Circus Historical Society
Olympians of the Sawdust Circle
Olympians of the Sawdust Circle: A biographical dictionary of the ninteenth century American circus
Ba - Bi
Compiled and Edited by William L. Slout
Copyright © 2005 by William L. Slout. All rights reserved.
BABCOCK, ANSON. See A. D. VanZandt.
BABCOCK BROTHERS. W. W. Cole’s, 1872.
BABCOCK, PROF. Troupe of 12 performing
horses, Albert Hose’s, 1893.
BABCOCK, STEPHEN SLY. (1824-1894) Moved to Delavan, WI, 1846, and engaged in farming and the grocery business. Formed a partnership with H. Buckley & Co., 1857, and traveled throughout the southwest, Gulf States, Cuba and other West Indies. Experienced 2 years of countless setbacks, ranging from attacks by Indians and bandits to a shipwreck in the Carribbean. General agent, Dan Castello & William C. Coup’s, 1870. After retiring from the circus business, was elected county sheriff and also town president of Delavan.
BACKENSTOE, ED. 40-horse and chariot driver, Nixon’s, 1859; Backenstoe’s Cosmopolitan Circus (boat and wagon), 1868; traveled on the steamboat Emperor, fitted with a steam calliope; started on the Mississippi River, December 6, 1871; when the river
level dropped, went out on rails and wagons; 1872 season reportedly began April 15, Backenstose and Capt. G. W. Thompson of the boat were the apparent owners; show closed and was sold at Memphis, TN, October 26, 1872. Controlled outside and inside privileges, James Robinson’s, 1869, exhibiting the Albino Children and the bearded child, Martini, and his trained mice, plus monkeys, bears and birds; managing director, Backenstoe’s Cosmopolitan Circus, 1871-72; had a circus sold at sheriff’s auction in Memphis, October 17, 1872. Was located in Eureka, CA, 1905, where he was a meat and milk inspector.
BACKUS, CHARLES. (1831-June 21, 1883) Ethiopian entertainer. Born in Rochester, NY. Was known primarily as a negro minstrel. Married 3 times - the first wife, Leo Hudson, from whom he was separated, died in 1873; married actress Kate Newton, 1868,
who died shortly after the first wife; 1876, married Tizzie Mason. Was financially engaged with his brother in a grocery store in Rochester and in a jewelry store on Broadway, NYC. Died of Bright’s desease in the latter city, age 52. Early professional employment with Hubble & Co., 1842; 1852, moved to California and 2 years later formed the Backus Minstrels in San Francisco Hall; took a company to Australia, 1855, returning to San Francisco Hall the following year; made a tour of the California interior, 1859, as Horn & Backus Minstrels; went back to Australia with the San Francisco Minstrels. While there, abandoned minstrelsy for the circus, joining as clown with Burton’s for some 8 months; in England, appeared as a clown, Astley’s Amphitheatre; returned to California, 1861, and organized a company for a tour; revisited England, 1882, where he was a member of the Moore & Burgess’ Minstrels.
BACON, CHARLES H. Rider. As an 8 year old apprentice, made debut at the Lafayette Amphitheatre, NYC, in its initial season, August 1825; Washington Gardens, Boston, October 1825; Price & Simpson, Washington Amphitheatre, Boston, 1826; William Harrington’s, 1829; clown, William Blanchard’s, 1830; Aaron Turner’s, 1830; rider, Fogg & Stickney, 1830; William Harrington’s, 1831-32; Palmer & Harrington, 1834; rider, Bancker & Harrington, 1835; J. W. Bancker’s, 1836; Nathan A. Howes’, 1836; Charles H. Bacon’s, 1837-38; rider and proprietor, Bacon & Derious, 1838; rider, Welch & Mann, 1841; Welch & Delavan, Baltimore, 1841; riding master, Howes & Mabie, 1841; clown, Rockwell & Stone, 1846; scenic rider, Victory Circus, 1847; clown, June & Titus, 1848; Levi J. North’s New York Amphitheatre, 1851; R. Sands, G. C. Quick & Co., 1853.
BACON, JOSEPH. Rider. Nathan A. Howes’, 1836; Bacon & Derious, 1838; Welch, Bartlett & Co., 1839.
BACON, MRS. C. H. Bancker & Harrington’s National Gymnasium and American Arena Co., 1835.
BACON, OLIVER (“MASTER”). Rider, Frost, Husted & Co., 1836.
BADER, EUGENE. Acrobat, VanAmburgh’s, 1881.
BAILEY, CHARLES. Boss canvasman. James T. Johnson’s, 1884; Forepaugh & Samwells (W. R. Forepaugh, Thomas Samwells, proprietors), 1886; cookhouse and candy stand privileges, Gollmar Bros.’, 1897.
BAILEY, CURT L. Co-proprietor, Bailey & Winan, 1889-90; proprietor, Bailey’s, 1891.
BAILEY, EDDIE. Morosco’s Royal Russian Circus, 1885.
BAILEY, FREDERICK HARRISON. (1814-1881) Agent, business manager. Nephew to Hachaliah Bailey. Was known as Col. Bailey, discoverer of the young James A. Bailey and the source of his name. First mentioned as agent with Banigan & Kelly, 1847;
later that year, Raymond & Waring; agent, Welch, Delavan & Nathans, 1850; manager, Welch’s National Circus, Raymond & Co.’s and Driesbach & Co.’s Menageries United, 1852; agent, Ballard & Bailey, 1855; Welch & Lent, 1856; associated for many years with old John Robinson and Robinson & Lake, 1859-63, 1865-68, 1871-78; business manager, Lake & Co.,
1864; manager, National Circus, Cincinnati, 1865; agent, Great Union Combination (Robinson’s), 1865; advertiser, Haight & Chambers, 1867; advertiser, Hemmings, Cooper & Whitby, 1869; agent, John Robinson’s, 1871; Charles Noyes’, 1871; general agent, Ed G. Basye’s, 1878; railroad contractor, Sells Bros.’, 1878. Was divorced from his wife, Kate Bailey, Cincinnati, May 17, 1879, after about 16 years of marriage. His step-daughter, Frankie Bailey, married Charles Robinson, son of old John.
BAILEY, GEORGE FOX. (October 29, 1818-February 20, 1903) Born in North Salem, NY, the nephew of old Hachaliah Bailey and son-in-law of Aaron Turner. One of P. T. Barnum’s silent partners, 1876-80. One of the greatest showmen of his generation. Started in the circus field with Aaron Turner’s, where he learned the business; married Turner’s daughter and later became his partner at a time when P. T. Barnum was Turner’s treasurer. When Turner retired, Bailey took control of the show; was out with the title of Ballard & Bailey, 1855, and by 1860 was advertising the show under his own name, G. F. Bailey & Co. Acquiring a hippopotamus years before Barnum, he toured the midwest, 1857, under the title of The Grand Metropolitan Quadruple Combination Con-
sisting of George F. Bailey & Co.’s Circus, Herr Driesbach’s Menagerie, G. C. Quick’s Colossal Hippopotamus, and Sands, Nathans & Co.’s Performing Elephants. After several years of solo operation, became a partner, 1858, with Avery Smith, John Nathans and
Lewis June, second generation “Flatfoots.” They took out the Barnum show, 1876-80. Retired after being in the business for 40 years. Died in NYC, age 85, leaving an estate of over a half-million dollars.
BAILEY, HACHALIAH. (1775-September 2, 1845) Native of Stephentown (later named Somers), Westchester County, NY. A shrewd businessman, bought an elephant, “Old Bet,” for $1,000 around 1808. With other animals added, monkeys and a bear or two, the Bailey caravan toured the nearby centers of population with what was said to be the second elephant to be exhibited in America. Erected an inn, 1823, in North Salem which was named the Elephant Hotel. A wooden replica of “Old Bet” was placed on a stone foundation in front of it and dedicated in 1827. Was the father of James P., Joseph T. and Lewis and uncle of George F. Bailey. Died at age 70.
BAILEY, IDA. Trained dogs, with Charles Bartine’s, 1892.
BAILEY, KATE. Equilibrist and ascensionist, George W. DeHaven’s, 1865.
BAILEY, LEWIS. Partner with J. Purdy Brown, 1825, in a circus venture, Brown’s first season under canvas, which marked the beginning of the use of tents for traveling circuses. Listed as riding master, J. Purdy Brown’s troupe in the South, 1828.
BAILEY, JAMES ANTHONY [r. n. James Anthony McGinness]. (July 4, 1847-April 11, 1906) Born in Detroit, MI. Father died, 1852, his mother a few years later. At age 11 was working on a farm for $3.50 a month and board. Age 13 joined Robinson & Lake, June 17, 1860, in Pontiac, MI, and came under the tutelage of advance agent Frederick H. Bailey, from whom he took the name. Remained with this show through 1862, working in the off season as a bill poster in Cincinnati. Winter, 1863, employed at the Nashville (TN) Theatre, bill posting, selling tickets and ushering. Became a sutler’s clerk that year, selling provisions to the soldiers until the end of the Civil War. When only 18, re-entered circus business as assistant agent and boss billposter, Lake's Olympiad, 1866-67; general agent, Lake’s, 1868-69; half owner concert privileges, Hemmings, Cooper & Whitby,
1870; general agent, Hemmings & Cooper, 1871; all privileges (with George Middleton), Hemmings & Cooper, 1872; bought Hemming’s quarter-interest, 1873; after Whitby was killed the following year, Bailey acquired his holdings. Circus went to Australia, 1876, and met with considerable success, being the first in the antipodes; then toured New Zealand and
South America. Following South American tour, the only unsuccessful one Bailey experienced, the show returned to the United States, December, 1878. Illuminated the performances by electricity, the first time for a tented exhibition, 1879. Winter quarters, Philadelphia, 1880, the first baby elephant in captivity was born, creating a publicity sensation. Cooper & Bailey joined with the Barnum show, 1881. There followed a
succession of circus phenomena: the famous Jumbo acquisition; the instigation of 3 rings under a single canvas and a hippodrome track; Bailey’s purchasing the interests of J. L. Hutchinson, W. W. Cole and J. E. Cooper in the Barnum & London Shows, October 27, 1887, at Madison Square Garden, the show henceforth being known as Barnum & Bailey; Barnum & Bailey’s London engagement, 1890; acquiring of the Adam Forepaugh circus, 1891, following the death of Forepaugh; the Barnum & Bailey Circus European tour, 1898; and Bailey’s purchase of the Sells Bros. circus and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. Married Miss
Ruth Louisa McCaddon, who was born in Zanesville, OH, 1868. Died at his home, “The Knolls,” Mt. Vernon, NY, leaving an estate worth 5 to 8 million dollars and a legacy as the greatest showman of his day. His wife died March 11, 1912, at Hobe Island, FL
BAILEY, JAMES PURDY. (1812-1853) Agent. Son of Hackaliah and brother of Lewis and Joseph T. Bailey. Brown’s, 1832-33; co-proprietor, Joseph T. and James P. Bailey’s, 1834-35; manager, Ludlow & Smith, 1841; agent, Robinson & Foster, 1843.
