There is information on John Worland (real name Comosh) in William Slout’s Olympians of the Sawdust Circle (see Publications to order Olympians). On pages 334-335, here’s just some of the information listed. Born 9 Aug 1855, died 5 Jul 1933, native of Corning, NY. Father a Portuguese immigrant. Entered circus in ca. 1865 at age 10 (lists a number of circuses he was with, including Forepaugh’s and W. W. Cole’s in the 1880s). Best known for his leaping and triple somersault. Married Josephine Campbell in Corning in 1884. When he died at Corning at age 78, he had been in the coal business. Active in Corning government, held various official positions (listed). Children: John Jr., Josephine, Margaret. There is an article in Bandwagon, Jan-Feb, 1864, pp.20-23, “Truth or Fiction: Legend or Fact,” by Pierre Couderic, on the triple somersault and includes information on John Worland. Worland was said to be the only leaper actually documented to have performed the triple from a springboard. At http://worldacro.org/was/newsletter/fullarticle_arc.php?item=14, states that Worland wrote “The Origin and History of the Trampoline” in 1925.
Hi. Eloise Berchtold was my Aunt. I have wonderful memories growing up and going to the circus and seeing her perform and a few photos (not many) especially interested in her acts with the white shepherds.
Hi Neil. I was working at The Toledo Zoo when Eloise was the animal trainer. I remember watching her Polar Bear act from backstage; was there when her African elephant, Koa, disappeared (I didn’t see the incident but was there when it happened; rumor has it that Koa knocked her down on two occasions. We had a feeling something like this was going to happen); and tore down and reassembled her steel arena every Sunday evening in the summer for Music Under the Stars, a symphony orchestra performance that took place in the ampitheatre. Where are you these days.
Greetings. Eloise is was my second cousin and I am trying to find out as much about her as I can. It seems history is a different story than what the “Family” story was. I never knew her death was so tragic. Family version was a little cleaner. All I know is I am proud to have such a person in my family line. I grew up in and live in Cincinnati and my Dad talk often about going over to his cousins house to watch her with her Bears. He has some very interesting memories of her. My Grandfather now deceased told me she helped set up the petting zoo at the Cincinnati Zoo. I have not been able to confirm this but that is what I was told. If you have any information on Eloise, please let me know.
Thanks, Richard R. Kuertz
Mr. Reynolds: You should review some of the older posts on Buckles’ Blog, as I recall during a discussion of Eloise Berchtold’s animal training talents, one of the responders said she had been trained by Eloise, and again as I recall, I believe she said she worked this mixed act. I could be wrong, but you should definitely go back and find that posting. You may end up with a first-hand account of the act for your troubles, if you can find out who the blogger was!
I would like some details about the cat act presented or broken by Eloise Berchtold in the early 1960s. It had spotted leopards, at least one black leopard, some large dogs claimed to have been wolves, and a zebra. I think the zebra may have been a horse painted up like a zebra. When was this act formed, where did it perform (I think one year on Kelly-Miller), and who were the various presenters besides Berchtold? What was the consist of the act as to various animals? What became of the act?
Thanks, Richard Reynolds
Hello, I worked props when Eloise Berchtold was with Rudy Bros in the 70s. The weight of her cage sections almost busted my chops, it was a big deal when work had built me up to where I could handle one alone. Morgan was pretty much the elephant guy, she did cats and exotic bears in the same cage, lions, tigers, pumas, never saw anything like it. When Herbie, the old black mained African lion was sick, Eloise took her meals in his wagon. Heard Raunchy was the elephant that killed her, he did have the crazy red eye thing going, guess that was not true though.
Thank you, Rob Nickels
We lived in Toledo, OH, 1963 to 1966. We had three young girls, and visited the Toledo zoo about once a month.
Eloise performed at the amphitheater at the Toledo zoo. Her star was a young African male named Koa. She also used bears, including a Polar Bear named Zero, who rode a motorcycle.
In 1965 she had a show topper performance. Bears. A highly trained Arabian horse. Koa. And, a steel arena with lions and tigers,a large bear and an Aoudad. She brought the horse into the arena with a platform on his back. When the horse went under the bear’s pedestal, it stepped down on the platform. The horse circled the arena, and the bear stepped back on its pedestal.
