Bandwagon, Vol. 2, No. 7 (Dec), 1943. Note: Only some articles are included in this online edition. Illustrations are not included.
The first wagon show I remember seeing was the Walter L. Main Show on August 20th, 1888. At that time it had 60 horses and that was the first season the show carried an elephant. Some of the performers that I can recall were Prof. Joe Berris, Patterson Bros., Bill LaRue and Geo. Bickel - and Main's talking horse, Dan Rice, and of course many others.
The Charles Lee Old Reliable Show came on August 18th, 1890. This was a seventy horse wagon show with Charles Lee as owner, Harry Mann General Agent, Louis Bauvals, One-arm acrobat, along with Bill Clifton, Tiny Clifton, Tullis Wright, Harry Rogers were among the performers that I can remember.
I have a newspaper ad of the show which reads "The Chas. Lee Old Reliable Show Will exhibit at Westerly, (R.I.) Monday, August 18th (1890) - afternoon and evening. The largest and best 25 cent show on Earth every feature will be produced just as advertised, brand new in every department - 22 years on the road - turning people away daily, A show based strictly on its merits - no fakirs - no thieves tolerated with this show. Will exhibit on Barbers old circus lot Westerly on Monday, August 18th; Stonington - Tuesday, August 19th, Mystic Bridge on Wednesday, August 20th. Bear in mind - 5 cents admits to all."
Harper Bros., a small wagon show out of Worcester, Mass. was also here in 1890. Among the performers with same were Robert Stickney Sr., and Joe LaFleur.
In 1894 the James W. Goodrich wagon show was out of Bridgeport, Conn., stopped at Westerly. The first season for this show, James Goodrich and wife were performers having been with the T. K. Burk, Sells Bros., and Ringling Bros. Shows. Others performing were Valveno Bros., Clymer Sisters, Bill Lee, Albert Heintz and many others. Herbert Swift had the band. Art Selby was the agent, John Lucy, a native of Pawtucket, was boss canvasman. The Goodrich Show came year after year. In 1901 he had a big wagon show of 32 wagons and cages known as the Goodrich Hoffman and Soutys Circus. on September 7th, 1903, Goodrich was killed by an elephant, while working on the Goodrich and Quintards Trained Animal Shows.
Conroys North American Wagon Show was here in 1898. It was out of Pawtucket, R.I. Ask any Easterner of this or days gone by to name the greatest wagon showman who ever visited their town and they will almost to a man say "Sig Sautelle" - who was probably known to more people in New England and New York State than any other showman for the reason that it was his custom to make friends with his patrons, and he and his diamond horse-shoe shirt pin are remembered by thousands. Sig always carried a good show for years. His favorite artists were Chas. and Jennie Ewers; Charlie Watson and wife; Billy and Lottie Lorenz; Dannie Ryan; Tom Finn who had the side show; Charlie Banks was press agent, Dave Haley Agent, Frank Stowell on the Advance. Sig's first visit here was on July 27th 1900, That year he had a 141 horse wagon show. He played to a big crowd. Charlie Clayton had the aide show and the old shell game was working the first time. I met Clayton later when he was with the J. H. LaPearl Show doing a strong man act after leaving the Sautelle Show. He lived in Hope Valley, R.I., and started out from there in 1901 with Capt. Clayton's Wagon Show. This latter show only lasted one season.
Sig Sautelle came again on July 20th 1911 - at which time Sig. Sautelle, Oscar Lowanda and Geo. W. Rollins were the owners. By the way, it was a Westerly boy, Otto Yeager who put Geo. W. Rollins in the circus business on the Scribner and Smith Wagon Show. The Sautelle Show with these three owners was the last of the old-time-wagon-shows.
I also saw the Tompkins Wild West and circus at Mystic, Conn Sept. 14th 1913. This was a wagon show. Other wagon shows of the 1890 days were the Sparks and Cole Overland Shows who opened the season May 1st 1893 at Chatauguay, N.Y., and went as far East as Kennebunk, Maine and never stopped for four years going from wagons to rail. John H. Sparks was owner. George S. Cole, Manager. Charles Sparks - present day well known showman - then only a boy, was Equestrian Director; James Chattaway was Band Leader; Theo Long Agent; Geo. H. Irving had the side show.
