others.  Credits for this show list him as producer, writer, director, and performer. 

Reviews of the play varied, from ,”completely captivated the Gothamites.” to:  Edward Vroom, who never was a member of Edwin Booth’s company, although his press agent says he was, is a fairly good actor, but “The Luck of McGregor,” which he produced last week in the Garden theater, is so bad that it is a joke.  The play is a love story of the time when the British were camped in New York, and tells in a rambling, incoherent way of a young Irish-Scotchman who would go to his death rather than betray the secret of a pretty girl.  The dialogue is filled with hifalutin speeches supposed to be patriotic, but they are silly.  As Larry McGregor Mr. Vroom is graceful, but the play, of which he is the author, won’t do.  The best acting in the piece is furnished by Miss Katherine Mulkins as the girl.  She is a talented young woman, and will be heard from sooner or later.  

Apparently the reporter didn’t research the story thoroughly, as the news stories from 15 years earlier listed Edward in the cast and company with Edwin Booth. 

In 1908, with another election in progress, a news item names Edward Vroom “actor orator” for the Republican party during the last three Presidential campaigns. 

I was not able to find Edward in any US census.  When his brother Otis died in 1910, the obituary listed his brothers Fredrick and Edward as “of New York.”

Edward lived in Boston for a few years.  In 1915, the Boston Globe reported that Edward Vroom and a carefully chosen cast to give a production of “Cyrano de Bergerac” at Hollis Street Theater to benefit the unemployed, the Belgian Fund and Opportunity Farm.  It appears that the Belgian Fund was for stranded actors.  The next year, a story reported that Edward Vroom planned to develop talent of local amateurs for a Shakespeare company.  The story says that Mr. Vroom began his career with Booth and Barrett in New York, and at the age of 19 had played 36 Shakesperian parts.  At 20 he began to produce, and after three years went to England where he was very successful in producing plays, among them “The Career of Peter”, ” A Night in Old Paris” and a version of Victor Hugo’s Reblasse.”  He returned to this country approximately four years ago.

The 1916 Boston city directory Vroom, Edward, playwright living at 1384 Commonwealth, and in 1917 at 204 Huntington Avenue.

Edward returned to New York, and in 1920, at the Selwyn Theater Edwin Vroom will open a series of special matinees in a repertory of classic plays, beginning with “Cyrano de Bergerac.”   A similar storysaid “The Merchant of Venice” and “Katherine and Petruchio” are to be given by Edward Vroom and associated players as the next of the series of special matinees at the Selwyn Theater on April 9.  This double Shakespeare bill was edited by William Winter for Edwin Booth, and has not been give here since the Booth-Modjeska season.

Besides acting on stage, Edward also appeared as a supporting actor in a few movies.   The best known is probably “The Faith Healer” from 1921.   Edward played Dr. Sanchez, and his brother Fred played Matthew Beeler. 

The New York Tribune reported on 25 November 1922 that Edward planned to build a theater near Times Square.  Edward Vroom, who has appeared here in his own productions of Shakespeare at special matinees, announced yesterday that he will build a theater in the neighborhood of Times Square.  The house, which will seat about 1,500, will be devoted to the production of romantic and classic plays.  George Keister, of 56 West Forty-fifth Street, has been retained to plan the new playhouse.  Mr. Vroom plans to make the theater a home for a permanent company, and made up of English and American actors, and hopes to build up a repertoire.

This story is the last record I have for Edward Vroom.  I have no marriage or death record for him, no records for his wife, and I don’t know if he had children.  The death certificate for actor Frederick Vroom names his parents as Albert Douglas Vroom and Charlotte Morse, the same parents as listed in the original birth record for Isaac.  The news items that link Edward and Frederick as brothers, plus Otis’ obituary naming Fredrick and Edward seem to support that Isaac and Edward are the same person.  I will keep searching for new records that might fill in the missing information.