Headliners at the Pontiac Chautauqua

The list below represents just a portion of the 31 years of speakers and entertainers at the Pontiac Chautauqua Assemblies.  Hundreds of men and women presented on the stage at Riverside Park to thousands and thousands of audience members. If you wish to learn more about the Chautauqua Movement, additional information can be found at the Pontiac Public Library.  

National Political Speakers

William Jennings Bryan - Former Presidential Candidate and Reformer

Booker T. Washington - African-American Activist

Carrie Nation - National Temperance Movement Leader

Samuel Gompers - Labor Leader, Founder of the CIO

Grace Wilbur Trout - Illinois Equal Suffrage Association

Governor Robert (Bob) Love Taylor – Former Tennessee Governor, Lecturer, and Magazine Editor

Governor Robert M. LaFollette - Former Wisconsin Governor and Activist


Bishop John H. Vincent – Founder of the Original New York Chautauqua

Bishop William Alfred Quayle – Methodist Lecturer and Writer

Billy Sunday – Famous Evangelist Preacher

Samuel Porter Jones - Lawyer and Preacher – Reformed Drunkard

Rev. Dr. Thomas DeWitt Talmage – Preacher, author, and well-known reformer

Distinguished Speakers

Sylvester A. Long – Lecturer

Prince Ghosh, Native of India

Dr. Peter MacQueen – Adventurer and Traveler -  Hero of World War I

Joseph K. Griffis – The Story of Tahan, a Native American tale

R.G. Knowles - "The humorous American traveler" with stereopticon slides and moving pictures 

Hon. Elmer J. Burkett, U.S. Senator from Nebraska

Dr. George E. Vincent, President of the Chautauqua Association



Sidney V. Landon - Impersonator

Joseffy – Magic, Music, Mystery

Madame Schumann Heink - Opera Star

The Honolulu Students – Guitars and Ukuleles – Native Music

Colangelo Band – 13 piece band playing Latin music

The Williams’ World Famous Colored Singers – African-American, Mixed Octet

Professor Maro, The Prince of Magic

New South Jubilee Singers – All Male African-American Quartet

Oxenham’s Moving Pictures – First Motion Pictures Shown in Pontiac

Otterbien Male Quartet

The Zedeler Symphonic Sextette – Music of the Masters with commentary

The Kilties Band – Scottish Music from Canada

Miss Caryl Cook – The Peter Pan Girl

Mallory Players – Full-length Dramatic Presentations

Weber Male Quartet – Popular Songs and the Classics

Mr. Samuel James Kennedy – Painter, Cartoonist, Lecturer

The French Ladies Quartette – Songs, Dramatic Readings, and Impersonations

Mr. and Mrs. Tony Godetz – Swiss Entertainers

Grossman’s Orchestra – Ten-piece musical group

Scott’s Orchestra – Ten-piece musical group

The Schumann Quintet – Strings and Harpsichord

Edwin Brush - Magician

Local Talent

Vermilion Orchestra – Seven Member Group with Strings

Pontiac Mixed Quartet

Pontiac Military Band, formerly known as the “129
th Regimental Band”

Pontiac Choral Society

Pontiac Players – Local Dramatic Society   Forerunner of today’s Vermillion Players

Annual Children’s Pageant – Boys and Girls of the Chautauqua camp perform for parents and others.