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Message Archive: Messages 3701-3800




3800. Kline's Ad. Co., 06 Nov 2011 - For some time now, there have been a number of poster reproductions on oilcloth offered on eBay. The seller was told that they had been formerly owned by a "Kline's Ad. Co." Does anyone know any more about their history or purpose? Dave Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3799. Von Bros. Circus, 06 Nov 2011 - My name is Clydia Jacobsen, I am looking for any information you may have on the Von Brother Circus. Henry VonderHeide (not sure of the spelling) was one of the brothers and he had a younger brother Fred who in 1952 was probably only 12 years of age or so, in the 50's. I was on it with my family The Hart Family. I was only 8 at the time.
    My grandfather William Ray Floyd was the drummer on Ringling in the mid 1930’s until he died in the 60’s. He was the only band member that stayed on with Merle Evans when they were no longer under the big top. My grandmother Thelma Clydia Feaster/Floyd was a bareback rider on Ringling in the mid 1930’s. I have lots of pictures and history of them.
    My parents were on smaller circus and Vaudeville; they went on to stage shows and such. They were on the Ed Sullivan Show with their Tight Wire Act in 1963 or 1965. They were Doug and Avis Hart (Doug Hart Comedy King of the Tight Wire). Any information have would be appreciated. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 05 Dec 2011 - I know Henry's brother Albert and wife Anita, have been on the Cole Circus for several years. The elephants came from the Hunt Circus (maybe at the time Bartok Circus). My uncle had them on Hunt, Bartok and later went to Hannaford. I seem to remember the name Hart, as I was around Von Bros. a lot, also knew Fred in Sarasota at this time. Henry R. Bush

    Reply: 10 Dec 2011 - There are several references for the acts on Ed Sullivan, by the date on which they appeared, and should be on the internet. Check the book A Thousand Sundays, about the show. Good luck. Roger Smith, steelarena314@hotmail.com.

    Reply: 24 Dec 2011 - I remember your grandfather, William Floyd, on the Ringling show. As I recall he permanently injured one arm which was set at an angle that allowed him to continue playing the drums. I also recall him as a friendly, outgoing gentleman. Robert Momyer

    Reply: 07 May 2012 - My sister Kelly Jean Lustig and my father Buttercup the clown were in the Von Bros Circus in 1965 with a guy name Carl, and the whole troupe my sister was the high wire act. My father is deceased now but we are looking for any information on what happen to the people and about Von Bros circus. Mormon93

    Reply: 27 May 2012 - Doug and Avis Hart were on "The Ed Sullivan Show" May 10,1964. Season 17 Episode 31. Ray

    Reply: 22 Aug 2012 - Hi, sorry I can't help you but was your "Hart" family an English family and if so did you know of a George Frederick Hart? He has listed his job as an amusement machinist, which I presume has something to maybe do with the circus and would have been around 1920s – 1950s approx. He also mentioned he had a sister who was a bareback rider, no idea of her name though. He would have been born around 1900. I am wondering if they both worked together or with their family. Many thanks, Sophie

    Reply: 30 Sep 2013 - Clydia, I have a drum that was played by Red Floyd and I would love to have some pictures of him and Your Grandmother Clydia. Please email me any info you have as I am making a display and doing a newspaper article. Thanks, Bill Armstrong, Billarmstrong.48@gmail.com

    Reply: 15 Feb 2015 - The younger sister of Henry, Virginia Vonderheid Wood, just died this month in Lancaster, PA. Her husband, Graydon, was a cousin to my mother. kathess@epix.net

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3798. Snake Hip Annie, 05 Nov 2011 - I am trying to locate information about my aunt Anna Marie Franer. Anna Dickerson. She apparently had a sideshow act with the circus and was known as Snake Hip Annie. I know she lived in Chicago but my research is meeting a deadend. She was originally from New Brighton, PA. Thank you, Debbie Klaus Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3797. Violet Silk, 05 Nov 2011 - Does anyone know of a Violet Silk who rode horses for Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus in the 1930's? She was my aunt and I’d like any info anyone can pass onto me about her. Many thanks in advance, Frank. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3796. Archaos circus, 03 Nov 2011 - I am looking for a circus that I saw in London in Fall 1990. I think it was in the area of Elephant and Castle - just outside London. The circus name was "Archaos" but I am not sure of the spelling. They had many different and unusual acts - chainsaw juggling, etc. Can you help? Kim Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 06 Nov 2011 - Archaos was a French new wave (contemporary) circus created by Pierrot Bidon. It was an alternative, theatrical circus featuring dangerous stunts like chainsaw juggling and fire breathing. It visited a number of cities in Europe, including London and in 1989, 1990 and 1991 Copenhagen. See also http://www.archaos.fr/ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHA5ypvetQA. Kind regards, Ole Simonsen, www.circus-dk.dk

    Reply: 20 Nov 2011 - Pierre Bidon, who died a few seasons back, was one of the most progressive circus men going. Prior to starting Circus Archaos he had a horse and wagon circus. Showmen are just now recognizing the contributions that Bidon made to the "new" circus. I only saw the show twice, once in north London, England and once in Toronto when promoter Gary Cormier brought it over to N. America. It was set-up in the old football stadium under a tent but its appeal was lost as it couldn't be seen from the roads. That hurt business. The show was to go on to NYC but the promoter there got cold feet and cancelled the date. The Archaos lots were always covered with scrap vehicles, burning fires, etc. I recall 45 gallons drums with each letter of Archaos cut out and with a fire inside making a unique sign. Cirque du Soleil claims to have re-invented the circus, and they may have in their own mind, but it was the likes of Bernard Paul, Andre Heller, and Pierre Bidon that pioneered the modern circus performance.
        Archaos featured a lot of wacky acts, the chain saw fights, wrecked cars, motor bikes, but it also had terrific comedy. I recall a juggling act where the performer was driven into the ring in an old Mercedes. The driver dressed in chauffeur livery open the door and waved the juggler into the ring and while he was styling to the audience the driver opened the trunk and threw his props into the ring in a heap. While the juggler sorted them out and began his act, the driver noticed the car had a flat tire on the rear left wheel. he re-opened the trunk and out came a jack and the spare, etc. The whole time the juggler was doing his act the driver was madly changing the tire and as the juggler finished the driver had the tire changed. He then threw the jack and flat tire in the trunk, along with the jugglers props. threw the juggler into the back seat, hopped in behind the wheel and sped out of the ring.
        In the London show one would assume the music was on tape as there was no musicians in sight. Near the intermission the ring crew started to fold up the back door, stage, and scenery which was on a big lorry. As they backed it out of the tent the rock band could be seen, each musician up on a tall riser. Throughout the show there were constant comedy gags. Near the back door this small Indian chap was building up these large shapes that would form an ancient column but as he got to the last one, one of the performers or one of the ring staff would always bump into him or the column and down the whole works came. Over on the edge of the stage truck was this hairy old guy in a blood splattered white apron chopping meat and tossing hunks towards the audience. A crew of aerialists hanging over the the ring area in this huge roped net that would periodically bungee cord into the ring during a performers act. Bidon's genius produced spectacles where you never knew what was going to happen next.
        It so good to see showmen and fans finally paying homage to a real circus showman. Al Stencell

    Reply: 11 Aug 2016 - I filmed Archaos a the Festival of New Circus on the Southbank around 1990 for Channel 4. I also visited them when they were performing with a very small show in Germany.They definitely had a small band who were brought on in the mercedes at the beginning and played all the way through the show. I just came across your correspondence that I see was posted 5 years ago! Jane

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3795. Cole Bros. pole wagon, 03 Nov 2011 - I am creating a drawing for the Circus Model Builders of the Cole Bros. pole wagon built about 1940 and used until the show closed in 1950. The wagon now is at the Circus World Museum. From photos of the Cole Bros. train I believe that the wagon had a complete set of vertical bars on each side of the wagon to hold the poles in place. The vertical bars on the right side of the wagon were removed and the right side only has short supports which could hold two center poles. I would like some history and information about the wagon to include with the drawings and photographs. dick_britton@yahoo.com Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3794. Barnum & Bailey Tent WWI, 02 Nov 2011 - I am researching the American Ambulance Corps during WWI. One young American mentions in his letters that the field hospital was set up inside a Barnum and Bailey 4-ring circus tent along the western front. I would greatly appreciate further information about this for example: Was the circus already in Europe and the tents left for that purpose? Were the tents sent from the USA? Did Barnum and Bailey donate these tents to the war effort? Thank you for any help you might give me, Susan B. Craig Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 03 Nov 2011 - Barnum & Bailey played the Olympia in London during the winter of 1889-1890, and then returned to Europe in late 1897, spending through 1899 in England and then traversing the continent 1900-1902 before returning to the US. The circus had no presence in Europe during WWI, other than perhaps to recruit performers. A portion of the winter quarters of the circus in Bridgeport, CT was occupied in support of the war effort, by military contractors, but whether any assets of the circus were seized and employed wasn't noted in available commentary.
        I don't recall B&B having a four ring presentation. They generally went with three rings and two stages by the mid-1890s, then three rings and four stages in the 1910s. Yes, a Big Top could be reduced to four performance venues, but the simple employment of such a top is really questionable.
        The utilization of a large Big Top, menagerie or sideshow tent was a considerable undertaking. As with the circus, it would have required the construction of special vehicles for the conveyance of the center, quarter and side poles, the canvas, stakes and ropes, plus the apparatus to erect and assemble it into a useful tent. A multiplicity of smaller tents, with lower headroom, would have been much more portable and purposeful to a moving encampment. With a lower height, they would also have been less prone to blowdowns, lightning strikes and other dangers afflicting tall tops. Crew size would have been smaller, terrain less of an issue, and mobility much greater. A Big Top, it seems to me, would have been a liability, rather than an asset, to a moving army, or even in a staging and support area.
        It's always possible that discarded circus tents were sold away or seized for military purposes, but it's more likely that the military bought entirely new tents. They may well have been of a size, configuration and construction as some circus tents, manufactured by the same firms supplying show tops, and as used for dining and cookhouse tops, horse tops, etc. These were generally push pole tents, rectangular in shape.
        A "large circus tent" was mentioned as a storage facility at the Presidio in a 1906 volume. "The medical-supply depot, which had been destroyed with all its supplies, was at first located under the general hospital, the space under the wards being used for this purpose; but, owing to the danger from fire and the limited amount of space, the location was changed to the plain just to the left of the hospital grounds, where tents were erected as storage and issue rooms. A large circus tent was afterwards secured by Lieut. Col. Louis Brechemin, deputy surgeon-general, in charge of the depot, which was used as an issue tent." Timeliness likely dictated the quick procurement for a replacement facility, thus the tent.

    http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/spanam/SFEQ/ARSG1906.html, page 132 [Also see "Annual Report of the War Dept.," II, Report of the Surgeon General, page 135].

    http://books.google.com/books?id=0gpHAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA135&lpg=PA135&dq=%22circus+tent%22+field+hospital&source=
    bl&ots=GOPmTnpaoF&sig=4U1rjmBkpu84b1GX-5VBcw-q_7E&hl=en&ei=UUyxTpi6HeyDsgL2hZHKAQ&sa=X&oi=
    book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22circus%20tent%22%20field%20hospital&f=false

        Closer to your letter writer's reference is this report from a 1915 volume: It is announced that the authorities are experimenting with a new ward tent in four field hospitals in Texas. The tent is of olive drab canvas and shaped like the ordinary circus tent. The crest of the tent is 40 feet long and the roof slopes at ends and sides to the side walls at an angle of about 45 degrees. The wall of the tent is about four feet in height. The new tent gives about 96 square feet more of floor space than the three regular tents formerly required for a ward; it affords room for four or six more patients and weighs 250 pounds less than the three regulation tents. It is heated by an oval shaped box stove with a pipe running the entire length of the tent. With the new tent the total weight of war tentage for the field hospital is 3,020 pounds as compared with 4,520 pounds, the weight of the eighteen regular hospital tents.

    [http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA483&lpg=PA483&dq=%22circus+tent%22+field+hospital&sig=
    ubMdN2-Axc2MsyI8zK3ULmWh99A&ei=UUyxTpi6HeyDsgL2hZHKAQ&ct=result&sqi=2&id=
    WicCAAAAYAAJ&ots=bOOmpaE0II#v=onepage&q=%22circus%20tent%22%20field%20hospital&f=false, "The Military Surgeon," (1915), page 483]

        I found a World War I memoir on line that referred to circus tents. It's L. Wardlaw Miles, "A History of the 308th Infantry, 1917-1919." In Chapter I he wrote: "Great white circus tents served as mess-halls." It suggests to me that the writer and probably your letter writer were impressed by the size of whatever tents they observed and invoked the word "circus" and the title of Barnum & Bailey, respectively, as a descriptive adjective for the folks back home. The large tents that they observed caused them to invoke the use of a familiar experience from their past.
        There was an American military circus effort in Europe during WWI, the First Division Circus. You will occasionally see photographs of it, some ephemera, etc. I've not seen an image of the tents they utilized, if any. Presumably it was staged in open air settings, dependent upon the horses and horsemen that were still part of military operations. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

    Reply: 05 Nov 2011 - Circus People will Help - Routing experts to assist in railroad probelms, kitchen experts will give advice, was the headline in the Toole Transript Bulletin, February 8, 1918, one of the papers in the Digital Nevada Newspaper holdings. A story out of New York City regarding the circus experts coming to aid the government in regards to transportation problems. There is a second story from the Toole Transcipt Bulletin of October 8, 1918 titled Hospital Moves Like A Big Circus. A news release from Paris France notes that the Americn Red Cross bought the huge tents belonging to Ringlng Brothers and shipped them to France, where they are now with the American Army. The article reads like one of the MASH stories with electrical power on one truck with the sanity equipment, lights on another while the nurses, other prersonnel were riding in trucks and ambulances. John Polacsek

    Reply: 06 Nov 2011 - The tent acquisition article referenced by John was printed in numerous newspapers, with some printings containing less information than others. A copy that you can directly access can be read at:

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2202&dat=19181101&id=
    LKUlAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Z_wFAAAAIBAJ&pg=7044,2556489

        The Ringlings bought Barnum & Bailey in 1908. It's possible that a reference to Ringling in 1918 could mean Barnum & Bailey, since it was under their domain.
        The number of personnel and vehicles to haul the tents is in conflict with comparable circus operations for a big top operation. Three or four trucks hauled the tents, cots, bedclothing and other equipment, a number inadequate to convey six large circus tents. The 1919 Ringling-Barnum big top, just the canvas, poles and stakes, required no less than eight large wagons, the load on each likely as great as a single truckload of the period, if not greater. There may be some basis for the article, but the details can be readily disputed.
        Googling Red Cross and circus tent yielded an entry in the December 1918 Red Cross Magazine [see page 20, scanned page 426], which mentions the purchase of six large circus tents for the storage of supplies, but fails to name a source or provide further details:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=7nAbAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA426&lpg=PA426&dq=%22red+cross%22+circus+tent&source=
    bl&ots=jItxS4jQDT&sig=qFOTYLXnc2ZHDzY6eo6YClpbSuk&hl=
    en&ei=TEK1TpO0I6nz0gH7zsCRBA&sa= X&oi=book_ result&ct=result&resnum=
    2&ved=0CFQQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%22red%20cross%22%20circus%20tent&f=false

        There are also other references to circus operations within the volume. Scan page 211 depicts a hospital encampment utilizing a tent arrangement with an internal support skeleton. The December 1918 article was later incorporated into Edward Hungerford's 1920 book, With the Doughboy in France:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=uDsLAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA80&dq=%22red+cross%22+circus+tent&hl=
    en&ei=x0y1TphapeDRAfic5JUE&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=
    2&ved=0CD0Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=circus&f=false

        The Red Cross Magazine may have been the source for the Western Medical Times report of circus tents being used for storage in France:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=H9ZXAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA230&dq=%22red+cross%22+circus+tent&hl=
    en&ei=4E21Tv_pBOHz0gGI1sXRBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=
    6&ved=0CFUQ6AEwBTgK#v =onepage&q&f=false

        With the Red Cross being identified as the buyer, pursuing an entry in their archives might yield the desired confirmation of tent purchase and application. The Ringling organization ledgers currently available jump from 1916 to 1923, so the war time coverage isn't currently available, or may no longer exist. You might try scanning the pages of Billboard or New York Clipper; the news columns may have mentioned the sale of tents for war use. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

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3793. Circus Blennow, 02 Nov 2011 - Does anyone have a copy of "Keine Angst haben, das ist unser Beruf!: Kunstreiterinnen, Dompteusen und andere Zirkusartistinnen" by Stephanie Haerdle? I have found that there is at least one mention of an ancestor of mine, Virginie Blennow, in this book, and I'm wondering if someone could look her up in this book for me! If you can help me out, please contact me. I would also be interested in any information anyone has about the Circus Blennow, including circus director August Blennow (1808-1875) and either of his daughters Virginie Blennow (1837-1906, celebrated circus rider, married Wilhelm Troost) or Wilhelmina Blennow (1841-1915, also a circus rider, married Simon Blumenfeld of Circus Blumenfeld family). Thanks! Kendra Van Cleave (demoder at gmail dot com) Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3792. Elliott Shows, 30 Oct 2011 - My wife's family (Aunt & Uncle) had a touring Circus in the 1930s and 1940s in Western Canada based in British Columbia. It was called Elliott Shows. John and Elsie Elliott. Has anyone heard of it or able to provide us with any information on where to look. Canadian Circus history is pretty scarce. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Bill Williams Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3791. Snow Bros. Circus, 28 Oct 2011 - Can anyone provide any information about the Snow Brothers Circus? I have a photo dated 1910 that is labeled "Snow Bros. Circus YMCA Cleburne Texas." The photo includes a giraffe, an elephant, several clowns, some midgets, and many other individuals. Any information would be appreciated. I'd be happy to share a scanned copy of the photo. Thanks. Gayle in Biloxi, Mississippi. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3790. John Smith Clarke, 28 Oct 2011 - I am the great great niece of John Smith Clarke who was from a family of circus folk and was the youngest lion trainer in the UK a bareback horserider and he later became an MP. He is on Wikipedia. I am interested to know more about his circus roots as I have read that the Clarke family were famous in the circus. I would like to know if any descendants are still involved with the circus. Kind Regards, Samantha Baskerville Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 29 Oct 2011 - Fascinating. Is this the same John S Clarke who wrote Circus Parade in 1936? I would be interested to know more about him. The entry at Wikipedia says, "John Smith Clarke was born in Jarrow to a family whose father was ticket and poster writer in Heaton Park Road South. Clarke had a great interest in the circus, and by the age of seventeen would visit the lion tamer and enter the lions cage, something he continued to do for the remainder of his life." But Wiki fails to say which circus (where?), which lion tamer or which lion cage? Do you know? There were many of the Clarke family involved in British circus and funfairs (I have a couple on my Grandmother's side) but I didn't think that this John S Clarke was from a circus family? Do you know who his parents were? I found another short bio online which said, "John Smith Clarke, the thirteenth of fourteen children, was born in Scotland in 1885. His father worked in a circus and Clarke spent much of his early life living in gypsy encampments. After receiving little schooling he joined the circus as a horse bareback rider. At the age of seventeen he was working as a lion tamer...." That sounds a bit confused as there was very little involvement by gypsies in mainstream English circus around 1900. Maybe Clarke worked on one of the many fairground menageries? He may have used "youngest Lion Tamer" on his billing but 17 wasn't all that young (in those days). Frank Charles Bostock, (Bostock & Wombwell's) was 12 when he stepped in to replace an injured trainer on his family's show. Please tell us more of what you know about John S Clarke and his background? jim@stockley.co.za

    Reply: 31 Oct 2011 - Samantha, I contacted my cousin in England, animal trainer and circus historian Jim Clubb. He says: "Yes, I do know of John Clarke. He was a great wild animal enthusiast. He was also a Communist amongst many other things and wrote a book that I have. He presented Cossmey’s lions (later Kossmeyer) on Mills'. This is the same Cossmey that was killed by the Polar Bear at Hastings in 1930. He also was a great friend of (Alfred) Court and my good friend Eddie Campbell. On the closure of Bostock and Wombwelle's at the Kelvin Hall, Glasgow, he made a moving and dramatic speech inside the beast-wagon with two lions and two tigers with Tommy Kayes standing by. He left the wagon and that was the official end of Bostock and Wombwelle's Menagerie. I have a photo of him doing this. He occurs quite often in circus history around the '20s and '30s...." I also asked Jim if John S Clarke was from a circus family or had descendants in circus, Jim Clubb agrees with me that he was not from a circus family, nor did any of his family perform in circus. There were Clarkes on the fairgrounds and the Clarke family that were with Chipperfield’s, Circus and whose father was Jerry Clarke the elephant trainer for a while on Chapman's. Does this help at all? jim@stockley.co.za