BAILEY, JOSEPH TODD. (b. 1807) Son of Hackaliah and brother of Lewis and James P. Bailey. Co-proprietor, J. T. and J. P. Bailey’s Menagerie and Cir-
BAILEY, LEWIS. Son of Hackaliah and brother of James P. and Joseph T. Bailey. Believed to have been in partnership with J. Purdy Brown when the
concern was the first to use a canvas tent, 1825; co-proprietor, Purdy, Carley & Bailey’s meneagerie,
BAILEY, MOLLIE KIRKLAND [Mrs. A. H. Hardesty]. (November 2, 1844-October 2, 1918) One of the few successful female circus managers. After starting in show business at age 16, took over circus management when husband, Gus Bailey, died, June, 1896,
continuing a show that had been operated since 1870. That year the show was reported having an outfit of 20 wagons, 60 head of horses and 35 people in the company. Children and other family members were involved in the troupe’s activity, which created a “folksy” atmosphere. The show toured Texas and surrounding states as Mollie Bailey’s Great Southern
Show, abandoning wagons for rail in 1907. Died at Houston, TX, age 82.
BAILEY, MONT. Boss canvasman, Wintermute Bros.’, 1897.
BAILEY, SOLOMON. (1788-1859) Animal keeper. Probably connected with Bailey, Brown & Co., 1832; J. T. and J. P. Bailey’s, 1834; Menagerie and Aviary from the Zoological Institute, Philadelphia, 1835; the Zoological Exhibition from Baltimore, 1836.
BAILS, TONY. Manager of the variety troupe with Haight & Chambers’ Circus, 1867.
BAIRD, BANCK. Band leader, Cooper & Co.’s, 1897.
BAIRD, ED. Advance agent, Wintermute Bros.’, 1897.
BAIRD, J. W. (1848-January 12, 1908) Showman. Born in Salem, OH. Began professional career, 1866, as a trick bicycle rider; joined Johnson’s the following year; then organized Smith & Baird’s Circus, 1872, but closed early when a large section of the seats fell and fatally injured members of the audience. Privileges, Great Eastern, 1874; organized Baird & Howell, 1875, which was short-lived; following the season, organized Baird’s Minstrels which functioned until 1889. Retired from the road because of illness and settled in Portland, OR, to engage in a real estate business. Died there, age 60. Researcher note: his correct name was I. W. Baird, the owner of Baird's Mammoth Minstrels. I do not yet know what the initials stand for. - Allen Amet
BAKER, A. W. Contracting agent, G. G. Grady’s, 1871.
BAKER BROTHERS. Acrobats and hat spinners, Albert M. Wetter’s New Model Shows, 1893.
BAKER, CHARLES H. “POP”. (December 9, 1836-April 28, 1915) Born in Buffalo, NY, the son of a museum manager, which influenced him to organize his own sideshows. Got credit for bringing negro minstrel George Primrose into the circus. Curiosities “discovered” include Dr. DeGrandell Danis, “human skeleton;” Mme. Squires, bearded lady; Fannie Wallace, fat lady; Jim Dukes, whose strength was all in
his shoulders; as well as, a duck with 6 feet, an elephant with but 3 feet, and a monkey who was friendly with an untamed kangaroo. Amazed the public in the 1860s when he brought out an educated pig. Later years, conducted a glass blowing stand in Cleveland and other cities until failing health forced retirement. All in all, was in the entertainment business 59 years. Died in Toledo, OH, age 79.
BAKER, D. L. Buckley & Co.’s Circus, 1857-58.
BAKER, F. A. Program agent, Barnum show, 1877, killed in the tragic wreck of the advertising car at Four Mile Creek, Iowa, August 29, along with 11 others.
BAKER, JAMES. Poster advertiser, Barnum show, 1877, killed in the tragic wreck of the advertising car at Four Mile Creek, Iowa, August 29, along with 11 others.
BAKER, J. J. Band leader, Dan Ducello’s United Exhibitions, 1879.
BAKER, JOE. See Joseph Hampshire.
BAKER, JOSEPH. Boss canvasman, P. T. Barnum’s, 1871-72.
BAKER, MAUDE. Gardner & Donovan, South America, 1886.
BAKER, RICHARD. Detective, P. T. Barnum’s, 1873.
BAKER, TOM. Ethiopian performer. Orton & Older, 1859; clown, Mabie’s, 1860; R. Sands & Co., 1861.
BAKER, THOMAS. Leader of promenade orchestra, James M. Nixon’s Cremorne Gardens, NYC, 1862.
BALDOCK, JAMES E. Charles Bartine’s, 1888.
BALDWIN, DAN. Principal leaper and tumbler, Bruce L. Baldwin’s, 1894.
BALDWIN, E. Acrobat, G. A. Courtney’s, West Indies, 1880-81.
BALDWIN, BRUCE L. Showman. Went to California with Yankee Robinson, 1877; when the show collapsed, went with a dime museum up the Columbia River country; co-owner, Young Bros. & Baldwin, 1892; proprietor, Baldwin’s Railroad Shows, 1893-94.
BALDWIN, CHARLES M. Boss hostler, F. J. Taylor’s, 1891.
BALDWIN, C. S. Assistant manager, Ed G. Basye’s Cosmopolitan Circus, 1878.
BALDWIN, EDWARD. Gymnast, Hamilton & Sergeant, 1877-78; balancer, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881; London Sensation Show, 1879; Orrin Bros.’, 1883; Daniel Shelby’s, 1888.
BALDWIN, EDWARD O. Boxer (with James O. Conner), Howes Trans-Atlantic Circus and Risbeck’s Menagerie (Frank Howes, proprietor), 1868.
BALDWIN, GEORGE. Bill poster, P. T. Barnum’s, 1873.
BALDWIN, HENRY. Boss hostler, Gardner & Hemmings, 1863.
BALDWIN, LOTTIE. Single trapeze, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881.
BALDWIN, O. F. Proprietor, Baldwin, Wall & Co.’s Great Eastern, 1880.
BALDWIN, PLATT. Juggler. Howes & Mabie, 1841; Dr. Gilbert R. Spalding’s, 1844.
BALDWIN, SAM. Robinson & Howes, 1864.
BALDWIN, SILAS D. (March 4, 1825-June 3, 1867) Juggler. Born in New Jersey. Entered show business at 13 years of age, beginning as a contortionist in hall shows; later played bones in minstrel band at the Coliseum on Broadway. Joined the circus as a contortionist but later became one of the most popular jugglers in the business. An imposing figure with his height of 6’ 4”. Dr. Gilbert R. Spalding’s, 1842, 1844-45, 1847; S. P. Stickney’s, 1846, 1848-49; Robinson & Eldred, 1850; Great Olympic Circus, winter 1850; World Circus, 1851; Spalding & Rogers, 1853-54; Flagg & Aymar, 1856; John Robinson’s, 1857; Robinson & Lake, Wood’s Theatre, Cincinnati, 1859; Robinson & Lake, 1860; G. K. Goodwin, 1860; Tom
King’s, 1862; Antonio Bros.’, billed as the “Hindu Juggler,” 1862; Lake & Co., 1864; Howe & Norton, 1864; National Circus, Cincinnati, 1865; Lake’s, 1865; Dan Castello’s, 1866; Dan Rice’s, managed by Adam Forepaugh, 1866. Died of typhoid fever at Harrisburg, PA, while with O’Brien & Whitby’s Circus.
BALE, HARDY. See H. Hardella.
BALIZE, SIGNOR. Lion king. Campbell’s Zoological and Equestrian Institute, 1870; Sheldenburger’s & Co., 1871.
BALL, J. A. Proprietor, Ball’s Great Coliseum, 1864; partner, Ball & Fitzpatrick’s, 1865; Thompson, Smith & Hawes, 1866; Caldwell’s Occidental Circus, 1867.
BALL, RICHARD GUY. (January 1, 1844-August 10, 1905) Contracting agent. Born in Philadelphia. Had only 3 months formal schooling but became a well informed man. Career began as a candy butcher for Jake Jakeway of L. B. Lent’s, 1859; following year, at age 16, joined the advance of Gardner & Hemmings, 1860, under general agent W. H. Gardner,
and continued under Gardner’s supervision until 1863, when, in mid-season, acquired the candy stands with the show. When war broke out, joined the army and saw service with Company D, First Michigan Cavalry until 1865. After leaving the service, managed the
advance with Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1866; but was back with Gardner, who was agent for John O’Brien’s, 1867-72; following year, became general agent for the show; rejoined Gardner as contracting agent, Cooper & Bailey, 1874-78, visiting Australia and South
America; contracting agent, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1879; Cooper & Bailey, 1880; P. T. Barnum’s, 1880; Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881-83; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1884; and again with Barnum & Bailey until illness was followed by death. Died at Home of Incurables. After starting in the business for $10 a month and board, he ended as one of the highest salaried
contracting agents. In his prime, was considered superior at contracting bill posters, hotel proprietors, liverymen and city and state officials. Due to a generous nature, his financial condition left him helpless as an invalid.
BALL, T. T. Agent, Hobson Bros., 1893.
BALLARD, ED M. (1873-November 6, 1936) Proprietor, Hagenbeck & Wallace, 1917; American Circus Corp., 1921-29.
BALLARD, OSMOND. Sideshowman. Connected in the 1850s with Bailey & Co. Exhibited the “What Is It?” under the name of the Wild African Boy, “the connecting link between man and monkey,” before the oddity came into the possession of P. T. Barnum. Broadway Menagerie, 1853; proprietor, Ballard, Bailey & Co., 1855-56; early 1860s, set up a concert saloon, the “What Is It?” at 600 Broadway, NYC.
BALLON, MRS. Fat woman, Sheldenburger & Co.,
BALNAN, JAMES [r. n. James Murphy]. (d. May 24, 1908) Clown, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1892. Died in NYC.
BANCKER, ED H. (December 23, 1836-October 3, 1902) Ethiopian performer. Born in New Orleans. Played the drum in the band of Sam Stickney’s circus at age 10 alongside the celebrated Ned Kendall. With Dan Rice’s following year as Ethiopian performer.
First appeared NYC, 1853, Old Broadway Theatre, doing bones solo for T. D. Rice’s benefit; followed by engagements with various minstrel troupes. In New Orleans at outbreak of Civil War, where he enlisted in the Fifth Louisiana Regiment and served in the post band at Richmond, VA; later, went to the front and was taken prisoner and sent to Washington, DC, before being pardoned by President Lincoln. At Old Bowery Theatre, NYC, George Christy’s Minstrels, July, 1865; member of the variety troupe, Haight & Chambers’ circus, 1867; author of several Ethiopian sketches, among them “The Wig Maker,” “Too Hot For Comfort,” “The Colored Policeman,” etc. Also said to be the originator of the “change act” in which
he changed from black to white and black again within a few seconds. Died in Minneapolis, MN, with suspicion that he was murdered for the $100 he had in his posession; connected at the time with the “A Night Before Christmas” Co. as the blind fiddler.
