Bandwagon, Christmas, 1954. Note: Only some articles are included in this online edition. Illustrations are not included. The Circus Historical Society does not guarantee the accuracy of information contained in the information in these online articles. Information should always be checked with additional sources.
Gainesville, Nov. 30. - Gainesville's famed Community Circus was almost completely wiped out today by a roaring pre-dawn fire that engulfed the circus headquarters on the west edge of town.
Only three elephants were saved from the blaze, A chimpanzee was killed, and all the circus' equipment, including the tent, 1,100 folding chairs, aerial ladders and wardrobes, was lost.
An undetermined amount of equipment owned by the Ward-Bell Circus, which recently leased the Gainesville equipment, also was destroyed and some of the circus performers lost personal belongings.
No Loss Estimate
F. E. Schmitz, a Gainesville automobile dealer and president of the circus before it was leased, said he could make no immediate estimate of the loss but said:
"It will run way up in the thousands of dollars." He said the equipment was covered by $35,000 insurance.
Circus officials were at a loss today to say whether or not the famed amateur show would continue to operate. Recently the circus has been beset by financial difficulties, and for a time it appeared that this would close the circus.
Directors recently voted to lease the equipment to Ward-Bell for a year and the new circus was scheduled to make a tour of Hawaii.
Spring Opening Set
The Ward-Bell Circus was also to have opened here next spring, and members of the old Gainesville circus, which features hometown amateur talent, were to appear in the acts here.
The fire is believed to have started in the southwest corner of the building, an old Army recreation building, according to policemen, who were first to arrive at the scene.
The elephants were staked nearby, and police speculated that one of the elephants may have kicked some of his straw onto a nearby gas stove and started the fire.
The blaze was discovered at 3:45 a.m. by an unidentified soldier and sailor who were hitchhiking on nearby Hwy. 77. They stopped a police car and reported the fire, and the policemen rushed to the scene and saved the elephants and their trainer, who was asleep in the building,
The elephants are owned by Dolly Jacobs, a member of the Ward-Bell troupe.
Two big circus trucks parked near the building were burned slightly in the fire. Several circus wagons were stored in another building and thus escaped damage.
The fire leveled the building, Firemen were at the scene over three hours.
Firemen said that if the wind had shifted, a nearby community center and a skating rink probably would have burned also.
CHATTANOOGA, TENN. Friday, October 16, 1936 - CAMPBELL BROTHERS ADVERTISING CAR, MADE IT'S FIRST APPEARANCE IN THIS CITY. The following newspaper story describes what took place after the arrival of the car:
Upon learning that Campbell Bros.' Advertising Car would arrive in Chattanooga today and that all local merchants and owners of buildings with desirable show windows, sidewalls, billboards, and other desirable advertising space, had entered into an agreement sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce to reserve all space for Campbell Bros., the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Advertising Car No. 2 which was in Chattanooga yesterday, was ordered attached to the first train leaving for Knoxville, and it was hauled away as quickly as possible, leaving only a small amount of paper which had been placed in the most undesirable places; the most sparsely, scattered, and least effective showing ever left by the big show.
Arriving right on schedule time today, Campbell Bros, Advertising Car rolled into Chattanooga, but oweing to the enormous crowds assembled at the depot and in the railroad yards to give a rousing welcome to this new and unusual rolling palace of publicity, much time was lost in placing the car on a siding. Before this could be done, it was necessary to await the arrival of a troop of U. S. Cavalry from nearby Fort Oglethorpe, which had been hastily requested by the mayor of Chattanooga to assist an enormous police force in handling the huge crowds and clearing the way for a switch engine to move the car into its place on a siding.
In addition to the blowing of whistles, ringing of bells throughout the city, numerous salutes were fired at frequent intervals from the fire-belching mouths of six-inch cannons which had been placed on Lookout Mountain and Signal Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Cameron Hill, and on all vacant lots throughout the city. Many old-timers remarked that never since the battles of Lookout Mountain and Chickamauga had such booming of artillery been heard in this section, The cannonading was soul-stirring, indeed.
The manager of the advertising car and his crew of billets, lithographers, and paste-slingers were invited to occupy waiting automobiles which were placed in parade form, and headed by the mayor and other city officials; and to the strains of lively music emanating from the instruments of ten tune-tantalizing brass bands, the procession made its way through the principal streets of the city, coming to a stop only when it reached the entrance to the municipal auditorium. Entering the large auditorium, the advertising crew was escorted to the mammouth stage and given seats of honor amidst gaily decorated and courtly-appearing surroundings, Here, speeches of welcome and circus-glorifying were made by many notables, including the Governor of the State, who had come to Chattanooga especially for the occasion, the Mayor of the City, members of the city commission, and by prominent citizens.
At the conclusion of the never-to-be-forgotten cermonies at the auditorium, the advertising crew was escorted to Hotel Patton where a sumptuous dinner, drinks and cigars were served in their honor. During the balance of the day there were seemingly unending entertainment, including sightseeing trips to points of scenic interest it was after six o'clock in the afternoon before the welcoming and entertaining events were brought to a close and the advertising crew allowed to return to the car for a rest before starting their work of plastering the walls and windows of the city with brightly colored pictorial paper heralding the coming of the CAMPBELL BROTHERS' CIRCUS.
This most unusual demonstration of a city devoting a whole day to the welcoming and entertaining of the advertising crew of a circus has not precedent in circus history, but it was outstanding as evidence of the esteem in which CAMPBELL BROTHERS are regarded as the owners of the World's Most Magnificent Tented Amusement Enterprise.
