Circus Historical Society
Olympians of the Sawdust Circle
Olympians of the Sawdust Circle: A biographical dictionary of the ninteenth century American circus
Sa - Sl
Compiled and Edited by William L. Slout
Copyright © 2005 by William L. Slout. All rights reserved.
SABANTI, MONS. [or Sebunti]. 4-horse rider, Great European, 1869-70.
SACKETT, EDWARD J. Sideshow orator, concert performer, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1876; Adam Forepaugh’s (Pullman Bros.’ sideshow), 1876; Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881-82.
SAGE, C. M. [or E. M.]. Contracting agent, Alexander Robinson’s, 1871; general agent, 1874.
SANGRINO. Celebrated British trainer, exhibited five elephants that waltzed, played musical instruments, stood on their heads, formed a pyramid, and trodded up inclines, as well as executing other novelties, Howes’ Great London, 1871.
SAGRINO, FERDINAND. Equestrian. Mrs. Charles Warner’s, Philadelphia, 1864; Stone, Rosston & Murray, Front Street Theatre, Baltimore, winter 1866-67; 4-horse bareback rider, L. B. Lent’s, 1868; George F. Bailey & Co., 1869; Stone & Murray, 1869; L. B. Lent’s, 1870-71; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1873. Arrested in NYC and sent to Sing Sing penitentiary for 2 years for bigamy, March 5, 1874; marriages took place in November 1873 within 2 weeks of each other.
SAID, ABDDALLAH BEN. (d. February 8, 1898) Original manager of the groupe of Bedouin Arabs which were brought to the United States, 1882, by Arnest Cook for W. W. Cole’s. Born in Paris, the son of Sidi Mohamad, a marabout of Bagdad. Died in NYC, age about 43.
SALBINI TROUPE. French bicyclists, John B. Doris’, 1884.
SALINYEA FAMILY [Charley, George, Henry]. Acrobats and living statue artists. Dan Castello’s, 1870.
SALSBURY, H. Chief bill poster, P. T. Barnum’s, 1874-75.
SALSBURY, NATE. (February 1846-December 24, 1902) Born in Freeport, IL. After serving in the Civil War, embarked on a theatrical career, debuting at Grand Rapids, MI, as Colorgog in Pocahontas. Shortly, with the Boston Museum Stock Co. and such notables as William Warren and Annie Clark, where he remained for 4 years. Next, on the road, Hooley’s Comedy Co., 3 years. With John Webster, organized a stock company called Salsbury’s Troubadours, which toured the United States and Europe for 15 years. While with the Troubadours, met William Cody and organized with him a theatrical piece of the wild west. Spent around $200,000, 1900, in converting New Jersey wasteland into a select cottage colony near North Long Branch known as “The Reservation.” Died at his home in Long Branch, NJ.
SAMPSON FAMILY. Acrobats, John Robinson’s, 1892.
SAMPSON, W. J. General manager, G. G. Grady’s, 1874.
SAMUELS, HENRY. Adam Forepaugh’s, 1873.
SAMUELS, TOM. Animal trainer. Performed his dogs and monkeys, John Robinson’s, 1879-85.
SAMWELLS, LEON. Gymnast and acrobat. Nelson’s South American Hippodrome, touring in California, 1870; Ryland’s, California, 1872; trained dogs and monkeys, Prof. Samwell’s Great Combination Circus and Animal Show, South America, 1873; John Wilson’s Palace Amphitheatre, San Francisco, 1874.
SAMWELLS, THOMAS, SR. (1825-October 4, 1906) Was adept at training dogs and monkeys. Forepaugh & Samwells (W. R. Forepaugh, Thomas Samwells, proprietors), 1886-88.
SANDERENO FAMILY [4 in number]. German equestrians, Howes’ Great European, 1864.
SANDERS, JOE. (d. June 8, 1889) Equestrian director, Wallace & Co., 1889. Died in Des Moines, IA, from a fall while performing in Audubon, IA.
SANDERS, JOHN. Thayer & Noyes, 1865.
SANDERSON, GEORGE. Mrs. Charles H. Warner’s Great National Circus, Continental Theatre, Philadelphia, winter 1864-65.
SANDERSON, H. S. Privileges (with William D. Hagar), John H. Murray’s, 1877.
SANDS, ARCHIE. (d. October 25, 1901) Agent and advertiser. Connected for several years with various amusements - Barnum & Bailey; Ringling Bros.’; John Robinson’s, 1898; Walter L. Mains’, 1899; and Pawnee Bill’s Wild West. Last employed, Al G. Field’s Minstrels, 1900. Died in Hagerstown, MD.
SANDS, CHARLES. European Circus, 1869.
SANDS, DICK. (May 2, 1840-March 28, 1900) Clog dancer. Born in Mill Bridge, Yorkshire, England. Came to the United States at age 17 to live with an uncle, Waterbury, CT. Made professional debut at Pierce’s Variety, Providence, RI, for three $3.00 a week and board. A few months later, left for NYC, went to Bryant’s Minstrel Hall and asked Neil Bryant for an engagement. After dancing for about 20 minutes, Bryant jumped to his feet and said, “Stop, young man, you are all right.” Opened with the Bryants and was a great success. Next, engaged by Robert Fox for the Art Union; then Sloat & Shepard, 1858, performing in the concert; in the fall, rejoined Bryant’s and later went to Frank Rivers’ Melodeon, between Spring and Prince Streets, NYC, and Frank Rivers’ Melodeon, Philadelphia; Morris Bros., Pell & Trowbridge’s Minstrels, Boston, 1860, then on the road with that company, spring 1861; James M. Nixon’s, 1862. At close of the season, performed at Frank Rivers’ Melodeon, both Philadelphia and NYC; Carr’s Melodeon, Buffalo; Den Thompson’s Concert Hall, Toronto; Chadwick’s Varieties, Chicago; and Palace Varieties, Nashville. Appeared at Haverly’s Varieties, Toledo, OH, 1863; after which, organized Sands & Haverly’s Minstrels. At Academy of Music, Buffalo, played the part of Katy Welch in Arrah Na Pogue. Joined the Hanlon Bros.’ Specialty Show. Tammany Hall, NYC, introduced the clog on a pedestal 8’ high, the first time a clog was ever done in that manner. L. B. Lent’s, Adam Forepaugh’s, Thayer & Anderson; West Indies, J. Hudson’s Great North and South American Circus, 1872-73; saong and dance artist, Palace of Wonders, P. T. Barnum, 1876-79; VanAmburgh’s, 1896; Barnum & Bailey off and on for 12 years, where he got the name of “Barnum’s Old Woman in the Shoe.” Sands’ dancing was mostly confined to the floor. He danced with ease, grace and novelty. Died in extreme poverty, NYC.
SANDS, ELBERT. 3-horse rider. The brother of Richard Sands. Nathan Howes (A. Sands’), 1833; Howes & Sands, 1834; Mammoth Circus (Howes & Sands), 1835; Eagle Circus (Howes), 1836; Cole, Miller & Yale, winter 1837; Yale, Howes?, 1838; Lamb’s, winter 1839; Yale & Co., 1840; P. H. Nichols’, 1841.
SANDS, GEORGE. General performer, Sands & Nathans, 1853-59. Half-brother to Richard Sands.
SANDS, HEZEKIAH. Treasurer and co-proprietor, Welsh & Sands, 1893.
SANDS, JESSE. (b. 1838) General performer and sideshow manager. Born in Manchester, England. Came to this country with Richard Sands, 1845. Infant equestrian, with Welch & Mann, Philadelphia, 1846; Sands, Lent & Co. Richard Sands performed “with his children,” Maurice and Jesse, in a series of classic passes, evolutions, groupings and flights of aerial gravitation, Chatham Theatre, NYC, 1847. R. Sands & Co., 1849; rider on 4 Shetland ponies, Sands & Chiarini, 1854; performed the “Courier of Missel-longhi” on his 4 Shetlands, Sands, Nathans & Co. 1855, 1857, 1859; Bowery Circus, 1857-58; George F. Bailey & Co., 1860.
SANDS, MAURICE. (b. 1839) Welch & Mann, Philadelphia, 1846; Sands, Lent & Co. Richard Sands performed with “his children, Maurice and Jesse, in a series of classic passes, evolutions, groupings and flights of aerial gravitation, Chatham Theatre, NYC, 1847; the “Juvenile Equestrian Wonder”, R. Sands, 1849; Sands, Nathans & Co., Broadway Circus, 1857-58; Davis & Crosby, 1859; and Slaymaker & Nichols, 1864.
SANDS, RICHARD. (1814-February 24, 1861) Showman, rider and clown. Born on Long Island, NY, from a farming family. Went out on his own at about age 12, his first job being a dirt cart driver, NYC, near the Mount Pitt Circus. With Aaron Turner’s early, 1831, as a clown and general performer. Apprenticeship to Turner ended, 1833; went into partnership with Nathan B. Howes, 1834, to form American Circus, also serving as riding master, juggler and bareback rider. One of his feats was turning a back somersault from horse to ground. With Howes, received training both as performer and manager. Left the show, 1838, to go with Miller & Yale; shortly, show title changed to Miller, Yale & Sands. Joined the Flatfoots and appeared at the Zoological Institute, winter 1839-40. Sands & Howes, Detroit, MI, 1840; June, Titus & Angevine, 1841; organized Sands, Lent & Co.’s American Circus for a tour of England, 1842; arrived at Liverpool March 8, for an 8-week season at the Royal Amphitheatre. English Opera House, London, winter 1842-43, then went on tour; remained abroad with his 2 pupils, Jesse and Maurice, returning to America, 1846; at which time again went into partnership with L. B. Lent; brought with him a performing horse, May Fly, which became a great feature; Sands, Lent & Co., Chatham Theatre, NYC, 1847; proprietor, R. Sands, 1849-50; proprietor, Bowery Amphitheatre, NYC, 1852; New York Amphitheatre, 37 Bowery, NYC, as a ceiling-walker, December 6, 1852. Went to England, arriving December 29, 1852, to perfect his act as a human fly, performing on a slab of polished marble, using rubber suction pads attached to his feet. Made ceiling-walking debut Drury Lane Theatre, London, March 7, 1853, where he received £60 a week; Surrey Theatre for March 29 engagement and thence to Paris, where he opened at the Theatre des Varieties, May 7, 1853; returned to the United States July 7 of that year. John J. Nathans was taken in as a partner of Sands, Lent & Co., 1855; erected (with Nathans, Howes and Avery Smith) Franconi’s Hippodrome, Broadway and 23rd Street, NYC, marking the introduction of the hippodrome track to circus performances in America; Sands, Nathans & Co., Bowery, November 1858, moving to the Broadway Circus later that month; principal rider, George F. Bailey & Co., 1859. [John A. Dingess: “Sands was remarkable for his energy, his indomitable spirit, which characterized all his actions.... He was never idle; action was necessary to his existence.”] Died of yellow fever in Havana, Cuba. One source erroneously states that he was killed, 1861, when, challenged to ceiling walk outside the circus, he used a ceiling in a civic building, at Melrose, Massachusetts, and a whole section of the plaster came away.
