This picture of the actress Agatha Singleton turned up recently in an album belonging to Julia Smethurst Foster, granddaughter of James S. Wallace. In searching for additional information about Agatha, I've located the following newspaper accounts.
In them you will discover interesting information about Miss Singleton, her common law husband, Graham Earle, and their adopted daughter who was known on the stage as "Little Fern."
This is provided as a matter of genealogical interest. I am not related to anyone identified here; nor do I have any additional information about them.
from The Elyria Democrat - Elyria, Ohio - December 13, 1888
The Graham Earle Company opened Monday night in "Dad's Girl," a play of much merit, and gave general satisfaction. Miss Agatha Singleton is a bright little actress, whose ease and naturalness is noticeable at first glance. She was a favorite before she had spoken a dozen lines. The support is made up of capable people who work with spirit and dash. Taken all in all, the organization gives a performance at popular prices not excelled by many of the high priced companies. Last night "Fruits of Genius" was presented, and introduced Fernie Earle, a bright little girl of five years of age who played the child's part sweetly and naturally. A new play will be given every night this week.
from The Fort Wayne Sentinel - Fort Wayne, Indiana - January 4, 1890
IN MORE TROUBLE
Graham Earle, the Actor, Arrested on the Charge of Bigamy.
Graham Earle, the actor, is in more trouble. Following his disappearance from Steubenville, is the announcement of his arrest in Indiana on the charge of bigamy.
The following from Wabash to the Cincinnati Enquirer, tells of his new trouble: "Graham Earle, the well-known actor, who last week left his wife and company in the lurch at Steubenville, Ohio, was arrested last night at Albion, Noble county, on a charge of bigamy. Earle skipped with all the money of the troupe, leaving the members with unpaid salaries. He also took the manuscript of several plays, the property of Mrs. Earle. Earle came to Albion to organize a new company, but was traced up. Earle's trial for bigamy was to have taken place this afternoon, but Agatha Singleton, late leading lady of Earle's troupe, arrived this morning, and an investigation revealed the fact that she was not the wife of Earle. The charge of bigamy was dismissed and prosecution for fornication instituted. Earle was held for trial at the next term of court."
Earle is a Van Wert boy and is known in this city.
from Marion Daily Star - Marion, Ohio - June 21, 1893
A DOMESTIC DRAMA
It Was Played Both On and Off the Boards
LaPorte, Ind., June 21. - Agatha Singleton has experienced in a marked degree the varying fortunes of life. Several years ago Graham Earle and Agatha Singleton were popular theatrical people in Indiana and Ohio. They claimed to be married, and society idolized them in many towns. In the early spring of 1890 a sensational report went the rounds of the press of Graham's desertion of the woman and marriage to a Kendallville girl. This was verified and Earle languished in jail for several months.
The woman and her little foster daughter Fern, engaged with an eastern troupe, were away several months, and then returned, and she was united in marriage with an Ohio man, reported to be an old friend of the family. They went to Ohio to live, and nothing more was heard of them until last week, when Misses Singleton and Fern turned up again at their Lake Manitou cottage and gave out the report that there had been another separation on account of letters found by Miss Singleton which proved her late husband unfaithful.
from Daily Herald - Delphos, Ohio - March 9, 1897
Married a Child
The following account of the marriage of little Fern Earle (Fern Dayton) adopted daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Graham Earle, stage artists, who, for several consecutive seasons played in repertoire in the old Lytle opera house and St. Mary's Hall, is taken from the dramatic olio of the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Fern Dayton, aged fourteen years, adopted daughter of Agatha Singleton, and Mr. Eichelberger, a musician of Buckler's stock company, were married Feb. 25, at Columbia, Georgia.
from Daily Herald - Delphos, Ohio - March 17, 1897
Little Fern Earle.
Concerning Fern Earle, (Dayton) the little lady who delighted Delphos audiences by her work behind the footlights, with her foster parents, Graham Earle and Agatha Singleton Earle, the Tiffin Advertiser has the following after printing the notice of her marriage to a musician at Columbia, Georgia, at the age of 14 years:
Little Fern, as she was familliarly called in Tiffin, is a native of this city and was the daughter of Mrs. Koenig, a blind lady, who died at the county infirmary several years ago. While Mrs. Koenig and her daughter were in the infirmary, the little girl was adopted by Mrs. Graham Earle (Agatha Singleton,) who, with her husband, played several consecutive seasons in repertoire in the opera house in this city. Little Fern appeared on the stage here the season after her adoption by Mrs. Earle, and won the admiration of all who saw her child acting. She has since become a successful actress and has a host of admirers in this city, who wish her much happiness and prosperity in her new life.
from Fort Wayne News - Fort Wayne, Indiana - April 22, 1903
GRAHAM EARLE'S WIFE.
The Former Actress Is Now Engaged In Farming.
The first wife of Graham Earle, the actor, formerly well known here, is now living near Grand Rapids, Mich., where she is engaged in farming. In the days of the old Academy theater she and her husband were great favorites with the theater-goers who patronized that place of amusement. She was known on the stage as Agatha Singleton. A letter received here says she is now living on a farm near Grand Rapids, Mich., where she raises fruit, fancy poultry and pet birds. She says Eva Fern, the little girl she and Graham took to rear, is now on the stage making her own way in the world and ungratefully negligent of the hand that nursed her up to womanhood. It will be remembered that Earle lived in Rochester several years ago, and he and his supposed wife were quite popular, both as residents of Rochester and as stars in their own company. They purchased and rebuilt a cottage on the east shore of Lake Manitau, named it "Ferncliff" in honor of their little daughter and seemed to live happily. But unexpectedly there came a sensational report from Kendallville that Graham had abandoned Agatha and married a stage struck girl. This report was corroborated by Miss Singleton, who soon returned to Rochester and explained that her marriage with Earle was a Missour common law obligation and not binding in Indiana, therefore she could do nothing. She also said that Fern was not their daughter but a child they had taken to rear. Agatha Singleton afterward organized a theatrical company which played "The Vagabond," but the enterprise lost money and quit the road and nothing had been heard of the once local footlight favorite for many years until the letter this week to an old friend.
from Rochester Sentinel - Rochester, Indiana - Saturday, January 24, 1920
Graham EARLE, 76, widely known actor, who in 1885 located in Rochester and built a summer home at Lake Manitou, recently died in California, where he was acting with a motion picture company. His former common law wife, Agatha SINGLETON, whom he deserted to marry another after he left Rochester, is living in retirement at Grand Rapids, Mich., and his daughter, who was known here and elsewhere in the long ago as Little Fern [EARLE], is the wife of a Chicago broker. Earle was very popular when a resident of this city and was quite active in public affairs and lodge work.
Both Agatha Singleton and Graham Earle have been located in the 1910 census. Agatha was living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her age was given as 56, placing her birth about 1854 in New York. The census also indicated that she had been married twice, the first time at the age of 19.
Graham Earle, age 49 (according to the census) was living in Edwardsville, Illinois with his 25 year old actress wife, Katherine. They had been married about a year. Earle claimed this as his only marriage. The census indicated that he was born in Pennsylvania to Irish parents.