    Reply: 24 Jul 2014 - Hi Jim, Thank you for your interesting information its only taken me 3 years to get back to you. I didn’t think anyone would post anything and quite frankly forgot to check up on it. It was by coincidence that I met someone who also had ancestors in the circus who was a lion tamer and I decided to try and find out more and found this website again. I will also email you on the email provided. Kind Regards, Samantha Baskerville

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3789. Claude Turpin, 25 Oct 2011 - We have lost contact with my Uncle who traveled with a Circus for many years. His name is Claude Donald Turpin. He may have gone by the name of Donald. He was born approximately in 1938 and would be in his early 70's. My father recently passed away and he was his only sibling and it was his wish to locate him before he passed away. The last known address was in the Southern part of Louisiana, but rejoined up with one of the circuses that came through and we never heard from him again. If anyone has any information, or remembers him, could you please contact me at mrbillrsd@yahoo.com. Is there any place to find records on his employment? Sincerely, Donald W. Turpin Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 27 Oct 2011 - Good news! We have found him. He was in a car accident many years ago and suffered a brain injury with memory loss and is now in a specialized home in MN. I just had to share the great news. We are now making arrangements to travel there to see him. Donald

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3788. Hugo Darty, 24 Oct 2011 - Can anyone give me info on performer Hugo Darty. I met his daughter and was intrigued by her story and would like more details about his life and work. Many thanks, Mary Preston Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3787. Modoc photo, 23 Oct 2011 - Hello, do you know how I can find a copy of the photo Modoc the elephant that was used for the book cover written by Ralph Helfer? Thank you, Newmanen Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 25 Oct 2011 - It is a common photo taken in the United Kingdom I believe. There are poster size prints available as well as regular size photos. I searched the internet last night for just a few minutes and found it three different times. Bob Cline

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3786. Worth Bros Circus, 23 Oct 2011 - My great grandfather, William Halse Warrin, was a ringmaster with the Worth Brothers Family Circus sometime in the late 1800's. It is known in the family that he was killed by a runaway horse, also that his wife Sarah Warrin, was a bareback rider. Can anyone confirm this and if so when and where this happened. A photo of the said William Halse Warrin in his full regalia as a ringmaster does exist. Many thanks, Dennis Warrin - East Sussex, England. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3785. Vernon & Mildred LeFeber, 23 Oct 2011 - I am currently researching my wife's genealogy and am searching up some information that has been regarded as a "skeleton in the closet". Her grandmother [Mildred Hutchison] let slip once that when she was married to her first husband [Vernon LeFeber] they were in a circus. Mildred as a snake-charmer and Vernon as a lion tamer. She never would talk any more about those days, but after her death, some letters were found in her things. Letters from Gene Gordon were written to them in the early 30's. They were married in 1928. He was a traveling man who made reference to working with them in the circus with the "freaks" and reference was made to a "Neva". Sometime in the 30's, they divorced and remarried. Vernon married a midget by the name of Edith May Martin and Mildred married a man named Robert "Bob" Wales. It is unknown if they met these people in the circus days. If you have any information regarding any of the above stated persons, please contact me using the following contact information. Scott Jensen, scottvaljensen@yahoo.com, Grant, MI Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3784. Zellers, performers, 22 Oct 2011 - Have you ever run across the surname of Zeller as circus performers in the late 1800's and early 1900's? It is said that my grandfather had German relatives who [I think] were trapeze artists who emigrated to America. Reuben James Zeller, Denver, CO Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3783. Paul Minno, 22 Oct 2011 - I am researching my family history and wondering if anybody knows of Paul Minno, a contortionist. I think this was a stage name and his real name was Alexander Wilson. The family story goes that his wife was also in the circus, a trapeze artist, who fell to her death (name unknown) and I believe they had a daughter named Dorothy. The contortionist was Scottish, from Fife, and I think went to America with his family about 1900. Estimated D.O.B. about 1885. Any references would be hugely appreciated as I cannot find anything other that a mention of Paul Minno, English Clown in the Ringling Brothers Circus. Thanks, Marigold Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3782. Reckless Jacksons, 20 Oct 2011 - Hello, does anyone know anything about a a 1920/1930's motorcylce stunt act called The Reckless Jacksons? I think they were originally Australian, but may have worked with Barnum and Bailey in the USA? My email address is contact@judithlanigan.com.au Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 29 Jun 2016 - I have information on reckless Harry Jackson. He is my husband's grandfather. What do you want to know. I would be interested in sharing information. Cathy von Ibsch

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3781. Wisconsin circus, 20 Oct 2011 - I am looking for history on a circus that originated in Wisconsin and traveled through Ulster County NY in the 1900’s maybe around 1915. My grandfather was a knife thrower in that circus and meeting my grandmother he settled down with her. His name was Elliott Allen. I do not know much more about him. I would appreciate any information you can give. Thank you, Julie Marburger Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 27 Oct 2011 - A place to start your search is with the identity of your grandfather. Defining his date of birth starts to provide a time context for circus activity. A census check for all states in 1900 and 1910 yielded several Elliott Allens, but none with a declared Wisconsin birth. This was checked on HeritageQuest; you may want to try searching with a more powerful genealogy search engine. Perhaps your local library makes one available? If you can locate your grandfather in a specific Wisconsin city, that would very likely narrow down the list of troupes that engaged him to just one or two possibilities.
        The 1920 census lists a 25-year Elliott Allen, born in Wisconsin, resident in Middletown, Orange County. It abuts Ulster County on the south. The first name of his 23-year old wife isn't given, but Robert P. was stated as the name of their less than month-old newborn son. Allen was a chef and baker for the Ontario & Western Railroad shop. A sister, presumably that of his unnamed wife, 14-year old Daisy Churchill, resided with them. They resided at the end of North Street. If this is your grandfather, with a birth of circa 1895, it suggests a career as a traveling showman no earlier than circa 1910, more likely a few years later, perhaps the circa 1915 you guessed. A check for Daisy Churchill in the 1910 census, to establish both her and Mrs. Allen's identity, yielded no results.
        The occupation of knife thrower may have been practiced not only with a circus, but also with a traveling carnival or an itinerant sideshow that played local fairs. To find your grandfather's name in show annals would likely require an arduous searching of weekly trade magazines of the era, Billboard and New York Clipper. These journals also published show routes that were submitted, but not all shows openly did so.
        Identifying a troupe with which he may have arrived in the area will be equally difficult. It would require searching the local newspapers for the period in question. Most circuses and carnivals would have placed advertisements, but not all. Sideshows at a local fair would likely have appeared and passed on without published notice.
        Most Wisconsin circuses of consequence are chronicled in the book Badger State Showmen. When you get to the point where you can identify the show, it may provide some clues. A number of the smaller outfits are little known and many of them left no record of their routes, the cities they played. I just scanned through the background data compiled for the book and about 15 shows originated out of Wisconsin in the 1910-1920 period, many of them quite obscure.
        This doesn't provide much immediate guidance, but I believe that if you seek some assistance in identifying your grandfather's place and date of birth that it may lead to the show identification that you seek. Enlist the aid of some local genealogist or help group that can further identify your grandfather, locate the documentation for his marriage, etc. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

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3780. Henglers, Glasgow, 19 Oct 2011 - I am producing artwork to go in the Wetherspoon free house in Sauchiehall Street. The venue is called the Hengler’s Circus, after the Henglers that was once situated nearby. I am looking for pictures related to Henglers in Glasgow – adverts, programmes, views etc. Do you, or any of your members, have any material I could copy? I am short of time on this project, so it would be a great help if I could hear back ASAP, Many Thanks, Robert Renak, AFI – m: 07738 017 207 Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3779. Historic circus troupe, 19 Oct 2011 - I manage an historic site in Missouri that interprets the period of the 1870s. I was wondering if anyone knows of a circus or small troupe traveling today that focuses on the 19th century that we might be able to hire for a future special event? CHS member. - Mike Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 29 Oct 2011 - Hello Mike: I would recommend that you check out the Zoppe Circus, which advertises as an Italian Family Circus since 1842. This show will be the closest one here in the U.S. that has a performance and ambiance of a 19th century show. The Zoppe Family originated in Italy and were best known as Bareback Riders. They were brought to this country in the 1950’s by John Ringling North for his Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and they appear quite a bit in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1952 film, "The Greatest Show on Earth." This act featured Alberto Zoppe and his son Giovanni now produces and directs the Zoppe Circus. Alberto would only come to the U.S. if North would provide an elephant to his family’s show that remained in Italy and North did ship an elephant over to secure Alberto's act for the Center Ring of the RBBB Circus. Today, the show uses a one-ring format, which is consistent with a smaller 1870's show and features Giovanni as Nino, a talking clown, which also is consistent with an 1870's show and they feature bareback riding with beautiful horses and a trained Dog Act, which are acts that would also have appeared in an 1870's show. The Zoppe show also has worked with and appeared at a number of museums throughout the U.S., so they are the right size and will be used to working with an organization such as yours. Again, this is going to fit your Bill probably better than any other show currently traveling the U.S. and I believe at one time they were based out of Arkansas or Missouri, which is in your neighborhood. You can find out more about the show at http://zoppe.net or do a search for "Zoppe Circus." I have seen the show several times and I can highly recommend them too. Good Luck! – Neil Cockerline

    Reply: 09 Nov 2011 - Mike, I have seen the Zoppe Circus many times. It is a good show and seems to appeal to the Italian audiences quite bit wherever it appears. Interesting note - to save money Giovanni has the performers set up the tent and take it down assisted by volunteers from the audience. During the show Giovanni anounces for volunteers from the audience to help in the teardown! Circus Bob Unterreiner

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3778. Circus Korkordino, 19 Oct 2011 - Has anyone heard about a Russian circus, Circus Korkordino, who sometimes between 1900 and 1910 should have toured part of the western world. A Dane has told me that her late father in law and his parents toured with this circus. I have not in Denmark been able to find any information about Circus Korkordino. Ole Simonsen Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3777. Female animal tamers, 19 Oct 2011 - I am a Swiss filmmaker and planing a documentary film about female animal tamers (lion, tiger, ...) I have only a few informations about women in American circus-world. Could you give me some informations and contacts to nowadays female tamers? I thank you very much. Anka Schmid. If you want to have some informations about my films and biography, you can check the website of Swiss Films. There is a portrait about me - but it is only in German, sorry: www.swissfilms.ch/de/film_search/filmdetails/-/id_person/289 Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 09 Nov 2011 - Mabel stark was a very famous tiger trainer in the late 1920's and early 1930's with the Ringling Barnum Show. Vincentia Page is currently doing a tiger act with her parents' Show the Flying Pages. Pat White was a famous lady tiger trainer for many years with the Hawthorn Cuneo people but is now retired. Circus Bob

    Reply: 12 Nov 2011 - There have been a number of female trainers / presenters in the business in America. You have had Mabel Stark mentioned in the first response as well as Pat White. Pat, however, is not retired but was still working for James Clubb in Africa, the last I heard.
        You have to remember, Clyde Beatty's wife, Harriett Beatty. Terrell Jacobs wife Dolly Jacobs also worked in the arena. May Kovar worked with lions. Do you then consider all the ladies on the Ringling/Barnum show that were in Alfred Court's leopard act? Lucia Zora on Sells-Floto worked a cage act as well as the elephants.
        There was Ada Smieya who still trains a little at home while her son Brunon Blazek is still touring. You have to include Kay Rosaire who has an animal preserve in Florida along with her sister while Kay's son still performs on the road.
        Pat Jamieson worked the leopard, wolf and Zebra act from the Hawthorn Corporation as well as the bear act featuring the only Polar Bear ever worked outside of an arena. Another lady took over the leopard, wolf and zebra act later on named Rebecca. (her last name escapes me right now.) The Hawthorn Corporation then provided the opportunity to perform their lion and tiger acts to greats such as Patty Zerbini, Jackie Zerbini, and Trudy Strong.
        Olga Celeste worked her leopards for years. Lili Kristensen worked her leopards as Lilliana. Struppi Hanneford worked her leopard act after retiring from her illustrious aerial career. All the ladies in the Bill and Barbara Woodcock family worked with an uncaged leopard in their elephant routines. We can't forget the beautiful and diminutive Jeanette Rix who worked with her father with their huge mixed bear act for many years.
        You currently have Colleen and her sister Vincenta Pages both on the road with their own lion and tiger acts. There are certainly other ladies to be mentioned as well Ringling/Barnum featured Erhard and Cristine Samel with their huge mixed animal act. Ursalla Bottcher had her large Polar bear act. Evelyn Currie worked for Ringling / Barnum in the 1960's.
        You might consider expanding your research with the use of the book, "Wild Animal Trainer in America" by Joanne Joys or perhaps the "Masters of the Steel Arena" as authored by Fred D. Pfening Jr. in the Bandwagon's May/June 1972 issue. This is available as a back issue elsewhere on the this website. Maybe this helps just a little. Bob Cline

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3776. Clara O'Brien, 19 Oct 2011 - I am seeking information about a performer by the name of Clara O'Brien. In 1892, she was listed as a "Sheep Trainer" with Barnum. Two of her brothers (Archie and John) spent time as equestrian performers. Clara came to the US in 1888 and was an "impalement artist". Based on what I have read, I believe she may be the first female knife thrower (or at least the youngest) in the US when she debuts in 1888. She was also featured on some sort of advertising piece as well. I lose track of her after 1892. Am not sure if she stopped performing, got married, went back to England or died. Any leads will be of help. I can be reached at jkovach@saintmarys.edu. Many thanks! John Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 24 Aug 2012 - Saw your information on Clara O'Brien, who was my Great Grandmother, Sarah Russell's, sister. I'm also interested in more information about her and all the O'Brien family. I believe Clara did a show with her sister-in-law Kate Gilbert. I did read one article where Kate was wielding the knives and Clara was injured during this performance. Any picutures of any of these family members would also be appreciated. Candice, cjrussel@optusnet.com.au

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3775. Disaster At Struppi's, 19 Oct 2011 - Circus Community and Fans: I was with Struppi Hanneford today. She asked me to notify everyone that a car veered off U. S. 41 Tamiami Trail headed south towards Venice, FL. The car crossed over the median, continued across the large field and crashed through the back two Florida Rooms of the house and caught fire. The two back rooms are completely destroyed. With the exception of a few pieces. All of the circus memorabilia and contents of the two rooms were destroyed. The main part of the home is OK except for smoke. Thankfully, no one was in the back rooms when this happened.
    If you have any quality photos of Struppi, Tommy, Kay, Nellie or vintage photos of the riding Hannefords, Struppi would appreciate it if you would help to rebuild the Hanneford Collection. In addition Struppi would appreciate it if anyone has quality video of her Tajana aerial and cat acts. Struppi would also like to have a video of her 80th birthday held at the Big E. She told us that it was one of the best days of her life. All photos can be sent to Peter Rosa at rosapj@AOL.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or you can post to your facebook page. If you post to your FB page, please notify Peter that you have posted them and please put them in an album titled Hanneford. I will go to your photo area and copy from there. My facebook page can be found listed under Peter Rosa. I will take all of the photos received and put them on a flash drive or print out the ones that are extremely noteworthy. I would like not to bog down Buckles Blog with all of these photos, unless Buckles states otherwise. Please limit all replies to quality photos. Important: If you have photos of the back room, please send immediately via my email address rosapj@AOL.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it so Struppi can piece together all of the destroyed items for the insurance adjuster who is due to arrive on Monday, October 17th. Videos and hard copies of photos may be sent to: Peter Rosa, P.O. Box 1026, Osprey, FL 34229. Thank you in advance for your help. Pete Rosa Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3774. Edziu, teeterboard, 19 Oct 2011 - I am looking for a Teeter Board act that was from Poland or Russia that preformed in 1977. Does anyone know of where I could find a man by the name of Edziu that performed in that Act. Thank You, Joanne Canaday Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3773. Barry family, performers, 19 Oct 2011 - I am currently working on my ancestry. I have discovered that my grandmother's father (Albert Ernest Barry) as well has his father (John C. Barry) were circus performers in the early 1900's prior to the son (Albert) meeting my great grandmother (Nellie). To make a long story short, once they were married, the entire family became traveling circus performers. My great grandmother (Nellie) and my grandmother (Nona) were trapeze artists and my great grandfather was a contortionist and my great great grandfather was an acrobat. It was reported on the WW1 draft card on June 5, 1917 of my great grandfather (Albert) that he was with the Buffalo Bill Circus.
    It is believed that John C. Barry had owned his own circus early on but as I was informed by another source, most of the circus' were bought out and basically made into larger ones. It seems that he and the family resided in the state of Texas from the 1930's.
    I have a 1920 census that shows that John, Albert and Nellie were performers at that time and Nona was only the age of 3 1/2. In the 1920 Census it shows all residing in Pensacola, Escambia Co., Florida still listed as traveling showmen and women. Now in the 1930 Census, I have them listed still as traveling show men and women, but this time in San Antonio, BexarCo. Tx, along with 2 cousins that were performers as well by the names of Daniel White and Myrta Hubbard. Could you please advise me as to what steps I need to take to investigate this further? I am curious as to how I can obtain information on what circus and so forth so that I may share this with the family. Thank you for your time, I sincerely appreciate it. Sincerely, Vicki R.H. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 21 Oct 2011 - It will be possible to locate additional information about your ancestors, but it will take some diligent work, and time.
        The 1917 draft card reference pertains to "Jess Willard and the Buffalo Bill Show, Inc." This was a traveling Wild West aggregation, and not a bonafide circus. Bob Taber wrote an article about it in the Circus Fans Association journal White Tops, March-April 1965, pages 3-8. It opened in Norfolk, VA, April 11-14. No specific mention was made of anyone named Barry [or Berry]. The Wild West performance was, like similar undertakings, augmented with acrobatic activity, perhaps supplied in part by the Barrys. Further coverage on the troupe would be found in the news columns of the weekly trade journals Billboard and New York Clipper.
        I was unable to locate the 1920 census records you noted until seeking them under the spelling Berry, with an "e." That might suggest searching other records under that name variation, not only Barry. If Pensacola served as the winter home of a traveling troupe, other "showmen" or "performers" would be in the listings. I checked briefly and didn't find any, but you might do a more complete search. If you find a known proprietor's name [see Sturtevant circus list on this website], or other showmen, that knowledge might be used to identify the troupe. If there are none, it simply means that your ancestors chose to winter in a balmy spot on the Gulf Coast, an increasingly popular choice of traveling show people in the 20th century.
        The trade journals often published annual listings of show winter quarters. You might check them for listings of Pensacola in 1919-1921 and San Antonio in 1929-1931. I would recommend checking both circus listings and those for carnivals.
        The same circumstances and search techniques apply to the 1930 census data. San Antonio had served as quarters for different enterprises, among them Clarence A. Wortham, one of the most prolific carnival owners until his untimely death. Some carnivals had "back end" shows that constituted a near complete circus performance and it's possible the Barry had such employment. As a result, you may also need to scan the carnival news columns of the trade journals.
        The 1920 census lists Albert E. Berry as born in Texas; could San Antonio have been his birthplace, c1892? Indiana, birthplace of his wife Nellie, had abundant circus and allied activity; discerning her birthday and city of birth might offer further insights as to his engagements and travel.
        The 1930 census data on the daughters would suggest that 13-year old Nona was born in Indiana c1917; 11-year old Sylvia was born in Georgia c1919; and nine-year old son Kenneth was born c1921 in Florida [sometime after the January 19, 1920 census date as he's not listed]. Other than the last date, which might align with the family's 1920 census listing in Pensacola, they are additional new data points. Refinement of their actual birth years will pin down the times and locations. These might be used in conjunction with lists of winter quarters to check for intersections. Perhaps Nona was born in Nellie's hometown?
        Father John C. Barry was listed as age 79 in the 1930 document, suggesting a birth c1851. He could have been in the business any time from the late 1850s onward, depending upon whether he served a childhood apprenticeship. Sturtevant's listing of circuses, on this website, has no specific entry for a John C. Barry as a show owner, but not all proprietor names are given. Being a circus owner was sometimes claimed by showmen having a set of acts for the stage, etc., not necessarily meaning they owned an entire traveling troupe in the more conventional sense. If you can establish his date of death and then locate an obituary in one of the trade journals, that might go a long way towards establishing the origins of your family's show heritage.
        Slout's Olympians of the Sawdust Circle, on this website, lists a John Barry active 1857-1884. That seems a bit early, but young boys did perform by age six in some instances. No biographical data is provided, so it will require some additional searching to define his life and career. Locating John C. Barry/Berry, a performer or showman, in earlier census records could be helpful, too.
        It's also possible that the Barrys performed on the vaudeville and variety stage, taking bookings intermittently between traveling show engagements. Tracing those is quite difficult. Sometimes digitized newspapers can identify these, but checking them over a broad geography and time period can be arduous.
        Other means to ascertain the whereabouts of show performers include the usual techniques of searching digitized newspapers, checking for obituaries in the communities where they resided and passed away, examining materials held by other descendants, etc. If you haven't already written the Circus World Museum library, do so and ask Pete Shrake to check the "yellow tickets" and also the Draper file for the various names Barry, and Berry, in the desired time frame and with the correct professional presentation.
        Unless performers were at the top of the game, finding information about many of them is very difficult. Printed programs for smaller shows were seldom printed and survival rates are generally low. If no personal papers or business records survive, it's all the more difficult. Having located them in several different communities, it would appear that they were indeed itinerant and may have had no established home until retiring from the road. That will further increase the difficulty of locating information. Time and energy spent will hopefully reward you. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

    Reply: 21 Aug 2012 - Thank you so much for this information. I will take your advice and look into it. In researching more, I did find that the spelling is with an "e" however there are some areas where it is spelled with an "a", It also appears that the Berry's lived in Georgia at one point in time as Silvia was born there. I have learned that John C. died from injuries that he sustained in a fire at his home, my grandmother Nona saved him but due to age and the injuries, he passed away. Also during my research, I found that Nellie lived in the Indianapolis area and may have worked for a traveling circus and may have met her first husband Louis Col(e)berg at the railroad area as it states that he worked for the rr with the circus cars. This has been many years research into this circus thing and everyone that I have interviewed family wise has all told me the same thing, that John owned the circus and sold it to Ringling Bros. and Albert, Nellie and Nona were performers. Again, I thank you for what information you have provided, I apologize for such a late thank you, but I was unaware that there was a response. If you have any other advice, I am open to it. Thanks again! :) Vicki R.H.