Koa was kept in the Zoo’s elephant house, as were a couple of female Asian elephants that belonged to the zoo. One day on our visit we found Koa missing, and inquired of the keeper. He advised that Eloise had been working with him on the stage preparing for the coming summer performances, when he knocked her down. She rolled with the blow off the stage and into the orchestra pit. Koa stood at the edge of the stage and trumpeted, but did not attempt to step down. He had always been afraid of getting close to the edge.
Eloise knew the act was ended. It took several hours to drive him back to his stall. Eloise was a native of Cincinnati, and phoned the Cincinnati zoo. She told the director what had happened, and offered Koa to the Cincinnati zoo. He was accepted on the basis that he fitted into the Cincinnati zoo, but if he misbehaved he would be fed to the cats. With that understanding Koa was loaded on a truck and went south.
I have many times said that I thought Eloise was the best all-around animal trainer I ever watched. The news wire report of her death in the Grand Rapids Press said her male African elephant was stepping down from a drum just as Eloise was running in front of him from one side to the other, when she slipped or stumbled and fell under the descending foot. Then the elephant stood straddling her and would not allow anyone to get near her. There was no one else on the premises who knew much about elephants. Its owner was phoned, and he said he would be there as soon as possible, that they should kill the elephant if acted badly. The owner flew from Kansas. Eloise was dead. The elephant apparently did not attack her at all, but guarded her after the accident.
Dear Camilo Gamboa, I currently own the property on the ridge high above Martins Island near the Columbia River. The local story is that Morgan Berry raised elephants and other exotic animals on about 80 acres here. I own about 30 acres of the original 80 acres if the story is true. Long time residents of this area claim that Packy the long time favorite draw to the Portland, Oregon Zoo was born here. They also say that Morgan Berry was killed by an elephant in the barn/holding pen of which the thick concrete walls are still intact. The original house of Morgan Berry is still being lived in. There is a new large sign that says “Elephant Farm.” The property is about 4 miles south of Kalama, WA. Also I recently met a man by the name of Bob Youngs that lives nearby that said he dated a daughter of Morgan Berry many decades ago.
I would sure like to buy a copy of your book when it is completed. Any pictures of Morgan Berry that you could share by email would sure be appreciated. Also do you have any info Eloise Berchtold? Click this link to my web site if you want to see maps and pictures of the site. http://www.wolf-nail.com/donsviewlots/ My apologies if the rumors are not true.
Best Regards, Donald E. Nail
Eloise trained me to take over “The Wild Animal Fantasy” in ’57 at the Libertyville winter quarters. She also helped me with “The Paramount Bears” as her then husband, John Cuneo was in hospital with serious burns from an explosion of the motor cycle, used in the bear act. I in turn helped Eloise train Koa, who was just a baby. Eloise and I remained friends and worked many shows together even after she & John were divorced and I became wife #2. I have a couple of web photo’s of Eloise & Koa taken at a show where Hugh O’brien was performing if they might be of interest.
Patricia Clarke Jameson Cune
Koa, the male African elephant, died while on display at the Cincinnati Zoo. Eloise may have been born in IL but spent her childhood in Cincinnati and worked (volunteered?) at the Zoo. She is mentioned in Lenore Brandt’s book, Monkeys as Pets. I believe she was still working Koa when she was training her mixed cage act at the Toledo Zoo in the early 1960’s. Koa was becoming more difficult to handle and Eloise placed him with the Cincinnati Zoo as an exhibit animal.
I believe that when Eloise Berchtold was working the elephant named Koa that she was John Cuneo’s wife. However, Koa was not the culprit in her demise. It was Teak that killed her on May 5th, 1978 in Rock Forest, Quebec, while performing on the Gatini Circus. A paper Giovanni Iuliani presented at the 2002 Circus Historical Society convention in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, was published under the title “Eloise Berchtold’s Last Performance” in the November-December 2003 issue of Bandwagon (p. 36-39). Giovanni Iuliani is co-author with Claude Bordez of “Dernier Tour de Piste” that covers the last performance of Eloise Berchtold. The book also covers the animal training and brings pro-animal circus arguments in response to animal activist movements. Published by JCL, a French-Canadian publishing house. Not available in English. Postscript: Eloise Berchtold’s body was creamated and shipped to Woodland, Washington. Morgan Berry spread her ashes on the farm. In June 1979 they found him dead in the barn next to an elephant named Budda.
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