Bandwagon, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Jan-Feb), 1962. Note: Only some articles are included in this online edition. Many illustrations are not included. The Circus Historical Society does not guarantee the accuracy of information contained in the information in these online articles. Information should always be checked with additional sources.
Lithograph: In 1917 Frank Spellman arranged for the Erie Lithography co. to print a program for his planned circus. The cover artwork was drawn using the title Spellman-Bostock-Kiralfy Combined Motorized Circus. The program was never printed and when the show finally hit the road for its short tour in 1919 it used the title America's Combined motorized circus. A proof of the cover shows photos of the three owners in the center, but the art work leaves this blank and we have substituted one of the wagons that was used in 1919.. McClintock Collection.
Circus historians are quite familiar with the oft used expression "Frank P. Spellman's short lived U. S. Motorized Circus." The show, which actually lasted only three days, has received far more notice among historians than would normally be accorded a similar show of such short duration. This attention is due, however, to the splendid set of tableau truck bodies built for the show by the Bode Wagon Co. Many of these were later converted into regular tableau wagons and turned many a parade mile in Fred Buchanan's Robbins Bros. Circus of the 20's and early 30's, and in Jess Adkins' and Zack Terrell's Cole Bros, and Robbins Bros, circuses of the late 30's. In fact some of these wagons rolled in the very last parade of the big railroad circuses and are fondly remembered by those of us who can recall the great days of the past.
Frank P. Spellman was a "promoter" type of showman in many ways and was often engaged in short lived ventures which at times ended in jams of one sort or another. He had a varied experience in show business over a period of many years. In 1905 the New York Clipper mentioned him as being in the business of booking acts for theaters. In 1909 he was operating a carnival. In 1914 Spellman with aid and equipment from John G. Robinson put out Frank P. Spellman's Combined Circus on 10 cars. The train was painted royal blue and the show claimed a parade with four bands and a large calliope.
Spellman's next venture was operating Frank P. Spellman's New York Hippodrome Shows, an indoor show using acts from Barnum & Bailey and Hagenbeck-Wallace. The Dec. 4, 1915, Billboard reported the show opening at the Motor Square Garden in Pittsburgh. The Feb. 5, 1916, Clipper reported that Spellman's indoor show opened at Philadelphia but had lost heavily, closed, and did not pay off the performers and other attaches.
After a series of failures with an indoor winter circus Spellman next began plans for a new railroad circus and the July 8, 1916, Billboard told of these plans, but two weeks later it was stated that Spellman's new show, instead of being on rails, would be a large completely motorized circus. In September of 1916 Roy L. Konalaushue, formerly with Wright Bros. Aero of Dayton, Ohio, joined Spell-man as superintendent of engineering with the job of helping design and launch the new motorized circus.
The United States Circus Corporation was formed with Spellman as president. The corporation launched a huge stock promotion and had a reported sale of $250,000. The company lost no time in going into the venture in a big way, spending the money freely. Contracts were let with the Kelly-Springfield Truck Corp. to furnish motorized equipment, and trailers were ordered from the Troy Wagon Co. of Troy, Ohio.
Accounts of the show's preparation were often highly exaggerated. For example the Jan. 27, 1917, Billboard stated that contracts had been let to Kelly-Springfield for 100 3 1/2 ton trucks, and to Troy Wagon Co. for 100 trailers. The May 23, 1917, New York Clipper also mentioned the 100 truck order and added that the show was paying $4000 each for them, and also stated that 60 wooden wagons were ordered at cost of $2000 each, and a large number of trailers were to be built. So far, I have never seen any reasonable account of the exact size of the show but think a conservative guess would be about 30 trucks and perhaps 15 or 20 trailers.
The May, 1917, issue of the Scientific American gave some interesting details of the equipment designed and built for the show. Plans were outlined for the modern mechanical stake driver, canvas spool, and crane stake puller. The article also mentioned that the show would have a road engineering crew equipped with four trucks and 22 men to work ahead of the show to repair and resurface bridges and to fix roads.
Spellman, with a flair of the sensational in him, startled the circus world when it was announced that he had offered Billy Sunday, the noted evangelist, two grand a day to tour with his new circus. Needless to say, and also happily for Spellman, no doubt, the Reverend Mr. Sunday practiced what he preached, resisted the temptation of the devil, and declined Spellman's offer. Billy Sunday was a great circus fan and lent his great influence and moral support to worthy circuses of his day. This was especially helpful since many small town pulpits were often used to warn their flocks of the "devil's work in the circus."
No definite opening date had ever been scheduled by Spellman for the show and it was generally understood that it would open when everything was ready. The May 9, 1917, Clipper quoted Spellman as saying the show's opening had been delayed because the trucks were not finished. It was also reported that the Bostock animals from Los Angeles that were scheduled to be delivered to the new show still had not arrived. At that early date doubts were arising in print in the trade publications whether the show would go out at all in 1917.
In June, 1917, Spellman purchased 174 acres near Toledo, Ohio, to be used as winter quarters by the show for a reported $100,000. Every report coming from the Spellman show was doctored up to sound big, with money evidently no problem, and the sky the limit. For example, when it was announced in the Nov. 17, 1917, Billboard that Louis E. Cooke had been signed as advance agent, it was also reported that the show's advance would have 25 Willys Knight and Overland automobiles, including a closed car for Mr. Cooke. Perhaps Mr. Cooke did get his closed car but the other 25 must be an obvious exaggeration. Accepting this sort of thing as 100 percent fact even when reported in the various trade publications such as the New York Clipper and the Billboard will often embarrass the novice circus historian unless he tempers his findings with logic and reasoning.
As pointed out earlier the main reason that historians remember the Spellman show so much is because of the set of beautiful new tableau truck bodies built for the show. An order in the fall of 1916 or early 1917 was placed with the Bode Wagon Co. of Cincinnati for 16 tableau bodies, which were to be mounted on trucks provided by the Kelly-Springfield Co. George Bellis of Wichita, Kansas, was the designing artist. Each tableau was to represent a different continent or individual country. Most of the tableaus had the name of the particular nation appearing on it. Bellis in a letter to the Billboard in 1943 stated that he also designed a monkey cage and a calliope for Bode to build for the show. It is assumed these were completed and delivered with the rest of the equipment. This large order for new parade equipment was the last ever completed by the Bode Wagon Co., in fact it was the last really large order of parade wagons ever built by any company in the country. I have determined the names of 15 of the original 16 tableaus. They are:
1. United States
2. Great Britain
5. Africa (erroneously called India in later years)
8. South America
The Germany tableau was started but was never completed due to the country's entrance into World War I on April 6, 1917, according to George Bellis. The Germany carvings had been made but the tableau body was not assembled. Construction of the tableaus was begun in early 1917 and extended into 1918.
Problems created by the U. S. entry into World War I increased rapidly. In June, 1917, Spellman suffered a nervous breakdown and the trade publications stated that his illness had stalled plans for the new show. The money raised by the stock promotion was fast being spent and creditors had begun to hound the show. Later in the summer of 1917 Spellman announced that the show would definitely open as soon as war and labor conditions would permit. He denied a report that creditors had asked Sam McCracken to initiate a Southern tour of the show in the fall of 1917.
In August of 1917 several of the new tableaus had been mounted on trucks at the Bode plant and made a trial run to Toledo. The run came off fine and it was evident that the show would be able to move alright once it opened.
In January of 1918 a fire at the Bode plant threatened to damage some of the Spellman advance cars and it was feared the damage caused would delay the completion of the rest of the order. By the Spring of 1918 the equipment was all completed and fully assembled. The April 27, 1918, Billboard reported that 14 floats and tableau trucks and a number of light advance trucks, constituting the first section of the new U. S. Motorized Circus left the Bode plant in Cincinnati and were driven to Toledo, home of the new show. The trip was made by way of Troy, Ohio, where the trucks picked up a number of trailers which had been built by the Troy Wagon Works of that city. The Billboard article described the new tableau trucks in glowing terms as follows: "The floats adorned with carvings and painted to symbolize various nations completely baffle description."
Still no opening date for the show had been announced. The country was now in the depths of World War I with heavy draft calls, labor scarce, and government war regulations were strict. Also the show's money had run out.
Photo No. 3 - South America tableau. From May 1917 issue of Scientific American. Joe Bradbury Collection.
The April 26, 1919, Billboard reported that Spellman had resigned as president of the U. S. Motorized Circus Corp. but had been retained with title of general director. The report was out that the stockholders were insisting the show go out and make some effort to operate. It was evident that the show was in financial difficulties and an attempted reorganization took place in August after it was decided to definitely open. The equipment was moved to Columbus, Ohio, and preparations were made to open the show.
The Aug. 9, 1919, Billboard contained an ad wanting circus acts for the show which would shortly open and run for twenty weeks. The staff assembled to operate the show included in addition to Spellman, Louis E. Cooke, general agent; Art Eldridge, general supt.; Jake Posey, general lot and transportation supt.; C. M. Henry, in charge of cookhouse; Jack Waltz, supt. of lights, and Burns O'Sullivan, equestrian director. W. E. Richards and W. W. Cole were also listed on the executive staff.
The performers contracted consisted of the Stickney Family of Riders, with Bob Stickney taking over duties as equestrian director; Adgie and her trained lions; Helen Osborn's 50 ft. high dive, and a Miss Millman, sister of Bird Millman, in an iron jaw act. What the show had in the way of a menagerie or sideshow attractions I have been unable to learn. The Bostock animals were scheduled for the show but I have my doubts as to whether they actually ever arrived on the show as per the reports from the Billboard and Columbus newspapers. Tent sizes are also unavailable, however I think it can be assumed the show would probably have a big top about a 100 or 110 ft. round with three 30's or 40's. At long last the show opened at Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, August 16, 1919.
A search of the Columbus Dispatch files by Fred Pfening produced some interesting items concerning the show's stand there. The title actually used by the show Was America's Combined Motorized Circus. It is evident that a new corporation was to be formed as the Aug. 13, 1919, Columbus Dispatch reported that "incorporation papers were filed Wednesday with the office of the Secretary of State by the America Combined Motorized Circus Co. with headquarters in Columbus. Capital stock is $100,000. Incorporators are Frank L. Hemminger, Hiram A. Rievere, William J. Miller, William F. McClure and Louis E. Cooke.