SANFORD, GEN. E. W. (d. July 25, 1877) Erected the Mount Pitt Circus, Grand Street, NYC, fall 1826. Stucture was built of wood, with the exception of a brick facade, and accommodated between 3,000 and 4,000 people. Destroyed by fire August, 1829. Was also the builder and proprietor of the Lafayette Amphitheatre, NYC, where circus performances and horse dramas were given. Constructed on a site in the Lispenard Meadows on Manhattan Island. Married actress Mrs. Holman (nee Latimer), 1824. Was a member of the New York bar and a distinguished officer in the New York military. Died in NYC.
SANFORD, JOSEPH [or James?]. Gymnast and acrobat. Partner of George W. Brown, about 1867-71. Prior to that, Gardner & Hemmings, Front Street Theatre, Baltimore, winter 1865-66; Yankee Robinson’s, Chicago, 1866; Dan Rice’s, 1867; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1867-69; Philadelphia Circus, winter 1867-68; Mrs. Charles Warner’s, Philadelphia, 1869; trapeze performer, Gardner & Forepaugh’s, 1870; Commonwealth Circus, traveling by boat, 1871; George F. Bailey & Co., 1872.
SANFORD, S. S. [or Sandford]. Ethiopian entertainer and clown. L. B. Lent’s, 1859; Dan Gardner & Kenyon’s, 1868. At one time, one of the richest men in the minstrel profession; received $1,000 a month to appear as clown in the circus and manage the minstrel troupe in the sideshow; lost over $60,000 in bad speculations late in his career.
SANYEAH, MME. MAUDE [sometimes Senyah, but r. n. Phoebe Frost]. (1841?-June 25, 1910) From Carlisle, England. Flying rings and leaps for life with Samuel Sanyeah. In the act she flew by means of suspended rings along a wire, loosing hold of the rings to be caught by her partner who was hanging by his feet from the bar of a fixed trapeze. “The handsomest woman in America,” Yankee Robinson’s, 1869; Charles Noyes’, 1871; P. A. Older’s, 1870-72. Billed as “Empress of the Air” and “Flying Meteor.” Divorced or was never officially married, and was wedded to John Conklin, San Francisco, November 4, 1872. Later had performing dogs. Died Lambeth, England, Infirmary, age 69. See Samuel Sanyeah.
SANYEAH, SAMUEL [r. n. Samuel Haynes]. (1835?-August 26, 1900) Gymnast with Maude Sanyeah. Muscle man and one of the first to work on the flying trapeze. “Double Leap for Life,” Yankee Robinson’s, 1869; Charles Noyes’, 1871; P. A. Older’s, 1870-72. Injured by a fall which caused his retirement. Around 1898, was placed in a hospital for the insane at Kankakee, IL. Drowned there, age 65. See Mme. Maude Sanyeah.
SAPP. (November 10, 1834-March 1901) Sideshow curiosity, called "The Ossified Man." Was born in Lebanon, KY. Muscles began to waste away and joints solidify at age 7. Every joint became immovable except those in the left shoulder and the fingers and growth ceased. Exhibited by a Chicago museum, 1884, and since then by many shows. Possessed a bright mind and a pleasant disposition. Died in Albuquerque, NM.
SARBRO, KING [r. n. Yamamota Hostaraj. (d. December 25, 1882) Native ofYeddo, Japan. Came to USA around 1871 with a Japanese troupe. Expert juggler and slide for life performer. Outside act. Sells Bros.', 1880; Adam Forepaugh's, 1882. Married February 7, 1873, to a lady professionally known as Queen Sarbro. Died in NYC of consumption, age 40.
SARGEANT, F. WILSON. Co-proprietor, Hamilton & Sargeant's (with Prof. E. Hamilton), 1877-79. Sold his interest to his partner, 1880. Co-proprietor, William Main & Co.'s New Consolidated Show, 1881, 1889; Sargeant & Kidder, 1892-93.
SARGEANT, GEORGE W. (b. 1811) Rider. Bom in NYC. Spent several seasons with J. Purdy Brown as a standing hurdle rider and vaulter as early as 1825. Juvenile on 2 Shetland ponies, jumping over garters and through balloons. Brown & Bailey, 1826; Shakespearian rider, presentations of Falstaff, Shylock and Richard III, Rockwell and Stone 1845-46; Howes & Co., 1847-48; J. M. June, 1850; comic and patriotic act on horseback. Sands & Nathans 1855, 1857; equestrian director, Spalding & Rogers' Floating Palace, 1859; Alex Robinson's, 1865.
SATSUMA, PRINCE. (1840?-July 29, 1907) Japaneze gymnast, balancing perche, and juggler. Came to USA, 1865, with the first Japanese group to arrive, Taykon Troupe. After performing with the major circuses and in the principal vaudeville houses, retired around 1905, last stage appearance being at Tony Pastor’s Theatre. P. T. Barnum’s Roman Hippodrome, 1874-75; P. T. Barnum’s, 1876-77; Cooper, Bailey & Co. Australian tour, 1877; Burr Robbins’, 1879; Stickney’s Imperial Parisian Circus, 1880; Burr Robbins’, 1885; Doris & Colvin, 1887. Died at his home in NYC, age 67.
SATTERLEE, R. C. Manager, Major Brown’s Mammoth Coloseum, 1857; partner, Satterlee & Bell, 1858-62; manager, Davis & Crosby’s, 1859.
SAULSBURY, EUGENIE. Chariot racer, P. T. Barnum’s Roman Hippodrome, 1875.
SAUNDERS. Musician. Dutchman who performed for Quick and Mead, 1826. His hurdy-gurdy was advertised as “King David’s Cymbals.” Also led the street parade, playing a keyless bugle.
SAUNDERS, B. Contortionist, Great Southern, 1874.
SAUNDERS, GEORGE. Metropolitan Circus (M. J. Robinson, proprietor) 1864; Gardner & Hemmings, Continental Theatre, Philadelphia, winter 1864-65.
SAUNDERS, JOHN [or Sanders]. English rider and leaper, Thayer & Noyes, 1864, and with a split troupe from the Thayer & Noyes organization, under the management of Dr. Thayer, moved by steamboat along tributaries of the Mississippi, December 1865; Barnum, VanAmburgh and Castello, 1867; Dan Castello’s, winter 1867-68; Lee & Ryland, Pacific Coast, 1868; bareback rider, Dan Castello’s, 1870; Lake’s Hippo-Olympiad, 1871; Great Commonwealth, 1871; Howes’ Great London, 1872; leaper and tumbler, P. T. Barnum, 1876; scenic rider, Lowande’s Great Brazilian, 1877; Allen’s Great Eastern, 1879; India bar act, Stickney’s, 1880; clown, S. H. Barrett’s, 1885; Sturgis’, South America, 1889; interpreter and general agent, Donovan & Long, Central America, 1897.
SAUNDERS, K. G. [a.k.a. Nellis]. (March 12, 1817-December 4, 1865) Armless wonder. Performed feats such as firing a pistol with his toes, playing accordian and violin-cello, shooting a bow and arrow, G. C. Quick’s, 1850; P. T. Barnum’s, 1851-54.
SAUNDERS, PAULINE. Dr. James L. Theyer’s, 1880.
SAUNDERS, THOMAS. (d. March 8, 1845) The elephant keeper, Great Philadelphia Zoological Garden (Raymond & Waring). Was knocked from his horse and killed by the elephant Pizarro while on the road about 5 miles north of Baton Rouge LA, on the way to Bayou Sara. A wagon was sent back to Baton Rouge and a dozen soldiers from Pentagon Barracks brought to the scene. They quieted the elephant by peppering him with 22 musket balls.
SAUNDERS, WILLIAM. Minstrel performer, P. T. Barnum’s, 1873.
SAUSSER, C. E. Assistant manager, Bartine’s, 1896.
SAUTELLE, IDA B. TRAVERS [Mrs. George C. Satterlee]. (May 29, 1856-May 22, 1916) Born in Homer, NY. Married Sig. Sautelle, 1876. For years served as treasurer for the Sautelle shows. Died at her home in Homer.
SAUTELLE, OLIVER. Boy rider, Sig. Sautelle’s, 1897.
SAUTELLE, SIG. Performed as a fire-eater, magician and Punch and Judy operator. With his wife, started out with a Punch and Judy show, traveling by means of a blind horse and a second-hand wagon. In each town a free show was given, during which he sold soap, whistles, rings, chains and shirt studs, all for 25¢. In the winter, added a menagerie of birds, snakes and monkeys and performed as a store show. Added juggling and a ventriloquist act to his repertory and began performing with circuses. After an engagement with Forepaugh’s, went to South America with Cooper & Bailey. Obtained a pair of horses from the Sewell show and took to the road again. 1885, bought a good sized canvas and went into partnership with a man named Schreibner, who had performing horses, an unsuccessful venture. Next, Frank Matty and Doc Henderson backed him in a sideshow at the Onondaga fair. Began showing open-air on vacant lots until he accumulated enough money for materials to construct a home-made tent. Rented a freight car on the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg road and made a tour of the line with a one-horse circus and variety show, stopping for 2 or 3 days in each place, charging a 10¢ and 20¢ admission, and ending the season with a profit of $9,000. Spring 1888, started out with a boat show along the Erie, Seneca and Champlain canals. 1892-1900, ran a wagon show. Moved winter quarters, 1899, from Syracuse, NY, to DeRuyter, NY. 1900, organized an outfit on rail, which he operated for 4 years before selling out. Became a partner in the Welsh Bros.’ Show, Sautelle-Welsh, 1905, which he bought outright in the fall. 1906, sold off his show property and retired to his farm near DeRuyter, but retirement didn’t last. Joined with Oscar Lowande to take out a circus, 1917; also entered into a partnership that year with Thomas L. Finn in an “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” Co. (Finn had been a sideshow manager for Sautelle for 8 years). On the road with a motor transported show, 1918, managed by George A. Manchester.
SAVAGE, J. A. Press agent, Melville & Co.’s, 1889.
SAVAN. Acrobat, John Robinson’s, 1893.