BANCKER, JAMES W. (d. February 22, 1866) Rider, general performer. Native of New York and a true descendant of the early Knickerbockers; name can be traced to Dedrick Bancker, the Verryvongers, Von der Schiders, and the Von Spiglers. An uncle, Abraham Bancker, was a celebrated spy for General Washington. As a youth was fond of the drum and became a masterful performer of it at the age of 8. Began his profession at the old Richmond Hill Circus, NYC, as a “cross vaulter,” which consisted of varied and difficult leaps. James West’s, 1825, performing feats of balancing and still-vaulting; J. Purdy Brown’s company, 1825; Lafayette Amphitheatre, NYC, its initial season, 1825-26; Samuel McCracken’s company, 1825-26; Parson’s (Samuel McCracken, manager), Albany, 1826; Tivoli Gardens, Philadelphia, 1826; J. Purdy Brown’s, 1827; Samuel Parsons’, Troy, NY, 1828; rider, Bernard & Page, 1829; clown, Fogg & Stickney, 1830-31; scenic rider, John Lamb’s, 1831. His own equestrian company appeared at the Richmond Hill Circus, NYC, 1832, and toured the New England states that year. Formed a partnership with William Harrington, another expert rider, 1835, and toured the South with Bancker & Harrington’s National Gymnasium and American Arena Co. Harrington died within a year and Bancker took George Sweet as partner but refused to do business with the
monopolistic Zoological Institute, which sent an opposition circus to break them, giving away tickets, performing for no admission, and using every means, fair and unfair, to destroy them. After being hounded through Pennsylvania, New York, and Canada, Sweet
gave in and Bancker, discouraged, sold out to the Institute. Manager, James Raymond’s Olympic, 1843-44; agent, Mann, Welch & Delavan, 1844-45; Welch’s National Circus, Philadelphia, 1845; Welch & Delavan, 1847; agent, Welch, Delavan & Nathans, 1848-49; agent, Welch & Lent’s, 1855-56; agent, L. B. Lent’s, 1859. For many years was associated with L. B. Lent as partner and other business capacities. After retirment from the circus, kept a saloon in Philadelphia on Walnut Street near Eighth. All in all, was considered a dashing rider, a clown of the “old school,” one of the early practitioners of scenic riding, and one of the best cross vaulters ever seen in America, as well as a first class advertiser. At one time threw 30 successive forward somersaults (or jerk forwards). The first American showman to use the word “circus” to describe a company rather than a building when, in 1824, he advertised Bancker’s New York Circus. He may have been the first American-born circus proprietor. On the afternoon of February 21, 1866, a benefit
was given for him at Fox’s American Theatre, Philadelphia, to lend comfort to his declining years. At the close of the performance he accompanied Frank Brower and Sam Sanford to the nearby saloon, formerly kept by him. At about 4:00 p.m., was taken seriously ill, necessitating his two companions to convey him to his residence. There he fell into an insensible state until 1:00 a.m. of the 22nd, when he quietly passed away, terminating what had been a lengthy professional career of over 40 years.
BANCKER, S. W. Agent. Married Miss E. J. Dickinson, 1859.
BANCROFT, ALF T. Clown, Prof. E. Hamilton’s Great New York Circus, 1877.
BANIGAN, PETER. Turner’s, 1841; treasurer, Rockwell & Stone, 1843, 1846; manager, Raymond & Waring, 1846-47; co-proprietor, Banigan & Kelly (Raymond & Co.) menagerie, 1847.
BANKS, C. R. Manager, N. B. and T. V. Turner’s, 1841; treasurer, Rockwell & Stone, 1843; treasurer, Rockwell & Stone (Stone’s unit), 1846; Banks & Archer, Central America, winter 1846; manager, Rockwell & Stone (Banks unit), 1847; Banks & Archer, Central America, 1847; Banks & Archer, Central America, 1848; Banks, Archer & Rockwell, South
BANKS, LOUISA. See Louisa Brower.
BANKS, WILLIAM. Clown. Died May 27, 1873, Chicago.
BANNERMAN, WILLIAM A. See Albion Brothers.
BAPTISTE, MONS. Man monkey, at Hippotheatron, 14th Street, NYC, 1864.
BARAS, JEANETTE. Montgomery Queen’s, 1873.
BARBER, ORRIN. Menches & Barber, 1887; proprietor, Orrin Barber’s, 1888.
BARCLAY, ESTELLE. Juvenile equestrienne. Dan Rice’s, 1857-60. Was variously billed as “Mlle. Estella,” “Mlle. Estrella,” and “Mad’lle Estrello.” Playing off the Ella Zoyara rage at Niblo’s Garden, NYC, 1860, Rice billed her as Ella Zoyara that season.
Probably the sister of Fred Barclay. Married comedian Frank Drew, 1860, and disappeared from the ring.
BARCLAY, FRED. (August 3, 1850-July 22, 1907) Rider, general performer. Native of Washington, DC. Adopted by Dan Rice and trained for the ring. First performed, 1857. Advertised as “A precocious youth in a dashing act of Retro Equitation, introducing
Bounds, Leaps, Pirouettes and Somersaults on his Golden Cream.” Dan Rice’s, 1857-60; Cooke’s Royal Circus, Niblo’s Garden, NYC, January 1860. Probably the brother of Estelle Barclay. Volunteered for the Spanish-American War with the First Florida Infantry, Co. E. While encamped in Cuba, contracted malaria and never really recovered. Cooke’s Royal Amphitheatre, Niblo’s Garden, NYC, January, 1860; Goodwin & Wilder, Howard Athenaeum, Boston, 1861; Dan Rice’s, 1860-62; Dan Castello’s, 1866; United States Circus (Frank Howes, Joseph Cushing, proprietors), 1867; Charles Noyes’ (former Paris Pavilion, set up in New Orleans under the proprietorship of Spalding and Bidwell), April, 1870, Texas, 1870; equestrian and somersault performer, Philadelphia Circus, corner of Tenth and Callowhill Streets, winter 1870-71; Dan Rice’s Paris Pavilion Circus, 1871-72, in an
enactment of the sports and pastimes of the Comanche tribe, including a buffalo hunt, called “Life Pictures on the Prairies.” [St. Louis Missouri Democrat, 1871: “He is, moreover, an actor of no mean ability, as was manifested by his impersonation of a Comanche warrior.”] James E. Cooper’s, 1873; rider, Maginley & Co., 1874; Cooper and Bailey, 1875; Cooper, Bailey & Co., Australian tour, 1876-77; bareback, somersault and principal rider, Robinson’s, winter 1877-78; W. W. Cole’s, California, 1880, and for Australian tour; principal rider, Sells Bros.’, 1878; gymnast and rider, John Robinson’s, 1878-79; principal rider (rode as “The Wild Comanche Chief”), W. W. Cole’s Australian tour, 1880-81; bareback, somersault, hurdle, bounding jockey rider, Nathans & Co., 1882; Orrin Bros.’, Mexico, March 1883; Nathans & Co., 1883; principal bareback rider, Pullman, Mack & Co., 1884; Orrin Bros.’, Mexico, February 1884; bareback rider, French & Monroe, 1885; Pubillones’ Circus, Cuba, 1886-87; hurdle and Indian rider, Howes’ New London, 1887. Died in San Francisco.
BARCLAY, MRS. ANNIE. Cooper, Bailey & Co. Australian tour, 1877. Probably the wife of Fred Barclay.
BARETTA THEODORE. Acrobat. Baretta-LaRosa Circus, 1886; Ringling Bros.’, 1887; hurdle rider, Doris & Colvin, 1887; Ferguson’s, 1888; gymnast and clown, Walt McCafferty’s Great Golden Shows, 1894.
BARGETT, JAMES. Sideshow privilege, Maginley, Carroll & Co., 1867.
BARGUS. General performer, H. P. Madigan’s, 1856.
BARKER, ACE. Gymnast. John Robinson’s, 1868; Cole & Orton, 1871; D. S. Swadley’s, 1872.
BARKLEY, JOHN C. Contortionist. Orton’s, 1855, October 1856, February 1857; Mabie’s, October 1856,
BARLOW, BILLY. (1849?-October 10, 1914) Clown, with trained dogs and monkeys, 1868. Died at Argenta, AR, age 65.
BARLOW, FRED. Bounding jockey, Gollmar Bros.’, 1893.
BARLOW, PETER. Rider, Barnum & Bailey, 1892.
BARLOW, THOMAS. Son-in-law of Thomas Taplin Cooke; designer of Cooke’s Extensive Equestrian Establishment and New Arena in Philadelphia, 1837.
BARMORE, WESLEY. Actor and theatrical manager. Under the name of S. E. Harris, stage manager, Welch’s National, Philadelphia, 1853; took out a circus in Ohio and Indiana, 1854, moving partly by canal boat; show was auctioned off at Hamilton, OH, May
1855. [Stuart Thayer: “Barmore’s company would have been a completely unimportant part of circus history, but for one feature. His troupe hosted the first double perch act in America.... The first understander was William Libby; George Dunbar and Frank Donaldson were the climbers.”] Stage manager, Welch & Lent, Philadelphia, 1855.
BARNABO, A. Spanish somersault rider, VanAmburgh’s, 1874.
BARNELL, MONS. George W. DeHaven’s, 1865.
BARNES, ALPHEUS GEORGE. (1862-1931) Native of Lobo, Ontario, Canada. Started a wagon show, 1895, with the proceeds from the sale of his farm, specializing in exhibiting wild animals at fairs and carnivals for a number of years before organizing a full
BARNES, DWIGHT BENNETT. (1846-1935) Attorney. Settled in Delavan, WI, 1855. Played a major role in obtaining finances for various circuses quartered there, and was occasionally the receiver in cases when shows failed. When the Centennial Circus folded, 1876, became the possessor of several small tents, one of which was sold to Al Ringling, 1879.
BARNES, WILLIAM. Buckley & Co.’s Circus, 1857-58.
BARNET. Clown. Cayetano’s, New Orleans, summer 1817; Pepin & Barnet, Natchez, MS, June 1823.
BARNUM, CHARLES. Boss canvasman, Great Chicago, 1879.
BARNUM, ED D. Boss sideshow canvasman, King & Franklin, 1889.
BARNUM, GEORGE H. Sideshow owner, Dan Rice’s, 1881.
BARNUM, HENRY. (1827-July 22, 1902) Born in Bridgeport, CT, a distant relative of P. T. Barnum. Entered show business, 1856. Assistant to Hyatt Frost, VanAmburgh’s, 1866; manager, Barnum and VanAmburgh’s, 1867; manager and proprietor (with
O. J. Ferguson, John Lyke, and James E. Kelley) VanAmburgh & Co.’s Golden Menagerie, 1869-71; owned a 10th interest in James E. Kelley’s Howes’ Great London Circus, 1873-76. Poor economic conditions in the country forced the latter show into sale,
January 29, 1877, the new owners being John Parks and Richard Dockrill. Manager, Cooper & Bailey, 1879-80; special agent, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1892-93; assistant contractor, Sells & Rentfrow, 1894; Barnum & Bailey, 1895; purchasing agent, Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, 1902. Married Elizabeth Wilson of Connersville, IN. Died in a West Superior, WI, Hotel of heart failure, age 75.
