Circus Historical Society
Olympians of the Sawdust Circle
Olympians of the Sawdust Circle: A biographical dictionary of the ninteenth century American circus
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Compiled and Edited by William L. Slout
Copyright © 2005 by William L. Slout. All rights reserved.
SMALL, COLONEL. Midget. Nixon’s Cremorne Gardens, NYC, spring 1862; Nixon’s, Washington, DC, fall 1862.
SMEAD, J. Great Combination (George M. Kelly, Pete and John Conklin, William LaRue, proprietors), 1871.
SMEAD, WILLIAM. (1847?-April 1904) Gymnast. Robinson, Gardner & Kenyon, 1869; (with Lester) James Robinson’s, 1870, winter 1870-71; bar act, James M. Nixon’s, fall 1870; James E. Cooper’s, 1872; Sells Bros.’, 1879; W. W. Cole’s, 1883; L. J. Duchack’s, 1889; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1893. Died at his home in Binghamton, NY, age 57.
SMITH. Monkey man, O’Brien & King, 1864.
SMITH, ALLYN. Charles Noyes’, 1870; C. T. Ames’, 1870; Spalding & Bidwell’s, New Orleans, spring 1870.
SMITH, ASA T. Showman, of Westchester County, NY. Entered the circus business under the management of John Miller around 1826. There was a circus in the South in the winter of 1828-29 called the Lafayette Equestrian Company under his management. Married the equestrienne widow of equestrian George Yeaman, 1829. Advertised his show as the Yeaman Circus from 1829 until he retired from the road. Appears to be one of the earliest circus managers to offer some form of permanent seating within the tent, which occurred in the early 1830s.
SMITH, AVERY. (March 1, 1814-December 26, 1876) Showman, one of the “Flatfoots.” Born in North Salem, NY, son of Jesse Smith, who was a silent partner in the menagerie of June, Titus & Angevine. Young Avery accompanied the show on a tour, 1833. Two years later started in the grocery business but soon gave it up. Had interest in Sands & Co.’s American Circus performing in England, 1844; partner with Sands, Lent & Co., 1845-46; principal owner, Franconi’s Hippodrome, NYC, 1853; manager, Seth B. Howe’s Great European, 1864, co-owner, 1865; Haight, Chambers and Ames, 1867; George Bailey & Co., 1867; chief backer, “The Black Crook” combination that visited South America, 1874. Last venture was in partnership with John J. Nathans and George F. Bailey of the Barnum show, 1876. Throughout entire career, studiously avoided having his name appear in advertising of any of the shows with which he was connected. Accumulated a large fortune, much of which was in NYC real estate. Died in Newark, NJ, age 62.
SMITH, BARNEY. Tumbler and gymnast, Alexander Robinson’s, 1871.
SMITH BROTHERS. Balancing ladder, W. F. Kirkhart’s Great American, 1894.
SMITH, BURT. M. V. B. Wixom’s Twenty-Five Cent Circus, 1897.
SMITH, BUTTON. Rider, Smith’s Circus, 1833. Had a severe fall while riding 2 horses and injured his back. Died about a year later.
SMITH, C. Holton & Gates’ Harmoniums, a minstrel band organized for the the Simon Pure American Circus, New York, October 1, 1866.
SMITH, CHARLES. Niblo & Sloat (L. B. Lent, manager), West Indies, November 1860.
SMITH, CHARLES J. Robinson & Co. (Smith and Piper, proprietors), 1886; Robinson’s Dime Circus, 1887-90; Smith & Robinson, 1891; Robinson’s Combined Shows, 1892-93.
SMITH CHILDREN. Aerialists, with Robinson’s Combined Shows, 1892.
SMITH, CORNELIA. H. M. Smith’s Crescent City Circus, 1869.
SMITH, CREADY. See C. S. Primrose.
SMITH EDWARD J. Gymnast and tumbler. Niblo & Sloat, West Indies, fall 1860; J. E. Warner & Co., 1871.
SMITH, EDWIN. Long bearded man, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881.
SMITH, E. G. Co-proprietor, Thompson, Smith & Hawes’ Great American Hippocolosiculum, 1866; proprietor, E. G. Smith’s Great Three in One Combination Show, 1867.
SMITH, FRANK “MASTER”. Son of Horace W. Smith. Pony act, C. T. Ames’, 1868; rider, H. W. Smith’s Crescent City Circus, 1869.
SMITH, GEORGE. Rider, acrobat. Lamb & Co., winter 1839; Welch & Bartlett, winter 1840; June, Titus & Angevine’s western division, 1841; Great Western, 1845; Stone & McCollum, 1846; John Tryon’s, winter 1847.
SMITH, GEORGE. Leader of string band, George F. Bailey & Co., 1862; James M. Nixon’s, 1864; Maginley, Carroll & Co., 1868.
SMITH, GEORGE J. Stevens & Smith’s Two-Ring Circus and Congress of Trained Animals (E. P. Stevens, George J. Smith, proprietors), 1898.
SMITH, GEORGE WASHINGTON. (d. August 31, 1877) Better known as “old Bob Ridley.” As far back as 1838, was singing and dancing the tragico-comico extravaganza of “Jim Along Josey,” together with giving the Negro song of “Jim Brown,” at the Lion Circus, Menagerie and Gymnastic Arena, Cincinnati, OH. Was known to familiars as “The Arkansas Traveler” and was the first person in America to make a decided feature of the song of “The Fine Oil English Gentleman.” Jim Sanford and Smith were rivals in “Jim Along Josey.” Summer 1841, back to the Bowery and he and his pupil Piccaninny Coleman were doing “Jim Along Josey” and kindred performances. Next went to England and in November, 1840, did their grotesque acts at the Surrey Theatre, London. Returned, 1841, and in the fall, 1842, joined Master John Diamond and Billy Whitlock at the Chatham Theatre, NYC. 1849, with Stone & McCollum and wrote the song-and-dance “Old Bob Ridley,” which he first gave in New Orleans. 1854, went to San Francisco; from there to the Sandwich Islands, which he left, 1857, for Australia; 1860, left Australia and went to China, India, the Philippine Islands and Java; 1865, returned to Australia, whence he proceeded to London, where he became manager of the Collins & Brown “Christys,” whom he took to Australia and played until 1865. Last tour, with Heller, which began at Bombay in October, 1871. October, 1872, Heller went to England and Smith returned to Australia, where in the interim he had managed several troupes. Researcher note: It is apparent that most (if not all) of the career attributed to "George Washington Smith" in the Circus History Olympians biography relates to John Washington Smith. Both these men died in Melbourne, Australia but the date of death for George Washington Smith is in fact the date of death of John Washington Smith. The name George Washington Smith was probably used by more than one performer. However a performer using this name came to Australia in 1852-53. We pick up a George Washington Smith first in New Zealand in 1852 when he teams up with Walter Howard with a minstrel and gymnastic group. Smith did gymnastics, corde volante etc. Howard and possibly Smith had arrived in New Zealand with JA Rowe on Rowe's first trip to the Australasian colonies. After a tour in New Zealand with Howard, Smith and Howard went to Australia. Smith performed in Sydney and then in Melbourne where he performed with Rowe's Circus. Smith died in Melbourne in May 1853 aged 26. - from Ian Wilkey.
SMITH, G. H. Great Western (proprietors, G. H. Smith, L. C. Maxwell), 1876.
SMITH, HARRY & CO. Manufacturers of prize candy packages, 1870s, 1880s. Advertised something new “in the shape of anti-bilious candied-corn in prize boxes,” 1879.
SMITH, HELENE. Concert song and dance performer, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1879.
