Milt G. Barlow

Rhio's Graphics

MILT G.5 BARLOW (James4, Thomas3, John2, Thomas1) was born according to Monarchs of Minstrelsy (1911), on June 29, 1843 at Lexington, Kentucky, and died September 1904 in New York, burial in Evergreen Cemetery, ? New York.

He was married 3 times according to his obituary, I believe his first wife was MARY MUIR, (see Muir bio below), his second wife, MARTHA GILES of Canada, (from Reginald's death certificate), and the third wife's name unknown.  (not necessarily in order of marriage)


Milt is a source of confusion for me in putting together this genealogy of Bunches of Barlows of Wilkes Co North Carolina.

His death certificate shows him to be the son of William H. and Chrisiale Barlow, while James Madison Barlow's obituary says he was the father of Milt.  Bonnie Willett, a descendant of James, believes that James was his father, and Elizabeth Barlow, daughter of Thomas Harris Barlow, his mother, and that Milt may have been raised by his uncle, Dr. William H. Barlow.  William's wife, however, was Louisa Allgaiers, while this death certificate shows her name to be Chrisiale.   I feel sure he is a member of this Bunches of Barlow's family, but unsure of just where he fits in.

For this genealogy, I will assume him to be the son of James Madison Barlow. 

Update:  March 2005:  John F. Barlow has found Milt in the 1880 census of Toledo Ohio, where he is living in the home of his mother, Elizabeth Hibben, thus, letting us know that his mother was indeed Elizabeth. 

Toledo, Lucas Co Ohio, 1880

Elisabeth Hibben   Head   60    Keeping House    KY KY KY
Will BARLOW   Son   39    KY KY KY
Milton BARLOW   Son   37   KY    KY   KY
Mary BARLOW   Daughter-in-law   33    KY KY KY
Lily BARLOW  Granddaughter   11   At School OH KY KY
Harry BARLOW   Grandson   9   At School    OH KY KY

"Milt" G. Barlow, known to theatre-goers throughout the land as "Ole Black Joe," died on Tuesday of cancer in the throat at the Home for Incurables, One Hundred and Eighty-third Street and Third Avenue, at the age of sixty-five. Barlow originated the character of "Ole Black Joe" thirty-five years ago, and in 1875, during the tour with Haverly's Minstrels, he made the song bearing this name popular. In 1882, upon the dissolution of Haverly's troupe of which Wilson, Primrose, and West were members, Primrose and West undertook their first theatrical venture with Barlow and Wilson. Later Barlow and Wilson set out by themselves, but were unsuccessful, and "Ole Black Joe" played the title role in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" for several years. Barlow afterward impersonated the negro character in the "Texas Steer." He was to have appeared in "The County Chairman," but his health failed and he was taken to the hospital last May suffering from cancer.

One  of his  old-time partner relates that it was  customary for Barlow to receive his pay in nickels and dimes. These he used to carry about with him in cigar boxes.

Barlow was three times married, and all his wives are still living. He is also survived by two children - a daughter, Lillian and a son, "Milt" G. Barlow.    --Note that Reginald Barlow is not mentioned--

New York Times - September 29, 1904   

Copy of Original

Death Certificate

The Constitution, Atlanta Georgia, Tuesday, February 22, 1887

"OLD Milt Barlow," the minstrel, has gotten into jail and can't get out. It appears that in 1866 Milton married a young lady in Paris, Ky., and promptly proceeded to spend $6000 which had been left her. In 1871 Milton added insult to injury by deserting his wife and eloping with a variety actress. The truant husband returned to his wife, however, but in 1886, eloped with still another variety actress. Mrs. Barlow, who has two children, says her husband has been making from $10,000 to $20,000 a year out of his profession, and she has entered a suit for divorce and alimony. Mr. Barlow has been arrested and is now confined in Ludlow street jail because he cannot give a $5,000 bond. He says he can't see how his wife is to get any alimoney if he is to stay locked up. The public will not hear anything more of "Old Black Joe" for a season, at least.