BARNUM, PHINEAS TAYLOR. (July 5, 1810-April 7, 1891) Started in business on his own, 1828, opening a fruit and confectionery store. 1831, opened a store of general merchandise. Same year, started a weekly paper, the Herald of Freedom, shortly finding himself in jail for libel. Moved to NYC, winter 1834-35, securing a job as a “drummer” for several Chatham Street establishments. Next, opened a boarding house and purchased an interest in a grocery store. Not content with this, purchased the celebrated “Joice Heth” for $1,000 and started in show business, opening adjacent to Niblo’s Garden with receipts averaging $1,000 a week. This success led to engaging Sig. Vivalia, who performed remarkable feats of balancing, plate spinning, etc. Became a ticket seller and secretary and treasurer of Aaron Turner’s Circus, 1836. Followed by purchasing a steamboat and with an acting company visited the principal cities on the Mississippi River. Spring 1840, staged variety performances at Vauxhall Garden, NYC, which did not prove profitable. It was there that the celebrated jig dancer, John Diamond, was first introduced. With this failure, spring 1841, settled in NYC as an agent for “Sears’
Pictorial Illustration of the Bible.” September 1841, became a “puff writer” for the Bowery Amphitheatre. By December, had secured Scudder’s Museum. For this, purchased the Fejee Mermaid from Moses Kimball of the Boston Museum, 1842. Introduced
Tom Thumb to the public the same year. Brought the Swiss Bell Ringers to America, 1844. Sailed for Europe with Tom Thumb in January, 1844, remaining abroad until 1847. Toured the USA with the midget that same year. Promoted the sensational Jenny Lind, 1850. Traveled as a temperance lecturer, 1851-52. Started a weekly pictorial, The Illustrated News, fall 1852. Entered the circus business with W. C. Coup
and Dave Castello, 1871, when more than 60 years old, supplying the cash and reputation for what was perhaps the greatest wagon show of all time. Went on rails the second year, making it possible to play primarily in the larger cities. Remodeled the Hippotheatron, 14th Street, NYC, and opened it on November 18, 1872, but it was destroyed by fire on December 24 of that year. Opened P. T. Barnum’s Roman Hippodrome (not a circus) at 26th Street, between Madison and Fourth Avenues, April 1874. That summer took out both his World’s Fair and Circus and Barnum’s Hippodrome, the former being leased to the management of John O’Brien. By the end of 1875, Coup was out of the picture, so Barnum turned to the last of the “Flatfoots” - George F. Bailey, Lewis June, John J. Nathans, and Avery Smith - to oversee his interests. These men managed Barnum’s circus property from 1876 through 1880. Replaced by James A. Bailey, who combined his show with Barnum’s for the Barnum & London Combined Shows, which had a profitable life from 1881 through 1885, until Bailey left the partnership. Barnum then induced W. W. Cole and J. E. Cooper to handle the circus operation for 1886, 1887. Bailey returned for the season of 1888 with full control of management for Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth. Winter 1889-90, circus was taken to London’s Olympic Coliseum. It has been said the no show had its equal for sheer spectacle, size and
equipment. Barnum died in Bridgeport, CT. His widow, Mrs. Nancy Barnum, was re-married to Demitri Callias Bey, August 7, 1895, NYC. Two rites were performed, one of them in the Greek church. See various biographies for fuller detail.
BARNUS, C. C. Agent, Washburn’s, 1855.
BAROTI. Italian ascenionist. With partner, Signor Volante, a duel act to the top of the tent and passing each other on the return, Joe Pentland’s, 1859.
BARRACLOUGH, JAMES “MASTER”. Driver of 18 Shetland ponies, pulling the Fairy Phaeton wagon, John H. Murray’s, 1874.
BARRELLI BROTHERS. Gymnasts, Sheldenburger’s European, 1871.
BARRES, JOSEPH. (d. March 11, 1908) Agent, S. H. Barrett’s, 1885. Died in Indianapolis, IN.
BARRETT, JENNIE. Great Wallace Show, 1893.
BARRETT, LEWIS. (d. October 15, 1923) Son of S. H. Barrett. Was with his father’s show for a number of years. Later, became secretary to Louis E. Cooke
of the Buffalo Bill show. Connected with the 101 Ranch show and then secretary of the Johnny J. Jones Exposition; also general agent of the Greater Southern Shows. Brother was Sheldon H. Barrett, known as a Pacific coast showman. After retirement, became associated with J. B. Morton of the Morton Sign Co., Knoxville, TN. Died at his home in that city.
BARRETT, SHELDON HOPKINS. (November 9, 1845-May 16, 1900) Born in Albion, NY, but moved to Cleveland with his family, 1865. Becoming neighbors of the Sells family; attended public school with young Allen, Lewis and Peter Sells and, ultimately, married their sister, Rebecca F. Sells, around 1869. When the Woodward Ave. Street Railway was established as the first streetcar line in Cleveland, Barrett and Lewis and Peter Sells were employed as conductors. After about 3 years, Barrett was taken into the office of the company and became the cashier, holding that position until 1880 when induced by the Sells to take over the management of their No. 2 outfit, James A. Anderson's Circus. The show changed from wagon to rail and was called the S. H. Barrett Circus. Barrett assumed the advance as well as the management when agent Charles Castle was taken ill. Remained in advance for the 6 years the show was under his name.
Merged with Sells Bros.’, 1888, and Barrett became general agent. Sells Bros.’ combined with Adam Forepaugh’s, 1896. Died while agenting Sells-Forepaugh’s, at the United States Hotel, Boston, from pneumonia, age 55.
BARRETTA, THEODORE. Equestrian director, Mayo’s Model Show, 1884.
BARRIERE, HOPPOLITIE. Erected a canvas pavilion at Chatham Gardens, 1823, which may have been the first time in America for amusements to be performed under canvas. Shortly, through the efforts of rival theatre manager, Stephen Price, the place was closed by the enforcement of fire laws. Barriere then built the Chatham Theatre, which was occasionally used for circus performances.
BARRIS, IKE. (d. September, 1885) Equestrian and clown. Sherman’s for 4 seasons. Last appearance, Morosco’s, San Francisco, 1885. While practicing the horizontal bars, fell and died the same day.
BARRY, FRANCES. Wire ascensionist, Cooper & Jackson, 1880.
BARRY, FRANK. Bareback rider. Above average height, and very massively built. Entered the ring at 10 years of age. 1856-61, served apprenticeship to Spalding & Rogers. Went to Europe at the outbreak of the Civil War and had engagements in almost every European capital. 1868, when performing in Russia, fell in attempting to reach his horse’s back after a long leap and broke his leg. Was laid up for 7 months. Spalding & Rogers, 1857, 1860; Sanger’s, England, 1862; P. T. Barnum’s, 1873; Montgomery Queen's, 1874.
BARRY, FRANKIE [Mrs. Kirkpatrick]. (d. May 30, 1903) Daughter of showman J. M. Barry and owner and trainer of the Challenge Troupe of French poodles. Col. Spicer’s, 1886; outside wire-walker, Sieber & Howe’s, 1887; treasurer, Great American Shows (J.
M. Barry, manager), 1894-95; Walter J. McDonald’s, 1900. Died, Carbondale, KS, from typhoid fever after having been in the business for about 25 years.
BARRY, J. M. Showman father of Frankie Barry. VanAmburgh’s, 1881; manager, Col. Spicer’s Circus, 1886; manager, George Sieber & Co., 1887; manager, but may have been a partner, George Sieber, Cole’s Ten Cent Show, also called Cole & Sieber’s Ten Cent
Show, 1890-91 (the two had operated together for several years); Great American Shows (J. M. Barry, manager), 1893-97.
BARRY, JOHN. Rider and leaper. Spalding & Rogers, 1857-61; Goodwin & Wilder, Howard Athenaeum, Boston, 1861; Goodwin & Wilder, summer 1862; Robinson & Howes, winter 1863; Thayer & Noyes, 1863; John Wilson’s, Southwest Pacific, 1865-67; Stone & Murray, 1869; Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1870; Siegrist & Frost, 1871; principal somersault rider, J. W. Wilder’s, 1872; Stevens & Begun, 1874; Burr Robbins’, 1875; bareback rider, Great Universal Fair, 1877; Great Roman Hippodrome, 1877; tumbler and leaper, P. T. Barnum’s, 1879; John H. Murray’s, West Indies, winter 1878-79; principal somersault rider, Stickney’s, 1880; Dan Rice’s, 1881; John Robinson’s, 1882; somersault act, W. H. Harris’ Nickel-Plate, 1884.
BARRY, LEWIS. (d. December 31, 1891) Cole Bros.’
BARRY, THOMAS. (1839-January 16, 1909) Clown. Born in Manchester, England; professional debut, Pablo Fanque’s, Free Trade Hall, Manchester, in pony race, 1847. Apprenticed to Ned Briarly to learn clowning. Performed alternately with Bell’s, Fanque’s, Hengler’s, and Newcomb’s circuses. Took out his own show for a short time, 1865; but inevitably went back with his former managers. Came to USA and engaged with Stone & Murray, 1869; L. B. Lent’s, NYC, 1870; Thayer & Noyes, 1870, switching to Murray & Stone
in August. Returned to England to work for Hengler, 1871, but was back with Murray for summer season, remaining until 1877. Adam Forepaugh’s, 1878; W. C. Coup’s, 1879; in England after the summer season, for Tom Batty’s; returned to USA and joined W. C. Coup,
1880. With H. R. Jacobs, ran a sideshow at Coney Island, 1881; but joined Murray & Stone late in the season, playing Long Island towns; went South during the winter with W. C Coup’s; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1882; took the “Sea on Land” exhibit to Coney Island with C. Sylvan, 1883; took out an Indian Medicine Show that winter for Healy & Bigelow; joined VanAmburgh’s, 1885; returned to England during the winter and was with Rollond’s, London, 1885-86; back with Frank A. Robbins’, 1886. Fall of that year,
bought an interest in an “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” company with George Peck. Later, joined forces with George O. Starr, of the Barnum & Bailey show, and took out the Starr Opera Co. Managed Lewis Phillips’ Pavillion at Dutchtown, NY, and later took out a production of “Putnam, the Iron Son of ‘76”. Following this, assumed the management of the Grand Street Museum, NYC, and continued managing theatrical enterprises for several years. Was the second to sail the Thames, from Vauxhall to Westminster, in a wash tub drawn by 4 geese, 1884. The tub was actually motivated by a row boat some distance ahead. Rival of
the English Shakespearean clown, William Wallett. At various times he unsuccessfully embarked into the restaurant business. [Day: “For Tom has much of the
English professionals desire to run ‘a public’ and surround himself with friends to whom he can recall the past as he serves a glass…. Mr. Barry has always been both a jester and gentleman and one of the emigrants from abroad who has never boasted of his intimacy
with the Queen and the royal family at ‘ome' or made himself odious in the dressing room by relating how much better everything is done ‘over there.’”] Died suddenly in Albany, NY.
BARTELS, WILLIAM. (d. July 12, 1907) Animal dealer. Supplied animals for all kinds of circuses and menageries from a firm located at 160 Greenwich St., NYC. Died while dining in a restaurant.