SMITH, HORACE M. (d. March 30, 1886) Rider and general performer. Rockwell & Stone, 1846-47; Stone & McCollum, 1849; Rockwell’s, 1850; Star State, 1852; 2-horse rider, Levi J. North’s, 1855; scenic rider, New York Champs Elysees, 1865; Yankee Robinson’s, 1866; S. O. Wheeler’s, 1866; equestrian director and bareback rider, Ames’ New Orleans, 1868; H. M. Smith’s Crescent City, 1869-70; John Stowe & Sons, 1871. Two daughters of Smith and his wife, Ellen, died in 1869 - 13 year old Lydia at Narastota, TX, November 22, 1869; 8 year old Ella, 3 months earlier at Ouachita, TX. A daughter, Laura, married Al Miaco. Smith died in NYC, after being in the business about 50 years.
SMITH, ISAAC H. Treasurer, John H. Murray’s, 1874.
SMITH, JAMES F. [“Col.”]. (d. May 4, 1902) Howes’, 1887-89; Howes & Cushing, 1895; George W. Richards’ and Howes’ London, 1896-97; Howes & Cushing, 1899; Great Syndicate, 1900-01; Great Eastern, 1902; Great London, 1903; sold at auction, 1904.
SMITH, JAMES M. Clown. Johnson & Co. (James T. Johnson’s Great Western and VanVleck’s Mammoth Show combined), 1866; J. T. Johnson & Co., 1869.
SMITH, JENNIE. Balancing trapeze, Gregory & Belford, 1892.
SMITH, JESSE. (September 5, 1785-September 4, 1866) Father of Avery Smith. Interested in the firm of Titus, Angevine & Co. Died in Norwalk, CT, age 81.
SMITH, JOHN. Band leader, Burr Robbins for a number of years. In the mid-1870s, surrounded himself with such men as Sam Clemons, August Geise, Cash Williams, Len Williams. [D. W. Watt: “While Johnnie Smith was strict with his men, always giving them to understand that they must not be late either for parade or for the afternoon or evening show, yet he protected them in every way. No musician with him was ever expected to do anything out of his line of work.”]
SMITH, JOHN “SMITHIE.” Acrobat, leaper and tumbler, John H. Murray’s, 1874; principal acrobat, Cooper, Bailey & Co.’s Australian tour, 1877-78. Appeared with St. Leon’s there the following year, after which it is presumed he returned to the United States.
SMITH, JOHN W. Ethiopian delineator. J. J. Hall’s, winter 1836; Yale/Sands, 1838; A. Hunt & Co., winter 1838; June, Titus & Angevine, 1839; Welch & Bartlett, winter 1839; Howes & Turner, winter 1839; Welch & Bartlett, 1840; P. H. Nichols’, 1841, 1843; Welch & Mann, winter 1841; Welch & Mann (until July), 1842; N. B. and T. V. Turner, 1842; Rockwell & Stone (March), 1844; Dr. Gilbert R. Spalding’s, 1844-48; Stone & McCollum, winter 1846, winter 1848; Stone & McCollum, 1849-50; St. Louis Amphitheatre (until May), 1851; Spalding’s Floating Palace, 1852; partner, Rowe & Co., 1856. Wife was an equestrienne. Researcher note: John W. Smith called himself "Yankee Smith" when he was in London in 1840-41. We think John was born in Ireland. In 1854 he went to San Francisco under
contract to Thomas Maguire. He was manager of the San Francisco Hall and
then a member of the San Francisco Minstrels (June to 4 December 1855). Rowe
and Smith were briefly joint proprietors of Rowe & Co’s Pioneer Circus. He
left with Rowe’s Pioneer Circus for Hawaii on 6 November 1856. Rowe returned
to San Francisco but Smith went on to Australia. He mainly had management
roles in a couple of Australian touring circuses but did some black
face/minstrel performance. In 1860 John married Catherine (Kate) Kirby in
Melbourne. Probably in 1861, Smith went Asia with a circus company from
Australia. He met up with Joe Brown's Christy's Minstrels in 1863 and went
back to England with them. They went back to Asia in late 1863 and toured in
Asia and Australia until 1865. He was co-proprietor, manager or advance agent
for various companies in Asia and Australia over the next decade (including
an Italian opera Company). Though we still have gaps prior to 1854, much of John W. Smith's career can be followed from newspapers and other documents. - from Ian Wilkey. [Note: see John W. Smith's biographical entry in Burnt Cork and Tambourines on this website.]
SMITH, J. R. Co-proprietor and Treasurer, Great Chicago Circus, 1879.
SMITH, J. S. Property master, Cooper, Bailey & Co. Australian tour, 1877.
SMITH, L. S. Ringmaster, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1880.
SMITH, MARK. Burr Robbins’, 1879.
SMITH, MARY ANN. Daughter of Asa Smith. Scenic rider, 1832, appearing in “Sailor on Horseback.”
SMITH, NEIL. (d. March 21, 1900) Showman and animal trainer. Born on the corner of 17th Street and Third Ave., NYC. Entered the circus business with a troupe of trained dogs. Great Australian, 1877; Allen’s Great Eastern, 1879; educated ponies, goats, dogs and cats, Irwin Bros.’, 1887; Hunting’s, 1888. Also connected with Dan Rice’s, King & Franklin, Fursman’s, Pullman & Hamilton, and Frank Robbins’. Toured with Caste’s Celebrities and for 3 years with the “Dark Secret” Co., working his troupe of dogs. Sold his animals, 1890, and opened the Smith House, Great Jones Street, NYC, which became a popular professional hotel. In partnership with Sam A. Scribner, formed Scribner & Smith’s Circus, 1892. After leasing the title, toured variety halls with Harry Williams’ Own Show, 1894-98. Last professional engagement, manager, “Hogan’s Alley” Co. Subsequently, appointed superintendant of the Polo Grounds, NYC, by the New York Baseball Club, a position he held until he suffered a stroke, 1897, which led to his death in NYC. Married Matilda Lauber, 1881, who became known professionally as the juggler Madeline.
SMITH, ROBERT. Clown and equestrian. Howes’, 1849; Nixon & Kemp, 1857; George F. Bailey & Co., 1858; Davis & Crosby, 1859; Levi J North’s, 1860; Mabie & Nathans, 1861; C. T. Ames’, 1866-68; James M. Nixon’s, 1870; Newton’s, 1872.
SMITH, SAMUEL S. “SUNDAY SCHOOL.” (d. October 6, 1892) Nickname was given to him by S. H. Hurd, son-in-law of P. T. Barnum. In his youth was clever as an elocutionist and recitationist and attracted the attention of Barnum who hired him as lecturer and ringmaster. Exhibitor of human curiosities, P. T. Barnum’s, 1872-73; Maginley & Co., 1874; stage manager, Palace of Wonders, P. T. Barnum, 1876; Zoological lecturer, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1882; ringmaster and lecturer, both Barnum & Bailey and Adam Forepaugh’s for several seasons. Was a man of attractive appearance, intelligence and an able impromptu speaker. [Charles H. Day: Smith “became one of the best talkers who ever entered the arena or described a freak.”] Died at his home, NYC, of acute pneumonia.
SMITH, SHEDRICK. See Shed LeClair.
SMITH, S. P. Agent, Seth B. Howes’, 1855.
SMITH, THOMAS. Niblo & Sloat (L. B. Lent, manager), West Indies, November 1860.
SMITH, VICTORIA. Daughter of circus proprietor H. M. Smith. Married William Carroll, summer of 1870.
SMITH, VIRGINIA. J. W. Wilder’s 1872.
