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Charlie T. Tomlinson

ventriloquist and magician, was born in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, the son of Dinah Swain (often called Black Dinah), a slave. Potter's mother was kidnapped by Dutch slave traders during her childhood, sold at an auction, and taken to Boston as a slave by Sir Charles Henry Frankland, a tax collector for the Port of Boston. She had five children while serving in Frankland's household. The identity of Potter's biological father remains a mystery. According to speculation, Potter's father was Frankland. Early church records indicate that Potter's father was a white man by the name of George Simpson. The origin of Potter's name is another mystery.

Potter spent his early years on the Frankland estate in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. At the age of ten, in 1793 he took work on a ship as a cabin boy His travels took him to England where he came across a Scottish ...


magician, ventriloquist, and entrepreneur, was born in Amherst, Virginia, one of eight children of Peticus Rucker, a farm laborer, and Louise A. Rucker, a cook. In his teens Rucker worked as a cook and then as a contractor building houses. When Harry Kellar (“Kellar the Great”), one of the foremost magicians of his time, came through the area on tour, Rucker performed some handyman tasks for him and became his assistant.

Rucker studied stage magic under Kellar and eventually began performing on his own, taking the stage name “Black Herman.” This pseudonym linked him with earlier black magicians, such as Prince Herman, a traveling medicine show magician, whom Rucker also claimed as a mentor, and James A. Willis and Alonzo Moore whose stage names included Herman in some combination or else billed themselves as the black Hermann or the black Herman implying that ...