Bandwagon, Vol. 2, No. 5 (Sep-Oct), 1958. Note: Only some articles are included in this online edition. Not all illustrations are 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.
Was born in 1838 in Troy, N. Y., and entered the circus business in 1848 as an apprentice to William J. Smith, four-horse rider with S. B. Howes' United States circus. In 1849, he was with John Platt Crain's Company and in 1850 he visited the West Indies under the management of Harry Whitby. In 1851-52 he traveled with Gen. Welch and Sands, Quick & Nathans; in 1853 he was with the Washington Circus, Thirty-ninth Street and Sixth Avenue, New York City; in 1854, with G. G. ButIer, after which he joined the Mabie and G. F. Bailey & Co. Shows. Afterwards he made a trip to the West Indies with Lent & Sloat. In 1861 he was with Geo. F. Bailey & Co., when he was married to Miss Josephine Tourniaire, daughter of the well-known Mme. Louise Tourniaire. He remained the ensuing year with the same company, and the next season joined S. C. Wheeler. After the fall of Vicksburg, while with Geo. F. Bailey & Co.'s Circus and menagerie, he made the descent of the Mississippi River. Mr. De Mott relates that "as they sailed" the late Avery Smith, one of the proprietors of the show, assured Mr. De Mott and Robert Ellingham that they were as safe at that moment as if floating on the placid waters of the peaceful Hudson. Fifteen minutes later they were stopped by a gunboat, and informed that boats had been repeatedly fired upon at a point a short distance below, and the naval officer instructed the captain of the showboat, on meeting the next gunboat, to blow his whistle five times and stop, when he would be taken in tow by the vessel-of-war and conveyed past the dangerous locality. The armed convoy did not prevent the enemy from practicing on the showboat, the gunboat being on the wrong side. Forty shots were put through the cabin, and a scene of consternation followed. As soon as possible, the gunboat dropped clear and opened with a shower of shells that at once silenced the enemy. The excitement over, all hands emerged from their hiding places and avowed themselves not the least frightened; but at a suggestion from the captain that in about three minutes they would strike a bend in the river, where the fire would probably be reopened, the bravest of them all joined in a hasty exit below. After they arrived in New Orleans, Mr. De Mott opened in the Academy of Music. He was with Costello & Howes during the season of 1865, with Thayer & Noyes, 1866; and with Adam Forepaugh, 1867. In 1868 he organized De Mott & Ward's United Circus and Menagerie. In 1869 he was with John O'Brien and in 1870 managed the Campbell Show, and 1871 the Sheldenberger Show, both for Mr. O'Brien. In 1872 he ran the privileges with Springer, Rosston & Henderson, and the same Winter went south with James E. Cooper. In 1873 he ran the privileges with Cooper & Bailey, and met with a severe financial reverse by the failure of the banking-house of Jay Cooke & Co. In 1874 he was with Cooper & Bailey, and in 1875-76 was the manager of and interested in the Rothschild Show, an enterprise of John O'Brien's. In 1877 he was with Hamilton's New York Circus; in 1879 with Hunting, Hilliard & De Mott (associate manager), and during the season of 1880 he was the firm of Hilliard & De Mott. Died, Frankford, Philadelphia, October 5, 1902.
Steam Calliope, Howes Great London Circus 1921. Mrs. A. Morton Smith photo.
The photo in the first illustration, appearing opposite this page, shows the steam calliope of the Howes Great London Circus and Van Amburg's Trained Wild Animals season of 1921. Although it is not known definitely to this writer just when and where this particular wagon originated, it is believed to have first appeared on Fred Buchannan's, "Yankee Robinson 3 Ring Wild Animal Circus" about 1917. The earliest photo I have of the wagon puts in on the Yank show in 1917. The wagon was probably built for the show to replace an earlier calliope the show had. Yankee Robinson traveled on 24 cars in 1917. The train consisted of 1 advance, 6 stocks, 11 flats, and 6 coaches. In 1918 and 1919 it was cut down to 1 advance, 5 stocks, 9 flats, and 5 coaches, making a total of 20 cars. For the 1920 and final season under the Buchanan ownership the show was enlarged to 25 cars, the train now rolling on 1 advance, 6 stocks, 12 flats, and 6 coaches.