SMITH, W. Acrobat, John Robinson’s, 1887.
SMITH, WASHINGTON. (1847-1904) 6-horse chariot driver, Barnum & Bailey, 1892.
SMITH, WILLIAM [William Olma]. Monkey man, Hippotheatron, NYC, winter 1864-65. See William Olma.
SMITH, WILLIAM. Veternarian assist., P. T. Barnum’s, 1877; supt. of horses, P. T. Barnum’s, 1879-80; veterinarian, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1882.
SMITH, WILLIAM JASON. (d. August 5, 1874) Son of Horace Smith. General performer. Aaron Turner’s, 1837; Hobby’s, 1839; Stickney’s (J. W. Smith’s), 1845; equestrian director, Nathan Howes’, winter, 1845; John Tryon’s, winter 1845; Howes & Mabie, 1846; equestrian director, Stickney’s, 1847; John Tryon’s, winter 1847; 2 and 4-horse rider, Howes & Co.’s second unit, 1848; 2-horse rider, Crane & Co., 1849; equestrian director and (with Nat Rogers) la perche, Ballard & Bailey, 1855; 6-horse rider, Crescent City, 1856; 2, 4, 6-horse rider, Washburn’s, 1857; Whitby’s, 1859; Comac’s Woods, Philadelphia, early summer, 1860; Niblo & Sloat, West Indies, 1860; Stickney’s National Circus, Old Bowery, 1861; 2, 4-horse rider, Castello & VanVleck, 1863; John Wilson’s, Southwest Pacific, 1865; New York Champs Elysees, 1865-66.
SMITH, W. N. (d. January 4, 1869) Born in Albany, NY. First went into show business with a traveling troupe, 1841, performing in white face. Said to be the first man to give imitations of a snare drum with the bones. Traveled throughout the country with circus companies, including W. N. Smith’s Ethiopians with VanAmburgh & Co., 1860. At one time was a great favorite at Charley White’s minstrel emporium, 49 Bowery, NYC. Continued to travel until 1866 when a physical disability in his right arm made it impossible for him to shake the bones. Died destitute. [T. Allston Brown: “As a bone soloist, he was the best ever heard in this country, having played for and won the championship, which he retained up to his death.”]
SMITHSON, GEORGIANA. Equestrienne, with P. T. Barnum’s, 1879.
SNEDDEN. Manager of Booth’s Printing Office, one of the largest show printing firms in the country.
SNELL BROTHERS. Gymnasts, with Handenburger & Co., 1871.
SNORDEY. Acrobat, John Robinson’s, 1882.
SNOW, EDWARD. Acrobat, leaper and tumbler. One of the Leotards (with George Bliss, George Schrode), 1880. Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1880; Doris & Colvin, 1887; Wallace & Co., 1885; Howe’s New Colossal Shows, 1888; clown, E. E. Rice’s, Manhattan Beach, Coney Island, 1895; “The Devil’s Auction” Co. (for 7 seasons prior to 1896). Married equestrienne Annie Carroll, who sued him for divorce, 1892.
SNOW, GEORGE A. Treasurer, Stevens & Begun, 1874.
SNOW BROTHERS [Benjamin M., William A., Henry, a Dan was also listed]. Gymnasts and general performers—magic globe, hat spinning, trained dogs, etc. Excelled in their “globe act.” Goodwin & Wilder, Howard’s Athenaeum, Boston, 1861; Goodwin & Wilder’s, 1862; S. O. Wheeler’s, 1863; with their troupe of dogs and performing monkeys, Slaymaker & Nichols, 1864; Whitmore, Thompson & Co., 1865; Yankee Robinson’s, 1865-67; Dan Rice’s, 1866; Stone & Murray, Olympic Theatre, Boston, winter 1868-69, 1870-71; Sheldenburger’s, 1871; Central Park Circus, 1872; Den Stone’s, 1873; W. W. Cole’s, 1877; W. C. Coup’s, 1878-79. Benjamin was with Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1880; Older, Crane & Co., 1884. He died at his home in Boston, MA, October 9, 1912, age 75.
SNOW, LOUIS. Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1880; leaper, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881.
SNYDER, CHARLES. Treasurer, F. J. Taylor’s, 1891.
SNYDER, HARRY. Privilege manager, W, C. Coup’s, 1893.
SNYDER, THOMAS R. (b. February 14, 1830) Ringmaster, Gardner & Hemmings, 1863.
SOBRIESKIE BROTHERS. Gymnasts and acrobats, S. H. Nichols’, 1840.
SOEAR, MATTIE. Vocalist, Cooper & Co., 1874.
SOLO, JOHN. VanAmburgh & Co., winter, 1859-60.
SOLON. Clown, Miles’ Circus Royale, Canada, 1863.
SOMERFIELD, JAMES. Advance agent, James T. Johnson’s, 1885.
SOMMERFIELD, WILLIAM F. Advance agent, P. T. Barnum’s, 1873.
SOMERS, ALICE. L. B. Lent’s, 1872.
SOMERS, C. Gymnast, First National Union, 1861.
SOMERS, JOHN. George W. DeHaven & Co., 1865.
SOULIER, LEON. Leaper, tumbler, P. T. Barnum’s, 1873.
SOUTHWICK, MAY. Sideshow phantom lady, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1882.
SPALDING, DR. GILBERT R. (1812-April 6, 1880) Born in Coeymans, Albany County, NY. Acquired the title of doctor because from about 1840 to 1845 was the proprietor of a drug and paint store, Albany, NY. About 1843, used Sam H. Nichols’ circus as security of a loan; the show continued under Nichols’ management until Spalding realized he was not about to recoup his money; visited the circus with the intention of bringing it to Albany and disposing of it; finding his management was paying off, and since he was enjoying the circus business, decided to keep the property for a while longer as Spalding’s North American Circus. During 1847-48 season, visited New Orleans and moved northward up the Mississippi River. Arriving at St. Louis, divided the outfit into two shows, managing one with the original title, and putting Dan Rice, the famous clown, at the head of the other, with his brother-in-law, Van Orden, as manager. Latter company cruised the Ohio, Missouri and Mississippi Rivers in a chartered steamboat, the Allegheny Mail. Went into partnership with circus rider Charles J. Rogers at the end of 1848 season and the following spring the circus went on the road newly organized and equipped. Among the novel features presented for the first time was the Appolonicon, drawn by 40 horses, four abreast, and driven by one man. It is also stated that the show inaugurated the first use of “quarter poles” to suppliment the “center poles” about 1850. Winter 1848-49, the Dan Rice show disbanded due to the cholera epidemic in the South. Spalding started Rice out again in the spring, 1849, in a land show. At the end of the season the outfit reverted to Spalding. Originated the river boat, Floating Palace, 1852, and moved up and down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, at the same time operating a land circus. Performed in NYC during the indoor season, 1854-55. 1856, Spalding, Rogers & Bidwell took a 10 year lease of the Pelican Theatre, New Orleans, and refitted it for circus and dramatic performances, calling it Spalding & Rogers’ Amphitheatre, and later renamed it the Academy of Music. Same year, inaugurated a railroad circus. For the next few years, Spalding & Rogers had 2 and sometimes 3 companies touring the United States and Canada, traveling by rail, wagon and water. 1860, put a circus and dramatic company into the Bowery Theatre, NYC, performing equestrian dramas. From there, moved to the Academy of Music, Boston. Spring 1862, the Ocean Circus was organized. Started from New York in March of that year with a magnificent portable amphitheatre constructed upon an entirely new plan. The brigantine Hannah had been purchased and fitted with accommodations for the company and the next 2 years were passed in Brazil, Uraguay, Buenos Ayres and the West Indies, with Charles J. Rogers as managing proprietor. Spalding remained in the USA. Early part of April, 1864, the company returned home, after a voyage of over 16,000 miles. Spalding & Rogers dissolved partnership, 1865, with Rogers retiring from professional life. Spalding & Bidwell continued, however; and shortly they leased the Olympic Theatre, St. Louis, as well as theatres in Mobile and Memphis, and established a theatrical circuit. A scheme was devised, 1867, to send a circus company to the Paris Exposition. The amphitheatre, wooden with a canvas top, was made by Mr. Kennedy of Albany, NY, accommodating 44 private boxes, besides an imperial loge, 760 parquet seats, 1,420 balcony seats, and a gallery capable of accommodating nearly 2,000 persons, the seats being all cane-bottom chairs. Investors - Avery Smith, Gerard C. Quick, John J. Nathans, and Spalding and Bidwell - chartered the large steamer, Guiding Star, to convey the company, horses, ponies, mules, a performing buffalo, wardrobe, trappings, and the portable amphitheatre to be put together in sections. W. T. B. Van Orden had been sent in advance to prepare the way. After arriving in Paris, and when nearly all the preparations for their opening had been completed, it was discovered that a local law prevented the erection of any wooden building within the city limits; consequently they could not use their pavilion, but instead performed at the Theatre Prince Imperiale, in the Rue Du Temps. After 6 months in Paris, and 3 months at the Holborn Amphitheatre, London, they returned to the United States. 1872, Spalding again put Rice on the road with a company. Last venture in the circus business occurred, 1874-75, when he was co-proprietor with John O`Brien and Ben Maginley of Melville, Maginley & Cooke’s Continental Circus and Thespian Company. Shortly, Spalding and Bidwell dissolved their partnership, with Bidwell retaining the Academy of Music, New Orleans, and Spalding the Olympic Theatre, St. Louis. Retired at his home in Saugerties, NY, 1879. Died of cystitis in New Orleans. Stuart Thayer called him a great innovator. He was the first showman to own his own steamboat; invented the quarter-pole; introduced the pipe organ as circus music with the addition of a parade wagon, the Apollonicon; constructed the first river boat to accommodate an entire circus organization; and had the first outfit to travel on its own railway cars, 1856.
