Circus Historical Society
Olympians of the Sawdust Circle
Olympians of the Sawdust Circle: A biographical dictionary of the ninteenth century American circus
Ra - Ri
Compiled and Edited by William L. Slout
Copyright © 2005 by William L. Slout. All rights reserved.
RAFAEL [r. n. may be Gambor or Tolano]. Columbian rider. Apprentice, J. A. Rowe’s, 1849-50; Rowe’s, Hawaii, 1851; Rowe’s, Australia, 1852-54; Lee & Bennett, 1857; Rowe’s, Hawaii, 1858; proprietor, Rafael’s Great Australian Circus Co., 1867.
RAFFLIN, M. Clown, VaAmburgh & Co., 1874.
RAMAGE. Price & Simpson, 1823-24.
RAMPONE, J. G. Courtney & Sanford’s Minstrels, a party made up in New York to travel with Courtney & Sanford’s Circus in South America. Sailed from New York, July 23, 1873.
RAMSDELL, DAISY. Rider. W. W. Cole’s, 1886; S. H. Barrett’s, 1887.
RANCH, BESSIE “MME. MARIE.” Snake charmer, P. T. Barnum’s, Adam Forepaugh’s, etc. Attempted suicide, Baltimore, June 18, 1885, by putting a gun to her head; afterwards refused medical attention. It is believed she was despondent over a man.
RANDOLPH, J. W. General agent, W. H. Harris’ Nickel-Plate, 1886.
RANDOLPH, MISS M. A. Lion queen, June & Titus, 1848.
RANDOLPH, WILLIAM “UNCLE BILLY.” (d. October 16, 1912) Boss hostler with such organizations as Gardner & Hemmings, John O’Brien’s, Montgomery Queen’s, Frank A. Robbins’, and Sig. Sautelle’s. For the last 18 years of his life, employed by George and Peter Sun, Sun Bros.’ Acted at various times as equestrian director, boss hostler, forage agent and superintendent of ring stock. Was vigorously performing his duties up to the time of death, which occurred in Cincinnati, OH, age 76.
RANSOM, BURT. Walter L. Main’s, 1887.
RAPP, JOSEPH. (d. July 6, 1889) P. T. Barnum’s.
RAREY, JOHN S. First horse trainer to gain national and international fame in making it entertainment, which began around 1860. Consisted of going into a town and breaking and training wild and unruly horses, at the same time offering a sum of money to any one who would bring him a horse that he could not subdue. S. O. Wheeler’s, 1865.
RAVEL, GABRIEL. Acrobat. VanAmburgh’s, 1871; American Circus, South America, 1879.
RAWDIN, WILLIAM. General agent, Goldenburg’s (John V. O’Brien, proprietor), 1874.
RAWDON, G. F. General agent, Hilliard, Hamilton & Hunting, 1876.
RAY, MAJOR WILLIAM. Sideshow midget. With W. H. Stowe’s, winter 1881-82; Sells Bros.’, Australia, 1891-92, 1893. At 33 years old, 1893, stood 36” high and weighed 38 pounds. Wife was 22 years old, 37½” high and weighed 38 pounds.
RAYMOND, ADA. Griffith & Allen, 1886.
RAYMOND, CHARLES P. See George DeLouis.
RAYMOND, GOULD B. Manager, Zoological Exhibition from Baltimore, 1836-37.
RAYMOND, JAMES R. (1795-1854) Born in Carmel, Putnam County, NY. Apprenticed to the harness-making trade and eventually opened own shop, 1815. Married 3 years later and reared a family of 3 daughters and a son. In partnership with Noel E. Waring, formed a menagerie in the 1820s and toured for some 30 years. Co-proprietor, Raymond & Ogden, 1832-34; co-proprietor, Raymond, Weeks, Ogden & Co., 1833. 1835, was one of the first to introduce the bandwagon as a feature attraction. 1842, was in possession of 6 of the 7 elephants in America - Columbus, Hannibal, Pizarro, Ann, Siam and Virginius. That year, with partners, had 3 menageries on the road - Hubbell & Co.; R. D. Lines & Co.; and Waring, Raymond & Co. Continued this practice through 1849. 1850s, had a 4-hand team of elephants, - Siam, Virginius, Columbus, and Hannibal - harnessed to a bandwagon and driven by Albert Townsend. 3 of the bulls died, leaving only Hannibal. Feeling the loss, Raymond sold out to James E. Kelley and Hyatt Frost. Last menagerie was on the road, 1853, after which he retired from exhibiting. Died at his residence at Carmel, age 59 (one source states he died in New Orleans), leaving property valued at $1,500,000, which included the Broadway Theatre, NYC. [Stuart Thayer: “He believed in advertising and was an early user of excess verbiage, ‘showman’s language,’ in his notices. He promoted a sort of ‘grandness’ or ‘giantism’ through his promotion of such features as the giraffe, the elephant, and his lion trainers. His greatest innovation may have been in the organization of the Zoological Institute.”] Press agent Charles Day called Raymond one of the first American showman to appreciate the elephant as an advertising device.
RAYMOND, JAMES. Equestrian. Brother of Walter Raymond, the vaulter. 1826, both were with Fogg and Howes menagerie, which was combined with Quick & Mead’s Circus. James, Philadelphia, Washington Circus, 1827-28, managed by Fogg & Stickney, apprenticing at this time and riding bareback; Harrington & Buckley, 1830; Fogg & Stickney, 1830; Aaron Turner’s, 1830; John Lamb’s, 1831; J. T. and J. B. Bailey’s, 1834-35; Ludington, Smith & Bailey, 1836. This performer is not to be confused with menagerie proprietor James Raymond.
RAYMOND, KATE. (b. 1844) Equestrienne actress. Born in France. First stage appearance, May 1861, Newburgh, NY, as Mrs. St. Clair in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. After a short dramatic career, fitted herself for equestrian pieces, first appearing, Continental Theatre, Philadelphia, January 4, 1864, as Mezeppa. Was a member of the American Equestrian Dramatic Troupe, supported by actor O. B. Collins, appearing in such pieces as The Border Spy, The Trapper’s Last Shot, The Child of the Prairie, The Ride for Life, The Horse Thief’s Leap, The Brigand Queen, Jennie Diver, the Female Highwayman, The Demon’s Huntsman, The Devil on Horseback, Putnam, Dick Turpin, Jack Sheppard, Hern the Hunter, Timour the Tartar, and El Hyder.
RAYMOND, LOTTA. Beckett’s, 1881.
RAYMOND, R. W. Griffith & Allen, 1886.
RAYMOND, THOMAS E. Manager, Raymond & Waring, 1845.
RAYMOND, W. B. Press agent, Ringling Bros.’, 1893.
RAYMOND, WALTER. Vaulter. Was brother of equestrian James Raymond. Both men were with the combined shows of Quick & Mead and Fogg & Howes, 1826.
READ, CHARLES. See Charles Reed.
READING, JOHNNY. Concert performer, Dan Castello & Co., 1866.
READY, M. Chief bill poster, Warner & Henderson, 1874.
REAGAN, WILLIAM. Solicitor, Walter L. Main’s, 1893.
REAMS, DAVID. Gymnast, VanAmburgh & Co., 1874.
REANO, SIGNOR. Rope dancer, Ricketts’ Amphitheatre, Philadelphia, 1790s.