    Reply: 16 May 2012 - I am related to this group. Albert was my GGrandfather. I have info on Nellie if you're interested. steventbarry at gmail

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3772. Which Circus Book?, 16 Oct 2011 - A friend is looking for a circus book she read some time ago. Synopsis: a very young girl runs away from home after been abused, etc, and a circus family takes her in - 3 ring circus. She starts off in a outer rings and works her way to centre ring, where she becomes a star, and breaks the record for doing 100 spins on the web.
    Can anyone help with a title/author? My friend produces theatrical pieces for young people and wants to develop a stage play from the book. Anyone know of any suitable (good) circus stage plays? Many thanks jim@stockley.co.za Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3771. Billboard, Austin, MN, 12 Oct 2011 - Hello, I am a contractor in Austin Minnesota. Recently while tearing off the siding from an older home I notice the house was built from re-claimed lumber. As I revealed more of the bare wood, I noticed it was all circus related. It is almost as if this was some sort of huge billboard at one time. All of the boards with the images are put on this house randomly, so it is kind of like a big jig saw puzzle. Some of the writing I can make out is says, "Wallace and Co.", "Grand International Mardi Gras", "Alliance of Novelties", "Great World Menagerie", "three ring circus" it also says "Austin June 25". The pictures were made by "The Russell & Morgan Co." "No. 31 Cincinnati, OH". There are some evidence of some horses and circus performers on the pictures too. This entire house is made up of this wood! I guess I was looking for a time frame of when this would have been from? I also took pictures of a lot of this, if anyone wants them, I can e-mail them out, thanks. Aren Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 14 Oct 2011 - The various titles that the Wallace Show uses gives a hint to its age, such as Mardi Gras, etc. However the 1888 Wallace & Co.'s International Railroad Circus Menagerie and Museum route book gives the true facts. The show came from Mason City, Iowa a distance of 28 miles on the C. M. & ST. P. Railroad and arrived in Austin on Tuesday June 25. The population of the town was listed at 5,000, and the show lot was through town and to the left, on the fairgrounds. The afternoon house was good, and the attendance at the night was only a fair house. I would be interested in seeing your photos. John Polacsek, artistofdetroit@aol.com.

    Reply: 15 Oct 2011 - I would really enjoy seeing your photos as well. Thanks. Bob Cline, fivetiger@shtc.net

    Reply: 15 Oct 2011 - Traveling circuses contracted for space to erect their posters, whether in store fronts, on barn siding, brick store sidewalls, etc. In locations where there was inadequate space available, or the local fees were too high, they would erect [or cause to be erected by local carpenters] wooden billboards upon which large, multiple sheet and arrays of posters could be placed. Some were enormous, ten or more feet tall to over 100 feet wide. They were situated where they would be seen by the maximum number of people, to emphasize the splendor of the circus and the one-day only nature of the engagement.
        After the circus had come and gone, the billboards were dismantled and the lumber re-sold for other purposes locally. Often they were used in general building construction, including exterior sheathing and roofing. When structures are dismantled today they are re-discovered, providing testimony to circus activity of the past. This happens a couple of times per year.
        If the posters are relatively complete, and in good condition, they are candidates for preservation, up to and perhaps including conservation and return to their original appearance. This can be a very costly undertaking, justified only by the relative condition, completeness and rarity of the items. The value of the posters "as is" is very modest, by comparison, akin to an incomplete and unrestored antique car in pieces and rusting. There may also be an "invested" expense associated with them necessitated by replacing the boards, etc.
        In your instance, 1880s Wallace & Co. paper is quite rare and it might be worth pursuing preservation of the pieces. A contact with the Miami County Historical Museum in Peru, Indiana may be an appropriate starting place. It was in that community that Ben Wallace started his circus and maintained it on the road into 1913, when he sold to others.
        I would concur with John that you should try and make an accurate photographic record of as much of the posters as possible, regardless of their disposition. Often these fragments are the only remaining evidence of the "flaming" posters that had once brightened many a community before Circus Day. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

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3770. Virginia 1900-1915, 12 Oct 2011 - I have been told I have circus folk in my family tree, but I have no idea where to start. All I know is the circus performed between 1900-1915 and I have no idea which circus may have been around at this time. One other thing is the circus came regular to Lovington or Richmond Virginia, or possibly originate from these areas. Any help you can give is greatly appreciated. Alison Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 15 Oct 2011 - Alison, a good start would be to tell us your grandparent's full names (if those are the people you think may have been in a circus). Maybe your GGrandparents names too? If you read what you posted, you didn't give us much to go on ;-) Do you have any hints or anecdotes that suggest what their connection was to circus? Were they performers? You have to tell us more. jim@stockley.co.za

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3769. Painting, Circus Backlot, 10 Oct 2011 - I am doing research on a painting titled Circus Backlot, North Carolina, 1942. Can anyone tell me which circuses operated there in that year? I can send an image of the painting if that will help identify the circus. Thank you, Jim Levis Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3768. Prize fighter, 10 Oct 2011 - Hi, Im trying to trace a travelling prize fighter, only details I have are his name was Ashley Raymond (Raymen), he was a prize fighter in 1914 in the York area, had a glass eye but came from London. Many thanks, Paul Townsend Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3767. Deceased animal performers, 10 Oct 2011 - Having only recently visited Baraboo and the CWM, I have become curious about how all the travelling circuses of the early 20th century disposed of any deceased animal performers. Is it conceivable that thoughout the US one might happen upon non-native spieces bones in unusual places? For example, certainly there were losses over the long winters in Baraboo. Did the circus designate an area for disposal over the years? Sorry for the macabre nature of the question. I have simply pondered it since my visit. Many thanks for any insights. K. Sanders Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 11 Oct 2011 - Deceased circus animals, whether domestic or exotic, were generally disposed of in the same manner as other local beasts that passed: burial in soil or bodies of water; re-cycling and rendering; or turnover to universities, museums, taxidermists and others for presentation or scientific study. In a few cases, animal parts have been retained, such as elephant tusks, hairs, hides and skins and such.
        If you search the literature you will find examples where animal bones have been discovered in recent times. Usually these are accidental discoveries, but in other cases people have searched them out, as unique episodes of local history. Being buried in the soil breaks the body down; usually it's larger mammalian bones that have been discovered.
        No formal study has been undertaken and published on the topic, but a search by usual means through various resources will reveal both contemporary reports and anecdotal references on the topic. The related literature is quite voluminous, ordinary animals such as horses and dogs likely receiving little notice, named and famous, or otherwise large and unusual beasts [elephants, rhinos, hippos, felines] gaining media coverage. Below are simply a few highlights.
        Horses were typically recycled as food for felines or other creatures. Horse meat was and is an established commodity.
        Given the large body mass of elephants, and the work required to dismember it, rendering an elephant is a very arduous task. Yet, some enterprising and motivated individuals and firms may have undertaken the task. Elephants were often buried, where they passed, or hauled to a local farm or other unimproved property where a suitably-sized grave could be dug for the body.
        There's rumors of an "elephant graveyard" in the Baraboo area but I've never found any credible evidence for it, nor have any bones been discovered. The Ringlings had a large baggage horse farm out on Lynn Street [the buildings from their ownership remain standing], southwest of the Ringlingville Car Shops, and it's possible the soil there contains the remains of some of their bulls.
        Chappie Fox told the story of a large constrictor snake body being discarded in the manure pile at Ringlingville, but the heat of the matter reportedly roused the sluggish beast back to life. Others can decide on the accuracy of the well-told tale that he heard from a Ringling veteran.
        In other instances, the carcasses of elephants that passed away in a winter quarters were pulled out on an iced-over lake and allowed to go into the deep in the spring thaw. Lake Delevan likely contains one or more such beasts, including Romeo.
        Beasts that died at sea were simply committed to the deep. This happened during the Cooper & Bailey journey to Australia. Barnum & Bailey dropped the elephant Mandarin's body overboard in the Atlantic, after weighting it down with a mass of heavy anchor chain.
        A Forepaugh hippo was turned over to scientists in the 1880s and a necropsy performed, with a report published. Numerous Ringlingville exotics were turned over to a local taxidermist named Ed Ochsner, who maintained a private museum of mounts. It still exists today in Prairie du Sac, south of Baraboo. Similarly, while Barnum was alive, he favored various museums with specimens, having a great personal interest in natural science. The famed gorilla named Gargantua was turned over to Yale University after his 1949 passing, his body subject to scientific study and the skin mounted and preserved.
        If an animal died on tour, a local museum might step forward and request the body for research or mounting. Some elephant carcasses were given to museums near winter quarters, which preserved and mounted them. One Ringling bull, Alice, was still to be seen at the Milwaukee Public Museum in the 1950s. Other beasts surely went there, too. The literature is filled with many such circus to museum transfers.
        Jumbo was dismembered in St. Thomas, his skeleton and hide both mounted by Ward's and placed on traveling and local dime museum exhibition. The skeleton went to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where it's infrequently displayed and treated as a "type specimen." The mounted hide was lost in a fire at Tuft's University, where it had reposed many years.
        The most macabre story relating to circus animals relates to Jumbo. Reportedly some of his bone/tusk was ground up, included in a special serving and served up to guests at a commemorative meal. The event chef didn't leave a memoir confirming all of this, but it makes a good story today. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

    Reply: 12 Oct 2011 - "Lake Delevan likely contains one or more such beasts, including Romeo." It was Juliet who died at the Mabie’s Delavan, Wisconsin, winter quarters in the winter of 1864 and was buried on/in Delavan Lake. Supposedly, some rib bones were located. Romeo took his farewell bow in June, 1872 at Chicago, and by at least one online account, the body was disposed of in a public dump there. He was the more impressive and violent of the pair, and is remembered with a statue in Delavan’s Tower Park. Lance Burton

    Reply: 15 Oct 2011 - I had heard or read a story some years ago, that when the Ringling Bros. original and first elephant "Old Babe" died in Baraboo, WI, November 1915 ( reportedly 101 years old), its body was placed on a stoneboat (which was usually used to collect big rocks from the farm fields) and hauled by 16 horses a few miles away and buried in a gully somewhere near Devil's Lake. A large boulder was placed over her grave site. However over the years, sedimentmay have partially or almost completely buried the boulder that marked the spot. K.C/

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3766. Helen Gibson, 08 Oct 2011 - My name is Larry Telles and I am writing a book on the life of Helen Gibson. She was the first wife of Hoot Gibson, the lead actress in The Hazards of Helen serial (episode 79-119), and Hollywood's first professional stunt woman. In her personal scrapbook she had a note saying that she got a job as a trick rider with a Wild West Show run by Ringling Brothers-Barnum and Bailey. This was between 1924 and 1927. I am looking for any information on Helen and the Wild West Show. I live in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and my email: ltelles@icehouse.net Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 10 Oct 2011 - The aftershow or concert was a separate admission presentation after the primary circus performance. Customers remained in their seats and paid an extra fee to remain and observe the action. Wild West traveling show activity generally originated in 1883. Circuses added Wild West components to their performances in the late 1880s, owing to the success and popularity of the Cody and other traveling presentations. Annie Oakley, A. H. Bogardus, Pawnee Bill and others appeared in these 1880s-1890s additions to circuses. They were separate and apart from entire Wild West operations, such as Buffalo Bill's, Miller Bros., etc. The circus-staged Wild West concerts rose and fell in popularity, with the rise of film cowboys renewing interest in the style in the early 20th century.
        Troupes framed around western activity were simply termed a "Wild West." Cody was a leading proponent of not using the word "show" because his presentations were intended to be re-enactments of incidents and scenes from history.
        Little survives of 1920s RBBB business and employment and business records. Some basic information about the Wild West aftershow, or concert, with RBBB in the 1920s will be found in the show's programs. The concert roster was sometimes printed as part of the reviews published after the season opener in Madison Square Garden. These would be found in Billboard, New York Clipper and Variety. The show's opening dates can be found on this website, in the virtual library.
        Photography will provide insight on wardrobe, activities, etc. Steve Albasing took quite a few photos of the Wild West concert participants on Ringling Bros. in the 1910s, having spent time on the 101 Ranch outfit. His work is filed at the Circus World Museum library. I've not seen any script for such a presentation; usually each engaged performer did one or more turns and specialties, plus ensemble presentations.
        Don Russell's book about Wild West operations still remains the best single book in print, yet it doesn't accurately reflect the full breadth and quantity of western operations that were seen on the road, at world's fairs and amusement parks, on carnival back ends and under big tops or in arenas, plus those that went overseas, played still dates, etc.
        You may also want to check memoirs written by RBBB employees [i. e. , Bradna] and thematic books written by other authors [Willson, Cooper, Norwood, etc.] that describe life on RBBB. The personal papers of one 1920s RBBB concert rider, Al Mann, have been deposited at the CWM library and could be examined there. They might contain materials relevant to Helen Gibson. The published autobiography of Tiny Kline has some relevant information about Otto Kline, who was a concert rider with Barnum & Bailey until his premature death during the action. It was not without real hazard to the performers.
        Many of the cowboy movie matinee idols had experience with Wild West and circus activity. They included Hopalong Cassidy, Hoot Gibson, Buck Jones, Ken Maynard and more. When you examine the published rosters you will definitely recognize more people if you're familiar with the larger Wild West and rodeo field. If you peruse the list of Bandwagon articles on this website you'll find several articles pertinent to them. A few, like Jones, Maynard and Tim McCoy ended up fielding a show in their own name. Thus, Helen Gibson's traveling show employment wasn't as much an exception and unique, but a common right of passage for western stars. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

    Reply: 10 Nov 2011 - Tom Mix, my favorite cowboy, had his own Wild West Show which was a truck show in the 1930s. It travelled for approximately a year before it folded. Tim McCoy's Wild West Show folded after travelling for approximately three to four weeks. Circus Bob Unterreiner.

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3765. Great Wilno, 07 Oct 2011 - Browsing the internet, I just read your November 1976 story about human cannonballs. and I can correct one fact: I am sure The Great Wilno had to be more than one person. The one I saw was killed in the late 1930s in a cannonball mishap. When I was 10 to 12 years old, in the late 1930s, The Great Wilno came to Amsterdam, NY with a carnival. He was shot over twin, side-by-side, Ferris wheels. I was with my folks in a White Tower restaurant when Wilno came in. Having been awed by his cannonball shot, I approached to talk with him and got his autograph. A few weeks later, the local newspaper reported that Wino was killed when he struck the top of the closer Ferris wheel. I remember that occurred somewhere in New England, but I do not remember what town. I remember reading the grisly detail that the impact forced his head down into his chest, a detail I was not happy to learn. So, any other Wilnos were not him. Richard Ellers Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 08 Oct 2011 - The Modesto Bee, September 28, 1984 states: "One of his greatest flights was over a giant Ferris wheel at the 1936 New York World's Fair. The advertisements that called the act death-defying were not just ballyhoo. A fellow performers who substituted for him at times once fell short of the net, plunging to his death." This is in an article on Wilno regarding Wilno's death in 1984. - J. Griffin (You can read the article here):
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1948&dat=19840928&id=1swqAAAAIBAJ&sjid=oNMFAAAAIBAJ&pg=784,4014812

    Reply: 10 Oct 2011 - Willi Wilno [reportedly born as Otto Willi Weidrich], after an interesting career as a performer, trainer, etc., retired to Peru, IN and died on September 25, 1984. His life is well documented. One of his 1984 obituaries mentions the story of a substitute human cannonball falling short of the net, causing his death. Initial news reports reportedly declared that it was the Great Wilno who had died, but those accounts were in error.
        A newspaper report issued under a dateline of September 20, 1929 [Olean (NY Times, September 20, 1929] declared that a Hanover, German national, Heinrich Ackenhausen, was severely injured during a cannon act at the Eastern States Exposition, in West Springfield, MA. The cannon malfunctioned, incurring a mis-fire, the cannonball only reaching the mouth [essentially "falling short of the net"] and dangling by his toes as he suffered from severe injuries, a fractured skull and jaw. He was not expected to survive. Ackenhausen was serving as a substitute for Captain Wilhelm Wilno, who had been injured a month before at Syracuse, NY, sustaining a broken arm. An International Newsreel circulated photo published in the September 27, 1929 Charleston (WV) Daily Mail carried a caption that declared Captain Wilno had been killed at Springfield. This was obviously in error. The Syracuse (NY) Herald of September 22, 1929 stated that Ackenhausen died the day before from his injuries. The death was confirmed in the Bladen (NC) Journal of October 1929, which stated Wilno's "double" had been killed at Springfield.
        Between 1925 and 1945 there were numerous other human cannonball injuries and deaths, attributable to a variety of causes [missed net, drowning, etc.] and in various locations [Ocean Park, CA, Milwaukee, WI, etc.], but none named Wilno other than the 1929 episode above. It is documented that Wilno employed another substitute as his cannonball, given as Henry Duchone, in the last years of his touring with the cannon, circa 1947-1957. Wilno had been active personally circa 1928-1947.
        Amsterdam is a small city [about 20,000 today] NW of the major cities of Schenectady and Albany, and SE of Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville, where a trolley park was once situated. Two of the carnivals that engaged Wilno in the 1930s were World of Mirth and Cetlin & Wilson. The latter had no NY state dates 1935-1940. WOM had upstate dates, but not in that vicinity. A route search also excludes Johnny J. Jones. Wilno may have booked his cannon directly with the fair management, and not as part of the midway contract.
        The New York world's fair was in 1939-1940. The 1936 date was an erroneous, mis-quoted statement. The September 9, 1940 New York Times confirms Wilno was at the 1940 fair. I didn't find confirmation of a 1939 engagement, but it's possible given his broad variety of bookings.
        None of this explains the late 1930s account recalled by Mr. Ellers. In some cases old stories were recycled by newspapers, but if such was the case with the 1929 Wilno incident it's not been found via available search engines and digitized newspapers. Tertiary articles aren't always reliable, whether published after death, or contemporary to the events, or when found in multiple newspapers, given the newswire sharing of stories. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

    Reply: 22 Nov 2011 - From Richard Ellers, the original post: While I am not sure of the year other than late 1930s, I am sure than Mr. Wilno appeared in Amsterdam; I met him and got his autograph; and that sometime later that summer, the Amsterdam Evening Recorder (daily newspaper) carried the news report that Mr. Wilno's shot went awry and his hit the nearer of the twin Ferris wheels he was to fly over.