SPALDING, HARRY W. (1844?-February 4, 1874) Son of Dr. Gilbert R. Spalding. While managing the Dan Rice Paris Pavilion Circus, was seriously wounded by a pistol shot, May 21, 1872, in Baxter Springs, KS. Died of dropsy at his father’s residence, Saugerties, NY, age 30.
SPANOLA BROTHERS [Henrico, Guillaume, Carlos]. Gymnasts. Said to be performers of great talent, utilizing many feats that had never been seen in the United States previously. Their specialty was “La Barra de Resorte,” the horizontal bars. L. B. Lent’s, Broadway Amphitheatre, 485 Broadway, NYC, winter 1863-64.
SPARES, FRANK H. Ringmaster, W. H. Harris’ Nickel-Plate, 1891.
SPARKS, CHARLES. See John H. Sparks.
SPARKS, FRANK H. Equestrian director, Dockrill’s, South America, 1885-86; Stow, Long & Gumble, 1889; clown, Charles Andress’, 1889; equestrian director, Albert Hose’s, 1893; back for his 8th or 9th year with W. H. Harris’ Nickel-Plate, 1894.
SPARKS, JOHN H. [r. n. Wiseman]. (d. January 28, 1903) Started in the business as a musician. Adopted a boy he named Charley Sparks. The two traveled together for several years doing a musical act. Walter L. Main’s, 1886, 1888; assembled Sparks Bros.’ Australian Specialty Co., fall 1886; organized George E. Stevens’ “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” Co., 1889; formed Allen’s Great Eastern Shows, 1890; and then Cole’s Colossal Shows, 1893, changing the name, 1894, to John H. Sparks Old Reliable Virginia Show, and toured almost continuously since that time. Charles Sparks took over the management after John Sparks’ death, which occurred at his winter home in Winston Salem, SC, about 38 or 40 years of age. Two young lions, which he had raised, clawed his arm while he was stroking them through the bars of the cage, which he was used to doing. Blood poison set in causing the arm to be amputated to the shoulder. But it was of no avail for Sparks never survived the shock. He had been in the circus and theatrical business for nearly 25 years and had recently found prosperity.
SPARKS, T. Spalding’s North American, 1847.
SPARKS, WILLIAM. (1835?-December 8, 1893) Professional athlete, called the “American Hercules.” Performed cannon ball, light and heavy balancing, and other feats of strength for over 20 years with Barnum’s, Sells’, Ringling’s and others. George W. DeHaven’s, 1860-62; Old Cary’s, traveling up and down the Mississippi River area by boat and railroad, 1864; Maginley & Bell, 1864; Thayer & Noyes, 1866; Lake’s Hippo-Olympiad, 1867; Dodge & Bartine, 1868; Mrs. Charles Warner’s, Philadelphia, 1870; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1871; Great Commonwealth, 1872; Montgomery Queen’s, 1874; John Robinson’s, 1879; Silas Dutton’, winter 1879-80, 1880. Around 1887, was badly burned while performing his act; a painful recovery led him to addiction to morphine, from which he never recovered and which led to his death. With his 2 sons and a daughter, variety performers, he operated a tent show up to the time of his passing, which occurred at the Butler House, Bloomington, IL, age 58. His wife died April 23, 1872.
SPAULDING, DR. GILBERT R. See Dr. Gilbert R. Spalding.
SPEAR, ANDY. Clown, Cooper & Co., 1874; Hamilton & Sargeant, 1878; Main & Sargeant, 1891.
SPEAR, CHARLES. Bill poster, P. T. Barnum’s, 1873; M. V. B. Wixom’s Twenty-Five Cent Circus, 1897.
SPEAR, ED. Announcer, Rice’s Circus Carnival, 1896.
SPEARS, ANDY. Clown, ringmaster, and equestrian director. Cooper & Scott, 1874; Great New York Circus, 1877; equestrian director, Barry & Co., 1879; Dan Rice’s, 1881; William Main & Co., 1889; Harper Bros.’, 1892; (his 33rd year in the profession) educated dogs, E. E. Eisenbarth’s, 1892. While with Cooper & Scott, complete a triple somersault from a spring-board, September 29, 1874. His wife was Mattie Spears.
SPENCE, CHARLES. Older’s, 1871.
SPENCER. Acrobat, John Robinson’s, 1889.
SPENCER. (b. 1800) Debut, Pepin & Breschard, Charleston, SC, December 9, 1812; Pepin, Breschard & Cayetano, 1813; Pepin & Breschard, 1814; apprenticeship ended, Cayetano & Co., 1815; Cayetano & Co., 1816.
SPENCER, ANNIE. Burr Robbins’, 1880.
SPENCER, CHARLES. Acrobat. Cosmopolitan Circus, Museum and Menagerie, winter 1871-72; Great International Circus, Offenbach Garden, Philadelphia, winter 1876-77.
SPENCER, MAUD. Plate spinner, Baldwin, Wall & Co.’s Great Eastern, 1880.
SPENCER, SARAH. Tight-rope. Palmer’s Circus and Gymnastic Arena, 1835; Nathan A. Howes’ Eagle Circus, 1836.