REDDEN, JOHNNY. C. T. Ames’, 1870.
REDON, MRS. Equestrienne. With Cayetano’s as 2-horse rider, New England, 1811, first engagement in America. Remained for a Canadian tour in the fall of that year. With the troupe, Albany, NY, spring 1812; Charleston, winter 1812-13; Pepin, Breschard & Cayetano, NYC, 1813. It is possible that Mrs. Redon became Mrs. Cayetano, 1814, for her name disappears and Mrs. Cayetano’s appears for the first time.
REED, A. H. Musician, orchestra director, general agent, proprietor. Born in Maple Rapids, MI. First connected with Dan Rice and John Stowe, 1871; Howes’ New London, 1872; Warner, Springer & Henderson, 1873; G. G. Grady, 1874; DeMott & Hilliard, 1875; Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, 1876; Homer Davis’, 1877; Sells Bros.’, 1878; Bentley’s, 1879-80. Proprietor of Reed’s European Show, 1881, and continued operating companies until 1919. Heuman Bros.’ 1922; Businessmen’s Association Circus, Chicago, 1923; Ketro Bros.’, 1924; general agent, Tiger Bill’s Wild West, 1925-28; Hanneck Bros.’, 1930; with Edgar Day, vaudeville under canvas, 1932. Married wife, Viola, February 27, 1881. She was an able horse and dog trainer.
REED, ALEC. Boss hostler, John Robinson’s, 1873.
REED, BORTHWICK. Scottish swordsman, Cooper, Bailey & Co., Australian tour, 1877-78.
REED, CHARLES F. (January 29, 1842-October 13, 1934) Rider and ground tumbler. Native of Maysville, Kentucky. Joined Dan Rice’s, at age 12, 1854-62. Apprenticed to Omar Richardson, who taught him acrobatics and pad riding. Brien’s (John V. O’Brien, proprietor), 1863; Thayer & Noyes, 1864, 1867; Seth B. Howes’, 1866; Thompson, Smith & Hawes, 1866; Dan Rice’s, 1869; somersault rider, Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1870; Great Combination, 1871; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1873; John H. Murray’s, 1872; Montgomery Queen’s, 1873; Circus Renz, Europe, 1874; somersault rider, Howes’ Great London, 1875; Great International, Philadelphia, winter 1876-77; pad rider, P. T. Barnum’s, 1877; Schuman’s, Russia, 1883-84; Cirque Continental, France, 1885; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1886; Ringling Bros.’, 1893; Edward Shipp’s Winter Circus, 1893-94, Petersburg, IL; Sells Bros.’, 1894. Married Dan Rice’s daughter, Libby, January, 1863. Had 3 daughters and a son. Daughter, May, was one of the Reed Sisters. See Reed Sisters.
REED, CHARLIE. (d. September 20, 1892) Had charge of advertising car #1, Adam Forepaugh’s, for several years; car carried 23 people, 21 of whom were bill posters, and the first press agent of the show. Liberal to a fault, his pocketbook was always opened to help the needy
REED, CHARLOTTE. Montgomery Queen’s, 1873.
REED, DAVID. Acrobat. Dan Rice’s, 1848; (as Reed & Murray) Crane & Co., 1849-50; Spalding, Rogers & Van Orden, 1852; Spalding & Rogers Floating Palace, 1853; VanAmburgh’s, 1854; Spalding & Rogers, 1858.
REED, FRANCIS. Son of Charles F. Reed. Rider, Ringling Bros.’, 1892; principal and jockey rider, Walter L. Main’s, 1901.
REED, JAKE. Sideshow privilege, VanAmburgh & Co., 1867, with the Australian Children and other oddities; outside privilege, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1869, exhibiting the Australian Children and John and Hannah Battersby, skeleton man and fat woman. Was also with the show 1871-72.
REED, JAMES. Tumbler and gymnast, Alexander Robinson’s, 1871.
REED, JOHN. Juggling clown. With Aaron Turner’s, 1833; Olympic Circus, 1835; Raymond & Weeks, 1836; Nathan A. Howes’, 1836, winter 1843-44; Howes & Gardner, 1844.
REED, MABEL. Gymnast, John Robinson’s, 1888-93.
REED, MATTIE. Fat lady, Gollmar Bros.’, 1897.
REED, O. E. Bandleader, Satterlee, Bell & Co., 1858.
REED, NELLIE. Adam Forepaugh’s, 1873; Chiarini’s, San Francisco, 1879.
REED SISTERS [May, Blanche]. Equestriennes, Ringling Bros., 1892-93; Great Wallace, 1896-97. May married Jake Cousins at Monroe, WI, while with Ringling, July 29, 1893. She was the daughter of rider Charles Reed and Libby Rice.
REED, WILLIAM. Boss hostler, John Robinson’s, 1866, 1871-72.
REESE, FRANK A. Treasurer, Reese, Levis & Dolphin, 1885.
REESE, THEODORE F. (d. September, 1907) Clown. With many established circuses, including Ringling Bros.’, Barnum & Bailey, Adam Forepaugh’s, Sells Bros.’,Great Wallace Shows. Also contortionist, slight-of-hand man, trapeze performer, double somersault leaper. After breaking a leg in a trapeze leap around 1892, became a clown, appearing dressed as a farmer, only to amaze the audience with trick riding on a mule. Died at Anthony, KS. At the time of death, was manager and part owner of the M. L. Clark & Co. Shows.
REEVES, ANNA. Lowande’s Brazilian Circus, 1889.
REEVES, D. W. One of Bunnell’s Minstrels, R. Sands’, 1863.
REEVES, WALLIS. Band leader, musician and composer of high regard. Melville, Cooke & Sands, 1863; Howes’ European, 1864, 1865. [St. Louis Republican, April 28, 1865: “… Seldom has our city been visited by a finer band of musicians than those connected with Howes’ great circus. The band is under the direction of the eminent composer and musician, Prof. Wallis Reeves, and we must confess it to be superb. The bell chimes introduced in some of their popular pieces is alone worth the price of admission. Mr. Howes may congratulate himself in securing the services of such valuable artists….] Stone & Murray, 1869.
REEVES, W. E. Hamilton & Sargeant, 1877.
REGAN, C. General performer, Spalding & Rogers, 1850.
REGAN, TOM. Chief bill poster, W. W. Cole’s, 1874.
REICHE, ANDREW. (d. August 13, 1914) Son of Henry Reiche and one of the second generation of animal importers. Had an establishment at 98 Fourth Ave., NYC, for 35 years.
REICHE BROTHERS [Charles, Henry]. Importers of birds in NYC, 1844-45. When California was enjoying gold fever, took 3,000 canaries to San Franciso and sold them rapidly at $25 to $50 a piece. [Charles H. Day: “The Reiches have had almost a monopoly on the canary bird trade and if any reader has a pet canary in his cage it is pretty safe to wager that the Reiches made their percentage on it.”] Some time later, when Henry was selling birds to VanAmburgh, he was asked to import a variety of animals. With other circus managers coming into the business and acquiring menageries, the Reiches’ business expanded. Rivalry amongst American showmen created a demand not easily satisfied. Charles started an establishment in Alfeld, Germany, and a trading station in Homralm, Africa; and remained abroad to handle the business. Henry built the Aquarium, NYC, as the backer of W. C. Coup; also developed the Aquarium at Coney Island. At one time, Charles exhibited in Germany the Den Stone’s Troupe of American Indians. The brothers, in association with Hyatt Frost, were proprietors of VanAmburgh, Charles Reiche & Bros.’ Circus, 1885. Each brother had a son associated with the business.