A sample of the "readers" provided to the Dispatch by the show appeared as follows. "America's One and Only motorized circus," "A show of shows." The new motorized circus is a new idea, born on a new thought, built on modern plans, with novel equipment of the latest type. Organized and conducted on military lines, different from all others, motorized and moving from city to city under its own power on automobiles, motor trucks and trailers. Going from one circus lot to another without a stop, making a continuous parade, gliding over the highway like a fleet of aeroplanes, no lumbering wagons or other useless junk. Independent in route and in transportation."
Another item in the Dispatch read, "Motorized Circus to Show Here, Aug. 15, 16. Improved roads and modern automobile making made the motorized circus possible. The idea was conceived by Frank P. Spellman, an old circus man and has been brought to a point of perfection by the organization of which he is an officer. Mr. Spellman, and Louis E. Cooke, formerly with Barnum & Bailey and Buffalo Bill, officials of the motorized circus have been in Columbus for several weeks. Columbus was chosen as the most logical central point whence the circus might begin its tour. The many trucks and trailers in the outfit will assemble at the Municipal Circus Grounds and after the two days performance will start on a thru journey east, playing towns along the route to New York City, the first objective of the novel new organization." The article went on to say that Mrs. Claudia Daily is bringing her horse, Major Dave, a prize animal of the show ring, to join the circus.
Evidently the show was planning on establishing quarters in Columbus or it could only have been good press agent copy but the Aug. 12 Dispatch reported the following: "Planning to Winter Circus in Columbus. Messrs. Cooke and Spellman announced that they had taken an option on 20 acres of land north of the Sells property, where a zoological garden is to be built, if plans mature satisfactorily. The Bostock animals with the show will be kept here during the coming winter. Columbus capital has been interested in the undertaking, Mr. Spellman said."
The show did not open as scheduled on Aug. 15 but delayed opening until the next day, Aug. 16. The Dispatch reported as follows: "First performance of circus postponed. The first performance was to have been given Friday but owing to delay in the arrival of the costumes and baggage of many of the star performers who came from New York, the big show will not be able to open until Saturday. This is just a sample of the kind of thing that prompted the organization of the motorized circus - railroad delays of this type will be freed from by this organization."
The Dispatch's notice of the show's opening stated, "Novel Circus Opens. For the first time in history Columbus witnessed a big circus parade in which the floats and cages were not drawn by horses. Instead handsomely decorated wagons were in reality camouflaged motor trucks. Three rings and two stages comprise the setting for the main show. Ben Penny's K-Bar Ranch Wild West is a part of the show. One of the bands in the outfit is the Pelham Bay Naval Band."
Photo No. 8 - United States Bandwagon, Robbins Bros. Circus, 1938. Photo by Robert D. Good.
Following the Columbus stand the show moved to Newark, Ohio, for performances Monday, Aug. 18, and was scheduled to play Tuesday, Aug. 19, at Coshocton. It was late and did not arrive in Coshocton until Thursday, August 21. At Coshocton representatives of Kelly-Springfield descended on the show and seized the trucks and other equipment to satisfy claims. Thus after three years of preparation and three days of operation the motorized circus was finished.
The August 31, 1919, Billboard gave the show's obituary stating that it was a lack of finances that caused the show's fiasco. It was reported that the show had only a bankroll of $2000 in which to open on and that soon dissipated. Newspaper and billposting companies at Dover, Ohio, and Canton also had claims against the show. The performers were stranded in Coshocton where some, including the Stickney Family, left to join the Rhoda Royal Circus.
The failure of the U. S. Motorized Circus follows a pattern so often repeated throughout the annals of circus history. It is a case where a large sum of money is raised to launch a show and then is spent before the show ever opens. A fairly recent case that comes to mind is the Tim McCoy Wild West Show of 1938.
Although the Spellman motorized show was thoroughly dead for all times life was really just beginning for the beautiful tableau trucks. Kelly-Springfield removed and kept intact the tableau sides and disposed of the trucks elsewhere. In November, 1922, the 15 tableau sides were sold to R. F. Schiller of Marion, Ohio, and it was announced in the Nov. 25, 1922, Billboard Schiller planned to open a new circus. R. F. (Bob), with his brothers, John and Dick, had been in circus business for many years. In 1901 they operated the Schiller & Orr Circus, and in 1905 they leased the property of the Harris Nickle Plate Show from William P. Hall and took it out in 1905 and 1906 as the Cook & Barrett Circus.
Photo No. 9 - Great Britain tableau, Robbins Bros. Circus, 1938. Photo by Robert D. Good.
Schiller killed any plans he may have had to open a show and advertised the newly acquired tableau bodies as follows in the Jan. 6, 1923, Billboard, "For sale, 15 carved tableau baggage bodies, built by Bode Wagon Co. of Cincinnati, for Spellman Motorized Circus. All heavily carved and representing different nations, 15 to 18 ft. long. Will rebuild to suit purchaser. Price quoted upon request for one or all. Address R. F. Schiller, Marion, Ohio."
In the Nov. 3, 1923, Billboard Schiller had another ad as follows: "For sale, 5 tableau baggage bodies, all heavy wood carved, each representing India, Asia, Russia, Japan, Mexico, 5 ft. 6 in. wide, 5 ft. 8 in. high, 16 and 18 ft. long, $500 and $600 each. R. F. Schiller, Marion, Ohio."
About 1926 Schiller told Bill Woodcock when both of them were on Fred Buchanan's Robbins Bros. Circus, that he sold five tableau sides to Frank West, owner of West's Worlds Wonder Show, a leading carnival of that day, who used them for show fronts. It was customary in those days before neon and chrome plated front became vogue to use highly carved folding panels attached to wagons which would fold out and become an attractive showfront for various carnival attractions. Although Schiller did not specify the five sold to West by name it is believed that the ones listed in this ad constituted those in the deal. Schiller also said that he took the Persia tableau which had two large carved peacocks on each side and cut them up to make four signs, each with a carved peacock on it, and these were placed on highways leading into Marion, Ohio, to advertise a hotel that he owned there by name of the Pilgrim Inn. Of the five sold to West and the Persia tab no photos have turned up except one of the Japan tab, and descriptions of the designs are lacking for the India, Asia, Russia, and Mexico tabs.
Photo No. 10 - Belgium tableau, Robbins Bros. Circus, 1938. Photo by Robert D. Good.
Eight of the remaining nine tableaus in Schiller's hands were sold to Fred Buchanan, owner of the Robbins Bros. Circus in 1924. These were United States, Great Britain, Belgium, France, Africa, China, Panama, and South America, and all of these are well known to most historians. Only one of the 15 tabs that Schiller originally advertised for sale is unaccounted for. What country it depicted or what disposition was made of it has never been determined.
The eight tabs going to Robbins Bros, were mounted on regular wagon gears and wheels and took on the appearance of regular railroad show tableau wagons. Evidently Schiller received the order for these from Buchanan prior to his ad for the other five for sale in November, 1923, and delivered them as they were completed.
The exact date the wagons arrived on the Robbins show during the 1924 season is not known by this reporter. Most probably some were there at the start of the season but that fact is not mentioned in the Billboard. In June of 1924 the Billboard stated that Robbins Bros, has added 5 cars to the train, and the July 12, 1924, Billboard reported that three of the new tableau wagons purchased from R. F. Schiller had arrived and gave the name of the three as Great Britain, Panama, and Japan, however, the latter is in error and must have referred to another one of the tabs as the Japan tab did not go to Robbins. The Aug. 30, 1924, Billboard stated that "two beautiful tableau wagons named France and China arrived in Villisca, Iowa, and were first used in parade in Tarkio, Mo." The same article mentioned a total of four new tabs arriving but did not mention any others by name but did say that the show had purchased new draft teams, including a ten horse hitch of blacks for the big United States Tableau, indicating that it had arrived on the show by then. It is definite that all eight of the tableau wagons from Schiller were on hand prior to start of the 1925 season.
Photo No. 11 - Africa tableau, Robbins Bros. Circus, 1938. Photo by Robert D. Good.
Some confusion has existed in the minds of some historians concerning reports that some of the Spellman tableaus went to the Al G. Barnes Circus. In early 1922 the Billboard printed a statement by Murray Pennock of the Barnes show to the effect that the show would get some new parade wagons that were formerly on the Spellman circus. Other notices mentioned the show as getting a carload of Spellman carvings and the adding of 6 new parade vehicles by the Barnes show. To further confuse matters a photo of the Great Britain tableau appeared in Robson's book, Al G. Barnes, Master Showman. Paul Eagles, many years affiliated with Al G. Barnes said definitely that the show got new carvings from the Spellman show and put them on wagons and that Barnes had gotten a real bargain by acquiring $6000 worth of carvings for only $1800. The late George Chindahl, well known circus historian, was never fully convinced that Barnes did not get some of the Spellman tabs. However, the evidence is too well documented by other Billboard accounts, plus testimony from Bob Schiller himself to effect that none of the tabs got to Barnes. Probably the way the Barnes angle got started is one of these two ways. Maybe Barnes did actually make a deal to acquire the tabs from Kelly-Springfield or later from Bob Schiller but that the deal later fell through. But more probably it can be explained this way. Bode got out of the wagon building business about 1921 and went into the truck body building business. They cleaned out all of the surplus carvings, wagon parts, etc., to make room for their new enterprise. It is a documented fact that Barnes did pick up quite a few carvings from Bode and these were placed on wagons built by Barnes' own forces in winter quarters. Some of these wagons built around 1921 and 1922 have been documented in the Circus Wagon History File of Bandwagon over the past few years. No doubt it is possible that the carvings of the unfinished Germany tableau were included in the carvings Bode got. Perhaps other carvings originally designated for the Spellman show and of which we are not acquainted with were in the deal. Some of us have speculated that a 1924 Barnes cage with unusual carvings on the skyboard and a wagon evidently built for a tableau originally could possibly contain some of the carvings from the Germany tableau. Note the photo in Charles Puck's Oldtime Snapshot Column in this issue and observe the second cage from the right, and draw your own conclusions. Mind you, though, this is pure speculation, and we are only saying that the skyboard carvings could be from the Germany wagon, not in any sense stating that they probably are.