SAWYER, CLARA. English equestrienne, with New York Champs Elysees, 1865.
SAWYER, JOSEPH E. Assistant manager, Hart, France & Co., 1889.
SAWYER, JOSEPHINE. (d. April 1908) General performer. Came to America, 1850, and appeared at Franconi’s Hippodrome, NYC, 1853. Later, with Barnum & Bailey. At the time of death was considered one of the oldest active chariot drivers. Was married to Edward H. Sawyer. Died in Norway.
SAXBY, S. D. Proprietor, Saxby, Dunbar & Co., 1872.
SAXTON, M. C. [or M. F.]. Band leader, John Robinson’s, 1872-76; sideshow band leader, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1880.
SAYERS, ROBERT. Clown, VanAmburgh & Co., 1880.
SAZELLE, F. Lake & Co. (Lake and Norton, managers), February 1864.
SCAFAR, ALEXEI. Russian bareback rider, Batcheller & Doris, 1879. See below.
SCAFAR, FANNY VICTORIA. (d. July 23, 1896) Native of London, England. At about age 20 went to Cuba to perform with the Leon de Leon Circus. Married bareback rider Alexei Scafar there, February 24, 1883. 1892, purchased property in Tampa, FL, at which time she retired from the profession. Mother of the athletes and bicyclists Venus and Adonis. Died at her home in Tampa.
SCHAFER, LOUIS. Concert privilege, Main & Sargeant, 1891.
SCHENCK, FURMAN. (1851?-August 24, 1892) Negro fat boy. Left school at Whitehouse, NJ, at which time weighed 375 pounds. Age 22, weight had increased to 425 pounds; at death, 535 pounds. Hired by P. T. Barnum about 1878, grew fatter and richer; Barnum continued to bill him as a young man of 18 +years of age throughout his career. Exhibited at Coney Island around 1887, and later at the Bowery. Died in New Brunswick, NJ., age 41.
SCHILLER, R. F. Proprietor, Schiller’s, 1890.
SCHNEIDER, JOHN. Albino bar performer, Wintermute Bros.’, 1897.
SCHOFF, HERR PAUL. Lion tamer, W. W. Cole’s, 1871.
SCHOFIELD, ED. Light and heavy balancer, with Michael O’Conner & Co., 1869-70.
SCHONHERT, GUS. Proprietor, Great Western, 1893.
SCHRANK. Bugler, J. Purdy Brown’s, 1825.
SCHRODE, GEORGE. One of the Leotard Brothers (George Bliss, George Schrode, Ed Snow), acrobats, leapers and tumblers. Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1879; P. T. Barnum’s, 1880. Also Schrode Brothers, Wallace & Co., 1889.
SCHROFF, HERR PAUL [or Schoff]. Lion tamer, G. G. Grady’s, 1868; James M. French’s, 1870.
SCHULTZ, FRANK. Ethiopian entertainer, Orton & Older, 1859.
SCHWARTZ, AUGUST. Rider, VanAmburgh & Co., 1880.
SCOTT, AB. Contractor, John Robinson’s, 1889-93.
SCOTT, ALEXANDER. Band leader. The Great European, 1869; P. T. Barnum’s, 1874.
SCOTT, A. R. General business manager, G. G. Grady’s, 1869; advertising agent, Great Eastern, 1872; Haight’s Great Southern, 1874.
SCOTT, C. H., JR. Press agent, VanAmburgh & Co., 1874, 1877-78.
SCOTT, DANIEL. Proprietor, Yankee Robinson’s Double Show, 1863; Yankee Robinson’s, 1860-68; asst. dir., 1871.
SCOTT, FRANK. Lion tamer and elephant keeper. Yankee Robinson’s, 1859. While with W. H. Harris’ Nickel-Plate, was killed by the elephant Gypsy in winter quarters, Chicago, March 25, 1896. Had recently taken charge of the animal, formerly named Empress, which had always been dangerous. This was her 3rd victim. Scott had been connected with this circus for the last 6 years.
SCOTT, GEORGE. Chief bill poster, Great Eastern, 1874.
SCOTT, GEORGE L. AND FLORA. Balancing trapeze, King & Franklin, 1887; double slack-wire, Holland & Gormley, 1889.
SCOTT, JAMES. Agent, St. Germain’s Imperial Circus, 1889.
SCOTT, JOHN. Burr Robbins’, 1885.
SCOTT, L. H. Railroad contractor, Lemen Bros.’, 1892.
SCOTT, MATTHEW “SCOTTY.” (1836?-December 22, 1914) Animal handler, the first and only keeper of the famous elephant Jumbo. When the huge elephant was acquired by the London Zoo at barely a year old, Scott was assigned its keeper and remained as such when the Barnum & Bailey bought the animal and brought it to America. After Jumbo was hit by a train and killed, Scott remained in the service of Barnum & Bailey for many years. Was considered an authority on animals and their care, having written a book on the subject. From his work with animals, received a medal from the London Zoological Society. Died at Bridgeport, CT, age 78.
SCOTT, OLIVER H. P. (d. December 23, 1916) Agent, Wallace & Co., 1884-85; John Robinson’s, 1886, 1888-89, general manager, 1890-93; general advertising agent, Walter L. Main, 1892; John Robinson’s Circus (John G. Robinson, proprietor and manager), 1900. Died in Cincinnati.
SCOTT, ROBERT. Song and dance man in concert, Montgomery Queen’s, 1876; Cooper, Bailey & Co.’s Circus, Australian tour, 1877.
SCOTT, THOMAS G. General manager, Australian Dime Show, 1887; business manager, Phillips-Scott Union Pacific, 1888.
SCOTT, WILLIAM. Gymnast. With Haight’s Great Eastern, 1874; Frank A. Gardner’s, Central and South America, winter 1887-88.
SCOTT, W. R. General business agent, G. G. Grady’s, 1869.
SCOVILLE, PROF. R. W. Band leader, Hamilton & Sargeant, 1877.
SCRIBNER, SAM A. (d. July 8, 1941) Lee & Scribner (with Charles Lee), 1884-85; Scribner & Clements, 1887; Scribner & Co., 1891; Scribner & Smith’s (with Neil Smith), 1892-96.
SEABERT, ALEXANDER. Donaldson & Rich, 1885; Holland & McMahon, 1888.
SEAL, DAVID ABBEY. (circa 1849-May 7, 1898) English clown, acrobat, and pantomimist. Probably the son of clown W. B. Seal. Traveled with Cooke’s and Hengler’s in England for 20 years. Known as the “Prince of Jesters.” Principal clown and aerial leaper, Howe’s Great London, 1871; L. B. Lent’s, winter 1871-72; Stone & Murray, 1872; Joel E. Warner & Co., 1873; W. W. Cole’s, 1874; Melville, Maginley & Cooke, 1875; Hengler’s, Hull, England, 1875. At Cooke’s, Aberdeen, 1877, appeared at his benefit in his special feature of leaping over 20 highlanders of the 56th Brigade Depot in full uniform. The men were drawn up in the ring 2 abreast, with rifles and fixed bayonets crossed between them slanting in an upright position. Seal took a flying leap from a springboard, while they at the same time fired a volley as he bounded over them. 1880s, directed various spectacles. At one point married equestrienne Lizzie Keyes. Later, married Susannah Jane, William Powell’s widow and the daughter of Charles Hengler, June 28, 1892. Was still performing, 1897; acting manager, Hengler’s, Liverpool, 1897-98 season. [Charles H. Day: “Wasn’t he a slick one. Just the beau ideal of the ‘King’s Jester’.”]
SEALS, ARCHIE. Boss canvasman, VanAmburgh & Co., 1871; master of transportation, Haight’s Great Southern, 1874; Sells Bros.’, 1882.
SEAMAN, ANNETTE. Dancer, George W. DeHaven’s, 1861; entered the den of performing animals, John Robinson’s, 1864; wire-walker and danseuse, George W. DeHaven’s, 1865.
SEAMAN, CHARLES. Rider and general performer. Robinson & Lake, 1862; Haight & Chambers, 1867; Dan Castello’s, winter 1867-68; Lake’s, 1868; Mrs. Charles Warner’s, Philadelphia, 1869; John W. Robinson’s (not “old John”), 1870; James M. Nixon’s, 1872.
SEAMAN, GEORGE. Barrel and tranca and globe on horseback, John Robinson’s, 1868.
SEAMAN, P. H. See P. H. Seamon.
SEAMON, FRANK. Leaper, Charles Lee’s, 1893.
SEAMON, LAURA. Great Chicago Circus (Dutton & Smith, proprietors), 1879.
SEAMON, T. N. Clown, Michael O’Conner’s Great Western, 1869.
SEAMON, P. H. [or Seaman]. Yankee clown. George W. DeHaven’s, 1860-61; Robinson & Lake, 1862-64; John Robinson’s, 1863-64; George W. DeHaven & Co., 1865-67. Retired from the profession and opened a saloon at Sauk Centre, MN, 1868. However, was back on the road as clown and equestrian director, Michael O’Conner & Co., 1869; George W. DeHaven’s, 1870; ventriloquist, Great Eastern, 1872; Stevens & Begun, 1874; Curtis’ Great Roman Hippodrome, 1877; H. C. Lee’s Great Eastern, winter 1877-78; Great Chicago Circus, 1879; Silas Dutton’s Southern, winter 1879-80, 1880.
SEARS, GEORGE W. (1836?-March 27, 1868) Lion tamer. Born in Massachusetts. Since father was an old showman, he was connected with the business since his boyhood. Joined Mabie’s, 1863, and was with the organization for 2 years; Cuba, with Spalding & Rogers, taking a den of performing lions with him; connected with Dan Rice’s, 1865; Yankee Robinson’s from 1866 and until his death. Died of consumption in Augusta, IL, age 32.
SEARS, JOHN [r. n. William H. Sears]. (d. June 20, 1874) Owner and lion tamer of the New England Caravan, 1830-33; partner, Sears & Forbes, 1858; had his Great Eastern Menagerie on the road, performing in the New England states, 1859, billed as having 60 living wild animals, including a baby lion and Wild Men of Borneo, all under 120’ of canvas. Manager, John O’Brien’s Caravan, Monster Menagerie and National Kingdom, 1871.
SEARS, WILLIAM H. See John Sears.
SEAVER, GEORGE. Gymnast and vaulter, Driesbach & Howes, 1868.
SEAVEY, GEORGE. Gymnast, Howes Trans-Atlantic Circus and Risbeck’s Menagerie (Frank Howes, proprietor), 1868.
SEBASTIAN, BILLY. VanAmburgh & Co., 1880.