REICHHOLD, GEORGE. Proprietor, McDonald & Reichhold, 1896.
REID, GEORGE. Agent, George W. DeHaven’s, 1865.
REID, HARRY. Animal trainer, E. O. Rogers’, 1891.
REILLY, GEORGE. Vaulter, juggler on horseback, returned from performing in England, 1855.
REILLY, JAMES. (d. 1909) Animal trainer. Last with Sells-Floto. Died age 38.
REILLY, JAMES. (d. January 25, 1886) Popular show printer, the successor of Clany & Reilly, and formerly the bookkeeper of Bacon, the printer, at the old Spruce Street stand. Got the title of “Doctor” while clerking on a Mississippi boat from his kindly dosing of ailing passengers or crew. Was at one time the treasurer of Bryant’s Minstrels, when Dan, Jerry, and Neil were all three playing. [Charles H. Day: “He was a courtly, genial gentleman, an able businessman and a staunch friend and will be greatly missed by the managers and agents who were wont to meet at his office ... a kind husband and father, and the staunchest and truest of friends.”] After the failure of Kelley of the Great London show, Dr. Reilly carried it on his shoulders until it finally fell into the hands of Cooper & Bailey. Died at his residence in Brooklyn, a victim of Bright’s disease.
REIS FAMILY [Augusta, Johanna, Hermann]. Dwarfs, P. T. Barnum, 1876-77.
REISLEY, ADOLPH. Gymnast, Sells Bros.’, 1874.
REITER, PROF. Band leader, World’s Fair Aggregation, 1892.
RELSBY, ADOLPH. Scenic rider, Sells Bros.’, 1873.
RENALDO. Acrobat, John Robinson’s, 1883.
RENCH, CHARLES. (d. June 24, 1908) Clown, with Irwin Bros.’, 1888. Died in Columbus, OH, by setting fire to a pile of papers and then lying in them. Ill health was considered to be the cause of the suicide.
RENNO, PROF. French aeronaut, Haight’s Empire City, 1871.
RENO. Partner of George Dunbar, W. W. Cole’s, 1880.
RENO BROTHERS. Triple bar performers, S. H. Barrett & Co., 1883.
RENO SISTERS. Equestriennes, Ringling Bros.’, 1893, at ages 18 and 22 years, “occupying the ring at the same time, and on separate horses, yet performing marvelous feats of bareback riding together.”
RENO, W. A. Clown, Howe’s Great London, 1897.
RENTFROW, JASPER N. (d. April 5, 1922) Showman, acrobat, gymnast, and general performer. L. B. Lent’s, 1861-62; Orton Bros.’, 1867; clown and leaper, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1876; co-proprietor, Sells & Rentfrow’s Circus (with Willie Sells), 1892. Bought out William Sells interest at the end of the 1895 season. Out with his Great Syndicate Shows and Paris Hippodrome, 1896. Pre-season announcement predicted that the show was to be the first to introduce a “motor wagon” in the parade; in the hippodrome, a race between one of these vehicles and a horse was to be presented; also a race between two motor wagons. The management was also anticipating carrying a genuine whale, conveyed on a special 74’ long car and drawn on a huge wagon expressly built for the exhibition, the combined weight being about 60,000 pounds and requiring a 40-horse team to take it to and from the grounds. The circus was to perform with three rings and an elevated stage. The overloaded show collapsed on August 8th and was purchased by J. M. Hamilton and John Hummel of Cincinnati. Later, proprietor of a long-running tent repertoire company, Rentfrow’s Jolly Pathfinders. Wife, Marie, died on January 7, 1917, at Houston, TX, age 70. J. N. died at Snyder, TX, of pneumonia.
RENTFROW, MRS. J. W. Concert performer, vocalist, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1876.
RENTZ, FREDERICK. (d. August 25, 1872) Hurdle rider. W. Stone’s, 1851; Robinson & Eldred, 1854-55; Spalding & Rogers’ Railroad Circus, 1856; Driesbach & Stickney, 1857; Nixon & Kemp, 1858; Nixon & Co., 1859; Chiarini’s, Havana, Cuba, winter 1859-60; VanAmburgh & Co.’s southern, 1860. Died in Philadelphia, age 34.
RENTZ, LOUISA. Somersaulting equestrienne. Daughter of August Rentz and niece of the famous German circus manager of the same name. Brought over by Adam Forepaugh’s, 1882, when she received $350 a week, all expenses for self, father, groom and two horses, salary beginning on leaving Germany and ending on her return. S. H. Barrett’s, 1887.
RENTZ, LUDORF. “Electrifying Funambulist”, Stone & Murray, 1869.
RENTZ, MINNIE. Rider, Sells Bros.’, 1878.
RENTZ, WILLIE HENRI. English cornet soloist, Hippocomique, 1868.
RENZER, RUDOLPH. Pad act, Joel E. Warner’s, 1871.
RETICKER, CHAN. Proprietor, Reticker’s Racing Association, 1878, a new hippodrome show.
REUCH, CHARLES. See Australian Four.
REVENI, MONS. Trapezist and general performer, J. W. Wilder’s, 1873.
REXFORD BROTHERS [John, Connie]. Acrobats. Frank A. Robbins’, 1885; triple act and Roman ladder, Walter L. Main’s, 1886; Frank Rich’s, 1886; Pullman’s, 1886; Lockwood & Flynn, 1887; the Rexford Bros.’, 1896.
REYNOLDS BROTHERS. Horizontal bars, Shedman Bros.’, 1894.
REYNOLDS, CARRIE. Equestrienne, Stevens & Begun, 1874.
REYNOLDS, FRED. Principal clown, Sells Bros.’ tour of Australia, 1891-92.
REYNOLDS, JAMES C. [“Jimmy”]. (d. 1881?) Considered one of the better jesters in the business, particularly popular in the South. Married Frankie Christie, a member of James M. Nixon’s company, August 23, 1863. March, 1888, was reported to be in the hospital at Hillsboro, IL, in serious condition from being nearly frozen to death; lost part of both hands, leaving only the thumbs and half of the palms; was in a destitute condition. Waring’s, New Orleans, winter 1837-38, 1842; June, Titus, Angevine & Co., Bowery Amphitheatre, NYC, 1839; Robinson & Eldred, 1847; Stone & McCollum, 1850; Dan Rice’s, 1851-53; Franconi’s, 1855; Crescent City, 1856; Broadway Amphitheatre, 1857; Sands, Nathans & Co., 1857; G. N. Eldred’s, 1857-58; Sands, Nathans & Co., Bowery Circus, 1858; Robinson & Lake, Wood’s Theatre, Cincinnati, 1859; Robinson & Lake, 1860-61; Thayer & Noyes, 1862; James M. Nixon’s, Washington, DC, fall 1862; Madame Macarte’s European Circus (James M. Nixon, proprietor), 1863; James M. Nixon’s Alhambra, NYC, fall 1863; L. B. Lent’s Broadway Amphitheatre, NYC, winter, 1863-64; John Robinson’s, 1864; O’Brien & King, 1864; National Theatre, Cincinnati, winter 1864-65; Thayer & Noyes, 1865-66; Yankee Robinson’s, Chicago, fall 1866; George Bailey & Co., 1867-68; Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1869; Mike Lipman’s, 1869; James Robinson’s, 1870; George W. DeHaven’s, fall 1870; Wootten & Haight, 1871; John Stowe & Sons, 1871; Charles Noyes’, winter 1871-72; Dan Rice’s, 1873; Parisian Circus, Operti’s Tropical Garden, Philadelphia, fall 1876; Great International, Offenbach Garden, Philadelphia, winter 1876-77; New York Central Park, 1877; North American, 1877; Cooper, Bailey & Co., Australian tour, 1877-78; Ridge’s Royal Tycoon Circus, Queensland, 1879; James T. Johnson’s, 1884. [Mark St. Leon: He “made a good impression on the Australian young folks but, when he took to liquor, his services were dispensed with.” Also from what appears to be a newspaper or program quote: “Mr. Reynolds is pronounced by the present people wherever he has appeared to be the best circus clown who has ever visited the Australian colonies; there are no stale or vulgar jokes; nothing to displease the most fastidious; his manner is gentlemanly; his conversation refined and full of wit and humour.”]