For several years, beginning in 1925, Robbins Bros, made a big play of the Spellman tableaus and heavily advertised their "Parade of Nations." The Jan. 24, 1925, Billboard stated that the Robbins paint shop at Granger, Iowa, quarters had turned out the U. S., Great Britain, Belgium, China, France, and Panama tabs for the Parade of Nations. Each of the six had the name of the country on the side and only the Africa and South America wagons were missing this type of identification.
Somehow the Africa wagon, which contained carvings including a hippo which were definitely representative of the continent of Africa got to be called India. Wagon historians have repeated that obvious error even to the present date. From evidence presented here and elsewhere it is obvious that both an Africa and an India wagon was constructed in the original Spellman set.
The South America wagon, which has three carver circles and carvings of a woman and lion, is an interesting one. Actually nothing is there to suggest the South American continent and nothing but tradition has given us that name to the present time. Some years ago many of us speculated whether or not it was actually one of the Spellman set, but the late George Chindahl set us straight on that matter when he discovered the photo of it mounted on a truck in the May, 1917, issue of Scientific American. While on the Robbins show the wagon was used to carry cookhouse supplies. All of the eight wagons were of box type construction and carried a baggage load.
Robbins Bros, prospered in the 20's and grew from a 15 car show at the beginning of the 1924 season, its first, into a fine 30 car show at the beginning of the 1930 season. The street parade, continued for several years after most railroad circuses had dispensed with theirs, was a big drawing card for the show. The huge street procession given in 1929 and in early 1930 featured the old Barnum & Bailey Two Hemisphere Bandwagon at the lead and the old Barnum & Bailey Horn and Clown steam calliope at the rear. In between were the eight Spellman tabs, four old B & B pony floats, a dozen cages, including the old B & B hippo den, which didn't carry a hippo but the show did have another huge den for their prize hippo, Miss Iowa, an air calliope, and a large array of lead stock. It was truly a fine street parade.
The great depression which set in during the fall of 1929 hit the 30 car Robbins Bros, show in mid-season 1930. Ten cars were sent back to Granger quarters and the show continued on 20 cars for remainder of the season. Loaded on the flats going back to Granger were three of the Spellman tableaus. They were China, Panama, and South America. These were never heard from again and we can assume they rotted away at the old Granger, Iowa, quarters sometime between 1930 and the time the last of the old buildings were razed to make way for the expansion of an army training center during World War II. Tom Duncan, author of the great novel, "Gus the Great," is supposed to have been inspired to write it by a visit to the old Granger quarters and mentions in the book the old China tableau rotting away in the weeds.
Following the 1930 season Robbins Bros, did not return to Granger but instead went into quarters at the William P. Hall Farm in Lancaster, Mo. That winter the show was further reduced to 15 cars and for the 1931 season the France wagon remained in Lancaster. Carried on the train in 1931 were the U. S., Great Britain, Belgium, and Africa tableaus. The Belgium wagon, which was usually drawn by a Mack truck in parade, served as the No. 1 bandwagon. Following the bankruptcy of the show in Mobile in September, 1931, the property was sent back to the Hall farm.
The Robbins equipment remained at Lancaster until the fall of 1934 when Jess Adkins and Zack Terrell purchased all of it and had it shipped to Rochester, Indiana, to be used in framing their new Cole Bros. Circus to take to the road in 1935. Included in the deal were the U. S., Great Britain, Belgium, France, and Africa tableaus. Adkins and Terrell had also picked up circus property formerly used on the Christy Bros. Circus and the 101 Ranch Wild West Show. The Christy wagons which were probably a little flashier were pressed into service first and used exclusively in the Cole Bros, parades of 1935 and 1936 and none of the Spcllman tabs were used until 1937 and then only one, France, was on the show.
For the 1938 season Adkins & Terrell cut down the Cole Bros, show from 40 to 30 cars and discontinued the street parade. But also for the 1938 season they put on the road as a No. 2 show, Robbins Bros. Circus, which was as fine a 15 car circus as was ever assembled. The new Robbins Bros, show featured a street parade and all of the five Spellman tabs, U. S., Great Britain, Belgium, France, and Africa were carried.
The recession which just about killed off all circus business in 1938 forced Adkins & Terrell into bankruptcy, Cole closed in early August and although Robbins Bros, was later enlarged by 6 cars from the shuttered Cole show and made a full season, claims against the two showmen were so great it looked like at one time they would be unable to continue in 1939. However, from the creditors they were able to lease 20 cars of equipment and returned to the road in 1939 with a single circus called Cole Bros. The parade was retained and that season saw the last of what could be truly called the oldtime, traditional circus street parades. Probably the parade would have been kept for 1940 but for the tragic fire on Feb. 20, 1940, which destroyed the greater part of the Rochester, Ind., quarters. All of the Spellman tabs except the France wagon were destroyed by the flames which consumed the main building. Somehow the France wagon escaped the fire.
By obtaining property from the Ringling interests at nearby Peru the show was able to open on time for the 1940 season but the street parade was finished. The France wagon, along with some other old tableau wagons which had not been used for a few years, were stored at a nearby farm while the circus moved its quarters to Louisville, Ky. In 1946 the France wagon, along with the Asia tableau and the Lion and Mirror bandwagon were purchased by the Block & Kuhl Department Store of Peoria, Ill. They were moved to Peoria, completely restored, and were used in promotional parades by the store for a number of years.
In November, 1961, the France wagon with the Asia and Lion and Mirror wagons were acquired by the Circus World Museum and moved to Baraboo. There it is hoped that the France wagon, truly the "Last of the Mohicans," the very last remaining one of the original 15 Spellman tableaus, has found its last resting place. The wagon will be in the loving and dedicated hands of fellow C.H.S. members Chappie Fox and Paul Luckey, who will see that it is fully restored to its former glory and will remain a lasting memorial as one of the last great circus parade tableau wagons ever built for a now vanished era.
I would like to thank the following for the help given me in preparation of this article: Dick Conover, George Piercy, Charles Puck, Bill Woodcock, Tom Parkinson, and Fred Pfening, every last one of them a tried and true C.H.S. member.
Out of the Los Angeles suburban community of North Hollywood, comes a show familiar to the fans of the area as the DeWayne Bros. Circus.
The show is owned and operated by Ted DeWayne. Ted has built his show around the stiff regulations that govern circuses in the Los Angeles area.
The DeWayne shows owns six trucks, but for the local dates at schools, they cut down on the equipment used. A blue chevy stock truck carries their ponies and elephant. A flat bed semi carries two of the trailers and other equipment. The show also uses numerous trailers and other trucks which are listed below. The color scheme of the trailers is blue and white and the newly painted equipment looks very flashy on the lot. The DeWayne title is lettered on part of the equipment. The rolling stock as found in the winter quarters is listed below:
1. Semi flat bed - carries 2 trailers, poles, seats, canvas and generating unit.
2. Stock truck carries elephant, horses and llama.
3. Prop semi.
4. Flat bed truck for props.
5. Chevrolet camper for advance.
6. Cage trailer No. 21 - 2 part - containing a bear and a kangaroo.
7. Cage trailer - 3 part - containing three monkeys.
8. Sleeper No. 20 for 8 people.
9. Concession trailer.
10. Office trailer.
11. Props and skid, trailer No. 27.
12. Seats and prop, trailer No. 28.
13. Seat wagon.
14. Seat wagon.
The concession and office trailers were constructed from old railway express trucks that were converted for the show's use. These are eye catchers on the lot, because of their size and appearance. The show recently purchased another truck and are presently converting it into a cookhouse trailer. They are also adding two more seat wagons to the lineup. These seat wagons also haul the smaller railway express trailers, sort of a piggy back method that Kelly-Miller is famous for.
At various times they remove the sides from one of the prop trailers and use it to haul the skiis for their water skiing elephant at fair dates. The skis are approximately 15 feet long, and 3 feet wide, and a foot thick. They are used by one of the two water skiing elephants in the United States, Bimbo Jr., who starred in the television series of "Circus Boy."
Bill Maynard is the trainer of Bimbo, Jr., and he also assumes responsibility for the rest of the show's stock. This includes eight ponies, three monkeys, a llama, kangaroo and bear.
Currently, DeWayne presents his performance in a two ring tent, which is a seventy foot round with two thirties. Tickets for adults go for 90 cents and 50 cents for children. The seating for the show presently is on blue planks, five rows high, in ten to twelve sections, with a capacity of about 600 people. At the fairs the show usually gives three performances a day.
The performance is given in the two rings, alternating from one ring to the other and sometimes performing between the two rings. The performance is listed below:
1. Ring 1 - Clifton Troupe on the Trampoline - Mike Foster and Ben Myers.
2. Ring 2 - Clowns - Atomic Hair Grower - Cecil (Peanuts) Kest-ler and Todd LeRoy.
3. Ring 1 and 2 - Swinging Ladders - Paula Dell and Bobbie DeWayne.
4. Between Rings - Clowns - Revolving Ladder—Ben Myers, Cecil Kestler and Todd LeRoy.
5. Ring 2 - The Trained Disneyland Military Ponies - Ted De-Wayne.
6. Ring 1 - Clowns - Balancing Act - Cecil Kestler and Todd LeRoy.
7. Between Rings - Tight and Slack Wire - Ben Myers.
8. Ring 1 and 2 - Web - Paula Dell and Bobbie DeWayne.
9. Ring 1 - Unicycle and Juggling - Mike Foster.
10. Ring 2 - Elephant - Bimbo, Jr. - Bill Maynard, trainer.
11. Ring 1 - Clowns - Magic - Todd LeRoy and Cecil Kestler.
12. Ring 1 - Ted DeWayne Troupe - Risley and Teeterboard - Ted DeWayne, Paula Dell and Ben Myers.
The above program as given at Santa Fe Springs, but at other dates, the program and performance varied somewhat.