History of Bourbon, Scott, Harrison and Nicholas Counties, Kentucky
edited by William Henry Perrin, O. L. Baskin & Co Chicago, 1882

L.P. MUIR, auctioneer and fine stock raiser; P. O. Paris; this well-known gentleman, whose fame as a successful salesman and judge of fine stock, is as wide as the "Blue Grass Region" itself, was born at Hutchinson Station, this county, in the year 1844; son of Colonel Samuel and Sena 'Dawson' Muir, to whom were born nine children, six of whom came to the years of maturity -- three sons and three daughters; of the sons L. P. is the eldest; John W., James V. are next in order; the daughters are Mary, who married Milton G. Barlow, of Toledo, Ohio;  Alice, married V. Dickerson, of Franklin County; Sena became the wife of Ralph Nelson, and resides in this county. The father of our subject was a son of Samuel Muir, who was a native of Scotland. Samuel, Jr., was in command of the militia for several years, and thus gained the title of colonel. He died in 1854; his wife, six years later.

Since attaining his manhood's years, he has been engaged in the breeding and growing of fine stock, his partiality being in the direction of short horns, of which he is an excellent judge and thoroughly understands the short horn family, and is now the proprietor and publisher of the "Short-Horn Record" which office he took charge of in 1880, and since 1872 he has been engaged as salesman and auctioneer, having a wide reputation as a lucrative business in the line of his profession. In 1879, he married Alice Clark, by whom he has one child: Lewis C.

Mr. Muir is a member of the I.O.O.F. and of the A.F. & A.M., also of the Royal Arch Chapter.

  Also of interest:

Murder in North Little Rock, Arkansas - William 'Billy' Barlow

William Barlow, Last of the Barlow Brothers Minstrels

Rhio's Graphics

Posters of "Ole Black Joe"

Poster of   "Barlow, Wilson, Primrose & West"

Pass to Barlow Wilson, Primrose and West

1883 Barlow, Wilson and Company Songbook

Advertisement for Barlow, Wilson, Primrose & West's Minstrels

Performances of Milt G. Barlow

De Old Church Yard in de Lane - Darling Minnie Gray

Old Uncle Dan

Mary's Gone With a Coon

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Put on de Golden Shoe

We'll Raise de Roof Tonight

I'd Like to See Ole Massa's Face Again

Three children were born to Milt:

  i. LILLIAN BARLOW from Milt's obituary, mother not known, nor any other information.   Born c1869, according to 1880 census.
1. ii.
MILT G.6 BARLOW, JR., aka HARRY M. BARLOW, probably a son of Mary Muir, born c1855 in Paris Kentucky, and died November 01, 1909 in Chicago, Cook Co Illinois    (according to the 1880 census, he was born c1871)
2. iii.
REGINALD BARLOW, aka REGINALD LIVINGSTON, son of Martha Giles, born June 17, 1866 in Springfield, Massachusetts, and died July 06, 1943 in Hollywood, Los Angeles Co California.    He was not in the 1880 census, perhaps Milt had been married prior to Mary also)

Rhio's Graphics
Generation 6
Rhio's Graphics


MILT G.6 BARLOW, JR., aka, HARRY M. BARLOW, (Milt5, James4, Thomas3, John2, Thomas1) was born c1867 in Paris  Kentucky, (from daughters birth certificate), and died November 01, 1909, in Chicago, Cook Co Illinois, burial in Oakridge Cemetery, Chicago, Cook Co Illinois. 

He married HARRIET NICHOLSON of Illinois


Variety  November 20, 1909

Milt G. Barlow, Jr., son of the late Milt G. Barlow, the well-known ministel, died November 01, in Chicago. 

A wife and seven year old daughter survive.

Copy of Original

Official Death Record

Chicago Tribune:  November 05, 1909

Burial Permits issued by the Health Dept of Chicago:  Harry M. Barlow, age 43, 710 N. Clark Street, November 01.

Copy of Original

Child of Milt Barlow and Harriet Nicholson is:

3. i. VIOLET MUIR7 BARLOW, born August 08, 1901 in New York City, New York, and died June 16, 1963 (California Death Index)

From Violet's birth record, it shows that another child had been born, but that it was not living at the time of her birth.