BARTHOLOMEW, DAN. Bartholomew’s Circus, 1891, opened in Salt Lake City and toured the mountain region.
BARTHOLOMEW, GEORGE. (May 13, 1833-March 5, 1911). Son of Noah W. Bartholomew, a
farmer in Erie County, NY, with a reputation for being able to subdue and handle the most fractious and vicious horses. Inherited his father’s fame and talent. Family moved to Jackson, MI, 1836; another move took the family to Missouri. George left for Southern
California, 1848, arriving in San Jose. Trained and exhibited a horse named Young America, of which he refused an offer of $10,000. Opened a pleasure garden, Denver, CO, 1871. During this time, broke and trained Bravo and Beneto and the famous leaper, Nettle; introduced the School of Educated Horses and toured through Colorado. After exhibiting for 5 weeks in St. Louis, through some unfortunate deal, lost his entire troupe of horses and found himself penniless. Returned to California and accumulated more stock and, July 4, 1879, performed at a public garden in Oakland to an audience of 10,000, the beginning of
the Equine Paradox and a turning point of furtune. Brought his show east, 1880, and with 17 performing horses exhibited in the Exposition Building, Chicago, and other principal cities, and, finally, 5 months in New York City. The tour continued into 1881 - Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Harrisburg, Reading, etc. Secured John Mishler, Reading theatre manager, to undertake the management of Bartholomew’s Equine Paradox; the show was booked throughout the USA to enormous success. Bartholomew & Co.’s Pacific Circus, 1856; proprietor, Rocky Mountain Circus, 1860; Bartholomew’s Circus Co., West Coast, 1861-62; Bartholomew’s Great Western, 1867-69; opened a summer garden, Denver, 1871; Bartholomew’s Equine Paradox, 1881-93.
BARTINE, CHARLES F. [r. n. Charles F. Basore]. (September 19, 1844-July 2, 1920) Ethiopian entertainer and proprietor. Born in Germantown, OH. Served in the Civil War. Entered show business, 1865, with Hooley’s Minstrels as a black face comedian. VanAmburgh’s; Lake’s; Rice & Manning Minstrels; United States Minstrels; Dodge & Bartine’s Great World Varieties, 1868; end man, William Henry Rice’s Minstrels, 1872; Charley Bartine & Co., 1872; Great Minstrels of the United States (the title of an organization formed in Cincinnati, OH), 1873-74, also called Bartine Bros. & Barlow Bros.’ Novelty Troupe. Had a circus on the road featuring the gymnastics of the Bartine Family, 6 in number, as early as 1872 and continued with circuses under his name until he retired
around 1912. In 1880, was in partnership with Sid C. France for the Bartine Five-Clown Circus and Electric Light Pavilion. Purchased the Seamon House, Montpelier, IN, 1889, with the intention of establishing winter quarters there. Out with Charles Bartine’s
Circus, 1890; Bartine’s Consolidated Shows (Charles Bartine, L. C. Miller, proprietors), 1892. That fall, purchased all the rights and interest in the Bartine Circus from his partner. Listed as general manager with the New Bartine Consolidated Shows (Col. James S. Totten & Co., proprietors), 1896. Children, John, Billie and Elva May were in the dramatic business. Died at his home in Connersville, IN, age 75, where he and wife were running a boarding house.
BARTINE, HARRY. (b. 1839) General performer. Good looking and well formed and possessed remarkable elasticity. [John A. Dingess: Bartine was “extremely smart in his exercises on the slack rope” and “endowed with an ambition only equalled by his courage.”] Welch & Lent, 1855-56; Welch’s, Philadelphia, 1857-58, 1860; slack rope, L. B. Lent’s, 1856-60. October 14, 1859, quarreled with circus performer William Kincade in a Reading, PA, gambling saloon. Enraged, Kincade drew a revolver and shot Bartine in the shoulder, seriously wounding him. Enlisted in the 25th New York Regiment for 2 months, 1861. In Australia, 1864-1871.
BARTINE, MAUD. Bartine Five-Clown Circus and Electric Light Pavilion (Charles Bartine, Sid C. France, proprietors), 1880. Married George Minnviller, musician, June 7, 1888, in Payne, OH.
BARTINE, NELLIE [or Nettie?]. Bartine Five-Clown Circus and Electric Light Pavilion (Charles Bartine, Sid C. France, proprietors), 1880; Bartine’s Circus (Charles Bartine, L. C. Miller, proprietors), 1892; Charles Bartine’s Consolidated Shows, 1893.
BARTINE, TED. Charles Bartine’s Consolidated Shows, 1893.
BARTLEMES, LEWIS. Dancing barrel, screen and Maltese cross performer, Lowande & Hoffman, 1887.
BARTLETT, F. A. Superintendent of excursions, P. T. Barnum’s Roman Hippodrome, 1875; P. T. Barnum’s, 1876.
BARTLETT, JONAS “PONY”. Co-proprietor, Welch & Bartlett, 1838-40; bought Welch’s interest, January 1841, when William Delavan became his partner, changing the title to Bartlett & Delavan; Clayton & Bartlett (John Clayton and Jonas Bartlett, proprietors), 1844. For a time, proprietor of the famous Branch Hotel, NYC; later, diposed of it to Tom Hyer to become landlord of the Washington Hotel at the Battery.
BARTLETT, KITTIE. Daughter of a lumber dealer in Newark, NJ, married Louis E. Cooke, 1881.
BARTLETT, WALTER. Zoological director, with VanAmburgh’s, 1874.
BARTLOW, CHARLES. Elephant keeper, Yankee Robinson’s for 5 years before he was killed in a battle with the elephant “Big Tom,” April 9, 1909. The bull stood 9’ 2” high and weighed 7,200 pounds. Bartlow was the 6th victim in the animal’s 19 years in captivity.
BARTON, THADDIUS. Manager, Nixon’s Royal Amphitheatre, 1860-61. It was announced in May, 1863, that James M. Nixon and Thaddeus Barton had leased the circus lot in Baltimore on Calvert Street, known as the “City Spring” lot, for the purpose of erecting a summer garden, similar to what Nixon had done in New York. Within short order the report came out that the Baltimore city council had rejected the plan, explaining that the lot was to be closed and fixed up for what it was intended - a city spring. May have been involved with Nixon in a Washington venture that followed. Business manager, Nixon’s Cremorne Garden Circus, 1863. Could he be the Barton who was a general performer for H. P. Madigan, 1856?
BASINGER, H. 10-horse bandwagon driver, Rockwell & Stone, 1846.
BASNADO. Head balancing trapeze artist, Walt McCafferty’s Great Golden Shows, 1894.
BASORE, CHARLES F. See Charles F. Bartine.
BASSETT, CHARLES H. “DOC”. (1828-October 1862) Showman and ringmaster. Started in the circus business at age 16, driving 4 ponies for a small chariot of Sands & Nathans; remained with the show until 1858. Following year, sailed for California with the elephants Victoria and Albert, which were sold on his arrival to circus manager John Wilson. Equestrian manager for Wilson at the American Theatre, San Francisco, which had been fashioned into an amphitheatre, spring 1860; following spring, combined with William and Walter Aymar and William Painter for a tour of California; the next year the group established a circus in Peru, South America, which proved to be an unsuccessful venture. Was taken ill with a fever and died in Equador.
BASSETT, D. Rider, Quick, Sands & Co., Baltimore, 1833.
BASSLER, EUGENE. Detective, Howes’ Great London, 1876.
BASTIAN, MLLE [Mrs. Harry Gurr]. (1850-June 26, 1875), Gymnast and trapeze performer. Native of Philadelphia. J. E. Warner & Co., 1871-73; W. W. Cole’s, 1874. Husband, Harry Gurr, performed as a “man-fish” and gymnast. She died in Battle Creek, MI, age around 25.
BASYE, ED G. Proprietor, Ed G. Basye’s Cosmopolitan Circus and Equestrian Exposition, 1878-79.
BATCHELLER, FRANK. Gymnast, Melville, Maginley & Cooke, 1875.
BATCHELLER, GEORGE H. (1827-1913) Leaper and showman. Joined a minstrel show at age 14. Began in the circus business as a tumbler with Isaac Burtis’, 1843, and adding leaping later. Clayton & Bartlett, 1844; Howes & Mabie, 1845-48; Stone & McCollum, 1849; R. Sands’, 1850; champion vaulter, Joe Pentland’s, 1851; June, Angevine & Titus, 1852-53; Joe Pentland’s, 1854-55; H. P. Madigan’s, 1856; Howes & Cushing, England, 1857-58; Miles & Toole, 1863; Thayer & Noyes, where he was leaping over 10 horses and an elephant; Mrs. Charles H. Warner’s, Philadelphia, winter 1864-65; James M. Nixon’s, Washington, DC, 1865; George W. DeHaven’s, 1865-66; Gardner & Hemmings, Baltimore, winter 1865-66; Mike Lipman’s, winter 1866-67; Philadelphia Circus, winter 1867-68; Cooke’s Circus, Philadelphia, winter 1868; privileges (with Ham Norman), John O’Brien’s, 1871; Great Eastern, 1874. Had several apprentices who took his name including William and John Batcheller. Was one of the best leapers of his day, at home and abroad. Several years associated with John B. Doris in the management of privileges
for various firms and, ultimately, placed their own circus on the road. Became a partner with B. F. Keith in a dime museum, Boston, which ultimately led to the creation of vaudeville in the United States.
BATCHELLER, JOHN F. Tumbler, gymnast, “champion” leaper. Chiarini’s, Cuba, 1866; Forepaugh’s, 1867; Brien’s (John V. O’Brien, proprietor), 1868; Stone & Murray, 1871; L. B. Lent’s, 1872; leaper, tumbler, P. T. Barnum’s, 1873; Haight’s Great Eastern, 1874; Howes’ Great London, 1876; P. T. Barnum’s, 1878; Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1879-80; Orrin Bros.’, Havana, winter 1879-80; Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881-82; VanAmburgh & Co., 1883; F. J. Taylor’s, 1892.
BATCHELLER, PAULINE [nee Pauline V. Jankins]. Wife of William H. Batcheller. Concert singer, Cooper, Bailey & Co., Australian tour, 1877-78, 1880; high-wire ascension, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881. See William H. Batcheller.