SEBASTIAN, CECILIA [nee Cecilia Berry]. (March 14, 1857-August 21, 1914) Equestrienne. Born in NYC of theatrical and circus parents. Received training as a rider at a very young age. Married circus rider Romeo Sebastian. Later, retired to a farm near Miami, KS, where Sebastian was occupied in training dogs and ponies.
SEBASTIAN FAMILY. Haight’s Great Southern, 1874. Mlle. Sebastian married J. D. Sweet, May 25 of the is year, which caused a change of name to the Sweet Family.
SEBASTIAN, GEORGE. Rider, Lake & Co., winter 1863-64.
SEBASTIAN, JOSEPHINE. Equestrienne, daughter of Signor Quaglieni. Martinho Lowande’s, Cuba, 1880.
SEBASTIAN, LOUIS. Bareback rider. Son of Signor Quaglieni and brother of Romeo Sebastian. English postillion on four Shetland ponies, Montgomery Queen’s, California, 1876-77; carrying act with father, P. T. Barnum’s, 1879.
SEBASTIAN, MAMIE. Concert, Montgomery Queen’s, 1876.
SEBASTIAN, MLLE. Japanese juggler and necromancer. Cole’s Ten Cent Show, also called Cole & Sirber’s Ten Cent Show, 1890.
SEBASTIAN, ROMEO. (d. February 3, 1919) Pad rider. Son of Signor Quaglieni and brother of Louie Sebastian. George F. Bailey & Co., 1868; Batcheller & Doris, 1870; P. T. Barnum’s 1873, 1875-76; Great Southern, 1874; Montgomery Queen’s, 1875; John Wilson’s, San Francisco, 1875; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1876-77; International Circus, Offenbach Garden, Philadelphia, winter 1876-77; (with his boy, Little Joe) Orrin Bros.’, Havana, winter 1877-78; W. W. Cole’s, 1878; Allen’s Great Eastern, 1879; Batcheller & Doris, 1879-80; P. T. Barnum’s, 1879; Orrin Bros.’, Metropolitan Theatre, Havana, winter 1879-80; Batcheller & Doris, 1881; Nathans & Co.’s, 1882; Hengler’s, London, 1886; Circus Busch, Germany, 1888. Returned to America, 1894, after about 12 years in Europe. Used to sit on a chair on the back of a running horse and read a newspaper. Died in Victoria, British Columbia.
SEBASTIAN, SIGNOR. See Sebastian Quaglieni.
SEBASTIAN, SOFIA. “La Petite Sebastian with Juvenile Troupe,” George F. Bailey & Co., 1872.
SEBUNTI, HENRY. See Mons. Sabanti.
SEDAM, BENJAMIN W. Kennebel’s Parisian Circus, fall 1885.
SEEBRIGHT, CHARLES. Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1880.
SEELEY, CHARLES W. “COL.” (1821-April 28, 1917) Acrobat, clown, advance agent, sideshow manager, legal adjuster, etc. Born in Horse Heads, NY. Spent most of his life in the circus business. By age of 9 was an expert tumbler and adept at all kinds of acrobatics. With Frank Phelps and Sam Shappe, performed as posturer and tumbler. When age interfered with acrobatics, took up clowning; as such, sang, mimicked the ringmaster and made comic speeches. Last position in show business was with the booking office of the Keith vaudeville circuit. Died in Elmira, NY, from cancer of the neck and upper shoulder, age 71. A campaign for funds to place a monument on his grave at Woodlawn Cemetery, Elmira, was conducted, 1917, by John Comash and the New York Clipper. Principal tumbler and clown, Thayer & Noyes, 1862; C. W. Noyes’, 1870-71; Ames’, 1870; tumbler, L. B. Lent’s, 1872; Howe’s Great London, 1874; clown, Cooper, Bailey & Co.’s Circus, Australian tour, 1877. [Mark St. Leon: Seeley “took the role of grotesque clown, his wit displayed more in his heels than in his head.”]; clown, P. T. Barnum’s, 1879; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1880-81; clown, Sells Bros.’, 1882; clown, Wallace & Co., 1886; hippodrome manager, Sells Bros., 1887; press agent, 1889-90; superintendent of the confectionery department, Barnum & Bailey, 1895; Forepaugh-Sells Bros., 1896, candy stands, 1903.
SEELEY, EDWARD. Snake charmer, P. T. Barnum’s, 1873.
SEIBERT, ALEX: 4-horse rider, Barnum & Bailey, 1892, 1904.
SEIGNE, FRANÇOISE. Rider and vaulter. Pepin & Breschard, 1809, apprentice, making his first appearance. Pepin & Breschard, 1810-12; rope-walker, Pepin, Breschard & Cayetano, 1813-14, last engagement in this country. Stuart Thayer suggests he went to Spain with Pepin and never returned.
SELBINI & VILLION TROUPE. Gymnastic bicyclers, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1881. While the bicycles sped around the arena, the gymnasts mount, climb, and stand on each others heads.
SELBY, ARTHUR L. General agent, Goodrich’s, 1897.
SELLS, ALLEN E. (August 26, 1862-September 27, 1904) Son of Ephraim Sells. Born in Cleveland. Began working on father’s circus and stayed with it all his life, eventually serving as superintendent under him. At the time of death, Columbus, OH, was assistant manager of the Forepaugh-Sells Circus. Married Miss Nellie Gilliam.
SELLS BROTHERS [William Allen, Lewis, Peter, and Ephraim] All born in Columbus, the sons of a Methodist minister who rode the circuit in Ohio. Ephraim was born on October, 18, 1834; William Allen, 1836; Lewis, November 12, 1841; and Peter, Jr., April 6, 1845. They are occasionally credited with being the first to use “Bros.” in their circus title, but the Antonio Bros.’ Great World Circus anticipated them by some 16 years. Allen and Lewis were auctioneers and peddlers, first experiencing the circus business, 1866, when they conducted an auction wagon with Hennings & Cooper’s, taking advantage of the crowds drawn by the show to sell their wares. Organized their own circus, spring 1872, the Paul Silverburg’s Mammoth Quadruple Alliance, Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus, comprised of 33 wagons and cages, 130 horses and an elephant; engaged younger brother Peter to be the advance agent. Almost at the outset they encountered bad weather; so they called upon brother Ephraim, who operated a garden in Cleveland, OH, to invest a few hundred dollars. After doing so, the weather changed for the better; Ephraim returned to Cleveland, sold out his enterprise for $3,000 and bought into the partnership on the conditions that he would retain one-third interest and occupy the chair of treasurer. [C. G. Sturtevant: Ephraim was “a close treasurer and on the job every minute, but did not have the all around ability and vision a manager should have.”] Good fortune smiled on the brothers and good common sense sustained them. Catered to the rural trade by wearing chin whiskers and praising the farmers in their advertising. Allen was the manager, Lewis assistant manager and superintendent, Ephraim treasurer and ticket sales manager, and Peter advertiser, router and, later, railroad contractor. 1875, enlarged the show and took the name of Sells Brothers. By 1878, were running a 34 car railroad circus, Sells Bros.’ Great Seven Elephant Show. Bought a large part of the Montgomery Queen Railroad Circus and Menagerie at auction, 1878; then put out 2 shows: the Sells Bros.’ Great European Seven Elephant Show by rail; and on wagon, Anderson & Co.’s Great World Circus and Menagerie, managed by Lewis and James P. Anderson, to play the country towns while the railroad unit, under Ephraim’s direction, played the cities. Latter show was changed to New Pacific Circus and Menagerie, 1880. It then converted to rail travel, 1882, under the title of S. H. Barrett’s Circus and Menagerie. Barrett, a Sells brother-in-law, was the general agent. The shows consolidated, 1888, being called Sells Bros. & Barrett’s Colossal United Shows. Following year went out as simply Sells Bros.’ Circus. Left for Australia, November 12, 1891, but encountered an epidemic that made the tour a disaster. Returned June 9, 1892. Combined with Cooper & Bailey’s Forepaugh Circus, 1896, going out as the Forepaugh-Sells Bros.’ Circus. Although Barrett was general agent, he had no financial interest in the show. 1882, Allen left the circus organization to open a hotel in Topeka, KS. First venture was the Windsor Hotel; about 1889, built the Chesterfield; was involved in Topeka politics and was one of the city’s wealthiest and most influental men. Died of pneumonia, March 20, 1894, still a hotel proprietor in Topeka. Peter was the defendant in a highly visible divorce case, 1890, which ended favorably for him. Ephraim retired in the spring of 1896. Died of Bright’s disease in Columbus, August 1, 1898. Peter died of a stroke in Columbus on October 5, 1904. James A. Bailey bought out the Sells’ interest, January 10, 1905. Lewis was the best executive of the 4 brothers, seen as one of the shrewdest and most resourceful circus men of his day. Was the last of the 4 Sells brothers. Retired wealthy. Died of Bright’s disease at Columbus, OH, September 5, 1907.
SELLS, EMILY. Irwin Bros.’, 1888.
SELLS, WILLIAM “WILLIE.” (1865?-February 17, 1908) Rider and showman. Adopted son of Allen Sells of the Sells Brothers. Began as an equestrian for that circus and became a prominent 1-horse and 4-horse rider. A 10 year old bareback rider, Great European Zoological Institute and Equestrian Exposition (Sells Brothers, proprietors), 1876. By his 20s, had earned the title of “The Chesterfield of the Arena”; by 1889, had developed an appetite for fast living; consequently, his contract was not renewed by the Sells brothers at the end of that season, which caused a rift between Allen and his brothers that remained until Allen’s death, 1894. Signed with Barnum & Bailey for their London engagement, winter 1889-90, where he made a disappointing showing by missing too many performances. Becoming too heavy to ride, abandoned the ring after 1889 and went into management, organizing several shows of his own, one being with Andrew Morris, Sells Olympian Shows. 1882, the Sells brothers bought out the interest of William A. Sells for $40,000 with the agreement that he would not again go into show business; nevertheless, he started Sells Enormous Railroad Shows United With J. N. Rentfrow’s Five Continent Menagerie, preceding the orignal Sells Bros.’ in their territory. [Orin Copple King: “Willie’s uncles, the famous Sells brothers, were angered and embarrassed by Willie linking the Sells name with the worst kinds of grift and by Willie’s efforts to create the impression that his show was the Sells Bros.’ Big Show of the World.”] The Sells brothers retaliated by posting bills ahead announcing that the show was a fake and had no right to the Sells name. War was waged until Willie Sells failed, suing Lewis and Peter Sells for $150,000 damages in the District Court at Topeka, KS, 1898, claiming that at various times when he attempted to form a partnership with an investor, the Sells brothers would threaten a law suit and frighten the money men away. The Sells brothers’ responded that Willie’s name was not really Sells. Willie refuted the argument by stating the Sells Bros.’ advertised him for several years as “Willie Sells, champion bareback rider of the world.” He had, at one time or another, interest in Willie Sells & J. N. Rentfrow’s Golden Circus, 1891-94; Hummel, Hamilton & Sells Shows, 1897; Great William Sells Shows United with James H. Gray’s New Olympian Hippodrome, 1900. The Sells & Gray Circus came to grief at the end of the 1901 season and was sold at sheriff’s auction, Algiers, LA, bringing a return of $7,625. 1899, general agent Walter L. Main’s; Sells-Floto, 1906; also associated with the Great William Sells & Downs Consolidated Shows (Willie Sells and Marten Downs, proprietors), 1902. For a while, ran the Standard Theatre, NYC, featuring first class vaudeville, but lost money in the venture. At the time of death, was completing arrangements for taking out the Frank Lemen show. Died of a hemorrhage of the stomach at his residence, West Thirty-fifth Street, NYC, age 43.