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3764. Whimsical Walker, 03 Oct 2011 - I am trying to find the names of Whimsical Walker's wife and descendents who I believe were also in the circus profession. Thomas Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 07 Oct 2011 - Several performers have utilized the name Whimsical Walker. It would be well for you to specify exactly which person, by their real name [and birth and death years], about whom you desire information. There are dozens and dozens of entries online for the name. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

    Reply: 10 Oct 2011 - I didn't know there were other people who used the name Whimsical Walker, as per Fred Dahlinger Jr's post? I don't doubt for a moment that he is right and would be grateful if Mr. Dahlinger would expand on this? The only famous one I know is the English clown, Thomas Dawson Walker (born 5 July 1851 at Hull / died Nov 1934), with Pablo Fanque, then Croueste, and later to Charles Adams? With Sanger. In USA 1876/77. With Henglers for many years. In USA many times. With Barnum & Bailey in 1881. With Bertram Mills at Olympia and before Queen Victoria in Feb 1886. He has a career in film (using the name Jamie Darling) 1913/1915. jim@stockley.co.za

    Reply: 12 Oct 2011 - Many thanks to you both, I am trying to trace the family of the Whimsical Walker born in Hull. I already have his book, "From Sawdust to Windsor Castle," published in 1922 and although it mentions his wife and son, it gives no names. He does mention that his wife was a horse rider in the circus and I think her name was Eva, does anyone else have any more information? I live in England; a great friend is a descendent of Whimsical Walker’s, and we are trying to build a family tree. Thomas

    Reply: 14 Oct 2011 - Walker's first wife was called Eva, and that's all I know. His second wife was Mary Ann, who died at Bury St. Edmonds in 1944. His grandson, Frank Brean, was also in the business. Walker also had the "stage name" Jamie Darling, which may lead you somewhere. Rgds. Dave

    Reply: 14 Oct 2011 - According to Free BMD, one Thomas Dawson Walker married Elizabeth Bamford, Jun quarter 1870 at Huddersfield (Volume 9a, page 383) and there is another entry for a Thomas Dawson Walker who married either Charlotte Ann Eastes or Daisy Burton (you would have to send for the marriage certificate) Dec 1890 at Portsea (Volume 2b, page 972). Does this help? Please let us know? jim@stockley.co.za

    Reply: 19 Oct 2011 - Thanks again for your help. Not Elizabeth Bamford, wrong occupation of Thomas. Have found a website called SilentComedyMafia.com which states that "From Sawdust to Windsor Castle" was written by Whimsical Walker also known as Frank Breen! It also states that he worked with Charlie Chaplin under the name of Frank Breen. Any comments? Thomas

    Reply: 20 Oct 2011 - "From Sawdust to Windsor Castle" is available for free download at http://www.archive.org/details/fromsawdusttowin00walkiala. Regarding Frank Breen, the answer is in Dave's reply of 14 Oct 2011(above), Breen was Whimmy's grandson? (and sometimes used the name "Whimsical Walker the 2nd"). The original WW died 1934 but there is mention of both Breen and WW in a London Gazette of August 1951 at http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/39312/pages/4408/page.pdf.
        I also found this note from 2002 at http://www.circusnet.info/cirque/ads/affiche.php?mess=59 which read "I am the eldest son of 'Whimsical Walker,' and I am undertaking research for my Phd. thesis on my father. He was also known as 'Frank Breen' or Reginald Alexander Dawson. Any help that can be offered would be most appreciated, as I have a very limited knowledge of him. Yours faithfully, Robert W. Breen" Frank Breen was married to Louise Fossett (sister of famous clown Jacko Fossett) I hope this helps? Jim Stockley

    Reply: 21 Oct 2011 - FYI George Pinder confirmed to me that Frank Breen's mother was the original Whimmy Walker's daughter. Frank Breen's wife (Louise Fossett) is still with us and living in southern England. I have asked George to try and find out if she knows the names of WW's wives for you. Will report if I hear anything further. Jim Stockley

    Reply: 21 Oct 2011 - Note to Jim Stockley. Hi Jim: I can only add that I feel sure that 'Frank Breen' must have been either the son or grand-son of Whimsical Walker. I toured with Frank who used the same name known as 'Whimmy' Walker with Sir Robert Fossett's Circus for the 1965 season. I would doubt he would use the name had he not been related. His wife was, as you know, Louise Fossett who is still living at Filey in Yorkshire and their son Phillip Walker might be in Italy where he has toured the Italian shows for some years. Regards Tom Sandow

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3763. Frank Ventura, 03 Oct 2011 - I am trying to find out more information about my great grandfather who was known as Frank Ventura or Frankie to his friend. He was born in Italy and ran away from home to join the circus in Europe. He became a lion tamer and opened at Madison Square Garden with the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus. My research shows that show opened on March 29, 1919. I have checked with the circus archives in Wisconsin, but they have found nothing. I can't find any pictures from that opening show either. Does anyone know where I might find some? Thanks, Suzy Hayden Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 07 Oct 2011 - There were no lion or other wild animal "steel arena" acts on RBBB in 1919, and none until a few years later, 1921 to 1924. Thus, there is something amiss in the information that you were provided by family tradition or other sources. Many other circuses, and some larger railroad carnivals, did feature arena acts in the 1910s and into the 1920s. Is it possible that the circus title was incorrectly recalled? There are no general employment records for RBBB until 1938. Some roster information is available on a scattered basis prior to that year.
        Have you established the exact date when your great-grandfather emigrated to the US? Do you know where he resided during his first years here? Do you have possession of any original documentation, photographs, etc., concerning your great-grandfather's circus employment? This type of information may enable a search for his circus activity to be undertaken. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

    Reply: Apr 13 Apr 2014 - Thank you for answering me as concisely as you could. My great aunt Yolanda Denton was Frank Ventura's daughter. She recently passed away. She would have been around 4 years old at the time her father opened at Madison Square Garden in 1919. I do have pictures of my great grandfather, but I do not know where or when they were taken. He is standing at a picnic table with the lions sitting around it in one of them. Another one shows him with several lions inside a cage on a street, but I'm not sure where or when that was taken either. They are old black and white and very difficult to read now, but I did manage to copy them and scan them digitally before they start to deteriorate much further. Please see attached. Perhaps you can get more details from these. I appreciate your help. [Attached photos are not on Message Board] Thanks, Londa "Suzy" Hayden, Great Granddaughter of Frank Ventura

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3762. Jessie Bradley Stier, 03 Oct 2011 - I’m trying to find out more about my mother’s cousin, a circus performer. Her name was Jessie Bradley, she married another circus performer named Charles T. Stier (some question as to name might be Spier). Jessie Bradley Stier was the high dive act, diving off a platform into water. I think she did this act from 1925 until her death in October 1929 in Texas. She was attempting a backwards dive into the tank and missed. I would love to know more about her and Charles and their life in the circus. I did find that the Hagenbeck-Wallace circus was in Texas during the month of October, so wonder if that was the one. If anyone knows of a way to find out more about her accident and the circus she worked for, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks - Maureen Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 07 Oct 2011 - It was common practice for traveling shows, both circuses and carnivals, to stage free acts on the midway. Fairs also embraced the practice. It was a means to attract people to the show grounds who might otherwise not be drawn out of their homes to pay admission. Free acts included balloon ascensions, airplane and helicopter demonstrations, high dives onto slides or into nets and pools of water, auto loop-the-loop and leap the gap, and other mechanical acts and so on. Thrill acts of this type remain popular today and have also been a staple of many television and web presentations.
        Stier was associated with the Lachman-Carson carnival at the time of her passing. There were two obituaries for her in trade journals. "Variety," October 2, 1929 advised: "Mrs. Stier Dies/ Dallas, Oct. 1./ Mrs. Jessie Bradley Stier, 22, of Elgin, Ill., and diver for the Lachman-Carson carnival, died in the hospital at Abilene, Tex., from injuries sustained in a 65-foot dive into a tank."
        "Billboard," October 5, 1929, page 70 reported: "High Diver Breaks Neck/ Betty Bradley, in private life Mrs. Charley Stier, of the Lachman-Carson Shows, in making a dive at Abilene, Tex., last Wednesday, misjudged the depth of the water and struck bottom, landing on her neck and shoulders. Diagnosis disclosed a broken neck, from which she died at 3 a. m. yesterday./ The diver had been with the Lachman-Carson Shows for the last six years, having been married to Stier, better known as 'Suicide' Lincoln, on the same show on which she met her death."
        Stier's husband was also a high diver on Lachman-Carson in 1926, according to one Google hit for his name [search--"Suicide Lincoln" + carnival]. Basic information about carnivals can be found in Joe McKennon's book "Pictorial History of the American Carnival." It should be available to you via interlibrary loan.
        You may find other materials on them in the Abilene newspapers at the time of the accident, other issues of "Billboard" magazine, etc. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

    Reply: 10 Oct 2011 - Regarding message 3762 concerning Jessie Bradley Stier, I would like say a great big thank you to Fred Dahlinger, Jr., for giving me more information than I could find myself, including confirming her last name. We had such sketchy information and couldn’t find more. My sister and I are very grateful and thank you for taking the time to look this up and reply. This is a wonderful message board community! Maureen

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3761. Circus, Louisville, KY 1864, 03 Oct 2011 - I am seeking your assistance in determining which circus was performing in Louisville, Kentucky on April 8, 1864, and what acts were presented. My interest in obtaining this information is to flesh out the entry made in the diary of a civil war solder, Henry Banta of the 17th Indiana Infatnry, who reported that on that date he "Went to a circus in the evening". I am editing his diary for publication and wish to explain as much of his activities as possible. I've examined the issues of the New York Clipper for much of 1864 and it doesn't seem to have what I am seeking. Can you help? Best wishes, David Paul Davenport, Fresno, California Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 07 Oct 2011 - Trouping near the battle lines and into the South was a dangerous business for most of the Civil War. Thayer wrote an interesting paper about show horses being seized: "Horseless in Nashville, 1864," which talks about the travails of getting too close to the war action. See: http://www.circushistory.org/Thayer/Thayer2j.htm. You might check William L. Slout's book "Clowns and Cannons," which is about circus activity during the Civil War. Sturtevant, Chindahl or another historian also wrote about the circus during the Civil War, all of which may provide context for your entry. Check the White Tops article index on this website.
        The Clipper's circus coverage in the spring of 1864 was certainly marginal. Fortunately, the March 26, 1864 issue, page 398, contains a near comprehensive rundown on every tent outfit that was taking to the road. If you read through the accounting only one troupe was anywhere near the South in the spring - James Melville's Australian Circus. Melville was a great rider from Australia. The members of his troupe are listed. Biographies for him and others can be found in Slout's "Olympians of the Sawdust Circle," on this website. There's also other longer works about Melville by Mark St. Leon and Dan Draper.
        Melville's Australian Circus opened in Nashville on March 24 and went west [Clipper, April 9, 1864, page 414]. Perhaps they also went up to Louisville? While in Nashville, the military authorities would not permit it to perform during the evening, except on Saturday. April 8 was a Friday. I assume that you've already searched for Louisville newspapers, as they may exist. You can also search for newspapers from other communities in 1864 that contain Melville advertisements. They'll provide more insights into the show content. On June 2 or 9, 1864 they played Kansas City. There are advertisements in the Leavenworth, KS Daily Times [June 21-22] for July 4-6, 1864 engagements. If no newspapers exist, perhaps a collection has a Melville handbill?
        One circus not in the Clipper summary of March 26 was John Robinson, out of the Cincinnati area. You can likely determine whether they played Louisville on April 8, 1864 by contacting the Cincinnati Historical Museum and asking them to check the show's 1864 route. That for 1865 indicated no trouping into the South that year.
        The above is not to say authoritatively that the "circus" at Louisville on April 8, 1864 was indeed Melville's; at the present time it's the only logical candidate. A motley crew of performers and actors, in transit, might have thrown together a "show" for soldiers. Or, perhaps it was a variety entertainment that the diarist judged to be a circus based on certain elements. More work is likely mandated. Dan Castello's circus was in Louisville in 1864, but the dates don't work since he opened in May in St. Paul. Yet, it's testimony to the fact that northern shows were already penetrating back into the South before the cessation of hostilities. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

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3760. Johnny Kirk, 01 Oct 2011 - I was cleaning out some boxes at my mother's and found a picture of Johnny Kirk - Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey Combined Circus. Johnny Kirk is in cowboy clothes and has a whip in each hand. Can you tell me where I might find some information on Johnny Kirk? The photo is autographed to me and my brother. We were taken to the circus by our father. Thank you for any information. Richard DiPeppe Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 03 Oct 2011 - Do you know if this was the opening show at MSG on March 29, 1919? If so, then my great grandfather was performing as the lion tamer for that same show. I am looking for photos or posters or anything with his name on it. He went by Frank Ventura or Frank. If you know how I may find out more information, please let me know. Suzy

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3759. Harry Williams, legless, 30 Sep 2011 - Can anyone please give me information about Harry Williams, who was legless and is pictured in the book "Very Special People" by Frederick Drimmer? Thanks very much, Moe Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3758. Agube Gudzow, rider, 26 Sep 2011 - I am seeking information regarding Agube Gudzow. He was well-known Ossetian circus horse rider of the beginning of XX century. He established many feats and some of them are still unique even for the modern performers. He performed in many countries earning unreserved admiration of audience. Later on he got blind and died in England, Surrey co. (February 18, 1968 aged 88). I am trying to find additional facts of his biography. Perhaps his name is mentioned in some publications. Wanted posters and programs and circus performances with his name. Really want to find his former neighbors, who can share memories of him. I want to know where he is buried, who buried him, takes care of anyone in his grave. I live in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, and I want to tell people of our country about the last years of life of our famous countryman. Any information or suggestions would be appreciated. Marina Plieva Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3757. Margaret Dunn, 26 Sep 2011 - I am doing a search for my husband's family and am having a difficult time. We know his grandmother ran away to the circus when she was young, and that she was the girl who was cut in half in the magician's shows. She and my husband's grandfather, William Dougherty, met in Philadelphia, probably in the mid to late 1940's. We know her name was Margaret, and that her last name was Dunn when she married William. However, when she married him, she had two young children, and it is believed she had them while performing at the circus. It is possible that Dunn is the last name of the father of those children, and that her maiden name was Greene. I know that this is a long shot, but a young woman with two children performing in the circus in the 1940's could not have occurred terribly often, so perhaps someone out there remembers such a person. Please email me at khylira@hotmail.com if you think you may know of her or her children. Thank you! Galadriel Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3756. Sick animals, 22 Sep 2011 - Hello, this one should be a doozy as far as history is concerned. My great grandfather used to care for sick animals on his property. He had lemurs, crocodiles, an ostrich, I think a tiger, and exotic fish. My great grandfather lived in Hanford, CA. Located in the San Joaquin Valley of Central California. This was around the 1950's. Was it customary for circuses (Barnum Baily/Ringling Bros) to leave sick/infected animals with the resident of a town so that other animals of the circus would not be infected? How can I find more information about this? Jackie Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 24 Sep 2011 - Dr. J. Y. Henderson's book "Circus Doctor" will give you good insight into circus practices for animals when your grandfather was active. There have been several veterinarians retained by the circus since his time. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, Circus Museum, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

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3755. Clark's Greater Shows, 22 Sep 2011 - My name is Patricia Dennis and I am looking for information on "Clark's Greater Shows". I have a letter written in February 1927 by my husband's uncle, Joseph Dennis, stating that he was working for "Clark's Greater Shows" and giving an address of 2728 Foster Avenue, Bakersfield, California. Joe ran away from home to join this circus and no one in the family ever saw him again. The family believes he was killed in a car accident in California, but I have not been able to find any record of it. Neither have I found any information regarding Clark's Greater Shows. Any information or leads would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Patricia Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 24 Sep 2011 - Clark's Greater Shows isn't a circus but a carnival, likely one moving on the highways by trucks. Joe McKennon's book "Pictorial History of the American Carnival" lists it as active 1920-1923, 1928, 1940, 1961-1965, which may be incomplete based on your 1927 document. You might check issues of the weekly trade publication "Billboard" for him and the Clark operation [many now online at Google Books]. Many shows submitted routes and news items for publication. Check with your local library to see if they can obtain the 1927 issues on microfilm for you to scan. It's possible that the city where the show originated and wintered [Bakersfield, CA?] might have data on the operation. You might also consider contacting the Pacific Coast Showman's Association, a fraternal group. Enlisting the help of a local or online genealogy assistance group might help you in ascertaining the time and circumstances of his passing. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, Circus Museum, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

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3754. Sam Rinehart, 19 Sep 2011 - I would like to find a copy of a circus poster featuring Sam Rinehart, 10 horse leaper. He was performing 1860-1880 in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. A few of the circuses he was with were Robinson & Deery’s; Robinson & Howes; George W. DeHaven & Co., and the Sells Brothers. Please contact bc9553@gmail with any info. Thanks. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3753. T. J. Cooper, 18 Sep 2011 - I am attempting to track down information about Mr. Cooper, also known as T. J. Cooper. From an article in the Pierce County Herald ( Aug. 30, 1983 ) Mr. Cooper was repainting a carousel for the Puyallup, Wa. and it mentions he was with Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey in 1958 in Sarasota. He "painted completely, all the trains, prop wagons and other wagons with the Ringling logo and emblem". He also refers to being with the Red Unit 1973-1976. Any information you can help me with is appreciated. Thank you, Chuck Palmer Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 07 Oct 2011 - T. J. Cooper seems to exemplify the many itinerant painters who applied their skills to the decoration of traveling show apparatus. Puyallup, WA is the location of a Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel, #43 of 1917, still present today. It is a well-known and documented riding device and some searching will reveal photographs and more.
        The RBBB show was moving principally by trucks 1957-1960, with only the elephants moving by system rail car during that time between shows. They were owned and painted by the Pennsylvania Railroad. There may have been some other limited animal movements 1957 to 1960, such as for the Madison Square Garden opener. The show went back on rails for the 1960 tour. Photographs do exist of the older cars being altered and prepared for the tour.
        If Cooper was with the RBBB circus prior to 1957, his employment card will be in the RBBB Business Records at the Circus World Museum library. Write and ask them to check for his name therein, and also in the yellow ticket abstracts. They may also have limited employment data for the later 1950s and early 1960s.
        There must be quite a few veterans from the 1973-1976 Red Unit alive and well today. Perhaps one of them will recall Cooper? Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

    Reply: 26 Oct 2011 - I assume this must be Tommy Cooper the painter who died in Gibsonton, Fla. a year or two back. I believe his widow still lives there. Tommy was a great guy and a very good show painter. Besides painting the real thing, he also did small paintings with circus and carnival themes. He had also been a candy butcher around shows and I believe he had also clowned. I first met him in the 1980's on Vargas out in Washington. Tommy was in a film that my friend Roy Kohn made. I had lined up a number of Gibsonton showmen to be in this short film about a side show character named MEEKY. The film was shown at the Coney island Film fest two years ago. Try contacting Roy at: K. Vasyliw R. Kohn, weseeinc@ca.inter.net. Al Stencell

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3752. Kurt Frindt, 16 Sep 2011 - Does anyone know when Kurt Frindt of the Molidor Trio retired, and where can one find a video of this great act? Gary Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 19 Sep 2011 - Yes, Kurt Frindt has since long retired and lives in Germany. You can see the Morlidors on one of a three set DVD called Europe’s big top circus stars, live from the Hippodrome. You can find and order this set: www.timelessvideo.com – Charly Ross

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3751. Harry, Florence Hall, 16 Sep 2011 - My great grand parents were in the Barnum and Bailey circus as tightrope walkers. Their names were Harry and Florence Hall. I can't see to find any info on them. Can you help with this? Kayla Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3750. Poster, 10 Sep 2011 - Have a poster, Donaldson litho co, featuring the Hilton and Hoefler troupe, is this a circus poster? bob c Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3749. Bartelle Troupe, 08 Sep 2011 - Bartelle, Eugene: Has anyone got infomation about this 'family troupe'. The Bartelles appeared in Asia and Australia in the 1890s and 1900s. Eugene got severely mauled by an orangutan in 1902. He died in Java in December 1912. Minnie, Peggy and Rose appeared as late as 1914 in Singapore. His 'brother' Alfred and Josephine disappeared a lot earlier. Baby Gladys was touted as the yougest bicylist in the world in 1895. I would like to know if any of the members was known by another name and what nationality they were and any other information possible. Thanks from Chris MacFarlane Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3748. Six elephants, Orleans France 1940, 08 Sep 2011 - I am searching for additional information regarding the ultimate fate of a traveling circus with six elephants last seen on the road leaving Orleans France on June 3rd, 1940. I do not know the name of the company. It was fleeing the advance of the Germans along the Loire Valley. Any information or suggestions would be appreciated. David LeRoy. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 10 Sep 2011 - This sounds like the Hugo Schmitt story. Hugo's son Hugh, wrote a book called "Life is a Circus." The book is available online at authorHouse.com for $10.25. The year he crossed into Sweden was around 1944, I believe. Eventually, the elephants and the Schmitt family come to the US as part of the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. Bob Cline

    Reply: 12 Sep 2011 - Hello, Theses six elephants of which picture is in L'Illustration are the six left from Cirque Amar: Piccolo, August, Punchy (or Puncha), Beby, Mary and Sumatra. Best wishes, Christian

    Reply: 16 Sep 2011 - Further to the reply from Christian Hamel (above) the picture to which he refers is at www.elephant.se/location2.php?location_id=320&show=6. Were these the Amar Circus elephants, newly bought from the bankrupted Circus Kludsky, and touring France with the famous trainer Joseph Haak? jim@stockley.co.za

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3747. Gandini's Circus, 08 Sep 2011 - Gandini's Circus or Gandini Brothers Circus, winterquartered and disbanded in Edmond, OK. Does anyone have information on this mysterious show - it appears to have disbanded in the 30's and no traces except for the boneyard at its old winter quarters. George Adkins Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3746. Grais Baboons and Zebras, 08 Sep 2011 - Hello, fellow circus history buffs, I am seeking information regarding a few of my ancestors, who were related to Circus Blennow, in Germany, and Grais Circus in London. I would love to find details about either of these circus acts. Perhaps someone here can direct me to the proper site? I was told they were quite the entertainment of the day. My great-grandmother, Virginia, was an accomplished trick-rider. Thanks in advance for any information at all! Ginny Beres, great-grand-daughter of Gustav Grais of Grais Baboons and Zebras, He was a juggler, animal trainer, and gas-balloon innovator. He also jumped from balloons using a parachute! Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 10 Sep 2011 - I have never come across Mr Grais as an English circus proprietor and he isn't listed in John Turner's books but there are pictures of him with a zebra pulling a carriage. I also found a poster of his act at www.allposters.com/-sp/Grais-Zebras-Baboons-Posters_i6763003_.htm. jim@stockley.co.za

