C.L. 'Valley' White

American travelling showman

C.L. 'Valley' White arrived as a teenager in Globe, Arizona with his parents and younger sister in 1880, and worked for Charles McCoy Clark as a telegraph messenger boy. The family soon moved to San Francisco, and about fifteen years later - from July 1897 - White and a partner toured Arizona and New Mexico with a moving picture show. In some locations the Buckman Farce Comedy Company had preceded them, giving moving picture shows with an Amet Magniscope projector. Nevertheless, White's show went down well; 'Better than the Magniscope' was how Reid's Opera House, Tucson, billed it. Their programme of more than thirty films included The Burning Stable, Shooting the Chutes and Spanish Bullfight. Their itinerary included Silver City, New Mexico, and Tombstone, Arizona. Around Christmas 1897, White and his partner (who had gambled away his share of the business) came to Jerome with the show. There White met and teamed up with his old boss C.M. Clark and they set off on a tour which took in Ash Fork; Kingman; Needles, California; Williams; and Holbrook, showing for a week in most towns. From Holbrook they hired a team of four horses and a wagon and set off for Fort Apache with a foot of snow on the ground, stopping to give a show at a ranch-house in Snowflake. Their Edison Projectoscope was fitted with a 'spoolbank', enabling continuous projection of a film - until the audience was 'fed up on it'. According to a later account by Clark, the films were presented from 7.30pm until midnight that night, with only an occasional change of pictures. Having only three rounds of the Corbett-Courtney fight, Clark and White showed rounds one and four, then reversed the films and showed them again, before showing the fifth round knockout. The motion pictures were followed by a country dance until dawn, with chicken and biscuits for breakfast. At Fort Apache, they gave a show for the American Indians, who Clark said took fright at the engine of the New York fire department coming at the camera. The partners returned to Holbrook on 5 February 1898, and made arrangements to show in Gallup, New Mexico. White started for Gallup on Monday to advertise their arrival, but never made it out of town. He fell off the train as it was leaving the station, suffered head injuries and had his legs horribly mangled. The doctor informed him of the worst, and he said goodbye to his partner and left messages for his family. He was given chloroform and never regained consciousness after having his legs amputated. C.L.'Valley' White was buried in Holbrook Cemetery, where his grave marker is today.

Stephen Herbert