REYNOLDS, SYLVESTER. Clown, co-proprietor Howes & Turner, 1826; Nathan Howes & Co., 1826. Was killed that season, Gorham, ME, September 24, attempting an acrobatic feat.
REYNOLDS, W. B. Wild animal tamer, Empire City, 1871; James W. Wilder & Co., 1873; proprietor, W. B. Reynolds’ Consolidated Shows, 1892-96; G. W. Hall, 1902.
REZAC, EMMA. See Emma Stickney [Mrs. Robert Stickney, Sr.].
RHIGAS. Strong man, Lafayette Amphitheatre, NYC, in its initial season, 1825.
RHINEHARDT, BERTIE and GOLDIE. Concert song and dance team, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1882.
RHINEHART, MME. 4-horse chariot driver, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1882.
RHINEHART, SAM. See Sam Rinehart.
RHODES, DAN [r. n Rose]. (d. February 13, 1890) Antonio & Wilder, 1858; agent, Davis & Crosby, 1859; Mabie’s, 1859; treasurer, Deery & Robinson, 1865; treasurer, Lake’s Hippo-Olympiad, 1866; ringmaster, Michael O’Conner & Co., 1869; G. G. Grady’s, winter 1869-70, 1870; general director, Macarte Sisters’, 1870; contracting agent, Curtis & DeHaven’s Great Roman Hippodrome, 1877; railroad contractor, H. C. Lee’s Great Eastern, winter 1877-78. Married the equestrienne, Marie Macarte, March 9, 1868, in Marshall, TX, while with Lake’s. Died at Fabacher Plantation, LA.
RHODES, HARRY. Cornetist and band leader, Haag’s, winter 1896-99.
RHODES, MARY. Lowande’s Brazilian Circus, 1889.
RHODES, WILLIAM. Black Brothers Ten Cent Show, 1888; W. B. Reynolds’ Consolidated Shows, 1892.
RHONE, DAVID. Contracting agent, Great Roman Hippodrome, 1877.
RIAN, NORA. Equestrienne, Montgomery Queen’s, 1874.
RICARDO, DAN. Clown and comic vocalist, Fogg & Stickney, 1828, 1830, 1833; John Lamb’s, 1831; Brown’s, 1835-36.
RICARDO, MATT. Hunting’s New York Cirque Curriculum, 1889.
RICE BROTHERS. Acrobats, formed, 1879, combining Alfred Seymour and Edmund Rice. Performed on the horizontal bars, did brother acts, tumbling, etc. Great Commonwealth Circus, transported by the boat, William Newman, 1879; VanAmburgh & Co., 1879-80; Silas Dutton’s, winter 1879-80; Sells Bros.’, 1882; VanAmburgh & Reiche Bros.’, 1885; S. H. Barrett’s, 1887; Clark Bros.’, winter 1889-90.
RICE, CATHERINE [“Kate”]. (August 3, 1846-1929?) Daughter of Dan Rice. Dan Rice’s, 1851-54, 1858. Married a non-professional, Capt. A. C. Wurzbach, and left the business. Returned to chaperone her father on Nathans’ Consolidated Show, spring 1883.
RICE, DAN [r. n. Daniel McLaren]. (January 25, 1823-February 23, 1900) Speaking -and singing - on public events, he used his booming voice, powerful memory, and acute sensitivity to his times to become “without doubt the most famous performer in the history of the American circus” (Stuart Thayer), and a prominent figure beyond it. He was born in New York City. When his parents' marriage was annulled (or father left), Dan's mother married, again in New York. After her death in 1836, Den traveled to Pittsburgh, where he worked in a stable and began a life-long friendship with Stephen Foster's family. Various ventures in “the show business” - learned pig, puppets, strongman, lecturer - led to an outside show in 1843, as clown in whiteface and in blackface, reflecting minstrelsy's emergence from the circus. Dan's varied apprenticeship was anchored by two events: marrying Margaret “Maggie” Curran and renaming himself “Dan Rice” to capitalize on the fame of the minstrel, T. D. “Jump Jim Crow” Rice. These early years generated the first of many fictions, exaggerating the stable hand into a famous jockey. Andrew Jackson's favorite, dancing to Henry Clay's fiddle and befriended by Abe Lincoln. Other fabrications would depict Dan fooling P. T. Barmum, foiling the Mormon Joseph Smith and enticing Spain's Queen Isabella. His name change to “Rice” would be hidden in tales of father's favorite Irish clown, mother's ancestor, or his fondness for rice pudding. In 1844 Rice began a long love-hate relationship with Gilbert “Doc” Spalding when he was clown and minstrel (with Dan Emmett, author of “Dixie”) on Spalding's North American Circus. Through the 1840s Rice joined giants of the growing circus world, working with Wallett, Glenroy, Stickney, North and Pentland, and for Welch’s, Mann's, Lent’s, Sands’, Howes’, and Stokes’. In 1848 Zachary Taylor watched Rice at Spalding's show, which later prompted tales that Taylor rode in Rice's bandwagon, leading to the political phrase, “getting on the bandwagon” (no evidence and, anyway, it would have been Spalding’s bandwagon). In 1848. Rice and Doc Spalding were partners, with Spalding’s brother-in-law, Wessel T. B. Van Orden, as manager, until Rice bought the show. The next year Spalding invested in Rice's circus but then, with Van Orden, foreclosed, sparking one of the most famous feuds in circus history. Rice may have been cheated as he charged but, extravagant and generous, he would always have money troubles. Starting out again with one trained horse and a few performers, he drew crowds with entertaining attacks on his former associates. When he sang that Spalding was having an affair and that Van Orden, a lawyer, embezzled, they had him arrested for slander, increasing his underdog appeal and his fund of fun. For decades “The One-Horse Show”—as circus and then phrase - was a comic reminder of the feud and Rice's rise. Pugnacious and stubborn. Rice battled throughout his career in feuds, law suits and, common to the antebellum circus, fist fights. Besides fights, family stood at the heart of his career. Maggie performed, as did daughters Ellizbeth and Catherine. Libby married Rice's apprentice, Charles Reed (many of the 16 Reed children would become performers) while Kate wed A. C. Wurzbach, Rice's treasurer in 1864. Dan's half-sister and rider, Libby Manahan married another of his riders, Jacob Showles (their adopted son, Willie Showles, would become a prominent rider). Dan's cousin W. C. Crum was his press agent, while half-brother, William Manahan, managed Rice's Crescent City Circus. Rice's father, also Daniel McLaren, was proprietor in 1858 (confusing matters, Rice used his birth name “McLaren” that year). Like family, bandleader Almon Menter and ringmaster Frank Rosston trouped with Rice for years. In the 1850s Rice's popularity exploded, in summer tent circuses bearing his name. Winter circuses in city theatres, other public appearances and newspaper reports. In 1855 he first used the title “Dan Rice's Great Show,” which would echo down the years, as his cousin Crum was agent for Bamum & Bailey when it became “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Rice's fame flowed from three things. First, with a prodigious memory, lighting-quick mind and unequalled comic talent, he was remarkably funny, no small matter when clowning quality varies greatly. Second, he had an extraordinary array of animals - his blind horse Excelsior Jr. climbing stairs, the elephant Lalla Rookh walking a tight-rope, a trained rhinoceros, and comic mules, Pete and Bamey, whose success kicking off would-be riders spawned generations of imitators. Third, Rice's success flowed from his aspiration to “something higher.” Later that aspiration would seem laughable, a lowbrow's awkward attempt to be highbrow, but mid-century, when amusements of all kinds overlapped, audiences of all classes mingled and “art” still meant craft. Rice and his circus were seen as elevating forces. Moving to Girard, PA, he presented Maggie as a “true women” and himself as a country gentleman, performing only for public edification. For a few years he appeared as “conversationist” - lecturer, without makeup - while “clown” and “circus” disappeared from his advertisements. The “Great American Humorist” in “Dan Rice's Great Show,” he enjoyed fame matched by few in amusements or beyond. His opinions on political and social issues were eagerly anticipated. When Stephen Douglas ran for the Senate against Abraham Lincoln, Rice hosted Douglas for a speech in his circus tent. Walt Whitman praised Rice's circus as a moral lesson, while Mark Twain - later touring as “The American Humorist” - used it as model for the circus in Huckleberry Finn. Later the Ringling brothers claimed Rice as inspiration for their first circus. While Barnum was more famous as a manager and Spalding more innovative. Rice was probably seen by more people than any other American. Feuding with Horace Greeley's New York Tribune, he was judged victorious because his jokes were more effective and he reached more people. Three blows altered Rice's fortunes. Divorcing Maggie, he lost her steadying influence and the claim of “elevated” domestic bliss. Accidents cost him his rhino and Lalla Rookh. Most crucially, he stumbled in the troubled politics of the Civil War. The night Louisiana seceded Rice was in the ring in New Orleans, where he sympathized with the South, attacking abolitionists as extremists who had caused the war. Though foes would howl, many people North and South in 1861 agreed with the celebrated clown. Returned up the Mississippi River, he alternately defended and denied his views, while fictions began depicting him defying pistol-waving "secesh" hotheads. Pressing his vision of reunited states, he ran in 1864 for the Pennsylvania state senate as a Peace Democrat and briefly in 1867 for President, serious efforts that would later be characterized as jokes for publicity. Fictions grew to make Rice seem a Union patriot of long standing. He first used the title “Colonel” in 1864, with the tale that Zachary Taylor had conferred it years earlier. “Colonel” Rice catapulted a $200 donation into a claim that he single-handedly equipped a Pennsylvania regiment, though the regimental history does not mention him. With his famous goatee and occasional use of striped costumes, Rice did influence the cartoon of "Uncle Sam" but the claim that he directly inspired it ignores the fervent Republican views of its creator, cartoonist Thomas Nest. The foremost fiction tells of fond friendship with Abraham Lincoln. Both were funny and political, and they may have met, but Rice denounced “Black Republicans,” including Lincoln. Never the traitor his enemies would claim. Rice was also not the Union hero of later fictions. Rice clowned during the war for the Mabie Bros.’, Spalding's, John "Pogey" O'Brien’s and Adam Forepaugh’s. He may have made $1,000 a week, the astounding sum claimed, but the implication that he reached his height during the 1860s obscures the fact that, once again employed by others, his influence was fading. On Spalding's show in 1863, kicking a man from the tent, he made news for the legal principle that showman could evict patrons but was fined for using excessive force. Though apparently only another of his fights, this one happened days after his baby daughter died. He had married his second wife Rebecca McConnell in 1861. He presented her in the ring in 1864 but the experiment ended that year. Dan Rice, Jr., bom in 1868, never joined the circus. No longer able to pitch highbrow to a culture that had decided the circus was lowbrow. Rice trouped on, under others or with his own dog-and-pony show. He began to drink, declared bankruptcy in 1875 - Spalding as major creditor - and was divorced from Rebecca in 1881. He kept on, in 1882 touring with John Robinson's Circus to California, as lecturer - his old, “elevated” title - but mostly waving to the crowd. In the mid-80s he did temperance tours in Texas and Arkansas but would later claim that his water pitcher had contained gin. In 1887 he married a wealthy widow, Marcella Greathouse Robinson; apparently never divorced, they split within a few years. In 1891, nearly seventy, Rice tried a one-ring show in New York. When that attempt died in a blowdown, he turned his energy to selling a medical cure-all, dealing in Texas land, writing newspaper items and rehabilitating his reputation. Famous people and events multiplied in an attempted memoir, interviews and a biography published after his death, while his ardent views disappeared in a claim that he had avoided politics. Circus clowns had once presented adult fare, rowdy, risque and political, but Rice recast himself as “Old Uncle Dan,” remaking his past to fit the new sentimental image of the silly buffoon cavorting for children. Dan Rice died in Long Branch, NJ. His times had admired him and laughed hard. Later times, remembering him - barely - insentimental fictions, forgot the powerful influence of the great American humorist. [The above was submitted by Dr. David Carlyon, a first-rank biographer of Dan Rice.]
RICE, EDWARD E. Proprietor, Coney Island Circus, 1895.
RICE, ELIZABETH [“Libby”]. (February 10, 1844-1890/ 1897?) Daughter of Dan Rice. Dan Rice’s, 1851-54; Brien’s (John O’Brien, proprietor), 1863; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1886. Married rider Charles Reed, January, 1863..
RICE, ELLA. Claimed to be Dan Rice’s daughter, of which there is no foundation of validity.
RICE, EMMA. Lowande’s Brazilian Circus, 1889.
RICE, FRANK. Proprietor, Great Wastern, 1886.
RICE, JACK. G. G. Grady’s, 1868.
RICE, J. B. Proprietor (with Aaron Turner), for Aaron Turner’s American Amphitheatre, 1843.
RICE, J. H. (d. September 8, 1924) Rice’s Big Railroad Show, 1887; general agent, Lowande’s Brazilian Circus, 1889; Rice’s Great American, 1892; contracting agent, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1894; Rice & Davis, 1905-06.
RICE, LILLIE. With Annie Bell Holton, balloon race and double parachute jump, Sells & Rentfrow’s, 1893.
RICE, MRS. DAN. See Mrs. Charles Warner.
RICH, CHARLES. Treasurer, Donaldson & Rich, 1885; Frank Rich’s Great Eastern Railroad Alliance, 1886.