During the fall of 1920 the show was sold to Jerry Mugivan and Bert Bowers and at the end of the season was delivered to the Hall Farm in Lancaster, Mo. Mugivan and Bowers also sent their 15 car Howes Great London Show following the 1920 season to winter in Lancaster. During the winter of 1920-21 the best equipment of both shows was put into a 25 car show under title of Howes Great London Circus and Van Amburg's Trained Wild Animals to tour the 1921 season. C. D. Odom was manager and Bert Rutherford general agent. The Yankee Robinson steam calliope being larger and more attractive than the 1920 Howes Great London wagon went into the new 1921 Howe show.
During the winter of 1921-22 the calliope was remodeled. A slight rearrangement of carvings took place and the old outside type sunburst wheels were replaced by the newer inside type. A change of title also took place for the 1922 season. The show went out on some number of cars and physical equipment but was now called Gollmar Bros. Circus.
During the winter of 1922-23 Mugivan and Bowers who had operated four circuses in 1922, Hagenbeck-Wallace, Sells-Floto, John Robinson and Gollmar Bros., cut down the number to three that would tour in 1923. The best equipment of the John Robinson and Gollmar Bros. shows went into a single show that went out in 1923 under the John Robinson title. This steam calliope went on the train and remained on the show throughout the 1923 and 1924 seasons bringing up the rear in the traditional street parade.
For 1925 season all Mugivan and Bowers units went out intending not to parade and the steam calliopes were left in winter quarters, but after about a month the management felt the parade was necessary to stimulate business, so the calliopes were sent to rejoin their respective shows. Other parade wagons had been carried just in case the shows did decide to resume the parade. This calliope rejoined the John Robinson Circus for the remainder of the 1925 season.
This wagon now becomes "lost" following the 1925 season. No doubt it was stored in Peru, Ind. quarters but I am unable to positively state what finally happened to it. It vanished as did the huge No. 1 Band wagon that came with it from the Yankee Robinson show. (See May 1957 issue of Bandwagon for history of this wagon.) It is generally believed by wagon historians though, that a fire that destroyed one of the John Robinson winter quarter barns in 1926 or another fire in quarters the winter of 1929-30 consumed both of these wagons. The wagons were gone from Peru before the first of the great wagon burnings about 1938.
Steam Calliope, Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus 1925. P. M. McClintock photo.
The second illustration shows the Hagenbeck-Wallace steam calliope in 1925, which was one of the longest and most attractive ever built. Again the origin of the wagon is obscure, although it first appeared on the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus in the period of 1917-19. It was built to replace the old Carl Hagenbeck steamer that Hagenbeck-WaIlace had used since the 1907 season and was supposed to have been destroyed in a wreck about 1917 or 1918, although as pointed out in my last column we have been unable to pinpoint just which wreck took the calliope, as there were several minor wrecks in that period prior to the tragic one at Ivanhoe, Ind. in 1918. Just who built the calliope is also uncertain. Some theorize that carvings from an old Great Wallace tableau were used to decorate the new wagon, but if that is so, I have never seen a photo of any earlier wagon using the carvings that appear on this calliope. Frankly, those dewey eyed cupids that appear on the wagon have the "Bode" look to them, and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that perhaps the Bode Wagon Works of Cincinnati furnished the carvings and may have built the wagon themselves. Mind you this is only a guess as I have no evidence to support that at all. Perhaps some Bandwagon reader can supply us with the correct data concerning the origin of the wagon.
Some time ago I saw a photo of this wagon that the late Crazy Ray Choisser, well known steam calliope player, had sent a fan and on the back Ray hod written some data about the calliope. He wrote that this was the new 32 whistle steamer that Hagenbeck-WaIlace had in 1919 that he played during the shows long California tour that season. I sorta think perhaps Ray also meant that the wagon as well as the instrument was new for the 1919 season. Following the terrible 1918 wreck of the Hagenbeck-Wallace train that took so many lives, owner Edward Ballard become associated with Jerry Mugivan and Bert Bowers in a partnership that eventually led to the formation of the American Circus Corporation. The trio operated the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus for the 1919 season putting it on the road on a train consisting of 30 cars, which included 2 advance, 7 stocks, 14 flats, and 7 coaches. Considerable revamping of the show took place in the winter of 1918-19 and I think there is a good chance that is when this new calliope was built.
