The Frank Kenjockety and Louis B. Newell Native American Entertainers collection includes ephemera, documents and photographs from two prominent Native American [entertainers] Frank Kenjockety (Cayuga), also known as "Chief Strong Fox" and Louis Belmont Newell, also known as "Rolling Thunder". Kenjockety's collection contains photographs, ephemera and a small amount of personal records from his career as a circus troupe leader and lecturer from 1909-1940. Newell's collection contains ephemera from his career as a traveling Medicine Man and entertainer including remedy and ointment packaging as well as broadsides and flyers.
Scope and Contents:
The Native American Entertainers collection includes ephemera, documents and photographs from two prominent Native American entertainers, Frank Kenjockety, also known as "Chief Strong Fox" and Louis Belmont Newell, also known as "Rolling Thunder". Kenjockety's collection contains photographs, ephemera and a small amount of personal records from his career as a circus troupe leader and lecturer from 1909-1940. Newell's collection contains ephemera from his career as a traveling Medicine Man and entertainer from the 1880's until the 1930's. This includes remedy and ointment packaging as well as broadsides and flyers.
This collection is arranged in two series; Series 1: Frank Kenjockety "Chief Strong Fox", and Series 2: Louis Belmont Newell "Chief Rolling Thunder". Series 1 contains three subseries by material type and is arranged alphabetically.
Biographical / Historical:
This collection of Native American Entertainers materials was put together by Crown Collectibles, a privately held historical research company based out of Richmond Virginia.
Frank Kenjockety was born in 1871 to Jesse and Sarah Kenjockety on Cattaraugus Territory, Seneca Nation and made his home in Salamanca, New York. He was head of the Cayuga Tribe of the Iroquois Federation. In the early 1900's he formed a vaudeville troupe called "Kenjockety' s Hippodrome and Wild West Show". They traveled by train and played at state fairs, carnivals and with other traveling circuses. In the late 1920's Frank Kenjockety took the name "Chief Strong Fox". He became nationally known as an "Indian Chief Lecturer" and his troupe was billed as "Real American Indians in Costume- Direct from the U.S. Government Indian Reservation". Their performances included "Ceremonial Rites, Singing, War Dance, Medicine Dance, Feather Dance, Prayer Song, Famous Adoption Form and lectures on the part the American Indian had played in the history of the United States". Kenjockety's wife, Leona, and daughter, Mabel, also traveled as performers with the troupe. Mabel first appeared on horseback as a child and went on to become a trick rider. While on tour in December 1915, the train on which they were traveling ran head-on into another train that was mistakenly switched on the same track. Mr. Kenjockety survived, but many in his company perished. Undaunted by the tragedy, he rebuilt his company and continued to perform. He and his troupe continued to play fairs, school assemblies and circuses and went on at least two world tours. In 1937, they traveled on the steamer ship "Bremen". Correspondence in 1941 reveals that their popularity had waned and apparently the troupe disbanded around that time. Chief Strong Fox was also well known for the "lectures" he gave on Native American History. He became popular with school and other groups (Rotary Club, etc.) throughout New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, and often "adopted" some of his Caucasian audience as members of his tribe. He received many letters from school officials praising his talks on Indian history and customs to be of"educational value". Kenjockety passed away in 1944.
Known to his family as Belmont and to the public as Chief Rolling Thunder, Louis Belmont Newell was born around 1858 to Thomas Newell and Marie Parsons of Indian Island, Old Town, Maine. Newell appears to have married several times and his first daughter Blanche was born to Victoria Tahamont around 1886. It is around this time that Newell is first referred to as Chief Rolling Thunder and that his company, the Kiowa Medicine Company, begins touring. The show was comprised of "moral" entertainment and lectures given on the customs, habits, manners and religion of tribes. Newell would also sell "traditional Kiowa" medicines and give out health guides. It is uncertain when the company was actually formed and though Newell claimed that he was a descendent of the First Chief Medicine Man of the Kiowa Nation, Teet-Toot-Sah, this was most likely just for his public image. It is much more likely that his parents were Penobscots from Maine. Newell married Louisa Stump of Iroquois descent in 1891. Louisa was an expert shot and travelled with the Kiowa Medicine Company for some time. In 1894, Newell married his fourth wife Jeanne "Jennie" Congleton who served as business manager for the Kiowa Medicine and Vaudeville Company for many years. Newell died December 1, 1933 and was buried in Randolph, NY. More information on L.B. Newell has been compiled by descendants of Newell and can be found on Ne-Do-Ba, a geneological website for the Wabanaki people.
Along with the archival materials, five additional objects were purchased and are a part of the NMAI Ethnology collection. They have catalog numbers 26/5414 through 26/5418 and include outfits supposedly worn by Frank Kenjockety "Chief Strong Fox" and his wife Leona Kenjockety.
All of the photographs in this collection are located in cool storage and arranged in folders by their catalog numbers.
This collection was purchased in 2005.
Access to NMAI Archive Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish or broadbast materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center. Please submit a written request to email@example.com.
Traveling theater -- United States -- 20th century Search this
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Frank Kenjockety and Louis B. Newell Native American Entertainers collection, Box and Folder Number; National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, Smithsonian Institution.