I am naming a few other old time circuses that we never see mentioned in circus publications. All appeared at Jeffersonville, Ind., the home town of the writer. In the spring of 1895 (I was a 10 year old youngster then) the Queen & Crescent Railroad Show came to town. A small show it was with one ring, admission 10 and 20 cents. There was a side show but no menagerie. It came again in the Spring of 1896. I remember these words on the old yellow handbills passed about town: “Lock up the house, take the babies and follow the street parade to the show grounds and see the free outside exhibition - worth walking miles to witness.” I have asked old timers in the circus business but no one was able to remember the title much less the names of the owners or other data.
In the Summer of 1897 the L. B. Lentz Mastodon Railroad Show was here. It was only a stone's throw from our back yard to the circus lot. A small show, one ring performance, 25 cents to all. No menagerie - but they did have a side show with an Oriental Dancer. If I am not mistaken the old time balloon ascension and parachute leap was given daily at 6 p.m. I do not remember this show giving a parade. In August 1897 also we had the Chas. E. Rice Dog & Pony Show. Small wagon show, one ring, 10 and 20 cents. Had performing ponies, dogs, monkeys and goats, trapeze act by lady and gent also a horizontal bar act on the bills as "Trover Bros., experts of horizontal bars." One of these I was told was Floyd Trover, who during the early 1900's was agent of the M. L. Clark & Son Shows. The Chas. E. Rice Show was here also in 1896. In the after show concert a girl sang "Oh Uncle John, Isn't it nice on Broadway" without stretched arms to some yokel in the audience. Rice was from New Albany, Ind., and operated his wagon show only through Southern Indiana those two years.
On May 2, 1902 we had Reed's European Show (A. H. Reed, Owner). A wagon show. Had two-pole big top, one ring. No side show nor menagerie. Admission 10 and 20 cents. There was a parade. Show opened with the "May Pole Entry," all performers on horses and ponies in the ring. A lady worked two white horses. There were aerial acts and other ground acts also. A clown, named Charlie Blue. Frank Dempsey was boss canvassman and Burt Bennett, agent. Last named was 24 hour man with Sparks Circus 20 years later. Show was on the road several years and was out of Vernon, Ind.; later A. H. Reed had a moving picture show under canvas.
The Southern Belle Railroad Show opened here August 2-3, 1902. Two pole top, one ring. No side show nor menagerie. A band played up town about 6 p.m. and marched back to the lot with a baton spinner ahead, that could do his stuff. Performance was all small acts. T. J. Oatman owner, his wife performed two well trained horses, one white, one black, latter named "Topsy." Business was not so good here, and am inclined to think the show stranded a few weeks later near St. Louis, Mo.
I saw the Geo. W. Sipe Lilliputian Shows in Louisville, Ky., Summer of 1904. A rail show, patterned after Gentry Bros. Shows. Mostly trained animals. Had a few circus acts, one a family of trick bicycle riders who performed on elevated platform, while the band played an old rollicking circus galop "Horizontal Bars," composed by J. P. Feagans, a circus band leader of Petersburg, Ill. This show gave parades, mostly all tableaux, cages, chariots. Were small in size but ornamental, and nicely carved. Some had mirrored sides and parade had the real circus flourish. The Sipe Show headquarters were in Kokomo, Ind., and show was en route during the early 1900's. Originally the title was Sipe, Dolman & Blake Dog and Pony Show. Geo. W. Sipe was also owner of Sipe-Theatre in Kokomo, Ind.
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Last modified November 2005.
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Last modified November 2005.