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3745. Philadelphia early 40s, 08 Sep 2011 - I am looking for information on the following: an incident at a circus performance in the Philadelphia area sometime between 1940 and 1945 (most likely), where something happened and many people in the audience found it hard to breathe. I gather it was some kind of environmental incident. I don’t know that it was serious enough for hospitalizations but maybe it was. It was likely noteworthy enough for mention in a newspaper, but I haven’t found such a mention yet. Does any circus history buff out there recognize this incident and have any further details? Thanks very much for anything you can offer. Miriam (Houston) Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3744. Lewis Bros. 1933-35, 08 Sep 2011 - Greetings. I am looking for pictures of the Lewis Brothers Circus crew and maybe the performers as well for the years 1933 to 1935. There is reason to believe that a man reported missing in Rocky Mountain National Park August 14, 1933 was traveling with the show in late 1933 or 1934. He might have used the name "Louis Hollenbuck". Louis might have been Lewis. I have attached a picture and a flyer from 1935. I have other pictures from the late 20's to 1933 from different angles. If anyone recognizes the pictures, has pictures of the Circus in 1933 and 34 ( particularly the crew ), or has any information about those years, please contact me through the board. I hope the post the pictures, otherwise I'll provide on request. The family is still looking closure and there is evidence that he did not perish in Rocky Mountain National Park.
    Joseph Lawrence Halpern, b. Sept, 1910, missing since the afternoon of August 14, 1933, 5' 6-8", 135 to 160 lbs, Dark Hair Brown eyes, Right eye is partially crossed and he had a scar on his chin, probably very old. Joe could drive with a trailer in tow. Maybe he was a driver. He liked to write and was extremely intelligent. Might have been called "Teacher" and may have worked at CCC camps in Colorado, Arizona, and/or Nebraska. Was in very good shape physically. Would know the Chicago area well. Might have mentioned being in the Army and/or being in Aberdeen, Maryland. Thank You! Peace, Rodney Holmes Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 12 Sep 2011 - Your request trying to tie someone lost in the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado in August of 1933 to the Lewis Bros. Circus is a real stretch. The 1933 Lewis Bros. Circus opened at Monroe, Michigan in May and then moved east through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and by August was in Connecticut. Once the show completed their swing through New England they headed west closing in Ohio in early September. I really do not see how this individual could be on the circus in 1933 as they were in Connecticut when he was reported missing and the Lewis Bros. Circus closed a month later. He would have to travel from Colorado to at least Ohio by September 12, 1933. As for the 1934 season the Lewis Bros. Circus opened at Jackson, Michigan May 1 then played Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut then came west through New York and by Sept 15 was in mid Pennsylvania. Here again the route of the show was no where near Colorado, as the show played the east coast. To my knowledge no records of working men on the show exist. Sorry but I do not think that he traveled half way across the country to join the Lewis Bros.Circus in August 1933. John Polacsek

    Reply: 17 Sep 2011 - John, Thanks for the reply regarding my missing uncle, Joseph Halpern. 1935 and subsequent years would be the target. A letter contained in Joseph Halpern's FBI file, dated May 2, 1936 from a Samuel Greenfield of Los Angeles California, who claims to have been a childhood friend, "Joe" worked with the Lewis Brothers Circus in the summer of 1935. He was supposedly seen earlier that year (in May) traveling with a trainload of C.C.C. workers headed towards Alliance, Nebraska. If in fact it was Joe, he could have made it to Michigan by the summer. I realize this is a long shot, and that the FBI information is only as reliable as its source, but it might explain why to this day neither Joe's remains or any other trace of him have ever been found within the Rocky Mountains National Park where he was last seen alive on August 14, 1933. Again, thanks for the reply. Roland Halpern

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3743. Max Gruber, Jungle Oddities, 06 Sep 2011 - Hello, I happened to be reading some material of yours on line and noticed that you stated that Bud E. Anderson bought Max "Gruberg's" Oddities of the Jungle. Just a small correction please. It's Max Gruber. I am his only living ( grandson ) relative. Please let me know how I can find more information on him. Thanks so much. Murray Gruber Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 08 Sep 2011 - The confusion was caused by a contemporary of Max Gruber, a carnival owner and operator named Max Gruberg, with a "g" at the end, a brother to the more famous Rubin Gruberg. There's a twelve-part account of Max Gruberg, with a "g" at the end, by the late Chet Vradenburg in the issues of "Carnival Midway," the journal of the Carnival Historical & Model Builders Society of America. It ran from Jan-Feb 2005 to Nov-Dec 2006 inclusive. The issues are likely out of print but perhaps photocopies can be purchased. The contact person is Fred Heatley, 1922 Neely Ferry Road, Laurens, SC 29360-9537.
        I don't believe that anyone has published an overview of the career of your grandfather. You'll find a cameo entries on Max Gruber here: http://bucklesw.blogspot.com/2011/07/from-richard-flint.html and at: http://bucklesw.blogspot.com/2008/09/max-gruber-big.html. Google searching will reveal other hits; be creative in the way you search and you'll garner more "hits."
        With a nearly four decade long career, you can search digitized newspapers, issues of trade journals [Billboard, New York Clipper, Greater Show World, Variety], CFA's journal White Tops, booking agency catalogues, plus examine holdings in various public repositories. Check some of the links and resources noted in this website to get started. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

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3742. Gargantua II, 06 Sep 2011 - Does anyone here know what became of the skeleton of the Circus gorilla Gargantua II? Reportedly at the time the "World's Heaviest Captive Gorilla" (700 lbs). It died in 1972 at approx age of 24 years old. (not to be confused of course with the famous original circus gorilla, Gargantua who died 25 November 1949 in Sarasota Florida) The hide of Gargatua II is or was mounted for display at the Ringling Bros. Circus World near Orlando Florida. (the original Gargantua's hide could not be saved when it died in 1949, but it's skeleton has been on exhibit at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History at New Haven, CT for the past 60 years.) I would like to know what became of Gargantua II's skeleton. Thank you, R.L. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 08 Sep 2011 - Would anyone also know what became of the mounted hide of Gargantua II? It was once on display at the Circus World theme park near Haines City Florida back in the 1970's and 1980's. Also what is known of the life and death of Gargantua II? Why wasn't he nowhere near as famous as the orginal Gargantua the Great was back in the 1940's? Did he ever tour with the circus? Or did he just lack charisma? Also I need to make a correction to my earlier posting. Gargantua the Great actually died on the morning of November 25, 1949 while the Ringling Bros.& Barnum&Bailey show were playing Miami Florida on the last day of the season. R.L.

    Reply: 14 Sep 2011 - According to the book The Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats by Gerarld L. Wood(1982, page 46), shortly after his death in 1972, Gargantua the second's body was sent for autopsy to the Yerkes National Primate Research Centre at Emory University Atlanta Georgia. I will try and contact the university to see if anyone there may know what became of G-2's skeleton and which taxidermist mounted his skin. Kent C.

    Reply: 26 Sep 2011 - I contacted and received a reply from the Yerkes Primate Research Center in Atlanta GA the other day. They did confirmed the fact that the Institute did do the necropsy on the carcase of Gargantua II after it died in Venice Florida in 1972. However afterwards the carcass was given to an unnamed taxidermist. Gargantua II's mounted hide was later sold(at a record $20,350 dollars for a stuffed animal) to an unnamed bidder by proxy at an auction in NYC February 16, 1985, and apparently has not been heard about since. K.C.

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3741. Trapeze artist, 06 Sep 2011 - My mother in law, remembers her husband uncle called Doug, being a trapeze artist who fell and was crippled, this would be prior to 1963? Any ideas? Jo Baur, Jos_bitonside@yahoo.co.uk. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3740. Ellen Garrett, tattooed lady, 06 Sep 2011 - My great grandmother was a tattooed lady. I have pictures, which may be her promotional material, but not sure. From the pictures, I have, she has a big butterfly on her upper chest with the letters D. O. T. under it. Her arms and legs have multiple other designs or figures on them. She was probably born around 1860, in Indiana, and had a son born in 1879, in Indiana, who may have been w/her. His name was William H. or Billie. Her name was Ellen Garrett. I am looking for history on her, both personally as a performer and family genealogy information. Thank you, in advance, for any assistance you might be able to provide. Marilyn Kostrzewski Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 04 Aug 2013 - I am still looking for my great grandmother who was a tattooed lady in the 1880 and later. Her name was Sarah Ellen Garrett, but I do not know a stage name. From the photos I have she has a distinct butterfly on her chest with the large letters D O T above it. Has anyone ever seen this woman or her pictures? I am hoping to discover her stage name and/or verify the picture I have is truly of her. She was from Indiana and may have had a small boy called Billie w/her. Please let me know if you have any information on her. Thank you for any assistance you can give me. Marilyn Kostrzewski, Northville, Michigan

    Reply: 05 Aug 2013 - Amelia Klem Osterud wrote a book titled “The Tattooed Lady” in 2009. She may be able to assist you in your search. She has a blog and also a Facebook page and you may be able to contact her via those points, or another finding online, or via her publisher. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, "The Ringling," John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

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3739. Otorra Japanese wire act, 02 Sep 2011 - I'm looking for any information regarding the Otorra Japanese wire act. They were in the UK from 1871 to 1890's. The group's manager was Frederick Bleckman from Holland who was married to a Japanese girl Pamot Bleckman.Most of the performers were from Yeddo Japan, the troupe included Ongawa Torrakitchi, Kondo Torrakitchi, Kondo Zapokitchi, Hasingame Harskitchi and Hasingame Magadjiro. They were in London 1870's in Luton staying at a B&B in the 1871 census and I have a picture of some of them in Vienna while the circus would be travelling. I'm looking for the birth record of Edward Torrakitchi supposed to have been born in Germany around 1885 and also of information on the fall and subsequent death of his father Ongawa Torrakitchi who fell from the high wire in Nurnberg Germany and died sometime in 1891. Any help greatly appreciated. Josie Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 26 Aug 2015 - Hi Josie, unfortunately I don't have any information but I am interested if you have anything on Frederick Bleckman and his wife Pamot. Many thanks, regards, Paul

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3738. Prince Mignon, 02 Sep 2011 - Prince Mignon - The Smallest man in the world. I am writing a novel about this famous Dutch midget. He had great reviews in the Pavilion Theatre (London) and Cirque Fernando (Paris) in 1891. He had an act with The Tallest Man in the world, Chang-Tu-Sing. He made 2 trips to America and performed in a circus in 1888. Probably he used another artist name. His real name was Gerrit Keizer. In 1893 he went back to New York and performed at the Roof Garden Theatre. Then he used Prince Mignon. I'd like to know what Circus he joined in 1888. He was 14 then. His Dutch mother picked him up, got pregnant and conceived a by that became the grandfather of my wife. Jan van der mast Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3737. Elephants, bulls, 31 Aug 2011 - In reference to two different eras, pre-1970 and post-1970, how prevalent was it for circus workers to refer to elephants as bulls? Was this something circus personnel used regularly or not so much? If it was, did it fall out of favor after say 1970? I’m starting to think it was a term used more in writings than on actual lots. Dennis J. Younger Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3737. Cherokee Buck, 29 Aug 2011 - Doing research I found this under Ida A (Mae) Knapp per ancestry.com - interesting.
Valentine Frederick "Fritz" Tischer A.K.A. Charles H. "Cherokee" Buck
I am a descendant of "Cherokee Buck," Ezra Ace Tischer and Ida A (Mae) Knapp - Lake Odessa Michigan. Jody Heald - McLane, Arizona Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3736. Hamid Benn, 22 Aug 2011 - My name is Richie from New Orleans and I am seeking any information on my wife's ancestor, Hamid Benn, who according to the family, was an owner of a traveling circus. His daughter, Rose, was taught to read cards and spent her summers with him. This would be in the mid 1910's well into the 1920's. Rose was born in Missouri in 1906. Would a card reader be part of circus or perhaps a carnival? Any info on Hamid Benn would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 06 Sep 2011 - Hamid Benn was a girl show operator around Ben Williams show from the late teens into the 1920's. Ben Williams was a Glace bay, N.S. barber who started a carnival and built it up to be one of the premier gilly show operations in maritime Canada and the north eastern United States. After a few seasons, Williams relocated to the New York area. In the 1980's two of his daughters were still alive, ome in Brooklyn and one in Miami. One of the daughters loaned me a bunch of photos from their show. I believe there in one of Hamid Benn and his wife. Before being with Williams Benn had oriental shows on various carnivals. For one or two seasons, Williams had a rail show out - Williams Standard Shows. I believe he bought the Jos. Ferari show wagons and train for this. Williams had a lot of old timers around him - one being Pop Foster. He was well known amongst show folks and even made the cover of Billboard magazine. Al Stencell

    Reply: 08 Sep 2011 - Thank you very much for the info, Mr. Al! It would mean the world to me if I could get a scanned image of Hamid and his wife. Not one of the family members have one. A bonus would be a few circus photos to help tell his story. It's extremely hard to find more info on the internet. "Girlie Show" searches pull up Madonna, "Ben Williams" searches pull up the more recent elephant trainer. Anymore more information/photos would be greatly appreciated. My email address is richierockernola@gmail.com. Thanks again!

    Reply: 26 Feb 2013 - Well as you can tell its been a long while since the initial request but Mr. Al Stencell has come through for me! After a year and a half, I have recieved a photo of Hamid and his wife, Mamie. Working on one's family tree is a life-long time-consuming mission. You must be creative and use any avenue possible to locate accurate information. It's how I ended up on this site. One of the missing pieces on my wife's side was the evasive Hamid Benn. I went from a little piece of family gossip to full lifespan and now a photo of Handa Benn, his earliest and latest known name. If you wish to know more about Handa's family, please contact me at richieladner@hotmail.com. Thank you very much Mr. Al! It was worth the wait! Richie

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3735. William Allardyce, 22 Aug 2011 - My name is Robert Allardyce. My father, William (aka Bill or Curly) used to run the cook house - circa 1930. I remember traveling with him during summer school vacation. He had a private sleeping compartment and I recall many nights going to sleep to the rhyme of the clickity clack of the train's wheels on the steel tracks. I recall the guy who ran the Ferris wheel's nick name: "Ears." There was a black Spider monkey named, Madam Queen. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 25 Aug 2011 - The presence of a Ferris wheel reveals that the traveling show in question was a railroad carnival. There was only one railroad circus that had such a ride through a season, the Yankee Robinson show of about 1915. The number of traveling shows in the 1930s dropped as the effects of the depression took hold of the economy. There were hits for Allardyce in the 1920 census on Heritagequest, but none for William, Bill or Curly. Do you know his then state of residence? The 1930 census is not yet available in its totality. There were also no appropriate hits for the name Allardyce in the Billboard issues currently available in Google Books. There's no readily available inventory of carnival personnel, listings are very scarce. If you know the city where your father resided, or where he traveled to join the show, that might enable someone to identify the troupe, which then opens up other possible lines of investigation. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

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3734. Faughpas, 19 Aug 2011 - Has anyone heard of a "Faughpas circus that supposedly was around in the 50s and 60s? Stephanie Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 25 Aug 2011 - The only thing that would fit your description would be a circus of the later 1860s and thereafter, owned and operated by Adam Forepaugh. He's well known and documented in many places, including this website. If you mean the 1950s-1960s, nothing seems to match the request. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

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3733. Sam Tilley, strong man, 15 Aug 2011 - For years I've been trying to locate information about my grandfather's cousin who, family tradition has it, was a circus/fairground strongman called Sam Tilley. Even searching the specialist database here draws a blank. I know family traditions can be unreliable things but this came from more than one source and is particularly pertinent to me as, when I was a 'sickly child' back in the 1950s I was nicknamed Sam in an encouraging/ironical way as the Sam Tilley I'm trying to trace was apparently billed a the 'Strongest Man in England'. Any help out there? Stephen Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3732. Siebrand Bros., 13 Aug 2011 - Hi, I am looking for information on my Grandfather, Edward Sylvester Casey, who worked for Siebrand Bros Shows in Oct, 1929, the year my Mom was born. He was 38 years old at the time, and was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin according to her birth certificate. If anyone has any information, would be most grateful. The birth certificate info is all I have about him. Thanks, Kathryn Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3731. Elephant Old John, 12 Aug 2011 - Old John was a famous circus elephant with the Ringling Bos. Circus. He died suddenly(at approx 53 years of age) while drinking from a water trough at the winter quarters in Sarasota Florida in 1932. He was buried there, but in early June 1936 his skeleton was exhumed and sent to the John T. Benson Wild Animal Farm at Nashua New Hampshire were the skeleton of Old John was prepared, articulated and mounted for exhibit. It was on display there up until around 1944 when the Wild Animal Farm was sold shortly after the passing of John T. Benson, (who had been an agent for Hagenbeck). Does anyone know what became of Old John's skeleton? It was also said that a number of other former circus animals had been mounted for display at the farm including that of a gorilla. Kent C. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 17 Aug 2011 - The Benson farm remained in operation to 1987, when it was liquidated. Bob Goldsack wrote a book about the operation and perhaps it or Bob can provide the information that you seek. There's also a blog for the place. A primary question would seem to be how long the skeleton can be documented at the facility. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

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3730. Shaw, performer, 12 Aug 2011 - How might I search for facts about a man with last name Shaw who reportedly worked as a circus or similar performer in Europe in the late 1800's or early 1900's and also trained at least two aerialists in Colby, Washington (Kitsap county) in the early 1920's? Thanks. Neil Mickelson Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3729. Barnum & Bailey train wreck, 11 Aug 2011 - Has any one got information regarding a train crash in late 1800s involving Barnum & Baileys circus where two trapeze artists were killed many thanks. Shirley. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 15 Aug 2011 - Shirley, I searched historical newspapers but could find no mention of a circus train wreck during that time period that involved two trapeze artists. In 1918, however, near Gary, Indiana about 160 show people from the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus were killed when an army equipment train collided with the circus train. News reports of the time stated that among the dead were clowns, bareback riders and two aerialists: Bessie Cavanaugh and Jenny Ward. - Tom H.

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3728. Hennies Bros., 11 Aug 2011 - My given name is Jo-Ann Blaine (Johnson) at birth. Parents – Russell C. Johnson and Muriel Johnson. I was born September 24, 1948 in Clarksdale, MS – and adopted by Joseph A. and Clementine A. Blaine of Batesville, AR. Russell and Muriel Johnson were carnies and as of 1949 worked on the Hennies Bros. Show – in Urbana, IL. I’m looking for any information I can get on Muriel Johnson. Russell C. Johnson passed away in 1973 – I knew him and knew he was my biological father. Never knew my biological mother but if anyone has any information about her it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance, Jo-Ann Blaine (Johnson) Rodriguez Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 25 Aug 2011 - Bob Goldsack published an extended article about the Hennies Bros. Shows in the Vol. II, No. 2 issue of his now defunct magazine, "Midway Journal Illustrated," pages 17-31. There is some basic information in Joe McKennon's book, "Pictorial History of the American Carnival." You might be able to obtain these via interlibrary loan. The weekly issues of "Billboard" magazine may also prove helpful. Issues for 1948 and thereafter are available with key word searching on Google Books. Just type "Billboard" into the title block to limit the search to that journal. There will be periodic coverage of the Hennies outfit, reviews, mentions of personnel, the route, etc. I just looked quickly and she's listed in the 1948 Hennies roster [June 19, 1948, page 40] and also in the August 12, 1950 issue, page 66. Further searching and reading might turn up other useful information. There were also hits for Russell C. Johnson, with more hits likely pending name variation searches. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

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3727. Lady Alexandra circus, 08 Aug 2011 - I am looking for information on the Jenkins family Lady Alexandra circus. We think it was in operation in the late 1800's. The Jenkins were from Gloucester. We are not sure of the generations but either my grandfather or great grandfather fell in love with an equestrian from France. He took her last name, D'Altroy and they had three children together. My grandfather was a D'Altroy and had his chest crushed when a horse stepped on him. He eventually moved to port alberni bc in Canada where my mother was born. He died when mom was six of tuberculosis. I would appreciate any info so we can seriously get started on tracking this wonderful history. Sincerely, Val MacDonald, New Westminster, BC, Canada Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3726. Tattooed lady, 06 Aug 2011 - I am trying to locate information on a tattooed lady, who's real name was "Nellie Mae Thornton." She was with the Isler Greater Show, in 1931, and was married to the circus "barker" named Frank Hank alias "Frank Artura." Nellie, then married a man named Tom Ryan who was "The Wild Man" alias "Yekoba." The last anyone heard from Nellie, she was living in Lubbock Texas. If anyone has any information or insight, on Nellie or Tom Ryan, or if any of these details sound familiar, please contact me. Thank you! Tenielle. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 09 Aug 2011 - Tenielle - Found this small news article: "Wild Man" Wins Tattooed Lady from "Baker" at Circus; Los Angeles, Cal., July 24 (1936) (AP) - The tattooed lady ran away with the circus "wild man." Behind her, she left the show's "barker," Frank E. Hank. And Hank told about it today in obtaining an annulment. It was bad enough, he said, to be deserted only two months and 24 days after the wedding. But, on top of that, he added, he learned his bride - "Nellie, the Tattooed Lady" - had not obtained a final decree of divorce from a former husband." Tom H.