A pony ride is usually spotted on the midway with the concession trailer opposite it. But there are indications that next year there will be an enlarged midway, and performance.
The winter quarters for the show is located at a farm, right down the street from the Craft's 20 Big Shows Quarters in North Hollywood. Although they do have some other equipment stored elsewhere in San Fernando Valley, this is their main base of operations. They are also hunting for another place for the winter quarters which is a little bit larger.
Usually on the lot there is a small cookhouse and performers tent which is a 20' x 30'. The show has several other tents stored at the winter quarters and these will be put into use next season. They have just recently purchased a larger Big Top which is an eighty with three forties and this will be used next year.
Other members of the DeWayne Bros. Circus include Jeri DeWayne, who handles the office; Richard Smith, clown, and risley; David Smith, clown and risley; Bobby DeWayne, teeterboard, risley, and aerial displays. Several others have recently joined the show.
Their route for the 1961 season is listed below. This includes a highly successful tour to Alaska for a circus with David Nelson, and the closing date of a charity show for the Paul Eagles Circus Luncheon Club.
March 12-13 - San Diego, Calif. March 20-23 - Pomona, Calif.
April 20-23 - Sante Fe Springs, Calif.
April 29 - North Hollywood, Calif.
May 4-7 - Garden Grove, Calif.
May 17-20 - Portland, Oregon
May 20-27 - Revue Studios, Hollywood, Calif.
June 10-18 - Fairbanks, Alaska
July 1-2 - Lake Isabella, Calif.
July 4 - Coliseum, Los Angeles, Calif.
July 15 - Hawthorne, Calif.
July 16 - Hollywood Bowl, Calif.
July 26-30 - Hawthorne, Calif.
Aug. 1-6 - Seattle, Washington
August 11-12 - Pacoima, Calif.
August 16-22 - San Luis Obispo, Cal.
August 23-27 - Monterey, Calif.
September 2 - San Francisco, Calif.
September 18-28 - Reno, Nevada
September 29-October 1 - Lawndale, Calif.
October 19 - Sepulveda, Calif.
October 20 - Pacoima, Calif.
October 27 - Sylmar, Calif.
October 28 - North Hollywood, Calif.
December 23 - Rancho Los Amigos Hospital, Paramount, Calif.
Leasing parts of the equipment to Revue Studio for "Frontier Circus" has broken up a lot of the season.
This is a small show that is gaining in size all the time and in the not too distant future, they will become one of the major West Coast Circuses.
Not since the dismal season of 1938 when shows folded from coast to coast had so much rail show activity taken place as did during the 1945 Season. Ringling and Cole had coasted along without any serious opposition until 1944 when Ben Davenport made the conversion from trucks to rails. For the 1945 season these three were joined by three new rail shows, with both Arthur Bros, and Russell Bros, switching to rail moves and a complete newcomer added to the field in Austin Bros. Circus. This article is about that show.
Harry Hammill of Austin, Texas, had become possessed with the idea of fielding a major circus. He originally attempted to buy the Cole show but this deal did not jell. His next move was an attempt to join with Clyde Beatty in building a rail show but this, too, did not materialize. Finally during the winter of 1944-45 Hammill turned to Ben Davenport and between them the deal was set. Reportedly in on the deal was Herman Brown, also of Austin. Davenport agreed to furnish most of the rolling stock and train along with the 1944 Dailey Bros, big top and let Hammill take it from there.
Immediately quarters were obtained in the yards of the Brown and Root Construction Co. in Austin and activity began. A rail spur was run in, a wagon shed built and part of a warehouse was converted to use for the show. Early in February, the rail equipment and wagons arrived from the Dailey quarters in Gonzales, Texas.
To give some light on the background of the equipment involved it is necessary to delve into the history of the Dailey show. Ben Davenport had been up and down the ladder of success but had finally struck pay dirt in 1943 with this title. Adding to this was the fact that his trucks were fast wearing out and the restrictions on gas, tires and parts made it extremely difficult to operate. A truck show forced him into converting to a rail show. During the winter of 1943-44, Davenport went to Carruthersville, Mo., where the equipment of the defunct Rubin & Cherry Carnival was stored and purchased six flats, two stocks and two coaches. With this train he started the 1944 season. During the season one coach and one stock car was added giving him a twelve car train by the end of the season.
Sighting further expansion, he then bought the West's World Wonder Shows. According to the Billboard of Nov. 18, 1944, Davenport got the whole deal and stated that it was a 30 car show. However in talking to an old trouper recently who had been with Frank West at one time I learned that these figures were probably inflated. To his knowledge the West show had been in the 15-20 car category. The flats and stocks were all steel construction from Warren and two coaches were of steel and wood.
From this conglomeration of equipment of the two ex-carnivals, Davenport picked out enough equipment to form the nucleus of a ten car circus and shipped it to Austin. Along with it came the big top, center and quarter poles and the seats from the 1944 Daily opus. The train consisted of five flats, one stock and two coaches. To enlarge the train to ten cars, Hammill bought another coach, also of steel and wood construction, and a sixty foot stock that had been used as a whale hearse by the Anfengers in the 1930's. This was converted into a sleeper for the working men. Outwardly the train had the appearance of two stocks and three sleepers but it was actually one stock and four sleepers.
When the train and wagons arrived in quarters they presented a sad appearance. All were still painted solid orange as they had last been painted on the West carny but physically they were in poor condition. The late Art Powell and Milt Hinkle were placed in charge of a crew to whip the equipment in shape and this was a major undertaking as the opening date was only four months away. All wagons were rebuilt to withstand the strain of one day stands. First through the shops was the cookhouse wagon which was equipped with a range and all other essentials. Next in line was the big top pole and canvas wagon. This was equipped with a hoist for canvas loading and outside hooks to carry the center poles. All other wagons followed in rapid succession. The best of the lot were transformed into whatever job they could best be utilized for. Two wagons were never touched and were left in quarters.
All equipment was given a completely new paint job. The wagons were painted red with blue borders. Austin Bros, was lettered in yellow and Circus in Aluminum. The train was not overlooked. The flats were given a coat of aluminum and lettered in red and the stock and coaches were painted red with lettering in aluminum.
Other equipment arrived almost daily from different sources. A Fordson tractor and drag sled were purchased to gilly heavy equipment around quarters. Two trucks were purchased, No. 1 a White that was equipped as a winch and gilly truck and No. 2, an International that was fitted with a water tank. A menagerie top arrived from the Beatty-Russell show, a small sideshow top that had been the Alfred Court top on the Max Goodman carny, a marquee from Gorman Bros, and a bannerline last used on the Christy Bros. Circus.
Additional activity at quarters included replacing all the old jacks with new scissors jacks for more compact loading, building all new side poles, the construction of a four section cage and a dolly for the shows International cat and the conversion of a semi trailer into an office wagon. Powell also rebuilt the portable stake driver putting a joint in the front axle for easier handling. The coaches and former whale car had by now been finished and were being used for living purposes. All cars were numbered, the flats from 1 to 5, the stock car 98, the former whale car 99 and the sleepers 101 to 103.
The animal department was now beginning to take form, too. Two bulls joined Jap and Lucy. Both had famous histories. Jap had originally been a Barnum & Bailey bull, was sold to Wm. P. Hall in 1921. Following this ownership she had served on various Honest Bill Newton shows until sometime in the 1930's. She also was a part of the tax supported circus and later still with the World of Mirth carny. Terrell Jacobs had her in 1943 and sold her to Ben Davenport in 1944. Lucy started with the Wm. P. Campbell's two car show in 1920 and sold to Ketrow Bros, about 1924. From there she went to Seils-Sterling in 1930 and stayed with them through the 1938 season. She was owned for a time by Jack Joyce and served on the Clyde Beatty-Russell Bros. Circus in 1944. Both are now dead.
Other animals coming on included two run teams, a crack troup of six black and white liberty horses, and a baboon, lion, kangaroo and a supply of monkeys to fill the cage wagon.
R. M. Harvey, who had been piloting the Dailey show, now took over as agent for Austin and began routing both shows. The advance truck, under car manager Harry Doran, left quarters with a crew of about eight billers. Frank J. Lee, Wm. H. Breese and Carroll Hicks took over the press chores and the beginning of the season was in sight. Other staffers and department heads included Milt Hinkle, manager; Tige Hale, bandmaster; Art Powell, boss canvasman; Jack Alloway, announcer; Blackie Martin, trainmaster; Lloyd Lassiter, sideshow; Al C. Beck, secretary-treasurer; Jimmy O'Dell, ring stock and bulls; Rog Wilson, sideshow canvas; Ruth Hammill, auditor; Dale Turner, front door; Bert Hager, prop boss; Jos. Robinson, electrician; Edw. Davis, train lights; Red Moser, run teams; Dion Lock, seats and rigging; Blackie Price, blacksmith; Frenchy Sloan, steward. However, a further survey of personnel compiled by Don Marcks shows enough people filling various jobs throughout the season to man a show three times this size. Evidently the turnover in personnel was a constant source of irritation throughout the season.
Several days before the March 30th opening, the complete show was gillied to the First and Chalmers Ave. lot in Austin and here the final bugs were ironed out. Included in this was the substitution of a ground level platform in place of the center ring. The show was erected in easy stages and was reported as making a nifty appearance by opening day.
As seen on the lot, the midway sported the apple green Alfred Court top, a 50' with one 36', for the kid show behind the former Christy Bros. bannerline. This had been retouched and was hung on a pipeframe rigging Similar to those used on carnies. Two 20 x 30 juice joints, a small pitchman's top and the red wagon were also spotted on the midway. The former 30' x 30' Gorman Bros, marquee fronted the menagerie. This canvas was the former Russell Bros, top, a 70' with one 40'. Located in the menagerie was the single cage, the two bulls, all horses including the two draft teams and a juice joint which made it rather crowded. The big top, the former Dailey top, was and 80' with three 40's. All canvas except the sideshow was white. The big top seating was unchanged from the previous season on the Dailey show with the exception of the new scissors jacks. Reserved seats were seven high planks and the blues on both ends were eight high planks. No chairs or starbacks were carried. The total big top seating was about 1800 which appears rather small for a rail show. The bandstand was built on wagon No. 11 with hinged sides that unfolded and revealed the chairs in place and the air cally built into a special compartment. This wagon also transported the ring curbs and some other props.
