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Does anyone have anything on a leaper who performed in the late 1800s. Info not handy right now, but his stage name was John Warland, “Leaper of Great Renown”. His real name was John Comosh from Corning, NY. He performed the triple somersault on several occassions. Travelled with John Ringling, Buffallo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show and Forepaugh’s Circus. Please let me know if you have anything at all.

Thank you

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Update: Thank you for your speedy and thorough response to my query re: John Worland aka Comosh. Great source references as well. Thank you. Here’s another, rather tortured question. It’s a thread I’m following. Maybe you can add to it. Albert Campbell, was a pioneer recording artist. John Comosh was his uncle. From the time his family moved from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY around 1876, and until about age 20, Albert lived in Corning. He finally quit glass-cutting and along with a cousin, “hit the stage”. He trouped around with various theatre/performing companies upstate (Manhattan-Philadelphia Opera Company might have been one). It wasn’t until he returned to New York City, met Edison and began recording at the dawn of the acoustic (Gramaphone/Victrola) era did he find his way to eventual recording stardom with Edison, Pathe, Victor, Columbia and others.
My question is, could Albert have trouped with his uncle, John Comosh/Worland upstate before heading to New York City? One of Campbell’s singing partners and later life, musical collaborators was Jack Kaufman, brother of recording artist, Irving Kaufman. Irving Kaufman was born in Syracuse, NY around 1890, and by 8 years of age, performed in Forepaughs & Sells Circus. He was a tenor singing with “Merrick’s Band of Fifty Pieces”. I know that circus acts could be on a Vaudeville show’s bill, but was it common for musical talents, singers, in particular, to perform with Circus troupes? Did others of the 1880-1920 generation, get their start this way? And, is there any record of Albert Campbell doing so, where he might have first met, or shared a common upstate NY circus past with a colleague like Kaufman.

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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.

Judy Griffin

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