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3725. Pat Anthony, 04 Aug 2011 - Is Pat Anthony still alive? vandergriff Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 29 Dec 2011 - No, Pat has been gone more than 25 years. He and I both broke in at Jungleland, in his day known as World Jungle Compound, in Thousand Oaks, California. I knew Pat for 20 years, and in 1972, on Hubert Castle Circus, we shared a dressing room on the Memphis date. He sold the last of his animals to Dave Hoover during the winter of 1980, and helped mixed them into Hoover's act. I was there to assist, along with Ned and Cindy Potter. Pat was very ill by then. I last saw him with Gloria Bale at the Showfolks Circus, in Sarasota, in early 1982. Pat died not long after this. I was told he was buried in Manasota Cemetery, under his birth name of Anthony Patrick Vitanza. Roger Smith, steelarena314@hotmail.com.

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3724. Aguilar, 03 Aug 2011 - I found out I had a uncle who joined the circus around 1920 to 1940’s not sure, but I know his sister bore my mom in 1935 and my uncle was born maybe 1910 to 1920’s. His last name was Aguilar. I heard he also made a silent movie. Judy Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3723. Prince Arthur, 28 Jul 2011 - I was wondering if you had any information on Prince Arthur worlds smallest born colored midget that traveled with James E Strates shows in the the 1974 to 1980 time frame. Monica. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 03 Aug 2011 - Monica, According to his publicity material Prince Arthur (b. ca 1910) was 8lbs at birth but only grew to 3' 4" tall, wearing a 13 1/2 baby shoe! He was in the business since at least 1948 and married(?) a 260lb woman billed as Princess La La (or Lola) and together had a child named Willie Gene. Showman Jeff Murray said that La La was really Flora Mae Jackson and that besides the Strates Show they also worked the Royal American Shows. "Their act was a wild dance together and then she did the hula and he would tap dance," Mr. Murray said. Tom

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3722. Paul Richard Friedl, 26 Jul 2011 - I have been trying to research my Uncle, Paul Richard Friedl (born September 11, 1901 in Glasgow, Montana). As no one is alive that can confirm the family story, I am trying to search it out. I believe he was an advance man for some circus. The story goes it was Barnum and Bailey but that could be 'wishful thinking'. I know he was involved with a circus and I believe in 1933 he was in Brownsville, TX and was shot in the foot in a restaurant/cafe. Not sure of the date but he was shot and it did happen in Brownsville. As this is not a common name I was wondering how to access workers records to see if indeed he 'joined' a circus. Any help you an give me would be greatly appreciated. An interesting side note: When he married his wife in 1936, she shaved 14 years off her age - just got that proved so would like to get his side of the story. Thank you very much. Margaret F. Johnson. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3721. DeKreko Bros. Show, 25 Jul 2011 - I am looking for information on the DeKreko Bros. Show in the mid-1920s. My GGUncle, John "Heavy" McKinstry, was working for them as trainmaster when he was killed falling between cars of the train. I'd like to know size and history of the show. Any pictures would be great. Joleen, nmjodie@yahoo.com. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 27 Jul 2011 - The Dekreko Bros Shows was a carnival that was active from the 1890s to 1929. It was reported that Sadi DeKreko was the original 'Little Egypt" who danced at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. The show traveled as far west as the Pacific Coast and later began a carnival route that played out of Chicago, Illinois up into Wisconsin and then back home again. A railroad contract from June 1925 notes that the show traveled on 4 coaches, 9 flat cars and 2 box cars. They were routed from Oshkosh, Wisconsin on June 30, 1925 to Stevens Point, Wisconsin on July 5, and then to Eau Claire, Wisconsin on July 12. The attractions of the show were Udus's merry go round, Singleton's Old Plantation, Dearmine's Zoma Show, Robinson's Museum of Anatomy, Lyle's Animal Show, Woodward's Poney, the Alligator Boy, DeKreko Bros' International Theatre, Burton's Pit Show, Funte's Mexican Circus, Hampton's Motordrome, Texas Bud's Horse Show, Matelle Well Show, Gross's merry go round, the Kelly Show, Nebraska Bill's Wild West, along with Wilder's Animal Freaks. Over fifty concession stands lines the street in San Angelo, Texas Fair in November 1914. John Polacsek

    Reply: 30 Jul 2011 - Supplementing John's response, you will find an obituary for Andre K. DeKreko in "Billboard," January 24, 1931, page 70. It served to provide the material that Joe McKennon published in his cameo profile of DeKreko in his book "Pictorial History of the American Carnival." Charles DeKreko's obituary in "Billboard," December 19, 1942 can be accessed on line. The same is true of Jean's on January 30, 1943. The on-line coverage doesn't reach back to 1926, but you can find a number of hits for DeKreko in Google Books. Insert "Billboard" into the title search block and DeKreko into "all of the words."
        John Howard McInstry died in Chicago, IL on May 24, 1926. There is a bit of information [source not given, perhaps a newspaper] about Mr. McInstry here: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=58753244
        With the date of death approximately known, you can go to the pages of "Billboard" and will likely find an obituary and perhaps other coverage of the mishap. The local newspapers where the tragedy occurred may also have reported upon it, though Chicago is such a large city dominated by railroads it may have been hardly noticed in passing were it not for the unusual circumstances. Death on the railroads was an all too frequent occurrence. Accessing the weekly 1926 issues of "Billboard" will also provide you with broader knowledge of the DeKreko operation.
        You can garner some visual knowledge of carnival trains by checking several books: Bob Goldsack's "Carnival Trains"; Fox and Parkinson, "The Circus Moves by Rail"; and my "Show Trains of the 20th Century." These are all heavily illustrated, but photographs of the actual DeKreko show and train are extremely rare.
        The time and method of McInstry's death suggests that he was on the flats, standing in the vicinity of the coupling between two cars, falling between the cars and onto one of the rails. He could have lost his grip or footing, perhaps owing to an unanticipated movement of the train, such as when slack between cars is either taken up or expanded. One might also ascertain the weather at the time, as rain can make surfaces slick and slippery. It's also possible that he may have been checking something between the cars, or had started to de-train when the cars were moved. As the train pulled into the suburban Chicago rail yard in Harvey he was surely acting in anticipation of accomplishing the quick unloading of the flats. For an experienced show trainmaster to have lost their life under such circumstances was a rare occurrence, but not unknown. More than anyone else with the outfit, they were fully aware of the constant and life-threatening dangers attendant to railroad operations. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

    Reply: 08 Aug 2011 - McInstry's obituary is in Billboard, May 29, 1926, page 106, third column, at the bottom. A reference to his passing is in the June 12, 1926 issue, page 89. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

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3720. Catan, trapeze artist, 25 Jul 2011 - I’m trying to locate a trapeze artist c1910–16 with the surname Catan (My Great-grandfather). Unfortunately have very little detail about him personally but some detail about his direct family. His surname was Catan (I believe the spelling to be correct.) He was working with a traveling circus around 1910-16. He was a trapeze artist who died in an accident while performing or maybe practicing/rehearsing without nets. (Apparently he was known for working without nets.) He died in this accident around 1914/16. He was married but unfortunately I do not have a name for his wife. She left the circus when it disbanded just prior to WWI. Living on Cheviot Rd, Carlisle, Cumbria from c1940 until her death. He had four children; Claude (Possibly Harold Claude), Cedrick, Marjorie and Ivy. The children were given up on their father’s death. Claude was left with the Roberts family where he was known as Harold Claude Catan Roberts (My Grand-father). Thanks for your time. Looking forward to hearing from you. Kindest Regards, Dave Roberts, Cumbria. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3719. Billy Smart's Scottish tour 1950s, 14 Jul 2011 - I was advance publicity manager for Billy Smart's Circus in the late Fifties, when we went on a disastrous Scottish tour, visiting Hamilton just outside Glasgow. We also had an adventure when a sealion "escaped" during a riverboat trip down the Thames. My picture was on the front page of the Daily Mirror and the Daily Sketch throwing fish to the beast. I can't remember if this was 1956 or 1958 and as I am writing my autobiography I need to know, if anyone can help. Also, I was good friends with Smokey Senior, the tent master, and I have written a song about him. If he's still alive, I would like to get in touch. Karl Dallas Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 17 Jul 2011 - Sea Lion escape 1960 watch the video: http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=42193 - Paul

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3718. Barnum & Bailey fire, 14 Jul 2011 - Does anyone remember a Barnum and Bailey tent fire where someone saved the lives of 50 people? Sorry, I don’t have any details; I think the guy who helped save the people that his last name was Danner. Thanks so much. Karen Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 22 Jul 2011 - There is a website that covers the The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus Fire at Hartford on July 6, 1944. http://www.circusfire1944.com. I don't know if this will help? jim@stockley.co.za

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3717. John Sparks Circus, 12 Jul 2011 - Would someone be able to determine the year of this photograph
http://www.flickr.com/photos/47282338@N03/5927255014/in/set-72157623606423535
or http://tinyurl.com/6x86ggl
based on the poster on the wall for the John Sparks Circus? Notice that you can click ACTIONS, then VIEW ALL SIZES, then ORIGINAL to see a very large version of the photo. The poster has the date Monday, Jan. 18, which, by looking at a perpetual calendar, must be 1897, 1904, 1909, 1915, or 1926. Thank you, Jeff Miller, jeff560@aol.com Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 15 Jul 2011 - Ascertaining the year of the photograph incorporating the John H. Sparks poster is difficult. The poster could be for the season in which it was actually utilized, or it may have been in place on a wall for several years after coming into the possession of the barbershop proprietor or employee.
        The Monday, January 18 identification is readily visible. Going to the "Original" format on-line one can read "Dade City." The person posting the photo presumed that it meant that the barber shop was in Dade City, FL, but that may not be entirely accurate. Circus advance crews placed posters in a large area around a community, and it could have actually been in one of the cities adjacent to Dade City.
        Of the date possibilities suggested by a perpetual calendar [1886, 1892, 1897, 1904, 1909, 1915, or 1926], the last two can be eliminated because the John H. Sparks name was no longer in use. The "John H." was dropped for 1913, though some materials including it, such as letterheads, remained in use as an economy measure. The year 1886 can be eliminated because the Sparks show had yet to be formed. "Old Reliable Virginia Shows" was introduced in 1898 and continued through 1904. That likely eliminates 1892, 1897 and 1909 from consideration, though it must be acknowledged that there are some inconsistencies in specific Sparks title usage.
        This leaves 1904. A check of the 1904 Sparks route confirms that the show played Dade City, FL on Monday, January 18, 1904. The photograph was taken that year or sometime thereafter. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

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3716. Dotella Mayo Buck, 12 Jul 2011 - My is Karla Phillips. My grandfather was C. H. Buck (Valentine Friedrick Tischer) I’m looking for information on his daughter Dotella Mayo Buck (Dottie). Some had said she died in a car wreck in Atoka,Okla. about 1955. She also worked in the shows? In friendship, Karla M. Phillips Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3715. Smilletti Circus, 11 Jul 2011 - Has anyone ever heard of the Smilletti Circus? Donetta. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3714. Circuses Eastern Europe, 11 Jul 2011 - I'm looking for information (in English, French, or Spanish) about the development of circus in Eastern Europe, especially Poland, the Czech Republic, and the Balkans. Web resources would be ideal, but any information would be great. To be specific, I'm interested in: a) the first known performance in each country; b) the first native company; c) the first important company; d) any interesting personalities. Thanks! Kevin, Chicago, IL. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 14 Jul 2011 - A good source in French is Volume I of Le Grand Livre du Cirque (1977), with specific chapters about the East European countries. The book editor, Monika Renevey, was herself a great specialist of circus in Poland. She lives in Geneva, Switzerland. Histoire Mondiale du Cirque from Dominique Jando (1979) is also an excellent source. For very detailed informations on the subject, is worth to find out the German translation of the excellent circus history from Soviet historian Kusnetzov (german title: Der Zikus der Welt, 1970). Recently, the last two book of Dominique Mauclair (Planete Cirque, La Fabuleuse Histoire du Cirque) also takes on the subject. My own BOOK Storia del Circo (2008, in Italian) also gives informations on the subject, and about the balkan/gipsy origins of the circus. The Italian magazine Circo and the German Circus Zeitung hosted in 80s and 90s articles about Polish and Czech circuses. Various circus book have been written in Poland and Tchekoslovakia, both photo albums and texts, from the 50s up to today. Fine bibliographers on the subject are Gisela and Dietmar Winkler form Berlin. Raffaele

    Reply: 17 Jul 2011 - Thanks so much, Raffaele. I'm sure I can track down at least a few of those. I sincerely appreciate it. Kevin

    Reply: 06 Sep 2011 - When the German Circus Union or company was formed in East Germany in the late 1950's (see Dietmar Winkler's recent history of the circus in DDR) the management was very clever. Because East Germany was small and the circus company had three huge circuses to route each year -Circus Busch, Circus Aeros and Circus Berollna they made arrangements with other communist countries to exchange shows. The circus company run by the state controlled the routing of the three circuses plus two smaller private circuses - Circus Hein and Circus Probst. For a time they also has Circus Olympia. Each season two of the E. German shows went to Poland, Hungary, Russia or Czech and one or two circus from the other communist block countries would be routed into various German cities. So, some cities would see Circus Busch and then not see it for four or five years. same with the other two big E.German shows. This is how they kept the circus business strong in East Germany.
        In 2004 or so I saw a small former E. German circus called ROLANDO. It was around back in the 70's but was very small and in a two pole tent. Inside was a stage and the show was a variety show. They weren't aloud to call it a circus but called it a HIPPODROME. When I finally saw it, it was a very nice family circus with a four piece band, 4 pole top.
        During the time until the wall was built there were several small family shows that went in and out of the country. These smaller shows either stopped touring or finally stayed in the west. Besides the circuses the state also owned a half dozen big carnival rides that they booked into fairs and festivals. Each year the state circus management put out great route book listing the tours for each show and the rides. It is a great study of the circus as it has a starting year and a final year when the wall came down and the state folded the circus operation. North of Berlin in a small town with a wonderful circus museum (Fustenwald-(sp), run by Roland Weise. There is also a new circus museum in Magneburg.
        In the late seventies I was in the eastern block countries except Russia. In Poland I saw Circus Weilki in Warsaw. I was also taken to the place where they made those great Polish circus posters and was given a complete set. In a park away from the centre of town near an indoor market they a set of steel girder like center poles set-up. I believe some of the Russian shows would come with just the tent and seats sand use this facility. In Prague I saw a very large Czech show called Circus Humberto. Later I saw this show In Franfurt/Oder as it came out of Poland. It had been in Russia and had picked up various stray dogs which the tent crew had named after Russia presidents! They had also helped themselves to anything loose they came across. One whole wagon was full of stolen bikes. All these shows had about 75 wagons or so and moved by truck with the drivers making one or two return trips. The wagons were very old and heavy. The performances were very good. The tent seated about 2500. They had a good band. When I saw Humberto the wagons were painted cream with red trim. Many of the wagons had belly boxes (what we call possum bellies). They were full of chickens and small pigs stolen car parts, tires, etc.
        The same year late in the fall I also saw the E. German show Circus Busch. This was a large show and was staying in Leipzig for three weeks - sold out every show. The tent seated 5000. It was a huge show with 7-8 elephants, big cage act, 15 piece orchestra lead by a lady. The wagons were white with blue trim and red lettering. Dietmar Winkler had arranged for me to have my meals there for the three days I was around the show. They had a big shower wagon. if you wanted hot water you went to the back of the wagon and picked up a shovel of coal from a big pile and threw it into the furnace inside the back of the wagon. The East German circus people invented the quarter-poless tent. Busch was the first one i had seen. It had very tall centers and on the outside where the quarter pole would come in contact with the canvas and hold it up from the inside they had fixed rings and a cable ran through them and and then connected to cables running down from the tall centers. It was very clever. They also had a wind meter on top of one of the center poles with the read out inside the electrical wagon.
        The show had an elephant that road a big tricycle. At one of the afternoon shows they announced that the ring sand was too soft for the bike but after the show, everyone formed a big circle in the cobbled street and the presenter brought the bike and elephant out and she road it around in a big circle to the delight of everyone.
        These shows had very poor concessions operations. They had a program and little flags with the shows name on them for sale and post cards. The big food item was soft ice cream with the machine in its own wagon. I also saw Circus Hein and Circus Probst in smaller towns. Hein was run by a sweet old lady who wore lion claw ear rings. She sat me down in her wagon at intermission and brought me a huge glass of clear liquid. i assumed it was water but it was Vodka. She drank three to my one. I'm not too clear on the second half of the show. They had a nice four piece band, a nice tiger act. First time I saw the chutes mounted on the side of the cage wagons. Another clever idea. The show had a large stable of horses, cows, llamas, etc. They moved by truck with about 20 wagons. The tent was two pole and seated about 1000.
        Circus Probst was a little bigger and very good acts. The Probst folks were first class showmen and they took pride in their animal acts and still do. It was the first time I had seen a bear riding on the back of a horse and foot juggling!!! They had a 4 pole top and sat about 1400. The son and daughter did a first class bareback act and presented bears, horses, etc. They now run the circus and it is very big and still carries the title - No. 1 East German Circus and it sticks to the former East German towns. It is still painted blue and white. The old man and old lady are still alive but retired. they fed me the best meal I had the whole East German trip - fried chicken and fries. They also had a small down town ticket wagon which was neat. I had never seen one used before. later I saw that Circus Krone was also using one.
        I saw the show last year and it was extremely good. Mercedes the daughter does a fabulous job presenting liberty acts and one of the best wild west numbers I had ever seen on a show. She also does a terrific high school act. Her brother still presents very good tiger act. The show has about 35 wagons and moves very quicly. They now have a very good concession operation. I saw it in Potsdam on the last night and they had a packed house. Hope this helps. Al Stencell

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3713. Cowboy act, 07 Jul 2011 - I'm trying to find out more about my great Grandfather, who travelled with Pagel's circus in the 1930's, in South Africa. He had learned rope tricks from cowboys on a farm in Rhodesia, and apparently was a circus cowboy, travelling with Pagel's, for some time. His name was Louis Hughes. Sadly all the memorabilia was lost in a fire many years ago, and I haven't been able to find any reference to him. Any information, or suggestions for further research, would be welcome, many thanks, Megan Hughes, Edinburgh, UK Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3712. Poster, Sells-Floto, 07 Jul 2011 - Looking for a picture poster of Uncle Sam on stilts while with Sells Floto Circus last name Derek. W.K. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3711. Adell Brothers, 06 Jul 2011 - Hello. I'm Iris and am looking for any information on the circus that my Great grandfather, Edwin Adell and his brothers had. It was the "Adell Brothers" and was pre-WWII. Thanks for all your help! Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3710. Stratosphere Man, 06 Jul 2011 - I just came across this blog. I am researching the Stratosphere Man, as he was mentioned as having performed at the 1938 Western Reserve Historical Celebration in Warren, OH. I am going to include this information in the data I am using to catalog memorabilia from the celebration. Thanks! Trish Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 07 Jul 2011 - CHS message 1600 pertains to Arzeno Eugene Selden (1899-1951), the "Stratosphere Man" and provides basic information and leads. A simple Google search for "Stratosphere Man"+ Selden gave numerous hits for him. Issues of "Billboard" magazine shortly after his 1938 engagement at the Warren, OH fair will likely document his presence there, as would issues of the local newspaper. The on-line issues do not yet go back to the 1930s, so you will need to seek out microfilm or hard copies in a repository. Selden fulfilled dozens and dozens of similar dates around the country during his career. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