SEMELMAN, FRANK X. Herculean performer, Pubillones’, Havana, winter 1885-86.
SEMON, HARRY W. (1862?-July 16, 1904) Agent. Son of S. H. Semon, also an agent. Entered the circus profession with John Robinson’s, 1876; contracting agent, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1881, 1891-92; general agent and railroad contractor, Irwin Bros.’, 1893; general manager, Buckskin Bill’s Wild West, 1902. Had his own theatrical companies on the road in the winter and was connected with circuses in the summer. Parented 3 children who were performers under the title of The Three Semons. Died in Oelwein, IA, while with Campbell Bros.’, age 42.
SEMON, JOSEPH. Program publisher, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1886-87; contracting agent, Washburn’s. Became proprietor of the Hotel Elkins, Elkins, WV, 1891.
SEMON, MRS. HARRY W. “JULIA.” (d. May 3, 1932) Mother of the Semon Children - Primrose, Marty and Si. Sister of Ada Melrose. The two had an act in vaudeville as the Melrose Sisters, “Two Little Jays From Indiana.” Died in Kalamazoo, MI, age 63.
SEMON, PETER H. (d. October 23, 1888) Clown. Originator of the Peter Hontz Family Talking Figures. Died in Chicago. Daniel Shelby’s, 1888.
SEMON, SIMON H. “SI.” (d. September 6, 1910) Contracting agent. Born in NYC. Father of agent Harry W. Semon. In the business for 40 years with some of the top companies in the United States, which included the Forepaugh show for 12 seasons, concluding in 1891; John Robinson’s, 1892; Buffalo Bill’s, 1896; Forepaugh-Sells, 1904; Adams’ “Humpty Dumpty” Co., 1905. Died in Mt. Vernon, NY.
SENYAH, MAUDE. See Mme. Maude Sanyeah.
SEPULVEDA, S. M. Feature cornetist and band leader, Hobson Bros.’, 1893.
SESSFORD. Still vaulter, Price & Simpson, 1823-25.
SEWELL, FRED. Clown, Gregory & D’Alma, 1889.
SEXTON, MERT C. Band leader. S. P. Stickney’s, 1869; James Robinson’s, 1870-72; John Robinson’s, 1873.
SEYMOUR, CARRIE. Danseuse, P. T. Barnum’s Roman Hippodrome, 1875.
SHADE, MOLLIE. (d. June 24, 1882) “The Lilliputian Queen,” of Osceola, IA. Married Major Littlefluger (r. n. Robert Huzza] June 5, 1881, while both were with Sells Bros.’ First exhibited with a dwarf, General Shade. Was in the business for some 20 years, the last public appearance being at Bunnell’s Museum, NYC. Died in child birth at Kendallville, IN. See Major Robert Littlefluger.
SHAFFER, JOHN. Lion keeper, Green & Bailey, 1834.
SHALEY. Operated sideshow with fat woman and monkeys, Gardner & Hemmings, 1862-63.
SHANE, SOL. Museum director, John Robinson’s, 1874, lecturer, 1875.
SHANNON, T. H. Press agent, Metchear & Cameron, 1870.
SHAPPE, SAMUEL [or Shappee]. Gymnast and acrobat. Mabie’s, 1861. Began appearing with H. J. Whitney as a partner, 1863. They were connected with Melville, Cooke & Sands, 1863; Seth B. Howe’s, 1864; Bailey & Co., 1864-67; Spalding & Rogers, New Orleans, winter 1864-65; Chiarini’s, Havana, 1865; James Robinson’s, 1868-72. Shappe & Whitney, Great Eastern, 1873; Shappe & Whitney, James W. Wilder & Co., 1873; Shappe & Smead, L. B. Lent’s, 1874.
SHAPPELL, DON. General business agent, with Alexander Robinson’s, 1871.
SHARP, GEORGE [or Sharpe]. Clown, Tourniaire & Whitby, 1858; Harry Whitby’s, 1859; Chiarini’s, Havana, winter 1859-60; Spalding & Rogers, South America, 1862-63; Orrin & Sebastian, Puerto Rico, 1865; Chiarini’s, Mexico City, 1867; San Francisco Circus and Roman Hippodrome, 1872; Whitney Family’s, 1889.
SHARP, JOHN. See Jacob Sharpe.
SHARPE, GEORGE. Boss canvasman, Whitney’s Imperial Wagon Show, 1892.
SHARPE, JACOB. Rider. First to be recorded for feats of horsemanship in America. [Isaac J. Greenwood, quoting the Essex Gazette of Salem, MA: “The Englishman, who had previously performed in Boston, rode two horses, standing with one foot on the saddle of each; three horses while standing with a foot on each of the outside ones; and mounted and dismounted a single horse - all with the mount traveling at full speed.”] Gave equestrian performance in Essex, MA, 1771.
SHARPE, JAMES. John Wilson’s, 1865.
SHARPE, KITTY. Concert performer, vocalist, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1876; Great Commonwealth Circus, transported by the boat, William Newman, 1879. Married to acrobat Edwin Fritz. See Edwin Fritz.
SHARPSTENE, WILLIAM. Entered the circus business at 17, tumbling and performing on the horizontal bars. Hough’s Combination Circus, 1868.
SHAW, BARCLAY F. G. K. Goodwin’s, 1859.
SHAW, GUS. Clown, Robinson & Lake, 1862; a member of the variety troupe, Haight & Chambers, 1867; Lake’s, 1868; H. M. Smith’s, 1869; Haight’s Great Southern, 1874; Trans-Atlantic, 1879; Boyd & Peters, 1880; Camp’s Grand Southern, 1880; Johnson & Co., 1881; Mayo’s Model Show, 1884.
SHAW, ROBERT A. Agent, Sells Bros.’, 1874.
SHAW, HERR DRIESBACH: “The Lion King and celebrated African hunter (a Driesbach imitator).” G. K. Goodwin’s, 1860; Wambold & Whitby, 1861.
SHAY, CHARLES. Chinese juggler and knife thrower. Bowery Amphitheatre, 1857-58; Joe Pentland’s, 1859; Cooke’s Royal Amphitheatre, Niblo’s Garden, NYC, 1860; Goodwin & Wilder, 1862; with trick dog, Fanny, L. B. Lent’s, 1863-64; trained dogs, Orrin Bros. & Co.’ Metropolitan Amphitheatre, Havana, spring 1880; trained dogs, Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1880. At one time was out with a variety show, Charley Shay’s Quincuplexal.
SHAY, JAMES. Chief bill poster, Alex Robinson’s, 1874.
SHAY, JOHN R. (1802-January 29, 1882) Born in St. John, NS. Was 6 years old when he moved to NYC with parents, but ran away from home as a youth and joined Pepin & Breschard as a juggler. Albany Circus, 1826; Sickles & Co., 1832; Oscar Brown’s, 1835-37; Lafayette Circus, NYC, 1839; co-proprietor (with John Mateer, J. W. Jackson, Charles J. Rogers), Cincinnati Circus, 1841, Cincinnati, OH; equestrian manager, Rockwell & Co., 1848; Stone & McCollum, 1848-49; Crane & Co., 1850; Spalding, Rogers & Van Orden’s People’s, 1851; Fogg & Stickney, 1852; L. B. Lent’s, 1863; Alex Robinson’s, 1865. Also connected with Joe Pentland’s, J. M. Jones’, Welch & Mann, Jerry Mabie’s, Welch & Lent, Dan Rice’s, Sands, Nathans & Co., Turner’s, George F. Bailey’s, Harry Whitbeck’s, Crescent City, Yankee Robinson’s, and Sloat & Sheppard. Died in Cincinnati.
SHEDMAN BROTHERS [Winfield S. and George W.]. H. D. Van’s, 1878 (they had all privileges except concert); Lowande’s, West Indies and South America, 1880; Conrad & Watson, South America, 1880; Walter L. Main’s, 1882; Gregory & Schiedell, 1886; Shedman Bros.’, 1893-94. W. S. Shedman had his performing dogs and monkeys with Orrin Bros.’, winter 1888-89; Irwin Bros.’, 1889. In late years, played theatres with performing animals.
Died of a stroke, April of 1911.
SHEDMAN, WILLIAM S. Club swinger, Alexander Robinson’s, 1875-76. Married Miss Alice Brown in Horseheads, NY, June 20, 1875.
SHELBY, CHRISTOPHER C. “COL.” (1841-May 21, 1910) Sideshow entertainer. Born in Strasburg, NJ. Traveled for years with Barnum & Bailey doing the spiritualistic and mystery box turn. A veteran of the Civil War and an inventor of some 140 different patented items. Died in Paterson, NJ.
SHELBY, DANIEL. (January 11, 1838-February 4, 1895) Manager, George W. DeHaven's, 1868; manager Adelphi Theatre, Buffalo, 1880, when with John Hamilton bought interest in Pullmand Bros', and show went out under title of Shelby, Pullman & Hamilton, 1881; interest sold to Maybury, 1882 - Maybury, Pullman & Hamilton; then Daniel Shelby’s Golden Circus, 1888, auctioned off November 21, same year, Richmond, VA - several minor animals, an elephant, 2 camels, 34 baggage stock, etc.
SHELTON. Band leader, VanAmburgh’s, 1846.
SHELDON, HARRY. Juggler, Orrin Bros. & Co.’ Metropolitan Amphitheatre, spring 1880.
SHELVEY, MATT. Singing and talking clown, Goodrich’s, 1897.