RICH, DARIASTUS. Co-proprietor (with Joseph Andrew Rowe), Rich and Rowe’s Mammoth Pavilion Circus, winter 1844, performing in the South. The show left for South America in the spring of that year.
RICH, FRANK H. Proprietor, Donaldson & Rich, after purchasing G. W. Donaldson’s interest, 1885; Frank Rich’s Great Eastern Railroad Alliance, 1886, (Frank H. Rich, Col. Charles Whitney, J. N. Abbott, proprietors); Rich & Downie, 1890; Rich & Mettie, 1891.
RICH, GEORGE E. Proprietor, with Frank Rich, Great Eastern, 1886; Rich’s, 1892.
RICHARDS. Clown. Lafayette Circus, 1825-28; Price & Simpson, 1828; Palmer’s, 1833; Fogg & Stickney, 1833; Palmer & Harrington, 1834-35; Bancker’s, 1836; Brown & Co., 1837; Eagle Circus, 1838.
RICHARDS, AL E. Gymnast, Miles Orton & Co. 1869; Cole & Orton, 1871; privileges, W. W. Cole’s, 1874; press agent, 1880-86. Married Jessie Orton, of the Orton show, Quincey, IL, November 5, 1874.
RICHARDS, DAVIS. (1832-1866) Rider. Born in Pennsylvania (another source gives Virginia) and began career in Philadelphia as a pupil of Rufus Welch, with whom he remained for several years. Good hurdle rider, as well as a very competent bareback rider. Raymond & Co., 1852; Joe Pentland’s, 1851, 1854; Jim Myers’, 1856; accompanied Howes & Cushing to England and performed with that company, Alhambra Palace, London, 1858-59; 12 months engagement, Hengler’s, 1860-61. Remained abroad until his death. On getting down from the shoulders of his fellow performer, while working in St. Petersburgh, Russia, his foot slipped and he fell on his back on the rump of one of the horses and then onto the ground with a deadly force. Died within 24 hours. At the time, he had plans of returning to the United States to fulfill an engagement with Lake’s. Children were Willie and Julia, both circus riders.
RICHARDS, EDITH. Equestrienne, W. W. Cole’s, 1886.
RICHARDS, E. R. Treasurer, W. H. Harris’ Nickel-Plate show, 1884.
RICHARDS, GEORGE W. Cannon ball performer, George W. DeHaven’s, 1870; athlete and cannonball juggler, Lake’s Hippo-Olympiad, 1871; Sells Bros.’, 1872, sideshow privileges, 1873; iron jaw act, cannon ball, and feat of lifting 2 full-size horses, 1874; cannon ball performer and acrobatic act, Livingston Bros.’, 1874; acrobat, Great International, Offenbach Garden, Philadelphia, winter 1876-77; strong man, Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1877; cannon ball, Hamilton & Sargeant, 1878. Had his own show on the road, 1882-90, which was destroyed by flood. According to D. W. Watt, was somewhat instrumental in the Sells brothers getting into the circus business by pointing out to Allen Sells the success of such prominent circus proprietors such as Forepaugh, Robinson and others; wanted sideshow privileges in addition to performing feats of strength and was apparently successful in convincing the brothers they were amply able to finance a new show.
RICHARDS, H. F. Press agent, W. W. Cole’s, 1882. At this time, had been with the show for some years.
RICHARDS, JAMES. Rider, with his horse Prairie Steed, in his daredevil act of hurdling and leaping without saddle or bridle, Joe Pentland’s, 1855.
RICHARDS, JESSIE. Equestrienne, slack-wire, outside ascension, W. W. Cole’s, 1875, 1886.
RICHARDS, JOSEPH. Clark Bros.’, winter 1889-90.
RICHARDS, JOSIE. Rider, S. H. Barrett’s, 1887.
RICHARDS, LOUIS. Indian clubs, Cooper, Bailey & Co., Australian tour, 1877-78.
RICHARDSON. Riding master, Parson’s circus, Samuel McCracken, manager, 1826; Samuel Parsons’, Albany, under the management of Simon V. Wemple, Troy, NY, 1828; North American (McCracken’s), 1827.
RICHARDSON, BENJAMIN “BURT.” (circa 1853-October 7, 1896) Acrobat. Born in Scranton suburb of Providence, PA. Entered the business with a hall show. Leaper, Warner & Henderson, 1874; acrobat, Springer’s Royal CirqZoolodon, 1875; acrobat, Joel E. Warner’s, 1876; W. W. Cole’s, 1880, where he remained for several years. When physical powers diminished, turned to clowning. Frank A. Robbins, 1888; then joined the Great Syndicate Show at its inception and remained until his death, which occurred in a stateroom of the show train at Ironton, OH.
RICHARDSON, BERT. See Australian Four.
RICHARDSON, C. Band leader, John Robinson’s, 1877-78.
RICHARDSON, C. E. Contracting agent, Alexander Robinson’s, 1869, general agent, 1875.
RICHARDSON, CHARLES. Boss canvasman, with Howe’s Great London, 1871; P. T. Barnum’s (P. A. Older, proprietor), 1872-73.
RICHARDSON, E. R. Juggler, Backenstoe’s, 1872.
RICHARDSON, OMAR. (1835-1859) Rider and general performer. Pupil of Dan Rice and a featured performer for his circus, 1851-58. Spalding & Rogers, 1857-59, worked the revolving globe and perche equipoise and was considered an excellent young bareback rider. Also, with Nixon & Kemp, 1858. Died of consumption in Covington, KY, age 23.
RICHARDSON, SAM. Nego minstrel, Welch, Bartlett & Co., 1839; Howes & Mabie, 1841.
RICHARDSON, TONY. Hamilton & Sergeant, 1877; Hilliard & DeMott, 1880; treasurer, Walter L. Main’s, 1890.
RICHARDSON, WILLIAM. (1835?-September 6, 1915) Clown. Over 40 years with Barnum & Bailey and others. Died in Jefferson City alms house, Watertown, NY, where he had been living for 5 years, age 80.
RICHAU. Senic rider, Washington Circus, Philadelphia, 1828, where he performed “The Death of the Moor.”
RICHER, JEAN [or John]. (d. 1830) French rider, clown and strong man. Earliest example of scenic riding in America, 1826, C. W. Sandford’s, with “The Dying Moor.” Performed unique tricks in the saddle and was excellent and original in his comic and burlesque interpretations on horseback. One feat was to be placed on his back with an 200 pound anvil on his chest and have men beat upon it with hammers. Price & Simpson, Washington Amphitheatre, Boston, 1826; Lafayette Circus, NYC, 1826-27; Washington Gardens, Boston, summer 1827; Mount Pitt Circus, NYC, 1827-28; Brooklyn Amphitheatre, 1828; American Arena, Washington, DC, winter 1828-29; Fogg & Stickney, 1830; Royal Pavilion Circus/Olympic Circus, 1830; B. F. Brown & Co., 1830. Died at Sea.
RICHMOND, E. General manager, Spalding & Rogers Floating Palace, 1859.
RICHMONDE, MME. Equestrienne, Dan Rice’s Paris Pavilion Circus, 1871. May be related to above.
RICHTER, ROSA M. See Zazel.
