Growing up in Poughkeepsie, New York, Fitz Hugh Ludlow began sampling various drugs at the age of sixteen. He went to Union College in Schenectady, New York, where he continued to experiment with drugs, especially hashish (Martin 51-2). His most well-known work, The Hasheesh Eater (1857), was written in the tradition of Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821) and was based on his personal experiences under the influence of the drug.
Robert Shelton Mackenzie was born June 22, 1809 in Limerick, Ireland. Mackenzie began his newspaper career editing a county journal in Hanley, Staffordsville, England. After writing for various papers and contributing several biographies to the Georgian Era, Mackenzie was appointed the English correspondent for the New York Evening Star in 1834, possibly making Mackenzie the first European correspondent to any American paper (Baugh).
William Edgar Marshall was born to Scottish parents in New York City in 1837. At a young age, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he earned a living as a watchmaker. He then worked for the US Treasury Department, where he learned how to engrave portraits. In 1858 he was given a rare opportunity to work for the American Bank Note Company, where he spent “several years and became one of its best engravers." At the age of 21, he set off for Paris, where he planned to learn how to become a great painter.
Born in Albany, Homer Dodge Martin displayed a skill for art from a young age. Martin was a self-taught landscape painter. In 1857, when he was only 20, he began to exhibit his work in the National Academy of Design. He moved to New York City in 1863 and eventually took up residence in the Tenth Street Studio from 1865-1882 (The National Cyclopedia 53; Tenth Street Studio 133). For Martin, a man filled with Bohemian sensibilities, there is scattered evidence that he was a member of Pfaff’s.
Thomas Meagher’s association with Pfaff’s is uncertain; a questionable source mentions him in reference to a Bohemian Club which frequented “Pfaaf’s [sic],” but his supposed connection to Pfaff’s is based on little more than circumstantial evidence ("Our New York Letter" 64). Another indication of some sort of connection with Pfaff's comes from Thomas Gunn's diary in which he notes that Meagher denied that he was cousins with well-known Pfaffian Fitz-James O'Brien (Gunn, vol. 10, 139).
Adah Menken, an actress "not known for her talent, but rather for her frenetic energy, her charismatic presence, and her willingness to expose herself," was born in a suburb of New Orleans (Richards 192). Adah’s given name was probably Adah Bertha Theodore, but conflicting accounts of her early years and parentage (many generated by herself for publicity purposes) make it difficult to say with certainty.
An "American dancer and adventuress," the woman later known as Lola Montez has several different birthdates, but scholar Bruce Seymour argues that she was likely born in 1820 in Ireland as Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert (Seymour 4). The thrice-married Gilbert first debuted in London as "Lola Montez" in 1843 and experienced success in Europe. In 1847, as the mistress of Louis I of Bavaria, Montez was made Baroness Rosenthal and Countess Lansfeld and was able to control the Bavarian government until she was opposed by the Jesuits and ousted by revolution in 1848 ("Montez").
Born in Bavaria in 1840, Nast emigrated to New York City with his mother and sister in 1846 and his father followed them in 1850. Nast’s early artistic influences were historical painter Theodore Kaufmann, with whom he began his first formal study; Alfred Fredericks, whose studio was nearby and who became a mentor to Nash and helped him gain entry to the Academy of Design, as well as Frank Leslie, the publisher of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper who hired the sixteen-year old Nast for five dollars a week.
Born in County Cork and raised primarily in Limerick, Ireland, Fitz-James O'Brien moved to New York City in 1852. Descending from an Anglo-Irish landholding family, O'Brien received his inheritance (estimated at £8000) at about the age of 21. Between 1849 and 1851, it is believed that O'Brien edited a failed literary magazine called The Parlour Magazine of the Literature of All Nations and squandered his inheritance (Wolle 21). Leaving England almost penniless, O'Brien immigrated to America and made the U.S.
Hatchik Oscanyan was born in Constantinople, Turkey. He later changed his name to Christopher. As an Armenian resident of the Ottoman Empire, he came to the United State for an education, but he decided to stay after he completed his studies at New York University (Nance 56; Lause 52). Scholar Susan Nance describes Oscanyan, along with Bayard Taylor, as individuals who "labored to sell various Ex Oriente Lux messages about the East in a growing information and publicity infrastructure that was taking shape in the 1840s, just as they both came to public notice" (54-5).
William Page was born in Albany in 1811, but he attended public school in New York. In 1826, he began to take classes at the National Academy of Design after it first opened, and it was from here that he was awarded one of it first annual student prizes. By 1830, he was painting commissioned portraits in cities throughout New York State, including Rochester, Albany, and New York City. He joined the American Academy in 1835, where he also served on its board of directors.