BATCHELLER, WILLIAM H. [r. n. Patrick Quirk]. Outstanding leaper. Entered circus business as an apprentice to George F. Batcheller, 1867, with a circus operated by Mike Lipman. Engaged the same season with a circus at Tenth and Callowhill Streets, Philadelphia. Adam Forepaugh’s, 1868, but left in mid-season to join Col. C. F. Ames’, 1868-69; C. W. Noyes’, 1870, but the show failed in Texas; at which time joined the John W. Robinson’s; C. W. Noyes', 1871, winter 1871-72; W. W. Cole’s, remaining until January, 1873; L. B. Lent’s until the end of 1873 summer season; W. W. Cole’s, 1874, 1877-78; Howes’ Great London, 1875-76; Orrin Bros.’, Havana, winter 1878-79; Cooper & Bailey, 1879-80, where he was advertised as performing a double somersault over 15 elephants. Stayed on when Cooper & Bailey was united with Barnum’s, forming the Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson. Stevens’ Australian Circus, performing on variety stages prior to the summer season, 1882;
Lockwood & Flynn, 1887; John E. Heffron’s, 1889-90. Achievements as a performer included a single somersault over 31 horses and a double somersault over 29 horses, both at Glen’s Falls, NY, while with W. W. Cole’s, August 6, 1875; a double somersault over 8 elephants side by side, St. Louis, MO, while with Howes’ Great London, April 23, 1876; double
somersault over one elephant placed on pedestals 4¼ feet high, Chicago, September 5, 1876; double somersault over 11 elephants placed side by side, except the last 2 which were head to head, the third elephant, the largest of the herd, being placed on two 4’ pedestals,
while with Cooper & Bailey, June 21, 1880, Haverhill, MA. Feats were all witnessed by reputable circus people. Married Pauline V. Jenkins (professionally known as La Belle Pauline), Pensacola, Florida, January 3, 1876.
BATES, ANNA. See Anna Hannon Swan.
BATES, GEORGE M. (1851-August 18, 1926) Elephant keeper. Born in Natick, MA. Joined Barnum and London, 1882, by 1885 was an elephant keeper; was present at the killing of Jumbo. Retired, 1908, after 25 years with Barnum & Bailey. Sideshow ticket taker, Miller Bros.’ 101 Ranch, 1909-13. Died at Warwick, RI.
BATES, GEORGE R. Agent, DeHaven’s (Andrews & Carpenter, proprietors), 1861.
BATES, JACOB. Equestrian. performed in Centre Square, Philadelphia, 1772; arrived in New York in the spring of 1773 and, according to Greenwood, had performed “throughout the length and breadth of Europe,” purportedly before many of the crowned heads. His portrait was drawn and engraved by G. P. Nusbiegel in 1766. It pictured him standing by his horse, while in the background were examples of his various feats being performed in a plot of ground much larger than a ring and cordoned off by what appears to be a rope. Some spectators are standing and others are sitting astride their mounts, giving them a better view of the action. We learn from the Gazette that Bates’ New York performances
were set for 5 p.m. and that there would be “proper seating for the ladies and gentlemen.”
The tickets for what was called “the first place” went for one dollar each; for the “second place,” which could have been standing room, for four shillings. The announcement included a special request that Mr. Bates would “take it as a particular Favour if Gentlemen will not suffer Dogs to come with them.” The show of horsemanship that took place at the Bull’s Head in the Bowery beginning on the 2nd of June represented a much
more civilized time of year than his predecessor, to be sure. The most interesting part of this visit was the introduction to this country of “Billy Button, or The Taylor Riding to Brentford,” the equestrian burlesque of a tailor’s difficulty in his journey to meet with a customer. Bates’ performances continued through the summer until finalizing on August 3rd, at which time the boards that formed his arena were offered for sale. Repertory included riding up to 4 horses at one time and the comic sketch of “The Tailor’s Ride to Brentford.” Credited with introducing the riding sketch of “Billy Buttons” to USA.
BATES, J. G. Band leader, VanAmburgh’s, 1881.
BATES, MARTIN VAN BUREN “CAPT.” (November 9, 1845-1919) Giant. Native of Whitesburg, KY. Billed as the “Kentucky Giant.” One of the largest and tallest men in the world, but one of intelligence and kindness. Grew normally until passing the 7th
grade, then began to shoot up at a rapid rate; age 13, weighed 300 pounds. During those early years, was obese, but when height reached 7’ 2½”, the fat was replaced by 470 pounds of power and muscle. Acquired the best education the mountains afforded and then taught in the mountain schools prior to Civil War. At the advent of war, volunteered as a Confederate soldier and served under Captain E. A. Webb, of Whitesburg. Performed duties with distinction and was eventually commissioned a captain. Instrumental in breaking up the lawless guerrilla bands that were a menace to the mountain regions. At war’s end and at age 28, moved to Cincinnati, where he joined the Wiggins & Benoit circus at a wage of $100 a month and expenses. Soon moved up to employment with John Robinson’s at $400 a month. Married the “Nova Scotia Giantess,” a woman an inch or two taller than
himself, in London, England, June 17, 1871, when both were booked on a European tour by Judge Ingalls. Was with W. W. Cole’s, 1878-1880. The pair was on the road for 7 years, during which time they received enormous salaries, most of which went into savings. At the end of that time they retired to Seville, OH, where Bates had built a home proportionately large. After the death of Anna, Bates married Anne LaVonne of Cincinnati, a woman of normal stature.
BATES, ROBERT. Agent, Stowe’s, 1870.
BATES, WALTER. Tumbler, Dan Rice’s, 1878.
BATTERSBY, HANNAH. (1842-April 15, 1889) Giantess. Exhibited by Jake Reed with Adam Forepaugh’s, 1869; P. T. Barnum’s, 1877; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1880. Married John Battersby, the human skeleton.
BATTERSBY, JOHN. Skeleton man, exhibited by Jake Reed, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1869.
BAUER, P. Calliope player, Sells Bros.’, 1877.
BAUJAN, PETER. (1851?-1914?:) Perported to have been born in Germany. Known for his unsual weight, 510 pounds. Arrived in USA at age 6 months, landing in New Orleans, LA, and moved to Arenzville, IL where he lived the rest of his life. Hired by P. T. Barnum, to go on the road with his company at 26 years old; for 9 years traveled with the show in all parts of the world and exhibited as the largest man living. Mother was a small woman, weighing only 110 pounds, remainder of his family were of medium weight except one sister, Mary, who reached the weight of 440 pounds and for awhile she accompanied her brother with the Barnum show. Size made it necessary to have special furniture for him and an ordinary
chair would not withstand his weight. He was a well educated man and could talk intelligently on all the topics of the day. [Griffin, CHS, web.]
BAUM, DAN. (d. August 22, 1890) elephant trainer, P. T. Barnum’s.
BAUSCHER, A. C. Annex manager, Gollmar Bros.’, 1897.
BAYET, THOMAS. Alex Robinson’s, 1870.
BEAL. Clerk, Pepin’s, West Indies, 1819-20.
BEAN, U. Buckley & Co.’s, 1857.
BEASLEY, BOB. Double trpaeze, break-away ladder, and iron jaw (with Laura Gaulf), Goodrich’s, 1897.
BEASLEY, GEORGE. Keeper of menagerie, June & Titus, 1849; (under the name Hideralso) Raymond’s, 1850-53; Mabie Bros.’, 1859.
BEATTY, ALEX. Concert minstrel performer, P. T. Barnum’s, 1873.
BEATTY, GEORGE [at various times, Bentie, Batty, Baity]. (1835-June 1, 1858) Bareback rider. Born in St. Louis, MO. Dan Rice’s, 1852; New Orleans Hippoferean, winter 1854; Crescent City Circus, 1855; H. M. Smith’s, May-July 1856; Orton’s, September 1856,
February 1857; Washburn’s, 1857; E. Ganung & Co., 1858.
BEATY, JOHN. American Hippocolosiculum, 1866.
BEAUMONT. Actor, Pepin & Breschard, Baltimore Olympic Circus, combining stage and ring performances, opened November 6, 1811. An editor of a local paper was prompted to remark that “this project of uniting theatrical and equestrian performances may lead to the most dangerous perversion of an amusement, which in its proper form is both dignified and instructive.” Arrangement was short lived.
BECK, FRANK M. Proprietor, Irwin Bros.’, 1887.
BECK, G. H. Maginley & VanVleck, 1863.
BECK, TILLIE. See Charles W. Lingard.
BECKER, FRED. Program agent, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1875.
BECKETT, ADAM A. Assistant manager, Great Australian, 1877; proprietor, Beckett’s Great Exposition Circus, 1881, a consolidation of the Great Australian and the Great Exposition, which toured the Great Lakes in the steamer Granite State; took to wagons in
July. Continued as a circus proprietor at least through 1887.
BECKLEY, ED. (1836-1892) Assistant manager, P. T. Barnum’s, 1871.
BEDOUIN ARABS. Earliest troupe in the country probably occurred in 1838-39. August 6, 1838, three of the genuine articles were at the Park Theatre, NYC. That year an Arab company was advertised at the New Theatre in Charleston, SC. What may have been the
same act was mentioned by Sol Smith performing at the Government Street Theatre, Mobile, 1839; Broadway Circus, 49 Broadway, NYC, the same year; troupe of 11, Nixon’s Alhambra, NYC, 1863; L. B. Lent’s, old Wallack’s Theatre, NYC, December 1863; L. B. Lent’s Broadway Amphitheatre, NYC, 1864; troupe of 14, Howes Great European, 1865; J. M.
French’s, 1869, advertised “Terrific exploits of physical vigor. during their exhibitions of intrepidity, these Desert Sons discharge muskets while revolving in mid-air, turn Somersaults over a bridge of bayonets, and erect lofty pyramids of living men.”.
BEGGS, G. W. Said to be proprietor of a small circus in 1852, with no wagons, no seats, probably no tent. The company transported their equipment on the backs of mules.
BEHRENS, NATHANIEL. (1848?-May 30, 1913) Was employed by Barnum & Bailey for many years, during which time he traveled throughout the world in search of novelties for the circus. Was in some way responsible for importing the “white elephant,” as well as Jumbo and the Zulus. At one time traveled Europe with his own circus. Died of pneumonia, NYC, age
BELCHER, J. E. Privileges, Sautelle Pavilion Shows, 1885.
BELDING, J. Leader of female band, John Robinson’s, 1884.
BELFORD, GEORGE W. (d. May 10, 1937) Acrobat, aerialist and circus proprietor. Part of a team billed as “The Three Belfords” (George, Charles, Harry), featuring their ladder act, 1882; equestrian director, James T. Johnson’s, 1888; Gregory & Belford (C. J. Gregory, George Belford, proprietors), 1892; M. K. Houlton’s, 1893; proprietor, Burton & Belford’s New Consolidated 25 Cent Shows, 1894;
Belford & Howard’s New Big Wagon Show, 1895; proprietor, manager, Belford Carnival of Novelties, 1896. At one time, performed with his wife, Mollie, in an aerial act. By 1910 there were 7 Belfords billed as a Risley act. That year George Belford purchased 126
acres of land at Kendallville, IN. Died of a stroke there, age 71.
BELFORD, MOLLIE. See George Belford.
BELL. Irishman clown, rope-dancer, leaper and otherwise general performer. Thomas Steward’s troupe, 1808; slack rope, Boston Circus, managed by Bates & Davis, 1810; Robert Davis’, Salem, MA, February 1810; trampoline, Pepin & Breschard, fall 1810; Philadelphia, where he turned a somersault over 4 horses; clown, Pepin & Breschard, spring 1811, Lancaster, PA.; Pepin & Breschard, Philadelphia, winter 1811-12; Langley & Co., Charleston, winter/spring 1813-14. Performed a feat of vaulting a horse and then somersaulting to the ground; also leaped over 4 horses and burst through a balloon at the full height of his leap.