Anyway, we know that the calliope was on the show from the 1919 season through the 1924 season being used in the show's street parades. In 1925 it was left in Peru quarters as Mugavin and Bowers had not intended for Hagenbeck-Wallace to parade that season, but after about a month the parade was revived and the calliope was sent from Peru to rejoin the show where it remained for the rest of the season.
The year 1925 saw the last of the Mugivan and Bowers parades and following the season the steam calliope along with the other parade equipment was stored in Peru quarters.
In 1932, Manager Jess Adkins decided to take along with Hagenbeck-Wallace a steam calliope to be used for lot concerts and wanted to take this one, but it was found that it was not in good enough condition to make the tour, so he ended up taking along the old Sells-Floto steamer, commonly called the Two Jesters.
In 1935 the calliope was dismantled and the side panels were painted up and removed to the Miami County Museum which is located on the third floor of the Courthouse in Peru, Indiana. Along with panels from other old tableau wagons the museum now has a very attractive display and one that no true wagon fan would want to miss.
Boyd Bros. Dog and Pony Show. Wagon show on the road in early 1890s. Very little known about this show.
Auto with Equestrain Director, Fred Ledgett
Mounted man with flag
4 Women on horses in Spec wardrobe
Red Ticket wagon with big show band and eight horse hitch (photo above)
2 Women Riders on three horse tandem
Cage with side show fire eater on top, 4 horse hitch
Nelson Family in auto with name on banner.
Bird cage with 2 horse hitch
Cage with bears, two clowns on top, 4 horse hitch
4 Women mounted and in riding habits
Cage with side show band on top, 6 horse hitch
4 Mounted women
Cage with tigers, 2 clowns on top, 6 horse hitch
Loyal-Repensky family in auto, name on banner
Cage with hyenas, 3 clowns on top, 6 horse hitch
Cage with seals, 6 horse hitch
Auto with 6 girls
Six women riders in hunting outfits
Cage with clown band on top, 6 horse hitch
Ten mounted men double file
Cage with leopards, 6 horse hitch
Cage with seals, 8 horse hitch
Hippo den, side show girls on top, 8 horse hitch
15 cowboys and cowgirls mounted
Cage with lions, 4 horse hitch
Three Cossack riders
Cage with bears, 6 horse hitch
Air Calliope, sides painted “Free show at lot, Mme Lorette in Hair Slide."
The season of 1932 was the last for the Sells-Floto show. During the 1930 and 1931 seasons Tom Mix was the feature attraction and the show drew excellent business. However, the show couldn't come to terms with Mix for the 1932 season, and it proved to be the worst year for business in the entire history of the show. As an effort to attract more business as the show went into Dixie, the John Robinson title was added. The red ticket wagon was re-lettered adding the Robinson title, however, none of the other wagons or cars were re-lettered.
Finally on September 20, 1932, in Louisville, Kentucky the show closed. The title was revived and used with the Al G. Barnes title starting in 1935. One sheet of Al G. Barnes paper carried the title "Al G. Barnes-Sells-Floto and John Robinson Circus." This was done to keep the Robinson title out of public domain.
