J. SMITH DAMRON
Lecturer on the Chautauqua circuit.
John Smith Damron was born 23 March 1863 in Tennessee, to William Henry Damron and Susan Elizabeth Pace. He married Susan Emma Sweeney. He lived in McDonough County, Illinois.
He was a potter, billed as J. Smith Damron, who appeared on the Chautauqua circuit in the 1910ís into the early 1930ís. He gave lectures and demonstrations using his skill as a potter. He toured the Chautauqua circuit primarily throughout the Midwest appearing in several states. Some of the states in which he appeared are Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Wiconsin, Illinois, South Carolina and Nebraska.
The Chautauqua circuit was an institution that was begun in Chautauqua, New York, in the late 1800ís to provide higher education opportunities through the combination of lectures, concerts, and public events that traveled through the Midwest. The institution evolved into a traveling movement or circuit that became most popular in the rural Midwest. It flourished in the early 1900s but declined through the 1920s and 1930s. These traveling Chautauqua groups featured oratory, drama, and music all accessible for a cheap admission. Famous personalities or politicians would sometimes speak. The Chautauqua varied in content, approach, and quality. Presentations usually consisted of lectures and performances. Frequently held in tents, the events were also in public auditoriums, theaters, schools and churches.
Images of brochures about J. Smith Damron can be viewed at
the The University of Iowa Library site:
circuit chautauqua in the twentieth century
click links below:
J. Smith Damron: educational art entertainment
Smith Damron: the potter craftsman
The Man Who Makes Vessels of Clay
The Potter and the Clay
See the fall 2004 issue of the Dameron-Damron Family Newsletter for more information.