Aunt Grace


Grace Desmond, my sweet and much beloved aunt, in 1913 when she was about 22 years old. Grace traveled the Chautauqua Circuit as she, an accomplished pianist, and her troupe of fellow entertainers, brought culture to rural America in the west and midwest ~ well before radio and TV ever existed.

GeneaJourneys followers will be hearing much more about the  adventures of this talented, liberated woman from the early 1900s in future posts.

For now, I wish to thank Jay Sherwood, for introducing me to a facet of this beloved family member whom we knew nothing about before. Jay’s grandmother, Ruth Bowers, an accomplished violinist, became fast friends with Aunt Grace as they traveled the circuit together.

I’m so looking forward to learning more about their friendship and sharing it here with you in the months ahead.

Thanks, Jay!

More to come….


 Copyright © 2013 Patricia Desmond Biallas

This entry was posted in Biographies, Chicago History, Family Legends and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Aunt Grace

  1. Jana Last says:

    Oh, what a lovely photo! She must have lived a very interesting life traveling about and entertaining people with her musical talents.

    • Jana, I just learned about this aspect of Grace’s life about six weeks ago from a very kind gentleman who googled her name, found my blog, and started passing on pieces of her story to me. I’ve received photos, programs, postcards and letters. What a gift! It may take me awhile to figure out just how to present her fascinating, turn-of-the-century story, but I will, I promise!

  2. Lorene says:

    Looking forward to learning more about Aunt Grace soon!

  3. What a lovely series this is going to be! So Ruth and Aunt Grace traveled the circuit together. I can totally relate to this story because my daughter is first flute in Fort Wayne, IN Philharmonic and has had many musical adventures. We have several times heard the orchestra in Chautauqua, NY, which has fine summer performance. As parents, we’ve learned that the music world is a kind of separate world, where different rules apply.

    Grace is lovely. She looks thoughtful and ethereal.

    • Mariann it will definitely be fun to brings these bits of Grace’s story to life ~ once I’m able to wrap my head around the info I already have. Grace was involved in Circuit Chautauqua, but if you’d like to know more about the NY Chautauqua see this book: “The Story of Chautauqua” by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, D.D., Putnam Publishers, c. 1921. There are several books out on Circuit Chautauqua as well, which I’ll be mentioning in a future post. Had to be great fun to hear those orchestras on the grounds of the original Chautauqua. Maybe someday I’ll be lucky enough to go there myself!

  4. magda says:

    The Chautauqua Institute still exists today nestled on a beautiful lake with historically beautiful architecture where artists, philosophers, writers and musicians enjoy a summer retreat. The picture of your Aunt is lovely.

    • That’s what I understand, Magda. Have you been there? If so, what type of entertainment did you enjoy while there? I hope someday I’ll be able to see the New York location for myself. Thanks for your comments and for following me on GeneaJourneys.

  5. Jana Last says:

    Hi Patricia,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  6. Thanks, Jana ~ always a pleasure to be included on your Fabulous Finds. It’s a welcome opportunity for all of us to check out each others’ genealogy blogs as there are SO many great ones out there!

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