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I am the great grandson of superintendent Walter McClain. I bear his name and intend to uphold his legacy my mother did extensive research before the internet but I still would like to know more. My grandfather was born 2 years before his death and is alive. He knew nothing of his father’s circus career until the 70’s. I’m just reaching out to others in a attempt to further trace my lineage.

Thank you, Sincerely, Braden McClain

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I had hoped someone more knowledgeable than I would have responded to this. I believe Walter McClain had the herd on the Sparks Circus from at least 1923 through 1931 (the show’s last year on the road). Then he went to the Al G Barnes Circus where he was in charge through 1938 (by which time the show was called Barnes-Sells-Floto). In that year Ringling-Barnum closed in June after some union problems; they later took some of their best acts and some animals to Redfield, SD where they became part of Barnes-Sells-Floto. That fall this enlarged show came back to Sarasota rather than the Barnes quarters in California. The Barnes show never went out again and thereafter McClain was Ringling-Barnum herd boss until his death November 25, 1942, when he was crushed by a runaway wagon at the “runs” or train unloading site. Years ago I knew a man Joe Shields in San Diego, formerly of Kansas, who was a cousin of McClain’s. That is all I know.

Whitey

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