The only sour note to dampen the spirit of the members of the advertising crew and their manager was the refusal of all city officials and other employees, and of all merchants and owners of stores with show windows and other advertising spots, to accept passes to use on circus day. Every one who was offered passes politely refused to accept them, but everyone promised that he or she would be on hand at the circus and would not only pay real money for their tickets of admission, but would also spend money liberally for peanuts, red lemonade; reserved seats, side shows and everything else offered for sale at the circus.
The whole city is now eagerly looking forward to the day of days . . . the day on which CAMPBELL BROTHERS' CIRCUS WILL EXHIBIT IN CHATTANOOGA.
Show this year was billed as Adam Forepaugh and the Wildwest. Show came into Canada from Bangor, Maine, July 19th to play Woodstock, N.B., then played Calais, Maine on the 20th. This, by the way, as far as I've run across they played one day in Canada and then back across the line for a one day stand and then back into Canada again.
The show played 5 stands in N.B., 6 stands in Nova Scotia, 8 stands in Quebec, and 27 stands in Ontario, Sept. 7th they played Simcoe, Ont., and 9th in Brantford. St. Catharines was the last stand in Canada on Sept. 11th. (My birthday darn it, and I wasn't born yet). And then they played Suspension Bridge, N.Y. You N.Y. fans - where was that lot? By the way that year they lost one performance, a night show at Orillia, Ontario, August 23rd, due to rain, (Must have been another Hazel, eh!)
June 19th to 20th, only stand in Quebec, 10 stands followed in Ontario. The final stand was at St. Thomas, July 1st. The show jumping about 136 miles to Niagara Falls, N.Y., for a Monday, July 3rd, stand.
Show now was billed as Forepaugh & Ells Bros, Enormous Shows United and came into Canada from Berlin, N.H., for June 28 stand at Sherbrooke, Quebec. 4 stands in that Province and 15 stands in Ontario, show going out at Fort Erie to play Buffalo July 21st.
I have a newspaper ad and write-up on this 1904 show. (Mr, Charles Duble if you read this write-up could you tell me what year this show started. I have a lithograph here of the Forepaugh Show supposedly 1872, the year they were supposed to had sent from the east mounted Bedouins. These are depicted on this litho mounted on their camels in colorful dress with the wording that they are on their way to join the Adam Forepaugh Shows).
Show came in for a two day stand at Montreal from Kingston, N.Y. Montreal stands were June 27, 28th. 15 Ontario stands that year and two more Quebec stands. Show left Sherbrooke, Quebec, for Berlin, New Hampshire.
Show came in from Niagara Falls. N.Y., billed as Adam Forepaugh & Sells Bros. Biggest Show On Earth. June 13th stand at St. Catharines and 15 stops in Ontario with two days in Montreal, then jumping to Newport, Vermont.
That's all the records I have of this shows tours in Canada. They played my present hometown, Brantford, every year they were in Canada and my hometown, Simcoe, twice. I'm proud of the fact this show and the Barnum Show played Simcoe as today it has about 7,000 population and at the time of Forepaugh and the Barnum shows would be a small place. However, Simcoe has always been a good show town. It has good general farming and these days is the heart of the tobacco growing district.
This Forepaugh show as far as my records show never played our west coast or the prairie provinces.
Well, folks, that's all for this time, if your editor likes this and you also think it worthwhile, 1 have a write-up of the Ringling Bros. tours of Ontario and other ports of Canada, as well as the Barnum & Bailey and finally the Ringling, Barnum & Bailey Show.
We opened our circus season this year in February at Cleveland, Ohio. Davenports Grotto Circus, a wonderful show, met Bert Pettus in charge of the "bulls." Fellow members in C.F.A. and C.H.S. met at the Auditorium Hotel for dinner afterwards.
In April, we made the big Mills' opening and State C. F. A. Convention. Mills' strongest performance to date, in our estimation.
We next caught King Bros. in Lancaster, Ohio, in June. Renewed acquaintance with Lee Hinckley, Bert Pettus, Eddie Doman, and others.
Caught Rudys All-American Circus at Albany, Ohio, next. Very very small and very hospitable. Business had been very spotty for them. The Kriel Circus Family and Captain Billy Sheets gave the entire performance and it was excellent. Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Green, owners, were so nice to us that Hazel baked her famous Buttermilk cake for them. Captain Billy Sheets handled the ponies (3) in a liberty act. His work with the dogs (10) was very effective, strictly big league. The concert was given by the Kriels, all musicians, and Mrs. Green with her bear act, very strong. We caught them at three different stands and their treatment of us was most gracious. The solid and sound performance given by the Kriels was top-notch, The Kriel son, Dick (19), and daughters Jean and Pat (17-18), were of the stuff that bodes good for the future of the circus in America.
We saw Ringlings set up in Parkersburg, W. Va., and saw the show in Columbus, Ohio, and spent the day on the lot in Dover, Ohio. At the latter stand the Walter L. Main Tent of the C. F. A. gave a party and dinner to about thirty Ringling performers and brass. After the early evening performance, Hazel and I drove Mr. and Mrs. Arky Scott (elephants), Mr. Walter Guice (clown), and Miss Anita Huttenranch to the Elks Club in New Philadelphia for the party. Credit for this deal must go to those sterling believers, Bob and Norman Senhauser and any others who may have assisted, We had a most enjoyable day, to say the least.
In August, we caught Beers-Barnes at Kingston, Ohio. This family show is one of the cleanest it has been our good fortune to visit, The equipment is all of the best and an above average performance. They had bulls, a camel, a lion act and are a credit to the profession.
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Last modified December 2005.
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Last modified December 2005.