Rhio's Graphics


REGINALD6 BARLOW, aka REGINALD LIVINGSTON, (Milt5, James4, Thomas3, John2, Thomas1) was born June 17, 1866 in Springfield, or Cambridge, Massachusetts, and died July 06, 1943 in Hollywood, Los Angeles Co California, burial in Cambridge Cemetery, Cambridge, Middlesex Co Massachusetts. 

His known wives include:

CLARE DANFORTH, whom he married on April 15, 1902 in Charleston, Missouri under the name of Reginald Livingston.  The daughter of LEVI DANFORTH and MARY PAYNE MOORE, she was born January 03, 1880 in Mississippi Co Missouri, and died 1967 in Portland, Oregon.  She married 2nd, FRANK FARR.    Birth, Death and 2nd marriage information comes from:  Stith

BERTHA MERKLE, aka SELMA ROSE, whom he married August 1903 in Los Angeles,California.  She died November 21, 1933 in Los Angeles, California. 

CAROL, of New Hampshire, whom he was married to at the time of his death, according to his death certificate.

No known children.


New York Times, July 07, 1943

R. Barlow is Dead, Actor and Soldier

Veteran Figure of Stage and Screen Stricken at 76
- Was an Equity Leader -
- Fought in Three Wars -

- Colonel of Infantry in 1918 -
- Decorated by Queen for Valor in Boer Conflict-

Hollywood. July 6 (AP) --

Reginald Barlow, veteran stage and screen actor, died today at the age of 76.

Mr. Barlow retired from pictures two years ago. In the first World War, he was a colonel in command of the 304th Infantry. He was also a veteran of the Spanish-American and Boer Wars, and was decorated by Queen Victoria during the Boer War.

He was born in Springfield, Mass.

Reginald Barlow made his stage debut at the age of 9 in his father's minstrel troupe of Barlow,  Wilson, Primrose, and West. While playing in Winnipeg in 1900 he joined the Royal Canadian Regiment, then about to entrain for South Africa. His decoration from Queen Victoria was awarded for the rescue of his wounded captain under fire.


He had thoughs of quitting the stage for the church in 1908 and at the time remarked to an interviewer: "All my ancestors have been soldiers, actors, and ministers, and some of them all three. I am a direct descendant of Bishop Barlow of the days of Henry VIII.

In the early part of his acting career he played leading roles in "The Silver King," "Monte Cristo," "The Sign of the Cross," "Monbars," "The Madcap Princess," and "The Little Princess." On his return to civil life after the first World War he appeard in "Blood Money," "Out of the Sea," "Old Lady 31," "The Heaven-Tappers," "Outside Looking In," and in 1931, "The Silent Witness," his last Broadway engagement. On the screen he was seen in "The Washington Masquerade," 1932, and "The Witness Vanishes," 1939.

During the exciting days of the Actors Equity strike, and during the early years of Equity after its triumph, Colonel Barlow was a leader in the organization, serving on many of its important committees. Those who saw the parade of the strikers down Broadway remember the martial figure of Colonel Barlow, riding a spirited horse, organizing the marchers in the drizzling rain.

Copy of Original


Character People, by Ken D. Jones, Arthur McClure, and Alfred E. Tworney

Reginald Barlow was a distinguished looking actor who lent an air of dignity to any rold he played. This was probably brought about by his military training. He was a veteran of three wars, The Spanish-American, The Boer, and World War I in which he was a colonel. He was decorated by Queen Victoria for his part in the Boer War.

Barlow was born June 17, 1866 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He made his stage debut at the age of nine with a minstrel troupe, then he performed on the legitimate stage until his last appearance in 1931, The Silent Witness. He died July 06, 1943 in Hollywood.

Copy of Original

Death Certificate

A Sad Story of Long Ago!   It appears to be a trait of this family...perhaps it is an 'actor' thing.  But then, their grandfather, James Madison, was a member of the Mormon faith, perhaps they thought they were doing the right thing!