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3709. Elvira, Laura and John Madigan in America, 05 Jul 2011 - I'm currently doing research about the famous rope walker Elvira Madigan in order to write a book about her. Elvira (real name Hedvig Antoinette Isabella Eleonore Jensen), born in Flensburg, Germany on Dec 4, 1867, was the daughter of a danish circus artist Fredrik (Fredric, Friedrich) Jensen (born in Copenhagen, Denmark on March 28, 1845) and Eleonore Cecilie Christine Marie Olsen (stage names Miss Ulbinska and Laura Madigan, born at Billnäsbruk, Finland, probably on May 25, 1849). In an interview in 1902, Laura claims that she has been working in America, but I have not been able sofar to find anything that supports this information. The most likely period for this journey would be the years between Elvira's birth in 1867 and March 30, 1871, when she in gives birth to a second child, her son Richard Heinrich Olsen (stage names Oscar Bergman, Oscar Madigan). His birth takes place in Europe, according to one source in Moscow, but this might be incorrect. He was for sure baptised in Berlin, Germany on May 4, 1871.
    I have not been able to find any information about neither Laura, Elvira nor Fredrik Jensen in Europe (nor in America) between Laura's two births in 1867 and 1871. Neither do I have any information about what happened to Mr. Fredrik Jensen. There is some unconfirmed information saying that he died at an early age, but not a word about where and when this should have happened. When Laura turns up again in Europe, she's obviously living with Mr. John Madigan (born in Lafitte, IN in 1850, dies in Gävle, Sweden in 1897). John's elder brother James (b. 1842) is obviously travelling with John in Europe from at least 1871 and onwards. I know from this site that James Madigan left New York for Europe on May, 11 1870, but it's not mentioned if his brother or other persons travelled with him. Is there any information about when John Madigan left America? I don't know if Laura and John met in the USA or in Europe.
    In brief, my questions are these: Is there any information concerning the presence of Fredrik Jensen, Eleonore Olsen (Laura Madigan), or Hedvig Jensen (Elvira Madigan) in America between 1867 and 1871? What happened to Mr. Fredrik Jensen? When did John Madigan leave for Europe.? Who were travelling with him? I hope that someone can be able to help me to answer these questions. Klas Grönqvist, Sweden Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 07 Jul 2011 - First, there is difficulty in aligning members of the Madigan family with Slout’s list of family members in his Olympians book against what is reported in the 1860 US census (Henry is identified as an equestrian aged 45; Mary 42, James 17, Charles 15, John 9, Ida 8, William 3). The census does not account for Emma, Ella, Rose, or Eggie who are all listed by Slout. However, Slout does not account for John, Ida, or William who are all listed in the census. Some could be older children not at home when the census was conducted (Rose may be in this group) or younger children born after 1860 while others may have died but I do suspect there are some mistakes here. I would allow Slout’s listing of Marie as the wife to be the same as the census giving Mary. And I should also note the census lists an Ellen Madigan, age 65, in the household as well as two servants. The census also states that Henry and Ellen were born in Ireland and Mary was born in England; all the children in the census were born in Pennsylvania and had attended school within the last year. Most sources state that Henry died in Jamaica in either 1862 or 1863. His widow Mary is said to have died in Albany, New York, on July 17, 1887, leaving five surviving children who all lived overseas.
        While father Henry P. is a very important figure in the US circus business during the 1850s, son James is the most prominent member with relatively more documentation for his whereabouts during the several years you are addressing in the late 1860s. He was a pad rider famous for his double somersault act (but more likely this was over an elephant rather than turned on the back of a horse). While with Forepaugh’s circus in early May 1869 at Paris, Kentucky, he landed on his head breaking his neck while attempting the double. It was widely reported in the newspapers that he was killed but he was not. There is some evidence for the activities of brother Charles at this time, including his engagement and subsequent marriage in February 1870 to Camilla, the youngest daughter of the clown and show owner Dan Gardner. John seems absent from the record but he was only 19 in 1870 when older brother Charles was getting married and older brother James, as you note, departs for Europe.
        Can you, however, determine who is the father of Richard Berman (born 1871 and son of Laura)? And where does his name Berman come from? What is the exact earliest record of John in Europe and, if different, the first precise record of his association with Laura? Are the sources for this information secondary (later writings years after the event) or primary (recorded at the time of their occurrence such as newspaper accounts for their appearance in a town) and likely more reliable? Another question to consider is how John Madigan could adopt Laura’s daughter Elvira if he didn’t marry the mother (Laura) until 1892, after Elvira’s death?
        Without better understanding the exact content of the 1902 Laura interview where she mentions being in the US, I would question John and Laurie meeting between 1868 and 1870. Evidence of any Madigan working in the US does fade after those dates and perhaps any visit to the US by Laura was with John for personal rather than professional reasons.
        It is interesting to note that James’ daughter Camilla Elvira Maria Madigan carries several family names: first, that of the wife of her father’s brother (Charles), then the name of her famous cousin (or step-cousin?) Elvira, and third is possibly for her grandmother Mary/Marie. Also, James’s daughter Rose may be named for James’ sister, about whom we do not have an adequate accounting. Is the spelling correct for James’ wife as Lovisa or do you mean Louisa?
        While in the US during the mid-1850s, the Madigan family had been partnered with the clown James Myers (1823-1882) in operating a circus during the mid-1850s in the US. Both Myers and the Madigan family went to Europe, likely from 1858-1864, to appear with Howes & Cushing, an American circus in England. Myers eventually settled in Europe and his “American Circus” became a large and important show on the continent. Perhaps Laura at some point was associated with Myer’s American Circus.
        Additional family history comes from the British theatrical journal, The Era. The obituary of Eggie Madigan, equestrian, age 34, appears in 1892 (July 16, page 6) and states he was the husband of Lizzie and brother of Mrs. Rose Myers (the wife of James Myers). The digitized Era is now searchable through 1900 but my note comes from looking at the weekly long before it was digitized; other Madigan references might emerge through a search at a library that subscribes to this database. I also have a note that James H. Madigan died in London in 1918 (this was during the great influenza pandemic), son William was killed in the World War on October 10, 1918 (British online military records could verify this), and that a grandson Coit was working as an animal handler in New Hampshire as late as 1936. New Hampshire suggests he was working at the animal farm of John Benson, then the American agent for Hagenbeck.
        In addition to the The Era (founded in 1838, its coverage of all kinds of theatrical affairs was strongest in the second half of the 19th century), there are three German journals that covered entertainments on the continent. Der Artist begins about 1883 as a fortnightly but soon became weekly and carried the itinerary of many shows. It lost its importance about 1905 when Das Programm started. Also, there is Der Komet, less influential but a bit older.
        Finally, the late Trolle Rhodin recalled for me the story of Elvira Madigan. Trolle had known some of Elvira’s family members who could remember the young circus rider before the tragic 1889 murder-suicide. He told me he had some items from the Madigan family and their circus including photographs at his home in Malmö. I trust his recollections appear in his posthumously published memoirs. - Richard Flint, Baltimore, MD

    Reply: 08 Jul 2011 - Thank you for the reply. As for Mr. Bergman, it has not been possible to find out who his father was. In official records, his last name is Olsen, his mother's last name, which indicates that his father was unknown (Laura probably knew, of course). He married his cousin Rosealty Amanda Madigan i Bergen, Norway Aug. 17, 1895. The following information can be found in the files (translated from norwegian): "He was, according to the certificates shown, born on March 30, 1871 - according to himself in Moscow - and was baptized on May 4 the same year in Berlin." (Quote from Anders Enevig: Fakta om Elvira Madigan og Sixten Sparre, 2005). I personally doubt that his birth place was Moscow, but the rest is probably correct. As long as I don't know his birth place, I'm not able to check the records for an assumed father.
        Richard Heinrich Olsen (alias Oscar Bergman) later divorced Rosa Madigan. According to Enevig, he then worked with many different circuses, from 1914 to 1920 with Circus Mundeling in Denmark. In 1920 he settled down in Odense, Denmark, where he worked as a violinist in a trio playing in a restaurant. He dies in Odense on June 8, 1929. According to the obituary, he was born in N.Y. on March 7, 1873 as an american citizen. Obviously completely faked data!
        I don't know if John Madigan had met Laura back in 1871. The earliest record of him I have is from Copenhagen, Denmark Nov. 16, 1876, when he according to an ad in "Berlingske Tidende" is doing his double somersault and also a "Pas de deux on two horses by Mr. Madigan and little Hedvig". (Hedvig = Elvira, who wasn't to get her stage name until 2-3 years later.) The Madigans were at the time with Circus Loisset, which by then had performed in central Europe for several years. The Madigans probably joined Loisset well before 1876, but at the moment I haven't been able to find out exactly when and where this happened.
        The father of Oscar remains a mystery; it could have been John Madigan, Elvira's father Fredrik Jensen (if he still was around), some Mr. Bergman, some Mr. Ulbinsky (Laura used the stage name Miss Ulbinska at the time), or somebody else.
        John Madigan never adopted Elvira. He probably couldn't, because John and Laura lived together for many years without being married.
        The 1902 interview with Laura Madigan comes from the swedish newspaper "Skånska dagbladet", Apr. 10, 1902. A section of the interview reads (in translation): "My husband was an american, and through him and through my work in America, I learned to regard that country with the same eyes as with which you regard your native country". From the interview you find out that Laura is obviously a bit uncertain about which country her homeland is. I'm not sure about Laura's citizenship; she was born in Finland by parents coming from Norway, she spent much of her childhood in Sweden, and had children with a dane and an american. Elvira's citizenship is also a mystery; she was born out of wedlock, so her citizenship should have been that of her mother's, which remains unclear. The information about Laura having been in America isn't necessarily correct, of course.
        You also mention the german newspaper "Der Artist". The dutch circus scholar Herman Linssen has been kind enough to provide me with some clips about Elvira from that paper. You also mention "Der Komet", which I haven't seen sofar. There was also a magazine called "Revue", but I haven't studied that paper either. Klas Grönqvist

    Reply: 08 Jul 2011 - Dick – Trolle Rhodin’s posthumously published memoirs are very interesting but does unfortunately not mention anything about Elvira Madigan!
        The Dean of Danish circus historian’s Anders Enevig has a copy of Elvira’s birth certificate. I quote:
        "Tag der Gerburt: 4. Dezember 1867, Ort: Flensburg
    Tag der Taufe: 19. Dezember 1867, Ort: Flensburg, St. Marien: Hedwig Antionette Isabella Eleonora Jensen
    Ueheliche Tochter der Eleonore Cecilie Christine Marie Olson aus Bilnesbruck in Russisch-Finland, 18 Jahre alt, und des Frederich Jensen"
        A retired Danish minister Didier Gautier writes on his website http://www.gautier.dk/ that Frederik Jensen probably died a few years later.
        According to Didier Gautier Eleonore met John Madigan in 1876 when Cirque François Loisset with which John Madigan was touring came to Gotenburg, Sweden. Eleonore and Hedwig joined John Madigan. It is unknown where their the couple and Eleonore’s daughter were where next couple of years. Touring in Germany could be a guess as well as a visit to John’s native country.
        In 1879 John and Eleonore established their own circus in Finland with which the later toured Denmark and Sweden. Kind regards, Ole Simonsen

    Reply: 09 Jul 2011 - John Madigan must have met Laura before they came to Gothenburg. In 1876, Circus Loisset was in Copenhagen before they moved on to Gothenburg. And in Copenhagen, John and Elvira performed together, as I mentioned in my previous reply. As there seems to be no trace of Laura in America, I'm declined to believe that she never made it to the USA, and that the information in the 1902 interview is incorrect. As long as no one can provide me with proof that she ever visited the US, I will assume that she met John Madigan somehwere in Europe. This could have happened anytime between 1870 and 1876, however. I'm in regular contact with Mr. Enevig about Elvira. I've also written to Rev. Gautier (whos ancestors were circus people, btw), but I haven't received a reply sofar. Klas Grönqvist

    Reply: 09 Jul 2011 - A month after the murder-suicide, the New York Daily Tribune for August 25, 1889, printed a dispatch from a correspondent in Rome giving much detail about the infamous event involving an “an American circus-rider named Elvira Madigan [who] is stated to have made her debut in the ring under the auspices of Mr. Barnum. Her mother achieved considerable notoriety some fifteen or twenty years ago by her expulsion from Berlin in consequence of the flagrant nature of her relations with a royal personage there.”
        By contrast, the Washington Post in covering the tragedy on July 28, when many US newspapers first reported the event, explained Elvira “belonged to a family of circus performers who are well known to the older followers of the craft in this country, although the Madigans have pursued their business in Europe almost exclusively for more than thirty years past. In 1857, Hank Madigan, his son James, who is the father of the dead girl, and his daughter Rose, went to Europe with Howe[s] & Cushing’s show. Hank returned to this country, but James remained abroad, and has been there ever since. His wife, too, was a performer, and in her early days was apprenticed to John Wall - Their daughter - was reported among the craft to be a graceful and daring rider, and to have a very attractive face and figure. It is asserted by one whose knowledge of circus performers extends forty years back, that the girl had probably never even visited this country, although both of her parents were Americans.” While there are several errors of fact in both these accounts, I suggest there are some interesting points—the challenge of whether Elvira ever was in the US but especially note that Bergmann’s baptism in Berlin was within the time range of Laura’s nefarious affair there! — Richard Flint, Baltimore, MD

    Reply: 11 Jul 2011 - Thank you for the reply. It's interesting to read what american newspapers wrote about the drama. Even less correct information than in European papers, obviously! None of Elvira's parents were americans, for sure. The rumours of Laura's affair with some royal person sound very familliar to me. Scandinavian newspapers brought the samy story, but about the fatherhood of Elvira, not of Oscar Bergman. Just after Elvira's death, several royal persons were "accused" of being Elvira's father, until her birth certificate was found in her hotel room, and the truth came to light.
        Regarding Mr Bergman's father, there is no evidence whatsoever that there's anything true about the gossips about Laura Madigan. It's probably just gossip. But if we assume that Mr Bergman wasn't born in Moscow, as he later claimed, Berlin is a more likely place for his birth, as he was baptised there. Perhaps someone in Berlin could help me looking him up in the archives there. But maybe you'll just find the information "father unknown". For sure I won't believe in Laura's affair until i get proof! After all, for me it' seems more likely that Bergman's father was a circus person of some kind than a royal person. Perhaps it could be possible to find out when the Madigans joined Circus Loisset by looking at newspaper ads and reviews. This is what I know about Loisset's whereabouts: His circus is said to have been in Antwerpen in 1873 and 1874. I've seen papers signed by him dated Brussels June 16, 1874, Strasbourg May 24, 1875 and Stettin Sep. 1, 1875. These are contracts with other artists, not the Madigans. But if you look at newspapers from these cities and from these days, you might find something about John Madigan and Laura (then probably called "Miss Ulbinska"). Klas Grönqvist

    Reply: 10 Aug 2011 - A Dane, Lisbeth Kelly, who for the time being is living in Ireland, has written to Anders Enevig and asked if anyone has further info on the birthplace of John Madigan’s father Henry. She seems to be willing to do some research in Ireland if someone can put her “on the track”. Furthermore she has asked if there is more than one Henry Madigan in the American Circus History. And if Ellen was Henry’s wife. Can anybody answer her questions? Ole Simonsen

    Reply: 15 Aug 2011 - I've received the following information from Mr Enevig: Henry Patrick Madigan, born 1815, Albany, NY, dies Dec. 15, 1862 Kingston, Jamaica. Spouse: Marie Madigan; 8 children: Emma, Ella, Rose, Eggie, James Henry b. 1843 (1842 according to other sources), Charles, John Adalbert (b. 1850), Ida. John Madigan was born in Lafayette, IN ("Lafitte" on the tombstone, is there such a place?) Aug. 12, 1850; dies Gävle, Sweden Aug. 23, 1897. John had one daughter: Motalia Maria Madigan, born in Motala, Sweden May 7, 1891, dies Lund, Sweden Feb. 15, 1892. The mother was Eleonore Cecilie Christine Marie Olsen ("Laura Madigan"), who was also the mother of Hedvig Jensen (Elvira Madigan) and Richard Heinrich Olsen (Oscar Bergman/Oscar Madigan). Klas Grönqvist

    Reply: 17 Aug 2011 - Reply to Klas Grönqvist and perhaps Richard Flint. Thank you for your quick reply. As you can see I am particularly interested in the Irish connection. The Madigan name has always been a puzzle to me. Klas Grönqvist writes that Henry was born in the US so it could have been his father or parents who emigrated from Ireland and long before the Famine. In his reply 7/7-2011 Richard Flint writes that Henry was born in Ireland and if that is true, I should love to know where in Ireland he came from, when he came to America and maybe why. Was Ellen Henry's mother? She too is said to have been born in Ireland. Was Henry's father also connected with circus life? Lisbeth Kelly.

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3708. Myrtle & Willard Wadleigh, 03 Jul 2011 - I am trying to find information on my family genealogy and am at an impasse with my grandfather and his sister. During the late 20s and early 30s my Great Aunt Myrtle Wadleigh and my Grandfather Willard Wadleigh traveled with the circus out of NY. My great aunt was a lion tamer (I know she was the one who put her head in the lion’s mouth). Her husband JP Henderson was the leader of the circus band. My grandfather, being the youngest child during the depression, was sent with her during the summers in order to earn his way. I would really like to know which circus they were with. I know that it was one of the major circuses out of NY. Ringling Brothers said that they did not have a record of them. I would greatly appreciate any information that anyone might have regarding these people. It is possible that they were with Cole Brothers or another major circus that spent time in NY. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Karen. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3707. Ringmaster vs. equestrian director, 02 Jul 2011 - I am digging deep, trying to better understand the difference. I realize the equestrian director (Al Ringling, Fred Bradna as examples) never once announced a single act, but that, as I have recently discovered, under them worked ringmasters, each assigned to one of the rings, who, according to the book, Step Right Up, "could make announcements, but weren't allowed to blow a whistle." This sounds so very strange. Here is my question: Does this mean the ringmasters could make announcements pertaining to the action in their respective rings to customers seated close by? This does not make sense to me. I am hoping that somebody can illuminate me. Thanks much. David Lewis Hammarstrom Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 14 Jul 2011 - In the early English and French circuses, you find "directeur equestre" or "equestrian director", by the fact that about 80 per cent of a program was based on horses. They didn't spoke (the same for clowns), because the use of word was forbidden to circuses, by the complicate theatre legislation both in England and France during XIX century. French synonimous, still used today is "Monsieur Loyal", from the line of Loyal dinasty of equestrian directors. In Italy we still today use "direttore di pista". The use of whistle I suppose to be an American introduction due to the large hippodrome/3 ring space. Raffaele

    Reply: 16 Jul 2011 - This is a very interesting subject. Not too sure about the American concept but in England the Ringmaster should be image, voice, persona, and knowledgable about all circus skills and art. Ideally a good manager, an ex-artiste and equestran person (I do say should be!). Perhaps you may like to visit my thread Circus Art and Artistes on www.childrenschoices.co.uk for the longer view. Tom Sandow

    Reply: 27 Jul 2011 - Your replies are most interesting, gentlemen, and I thank you. The history of how the equestrian director evolved into what it is today, broadly referred to as "ringmaster," could encompass a long monograph if not a book. I think for Fred Bradna, his function might be likened to the stage manager of a play. Our U.S. shows gradually retired the term "equestrian director" in favor of "performance director" or "ringmaster," the latter popularly known for making dramatic announcements. Sometimes both roles are assumed by the same person. I have removed from my manuscript the notion of each ring having a ringmaster who could make independent announcements; it just does not make sense. The whistle, by most accounts, was introduced by Al Ringling. David L.H.

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3706. Circus elephant, 01 Jul 2011 - In 1954 Drayton Hastie, owner of Channel 2 (then WUSN-TV) in Mount Pleasant, SC, bought a young Asian elephant from a NY animal importer. They named her Suzie Q and until 1963 she lived on the front lawn of the TV station, where she was a popular attraction. (This was a younger elephant than the King Bros/Hoxie Bros circus performer of the same name). In 2008 Mount Pleasant put up a historical marker for Channel 2 and Suzie Q, though no-one at the time knew what had happened to the elephant after she left there in 1963. It is thought that in 1963 Suzie Q was trucked to a roadside zoo in Florida. Later she went to KY, probably to Charles Garvin's Beech Bend Park Zoo, where she remained until the zoo closed (late 60s?). At that time she was probably bought by a circus, where her name was changed. Does anyone know where this elephant went and what her new name was? If she's still alive she'd be in her late 50s now. Thank you, Babs Clarke, Nashville, TN Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 02 Jul 2011 - According to Don Marcks, Gopher Davenport had a Suzie Q by 1977 and as late as 1985. Dave

    Reply: 05 Jul 2011 - Many thanks for your reply. I wonder which Suzie Q Davenport had. The older elephant's records cease in 1977 ("No further records"), so perhaps she didn't die that year but went to Gopher Davenport instead? Or it may have been the Suzie Q from SC. Babs Clarke.