Opening day gave the show terrific business but the second day in Austin was less than expected as the rains came. The program on opening day ran as follows:
Program - Austin Bros. 3-ring Circus Opening Day Season of 1945
Overture - Captain Tige Hale and his Gold Medal Circus Concert Band.
Display No. 1 - Spec, "Flags of all Nations."
Display No. 2 - Center stage, the Whiteside troupe on the tight wire. Ring 3, the Great Ted
Wilson on the slack wire.
Display No. 3 - Concert star, Chip Morris, and his wonder horse, "Blackie."
Display No. 4 - Clown stop by Billy Dick and the Bonhommes, Sig and Joe.
Display No. 5 - "Simian syncopation," with the Kitchen Family's chimps and monkeys on the stage.
Display No. 6 - The Doppe Sisters working swinging ladders over the rings and the stage.
Display No. 7 - Clown Stop.
Display No. 8 - Felix Morales and family, triple threats on the trampoline.
Display No. 9 - Captain Jimmy O'Dell and his marvelously trained elephant, "Lucy."
Display No. 10 - Clown Stop.
Display No. 11 - Menage by Misses Dorothy Herbert and Elizabeth Kitchen.
Display No. 12 - Petite Dolores Whiteside, beauty and grace on the loop-the-loop trapeze.
Display No. 13 - Headslide for life by the one and only Felix Morales.
Display No. 14 - O'Dell's precision liberty horses.
Display No. 15 - Leland Antes, Jr., and the Junior CFA Clowns with their scintillating surgery. Opening day, only.
Display No. 16 - Little Miss Norma Davenport and her three dancing and baseball playing elephants. Opening day, only.
Display No. 17 - Dorothy Herbert's great and famous high jumping horses. The track was so narrow that Dorothy would not ride them for fear of hitting props.
Chip Morris held them in the seats with a good concert of roping, riding, etc.
Following the second day in Austin the show loaded out for Eagle Lake, Texas. I have never been able to come up with a load order for the flats but Leland Antes recently told me he believes that the show had no hard and fast order. He reported that the cookhouse wagons were always loaded first but that all wagons had loading lengths painted on the sides similar to Ringling in recent years and the wagons were loaded as they came from the lot and loaded to fill each flat. An inventory of the wagons shows the following pieces loaded on the five flats.
1 White truck, winch and gilly
2 International truck, water wagons
- Office wagon
22 Cage, 4 sections
- Big top canvas and poles
23 Stringers and jacks
11 Bandstand, props and ring curbs
18 Cookhouse baggage
20 Seat planks
21 Sideshow canvas, poles and props
24 Menagerie canvas and poles
16 Wardrobe, props and trunks
110 Cookhouse wagon
118 Light plant
123 Concession dept.
- International "cat" on dolly
All wagons except the office, cage and cat dolly were on hard rubber tires. Wagons No. 13 and No. 16 also served as dressing rooms after being unloaded on the lot each day.
Most of the early weeks of the season were plagued by rain and it took its toll of business. For a war year, business was consistently poor. The old carny wagons also proved in short order that they couldn't stand the gaff of one day stands. A picture in Bill Woodcock's collection shows that as early as May 13th in Miami, Okla., the big top pole and canvas wagon had been replaced with a Dailey wagon. This one is of the usual Davenport construction with the drop frame and pneumatic tires. However no title had been painted on the wagon.
The weather continued wet and the Billboard reports that on May 16th it rained so hard at Paola, Kansas, that the train wasn't unloaded. Shortly after six o'clock that evening the train pulled out for Lamarr, Mo., and fire was discovered in a coach on the rear of the train. Someone pulled the bellcord and luckily the train stopped by a stream. A bucket brigade was formed and the fire extinguished with damage estimated at about $250.00. Later the same evening they were sidetracked for a troop train making a late arrival in Lamarr. Two light houses greeted the show and the luck still ran bad as a horse died that evening. Several other horses were reported ill but eventually recovered. The weather finally broke at Bolivar, Mo., and two big houses were reported. Another sidetracking for troop trains almost made the show miss the matinee in Nebraska City. Afternoon was light but the night house was a jam up. The program was strengthened about this time when the Clark Bros., Charles and Percy, along with Kay joined. Also coming on at about the same time were the Reynosa's, Bozo Harsell and Happy Starr. Clown alley at this time also had Tommy Whitesides, Jimmy Mader, Lester and Whalgren.
June found the show swinging through Minnesota and Illinois and on the 9th at McComb, Ill., the lot was completely covered with water. Both shows were given to light houses. The stand for the 14th at Streator, Illinois, was cancelled and Mendota played in its place. At New Ulm, Minnesota, the show blew the matinee and Wilmar, Minnesota, was lost on the 23rd and rescheduled and played on the 29th.
Terrell Jacobs with his lion and tiger act joined the show in Burlington, Iowa, on July 8th. He brought the following equipment with him:
Straight bed truck, carried the steel arena
No. 26 cage wagon, 3 lions, 2 tigers
No. 27 cage wagon, 5 lions
No. 28 cage wagon, 5 lions
No. 29 cage wagon, 1 leopard, 2 baby tigers
No. 30 cage wagon, 1 lion, 2 tigers,
Small water wagon 2 private autos
Three system flat cars were used to carry the Jacobs equipment. The cars were leased by the T. J. Equipment Corp., so it can be assumed that the cost of the act covered the lease of the cars, as far as the show was concerned. The four large cages were spotted in the back yard, while the cage with the small animals went in the menagerie top, and helped fill out the meager display.
Prior to Jacobs joining, the show had its biggest day of the season to date at Waterloo, Iowa, with two straw houses. However, on the previous day at Webster City the show was practically a blank. Clinton, Iowa, on the 12th was cancelled and replaced by Comanche. On the 14th, Mickey O'Brien resigned as manager and Hammill took over active management. Meanwhile the show was experiencing considerable trouble handling Jacobs equipment. At one stand a cage was dumped over the side of the flats while unloading and at another spot a section of the arena fell into the paying customers. The nut was considerably enlarged with the added expense of the name act and the rail moves were costing more with the addition of the extra flats. Evidently the marriage wasn't too happy and on July 27th, at Kokomo, Ind., Jacobs closed and moved over to Arthur Bros. Circus.
The show had been losing money consistently and many expected it to fold at any time but Hammill stuck to his guns and kept pouring in fresh money. Most experienced show people claimed that the show had been routed into the grain belt much too early in the season. As has been proven many times in the past, when an agent pilots more than one show, usually one prospers and the other loses. This point was again proven as Dailey Bros, was again having a bang up season.
By the end of July the show was into the cotton and tobacco country and again the critics yelped as this was considered much too early for a show to play this area. However, this time fate played into Hammill's hands as the tobacco crop came on early and Austin was the first one in at most spots. Business picked up considerably and some of the lost money started to come home. Richmond, Kentucky, wasn't an indication, however, as Austin and Beatty day and dated here. Business continued good across Tennessee and Alabama, and into Georgia. Moultrie, Georgia, was cancelled and replaced by Adel and on August 27th the show had the biggest days of the season with turnaways at both shows at Macon.
September found the show in South Carolina and business turned spotty. Anderson on the 5th gave excellent business. Bad fortune again struck on the 9th when the lead stock was grazed along the railroad right of way. All horses became sick and four died including two of the liberty group. The cause of death was given as arsenic poisoning. A local vet was given credit for saving the lives of the other stock. However, the run teams were too sick to help load and the motive power loaded this night. By this time the No. 2 International truck had given out and it had been replaced by an army command car. At this date the show had a small matinee in the rain and two thirds night house. LaGrange, Georgia, on the 14th was a night only spot due to a late arrival. Bessemer on the 18th was good and Greenville, Alabama, on the 20th gave two straws. Most of October was played in Mississippi with business up and down. Two good spots were Corinth and Winona with straws. Now heading toward home the show quickly crossed Louisiana and Arkansas with the closing coming on Nov. 9th at Franklin, La. The weather had turned extremely cold and stands at Morgan City, Jennings and Lake Charles were cancelled. After loading out at Franklin the show headed back to Austin and arrived on Nov. 11th. Included the home run the show had made a total of 10,212 rail miles, made 191 stands and played 18 states.
Hammill revealed to friends that his venture had lost him about $140,000 for the season. Even after this sad experience, Hammill and Davenport made overtures about buying the Arthur Bros. Circus that had closed earlier. They had planned to divide the equipment but this deal fell through when Louis Goebel who had a lien on the equipment refused to sell. It was reported after this Hammill was considering framing a truck show but this did not materialize either.
After sitting in Austin quarters for some weeks the train still loaded left for Gonzales and the Dailey quarters. The equipment that was still usable was assimilated by the larger Dailey show. The following season Dailey added two flats and the one stock car from the train. It is a possibility that some of the wagons were also used on the 1946 Dailey show but when I caught the show in 1947 none of the old wagons were there. For the 1948 season Dailey went to 25 cars and I presume that the additional flats were the remaining three left from the Austin show. The three coaches were left in Gonzales and used when the show wintered. The sixty foot workingmen's sleeper, the former whale car, was sold to Clyde Beatty during the winter of 1945-46 as at that time Beatty had taken over the Russell show, had junked two sleepers and replaced them with two flats. The whale car was converted into a flat and lasted for two seasons on the Beatty show until junked. The stock car stayed with the Dailey show until it folded and is still in use on the Royal American Show. The two bulls also wound up in the Dailey herd.
My thanks for all their valuable help to Joe Bradbury, Bill Woodcock, Don Marcks, Leonard Farley, Troy Scruggs, Tom and Bob Parkinson and particularly Leland Antes for without their help this article would be far from complete.
