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I am looking for information about a circus called Kelly Bros. that was around about 100 years ago. They wintered in Petersburg Illinois. Jacob G. Smith was a trapeze artist with them and I think when he met his future wife in Petersburg he then gave up the circus life and became a local businessman. He also had two sons in the circus life. John Smith (known as Cap’ Smith) was a horsetrainer with Cole Bros circus and his other son Harry was in a circus but I don’t know which one or what he did. Hope you can help me.

DeAnne

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The Illinois State Journal Register on November 9, 1984 carried an article about the Circus Ring Barn in Petersburg, which was originally operated by as Shipp’s Indoor Circus from 1890 to 19l0. Then it was taken over by Patrick and Daniel Kelly as Kelly Brothers Winter Circus, and the ring barn was taken down in 1937. It noted that by “using kindness and repetition, John Smith trained 3 to 6 year old horses to box, The horses stood up on their hind legs and boxed.” Another story about the circus in Petersburg noted that John Smith was a horse trainer and the son of Jake Smith. Died June 20, 1969 at Peru, Indiana, buried at “Showman’s Rest.” The article also had a note that Jake Smith was a tightrope walker with the Miles Orton Circus, who would have been active from 1885 to 1906.

John Polacsek

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