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Circus Day with its bustle and stir has come and gone, and the town is quiet again. Early Tuesday morning, with the arrival of the sideshow wagons, the interest began and it increased till the hour of the procession, when the streets were thronged with a crowd eager to see the splendors provided for them.
The procession was a continuous line of glittering splendors and embodied many novelties. The steam piano attracted the attention of everyone, and the large open den containing Zingra, the African and his monster serpents was followed by curious crowds, as was the open den containing Prof. Conklin and his performing lions and leopards.
Among the many novelties in the procession was the band chariot drawn by twelve dromedaries richly and tastefully caparisoned. A gay cavalcade of ladies and gentlemen mounted on fine horses and tastefully costumed was followed by a long line of cages, elephants, chariots, ponies, etc. The ascension of Prof. Bristol in his balloon “City of New York,” a few moments previous to opening of the doors for the afternoon entertainment. After the ascension, the handsome young funambulist M’lle Christine, essayed the difficult feat of ascending on a single wire, from the ground to the top of the center pole, and returning. This she accomplished successfuly and amid the hearty plaudits of the people.
In the afternoon, and also in the evening, from the time of opening the doors until long after the performance commences, the rush at the ticket wagon was immense, and the pavilions were crowded to their utmost capacity. The performances were in every way exceptional and embodied many novelties, we had never seen introduced in the ring.
Among them - the bounding Jockey Act of Mr. Van Zandt is one of the most expert and daring exhibitions of equestrianism we have ever witnessed. Dressed very stylishly as an English Jockey, he stands on the ground and leaping, as his horse passes him at full speed, alights with his feet on the horse’s back. This and many more new and difficult feats won for him the most enthusiastic applause from the audience. The Milson Jaspers are extraordinary gymnasts, and introduced many daring and thrilling features, and the wonderful five horse act of young Leon is very fine. Grimaldi Adams is a very funny clown and one of the best leapers in the profession. He established himself at once as a favorite with the audience. One of the most interesting features of the entertainment was the extraordinary leaping of Mr. William Batchelor who after a short run to the spring board turns first a single and then a double somersault over twenty-two horses. We have but little space here to speak of the remainder of the performance, including the beautiful equestrian act of Miss Minnie Marks; the fine side-saddle act of M’lle Rosa; the comical ponies in their teetering feat, etc. The menagerie, the wax figures of Beecher, Tilton and Mrs. Tilton came in for their share of observers.
A large sized newspaper ad for the same show when they played at Burlington, Vt., on Saturday, August 14, 1875, shows ten large woodcuts of especial interest, in view of the above article. One of them shows the open den in which Conklin rode in the parade; the open den of monster serpents and also two cuts showing an act similar to the one performed by Blacaman just a few seasons ago on the Hagenbeck-Wallace Show (1938). Also illustrated are Tapirs in their native haunts; the “ascension” to the top of the tent by M’lle Christine; the “parisian Steam Calliope”; a monster coiled serpent and a cut showing some seals on ice. The two large cuts in the central section of the ad are the tapirs and also a most interesting picture showing “The Mechanical Wonder - the Only Steam Man, who actually walks and runs alone, the Greatest Invention of Modern Times, and to be seen in the large tent without extra charge.” The ad mentioned is 24" high and 7 columns wide.
From Circus Collection of W. W. Tyson, CHS.
[Note: for more information on W. W. Cole and his circus career, see William L. Slout, "Chilly Billy, the Evolution of a Cricus Millionaire," San Bernardino, CA: Emeritus Enterprise, 2002.]
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Last modified November 2005.
without written permission of the author and the Circus Historical Society, Inc.
Last modified November 2005.