    Reply: 05 Jul 2011 - I was in Charleston in the early spring of 1957 and photographed this elephant in front of the TV station - -Richard Reynolds

    Reply: 06 Jul 2011 - The other Suzie Q may have been the "Sue" who died on the 1977 Hoxie show of pneumonia and is buried at Fernandina Beach, Florida. Bob Cline - help me out here. Dave

    Reply: 09 Jul 2011 - The tracing of elephants lives is a befuddling adventure. While some are rather easy to do, ones such as this are a mystery. I am not aware of this elephant living in Mt. Pleasant (near Charleston) SC. There were a number of animal importers in the late 1950's with Henry Trefflich coming to mind as far as a New York connection. The names of elephants have been changed over the years for various reasons which complicates the entire process. I would doubt that she went to Charles Garvin's in the mid 1960's however as all his elephants came from the reduction of the Ringling/Barnum herd after they closed under canvas in 1956. The Susie Q I have listed below is the only Susie Q I know about. Bob Cline
    SUZIE Q, Female Asian
    1947 - King Bros. Circus
    1949 to 1950 - Rogers Bros. Circus
    1952 - Hills Bros. Greater Shows
    1954 to 1957 - Ring Bros. Circus
    1958 - Trapeze Bros. Circus
    1959 to 1960 - Ring Bros. Circus
    1961 - Bailey Bros. Circus
    1962 - Fargo Bros. Circus
    1963 to 1965 - Hoxie Bros. Circus
    1966 - Beers-Barnes Circus
    1967 to 1977 - Hoxie Bros. Circus

    Reply: 13 Jul 2011 - Many thanks for your responses. Some articles (with photographs) about the Mount Pleasant Suzie Q can be found online. They date from 2008-2009, when the city was putting up the historical marker and wondering what had happened to their elephant. Three circus elephants attended the unveiling of the marker in March 2009. One article is at:
    http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2009/mar/28/an_elephant_they_never_forgot76773/
    In November 1958 some students from the Citadel stole Suzie Q and drove her to a Citadel/VMI football game. Babs Clarke.

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3705. Royal American Show 1940-43, 23 Jun 2011 - I am hoping that someone may have information about a specific show, The Royal Ice Palace Revue of the Royal American Show. As some of you might know, The Royal American Show was the World’s largest Midway. It was innovative in every way. Back in the 1940’s it traveled by train. It had unusual revues that were usually family entertainment.
    I am writing a memoir of my birthmother. She was an ice skater and she began her professional career with a 3-year tour with the Royal American Show. 1940 -1943. She was a member of the 6-girl chorus of skaters., often called the Iceolettes. Her names were Charlotte Stempniak, Charlotte Stepniak, Charlene Delawah, and her nickname was Sharley. The spelling of her name varied all thru her life, the Charlene Delawah, (say Delaware in a French way,) was her main stage name. She was 20 years old and from Detroit Michigan, when she joined the show.
    I have some great photos and one of the revue tent. It had five figure skaters painted on each side, with the background of a snowy mountain. In most photos of the skaters and in the Royal American’s 1940 six page brochures, the six girls were outfitted in majorette type costumes with a feather plume in their hat. The girls were: Charlotte Stempnaik, Ruth Weitman, Helen Huron, Albina Kania, Lucille Lohmann, Christine Pieske. The following people were also with the show: Margie Petaja, Finnish Ice skating star; Joan Walters; A skating act called Lee and Fendt, trick and figure skating; Harry Douglas, The Buffoon of the Ice; Red Sissley “ Mad Russian”
    Lou Stratton, "The Greek" was their outside talker. They had a flirtation by May, 1940 when she was in Milwaukee. From a postcard she sent to her sister, "Our talker, Lou is stuck on me and he is handsome." He worked on the show at least till the end of 1940 in Mobile AL. In 1941, he was on the Beckmann and Gerety show. Her mail was sent in January 1940 to the Lafayette Hotel in Tampa Florida in care of Don Cook. Any idea who he was? Cook sent Charlotte a postcard from Tampa on January 4th, 1940, prior to her run. There was also a mention of a Mr. Edgar. He was going to have a gold princess costume made for her in October 1940, while they were in Mississippi. From another post card "Mr. Edgar is talking about our show for next season." Any idea what position he held with the show?
    The Ice Palace Revue of The Royal American Show skated on Icolite. It was a great new invention; skaters on ice in the summer, under a tent and ice that could be broken down and rebuilt again. I have uncovered some information about Iceolite, but briefly, it was describe as special wax composition that was created in 1938 by Bessie Pastor and her husband Michael Berney as a synthetic ice in the Toledo, Ohio home in 1938. The Iceolite Corporation in Detroit Michigan produced Iceolite in the 1940’s. They even had a skating troupe called the Iceolrttes, which performed at the Detroit auto show In 1946. Since, Charlotte was from Detroit and the costumes looked the same as the RAS show, (I still haven't been able to see this photo clearly) I believe that RAS and Iceolite had some sort of marketing deal between them. A Detroit firm in 1940, The Iceolite Corporation, manufactured it. Iceolite was expensive, at a price of $2.50 per sq. ft. The R.A.S. rink at 60 ft. by 30ft cost $4,700. Scratches and shavings cut by skate blades could be melted back smoothly into the rink's surface with flat irons. The irons would also be used to meld the cracks between the blocks after they are laid down. Liquid Iceolite was poured into molds, congeals into blocks 2 by 3 ft. and 1½ in. thick. It was laid on any level surface—wood, concrete, steel. Since it is impervious to moisture and hot weather, Iceolite could be skated on in any climate and at any season.
    I would like to hear from anyone who might remember seeing the show, or knows any of the people I have listed. I don’t know when the Ice Palace Review ended, but it also played nightclubs, couples could dance on the ice afterwards. I am curious to know what happened to the revue and who owned it; the show or a promoter. As I understand, Dick Best was at the R.A.S. during this time. I wonder if he had anything to do with this revue? Mesha at mprovo@bellsouth.net Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 25 Jun 2011 - James Edgar (1909-1957) is best known as the owner and operator of the Sparks Circus of 1946-1947, a motorized show the first season that toured on rails in the second. If you peruse the article index on the CHS website, you will find several about this circus operation. Googling "James Edgar" could also lead to more references concerning him.
        Richard J. Reynolds III's excellent article "Venice, Florida and the Circus," Part 1, in "Bandwagon," Nov-Dec 1994, includes a biography of James Edgar. It is available for purchase as a back issue. Edgar was wealthy and had the cash to invest as he desired. Notably, Richard noted that Paul Ringling, the bonafide grandson of Alf T. Ringling, still residing near Miles City, Montana today, saw Edgar's 1940 Royal Ice Palace Review and knew the man personally. I'm sure Paul would gladly receive a telephone call from you and share his memories with you.
        Googling "Iceolite" brought forward an entry for the show as an attraction at the 1939 Detroit auto show. Named were some of the people that you mentioned in your posting. Most of the hits were snippets relating to the new technology. As with many synthetics, it appears that there were some drawbacks to Iceolite and development may have been thwarted by the commencement of the war.
        A January 12, 1946 article in "Billboard" [page 52, available on-line by simply Googling "Royal Ice Palace Revue"] specifies Edgar as president of Ice Skating Ventures, Inc. and describes his tented skating attraction, "Ice Gayety," with a 30 x 60 foot rink. It utilized a freezing plant to create actual ice. A number of circus veterans, Whitey Versteeg and Arnold Maley, were with it. Towards the end of the article it mentions that he toured the US in 1940 with his Royal Ice Palace Revue and an Ice-o-Lite rink. It sounds as though he may have been the proprietor, the principal with the capital to form it, until entering the U. S. Army in January 1941.
        There is a good chance that additional information on the Royal Ice Palace Revue will be found in weekly issues of "Billboard" during the years it operated. The journal isn't available on-line for those years, yet, but you may be able to have your local interlibrary loan person secure microfilm on loan for your perusal. Billboard's news columns will also be where you are most likely to find information about the other staffers with the Edgar outfit. A check of Edgar's hometown newspaper would also be in order; he seems to have had the knack for garnering free publicity with his media releases.
        Bob Goldsack and Fred Heatley published a book about RAS a few years ago. I believe that it's out of print, but second hand copies do come up for sale. There were also several publicity booklets issued by RAS that might be worth checking. Newspapers for the communities along the RAS route may also have articles about the unusual skating attraction. Some may have been digitized an made available on-line.
        The Ice-o-Lite technology may have fallen through the cracks between roller and ice skating. Regardless, you may want to contact museums that document these fields to determine if they have any materials of interest to you. Often "fringe" items are collected and preserved, along with the primary mission goals. I'd recommend contacting the National Museum of Roller Skating in Lincoln, NE - http://www.rollerskatingmuseum.com/ They may know of an authority on the topic. I'm not certain if there's an equivalent museum for ice skating, focusing on the activity in North America. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

    Reply: 06 Jul 2011 - Fred, Thank you so much to your reply on my question #3705. I will follow up on all your leads. I am still stunned with the wealth of information that you were able to give me about, James Edgar and Icolite. I will keep in touch as I delve into it. I have been able to contact Fred Heatley and he has expressed an interest in my pursuit of the Royal Ice Palace Review. I will try to locate Paul Ringling. Once again, thank you for your invaluable superb information. Just amazing. Mesha Provo

    Reply: 18 Jul 2011 - I really enjoyed your information on the Royal American ice show. In doing research for my carnival books and especially Girl Show I came across many show girls and feature strippers who had worked on Royal over the years. One of the Lorow (they had the side show and girl shows) family recalled the ice show as a kid and mentioned that on very hot days the wax would melt. The under side was like a rope matting and the rope pieces would poke through the wax. Sometimes one of the skaters would catch the rope and fall. Contact me at: stencell@sympatico.ca and I'll put you in touch with those that may help you further. Al Stencell

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3704. Ricketts in Montreal, Physical Snob, 22 Jun 2011 - Hello circus world! I have recently become extremely interested in the intersection of 18th-century circus and dance. I am studying colonial social-dance history and in the course of my research discovered that a popular English Country Dance called The Physical Snob was possibly named after, or performed as part of, a comedy performed by the Ricketts circus in Montreal, December 1797. I have found only limited information regarding this; I do have a copy of Durang's memoir and have seen an article on Canadian Theatre history that describes Rickett's stint in Canada, but nothing more. If anyone has further information or tips, on The Physical Snob or dancing in general within the circus context, I would be extremely grateful. Many thanks in advance! Karen, Department of Dance, York University, Toronto, ON. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 28 Jun 2011 - Durang's memoir suggests that Ricketts was innovative in trying to engage the local population in various activities after the initial interest in his presentations had been satisfied. It may have been for that reason that The Physical Snob was found of interest to him, if he wasn't the originator. It was presumably something known to some leading fraction of the local population and was therefore a means to attract them to his circus [the building] and the performance staged therein.
        The local Montreal newspapers of the time in question are likely the best source for commentary on the specific presentation of The Physical Snob. You'll need to check engagement slates before Montreal to ascertain how early it was mentioned in his advertising. Presumably you've already accessed those issues that survive.
        Cuts did not come into general use in ads and bills issued by showmen until after 1800 [the 1810s?], so your reliance will be upon textual descriptions unless you discover some remarkable new documentation. Ricketts handbills are scattered in various public and private collections and could prove to be a worthwhile resource. They often contain a bit more text than ads. These will take some diligent searching to uncover, since some earlier theatrical collections that likely include them are not yet under intellectual and physical control. "Bills" were mentioned in his initial newspaper ads for the first April 4, 1793 engagement at Philadelphia.
        An examination of the Durang papers at the Historical Society at York County might reveal some aspects not included in the volume edited by Downer. I haven't heard of anyone personally examining the holdings there, but it's possible.
        The late Stuart Thayer was the most prolific writer about Ricketts era, but others including Dominique Jando, Matthew Wittman and Kim Baston have done research on the period but have yet to publish their results. The bulk of Thayer's writings are found in his "Annals of the American Circus," "The Performers" and the anthology on this website, as well as other articles to be located via the "Bandwagon" index on the website. Annals mentions the Montreal date, and a couple of the acts, and also makes mention of the Canadian perspective on ring activity, which had not been seen there before. Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

    Reply: 02 Jul 2011 - The definitive work on Ricketts is theatre historian James S. Moy’s “John B. Ricketts' Circus, 1793-1800” (PhD diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1977). In his chronological list of Ricketts’ appearances published as Appendix A (unpaged), Moy lists “The Physical Snob,” as a comedy performed on Dec 27 per the Montreal Gazette of Dec 25, 1797. In a quick check of the appendix, I saw no other listing for it. Moy, however, did miss listing a New York City presentation of “The Physical Snob” on July 10, 1797, when that “Comic Interlude” was presented with Durang in the title role per a search of series 1-3 of the Early American Newspaper Series (perhaps this series is available at your university). The author subsequently drew heavily from his second (of three) chapter of his dissertation for his "Entertainments at John B. Ricketts's Circus, 1793-1800" published in the Educational Theatre Journal 30, no. 2 (May 1978): 186-202. Undoubtedly, the journal article will be easier for you to access and is thorough but you should look at both. They provide the best discussion and informed interpretation of Ricketts’ career and the entertainments he presented.
        The late dance historian Marian Hannah Winter was fascinated by the intersection of dance and popular entertainments, especially circus, though her pioneering and most influential work was on Master Juba. While her text seems all-to-brief, you must look at her heavily illustrated Le the?a?tre du merveilleux (Paris, 1962), translated as Theatre of Marvels (NY, 1964) but the latter edition has a couple of publishing errors, especially in the pairing of illustrations and captions. You won’t find direct references in response to your query but if you are working on dance and the circus, her research is the work to know. Hannah Winter’s significant collection was a bequest to the Harvard Theatre Collection at her death.
        It has been said that the status of dance history in North America has not been strong, at least in the broader sense as treated in other disciplines; theatre history was similarly plagued until the last decade or two when it began to incorporate a broader, more historical and inter-disciplinary approach. Nevertheless, two organizations have provided some focus in recent decades and very likely you know of them: the Committee on Research in Dance (CORD) and the newer Society of Dance History Scholars; scan the list of work of members in the latter group at their website and contact those who have pursued similar topics.
        Kate Van Winkle Keller has done important work on dance for the period you are working in and, though it does not seem to include Canadian sources, look at the CD project that she spearheaded, The Performing Arts in Colonial American Newspapers, 1690-1783 (New York: University Music Editions, 1997). It includes a wide range of performances and has excellent ways to access the data, including the 45 unique woodcuts that accompanied 230 citations from among nearly a quarter million! So you see, as Fred Dahlinger rightly states, illustrations are rare.
        Surprisingly, the ESTC includes only one citation to the phrase “Physical Snob” and that is the title to a song published as a single sheet in Nottingham by Burbage and Stretton who worked between 1793 and 1807. Richard Flint, Baltimore, MD

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3703. Frankie Saluto's trunk, 21 Jun 2011 - A while back a message was posted concerning Frankie Saluto's trunk which the current owner was looking to place with an appropriate organization or individual. Does anyone have this person's contact information? Finnegan. [See message #426] Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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3702. Swinton & Jones - Ringling, 20 Jun 2011 - Does anyone have additional information on African American song & dance men who performed with the Ringling Bros. sideshow in the 1910s: Swinton & Jones (Benjamin Swinton w/Clyde "Dollar Bill" Jones), P. A. Venable sideshow annex band & minstrelsy company (1917 season); or Willie Brown (1916 season). Benjamin Joseph Swinton was born May 4, 1893 in Charleston, South Carolina & had a brother named Clarence Swinton. Willie Brown was from New Orleans & possibly had a wife named Ruth Brown. Clyde Jones also performed as comedian/drummer in James Wolfscale’s Band with Barnum & Bailey (1918 season); possibly had a wife named Hima Jones. He continued his vaudeville career into the 1920s in the Washington, D.C. area, performed with the Anita Bush company, and was a member of the Colored Actors’ Union. I've exhausted all the usual sources ~ Carolyn, New York, NY Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 21 Jun 2011 - I'm not certain what you mean by "usual sources", but these might be opportunities: bibliographies and resources utilized by Abbott and Seroff; "Billboard," "New York Clipper" and "Show World" reviews of show openers and subsequent weekly commentary on the season's tours, which sometimes list bandsmen; Isaac Marcks notes, show rosters for 1910s [CWM library, organized by year, fountain pen ink on orange paper]; Ringling employment ledgers [CWM library, north room and RBBB business records]; Sverre O. Braathen circus band rosters and bandsmen listings [covers big show bands and some sideshow bands and bandsmen, copies at ISU-Bloomington; CWM library; Ringling Museum]. The yellow tickets, a name-finding aid, can be checked at CWM, it also has references to published show rosters. They also hold the photographic work of Steve Albasing, aka "101 Heck," a wardrobe dept. employee who documented a number of the Ringling tours between about 1913 and 1918; box of copies of original materials relating to black personnel with circuses [CWM library]. I'm positive that Albasing photographed the Ringling sideshow band, perhaps in several seasons. The nature of most of these items justifies on-site research. What you are seeking will require considerable digging, but will also provide you with an understanding of the context of the times. You may also want to refer to past CHS message 3056 for general knowledge. Fred Dahlinger, Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art [CWM, Circus World Museum]

    Reply: 23 Jun 2011 - Dear Fred: Many thanks for this very helpful information. I have been in contact over the past year with Lynn Abbott (and his enlightening books) and had consulted the digitized press to glean the few biographical details I have, but only recently contacted CWM. Your "digging" details provide excellent direction which I will be sure to follow, as it appears that a trip to Baraboo may be in my future! Cheers, Carolyn.

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3701. Central Show Printing, 19 Jun 2011 - Central Show Printing Co. of Mason City, Iowa was run by Willard (Bill) Temple and produced many circus posters through the 1950's. I'm interested in more information on Central Show, esp. whether they created their own original drawings or did they use stock images created elsewhere? For a possible exhibition in Mason City. I'm also interested in hearing from those who have Central Show posters in good enough condition for exhibition and/or reproduction. David Egloff, david dot egloff at oberlin dot edu. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 20 Jun 2011 - Central Show Printing along with co-owned Temple Litho produced dozens of customized posters, along with many stock images, during the late 20th Century. Central did some outstanding work (half sheet flat panels) for Seils Sterling, along with some lithos for Howard Y. Bary's Hagenbeck Wallace of 1938 and a number of posters for the Tom Mix Circus. In addition, Central Show Print did a number of custom posters for magicians during the 1950s. If you would like to contact me at circusposters@gmail.com I can give you some additional information on the company and send you some images of Central Show Print and Temple posters from my collection. Chris Berry

    Reply: 08 Jul 2011 - Hello, I have consulted with the Mason City Public Library on occasion and their Chief Librarian told me that the library has a number of Central posters in their collection. Many of these are large multiple sheet posters that some Volunteer had been “restoring” prior to a complete renovation and addition to the building a couple of years ago. Although the restorations are probably not to museum standards, perhaps the library would lend some of their posters to your exhibition. The Chief Librarian also said that there were many posters around Mason City in various private hands, especially those that may have worked for and retired from the company. I would recommend that you contact the Mason City Public Library main branch for more information. Neil Cockerline, Minneapolis, MN

    Reply: 10 Jul 2011 - Central Show Printing was active from about 1937 to 1985 in Mason City, Iowa. Letters to the firm in early 1937 from the King Bros. Circus notes that the show was to change the title from Schell Bros and George Engesser requested a list of all the Schell Bros. paper that they had in stock. The change was to be to Schell Bros. and Manuel King Circus or the King Circus. By March 1937 the show was to change the old Schell Bros heralds and a new one was ready to go with some modifications. In July 1937 it was suggested by the agent on Chase & Sons Circus that the show get out a special one sheet type bill reading Chase & Sons Circus featuring Gentry Bros. Original Trained Animal Show. At the same time the Central printed 50,000 merchant tickets and shipped them, however a month later the owners of the show did not want to pay for the tickets as they went to the agent and never made it to the show. The agent also informed Central that the grift on the show was so bad that they were closing and Central better get their money ASAP. The Tom Mix Circus in March 1937 requested 115,000 passes in different colors. The show noted that they "Opened up the paper here (Texarkana, Texas) and was very well pleased with it with the exception of the 21 x 56 date which we were under the opinion it was to run up/down instead of across as this makes a very hard piece of paper to put up this way." The business at Central must have been brisk in early 1937 as invoices which numbered #68417 was dated 2/25/37 while invoice #69480 was dated 4/6/37.The Parker & Watts Circus had a one sheet poster of the interior of the big top, and it was marked Temple Litho - Chicago - Mason City. The Parker & Watts Circus archives does exist and there might be additional information in it concerning posters. A one sheet for the Seils-Sterling Circus was owners portrait bill is marked Central Show Printing Company. The Lewis Bros. one sheet showing Captain Wallace troupe of horses is marked Central Show Printing Co. Mason City, Iowa. One of the last one sheet posters I could find was done by Central Show Printing Co., Inc, showing a large tiger and tent in background that was done for the Franzen Bros.Circus in the 1970s/80s. In addition Central did print a number of window cards for the Lewis Bros. 3 Ring Circus in 1941, Carson & Barnes Circus in the 1970s, The Syrian Shrine Circus in the 1970s, Franzen Bros Circus in the 1970s and 1980s, Stebbings Royal Circus in the 1970s and the 1984 Kelly Miller Circus. You have an interesting email address - are you at Oberlin College, as I occasionally get to Elyria? John Polacsek

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