BELL, ANNIE. “The California Giantess,” W. W. Cole’s, 1885.
BELL, CHARLES. Rider. Dan Rice’s, 1878; clown, Thornton’s, 1880; Dan Rice’s, 1881; hurdle and jockey rider, Valkingburg’s, 1881; W. H. Stowe’s, winter 1881-82; Robinson & Myers, 1883; clown, Pullman’s, 1885. While master of transportation, the Robert Hunting Circus, 1896, died from an freak accident. As the circus train was pulling out of Danielsonville, CT, August 8, the engineer was handling the cars roughly. Bell alit from the train and ran ahead to reprimand him. In so doing, he fell in the darkness to the street some 25 feet below.
BELL, DON. Rider, Barnum & London, 1886.
BELL FAMILY. Consisting of Eliza Mazzotti, trick and principal equestrienne; James, William, John and Richard, bareback and principal riders, posturers, the Olympians, and aerial performers. With Great European (Avery Smith, G. C. Quick, John Nathans & Co., proprietors), 1868; Courtney & Sanford, Lima, Peru, fall 1870.
BELL, JAMES G. (d. August 31, 1895) Hurdle and jockey rider. Sells Bros.’, 1881, 1886; Wallace & Co., 1889; Irwin Bros.’, 1893; John W. Robinson’s, 1895. Died in Cincinnati.
BELL, JERONIMO “JERRY” [r. n. Lee]. Rider, Spanish speaking clown. Englishman by birth, brother of Richard and Charles Bell. During career in the United States, Cooper & Bailey, 1879-80; Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881; Orrin Bros.’, Havana and Mexico, winter 1881-82; Sells Bros.’, 1882; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1883; Orrin Bros.’, Mexico, winter 1883-1884; Sells Bros.’, 1884-85; Orrin Bros.’, Mexico, winter, 1885-86; Barnum & London, 1886; Barnum-Forepaugh, 1887; Sells Bros.’, California, 1889. Latter engagement ended his performing in America before returning to England.
BELL, OLIVER. (d. August 19, 1867) General performer. Frost & Co., 1836; C. H. Bacon, 1837; Bacon & Derious, 1838-39; Welch & Bartlett, 1840; Broadway Circus, NYC, 1840; contortionist, Ludlow & Smith, 1841; principal rider, Major Brown’s Mammoth Coloseum, 1857; equestrian and gymnast, Hyatt & Co., 1859; management, Satterlee & Bell’s, 1860;
bareback rider, George W. DeHaven’s, 1861-62; trained horses for the new Maginley’s Cosmopolitan Circus and equestrian director during the 1863-64 seasons; co-proprietor, Horner & Bell, 1865; scenic rider, Palmer’s Great Western, 1865; principal rider, Caldwell’s, 1867; same year, equestrian director, George W. DeHaven’s. Drowned while the company was crossing Three Rivers, Canada, apparently walking off the boat in the dark. Body was found 5 days later about 3 miles from the spot of the crossing.
BELL, RICARDO. (1858-March 12, 1911) Clown. Father of the Bell Family of performers. Born in London. Came to America and joined Cooper & Bailey, 1868; went to South America and Mexico for 10 years; G. A. Courtney’s, West Indies, 1880-81; clown
and hurdle act, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881; joined Orrin Bros.’, 1882, with whom he remained as principal clown until 1906, a period of 24 years. Conducted his own circus in Mexico for 4 years; the family (Ricardo Bell, Sr., Ricardo, Jr., Celia, Alberto, Eddie, Carlos, Nellie) with Walter L. Main’s, 1887. Died of Bright’s desease, age 53.
BELL, WILLIAM. (d. 1908.) Animal trainer.
BELLFONTAINE, FRANK. (d. October 1913) Barnum’s original tattooed man. Became chef at Hotel Brewster, NYC.
BELLMONT BROTHERS. G. G. Grady’s, 1871.
BELMONT BROTHERS. 4 gymnasts and acrobats, dancing globe, posturing. Seth B. Howe’s, 1866; Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1869; G. G. Grady’s, 1870, 1873; J. E. Warner’s, 1871; Montgomery Queen’s, 1874; W. C. Coup’s, 1879; Sautelle Pavilion Shows, 1885;
Wheeler Bros.’ (Alson Wheeler, D. Wheeler, proprietors), 1894.
BELMONT, CHARLES. Gymnast. Brother of Lottie and Daisy Belmont; performed with Lottie, on the trapeze. Wootten & Andrews’, 1874; Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1876; Montgomery Queen’s, 1877; equestrian director and principal clown, W. H. Harris’ Nickel-Plate, 1884; VanAmburgh & Reiche Bros., 1885; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1886; Phillips-Scott, 1888; manager, Belmont Elite Circus, 1889; amusement director, Rice’s, 1896.
BELMONT, DAISY [Mrs. William Showles]. (1871?-January 22, 1896) Bareback rider. Made circus debut with Courtney & Sandford, Chile, 1873, carried on by Micanor, the Italian equestrian, before she was 3 years old; performed in songs and dances, Theatre
Comique, St. Louis, 1875; with sister and brother, Lottie and Charles, Cooper & Bailey, California trip, 1876, singing and dancing in the concert; Montgomery
Queen’s, 1877; Cooper & Bailey, that same year, trip to Asia, Australia and South America; concert feature, W. C. Coup, 1879-81; first appearance on revolving globe, Maybury, Pullman & Hamilton, 1882; W. H. Harris’ Nickel-Plate, 1883, in “Circus-ring Exposed,”
which showed how rider training was taught by the use of the Stokes’ “mechanic”; remained with the show until August, 1884, performing in the concert, doing a globe act and learning to ride; pad rider and developing bareback techniques, S. H. Barrett & Co.;
VanAmburgh’s, 1885, emerging as a skillful bareback hurdle rider; principal act, Adam Forepaugh's, 1886-87; feature performer, Belmont Elite Show, 1888-89. October 8, 1889, married William Showles. Olympia, London, Barnum & Bailey, winter 1889-90; Sells
Bros.’, 1890-91, accompaning the show to Australia, 1891-92. Returned to America ill and never recovered, dying in Chicago from Bright’s desease, age 25. Appearance in the ring, with blonde hair and a plump and petite figure, was said to be the embodiment of grace
and feminine loveliness.
BELMONT, EDDIE. Leaper and acrobat. VanAmburgh’s, August 4, 1885, attempted a double somersault from a springboard over elephants and horses at Medina, NY, but slipped as he made the run, missed the mattress and fell into the ring on his head and shoulders. Died August 6 from the injuries sustained.
BELMONT, JAMES. Clown. One of the early 19th century circus performers, called by Charles Durang “a very curious and racy clown.” First appeared in America as an acrobat with Davis & Co., Boston, 1815-16; James West’s company as vaulter and clown, 1821; while in Baltimore, performed the first sword swollowing act seen in this country; clown, Simpson & Price (formerly James West’s), 1822, Philadelphia, Baltimore; William Blanchard’s, 1823; John Rogers’, NYC, 1823-24.
BELMONT, JOE. Leaper, Richards’ Circus (George W. Richards, proprietor), 1887-88.
BELMONT, LOTTIE. Gymnast. Sister of Charles and Daisy Belmont. Sometimes billed as Lotino. Worked with her brother on the trapeze. Described as
a performer of beauty and grace. Wootten & Andrews, 1874; Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1876; Montgomery Queen’s, 1877; W. C. Coup’s, 1880; W. H. Harris’ Nickel-Plate, 1884; VanAmburgh & Reiche Bros., 1885; Phillips-Scott Union Pacific, 1888; Belmont Elite, 1889.
BELMONT, MAMIE. Adam Forepaugh’s, 1886. That year, married George W. Kline, Boston, April 19.
BEMER, O. F. General agent, Satterlee, Bell & Co., 1858; New York Champs Elysees, 1866.
BEN ALI, SI HASSAN. Manager, troupe of Arabs bearing his name, Ringling Bros.’, 1893.
BENARDE, H. Haight & Chambers, 1867.
BENCH, MONS. Trick rider, Ballard & Bailey, 1855.
BENCHLEY, JOHN. Proprietor, Benchley & Stone’s Lafayette Circus, 1837-38.
BENEDICT, MATTIE. Tandem manège act, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881.
BENJAMIN, ASHBURY. Spotted boy, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1879.
BENNER BROTHERS. North American Circus (Asa B. Stow, manager), 1873.
BENNETT, GEORGE. General performer, with Howes & Sanger, 1872.
BENNETT, H. M. (March 2, 1831-April 11, 1902) Born at Burlington, VT. Lee & Bennett’s Great North American Circus, San Francisco, 1856-59. Returned East to NYC, 1860. Interested in various show ventures during Civil War; subsequently engaged in theatrical business. Died at his stock farm, Farmingdale, NJ, age 71, leaving a fortune estimated at 2 million dollars.
BENNETT, MAJOR. Dwarf, Dan Castello’s, 1876.
BENNETT, SAM [r. n. Rooney]. 4-horse rider and bounding jockey act. W. H. Harris’ Nickel-Plate, 1888; Holland & Gormley, 1889; J. F. Wood’s, winter 1889-90; Holland, Bowman & McLaughlin, 1890; jockey hurdle rider, F. J. Taylor’s, 1891.
BENOIT, MONS. See Benoit Tourniaire.
BENOIT, SAMUEL. Billed as an Equestrian Prodigy, New York Champs Elysees, 1865.
BENSAID, TILLIE. Algerian female Hercules, with Carlo Bros.’, South America, 1876.
BENSELL, MRS. ROBERT. Equestrienne, Frost, Husted & Co., 1836.
BENSELL, ROBERT. Band leader, Frost, Husted & Co., 1836.
BENSHAW, J. L. B. Lent’s, 1862.
BENSLEY BROTHERS. See JAMES BENSLEY.
BENSLEY, EUGENE W. (February 10, 1870-March 2, 1915) Gymnast, equilibrist, general performer. Born in West Farms, NY. Featured at 9 years of age with the Barnum show at Madison Square Garden, performing a high wire act with his father, James Bensley, who was known as “The Great Bensley,” and at the Harry Enoch’s Varieties, Philadelphia, in a crystal pyramid novelty act. After father’s death, 1903, took up football juggling and traveled with Adam Forepaugh's, Barnum & Bailey, Ringling Bros.’, Gollmar Bros.’, Andrew Downie’s, Sig. Sautelle’s, Sells & Downs, Frank E. Robbins’, Guy Bros.’, and Al G. Field’s Minstrels. Also performed in major parks, fairs and expositions and was with Tony Pastor’s Road Show, as well as playing the standard variety circuit in the winter season. Worked until only a few weeks before his death in Philadelphia from Bright’s desease, age 45.
