Thursday, October 24, 2013


Ink-Slinger Profiles: Joseph A. Lemon

Joseph A. Lemon was born in Kansas in May 1870 according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. At this time little is known of his childhood, family and education. The Wichita, Kansas Directory 1888 said he resided at 145 North Emporia and was a student at the Lewis Academy.

In the 1890s he was listed in Trow’s New York City Directory for the following years:

1891-1892, Lemon J. artist, h 210 W. 105th
1895, Lemon Jos A. artist, 4 W. 14th, h 235 W. 123d
1896, Lemon Jos A. artist, 126 W. 23d, h 235 W. 123d
1897, Lemon Jos A. artist, 152 W. 23d, h 270 W. 119th
1898, Lemon Jos A. artist, 53 W. 24th

The census said he married Caroline in 1897 and lived at 312 West 18th Street in Manhattan, New York City. His occupation was artist. The American Art Directory, Volume 3 (1900) listed him, “Lemon, Joseph A., 270 West 25th St.” He was a member of the Blue Pencil Club and contributed to the club’s Blue Pencil Magazine, which debuted February 1900. In the May 1901 issue were brief descriptions of the contributors including Lemon: “Joseph Lemon.—Not so sour.”

Blue Pencil Magazine, May 1901

Blue Pencil Magazine, Thanksgiving Number 1901

Blue Pencil Magazine, Thanksgiving Number 1901

Broadway Magazine, June 1903, published a description of him:

With a broad brimmed, black Stetson hat, big Joseph Lemon looks the artist, his flowing black tie adding to the impression. This makeup does not prevent his wielding a prolific pen which costs the McClure syndicate newest freak element in New York humor, and furnishes the aviary department in the live stock humor of the “American.”

Lemon contributed illustrations to several books including Toothsome Tales Told in Slang (1901), The Man with the Grip (1906), and Colonel Crook Stories (1909).

He produced several comic strips including How Would You Like To Be John?, Mrs. Worry, Willie Cute, Hop Lee (only one by Lemon I think -- Allan), The Adventures of Dennis O’Shaugnessy and Professor Bughouse (a one-shot I believe -- Allan).

Art Young mentioned Lemon in his book, Art Young: His Life and Times (2007):

On the walls among the array of weapons were framed drawings which had illuminated Sunday World feature stories that Will had written, and originals done by the artists on the World staff; also drawings for the “funnies” of that era, by Dick Outcault, George Luks, Anderson, Bryans (whose silhouette pictures were then popular), Tony Anthony, Gus and Rudy Dirks, Joe Lemon, Walt McDougall; and illustrators such as Will Crawford (he made comics as well, but always seemed too dignified and artistic to be classed as such), “Hod” Taylor, Al Levering, and others.

Lemon has not been found in the 1910 census. The New York Herald, August 17, 1910, reported the passing of his wife:

Mrs. Caroline G. Lemon, wife of Mr. Joseph A. Lemon, magazine illustrator, of No. 953 Fox street, the Bronx, died yesterday in the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of mastoiditis. She was born in Rhode Island thirty-six years ago and had been married fourteen years.

At some point he lived in Wiscasset, Maine; maybe it was a summer retreat. There he met Daisy Palmer; they married on June 7, 1915, according to Maine Marriages, 1892-1996 at Earlier, the former Daisy Beach asked for a separation from her husband, William F. Palmer, as reported in the Oakland Tribune, November 13, 1912. R.L. Polk’s Trow General Directory of New York City, for the years 1916 and 1917, listed Lemon’s home address as “1919, 7th av.” The periodical Metal Record and Electroplater, December 1918, published the following notice:

Joseph Brown Beach, 67 years old, head of the sales force of the International Silver Company, with which he had been associated for forty-two years, died yesterday at his home, 302 West Thirtieth Street. He was born in Connecticut, and lived in this city [New York] twenty years. His daughter is the wife of Joe Lemon, the artist.

He has not been found in the 1920 census. His address was 47 Greenwich Avenue in Polk’s Trow’s New York City Directory 1924-1925. Sometime later Lemon moved to Woodstock, New York, where he passed away December 3, 1927; his death was reported two days later in the Kingston Daily Freeman (New York):

Joseph A. Lemon, a member of the artist colony in Woodstock for some times, died at the Kingston City Hospital on Saturday, December 3, in his fifty-ninth year. He is survived by his wife and one brother, Courtney Lemon, of New York city. The remains were removed to Woodstock and later taken to Union Hill, N.J., for cremation.

His age of 59 would mean he was born in 1868 which differs from the census date of May 1870.


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