SPENCER, SYLVANUS. Rider and vaulter. Made his debut with Pepin & Breschard at Charleston, winter 1812-13, and was with Pepin, Breschard & Cayetano in NYC, 1813; with the company in Philadelphia for the fall season and on to Baltimore, winter 1813-14; Pepin & Breschard, Charleston, fall 1814; accompanied Breschard to Savannah in the latter part of 1814; continued with Cayetano & Co. through 1816 when the circus was in New Orleans. Later, Price & Simpson, 1823-27; Bernard & Page, 1829-30; William Blanchard’s, 1830; Fogg & Stickney, 1832-33; scenic rider, Buckley & Co., 1834; Sweet & Hough, 1835; scenic rider, Palmer’s, 1835; Nathan A. Howes’, 1836; Welch, Bartlett & Co., 1839-40; clown, Rockwell & Stone, 1842. One of his feats was balancing himself atop an 18’ ladder on the tight-rope, a trick well advanced for his day; and to make things more difficult, fireworks were exploded around him as he approached the top of his climb.
SPENCER, WILLIAM. General performer, Welch’s National Circus, Philadelphia, 1841.
SPICER, COL. Col. Spicer’s World’s Fair and Congress of Living Wonders, 1886
SPINACUTA. Equestrian clown, rope-dancer, and pyrotechnist. Member of Rickett’s Circus, Philadelphia, 1796. Danced on a rope with baskets afixed to his feet; without a balace pole, he put a coin on his foot, flipped it in the air, and caught it in a glass; danced on a tight rope with skates on; while sitting in a chair on a plank, balanced a table before him and drank a glass of wine.
SPINACUTA, MRS. HELENA. Tight-rope. Ricketts company, 1795-96. In the latter year, performed a two-horse Roman riding act that was billed as “never before attempted by any woman in this country.”
SPRAGUE, CHARLIE. Whitmore, Thompson & Co., 1865.
SPRAGUE, ISAAC. (b. May 21, 1841) Sideshow living skeleton. Born in East Bridgeport, MA, of normal size. Began to lose weight around the age of 12, until he literally became skin and bones; but claimed he was never sick a day in his life. Joined Barnum’s museum curiosities, “the original thin man,” 1860s. Traveled with several shows, including North American, 1872; P. T. Barnum’s, 1873; Adam Forepaugh’s (Pullman Bros.’ sideshow), 1876; Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1879-80; Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881-83. Married a Massachusetts girl who bore him 3 healthy sons.
SPRAGUE, JOHN. Clown. H. H. Fuller’s Olympic Circus, 1838; J. W. Stocking’s, 1839. A daughter married W. B. Carroll.
SPRAGUE, J. S. Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1879.
SPRAGUE, Z. W. Proprietor and manager, Sprague’s Colossal Circus and Great Electric Light Show, 1880, folding in July of that year.
SPRECKEL FRED. Gymnast, DeHaven & Bell, 1860.
SPRIGGS. Acrobat, Davis & Co., Boston, 1815, first American appearance.
SPRINGER, ANDREW J. (d. February 2, 1886) Agent. Spalding & Rogers, 1857; Antonio & Wilder’s, 1859-61; Thayer & Noyes, 1862-64, winter 1865-66; advertiser, John Robinson’s, 1866; James M. French’s, 1867-69; agent and co-proprietor, James Robinson’s, 1870; general director, Rosston, Springer & Henderson’s (Frank H. Rosston, Andrew Springer, Abe Henderson and Adam Forepaugh, proprietors, the latter owning one-third of the concern and buying out his partners, October 1872), 1871; contracting agent, L. B. Lent’s, 1873; proprietor and general director, Warner & Henderson, 1874; proprietor, Springer’s Royal Cirq-Zoolodon, 1875; Rothschild & Co., 1876; railroad contractor, Batcheller & Doris, 1879; railroad contractor, Sells Bros.’, 1883; S. H. Barrett’s, 1885. [Peter Sells: “He was a man of sterling integrity, wide experience and a high class man.”] Died at Fultonham, OH.
SPROULL, GIBB. Gymnast, Dan Rice’s Paris Pavilion, 1873.
SPROULL, MABEL. Contortionist, Harry Thayer & Co.’s, 1890.
SPROULL, THOMAS. Agent, Henry Rockwell’s unit of Rockwell & Stone’s Circus, 1846.
SPRUNG, FRED. Ethiopian entertainer, Wilson’s Circus in the mountain towns of California, 1865.
SPURLING, C. General performer, with Spalding & Rogers, 1850.
ST. BENOIT TWINS. Two-headed baby, Bunnell sideshow, P. T. Barnum’s, 1879.
ST. CLAIR, F. T. Holton & Gates’ Harmoniums, a minstrel band organized for the the Simon Pure American Circus in New York, October 1, 1866.
ST. CLAIR, MAY. Morosco’s Royal Russian Circus, 1885.
ST. CLAIR, MONS. Trapeze performer. “From the Cirque de Napoleon, Paris.” S. P. Stickney’s, 1869; Metchear & Cameron, 1970.
ST. CLAIR, SALLIE. Adam Forepaugh’s, 1886.
ST. CLAIR, TOM. Comedian, Palace of Wonders, P. T. Barnum, 1876.
ST. ELMO, GEORGE and EMMA. George, equestrian director, and Emma, high-wire ascensionist, with Charles Andress’, 1889.
ST. GERMAIN, JOSEPH. Proprietor, St. Germain’s, 1889.
ST. JOHN, WILLIE. High wire and bicycle rider, McMahon’s, 1888.
ST. LEON, MME. Performing dogs, Fulford & Co., 1890.
ST. ORMOND, OSCAR. Trainer of Trakene stallions, P. T. Barnum’s, 1877.
STAAKS, KITTY. Bareback principal act, Cooper, Jackson & Co., 1884.
STAFLEY, CELESTE. James Robinson’s, 1872.
STANDISH, GEDRON B. (1847?-July 17, 1912) 15 years business manager for P. T. Barnum. Afterword, opened an elaborate hair dressing parlor, NYC. Eventually sold out and moved to Boston where he went into the candy business. A year later, went on the vaudeville stage, which lasted 3 years. Opened a small theatre, Cottage Grove, OR. After his wife died, 1910, moved to Tacoma, WA, and again went into the hair dressing business, which he continued until the time of his death. Died at Tacoma of a brain hemorrhage, age 65.
STANHOPE, GEORGE. Bill poster. James M. Nixon’s, 1870; Haight’s Great Southern, 1874.
STANHOPE, WILLIAM: (1838?-October 7, 1889) Showman. Born in Dayton, OH. Connected in the management with W. W. Cole and John B. Doris. Served during the Civil War in the Ohio regiment. Kept the Lake Villa Hotel, Lake County, IL, owned by E. J. Lehmann. With Louis Epstean, in the dime museum business, Chicago, for 2 years, buying out Col. Wood’s Museum on Randolph Street. Sold interest to his partner, 1886. Managed a hotel in Atlantic City. Returning to Chicago, 1888, was involved in various entertainment enterprises until his death there, age 51.
STANLEY, MAUDE. Mike Lipman’s, winter 1866-67; Orton Bros.’ Circus, 1867.
STANLEY BROTHERS. Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1875; W. H. Harris’ Nickel-Plate, 1886.
STANSELLE, FRANK. American clown, Great Atlantic and Pacific, winter 1871-72.
STANTON, CHARLES. Donaldson & Rich, 1885.
STANWOOD, HARRY [r. n. Henry Harrison Stephens]. Banjoist. End man for Sam Sharpley’s minstrel company, 1868-69. Performed for circuses. Married at Coburg, Canada, to Sarah Elizabeth Bonskill, May 5, 1885.
STAPLES, GEORGE. Cantellis & Leon’s winter circus, Havana, 1882.