From the WEEKLY ENTERPRISE,  Charleston, Mo, August 21, 1903

Known and married here as Livingston -- a Hero and an Actor.

Last Friday the Enterprise received a telegraphic inquiry from St. Louis and another later in the day from Chicago, relative to one Reginald Barlow, who was reported to have married a Miss Merkle in Los Angeles, Calif. It was difficult to believe that the report could be based upon fact because Mrs. Barlow was at the home of her father, L.D. Danforth, in this city (Charleston) at the time, but later developments show that Barlow did go through the form of marriage in California as stated.

The following articles regarding the "marriage" are from Chicago papers:

LOS ANGELES, CAL., Aug. 12--

Reginald Barlow, actor, was married last Thursday to Miss Bertha Merkle, rich in her own name and the daughter of a wealthy Milwaukee lumberman.

Barlow on the train from Chicago was by chance thrown in contact with the Milwaukee heiress and her mother, who were going to San Francisco. Barlow and Miss Merkle fell madly in love with each other and in San Francisco Miss Merkle, with the consent of her mother, arranged for a secret wedding here.   (In Los Angeles).

Barlow is a son of the famous old-time minstrel, Milt G. Barlow, and is 35 years of age. He has been an actor all his life, but the military fever overcame him while playing in Quebec, and he enlisted in the Canadian Volunteers and served all through the South Africa war. He is the hero of 37 engagements. He had a Victorian medal pinned on his breast by Queen Victoria for signal heroism.

Miss Merkle's father is largely interested in the vast lumber business of the North, and she herself is a wealthy woman. However, like Barlow's Victorian medal, her wealth remained in the background until the engagement had been decided. She is a woman of rare beauty, college bred and traveled.

Mrs. Merkle will accompany the newly wedding couple to Buffalo, where Mr. Barlow will join Millie James' production of "The Little Princess."

MILWAUKEE, WIS., Aug. 15--

W.J. Merkle, a wealthy manufacturer and brother of the young society woman who recently became the wife of Reginald Barlow in Los Angeles, is greatly worried over the stories of the actor's alleged matrimonial entanglement. All day he has kept the wires hot trying to locate the couple, but has so far failed to find them. He said today; "We are dumbfounded by the reports of Barlow, and are prepared for the worst. He will be certainly prosecuted, but whether by my sister, I cannot say."


Verification of the charge that Reginald Barlow, Chicago matinee idol, had committed bigamy by his recent marriage to Miss Bertha Merkle of Milwaukee was received Saturday from Charleston, Missouri, where the woman whom Barlow married three years ago is now living.

"I have never been divorced from Barlow," she said when informed of his marriage to Miss Merkle in Los Angeles. "I do not know what to think. I left him only a few weeks ago in Chicago, and we had agreed to meet again as soon as he completed a theatrical engagement in California."

She added that only a few days ago she received a letter from Barlow notifying her that his engagement would be concluded at the end of this week, and that he would at once start for Charleston.

Barlow married his Charleston wife under the name of Reginald G. Livingston. She is the daughter of L.D. Danforth, a prominent citizen of Charleston. With her little daughter, of whom Barlow is the father, she has been living with her father in Charleston since her departure from Chicago.

Barlow was known in Charleston as Reginald G. Livingston. He and Miss Clare Danforth were married at the home of her father by the Rev. W. Alex. Jordan, pastor of the Baptist Church, on April 15, 1902. He and his wife spent several weeks in Charleston last summer, and he was quite popular with all who happened to meet him. Newspaper reports has it he has two other "wives."

All who know Mrs. Livingston will sympathize with her in her trouble, and will join the Enterprise in the hope that the fellow will be duly prosecuted and severely punished for his crimes.

Article donated by Jeanne and Russ Albertson

Copy of Original

While I do not know the outcome of this particular incident, it appears that all worked out, as at the time of her death in 1933, Miss Bertha Merkle Barlow is shown to be the wife of stage actor, Reginald Barlow.