BENSLEY, JAMES. (1840?-August 7, 1904) Gymnast. Began performing, 1865, as one of the Bensley Brothers, trapeze and horizontal bar artists, toured that year with L. B. Lent’s; W. w. Cole’s, 1872; 1877, introduced his son in a novel act for vaudeville. Horizontal bar, barrel, and crystal pyramid performer, Great American Circus, 1878; Great Transatlantic Allied Shows, 1879; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1880; Huffman’s Dime Circus, winter 1885-86; Howes New Colossal Shows, 1888; Bartine’s, 1889, as well as Barnum & Bailey, Roberts & Gardner, Howes London, Rogers’, Gollmar Bros.’, and Downie’s. Died in Belleville, Ontario, Canada, age 64.
BENSLEY, WILLIAM. Equilibrist. Howe’s New Colossal Shows, 1888; Bartine’s, 1889.
BENSON, GEORGE W. Supt. of candy privilege, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1876.
BENT, A. K. Band leader, Wintermute Bros.’, 1897.
BENTLEY, GEORGE H. Treasurer. Ben Maginley’s, 1863; ringmaster, Howes’ European, 1865.
BENTLEY, J. B. Proprietor, Bentley’s Old Fashioned Circus, 1895.
BENTLEY, T. A. Manager, A. A. Beckett’s Great Exposition Circus, 1881.
BENTON, TONY. Comedian and comic singer. New York Champs Elysees, 1866; Dan Rice’s Paris Pavilion, 1873.
BERDEAUX, JOSEPH. Acrobat, G. G. Grady’s, 1868-74.
BERGER, E. S. Band leader, Thayer & Noyes, 1862.
BERGER, HENRY. Head of advertising car, W. W. Cole’s, 1882.
BERGH, HENRY. Prominent and vocal member of New York’s SPCA, who complained about the use of the trained stallion, Salamander, with the Barnum show, that galloped through a door panel encircled with exploding fireworks arid jumped through a number or flaming hoops, as cruelty to the animal; he had been badgering Barnum for years about the treatment or animals in the ring; pressure from him compelled the Barnum people to discontinue the act, after which Barnum reacted by challenging Bergh to meet him in
the circus ring and respond to the explanations he would present concerning the cruelly issue; Bergh accepted and on the date agreed to the American Institute Building was filled to capacity with patrons hungry to watch the rhetorical combat; Superintendent Hartfield, from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, was in attendance, along with seven of his officers; when the applause and acclamation subsided, Barnum addressed the audience, submitting a lengthy and convincing defense, which was received with tremendous cheering; the horse Salamander was then brought into the ring, the fire hoops were lighted, Barnum ran his hand through the blaze, and then stepped through it hat in hand; 10 clowns performed a number of antics through it, and then the horse was passed through without showing any signs of fear and without singeing a hair; it was determined by Superintendent Hartfield that Mr. Bergh had made a mistake, that there was neither cruelty nor danger in the performance.
BERLETTE. General performer. Stone & Rosston, 1865; Stone, Rosston & Murray, 1867.
BERNARD, BURT. Rider, Johnson & Co., 1881.
BERNARD, CHARLES. (August 20, 1861-January 27, 1938) Born in Beechvale (or Benton), OH. Started in show business, 1876, Croker Magic Lantern Show; later, with small traveling companies and on concessions in summer until 1880; Shelby, Pullman & Hamilton, 1881. Until 1900, theatrical agent, winters - John Griffith’s Faust (Leslie Davis management), Carl Brehm’s Ten Nights in a Barroom; Burt Imson’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Circuses, summers—John B. Doris’, Adam Forepaugh’s, W. E. Wallace’s, J. H. LaPearl’s,
Walter L. Main’s. Outdoor advertising plant owner, 1900-12; proprietor, Dixie Zoo (traveling), 1912-17; press agent with Sparks’, 1918-19; treasurer, Rhoda Royal’s, 1920; contracting agent, Andrew Downie’s Walter L. Main’s, 1921-24. Retired to Savannah. Wrote As Told on a Sunday Run, Red Wagon Stories, and Half-Century Circus Reviews, as well as articles for Bandwagon, Hobbies, Billboard. Died there at his home, age 77.
BERNARD, CHARLES. Greco-Roman wrestler, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881.
BERNARD, G. A. Stereopticon manager, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1880; Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881-82.
BERNARD, HARRY. Rider. Joe Pentland’s Circus, 1855; Hippotheatron, NYC, September 1865. Left New York on October 19 with James M. Nixon’s troupe aboard the Catherine Whiting, headed for Galveston; but after leaving New York, the ocean became so rough that the ship had to lay overnight at Sandy Hook. On the 23rd a heavy gale set in and the following day one of the ring horses went overboard. By nightfall, all of the horses had been washed into the sea. At height of the storm the ship’s engine gave out, exposing the boat and passengers to the mercy of the angry elements for a period of 32 hours. Finally, the steamer went ashore 5 miles south of Carysfort Reef, FL, October 28. Member of the Donaldson Troupe (Frank Donaldson, Miaco Brothers, Harry Bernard and Petite Angelo), performing gymnastics with Thayer & Noyes, winter 1865-66; Tom King’s, 1861, Washington, DC; Lake’s, 1866; Haight & Chambers, 1867; John Robinson’s, 1867.
BERNARD, HIRAM G. One of the early circus promoters. 1827, Bernard and Black conducted circus performances in the barn of Dr. Forest’s Hotel, York, Ontario. In the circus business with Captain Page from 1828 through 1831. Byram G. Bernard’s circus, 1830; September 29, 1830, granted a license to perform in Detroit, perhaps bringing the first such exhibition to that city; appeared in Albany and Toronto the
same year. It is supposed that he retired as a wealthy man in Toronto.
BERRY, ASA. (d. July 8, 1880) Cayetano’s Co., Charleston, SC, 1812-13, where he did ground and lofty tumbling; clown, Langley & Co., Charleston, winter and spring, 1813-14; Breschard’s troupe, Savannah, latter part of 1814. Wife died in April of that year. J. W. Myers’, 1856; boss hostler, Sloat & Shepard, 1857, ringmaster, Niblo & Sloat, Cooke’s
Amphitheatre, London, 1860; veterinarian, P. T. Barnum’s, 1871-74; master of horse, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1875; P. T. Barnum’s, 1877. Died in Brewster Station,
BERRY, GREEN. (d. August 29, 1877) General agent, Howes’ Great London, 1871, contracting agent, 1872; excursion agent, P. T. Barnum’s, 1877. Was killed when the show lost an advertising car which was attached to a train that broke through an overpass on Four Mile Creek, three miles west of Altoona, Iowa, and seven miles east of Des Moines. The creek was swollen from heavy rainfall and the pressure of the water had weakened the bridge supports, causing the bridge to collapse and the train to go with it. Six of the billing crew were were also killed instantly and four others injured.
BERRY, JACK. Acrobatic clown. Buckley & Co., 1857-58; Robinson & Lake, 1859-60; John Robinson’s, 1863-64, 1881-82.
BERRY, JOE. Principal tumbler, Dan Rice’s, 1877.
BERRY, MILES. General manager, New York and Philadelphia Consolidated Circus, fall 1888.
BERTINE, MLLE. General performer, Welch & Lent, 1855.
BERTRAM SISTERS [Minnie, Stella]. W. H. Stowe’s, winter 1881-82; Burr Robbins’, 1885.
BEST, SAMUEL. Advance agent, P. T. Barnum’s, 1875.
BESTWICK, R. W. Leaper, tumbler, vaulter. M. O’Conner & Co., 1870; L. B. Lent’s; 1871; W. W. Cole’s, 1876.
BETTS, CHARLES. Calliope player, advance car #1, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881.
BETTS, S. O. Manager, Den Stone’s, 1854; agent, Great Western, 1855; agent, Joe Pentland’s, 1858.
BIATT, WILLIAM [Master Tommy]. Acrobat, Alexander Robinson’s, 1870-77.
BIBB, W. S. Treasurer, Bruce L. Baldwin’s, 1894.
BIBBY, EDWIN. Greco-Roman wrestler (with William Hoefler), Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881.
BICKLE, GEORGE. Clown, Walter L. Main’s, 1885.
BIDWELL, DAVID. (June, 1821-December 18, 1889) Born in Stuyvesant, NY. Educated at a “seminary” in Kinderhook. Began as a boy working on a Hudson River steamboat, of which his father, Alex Bidwell, was master. 8 years working the boats in the summer and at the New York theatres in the winter. Became proprietor of a New York restaurant, which
he ran successfully for some 18 years. One of the founders of a hotel, the Empire House, on Barclay Street, NYC, 1843. Joined brother, Henry, in a ship chandlery business, New Orleans, 1846. Bought the Phoenix House, 1850; built the Academy of Music, New Orleans, 1853, then called Amphitheatre; fitted it as the Pelican Theatre, 1854. Went into partnership with Spalding & Rogers, 1856, when the men took a 10 year lease on the Pelican Theatre—the Spalding & Rogers Amphitheatre, later renamed the Academy of Music. Became exclusive owner, 1870; Spalding, Rogers & Bidwell dissolved, 1866, with Rogers’ retirement; continued association with Spalding until around 1875, with the two acquiring theatres in St. Louis, Mobile, Memphis, and the Tacon Theatre, Havana. 1873, bought the St. Charles Theatre, New Orleans; 1880, became lessee of the Grand Opera House (formerly the Varieties Theatre). With these acquisitions, controlled the amusement business in that
city until his death. [M. B. Leavitt: “Bidwell was gruff and blunt in manner, and always wanted his pound of flesh.... It was David Bidwell who advanced the money that enabled Klaw and Erlanger to buy out the booking agency of H. S. Taylor and enter upon a business career that included the formation of the managerial body known as the ‘theatrical Syndicate.’”] With Spalding and Avery Smith, built a circus for the Paris World Exposition of 1867. A self-made man, Bidwell was physically large, hearty in manner, good-hearted and generous.
BIGELOW. Rider, Howes & Mabie, 1841.
BILLINGS, JOSEPH. Leaper, John Robinson’s, 1877-78.
BINGHAM, J. W. Ventriloquist, Bunnell sideshow, P. T. Barnum’s, 1879.
BINGLEY, C. H. Bingley & Stevens Bros., 1886, sold at sheriff’s sale in the fall; Hall & Bingley, 1888; Bingley & Stevens in receivership, 1890.
BIRCH, CHARLIE. Whittemore, Thompson & Co., 1865.
BIRDSALL, MASTER. (b. 1815) Rider. A pupil of Benjamin Brown. Debut, Fredericksburg, VA, January 4, 1826. Brown & Bailey, 1826-28; J. P. Brown’s, 1829-31; Fogg & Stickney, winter 1829.
BISHOP BROTHERS. Aerialists, acrobats, leapers. Began, 1886, F. J. Taylor’s Creston Railroad Show. Later in the season, leased to Stevens & Bingley; closed it 2 weeks later. Trapeze and brother act, F. J. Taylor’s, 1887-91; Walter McCaferty’s, 1891; Fred
Buchanan’s, 1892-97; fair dates fall of 1897 and all of 1898; F. J. Taylor’s, 1899; Forepaugh-Sells, 1901-04; Campbell Bros.’, 1905-07; Yankee Robinson’s, 1909.
BISHOP, W. General performer, with Howes & Sanger, 1872.
BISSELL, P. Advertising agent, North American Circus and Balloon Show, 1875.
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