STAPLETON, W. FRANK. Boss hostler, Whitney’s Imperial Wagon Show, 1892.
STARK, CHARLES. Charles Lee’s, 1889.
STARK, FRANK. Bareback rider. Hyatt & Co., 1859; double somersaulter, James M. Nixon’s, 1860; leaper, Robinson & Lake, 1859-62. On August 12, 1862, while attempted a triple somersault at the fair grounds in Cincinnati for a wager of $100. At first attempt, turned over 3 times but alighted in a sitting posture. This satisfied the wager, but Stark refused the money, stating that he would repeat the feat and land on his feet before he felt justified in winning the money. On the second attempt he landed on his head, dislocating his neck, and died a few hours later.
STARR BROTHERS. Jeal & Co., California, 1871.
STARR, GEORGE OSCAR. (April 1, 1849-September 10, 1915) Like Barnum, born in Bethel, CT. 1870, age 21, received his diploma in medicine. Same year, was commissioned 2nd Lt. in the New York State National Guard and eventually rose to the rank of Major. Began his show business career in association with Bunnell in a dime museum on the Bowery. Later becoming press agent for P. T. Barnum’s, 1878-79, owned by George F. Bailey, John B. Nathans, and Lewis F. June. Eventually became assistant to June, who was the general advance agent. For a number of years, involved in other entertainments, light opera, museums, and theatre in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Brooklyn. When James A. Bailey returned to the Barnum show after a 2 year rest, Starr was engaged as a special representative and sent to Europe in search of attractions. While en route to England, Barnum’s winter quarters in Bridgeport, CT, was destroyed by fire. Was commissioned to find replacements for the large loss of animals, which he skillfully accomplished; which led to other foreign missions entrusted to him. General manger, Barnum & Bailey, 1905. Sailed November 5, 1905, to arrange for the transportation of the Galerie des Machines from Paris to New York. Managing director of the Crystal Palace Exposition, London, England, 1908. Last position with Barnum & Bailey was as general manager, until, at Bailey’s request, he was replaced by the board of directors with W. W. Cole. Was twice married, second wife being the renowned Zazel, human cannon ball. Died in London. [Louis E. Cooke: “His career has been one full of honor. His friends number all of those with whom he came in contact, and his acquaintances were legion. His memory is a monument to the man.”] Before his death he asked to be cremated and that his widow dispose of the ashes on a sea voyage to America. Which she did.
STEARNS, WILLIAM H. Program agent, G. F. Bailey & Co., 1874.
STEBBINS, H. L. Equestrian director, Levi J. North’s, 1859; advertiser, S. Q. Stokes’, 1863; Tom King’s, 1864; advertising agent, Dan Rice’s, 1868.
STEELE, GEORGE K. General agent. Was born in Moundsville, WV. With Michael O’Conner & Co., 1869-70; Noyes’ Crescent City, 1871-73; Dan Rice’s, 1872; Burr Robbins’, 1875-80, 1885 as part owner; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1881-82. Was a sergeant in the Union army. Described as a typical Southerner with the broad-brimmed white hat and the accent in his voice, a gentleman of the highest type, whose work was always to the letter. [D. W. Watt: “Anywhere George K. Steele did business with people, they were always glad to have him come back, for he never made a promise to the public that he did not make good.”] Retired in the town of his birth.
STEELE, HARRY J. (1862?-January 21, 1913) Agent. Scribner & Smith, Leon Washburn’s, etc., and ultimately opposition agent for Barnum & Bailey. Also agent for theatrical enterprises. Forced to give up the road because of an invalid wife, worked for the Philadelphia Billposting Co., remaining with it for 20 years. Died in Philadelphia, age 51.
STEELE, JOHN. Menagerie supt., Haight’s Great Southern, 1874.
STEELE, LEW S. Press agent, John Robinson’s, 1883.
STEEN, CHARLES N. and MARTHA E. Mind readers and illusionists, John Robinson’s, 1880.
STEERE, L. M. W. Agent. Palmer’s Circus with Mrs. Dan Rice, 1866; advance agent, Dingess & Green’s Minstrel, 1866; advertising agent, L. B. Lent’s, 1868-69; advertiser, George F. Bailey & Co., 1870.
STEETNAM, BILLY. Ethiopian entertainer, with Haight & Chambers, winter 1866-67.
STEIN, T. Equestrian, VanAmburgh & Co., 1881.
STEINMAN, HENRY. Band leader, Henry Rockwell’s, 1847.
STEINSCHMIDT, FRITZ. Clown, Burr Robbins’, 1886.
STEMPEL, LIZZIE. Equestrienne, skipping-rope dancer, Montgomery Queen’s, 1874.
STEPHENS, GEORGE [or Stevens]. Son of a Millerton, NY, farmer. Boss canvasman, Hamilton & Sargeant, 1878; elephant keeper, Barnum & Bailey, England, winter 1889-90.
STEPHENS, HENRY HARRISON. See Harry Stanwood.
STEPHENS, OLIVER. With Gardner & Donovan, South America, 1886.
STEPHENSON, HARRY. Burr Robbins’, 1877.
STERLING, R. W. Treasurer, Beckett’s Great Exposition Circus, 1881.
STETSON, HENRY. General performer, Great European, 1865; Frank J. Howes’, 1865.
STETSON, JOHN. (1836-April 8, 1896) Born in Charlestown, MA. Became an athlete and champion runner. A match with Lynn Buck and another with John Grinnell were considered major events. Also gave exhibitions in the circus ring. After retiring from competition, founded the spicy sporting sheet, Boston Life, the contents of which caused a great deal of consternation among the staid Bostonians. [M. B. Leavitt: “Stetson was rough and ready, but gifted with rare business acumen, which was always profitable to himself. It was a fad among newspaper men of his day to invent blunders of speech and credit them to him, a pastime which he bore without resentment. In business he was inclined to be strict, sometimes irascible, yet manifest a keen sense of humor.... He could draw a contract as shrewdly as a skilled lawyer.”] Later became publisher of the Sporting Times, a Boston publication, 1867-72, and revived with a shortened format, 1884-86. Managed numerous theatrical enterprises, including Salvini, Lilly Langtry, James O’Neill, The Mikado, Princess Ida, minstrel and variety companies, etc. Owned at various times the Boston Show Printing Company, the Police News, several cafés, gambling houses, and pawn shops. Was the long-time successful manager of the Howard Athenaeum, proprietor of the Globe Theatre, Boston, and the Fifth Avenue, New York. Married Katie Stokes, 1887, considered by Gil Robinson to be the most beautiful female rider in America. Died of pneumonia in his Boston residence as one of the wealthiest theatre managers in the country.
STEVENS, B. M. Advertiser. With Lake’s Hippo-Olympiad, 1866-67; contracting agent, John Robinson’s, 1868; superintendant, James Robinson’s, 1871; general agent, L. B. Lent’s, 1874; general agent, Joel E. Warner’s, 1876.
STEVENS, BENJAMIN. (February 7, 1831-December 4, 1908) Rider and tumbler. Born in Albany, NY. Apprenticed to Henry Rockwell at the age of 8. As Master Stevens, rode at Howes’ Amphitheatre of the Republic, the Bowery, NYC, 1842; 2-pony rider, Rockwell & Stone, 1842-46, being billed as an equestrian prodigy. Also connected with Rockwell & Co., 1847-48; R. Sands & Co., 1849; Rivers & Derious, 1851; Welch & Lent, 1854-55; VanAmburgh’s, Broadway Theatre, winter 1857-58; George F. Bailey & Co., 1858; trick and somersault rider, Antonio Bros.’, 1860. While doing a forward somersault on horseback, Columbus, OH, fell and broke his right leg. Upon recovery, leaper, tumbler, P. T. Barnum’s, 1873; Barnum’s Roman Hippodrome, NYC, 1874-74, as a trainer of horses as well as a chariot racer. After retiring from the circus, became an insurance agent. Died in Brooklyn, NY.
