Bandwagon, Vol. 8, February, 1957. 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.
Following are some notes on the history of these shows.
From an obituary of Taylor Coonse in the Billboard of July 26, 1923, it appears that Coonse come to Kokomo, Indiana, in 1895. He had had several years experience in the dog and pony show business with the Gentry Brothers. He then become general director of the Sipe, Dolman & Blake Dog, Pony & Monkey show, which was just being organized and outfitted. He remained with the show two seasons, and then went back to the Gentrys.
From an item in the New York Clipper it appears that the names of the proprietors of the Sipe, Dolman & Blake show were George W. Sipe, E. A. Dolman and R. J. Blake.
A picture of a Sipe, Dolman & Blake wagon is shown in the White Tops, vol. 17, Nos. 11-12, p. 3. The book entitled "Pony Wagon Town" mentions the manufacture of pony wagons for the Sipe shows.
The New York Clipper of June 5, 1897, states that the Sipe, Dolman & Blake Dog, Pony & Monkey shows opened their fifth season on April 14 at the Kokomo winter quarters. The show was said to have fifty ponies, one hundred dogs and twenty-five monkeys. George W. Sipe was business manager; E. A. Dolman, treasurer; Dan R. Robinson, general agent. The show was transported on one seventy-foot flat car and two sixty-foot sleeping, dining and baggage cars.
The New York Clipper of April 9, 1898, contained an advertisement of Sipe & Blake's Dog and Pony show for musicians.
The New York Clipper of June 8, 1901 contained the roster of advertising car No. 1. of Sipe's Educated Animal & Lilliputian Shows.
The route of the show was given in the issue of June 22, 1901.
In the fall of 1908 the following advertisement was run three times in the New York Clipper;
Public auction of the Sipe shows at Kokomo.
147 head of Shetland ponies, of which 70 are ring stock, presenting a 70-pony pyramid act, two drills of sixteen ponies each, one set of ponies that dance an old-fashioned Quadrille, menage act ponies; high-diving ponies; rope-jumping ponies; waltzing-ponies; leap-frog ponies; hind-leg ponies; talking ponies; pick-out ponies.
60 dogs; 80 sets of pony harness; 20 pony saddles; 10 baggage wagons; 2 band wagons; 40 miniature cages, chariots and parade wagons; 1 ticket wagon; 1 110-foot RT with 2 40-ft. MP's and 1 30-ft MP; 1 100-ft. RT with one 40-ft. MP and 1 50-ft. MP; 1 60-ft. RT with 3 40-ft. MPS; 1 65 RT with 1 30-ft. MP; 1 dining tent, 30 by 50; 1 dining tent, 12 by 14; 3 90-jet gale 2-arm lights; 3 60-jet gale 2-arm lights; 2 90-jet Kidd 2-arm lights; beacon lights; pan lights; 2 60-ft. Pullman coaches; 2 60-ft. baggage cars; 1 50-ft. converted into sleeper; 25 educated monkeys; Ocelots, Lemurs, Argotas, Ant-eater, dwarf Kangaroos, Armadillos, Badgers, Wild Cats, 20 Cockatoos and Parrots; 1 14-ft. Rock Python; 1 side show outfit.
I found no mention in the New York Clipper of the outcome of the sale.
The New York Clipper of December 13, 1902, stated that Prof. R. J. Blake's Dog, Pony & Monkey Circus, after a prosperous season of 22 weeks with the Bostock-Ferari carnival, had closed at Lafayette, Ind. The show was said to travel on a 76-ft. baggage car.
In the New York Clipper of June 11, 1904, "Sipe's New Show" is mentioned.
FORT DODGE, IA., - For the first time in 35 years, Karl L. King will NOT present his band at the Iowa State Fair this year. Like the circus "big top," of which he was a veteran, he feels that his era has ended.
The thousands who had come to know the famed Fort Dodge band leader-composer in appearances in front of the grandstand at the fair will miss him. But King says the end was inevitable, expected the last few years just like the demise of the big top.
Several weeks ago, King presented an "all-circus" band program a farewell salute to the big top, in the Oleson Park band shell here. The program was pratically "all-King" as well, presenting many numbers the Fort Dodge composer had written.
For instance, "In Old Portugal" was played. It was written by King for Lillian Leitzel, famous aerialist who defied death in "The Big Swing" act high in the tent.