Austin Bros. Circus Season of 1945
30 - Austin, Texas
1 - Sunday Enroute
1 - Lawton, Oklahoma
1 - Brookfield, Missouri
1 - Sunday Enroute
1 - Corbin, Kentucky
1 - Greenville, South Carolina
1 - Cullman, Alabama
1 - El Dorado, Arkansas
Obert Miller is framing a new circus for the coming season. The founder and former general manager of the Kelly-Miller circus has thought about retiring, but is all for trouping instead. He Was with K-M last season after having given some thought to this new show a year ago. He built a new ring barn then. Now the new circus is taking shape. It is likely to have one elephant, six ponies, a 60-foot tent, and a very small number of trucks. The show is being built at Hugo, Okla., quarters.
Polack Bros. Circus will be in Flint, Michigan, January 14-20. It plays Hammond, Ind., January 24-28; Fort Wayne, Ind., February 2-4; Fort Campbell, Ky., February 10-11, and Little Rock, Ark., February 16-17, Chicago follows.
While some material for the Hoxie-Bardex show calls it Hoxie Bros. & Bardex Bros. Combined Circus, at least one piece, a promotion brochure for potential sponsors, drops one "Bros." and minimizes the other. The title is easier to cope with as Hoxie-Bardex. The partners have brought the Hoxie equipment from Miami and the Bardex med show stuff from Texas to combine it at Sarasota. They have bought the hippo which Norman (Luke) Anderson owned.
Walter Stebbins returns as press agent for Polack Bros. . . . The Sherman Brothers, clowns, reportedly are out of the Polack line-up . . . W. A. (Waxie) Dyke, harness maker for Ringling and others in years past, now is at Box 133, Kississimmi, Fla. . . . Norman Carroll, press chief for Ringling-Barnum, has been working on a "Jumbo" deal . . . Show rumors have it that Bubba Voss may have the Sells & Gray band and that Raymond Escorsia will be with Wallace Bros. . . . The new Cristiani wild west show is reported still in the works . . . The Woodcock Elephants played some time with the tiny Reuben Ray Circus in South Texas. Col. Bill Woodcock reports his bulls aren't definitely committed for next season. But he will be with Kelly-Miller, where he and Henry and Sandra Thompson will have the side show. Bill also will announce the big show. Whitely Black is the new mechanic on K-M, and his wife, Gladys, has the office.
William Timmerman, 18531 Ashworth Avenue N., Seattle 33, Wash., is back in the U.S. with his family after ten years in the Orient with the Kalama Three-Ring Circus in India. They are working to get situated in U.S. show business again, with their cycling, sharp-shooting, wire-walking, clowning and other circus acts.
Timmerman tells that India has about 150 small circuses and ten large ones. Among them are Kamala, the Great Rayman Circus, Gemini Circus, Great Oriental Circus, and the Royal Circus. His daughter, Joan, is a collector of circus material and has a number of items from circuses of India.
Harry Shell completed last season as trumpeter with Hunt Bros. Circus and now is doing some calliope work . . . George W. (Slim) Lewis, author of two circus books and former circus elephant handler, is a new father. A son, David, was born this fall . . . George Taylor, circus builder, is with the Jumbo Cartage Co., in New York.
Sadie the Spotted girl is feeling well after her serious illness of a year ago. She is wintering at Chicago after a season at Riverview Park. Joe DeLeon, armless boy, was with Sam Alexander in Montreal's Belmont Park . . . Sealo, who was with Pete Cortez last season, is at Hubert's Museum, New York, for the winter
Art Concello apparently is close to the work on MGM's movie, "Jumbo," and some seven weeks of shooting the film reportedly is to be done at the Ringling-Barnum winter quarters at Venice, Fla.
This is the story about Albert Monroe Cauble and his wagon shows. Mr. Cauble spent many years on the road with wagon shows and was one of the last owners and managers of this type show.
Albert Cauble was born in Johnson County, Texas, on September 24, 1882. He said when he was young he would lie, steal, chase women and was lazy as h - - - and he jokingly added, "Everybody said I would make a good showman."
His mother died when he was 11 years old and he was left on a farm his father rented out. The father took Albert's younger brother, Robert and left Albert with "Some nice people," friends of his father.
When the Fourth of July rolled around they gave him 25c to go to a community picnic. That ended his farming days as he joined Colorado Charley's Wild West and Hoochy-Koochy Show at Glen Rose, Texas, on that July Fourth. Charley was a rope spinner and rifle shot and did a knife throwing act. He had three kooch dancers and his wife sold tickets. Cauble was a flunky on duty when needed 24 hours a day, but he said it beat farming.
Cauble did not stay with Charley very long and that Winter he was with Smith and Casey Medicine Show. He almost froze to death on a wagon picking a banjo on a farmer's square on a "First Monday's horse trader's day."
For the next few years he "Wandered from pillar to post and had his ups and downs (mostly downs)" and was with several of the wagon shows of that period, including M. L. Clark, Mighty Haag, Mollie Bailey and the Hobson Show.
The first show Mr. Cauble had an interest in (except a working interest), was Cauble's Comedy Show. He started walking from schoolhouse to schoolhouse with his banjo on his back giving little entertainments. His equipment consisted of his banjo, make-up kit, a few small items for his slight-of-hand tricks, a thin curtain to hang across the schoolhouse for front curtain and his knee figure "Tommy" for his ventriloquist act. All this he transported on his back.
He remembers his brother-in-law having a merry-go-round pulled by a mule and he talked him into adding a show to his venture. About this time he met Tol Teeter and they were partners in various ventures at different times over a period of years. Cauble said he could fill a book about their experiences together.
He tells of the time Tol Teeter and himself were walking from one berg to another, carrying their equipment on their backs. They secured a hall over a drugstore. It had no seats, so they borrowed some nail kegs and 2x8 lumber for seats. After the show they pitched the boards out the window. One of them hit a big barrel of turpentine causing it to burst. They had three dollars that night which was their bankroll. They took off down the railroad tracks to the next berg. On the way they had a nap under a railroad bridge and were in town early next morning arranging for the show that night.
Soon a man walked up to them and said he was the constable and he had a phone call from the druggist wanting pay for the turpentine. They showed him their roll and he said that was not enough. He wanted to know why they had left the other town during the night. Mr. Cauble said he would never forget what "Unforgettable" Tol Teeter told the constable, "Oh, we always take the first railroad track out of town."
Cauble was then able to buy a horse and buggy, then another horse and a gypsy hack. He was then fixed for sleeping and cooking quarters. In the early 1900's the show was titled simply, Cauble's Show. In the latter part of 1907 he added a bear, monkeys, dogs and a "Pick-out" pony. About this time some of the performers on the show were Tommy Hughes, Willie Clark and the Elder's Family, who were also musicians and an adopted daughter of Cauble's, Minnie Malone. She was raised on the show and later married Bob Malone of Malone Bros. Wild West Show, one of the first wild west sideshows to travel with a circus. She made an all-round circus performer and her last season on the road was with Hagenbeck-Wallace known as Lady Sylvester, trapeze.
Many old timers will remember the names Cauble's Combined Shows, Monroe's Mighty and Buffalo Tom's Wild West and Monroe Bros. With these shows Albert traveled all over the South and Mid-west.
He recalls that they used to take the show up Arkansas creek beds for four or five miles "or as far as we could go" and when moving on became impossible they would set up camp. Soon hundreds of farmers and backwoodsmen from miles around would make their way to the creek banks. They came with excitement and festivity, ready for the bright spot of the year - the chance to view Cauble's Circus and Wild West show.
Photo: Albert Cauble with "Baby Bill" in 1910.
In 1910 Cauble decided it was time to add an elephant to his menagerie. At this time the show was titled Cauble's Combined Shows. He had little (very little) money but a raft of wagons and horses and a good tent, but wanted to buy some small animals. He didn't know why but William P. Hall of Lancaster, Mo., took an interest in him. He came away from the Hall Farm with a lot of stuff including a baby elephant, which he named "Baby Bill" (for Bill Hall). The punk was so small that he could lift either end of him, weight was less than 300 pounds. He told Hall he was unable to buy so much. Hall told him, "take it along and pay for it when you can or ship it back."
Albert Cauble had not owned Baby Bill very long until he decided he was a "White elephant" on a small show. He was very much disappointed with him as he was no drawing card, whatever. He said the baby cried real tears and when petted he would huddle up to him like a child. He fed him malted milk and he ate his first hay while Albert owned him.
Shortly after he got Baby Bill and they were in Illinois, it became too cold to show and he chartered some barges and shipped the show way up the Tennessee River and landed near Chattanooga. They had not made many stands until one cold morning Bill began crying and shivering. Something had to be done. Albert rented an old smokehouse that was built over a cellar. They hung a lot of old mantel oil lamps under the floor of the smokehouse and stood Bill over them. Finally he got warmed up and quit crying. They padded a wagon inside and out and set a lot of lamps in it and moved Bill to Tupelo, Mississippi, for a trip to Lancaster, Missouri.
Mr. Cauble said Bill was a "Spoiled Brat," and he would not let anyone feed or care for him except one roughneck and himself. Bill was happy when one of them was near, but if they walked away he would carry on something awful. He sent Hall word about what trouble Bill was giving him and he sent word back to return Baby Bill and he would let him have any bull in the barn.
When they arrived in Tupelo they gave the railroad company a lot of grief. Cauble wanted heated transportation for Bill and the rates were three times first class for elephants, crated or uncrated. As it was against the law for anyone to ride in the baggage car, they would not allow Albert to ride with "his baby." They decided to crate him as they could not furnish a heated car for anything less than 300 pounds. Albert told them Baby Bill would not live through the night away from him, so they might as well knock Bill in the head and give him four thousand dollars. They kept them waiting eight hours wiring the big shots of the road, but finally they loaded Bill and Cauble into the baggage car. He loaded milk, cheese and crackers for food, hay and blankets for bedding, and soon they were on their way and sound asleep.
They had to change at St. Louis and Cauble wired his friend, J. H. Bayer, Superintendent of the Terminal Railroad at St. Louis, who met them and helped make the switch. Bayer had several two car dramatic shows on the road at that time and was a good friend of his. Somehow on the way up Bill frisked Cauble's pocket and got a cashier's check out of it. Bill either ate it or destroyed it while Albert was asleep. He told Bayer about this and he had a big laugh and told a reporter about it and they had a story in the newspaper. He was a long time getting his money on it.