STEVENS, E. P. Stevens & Smith’s Two-Ring Circus and Congress of Trained Animals (E. P. Stevens, George J. Smith, proprietors), 1898.
STEVENS, FRANK. Treasurer, Older’s, 1872-73; Steven's Amphitheatre, Shreveport, LA, opening on the October 23, 1873, with performances continuing daily through the holidays; proprietor and assistant manager, Stevens & Begun’s Circus, 1874.
STEVENS, FRED. Treasurer, W. W. Coles, 1878.
STEVENS, GEORGE. Boss canvasman, Main & Sargeant, 1891.
STEVENS, GEORGE W. “DR.” Treasurer, Alex Robinson’s, 1865-70.
STEVENS, HERMAN. Contracting agent, DeHaven’s Great Eastern, 1883.
STEVENS, MAJOR. Sideshow dwarf. Performed with Price & Simpson, 1824-25, appearing in the burletta Tom Thumb the Great. Said to be 37” tall at 21 years of age. Another source listed him as 40” and weighing 50 pounds. In 1835, executed ornamental and fancy paper-cutting, Valentines, etc., which he sold to people visiting his exhibition. His performance was in “profile likenesses.” J. O. Howes’ driving 20 Shetland ponies pulling Queen Mab’s Fairy Chariot, 1848.
STEVENS, O. P. Bandleader, Miles Orton’s, 1881, 1885.
STEVENS, PUSS. Clown, C. T. Ames’ New Orleans Circus and Menagerie, 1869.
STEVENS, SID F. Agent, Cosmopolitan Circus, Museum and Menagerie, winter 1871-72.
STEVENS, WILLIAM O’DALE. (1854-September 30, 1883) Equilibrist. One of the best foot jugglers in the business. Born in Portsmouth, England. In the circus business since the age of 4, his parents being in that profession. 1861, sailed with them to India where he remained for 5 or 6 years; thence to China, the Philppines, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Madagascar. Father died at the latter place, 1872. With Chiarini’s, revisited India and Japan. Returning, joined Ryan & Robinson; Montgomery Queen’s, California, 1877; Maltese cross and magic barrel, bareback juggling, Campbell’s, 1878; Anderson & Co., 1878; John H. Murray’s (when it was shipwrecked on way), West Indies, winter 1878-79; balancing feats, P. T. Barnum’s, 1879; Orrin Bros.’, Havana, winter 1879-80; Cooper & Bailey, 1880; W. W. Cole’s, Australian tour (which left San Francisco, October 23, 1880); Great Australian Circus (combination of William O’Dale Stevens’ Australian Circus & T. F. Kelly’s Specialty Troupe), National Theatre, Philadelphia, winter 1881-82; Stevens’ Australian Circus, performing on variety stages, prior to summer season, 1882; Park Square Grounds, Boston, 1883; W. O’Dale Stevens’ Australian Circus, winter 1882-83. Married hurdle rider Linda Jeal. As an equilibrist, he balanced a large cross, a table and a barrel with his feet; performed a running globe act. Was an excellent leaper and general performer. Had the West side Training Academy, Jersey City Heights, NJ. Died of a heart attack at his home in Jersey City, NJ, age 29.
STEWART, A. B. Mail and program agent, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1882.
STEWART, ALFRED. (d. February 20, 1872) Child acrobat, Rockwell & Co., 1848. Later, became an actor of some prominence. Died at Cobleskill, NY.
STEWART, ELLA. Sells Bros.’, 1874.
STEWART, JOSEPH. (d. May 22, 1870) Treasurer, Lake’s Hippo-Olympiad, 1868-70. Died in Vicksburg, MS.
STEWART, MME. W. E. Equestrienne. Mother of Alfred Stewart. Died, NYC, February 5, 1873.
STEWART, MARY. Hippodrome jockey, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1882-84.
STEWART, THOMAS. Rider and clown. Managed a circus company in Providence, RI, September 10, 1808. Advertised as performing a feat of picking up 4 handkerchiefs and a watch while his horse was going full speed. The show went on to Salem and Charlestown, MA. It is believed that he is the Stewart that George Stone referred to as giving equestrian performances in Albany (the first circus performer to visit there) on an open lot near where Fort Orange had once stood. The clown took up a collection outside the ring. Mrs. Stewart was called “a fearless, graceful rider.” Had a small company on the road, 1809, probable made up partly of amateurs. With Pepin & Breschard, Philadelphia, 1809; clown, with Robert Davis’, Salem, MA, 1810; Pepin & Breschard, fall 1810; Cayetano & Co., Canada, fall 1811.
STEWART, THOMAS L. (d. November 1872) Could be the same as above. Rider. James Hunter’s, 1827; Royal Pavilion Circus/Olympic Circus, 1830-31; Benjamin Brown’s, Caribbean, 1830-31; ringmaster, proprietor, T. L. Stewart’s Circus Co., 1831-32. 1832, opened the American Amphitheatre, Portland and Traverse Streets, Boston, returning in December for a week’s stay at the Federal Street Theatre. Spalding & Rogers, spring 1864; ringmaster, New York Champs Elysees, 1865. Died in Brooklyn, NY.
STEWART, WILLIAM [a.k.a. Stewart Nunn]. (d. 1852) Family came to the USA from England, 1844. Niblo’s, 1845; Nathan Howes’, winter 1845; four Nunns, Rockwell & Stone (Rockwell’s unit), 1846; Rockwell & Co. (Hubbell’s unit), 1847-48; Stone & McCollum, 1849; S. Q. Stokes’, 1851. Sons were Alfred and Henry. Died in New Orleans.
STEWART, WILLIAM H. “CAP”. (b. January 3, 1840) Acrobat, trapezist, and clown. Born in Fort Wayne, IN. A fluent talker, was a “ballyhoo” man with Dan Rice’s and Spalding & Rogers. James R. Cooke’s, winter 1864-65; Stowe Bros.’, 1867; G. G. Grady’s, 1868-69; light and heavy balancer and song and dance man, Spear’s, 1870; sideshow song and dance man, G. G. Grady’s, 1871; sideshow privilege, G. G. Grady, 1874; same with W. W. Cole’s, 1875. Started W. H. Stewart’s Australian Circus Combined with William Earl’s American Show, 1880; show was sold after a managerial disagreement, Stewart losing $8,500 from the undertaking. Sideshow manager, Bartine’s, 1892. Later started a “mud show,” but soon retired for sideshow and museum exhibiting. In 1915, at the Bellevue, OH, fair, presented Angola the Gorilla at 25¢ admission.
ST. GERMAIN, JOSEPH. Proprietor, St. Germain’s Imperial Circus, 1889.
STICKLAND, WILLIAM. Agent, John Robinson’s, 1875.
STICKNEY, ALICE. Rider, Hudson & Castello, 1881.