SHEPARD, BILLY. Clown, with Donaldson & Rich, 1885; Frank Rich’s, 1886.
SHEPARD, JAMES G. (1829-September 3, 1879) Showman. Born in Canandaigua, NY. Manager, National Theatre, Boston, spring 1858; Sloat & Shepard, 1857-58; Niblo & Sloat’s, West Indies, 1860; treasurer, L. B. Lent’s, 1861-64. Died in NYC.
SHEPPARD, JOHN. Sword swallower, Gardner & Hemmings, 1863; general performer, Thompson, Smith and Hawes, 1866.
SHEPPARD, W. H. Proprietor, Levi J. North’s, 1869.
SHERIDAN, LOTTIE. Manège, with Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1870.
SHERMAN, GEORGE. Troupe of performing stallions, John Robinson’s, California (Frank Frost, manager), 1886.
SHERRY, JOHN. Leaper and tumbler, P. T. Barnum’s, 1880.
SHERWOOD, CAROLINE. Principal riding act, J. M. June’s, 1851.
SHERWOOD, MME. 700 pound woman. Sands, Nathans & Co.’s American and English Circus, 1859; VanAmburgh’s, 1870.
SHERWOOD FAMILY [Virginia, Ida, Amelia, Charles, Charles, Jr.]. Equestrians. R. Sands’, 1860; Chiarini’s, winter 1861-62; James M. Nixon’s, Washington, DC, fall 1862; Miles’ Circus Royale, Canada, 1863; Howes’, 199 Bowery, NYC, winter 1863-64; Hippotheatron, 14th Street, NYC, February 1864; S. O. Wheeler’s, 1864; Mrs. Charles Warner’s, Philadelphia, winter 1864-65; Seth B. Howe’s European, 1867; Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1869; James M. Nixon’s, 1872. Charles E. (July 22, 1823-December 12, 1875), vaulter and rider, the Sherwood family patriarch, first appeared at Vauxhall Gardens, the Bowery, as Cupid, under the management of P. T. Barnum, using the name of Master Charles Champion. Started a tour, July 1841, with a dramatic company. Joined S. Nichols’ Circus, then bound out as apprentice with H. P. Madigan. Harry Rockwell’s, 1846, as a pupil of Hiram Franklin. Rockwell & Co., 1848; scenic rider, Joe Pentland’s, 1851. One of the first to turn double somersaults in America and was said to be the first and best “Pete Jenkins,” performing it originally, 1851, with Captain DeCamp and Joe Pentland. Rapid rider, June & Co., 1851; scenic rider, Joe Pentland’s, 1852, 1854; Sloat & Shepard, 1857; Sands, Nathans & Co., 1857; Sands, Nathans & Co., Broadway Circus, 1858; Indian act and “Pete Jenkins,” Mabie & Crosby, 1858; “Pete Jenkins,” Sands, Nathans & Co., 1859; R. Sands, 1862; S. O. Wheeler’s, 1864; Hippotheatron, NYC, winter 1864-65; James M. Nixon’s, 1865; Great European, 1868. The latter year, went into speculation on Wall Street. Died in Pittsburgh, PA, age 52. Virginia (d. August 26, 1888, r. n. Nancy McLaughlin), wife of Charles E. An offspring of Irish stock who came to America early in the century. Became professionally known as Mme. Virginia Sherwood, noted for her courage and skill in handling horses. Her sister, Bridget, another daring rider, was killed during a performance in New Orleans, which caused Virginia to take a brief retirement. Her return to the arena resulted in even more daring feats. The marriage produced no children. Virginia died of consumption in Pittsburgh, PA. The Sherwoods adopted a boy and girl from a foundling home in NYC, Ida and Charles, Jr., and taught them how to ride. Ida married Sam Stickney, son of S. P., while with Mrs. Charles Warner’s, December, 1864. See Stickney Family.
SHERWOOD, ROBERT E. Clown. Apprenticed to Dan Rice, 1867; started clowning, 1872. While with Barnum & Bailey, London, England, 1888, walked to Queen Victoria’s box and shook hands with her. Retired from circus life that year.
SHIELDS, ARCHIE. (d. February 9, 1891) Sells Bros.’, Pacific coast, fall 1886; also Adam Forepaugh’s, P. T. Barnum’s.
SHIELDS, ARTIE [“Master”]. Tight-wire, J. H. Shields’, 1888, winter 1888-90.
SHIELDS, EDWARD. Builder of the Floating Palace, the river boat on which circus performances were given. The craft was constructed in Cincinnati, 1850, a cost of $40,000. Was towed from town to town by a stern-wheeler called the Telegraph. The interior was finished as an amphitheatre seating 1,500 people. There was a bar and a lunch counter in the bow of the boat over the offices.
SHIELDS, GEORGE TALBOT. Australian bareback and somersault rider. John Wilson’s, California, 1873; bareback hurdle rider, L. B. Lent’s, 1874.
SHIELDS, HARRY S. (1878?-January 14, 1918) Contracting agent. Died of Bright’s disease, Cleveland, OH, age 40.
SHIELDS, JACOB. Globe performer, Wilder’s North American, 1872.
SHIELDS, JAMES AUSTIN. (1843?-January 31, 1916) Pioneer animal trainer. Had charge of the original Barnam menagerie. After retiring from circus life was proprietor of the Park Hotel, Brooklyn, for some years. A manufacturer of awnings at the time of death. Died in Brooklyn, NY, age 73.
SHIELDS, JOHN HENRY. (d. June 27, 1938) Traveled every state in the Union, as well as Canada, Mexico, Cuba and the Central American countries. Purchasing agent, P. T. Barnum’s, 1875-76; originated 10-cent circus, Shields’ Great Southern Shows, 1884, which traveled Southern states giving benefit performances to aid in raising funds for erection of Confederate monuments; ringmaster, Dan Rice’s, 5 years in 1870s; proprietor, J. H. Shield’s, 1888; Stowe Bros.’, 1889; assistant manager, ringmaster, and sideshow privilege, Terrell Shows, 1891; sideshow privileges, Gollmar Bros.’, 1892-93. Later years, was in the carnival business and produced many illusion shows, among which was “Lunette the Flying Lady.” Went to Tarpon Springs, FL, 1920, upon retiring from show business, in which he had been engaged for 55 years. Died at his home there, Shields Hotel, of uraemic poisoning, age 90.
SHIELDS, LYMAN. (1852-1888) Born Woodstalk, Canada. Manager, J. H. Shield’s Circus, 1888.
SHIELDS, ROSA. Juggling act on running globe, L. B. Lent’s, 1874. Married George T. Shields.
SHIELDS, THOMAS. General performer. VanAmburgh & Co.’s southern, 1860; Dan Castello’s, 1865; Thompson, Smith & Hawes, 1866.
SHIMER. Lion tamer, June & Titus, 1848.
SHINDLE, JOHN C. (1815-April 26, 1888) General performer. Born in Alexandria, VA. Ran away from home at 18 and joined Fogg & Stickney. Traveled the country as clown, acrobat and bareback rider for some 30 years. Spalding’s, 1848; rider, Rivers & Derious, 1851; 2-horse rider, Herr Driesbach, Rivers & Derious, 1853. Serious accident caused retirement. Old age and business affairs led to him throwing himself in front of a train on the Pennsylvania Railroad, Lancaster, Pa.
SHIPLEY, ISAAC. Sideshow manager, Burr Robbins’, early 1870s; later, John Robinson’s; Sells Bros.’, 1891. Retired to keeping a cigar store on Cottage Grove Avenue, Chicago.
SHIPMAN, JAMES W. (August 5, 1865-March 10, 1915) Showman. Born in Williamsville, VT. Connected with Sig. Sautelle’s as business manager for 8 seasons, during which time the show developed from wagon to rail transportation. Left to become proprietor of an “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” Co. After 3 years, returned to the Sautelle management. Later, connected with Frank A. Robbins’. Married Ada Thorpe, a vaudeville entertainer, April 10, 1901. Became proprietor of the Winchester House, Winchester, NH, October 1907, which was to be known as Shipman’s Tavern. About 1914, bought a hotel in South Vernon, VT, and managed the two locations until his death. Died in Brattleboro, VT.
SHIPP, EDWARD. Learned principal riding from half-brother, Harry Lamkin; was also bareback, hurdle, bounding jockey, and 4 and 6-horse rider, until he broke his leg, 1895, while with Ringling Bros.’, which ended his riding career. Gardner & Donovan, South America, 1886; Roberts & Gardner, 1886; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1889; Sturtevant & Holland (VanAmburgh show), 1891; equestrian director, W. B. Reynolds’, 1892; Orrin Bros.’, Mexico, 1892; equestrian director, F. J. Taylor’s, 1893; equestrian director, Milwaukee Mid-Winter Circus, Exposition Music Hall, Milwaukee, November 1894; John Robinson’s, 1898; 1896-1906, assistant equestrian director, Ringling Bros.’; equestrian director, Forepaugh-Sells, 1903-05, 1907; Carl Hagenbeck’s, 1906; Barnum & Bailey, 1908-10. Operated Shipp’s Winter Circus, Petersburg, IL, 1887-1905. Married equestrienne Julia Lowande, February 21, 1889, Philadelphia. Daughter Virginia was a manège rider. With Roy Feltus, proprietor of a circus beginning around 1913. The tour opened February 19, 1916, at Port Limon, Costa Rica, then Panama, Equador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. Retired, living in Santiago, Chile, with wife and daughter, 1939. Died 6 years later at his residence, NYC.
SHOEMAKER, JOHN “JACK”. Driver. Originally with John V. O’Brien’s. Could drive 1 or 12 horses with equal ease. With a whip 8’ long and a stock 4’ long, could flick a straw from between the fingers of a man within reach of the whip. Boss hostler, John Robinson’s, 1877-80.
SHOWALTER, CASS. Clown, Johnson & Co., 1881.
SHOWERISKEY, IVAN. Slack-rope performer. Featured an act of suspending himself by one heel and then surprising his audience by plunging through the air with a sudden jerk. While performing in Baltimore, 1836, the cord affixed to his ankle broke and he fell to the earth. The amputation of his leg proved futile, and he died shortly thereafter.
SHOWERS, ANDY. (1845?-March 13, 1897) An animal trainer, horse breaker, and a partner in various show enterprises. Apprenticed with Alex Robinson at the age of 8. Alexander Robinson’s, 1870-77; Stickney’s Imperial Parisian circus, 1880; performing stallions, dogs and monkeys, King & Franklin, 1887; co-proprietor (with Charles Hall), Hall & Showers’ Dog and Pony Show, 1995. After Hall’s death, 1896, Showers took over sole management. Also with Andress & Showers’ Imperial Shows the same year. Died at Birmingham, AL, age 52.
