For three years Cotton was poised betwixt and between. Leaving behind the resident minstrel company in Chicago, Cotton raced off to renew a relationship with Maguire and The California Minstrels, now headined by Billy Emerson. His daughters, Retta and Dora, probably read the "telegraphic news" in the California papers: Mrs. B. Cotton passed through Virginia City, traveling West, with child! First Sharpley died, then Dan Bryant. Cotton, paired with Dave Reed, attempted to extend the storied business at Bryant's location in midtown New York but barely lasted six months before the venture collapsed. Once again Cotton went on the road with Maguire and Emerson's California Minstrels.