It was being played during her performance Friday the 13th in February, 1931 - when she fell to death in Copenhagen, Denmark. A brass swivel on her rope had broken.
The King band - formerly the Fort Dodge municipal band, which he has directed 35 years - also played "The Big Cage," a fast finish number written by King for the climax of Clyde Beatty's animal act.
With Three Circus Bands
King, 65, who started playing baritone horn in circus bands in 1910, traveled the tanbark trail with Yankee Robinson, Sells Floto and Barnum and Bailey bands before becoming director of the Sells Floto musicians in 1914.
After three years, the Iowan became director of the Barnum and Bailey band during the seasons of 1917 and 1918.
"It was in 1919 that Ringling Brothers combined with Barnum and Bailey. I'd always had a desire to settle down someplace and write music - but the circus life really gets in your blood. I decided the time had come to quit: I did, and came here," he said.
"Merle Evans, who had been with the 101 Ranch Show, become (band) director of the combined circuses - and stayed on the job until last year, when John Ringling North introduced an orchestra-type band into the circus.
"I enjoyed every bit of the circus life. When I left it, I felt a bit lost for a few years," said King.
King has operated the Karl L. King Music Co. here about 35 years. He publishes band music, distributing it over the nation. Next door to his company, in an arcade, is the Ruth King Music Shop - operated by Mrs. King. It sells musical instruments.
Wrote Marches For Colleges
Up to last year, King has written pieces for many colleges, including some of the Big Ten's marching songs.
Many of the circus pieces he wrote have been used through the years - "Barnum and Bailey's Favorite," "The Golden Dragon Overture," "Broadway One Step," which was a clown parade number, and "Enchanted Nights Waltz," written for a high trapeze act.
King wrote show pieces before he got into the Barnum and Bailey band.
In his "all-circus" program, King presented a tune called "Wyoming Days," written for a cowboy riding act that was part of the Buffalo Bill show, then combined with the Sells Floto circus. King wrote that one 42 years ago.
Now the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus has folded its tents in midseason and gone home. The Clyde Beatty circus closed after a few spring weeks.
Probably memories of them will be stimulated for years to come by the stirring King music that accompanied them.
Other bands will appear at the Iowa State Fair. But the traditional appearance of Karl King will be missed by many fairgoers.
Executive and Business Staff
Bill Lindeman - Director
Gus Pete Lindeman - Mgr.
Albert Lindeman - Asst. Mgr.
Fred Leonard - Equestrain Director
Al. G. Beck - Legal Adjuster-Bus, Mgr.
Clara Lindemann - Secty.-Tres.
Louise Lindemann - Auditor
Millie Lindemann - Secty.
Orval Lindemann - Paymaster-Supt.
King Baile - Side Show Mgr.
Walter Levina - Inside Mgr.
Edward Kluss - Supt. Menagerie
George Fuller - Mgr. Pit Show
Scottie Dunn - Supt. Canvas
Theodore Weber - Supt. Trans.
Glenn Strange - Master Mechanic
Steve Clapps - Asst. Mechanic
Ralph Spotts - Electrician
Lyle Larson - Asst. Electrician
Wm. Anderson - Asst. Electrician
Leroy Schroder - Supt. Props
Luther Fritz - Office Mgr.
Mort Goodwin - Master Painter
Art Miller - Gen. Agent
OFFICIAL ROUTE, 1936
April 18 - Macon, Mo.
April 20 - Moberly, Mo.
April 21 - Mexico, Mo.
April 22 - Columbia, Mo.
April 23 - Boonville, Mo.
April 24 - Warrensburg, Mo.
April 25 - Clinton, Mo.
April 27 - Springfield, Mo.
April 28 - Mt. Vernon, Mo.
April 29 - Carthage, Mo.
April 30 - Nevada, Mo.
May 1 - Harrisonville, Mo.
June 1 - Beaver Dam, Wis.
July 1 - Iron Mt., Mich.
Aug. 1 - Hancock, Mich.
Sept. 1 - Amery, Wis.
Oct. 1 - Cario, Ill.
Nov. 1 - St. Geneive, Mo.
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Last modified December 2005.
without written permission of the author and the Circus Historical Society, Inc.
Last modified December 2005.