SHOWERS, GEORGE. Rider, W. W. Cole, 1886; S. H. Barrett’s, 1887.
SHOWERS, IDA [or Lida]. Jig dancer, Alexander Robinson’s, 1870-77; slack-wire, Stickney’s Imperial Parisian Circus, 1880.
SHOWLES, ELIZABETH. Wife of Jacob Showles. Sister of Mrs. Dan Rice. Manège performer, Goodwin & Wilder, 1862; with her horse American Eagle, S. O. Wheeler’s, 1864; George F. Bailey & Co., 1867. See Jacob A. Showles.
SHOWLES, JACOB A. (1826-January 1, 1912) Showman, clown, flying ring performer and juggler of globes while lying on his back on a running horse. Born in Germany, the son of John and Catherine Showles. Came to America at age 2 and settled in New Orleans. Orphaned at age 6. Joined Jerry Mabie’s when 12 years of age. 6 years later, was with Dan Rice’s, 1854, doing a globe act on horseback, said to be the only performer at this time capable of doing that feat. Married Elizabeth Monahan, 1861. With Antonio & Wilder, 1859; Goodwin & Wilder, 1862; Mrs. Dan Rice’s, 1862; Howes’, 199 Bowery, NYC, winter 1863-64; S. O. Wheeler’s, 1864, 1867; Wheeler’s new amphitheatre, Boston, winter 1864-65; Gardner & Hemmings, Front Street Theatre, Baltimore, winter 1867-66; Bailey & Co., Canada, 1867; Bryan’s, 1868; Older’s, 1871; J. W. Wilder’s, 1872. Organized his own outfit, North American Show, 1872; Showles & Co.’s Grand Triple Combination, 1873. Equestrian director, Maginley & Co., 1874; equestrian director and juggler, Dan Rice’s, 1877-78; general director, Great Commonwealth, transported by the boat, William Newman, 1879; general agent, Hilliard & DeMott, 1880; VanAmburgh & Co., 1880-81. Opened a livery stable, Long Branch, NJ, 1885. Died in Long Branch, age 83.
SHOWLES, JACOB J. (not the Jacob Showles above) Agent. Raymond & Waring; Jerry Mabie’s; VanAmburgh & Co.; Howes’ Great London; Spalding & Bidwell; Hilliard & DeMott; Burr Robbins’; Adam Forepaugh’s; Commonwealth Circus; J. H. Haverly’s Minstrels. Manager bill posting brigade, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1876-78. With Bartholomew, the great horse trainer, when he first came East and joined Dan Rice’s; also in advance of the prosperous Celtic star, Joseph Murphy. [Charles H. Day: “Jake has got an egg factory at Port Elgin, Ont., and breeds fancy poultry for profit. He must be the chap who lays those large eggs on the editor’s table of which we read.”]
SHOWLES, MRS. WILLIAM. See Daisy Belmont and Sallie Marks.
SHOWLES, WILLIAM [r. n. William Christian]. (1857-March 31, 1924) Bareback rider. Native of Perth Amboy, NJ. Adopted son of Jacob and Elizabeth Showles. At age 10 was performing somersaults on the bare back of a horse and the feat of sitting and standing on a chair while astride a horse circling the ring. Older’s, 1871; J. W. Wilder’s, 1872; bareback and pony rider, Showles & Co.’s Grand Triple Combination, 1873; Maginley & Co., 1874; Scott’s, 1875; Dan Rice’s, 1877-78; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1879-81, John B. Doris’, 1883-84; 1886-87; American bounding jockey, Sells Bros.’, 1889, including the Australian tour; Barnum & Bailey, London, winter 1889-90, 1893-99. Established a school on Long Branch, NJ, to train circus horses and riders, 1887. That same year, was divorced from equestrienne Sallie Marks, July 1, 1887, whom he had married in 1883. Married equestrienne Daisy Belmont, October 8, 1889, on the Belmont Elite Circus. Accidently caused the death of a friend, Ansel Croft, a bartender at Red Bank, NJ, December 24, 1896, when he recklessly slammed a revolver on a bar top. The gun went off and a bullet hit his victim in the abdomen. Was arrested and indicted for manslaughter but the dying man pleaded for his release and was acquitted by a jury in Freehold, NJ, February 20, 1897. Riding career ended when he suffered a broken leg while riding with a circus in Budapest. Seemingly, the last employment was that of elevator operator for a NYC apartment building. Died penniless in Bellevue Hospital, NYC. [John Daniel Draper: In his prime Showles “was most supple and graceful, unrivalled and daring in his jockey riding act and great in his forward and backward somersaults.”]
SHREIF, PROF. HARRY. Balloonist, J. T. Johnson’s, 1890, who parachuted from his balloon at the height of about 2,000 to 3,000 feet; Dick’s Model Show, made 21 successful ascensions, 1891.
SHRODE BROTHERS [4 in number]. High-wire act, with Miller, Stowe & Freeman, 1887.
SHRODE, GEORGE. Acrobat, P. T. Barnum’s, 1877.
SIAMESE TWINS [Chang, Eng]. Adam Forepaugh’s, 1872.
SIBERY, CHARLES. Riding master, Bancker’s, 1824; J. Purdy Brown’s, 1825.
SIDAHL, TONY. Principal bareback and hurdle rider and carrying act with Minnie Sidahl, Bruce L. Baldwin’s, 1894.
SIDLEY, T. T. Sidley’s Italian Circus, 1885
SIEBER, GEORGE. Proprietor, George Sieber & Co., 1887; proprietor of Cole’s Ten Cent Show, also called Sieber & Cole’s Ten Cent Show, 1890-91. May have been in partnership with J. M. Barry for several years.
SIEGRIST, ALBERT. Equestrian, VanAmburgh & Co., 1880.
SIEGRIST, ANDRE. See Francois Siegrist.
SIEGRIST, AUGUSTE. (1829-1874) Tight-rope, trapeze, perche-equipoise, “Brothers Act.” Born in Manheim, Germany. Apprenticed to Mons. Tourniaire. Performed at the Paris Hippodrome for some years before coming to USA with Franconi’s Hippodrome, 1853, 1855. Mabie’s, 1854; Jim Myers’, 1856; Spalding & Rogers, 1858-61; Spalding & Rogers, Old Bowery Theatre, NYC, 1861; Dan Rice’s, 1862-63; Stone & Rosston, 1864; Dan Rice’s Paris Pavilion Circus, 1871; L. B. Lent’s, 1874; stage manager, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1893. At the Bowery Circus, NYC, winter 1857-58, was said to have performed on the “Spanish Tramplin,” flying over 24 loaded bayoneted muskets which were discharged as he made the leap. Died in Bergen Heights, NJ. See François Siegrist.
SIEGRIST, BLANCHE. General performer, with VanAmburgh’s, 1874.
SIEGRIST, FRANÇOIS. (1824-June, 1878) Gymnast and trick clown. Born in Berlin, Germany, the son of a showman. One of four brothers - Auguste, François, Andre and Louis. All were brought up in the circus business. After beginning a career in Germany, was engaged as chief clown for the Paris Hippodrome, where he remained for several years. Traveled throughout Europe under Franconi’s management before coming to America with his brother, Auguste, for the establishment of Franconi’s Hippodrome, NYC, 1853. Together they did the trapeze, perche-equipoise, and “Brothers Act” on the four globes which, it is claimed, they were the first to introduce in America. François married Marietta Zanfretta, a member of the Zanfretta Troupe. With Marietta and her brother, Alex, the four made up a troupe of pantomimists and acrobats. Later the brothers separated and François and Alex formed a brother act, traveling as such for about 3 years. Subsequently, François devoted his time to training his children as acrobats and developing performing dogs. Died suddenly of heart trouble in Paris. Franconi’s, 1853, 1855; Levi J. North’s, 1853 (where, it is claimed, they were the first to do “Mons. and Madame Dennie”); Mabie’s, 1854; Jim Myers’, 1856; Bowery Amphitheatre, NYC, 1857; Spalding & Rogers, 1857-61; Dan Rice’s, 1862-63; Stone, Rosston & Co., 1864; L. B. Lent’s, 1864; Hippotheatron, NYC, winter 1864-65; Albisu’s, Havana, fall 1865; John Wilson’s, San Francisco, 1865; W. R. Blaisdell’s, California, 1868; Campbell’s, 1869; Batcheller & Doris, 1870. François, and his tight-rope performing wife, children and troupe of dogs were a part of VanAmburgh & Co.’s Menagerie, Siegrist’s French and Frost’s American Circus Combined, 1870-72, Nixon’s Amphitheatre, Broadway opposite Waverly Place, NYC, winter 1871-72; with children Louis, Thomas, Willie, and trained dogs, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1876. Died suddenly in Paris. See Auguste Siegrist.
SIEGRIST, LOUIS. (d. April 1908) Acrobat and general performer. VanAmburgh’s, 1874; Kennebel’s Parisian Circus, 1885. Died in Troyes, France. See François Siegrist.
SIEGRIST, ROSA. Tight-rope performer. Dan Rice’s, 1863; Stone & Rosston, 1864.
SIEGRIST, THOMAS. Kennebel’s Parisian Circus, fall 1885.
SIEGRIST, TOTO. Aerialist, general performer. Apprenticed to François Siegrist. VanAmburgh’s, 1874; gymnast, Edward Shipp’s Winter Circus, 1889-90; John S. McMahon’s, 1892. Formed a partnership with Eddie Silbon, 1892. Opened a restraurant, NYC, 1909. Said to be “looking after the interests of the Siegrist-Silbon aerial act” with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, 1918-19. See Silbon Family.
SIEGRIST, WILLIAM. (1868?-June 23, 1908) Acrobat. One of the Siegrist Brothers, along with Toto and Louis. VanAmburgh’s, 1874; also Barnum & Bailey, Ringling Bros.’, Adam Forepaugh’s, and Sells Bros.’ Kennebel’s Parisian Circus, 1885; Gran Circo Pubillones, Cuba, winter 1888-89; principal clown and equestrian director, Stevens & Smith, 1898; Shipp’s Winter Circus, Petersburg, IL, 1898-99, 1899-1900. Died in NYC, age 40.
SIFFERT, ADAM. Chief bill poster, Sells Bros.’, 1874.
SIKES, OSCAR. Aerialist, World’s Fair Aggegation, 1892.