RICKER, CHARLES L. Gardner & Hemmings, 1862; boss canvasman, Stone & Rosston, 1865. April, 1865, had his hand amputated, Frederick City, MD, after suffering an accidental blow from a sledge. Stone & Murray, 1871; boss canvasman, P. T. Barnum’s, 1874.
RIDDER, C. W. Business manager, Hemmings, Cooper & Whitby, 1869.
RIDGEWAY, JOHN. Orrin Bros.’, Mexico, 1886.
RIEL, AL. (d. August 30, 1910) Agent. Connected with Barnum & Bailey for 28 years, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show for 8, and the 101 Ranch show for 3. Manager advertising car #3, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1882. Lived to be one of the oldest agents in age and length of service in America. Died of pluro-pneumonia, Secaucus, NJ.
RIENBOLD, PROF. F. Band leader. With Buckley’s, 1858; Thompson, Smith & Hawes, 1866.
RIESE, WALTER. Roman standing race, 4-horse chariot driver, jockey racer, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1882.
RIGALL BROTHERS. Proprietors, Rigall Bros.’ Twenty-Five Cent Show, 1897. F. E. Rigall was in charge of tickets; H. C. Rigall, treasurer; J. C. Rigall, superintendent of privileges; James D. Rigall, manager.
RILEY, DENNIS. (d. March 25, 1890) VanAmburgh’s, Forepaugh’s, O’Brien’s, Sells Bros.’
RILEY, JACOB. (March 27, 1845-May 30, 1899) Contortionist, juggler and hat spinner. Born in Indiana. Joined John Robinson’s when about 15 years old and remained for some time. 1872, Albercia’s, performing in Cuba, South America and Europe; John Robinson’s, 1876-81. During the latter engagement, suffered a stroke that plagued him for the remainder of his life. In conjunction with Joe Rutledge, had a show of his own on the road for a short time. Died in Danville, IL.
RILEY, THOMAS. Boyd & Peters, 1880.
RINALDO BROTHERS [3 in number]. Trapeze, D. S. Swadley’s Monster Combination, 1872; grotesque dancing and high kickers, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1882.
RICHARDS, GEORGE. Strong man, Lowande’s Great Brazilian, 1877.
RINEHART, CHARLEY “MASTER”. Sells Bros.’, a first year organization, 1872.
RINEHART, MRS. SAM. See Eliza Tomlinson.
RINEHART, SAM [or Rhinehart, Reinhardt]. (d. November, 1890) A 10-horse leaper, double somersaulter, and general performer. John Robinson’s, 1858-62, 1866; Robinson & Deery’s, 1864; Robinson & Howes, 1864; George W. DeHaven & Co., 1865. Reported killed in Texas that year but only received a severe wound. Shortly, up and about, performing with George W. DeHaven’s, 1865-66; Haight & Chambers, 1866-67. Married Lena Reilly of Louisville, August 24, 1867, in that city. Amphitheatre, Louisville, January 1868; Lake’s, winter 1868-69; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1869; Mrs. Charles Warner’s, Philadelphia, 1869; John W. Robinson’s Circus (not “Old John”), 1870-71; Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1876; Montgomery Queen’s, 1877; Sells Bros.’, 1878-79. Retired from the profession, located in Columbus, OH, December 1879, and entered into a second marriage to non-professional Eliza Tomilson, August 24, 1880. Retirement was short-lived, however. Had performing dogs, W. W. Cole’s, 1880; Welsh & Sands, 1880; Nathans & Co., 1883; Wallace & Co., 1885; ringmaster, Miller, Okey & Freeman, 1886; equestrian director, Miller, Stowe & Freeman, 1887; Stow, Long & Gumble, 1889; George W. Richards’, winter 1889-90. Eventually left the circus to keep a saloon in Columbus, OH. Had 2 sons, Charley and Willie, and 2 daughters, Beatrice and Goldie.
RINEHART, WILLIE “MASTER”. Son of the above. Sells Bros.’, a first year organization, 1872.
RINEY, DUTCH. Variety troupe, Haight & Chambers, 1867.
RINGLER, MARGARET. Minstrel, Alexander Robinson’s, 1876.
RISLEY, HARRY. One of two “sons” of Richard Risley Carlisle (the other being John) who performed with their “father” in an act known as the “Risley business.” See below.
RISLEY, JOHN C. (d. January 6, 1873) Acrobat. Another of two “sons” of Richard Risley Carlisle (the other was Harry) who performed with their “father” in an act known as the “Risley business.” Died in Philadelphia. See below.
RISLEY, RICHARD [Richard Risley Carlisle]. (1814-May 25, 1874) Athlete. As a young man, possessed great strength and an attractive figure and excelled in running and wrestling. Having learned to play the flute, joined a circus that passed through his village, billed as “Prof. Risley, athlete and performer on the flute.” Later, gave up the flute for gymnastic feats. Using his two “sons,” Harry and John, invented a novel act which caught on at once and assured his success. The juggling of children with his feet became known as the “Risley business.” May have never been married or had children, but his act was always announced as Risley and his sons. Welch & Delavan, and also Henry Rockwell & Co.’s winter circus, 1841. About 1845, went to England where he
had a lengthy engagement at London’s Drury Lane Theatre; performed at Windsor Castle for the Queen and other dignitaries. [Illustrated London News, 1846: “...Certainly nothing like it in the way of posturing was ever seen before. There is a graceful ease and precision in the manner in which all their evolutions are accomplished....”] While in England, exhibited a panorama of the Mississippi, opened an American bar and an American bowling alley. Toured of all the principal cities of Europe. Coxe states that although he was popular in New York and London, he was even more so in Paris. In Russia, won distinction for his excellence in rifle shooting and skating. Back in England, challenged the country’s best in contests of markmanship, wrestling, long jumping, hammer throwing and billiards. Was bested only in billiards; made the longest standing jump of that day; gave his opponent a 10’ edge in the hammer throw and won by 15”. Next time he came to England, brought with him an American billiard champion to regain the title for the United States. Unfortunately, the Englishman won again to Risley’s $30,000 loss. Accumulated a large fortune only to lose it in speculation. Formed his own circus company and took it to the Far East. On return, brought with him one of the first groups of Oriental tumblers seen in America and Europe. Engaged the Rousset Family of ballet dancers to an America tour, 1851, in a losing endeavor. Other efforts to import European artist also ended in failure, ruining him financially. Untimately, secured a minor position at a variety theatre in Philadelphia and attempted to establish an agency for variety artists but was unsuccessful. Failure reduced Risley to ill health and penury; the mind gave way and he was placed in the insane ward of Blockley Institution, Philadelphia.
RITCHIE, GEORGE. Ferguson’s London Coliseum Circus, 1888.
RIVERS, ADA. Clark Bros.’, winter 1889-90.