In 1894 Cole and Lockwood United Shows opened at Potsdam, N.Y., Geo. S. Cole and A. L. Lockwood were the owners. Geo. S. Cole Manager, Frank Burns agent, James Chattaway - Band Leader, Charles Gregory, Equestrian Director; Bert Cole - Treasurer. Charles Evans - Boss Hostler; James Caskey - Boss Canvasman with George Irving owner and manager of the Side Show. This was a real one ring circus and was first class in every respect.
The following persons were on the show - Willie Lowanda and wife as riders; Leavitt and Nevel - jugglers, leapers, and tumblers; Gregory Bros., and Fritz - bars, traps and leaps; Archie Royer and John Lanchaster, clowns; Mrs. Royer, wire artist; Harry Blondell, strong man and many others. Their season closed on October 1st.
Scribner and Smith toured the east in 1893 with 110 head of stock and played that section for two years. Sam Scribner and Neil Smith were the owners, and Geo. Gallagher general agent.
I personally knew many of the people that were with the old wagon shows and have many fine historical photographs of the old timers but nearly all of them have answered the Final Call - and very few of them are left.
1816, June 26. An elephant and a lion were here for several days; the elephant in the stable of the Huse tavern, and the lion in a barn which stood on the site of the Johnson Block.
1823, July 5, 6. The first exhibition here of a large collection of wild animals took place on Spring Street, below Church Street. The admission fee was twenty-five cents; children half price.
1825, May 30 & 31. A caravan of wild animals is advertised in the "Gazette", to be exhibited at the Eagle Hotel.
1827, May 19. Elephant, caravan, and wax statues exhibited at the Eagle Hotel. "Music on the Jewish Cymbals.”
1829. The New York Caravan exhibited "for one day only."
1833, July 23. National Menagerie, from one to six o'clock.
1834, July 2. The Menagerie of Waring, Tufts, & Co. exhibited on the common.
1835, June 5. First appearance of the New York Zoological Institute, having forty-seven wagons, one hundred and twenty gray horses, and sixty men.
1836, June 6. A menagerie and circus combined exhibited here. From this place, it moved eastward and ultimately to the British Provinces. It was on its return to the States on board the "Royal Tar" at the time of her destruction by fire, October 25, near the Fox Islands. was on its return to the States
1838, June 19. Menagerie of June, Titus, Angevine, & Co., near the Academy.
1838, July 16. American Arena of Turner, Sons, & Co., exhibited on "Primrose Hill."
1841, June 30. Menagerie and Equestrian Troupe of June, Titus, Angevine & Co.
1842, July 14 & 15. Howe's and Mabie's equestrian company exhibited.
1843, Sept. 13. Caravan of Raymond & Co. appeared, preceded by a car drawn by four elephants in harness.
1844, July 12. Rockwell & Stone's "American Olympiad" exhibited.
1845, June 17. Rockwell & Stone's circus, or "American Olympiad," again appeared.
1846, July 19. Rockwall & Stone's circus. Aug. 8. Van Amburgh's caravan exhibited on Waldo Avenue.
1847, July 22 & 23. Stone's circus exhibited. Aug. 2. Sands, Lent, & Cole circus.
1849, June 30. June, Titus, & Co.'s circus and caravan.
1849, Aug. 6. R. Sands & Co.'s circus, or "Hippo-feraean Arena," was in town.
1850, July 27. A circus was here, accompanied by an "Appollonicon."
1851, July 27. Spalding & Roger's circus. Aug. 5. Herr Driesbach's menagerie exhibited on Waldo Avenue.
1852, July 1. Sands & Co.'s and Quick & Co.’s circus and menagerie.
Adell's Dog and Pony Show - Fort Recovery, Ohio.
Aments Big City Show - Muscatine, Iowa.
B. B. & H. - Antigo, Wisconsin.
Bailey & Sons - Houston, Texas.
