Friday, March 24, 2017

Born Today March 24: George Francis Train


Ecentrentic industrial millionaire George Francis Train was born on this day in Boston, Mass.  His family soon relocated to New Orleans.  The vast majority of his immediate family, including both of his parents and at least 3 siblings died there from a yellow fever epidemic.  He was then sent back to Boston to be raised by very strict Methodist grandparents, who very much wanted him to become a minister.  He instead went into the mercantile trade, and soon became a wanderer--and adventurer.  It is possible that reports of his crossing the planet by many transportational modes was the inspiration for Jules Verne's Around The World In 80 Days.  He was considered "different" from early adulthood, a trait that would only increase as he aged.  Thought many thought him insane, many of his actions and speeches, especially in the realm of politics and individual rights, may have had a "method in their madness" (he was, for example a financial supporter of Susan B. Anthony, but also once stood for "dictator of the United States").  More of his decidedly colourful life can be found in the links below.  The reason for his presence on a silent movie blog stems from one sole film that featured him and one other person dating from 1898.  Billed as "Citizen George Frances Train" and "Professor Mike Donovan," the short "mockumentery" Train vs. Donovan was produced by American Mutoscope was probably a spoof on an earlier film by the Edison Corp. Corbett and Courtney Before the Kinetograph, which was shot 4 years earlier.  It was filmed at the New York Athletic Club.  Train lived for nearly 5 years after the film was shot, dying on the 5th of January 1904 at the age of 74 in New York City.  He was buried in the historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.  He is entombed in his well off father-in-law's mausoleum there.

For More:

Smithsonian article on Train's support of Susan B. Anthony's publication

Leave Virtual Flowers @ Find A Grave

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