SILBON FAMILY [Cornelius, George, Walter, Alfred, Ida, Minnie, Eddie, Kate]. English aerialists. By 1875, working as flyers and catchers in the modern style. Toured Spain, France, and England, 1878; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1882-83; W. W. Cole’s, 1886; Barnum and Bailey, London, 1887, 1898 (Five Silbons performed a flying ring act, and the Four Silbons gave an aerial act). Invented the double somersault in the air. With Barnum and Bailey’s Paris engagement, 1901, three of the Silbon girls balanced on a revolving trapeze and another of the troupe cycled along a high wire. Founders included Alfred and Cornelius Silbon. Mme. Carola was married to one of them. Cornelius (d. July 15, 1891), while returning to the United States from Panama, was taken sick with yellow fever, died, and was buried at Acajutia, San Salvador. Alfred, known as Little Ebor, was second in age to brother Cornelius. Crippled by a fall in Paris. Later, had ring act of his own. His son, Alfred, had an animal act. Walter (1865-July 24, 1903), gymnast, was born in Hull, England, and began touring Europe, 1882, at age 5. The troupe was engaged by Adam Forepaugh that year and brought to America, introducing the first big aerial act to this country. Ida, Mrs. James E. Kerwin, (October 22, 1872-October 9, 1898) was born in Hull, England, the daughter of Cornelius. Her mother was an English burlesque performer, Kate V. Newbold, professionally known as Kate Victoria. First appeared in Barcelona, Spain, at 18 months of age. 1886, she performed in burlesque with her father’s company. Was part of an aerial act with him, her uncle and aunt, 1889, which toured Australia for nearly 2 years and South America for another 2. Following her father’s death, Ida left the aerial act and became one of the Three Girdelles, grotesques, appearing with Barnum & Bailey and other circuses. Died of consumption, Boston, MA. 1891, Walter assumed the management of the troupe and joined Barnum & Bailey as early as 1893 and remained with the show until the close of the 1902 season. Died in Hull. Mrs. Walter Silbon (d. October 3, 1905) was the sister of Mrs. Stirk of the Stirk Family. She also died in Hull, England. Kate Silbon married clown William Rollins, fall 1885. Later married Tom Herbert of the aerial performing family. Eddie worked in vaudeville with various acts until 1892, when he took Toto Siegrist as a partner for a flying return act, John McMahon’s, 1892; Pubillones, Cuba, winter 1892-93; McMahon’s 1893; World’s Columbian Exposition, 1893; organized their own show, 1894, West Coast and Mexico. Eddie continued performing until 1931. [Richard E. Conover: The Silbons were “one of the most outstanding flying acts of all time.”]
SILLOWAY, PROF. JOHN [or Sillaway, Siloway]. Band leader. Sears & Forbes, 1858; G. K. Goodwin’s, 1860; S. O. Wheeler’s, 1863; Slaymaker & Nichols, 1864.
SILVEY, HOMER. Boss canvasman, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1880.
SILVO BROTHERS [F. and W.]. English gymnasts. Entered the profession, 1870, and became known as the “Flying Silvos.” Traveled successfully throughout Europe, 1870-1877. January, 1878, while performing in Liverpool, W. Silvo met with a severe accident, which prevented him from continuing his career. F. Silvo (b. March 7, 1856) then devoted his time to perfecting a single act of balancing and juggling, entirely new and original. Toured Europe, appearing before the Emperor of Russia, the Emperor of Germany and the King of Spain. Was at the Alexandra Palace, London, 1881. Engaged with Sam Hague’s company, St. James’ Hall, Liverpool. At completion of the contract, sailed for America, August 12, 1882, joining Tony Denier’s company, season of 1882-83. With Leon de Leon’s, Havana, Cuba. Subsequently, on the bill at Koster & Bial’s, January 28, 1884; and with Tony Pastor’s Traveling Company the following season.
SIMMETH, JOSEPHINE. (1850-September 6, 1907) An equestrienne, born in Lewisburg, PA. Beautiful and graceful, she rode a horse with reckless daring. Married William Forepaugh, early 1870s. When he died, married a performer and continued on the road until she was too old to work in the ring. Montgomery Queen’s; Rosston, Springer & Henderson; Adam Forepaugh’s; Ringling Bros.’; Orrin Bros.’; S. H. Barrett’s; Walter L. Main’s; Burr Robbins’; Frank A. Robbins’. Died in Philadelphia, age 57. Daughter, Manny, was a trapeze performer.
SIMMETH, MRS. LUDWIG. See Josephine Simmeth.
SIMPSON, CHARLES. Rider, P. T. Barnum’s, 1871.
SIMPSON EDMUND. Originally an actor, took control of the Park Theatre, NYC, with Stephen Price, 1812. When the two managers considered James West’s circus company to be threatening competition, they developed a scheme to buy him out by circulating a rumor that they were about to construct an arena for circus performances and by hiring Sam Tatnall to break horses in a lot behind the theatre. This charade was enough to convince West to sell out to Simpson & Price and return to England, well paid for his efforts.
SIMPSON, ELLIOT. Attache, Walt McCafferty’s Great Golden Shows, 1894.
SIMPSON, WILLIAM. Boss canvasman, Howe’s Great London, 1874; boss canvasman, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1879; detective and master of transportation, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1880.
SIMPSON, W. J. Manager, G. G. Grady’s, 1874.
SINCLAIR, EMMA. W. W. Cole, 1886.
SINCLAIR, NELSON. Director of amusements, Welsh & Sands, 1893.
SINCLAIR, W. E. Treasurer, P. T. Barnum’s, 1879-80.
SINGLETON, C. J. Punch and Judy performer, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881.
SITTIG, GEORGE J. (1859?-November 28, 1908) Sideshow performer, called “Jolly George, the Fat Boy.” Weighed 500 pounds and had an 80” waist. Died in Mansfield, OH, age 49.
SIVADO, MARGUERITE. Adam Forepaugh’s, 1889.
SIVALLS, CHARLES T. (d. July 14, 1916) Agent, etc. In early days of the American circus, was a “financial scout,” whose job was to ascertain public attitudes about the circus in order to determine itineraries, with the routing of the show depending on his judgment. Treasurer, VanAmburgh’s, 1859; agent, Haight’s Great Eastern, 1874; contractor, P. T. Barnum’s, 1875; contractor, W. W. Cole’s, 1880; business agent, W. W. Cole’s, 1885; Sells Bros.’ tour of Australia, 1891-92. It was said he had no definite home, but his declining years were spent in Houston, TX, where he had been active in the bill posting business for some time. Made 4 tours of Australia and devoted 60 years to the circus business.
SIZER. Had a circus on the road for several years beginning in 1833, but an American provincial showman of little record. At times his company toured in Florida and Alabama. The very thorough Stuart Thayer noted he had a steamboat circus, 1838, but admits knowing nothing of the man personally. Levi J. North once told Charles H. Day about one of Sizer’s principal attractions, a huge seashell, called an “oyster,” which was “muscled” into the ring by several men.
SKELTON, C. J. See Gregory Family, C. J. Gregory.
SKELTON, GEORGE. See Gregory Family, George Gregory.
SKELTON, JOHN. Boss bill poster, Gregory Bros.’ New Metropolitan Allied Shows, 1884.
SKINNER, C. O. Press agent. J. E. Warner’s, 1876; Burr Robbins’, 1877; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1879.
SKINNEY, GEORGE. Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1879.
SLATE, HARRY [r. n. Warren Norton Eastman Slate]. (July 5, 1833-February 4, 1881) General performer. Born in Bernardson, MA. Entered the profession, 1841, as an apprentice to Dan Rice, and was with Rice as late as 1868. Connected with George F. Bailey & Co., Jerry Mabie’s, Adam Forepaugh’s (1869) and others as clown and ringmaster, and, at one time, was considered a good tumbler. Married a Miss Stone of Noblesville, IN, the daughter of a prominent lawyer. Off seasons, performed sleight-of-hand entertainments under his own management and in later years in variety halls, assisted by his wife. Died, NYC, age 47.
SLATTEN, BEN. Boss canvasman, John Robinson’s, 1876.
SLAUSON, JAMES H. Agent, S. O. Wheeler’s, 1868.
SLAYMAKER, HENRY. Sideshow proprietor, Gardner & Hemmings, 1863.
SLETLER, ED. General agent, Baird, Howell & Co., 1874.
SLOAT, JOHN CALVIN. (July 6, 1828-November 17, 1891) Married Catherine Lorena Bogart, November 12, 1854, a union that produced 5 daughters. Clayton & Bartlett, 1844; agent, June & Titus, 1848; management, James G. Shepard, 1857; Sloat & Shepard, National Theatre, Boston, spring 1858; manager, Joe Pentland’s, 1859; partner, Niblo & Sloat, 1860; Nixon & Sloat, 1860-61.
SLOCUM, JOHN. Clown, Handenburger & Co., 1871.
SLOMAN, GEORGE. (1832-1904) Clown, rider, gymnast, and contortionist. With several of the early Delavan overland shows - Mabie Bros.’, Buckley’s, Buckley & Babcock, and Coup-Castello’s. Rivers & Derious, 1855; Washburn’s, 1856; Buckley’s, 1857; George F. Bailey & Co., 1859; VanAmburgh & Co., winter 1859-60; Mabie & Nathans, 1861-62; globe act on horseback, Melville, Cooke & Sands, 1863; Bailey & Co., Spalding & Rogers’ Academy of Music, New Orleans, winter 1863-64 (this being the first equestrian exhibition in that city in 3 years); globe act on horseback, Bailey & Co., 1864, 1866; trapeze, P. T. Barnum’s, 1871; rider, Montgomery Queen’s, 1874; John Robinson’s, 1867-75, 1879; concert, candy stand and reserve seat privileges, Burr Robbins’, 1877; Hamilton & Sargeant, 1880; Australian Dime Show, 1887; Holland, Bowman & McLaughlin, 1890. As an all-around performer, did magic barrels, dancing globe, Spanish tranca, globe on horseback, stilts, chair perch, and juggling on horseback. Wrote his memoirs shortly before his death but they were lost by the publisher. Suffered from a chronic ailment and took his own life.
SLOMAN, WILLIAM. (d. December 27, 1902) Agent, Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” Co., winter 1893-94; Leon W. Washburn’s, 1894; Reynold’s, 1895; Charles Lee’s Great London, 1901; business and contracting agent, Stowe & Pubilliones, Havana, winter 1891-92; Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show, 1902. Also, Hi Henry’s Minstrels, Washburn’s Minstrels, “Next Door” Co., and Walter L. Main’s Circus. Died in Cincinnati, OH, of a brain tumor.
SLOTE, HARRY. Clown, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1869.
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