Bailey Twin Sisters - Urbana, Ohio.
Barker Bros - Portsmouth, Ohio
Barlow's - Syracuse Ind.
Barnum & Bailey - London, England
Bonheur Bros., - Augusta, Ohio.
Buchanan Bros - Des Moine, Iowa.
Buckskin Bill's Wild West - Paducah, Kentucky.
Buffalo Bill's Wild West - Bridgeport, Conn.
Campbell Bros - Fairbury, Nebraska.
Carlisle's Wild West - Lynn, Mass.
Clark, M. L. - Alexandria, La.
Clark Bros. - Atoka, Indian Territory.
Clark's United Shows - Alexandria, La.
Conklin's, Pete - West Hoboken, N.J.
Cullins Bros. - Concordia, Kansas.
Darling's Dog & Pony - Marshall, Missouri.
Dock's, Sam - Fort London, Pa.
Doherty's Dog & Pony - Kansas city, Mo.
Downie's, Andrew - Medina, N.Y.
Ely's, George - Metropolis City, Ill.
Exposition Circuit - Canton, Ohio.
Ewers Bros. - West Point, Iowa.
Forepaugh-Sells Bros. - Columbus, Ohio.
Gaskill's, Col. Frank W. - Canton, Ohio.
Gentry's Dog & Pony - Bloomington, Ind.
Gibb's Olympic - Wapakoneta, Ohio.
Gollmar Bros. - Baraboo, Wisc.
Goodrich & McLaughlin - Bridgeport, Conn.
Haag, Mighty - La Compte, La.
Hagenbeck's, Carl - Chicago, Ill
Hall & Long's - Evansville, Wisc.
Happy Bob Robinson - Lancaster, Ohio.
Harris Nickle Plate - Chicago, Ill.
Holloway Bros. - Montello, Wisc.
Huston's - Winchester, Ind.
Kemp Sister's Wild West - El Paso Ill.
Kennedy Bros. - Bloomington, Ill.
King & Ziemer - St. Louis, Mo.
Lambrigger's, Gus - Orville, Ohio.
LaPlace, Mons. - Lower Salem, Ohio.
Lemen Bros. - Argentine, Kansas.
Main, Walter L. - Geneva, Ohio.
McCormick Bros. - Gallipolis, Ohio.
McDonald, Walter J. - Abilene, Kansas.
McGregor & Co. - Detroit, Mich.
Norris Bros. - Oakland, California.
Pawnee Bill's Wild West - Chester, Pa,
Perrin's D. W. - Eaton Rapids, Wise,
Perry & Pressly - Webster City, Iowa.
Prescott & Co. - Rockland, Maine.
Reed's, A. H. - Vernon, Ind.
Rehn, George - Horton, Kansas
Reno's Oriental Shows - Aurora, Nebraska.
Rice's Dog & Pony Show - New Albany, Ind.
Ringling Bros. - Baraboo, Wisc.
Robinson's, John - Terrace Park, Ohio,
Saint Julian Bros. - Philadelphia, Pa.,
Sautell's, Sig. - Homer, N.Y.
Schafer & Cook Bros. - Portsmouth, Ohio.
Schiller Bros. & Orr - Kansas City, Mo.
Sells & Grey - Peru, Ind.
Shott Bros. - Bluefield, W. Va.
Smith, Col. J. F. - Centropolis, Maine
Sun Bros. - Raleigh, N.C.
Thomas & Pearl's - Yellow Creek, Iowa.
Trout & Foster's - Elmira, N.Y.
Tuttle's Olympic - Linesville, Pa.
Wallace Shows - Peru, Ind.
Wald's Shows - Plymouth, Mass.
Welsh Bros. - Lancaster, Pa.
Wetterer's - Massillon, Ohio.
Whitney's - Attica, Ohio
Williams, W. O. - Gallatin Tenn.
Wintermute Bros. - Hebron, Wisc.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or means
Last modified November 2005.
without written permission of the author and the Circus Historical Society, Inc.
Last modified November 2005.