He said he would never forget his arrival in Lancaster. "It was eleven o'clock at night and cold as the devil, so you can imagine my surprise to see W. P. Hall himself at the station. He had his car and driver there and ordered me to turn Bill over to the boys and get into his car. It was hard for me to turn it down but I persuaded him to let me stay with the baby until I had bedded him down in a warm comfortable place. He handed me a quart of Yellow Stone liquor and said he would see me next morning."
Hall had his barn built three stories high with a basement. The top floor was for tents, second for wagons, first for horses, and the basement was for elephants and other animals. It was the winter quarters for razor-backs, elephants and bull men. He fed them and paid the men a few dollars to patch canvas, look after the animals and repair show equipment.
When they arrived at the barn Albert saw more elephants than he thought were in the world. They were chained on each side of the barn, which left a big space down the center and they wanted Baby Bill at the extreme back end where it was warmer.
Albert said when they went in the front door, "Every bull in the barn had a fit over the baby. You talk about a boy being scared, I was harder to hold than Baby Bill. I found out later that the boys were scared, too. They were afraid one of them would break loose. The noise was deafening and it went on all night. Baby Bill refused his breakfast next morning until I showed up. The boys had failed to warm his milk. He cried when I left and to tell the truth I cried myself."
Mr. Cauble said he heard that this "Baby Bill" was a pit show attraction on Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus the next season and it is also said that he later became the outlaw elephant "Billy Sunday."
That winter while the show was in Mississippi Mr. Cauble became ill with "chills and fever" and was about to give up. He said he was trying to decide what to do when a tampy looking guy on the lot that had been north that Summer and was cussing the d - - - Yankees. Cauble found out he had his discharge from the Confederate Army and had been on Aunt Mollie Bailey's Show. Albert had heard that Mollie Bailey (being in the Confederate Army herself) did not have to pay a license to show in the south. He made a proposition with the old chap to act as sole owner of "Capt. Lee's Great Southern Shows." His brother, John, and Robert Hall, who played the part of Buffalo Tom in the wild west unit of the show, persuaded Albert to return to his winter quarters and let them run the Lee Show that winter.
That was a happy set-up. "Capt. Lee" had a lot of fun sitting under the marquee shaking hands with the numerous G.A.R. guys that visited and telling his war experiences. Hall and brother, John, did very well, too. Albert later told that they stretched a wire across the ticket wagon and every night they tossed the money up and all that hung on the wire belonged to Albert. He said he heard one night a ten dollar bill hung on the wire and they decided that was not fair. They said it should be the best two out of three and tried again. He said he did not know how true that was but he did know he did not get any money.
Albert spent the winter training dogs, ponies and monkeys. When time came to open in the spring of 1911 he owed Wm. P. Hall for some animals and other equipment and left it up to Hall to send him the largest elephant he had that was gentle. He said "you could of knocked me over with a straw when I got a telegram asking me if I wanted him to pay the transportation. He must of known more about me than I knew myself, because I had a big season and had him paid before the season was half over."
Hall sent him what Albert called "the best elephant that ever lived." This was a big male tusker named "Tommy." "Tommy" went to the Hall Farm from the John Robinson Show when they played close to Lancaster about 1910. John G. Robinson traded a couple of bulls (including Tommy), several wagons, etc., to Hall for some baggage stock. The bulls were moved overland from the Robinson point of exhibition to Lancaster.
Cauble said Bill Hall had advised him to forget about actors and cat animals but he said he always had a few. He also had monkeys, birds, snakes, bears, a sacred cow and a large camel named "Alec" which walked from town to town with the big bull, Tommy.
Some of the performers that he remembers were the Jack Cavanaughs, The Ed Gleens for several seasons. The Manwell Penas, Mexican team, who were really clever, traps, roman rings and a good tumbling act. Also a good Spanish dance in the concert.
Albert Cauble said he decided to sell his show in 1915 and R. L. Atterbury heard about it and the results were, he sold the show to Atterbury "on the cuff" and shipped it to his Winter Quarters at Mt. Vernon, Ind. Tommy remained with the Atterbury Show until 1919 when he got a rusty nail in his foot and died from tetanus.
For the next few years Mr. Cauble tried his hand in several ventures and finally got mixed up in the oil business in Texas. At one time he had six units of motion picture shows under canvas on the road. During these years his thought remained with his "First Love," the circus.
He said Atterbury's health got bad and he wrote, telephoned or wired him almost every day to come and run the show. He finally told Atterbury he would buy the show back if he would sell it to him as he had sold it "on the cuff." He said he agreed to this and Cauble got the worst bunch of run-down show junk on earth. Atterbury did leave the "Holdbacks" in the ticket wagon. At this time, August, 1924, everybody stayed on the show as they wanted to go South for the winter.
He said he believes they broke two wagon show records that year. First Atterbury made the notes to run for a period of two years. He said he spent a lot on repairs as everything but the elephant was broken down. He paid everything off and had a clear bill-of-sale in four weeks. He also had exchanged most of the burrows and blind mules for better stock. He also broke all speed records for a wagon show. They kept ahead of the cold weather to the Gulf of Mexico and made 55 miles in one day and showed that night.
Mr. Cauble said that was his first experience with the notorious elephant "Black Diamond." "On that treak we did not give him time to get into trouble. He walked his feet sore and we had to make a pair of boots for him. I felt sorry for the poor devil, but there was nothing we could do. The show had to go on and he was our main drawing card."
When Cauble bought the show he fell heir to an old guy called "Old Ben." He was the only one except Bill Woodcock, the bull man, who could go near Diamond, and try as he might, he could not get rid of Ben.
This old man's name was Ben Sweet, but most people on the show called him Ben Reed. Capt. Benjamin Reed had been with the Atterbury Shows for years and had handled "Tommy" on the show and had walked him over the roads and worked him in the ring and handled Black Diamond when he first went on the show in 1920 after the death of Tommy. By 1924 Ben was older and not as active as he once was. It was not safe for him to be around a bull as vicious as Black Diamond. Bill Woodcock was handling Diamond at that time. Diamond finally killed Old Ben at Olton, Texas, Winter of 1925-26. (See the story of Black Diamond in May-June, 1959, issue of Bandwagon).
Bill Woodcock said Atterbury did not have a side show and he helped Cauble rig up one using only a side-wall, no banners. Bill made the openings on this. He also did magic in concert. Also on the show were two performers named Ralph Christy and Delmar Harridge and clowns named Earl Davis, Billy Mack and Shorty Losch.
During the balance of the 1924 season Cauble did not change the lettering on the wagons but in 1925 the show was titled Monroe Bros. Besides the bull, Diamond, the show had two cages of animals, one an old Walter L. Main cage with male and female lions and another cage with bear and monkeys. A former wagon show operator, Charlie Alderfer (Great Alderfer Shows) was boss canvasman and had a pit show. Claude and Pauline Webb, later operators of Russell Bros. Circus, were with it with a good side show containing big snakes, family of baboons, monkeys, etc. Three of the performers on Monroe Bros, were Ed and Alice Glenn and Mike Midget. The big top from Atterbury Show was a 60 with two 30's.
In 1926 Cauble decided to sell his circus and go into motion picture business. He said "Due to laws regulating tent shows which I have been told have been brought about by a strong lobby in Washington, D.C., by the movie picture interests of that time which wanted to stop circus competition."
The show then passed on to Wilson Fulbright, a nephew of Albert Cauble who had the show for a short time under the title of Wilson's Greater Shows and from there Black Diamond went to the Barnes Show.
After he sold the circus he started booking vaudeville acts and other types of entertainment. He contacted Tol Teeter again and together they built several theaters in the South West.
He said "Fate has dealt the circus a terrible blow, but I still say there will always be a circus, it's an American Institution and I am proud I put the best years of my life into it."
I am thankful to Mr. Cauble and Wm. Woodcock for much of the information. Editor's Note: Mr. Cauble is now a member of the C.H.S.
Bobby Fountain's two car show was well known in its Western territory between 1907 and middle of the teen years. It had many friends in the mining camps and frontier towns.
If the railroad didn't reach the town the show wanted to play the equipment was moved overland to that spot.
The show was a typical small-town outfit, making a big splash in a small puddle. On the program were typical one ring attractions with a clown to amuse the audience and acts that not only doubled but tripled or even put on four acts, help put it up, tear down and made themselves generally useful.
An unusual individual was this Bobby Fountain. An announced free act drew people to the ground. He was excelled by few on the bally stand. With his persuading stories he turned the trick into the sideshow and had the crowds clamoring to get into the big show.
He had a habit of getting lost so .his whereabouts were not known to readers of the amusement papers as well as his competitors. Occasionally the show made a town the bigger circuses stopped in. One of these was Colorado Springs, July 31, 1907.
The title in 1909 was Bobby Fountain's Railroad show. A route I have discloses that May 12 it was at Alamosa, Colorado, remaining in that state and New Mexico until June 12. That date was Green River, Utah. The show then made Utah, Wyoming, Chadron, Nebraska, before going into South Dakota. It then returned to Nebraska followed by Kansas and Missouri spots. On October 7 the show was at Colter, Arkansas.
It must have played almost every signal-flag railroad spot in the state before it closed at Eldorado December 8. The route shows it was out 33 weeks, traveling 9,879 miles.
The opening date in 1910 was at Clinton, Ark., April 15. Back into its old territory the route shows it went. That season it went into Texas at Jacksonville, October 24, closing at Livingston, Texas, December 14.
Western territory had treated the show well previously so in 1911 it made a quick trip from the opening at Fairview, Oklahoma, April 17. Pendleton, Oregon, was played July 7; Blackfoot, Idaho, on the 17th; Bowery, Minnesota, August 16; Brighton, Iowa, September 7; Berryville, Arkansas, September 25.
After disposing of his own show we find Bobby Fountain on the Great Al G. Barnes Wild Animal show as manager of the side show.