9 Reo trucks
1 White semi-trailer truck
1 Ford panel pick-up
1 Two wheel trailer
1 Monkey cage trailer
1 Stripped Rea motor
1 "U. S." air compressor, complete
1 "Surs" light plant
1 "Choler" light plant with wiring
1 60 foot top, 3 - 20 foot middle pieces
5 Pieces 9 foot side wall
1 20 x 30 marquee
1 Cook House tent, 20 x 40 with equipment to serve 150
7 Stages with jacks and stringers for all. (24 x 30) 0 2 x 12) (4 x 12) (6 x 10) (4 x 6) (4 x 6) (4 x 4)
7 Lengths res. seats, star backs, 7 high
9 Lengths blue seats, 8 high Stringers and jacks for all seats
1 Air calliope
1 Ring curb
5 Banner poles
2 Elephants: Male 19 years, 3000 lbs. Female 20 years, 5000 lbs.
2 Lions, male and female
1 Male Tiger
1 Male Leopard
Baggage Wagons, Etc. [No., item, value]
56 Stable canvas (Empty) $150.00
4 Stable canvas (Empty) 150.00
18 Pole wagon Big top 150.00
41 Cook house 150.00
43 Cook house 150.00
62 Trunk wagon 150.00
15 Canvas wagon 150.00
16 Canvas wagon 150.00
Cage wagon 150.00
29 Trunk wagon 150.00
34 Side show wagon 150.00
50 Side show wagon 150.00
38 Reserved seat stringer wag. 150 00
24 Chair wagon 150 00
23 Chair wagon 150.00
22 Chair wagon 150.00
30 Grandstand plank wagon lift long 150.00
31 Grandstand plank wagon lift long 150.00
25 Grandstand plank wagon lift long 150.00
27 Blue planks wagon 150.00
26 Extra seat wagon 150.00
8 Pole wagon 150.00
32 Blue stringer wagon 150.00
36 Blue stringer 150.00
11 Stake and Chain 150.00
12 Stake and Chain 150.00
19 Stake and Chain 150.00
Book wagon 150.00
21 Chandelier wagon @ $150
Miscellaneous [No., item, value]
Two artillery pieces complete with harness $ 150.00
All canvas on hand 100.00
2400 chairs for grandstand 150 each 360.00
Entire seating equipment, both grand stand, and blues 400.00
28 McClelland cowboy saddles $2.50 each 70.00
14 McClelland cowboy saddles $1.00 each 14.00
20 Indian pads and bridles 5.00
2 Sets single driving harness at $1.00 each 2.00
1 Jumping saddle 2.50
6 Bucking horse bridles 1.00
3 Sets stage coach mule harness at $ 10 each 30.00
1 Set buggy harness 12.00
120 saddle buckets (Galv. iron) at 10 cents each 12.00
60 short handled pitch and stable forks at 10 cents each 6.00
Coaches [No., item, value]
50 Private car for Col. Cody, and Maj. Lillie, 75 ft. over all $2000.00
51 Sleeper, 5 secs., 4 rooms, 2 bunks on end 500.00
52 Sleeper "All Nations" 15 secs. green plush Pullman 500.00
53 Sleeper, 2 secs. on end, 12 secs., 3 high 500.00
54 Sleeper, 10 secs., 3 high, partitioned 500.00
55 Sleeper 14 people green plush 500.00
56 Sleeper, 18 secs., 3 high 500.00
57 Sleeper, 1 end, others 3 high 500.00
58 Sleeper, 3 high 500.00
59 Dining car, 4 secs., 2 high on one end 500.00
65 Extra storage car, box car, 13 bunks for workers 300.00
100 Storage car, old Penns. mail car 500.00
All above have 6 wheel trucks except No. 65.
Stock Cars [No., item, value]
33 Steel, 66 ft $1200.00
34 Steel, 66 ft 1200.00
31 Steel, 66 ft 1200.00
32 Steel, 66 ft 1200.00
60 Wood, 54 ft 400.00
66 Wood 60 ft 500.00
36 Wood, 54 ft 400.00
61 Wood, 54 ft 400.00
62 Wood, 54 ft 400.00
63 Wood, 54 ft 400.00
64 Wood, 54 ft 400.00
37 Wood, 60 ft., sets low, 6 truss rods 500.00
35 Wood, 60 ft., sets low 8 truss rods 500.00
67 Wood, 60 ft., sets low, 8 truss rods 500.00
Flats [No., item, value]
77 Wood, 56 ft $400.00
76 Wood, 56 ft 400.00
70 Wood, 56 ft 400.00
71 Wood, 56 ft 400.00
80 Wood, 56 ft 400.00
74 Wood, 56 ft 400.00
79 Wood, 56 ft 400.00
78 Wood, 60 ft 700.00
72 Wood, 60 ft 700.00
65 Wood, 56 ft 400.00
46 Steel, 60 ft 1200.00
42 Steel, 60 ft 1200.00
41 Steel, 60 ft 1200.00
45 Steel, 60 ft 1200.00
44 Steel, 60 ft 1200.00
43 Steel, 60 ft 1200.00
40 Steel, 60 ft 1200.00
39 Steel, 60 ft 1200.00
38 Steel, 60 ft 1200.00
Total - 46 railroad cars.