Variety, December 05, 1933

Mrs. Bertha Barlow, 60, wife of Col. Reginald Barlow, actor, known on the stage as Selma Rose, died in Los Angeles, Nov. 21. Death was due to a heart attack.

Funeral services were held in Hollywood, Nov. 23. Cremation followed.

Survived by the widower and a brother, Joseph Merkel, of Rochester, N.Y.

Copy of Original


Photograph of Col. Reginald Barlow with Shirley Temple

Filmography from Microsoft Cinemania


Horse Feathers
I am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang
If I Had a Million
The Wet Parade


Ann Vickers
The Big Cage
Flying Down to Rio
Grand Slam
King Kong


One Night of Love
Operator 13
Romance in Manhattan
Stamboul Quest


The Last Days of Pompeii
Bride of Frankenstein
Captain Blood
The Gilded Lily
Werewolf of London


The Last of the Mohicans
Little Lord Fauntleroy
Lloyd's of London


The Toast of New York
It Happened Out West


The Adventures of Marco Polo


The Man in the Iron Mask
Tower of London

Theatrical Productions

The Blue Bird
Outside Looking In
The Queen's Husband
Old Lady 31

Rhio's Graphics
Generation 7
Rhio's Graphics


VIOLET MUIR7 BARLOW (Harry6, MiltSr5, James4, Thomas3, John2, Thomas1) was born August 08, 1901 in New York City, New York, and died June 16, 1963 in California.  (California Death Index)

She married Mr. BENTER, probably BILLY BENTER, her night-club act partner.   


Nevada State Journal, Reno Nevada Saturday, April 18, 1936

The coast's new comedy team, Barlow and Benter, fill out the 6-act show. Miss Vi Barlow, elongated gal who presents comedy work on the order of the inimitable Charlotte Greenwood, is on of California's comediennes.

Nevada State Journal, Reno Nevada Saturday, April 25, 1936

Variety Is Spice Of Floor Show At the Tavern

The personnel of last week's Tavern show held over and opened with a bang last evening. All new numbers grace the show.

Barlow and Benter go into their second week, offering new versions of their original comedy routines.

Miss Barlow, a counterpart of Charlotte Greenwood, proves herself a versatile comedienne with a fine partner in Billie Benter. Their Comedy Ballet number this week as well as the hilarious waltz-travesty,"Embarrassing Moments," easily carry off high honors on the fun portion of the bill.

Van Nuy News, Van Nuys California March 24, 1952

Armenian Unit Studies Interiors

Mrs. Violet Barlow Benter, formerly of New York, will speak on what's new in interior decorating for San Fernando Valley Auxiliary of the Armenian General Benevolent Union Wednesday. The 12:30 p.m. luncheon will be in Mrs. Kaye Vahan's home, 10406 Camarillo St., Toluca Lake.

Mrs. Benter at one time held a fellowship at Metropolitan Museum, is considered an authority on antiques, and has done television shows on interiors.

Assisting hostesses are Mmes. Manwog Simonian, Irene Germakian, Gloria Varian and Jack Ekparian.

Official Birth Record

Articles contributed by John F. Barlow


The Playgoer, February 1946

Violet Muir Barlow is "show folk" to her finger tips, for she is a member of the famous Barlow family, who helped make theatrical history in the United States. Born in New York City, but raised all over the world, Miss Barlow is truly an international comedienne. As a satirist, dancer and comedienne, she has played in London, all over Europe, and throughout South America. Her New York stage and night club appearances have been legion, and she has over thirty Hollywood-produced films to her credit, playing comedy leads opposite such comic stars as Edgar Kennedy, James Gleason, Franklin Pangborn, the late Charlie Chase, Louis Jean Bartels, and Andy Clyde. During the war, Miss Barlow did more than 400 USO-Camp shows, playing in every state in the Union. She is exceedingly proud of the fact that she was the only Mistress of Ceremonies to ever emcee an entire show at famed Hollywood Canteen.

Barlow in the Arts

© Barlow Genealogy 1998-2004 
Graphics by Rhio


Updated March 2005