RIVERS, CHARLES H. S. ( d. November 14, 1899) Rider and tumbler. Born in London, England, from parents who were circus performers and, who, with their sons comprised the Rivers Family. Made his debut at age 4 when carried into the ring in a carpet sack by his father. Broke both of his ankles, 1882, while performing at Eau Claire, WI, which forced retirement from circus life. Became manager of Hickey’s Turf Exchange and of the Grand Opera House, New London, WI. Died at the Elwood Hotel, New London. June, Titus, Angevine & Co., 1841; VanAmburgh’s, England, 1844; Richard Sands’, England, 1845; Rockwell & Stone, 1845; Welch & Mann, 1846-47; Rivers & Derious, 1851, 1857; Sands, Nathans & Co., Broadway Theatre, NYC, 1858; Rivers & Derious, 1859; L. B. Lent’s, 1861, 1876; clog dancer, Yankee Robinson’s, 1862; George F. Bailey & Co., 1862; James M. Nixon’s, Washington, DC, fall 1862; 4-horse rider, George F. Bailey & Co., 1863; Maginley & VanVleck, 1863; Robinson & Howes, 1864; DeHaven & Co., 1865; Frank J. Howes’, 1865; Grand Reserve Combination, 1866; Parisian Circus, assembled for the Paris Exposition, 1867; George F. Bailey & Co., 1868; John Robinson’s, 1868-70, 1873-75, 1879-81; James Robinson’s, 1870-71; program agent, Montgomery Queen’s, 1874; Miles Orton’s, 1883, 1885.
RIVERS, EDDIE [El Nino Eddie]. (1855-September 14, 1923)) Rider and rope dancer. Born in NYC, son of Richard Rivers. In his childhood exhibited a remarkable aptitude for gymnastics and acrobatic exercises. Making debut, Chiarini’s, Havana, 1863, as a juvenile performer on the tight-rope, created a furore and was given the title of El Nino. Executed the difficult feats comparable to those of a Blondin or a Javelli. After performing a series of graceful exercises, would ascend on a single wire from the stage to the gallery of the theatre, over the heads of the audience, lying on his back midway, rising again and continuing his perilous course to the finish, all this with as much ease and confidence as if he were walking on solid ground. Next, would be blindfolded with a sack placed over his head, and repeat the ascension and return journey on the wire as before. As a tight rope dancer, was said to equal the best of his day. Returning to USA, occasionally used the title of “The Infant Blondin.” Stone & Rosston, 1865; L. B. Lent’s, 1867-68; Dan Rice’s, 1868; Chiarini’s, California, winter 1868-69; Chiarini’s, South America, 1870; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1872; John Robinson’s, 1875-76; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1870, 1872-74, 1879; Pullman & Co., 1880; Burr Robbins’, 1886; Hunting’s, 1888-89. Died at Actors Home, Amityville, NY.
RIVERS, EDMUND. Scenic rider, with Adam Forepaugh’s, 1874.
RIVERS, FRANK. (1821-February 15, 1887) Posturer. Born in Springfield, MA. Entered circus business in Boston, Welch’s, 1831, age 10; Purdy, Welch & Macomby, 1837; Welch’s, 1846-51. Went to California, prospecting for gold some time in the 1850s, but drifted back into the circus. Forced to withdraw, however, because of injury. Established the Melodeon concert hall, Philadelphia, about 1859, a variety theatre on a most ambitious scale. Few years later, opened Rivers’ Melodeon, NYC. Stage manager, Academy of Music, New Orleans, 1864-65; opened a dramatic agency, 66 E. Houston St., NYC, 1866; general agent, Rosston, Springer & Henderson, 1871; general director, Montgomery Queen’s, 1873. At the end of his life, was a traveling salesman for Charles Scribner’s Sons, publishers. Died in Buffalo, NY, age 66.
RIVERS, FREDERICK. (d. March 17, 1875) Acrobat. Member of the Rivers family. VanAmburgh, England, 1845; Welch & Mann, 1846; Welch’s National, 1847; Rivers & Derious, 1857; Philadelphia Circus (managed by Dan Gardner), winter 1867-68; Gardner, Kenyon & Robinson, 1869. Died of dropsy in Philadelphia.
RIVERS, JOHN C. (d. 1907) Clown and clog dancer. Came from England, 1856. Goodwin & Wilder, 1862; Toole’s, 1863; L. B. Lent’s, 1864; Gardner & Hemmings, 1864; Mrs. Charles C. Warner’s, Philadelphia, December 1864; Alex Robinson’s, 1867; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1867; equestrian director, New York Olympic Circus, 1867; clown and comic singer and performing terrier dog act, Hemmings, Cooper & Whitby, 1868; Smith & Baird, 1872; Great Southern, 1875. 40 years a performer. Died in San Antonio, TX, age 80.
RIVERS, LUKE [r. n. Kelly]. (d. May 3, 1898) Rider and one of the more versatile and useful general performers in the business, belonging to the old school of equestrians and best remembered for his “Pete Jenkins” act. Rufus Welch’s, 1848, 1850; June-Titus, 1849; Rivers & Derious, 1851-53; Welch & Lent, 1854, 1856; Sands & Chiarini, 1854; Welch & Lent, 1855; George F. Bailey & Co., 1857; Welch’s National, Philadelphia, 1857-58, 1860; S. P. Stickney’s, NYC, 1861; Robinson & Lake, 1862-63; James M. Nixon’s, Washington, DC, fall 1862; Great European, 1865; Frank J. Howes’, 1865; Mrs. Charles Warner’s, Philadelphia, 1868-69, 1870; Hemmings, Cooper & Whitby, 1869-70; Batcheller & Doris, 1870; James Robinson’s, 1872; Cooper & Bailey’s Great International, 1874, 1876; John O’Brien’s, 1883; scenic rider, Batcheller & Doris, 1880; Lowande’s, 1889; Barnum & Bailey, 1892; Scribner & Smith, 1893. Died in Philadelphia.
RIVERS, PETE. Robinson & Deery, 1864.
RIVERS, RICHARD. (d. August 28, 1901) Rider. Born in England. Entered the circus business at age 14 and in time became one of the premier bareback riders of the world. Raymond & Waring, 1840; Polandric ladder, June, Titus, Angevine & Co., 1841; Welch’s National,, Philadelphia, 1845; Rockwell & Stone, 1845; “Enchanted Ladder”, Welch & Mann, 1846-48; June, Titus & Co., 1849; Rivers, Runnels & Franklin, 8th Street and Fourth Avenue, NYC, 1850; proprietor, National Circus, Chestnut Street below Ninth, Philadelphia, 1852; Rivers & Derious, 1851-57, 1864; L. B. Lent’s, 1867, 1872, 1876; Chiarini’s, South America, 1870; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1870; equestrian director, VanAmburgh & Co., 1874, 1880-81; Sells Bros.’, 1877; equestrian director and ringmaster, VanAmburgh & Co., 1879, 1881. Died in NYC, age about 68. His wife, Elizabeth, had died NYC, February 22, 1897. Daughter was Mrs. George Garon, professionally known as Viola Rivers.
RIVERS, TOM. Boss canvasman. John V. O’Brien’s, 1871; Rosston, Springer & Henderson, 1872.
RIVERS, VIOLA [Mrs. George Garon]. Equestrienne. The daughter of Richard and Elizabeth Rivers. Sells Bros.’, 1877-78, 1882-83; VanAmburgh & Co., 1881; P. T. Barnum’s, 1884, 1886; Barrett & Co., 1885; Frank A. Gardner’s, Central and South America, winter 1887-88.
RIVERS, W. “MASTER”. Adam Forepaugh’s, 1870.
RIXFORD BROTHERS [3 in number]. King & Franklin, 1889; White & Markowit, 1889.
Copyright © 2005
No part of this information may be reproduced in any form or means
William L. Slout and Circus Historical Society, Inc.
without written permission of William L. Slout and the Circus Historical Society, Inc.
Last modified October 2005