The memory of this showman, his tactics and some of the gross receipts of the side show have gone down in history.
He went to the Big Lot literally with his boots on and sawdust in his hair. I recall the happenings of a Saturday morning in November, 1920. The Barnes circus train had just arrived in the railroad yards at San Bernardino, California, after a big jump from El Centre. On a stretcher some of the employees removed from the train the fever-stricken body of the great Bobby Fountain. He was literally great because he was a big man in stature.
Word came to the lot a few hours later that he had answered the last bugle call. He was dead.
Circuses on Tour, Season 1914 (listed alphabetically, also owner’s name)
Barnum & Bailey. Spec "Wizard Prince of Arabia." Ringling Bros.
Al G. Barnes "Big 3-Ring Wild Animal Circus." Al G. Barnes.
Circle "D" Ranch Wild West & Cooper Bros. Famous Shows."
Gentry Bros. Famous Shows. Gentry Bros.
Gollmar Bros. "Greatest of American Shows." Gollmar Bros.
Howe's Great London Shows. Mugivan & Bowers.
Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. B. E. Wallace.
Irwin Bros. "Cheyenne Frontier Days Wild West."
Jones Bros. & Wilson's New Shows. J. Augusta Jones, Harry E. Wilson.
Kit Carson's "Buffalo Ranch Wild West." Thos. F. Wiedemann.
La Tenas "Big 3-Ring Wild Animal Circus." Andrew Downie.
Mighty Haag Shows. Ernest Haag.
101 Ranch Real Wild West. Miller Bros. & Edw. Arlington.
Frank A. Robbins "All-Feature Shows." Frank A. Robbins.
Robinson's Famous Shows. Mugivan & Bowers.
Ringling Bros. "World's Greatest Shows. "Spec. King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba." Ringling Bros.
Yankee Robinson Circus. Fred Buchanan.
Sun Bros. "World's Progressive Shows." Geo. & Pete Sun.
Sig. Sautelle's "Nine Big Shows." Sig. Sautelle, Geo. W. Rollins, Oscar Lowanda.
Louis D. Thilman. Assumed management of Sig. Sautelle's "Nine Big Shows" August 1st - Failure
Sparks Shows. Charles Sparks.
Frank P. Spellman's Combined Circus. Frank P. Spellman.
Sells-Floto Circus & Buffalo Bill's Wild West. H. H. Tammen & F. G. Bonfils.
Vernon C. Seaver's Hippodrome, Young Buffalo Wild West & Col. Cummin's Far East."
Wyoming Bill's Wild West. Welsh Bros.
Wheeler Bros. Greater Shows & Great Stampede Wild West. Al F. Wheeler.
25 Circuses on tour in 1914.
Circuses on Tour, Season 1915
Listed according to railroad equipment, as follows: advance; stock; flats; passenger; total.
Al G. Barnes "Big 3-Ring Wild Animal Circus." Al G. Barnes. 1; 4; 7; 5; 17
Barton & Bailey's "World's Celebrated Shows." Thos. F. Wiedemann, John A. Barton.
Barnum & Bailey "Greatest Show on Earth." Ringling Bros. 3; 23; 39; 17; 72
J. H. Eschman "World United Ry Shows." J. H. Eschman 1; 2; 2; 2; 7
Gentry Bros. Famous Shows. Gentry Brothers 1; 3; 6; 2; 12
Gollmar Bros. "Greatest of American Shows." Gollmar Bros. 1; 5; 11; 6; 24
Carl Hagenbeck-Wallace Shows. B. E. Wallace. 2; 13; 25; 13; 53
Hodgini's "Great European Shows." Al. Hodgini (2 Cars)
Howe's Great London Shows. Mugivan & Bowers.
Hugo Bros. "Modern United Shows." Chas. & Vic. Hugo. 1; 3; 4; 2; 10
Jones Bros. "World-Toured Shows." J. Augusta Jones. 1; 4; 6; 4; 15
La Tena's Big 3-Ring Wild Animal Circus. Andrew Downie.
101 Ranch Wild West & Jess Willard. Miller Bros. & Edw. Arlington. 2; 7; 10; 7; 26
Sells-Floto Circus & Buffalo Bill's Wild West. Tammen & Bonfils. 2; 12; 16; 9; 39
Sparks Shows. Charles Sparks 1; 3; 5; 3; 2
Sun Bros. "World's Progressive Shows." Geo. & Pete Sun.
Ringling Bros. "World's Greatest Shows." Ringling Bros.
Frank A. Robbins "All-Feature Shows." Frank A. Robbins.
Robinson's Famous Shows. Mugivan & Bowers. 2; 6; 9; 7; 24
Yankee Robinson Circus. Fred Buchanan.
Welsh Bros. & Lessig's Circus. John T. Welsh.
21 Circuses on tour in 1915.
Circuses on Tour - Season 1916
Listed According to Railroad Equipment and Owners Name. (Partial Listing of General Agents)
Listed according to railroad equipment, as follows: advance; stock; flats; passenger; total.
Barnum & Bailey "Greatest Show on Earth." Ringling Bros. Owners. 3; 24; 41; 17; 85
Ringling Bros. "World's Greatest Shows." Ringling Bros., owners 3; 24; 39; 16; 82
Carl Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. Ed. Ballard. R. M. Harvey, Gen. Agt. 2; 16; 28; 13; 59
Sells-Floto Circus. "Champion Shows of the World." H. H. Tammen, F. G. Bonfils. Ed. C. Warner, Gen. Agt. 2; 12; 18; 10; 42
Buffalo Bill & 101 Ranch Wild West Shows. Miller Bros., Edw. & Geo. Arlington. Edw. Arlington, Gen. Agt. 2; 10; 11; 7; 30
John Robinson's "10 Big Shows Combined." Jerry Mugivan, Bert Bowers. Geo. C. Moyer, Gen. Agt. 2; 8; 12; 8; 30
Al G. Barnes "Big 4-Ring Wild Animal Circus." Al G. Barnes. Wm. K. Peck, General Agent. 2; 6; 14; 7; 29
Wheeler Bros. "Enormous Shows." Al F. Wheeler. Harry A. Mann, G. A. 2; 6; 11; 7; 26
Gollmar Bros. "Greatest of American Shows." Gollmar Bros. Fred C. Gollmar, General Agent. 2; 6; 11; 6; 25
Yankee Robinson Circus. Fred Buchanan. Geo. F. Meighan, Gen. Agt. 1; 4; 10; 7; 22
Howe's Great London Shows. Jerry Mugivan, Bert Bowers. Ed. C. Knupp, General Agent 1; 6; 8; 6; 21
Coop & Lent's "New United Monster Shows." L. J. Stark, W. T. Hanright, Frank Kanak. F. C. Cooper, G. A. 1; 4; 10; 5; 20
Cole Bros. "World Toured Shows." J. Auqusta Jones. L. C. Gillette. G. A. 1; 4; 7; 4; 16
La Tena's "3-Ring Wild Animal Circus." Andrew Downie. F. J. Frink, General Agent. 1; 4; 6; 4; 15
Sparks "World Famous Shows." Charles Sparks. T. W. Ballenger, Gen. Agt. 1; 4; 6; 4; 15
Cook & Wilson's "Greatest Trained Animal Circus on Earth." D. Clinton Cook, Harry G. Wilson. George H. Degnon, General Agent. 1; 4; 6; 3; 14
Gentry Bros. Famous Shows. Gentry Bros. Lon B. Williams, Gen. Agt. 1; 3; 7; 2; 13
Orton Bros. 3-Ring Circus. R. Z. Orton, Criley Orton. Dave Jarrett, G. A. 1; 3; 5; 4; 13
J. H. Eschman "World United Circus." J. H. Eschman. J. C. Donahue, G. A. 1; 2; 4; 3; 10
Sun Bros. "World's Progressive Shows." George & Pete Sun. 1; 2; 4; 2; 9
Cooper Bros. "Railroad Shows." Elmer H. Jones. -; -; -; 2; 2
21 Circuses on tour in 1916.
Circuses on Tour - Season 1917
Listed According to Railroad Equipment, also Owners Name.
Listed according to railroad equipment, as follows: advance; stock; flats; passenger; total.
Ringling Bros. "World's Greatest Shows." Ringling Bros. 3; 24; 39; 19; 85
Barnum & Bailey "Greatest Show on Earth." Ringling Bros, owners. 3; 24; 41; 18; 84
Carl Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. Ed. Ballard, owner. 2; 15; 27; 13; 57
John Robinson's Circus. Mugivan & Bowers, owners. 2; 11; 20; 12; 45
Sells-Floto Circus. Tammen & Bonfils, owners. 2; 14; 18; 9; 43
Al G. Barnes "Big 4-Ring Wild Animal Circus." Al G. Barnes, owner. 2; 7; 14; 7; 30
Jess Willard & Buffalo Bill Shows. Jess Willard, Edw. Arlington. 2; 8; 10; 8; 28
James Patterson's Shows & Gollmar Bros. Circus. James Patterson. 1; 6; 11; 7; 25
Yankee Robinson Circus. Fred Buchanan. 1; 6; 11; 6; 24
Cole Bros. "World-Toured Shows." J. Augusta Jones. 1; 6; 7; 6; 20
Coop & Lent's Enormous Shows. L. J. Stark. 1; 4; 10; 5; 20
Sparks "World Famous Shows." Charles Sparks. 1; 4; 6; 4; 15
La Tena's, Wild Animal Circus. Andrew Downie. 1; 3; 6; 5; 15
Gentry Bros. "Famous Shows." Austin & Newman, owners. 1; 3; 7; 3; 14
Cook Bros. World's Greatest Shows. D. Clinton Cook. 1; 2; 5; 2; 10
J. H. Eschman. "World United Ry Shows." J. H. Eschman. 1; 2; 4; 3; 10
Sun Bros. "World's Progressive Shows." Geo. & Pete Sun. 1; 2; 4; 2; 9
Cooper Bros. "All-Feature Shows." Elmer H. Jones -; -; -; 2; 2
18 Circuses on tour in 1917.
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Last modified February 2006.
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Last modified February 2006.