5 sets, 8 horse harness at $25 per set of two $500.00
10 sets, 6 horse harness at $ 15 per set of two 450.00
10 sets, 4 horse harness at $8 per set of two 160.00
1 set double team harness 2.50
4 sets R. R. harness for pull-up teams at 2.50 ea. 10.00
6 sets, 2 horse harness, hames tugs, etc. at $2 each 12.00
Lot bridles, lines, saddle frames etc. old stuff for the lot 2.00
16 stock saddles, bridles, and pads at $8 each 126.00
1 chest, carpenter tools 5.00
1 saddle used by Col. Cody, silver mounted 25.00
1 saddle used by Major Lillie, silver mounted 50.00
Total evaluation for the entire show $81,936.50.
Left to right: Howard Damon; William Campbell, ticket seller; unknown rep. of Erie Print Co.; Harry G. Wilson, Elmer Jones; Otto Hoffman, ticket seller; others unknown. Harry G. Wilson was part owner along with J. A. and Elmer Jones.
Buggy with Harry McFarland
Four flag bearers in red costumes
Big show bandwagon, Vic Robbins & band in white up
Four mounted girls
Cage wagon, side show girls up
Chimes, played by Julian Rogers
Tandem team, driven sidesaddle by Anna Butler
Parade marshal, J. M. Christiansen
Cage wagon, Arabs up, Behee-Mohammis troupe
Four girls mounted in orange costumes
Side show bandwagon
Clown buggy, Otto Griebling
Cage wagon, Arabs up
The Gig, Jean Allen & Betty Stephens
Mother Goose tab. cart, 4 girls on it
Tableau wagon, Martha Joyce & Mrs. D. Cook up
Side show girls in yellow costumes
Mule & cart, Bobbie Bumps driving
Old Lady in Shoe tab. cart, clown on it
Cart with Albert Powell driving
Emma Orman on horseback in dark red velvet costume
Two girls from Bell troupe
Cage wagons with Beatty's cats
Tandem team driven by Norma Humes
Cinderella tab. cart
Cage wagon, men from Bell troupe up
Air Calliope, Forrest Fought playing
Parade marshal, Jack Joyce
Marshal, John Smith
Clown band, 6 led by Horace Laird
Wild west riders, 18 men & ladies plus Indians
Four girls on white carriage
Jew on mule, Percy Smith
No, 2 bandwagon, band in white and led by Art Lind
Cage wagon, Arabs up
Camels Zebras Elephants
Steam calliope, Crazy Ray playing
In years gone by William P. Hall operated probably the largest circus equipment and animal business in history.
He would buy and sell complete circuses. It was not unusual for 20 to 20 elephants to be wandering over the fields of his farm and quarters just outside of Lancaster, Missouri.
Fred Buchannan always quartered his equipment in Granger, Iowa, not too for from Lancaster. Buchannan was a great user of Hall equipment on his various shows and when he finally closed Robbins Bros. Circus it went to the Hall farm. In 1929 Buck Jones framed a railroad wild west show which lasted about half a season and it finally found its way to the Hall farm.
When Jess Atkins and Zack Terrell framed their Cole Bros. Circus in the fall and winter of 1934-1935 they drew heavily upon the equipment at the Hall farm. Much of this had been on the Robbins show. Atkins and Terrell pretty much cleaned out the farm and from then on there was no activity.
In recent years many circus historians have visited the Hall farm in hopes of finding some remains of the great days of the quarters. Don Smith was there a few years ago, and about two years ago Orlo Rahn and Troy Scruggs visited the farm and looked over the only remaining circus equipment, two cages in bad repair.
The photo below was taken by Troy Scruggs at that time. Bill Woodcock worked at the Hall farm in the early 1930s.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or means
Last modified January 2006.
without written permission of the author and the Circus Historical Society, Inc.
Last modified January 2006.