1865-66: Post War
Ben Cotton returned from California in January of 1865. On board with him was Joseph Murphy. In partnership they launched "Cotton and Murphy's California Minstrels." That band was eventually augmented as "Cotton, Murphy & Smith's California Minstrels," reduced once again to "Cotton & Murphy's California Minstrels," and finally stripped to "Ben Cotton's California Minstrels." It was three full years of trading on the lure of California. These were also the years that his son, Ben Jr., and his brother, Charles N. Cotton, were added to the various troupes.