STICKNEY, BENJAMIN. (1819-February 24, 1860) Rider and wire walker. Brother of S. P. Stickney. Particularly useful in horse dramas. Lafayette Circus, NYC, January 1825-27; Mount Pitt Circus, NYC, 1826-28; Washington Gardens, Boston, summer 1827; Parsons’ Albany Circus (Simon V. Wemple, manager), Troy, NY, 1828; Washington Circus, Philadelphia, 1828; William Blanchard’s, 1830. Opened at Astley’s Amphitheatre, London, September 6, 1830. Visited Liverpool’s Theatre Royal with Ducrow’s Olympic Arena, 1834-5; Liverpool Royal Amiphitheatre, 1837. Remained with the company until after Andrew Ducrow’s death, 1841. Married Eleanor (nee Minter), the widow of Ducrow’s brother John, April 29, 1838, London. Shortly after Ducrow’s death, appeared with Davidge’s Company, Royal Surrey Theatre, London, as “The Great American Rider.” Returned to Liverpool, January, 1842, back with Ducrow’s National Establishment, with Mrs Stickney, and in February, 1843, with “The Late Mr. Ducrow’s Stud and Company.” Joined Tourniaire’s Company of French Equestrians, with Mons. Benoit Tourniaire and Master Polaski, January 1844, then returned to Astley’s under William Batty. Died in Kensington, England, age 40 years.
STICKNEY, CRISSIE. Rider, John Robinson’s, 1873.
STICKNEY, DONA. Dancer and Slack-wire performer. Daughter of Sallie Stickney.
STICKNEY, EMILY. Equestrienne. Daughter of Robert T. and Emma Stickney. Appeared in the legitimate drama of Polly of the Circus, 1911-12, and later joined her family in the exhibiting of trained animal acts.
STICKNEY, EMMA [nee Emma Rezac]. (1876-July 6, 1923) Second wife of Robert Stickney, Sr. Born in Cincinnati, OH. At age 16, made her debut as a wire act and juggler with John Robinson’s. Later appeared with Scribner & Smith’s (Sam A. Scribner, Neil Smith, proprietors), 1895; Frank A. Gardner’s Circus, South America, 1896; principal bareback equestrienne and high wire, Donovan & Stickney’s, West Indies, winter 1897-98; trapeze and flying rings, Great Wallace Shows, 1899; New York Circus Co. (T. S. Chapman, proprietor), West Indies, winter 1900-01; Forepaugh-Sells Bros, 1903; Circus Albert Schumann, Berlin, winter 1904-05. Married Stickney in Cuba, March 2, 1893. Died, Newark, NJ, from an accidental fall from a fourth story window. The Stickneys had recently returned from exhibiting their dog and pony act with Saenz Bros.’, Central and South America.
STICKNEY, EMMA AULINE. (1848-July 24, 1882) Daughter of S. P. Stickney. Considered a graceful, finished and pleasing performer, proficient at hurdle riding. Dan Rice’s, 1858; L. B. Lent’s, 1860-62, where she was billed as “Child of the Arena” and “Pearl of the Arena”; S. P. Stickney’s, fall 1861; New York Champs Elysees, 1865; Thayer & Noyes, winter 1865-66; Den Stone’s, 1878; John Robinson’s, 1877-78; manège act, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1879; Stickney’s Imperial Parisian Circus, 1880. Married Phil Blumenschein, Thayer & Noyes’ bandleader, which produced a son, Charles. Previously married to James Donovan and may have had still another husband named Olmstead. While traveling as ringmaster with Beckett’s Circus, she died of typhoid fever in Detroit. [John A. Dingess: “She mounted her horse with a confidence perfectly surprising and appeared to possess an intuitive genius for the poetical and beautiful. Her style was purely original.”]
STICKNEY, JOHN H. Brother of S. P. Stickney. Concert performer, Bancker’s, 1824; Washington Gardens, Boston, spring 1825; Lafayette Amphitheatre, NYC, 1825-26; Price & Simpson, Washington Amphitheatre, Boston, 1826; Stickney & Buckley (S. P. Stickney and Matthew Buckley, proprietors), 1844; minstrel, Nathan A. Howes’, 1845; minstrel, Welch & Delavan, 1847. Died in Providence, RI, about 1852.
STICKNEY, KATIE V. (1852?-February 6, 1874) First wife of Robert Stickney Sr., and daughter of old John Robinson. Died of childbed fever in Cincinnati, OH, giving birth to her second son. Was 22 years of age.
STICKNEY, LILLIE. Gymnast, W. W. Cole’s, 1886.
STICKNEY, LULU. Sells Bros.’, 1893.
STICKNEY, ROBERT JOHN DANVILLE. (1872-1941) Rider. Son of Robert T. Stickney and Katie Robinson. Born in Danville, IL. Carried by his father in equestrian acts from his first infancy and became proficient as a principal and 4-horse rider and as a trainer of horses. Kept at a boarding school for years and along in the latter 1880s graduated with high honors from one of the big eastern colleges. After finishing, joined the Forepaugh show and spent 2 weeks with his father who had expected that young Robert would study law in Cincinnati; but the young man took to the circus business and remained with it. James Donovan & Co., South America, 1888; Irwin Brothers, 1889; ringmaster, parade inspector, and performed his trick horses, ponies and dogs, Scribner & Smith, 1894; Tucker’s Giant Shows (Shea & Russell, proprietors), 1895; Bentley’s Old Fashioned Circus (J. B. Bentley, proprietor), fall 1895; Robinson-Franklin Shows, 1897; John Robinson’s, 1891-97, 1898-1900. While with John Robinson, did a hurricane jockey act, which included vaulting and somersaulting, and at various times was equestrian director, assistant manager and general director. Hargreaves, 1902; Orrin Brothers, Mexico, 1904; Great Wallace, 1905-06; Barnum & Bailey, 1907-08; Hagenbeck-Wallace, 1909, 1914; New York Hippodrome, 1910; Coop & Lent, 1916; Sells-Floto, 1920. Eventually, gave up riding and exhibited his trained horses, ponies and dogs at various parks and fairs. After retirement, operated a Phillips 66 service station in Des Moines, IA. Married Louise DeMott, 1893.
STICKNEY, ROBERT THEODORE. (December 24, 1846-February 24, 1928) Son of S. P. Stickney. Born in New Orleans. First introduction to entertaining was as Alonzo’s child in the play Pizarro with Edwin Forrest as Rolla. Next appeared as a tumbler and rider and ultimately became the best performer as a rider, leaper, and tumbler in combination of his time. By 1868, was considered champion pad rider of the world. Had the body sculptors liked to copy; his leaps were neat and lofty; his riding had style and finish; all of which led to his being billed as “The Apollo Belvidere of the Arena.” His positions were picturesque and graceful; and he displayed a fearlessness in executing his equestrian tricks; rode a 4-horse act to perfection. Perfomance of the double somersault from a leaping board, making 2 revolutions over 20 horses and alighted on his feet, accomplished for the first time in South Boston, Halifax County, VA, October 3, 1874, while with John Robinson’s. Welch & Lent, 1854; Howes’, 1855; Welch’s National, Philadelphia, 1857-58, 1860; L. B. Lent’s, 1860-61; S. P. Stickney’s, NYC, 1861; Chiarini’s, 1861; L. B. Lent’s, 1863; L. B. Lent’s, Wallack’s Old Theatre, NYC, fall 1863; L. B. Lent’s Equiscurriculum, 1864; Hippotheatron, NYC, winter 1864-65; New York Champs Elysees, 1865; Thayer & Noyes, 1864-66; Parisian Circus, assembled for the Paris Exposition (Avery Smith, G. Quick, John Nathans, Dr. Gilbert R. Spalding and Bidwell, proprietors), 1867; L. B. Lent’s, 1868-70; John Robinson’s, 1871-78, 1882; D. W. Stone’s, 1878; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1879, 1887; Dan Rice’s (Dan Rice, William H. Stowe, J. C. Oates, proprietors), 1881; New Great Pacific (Sells Brothers, proprietors), 1881; W. O’Dale Stevens’, winter 1882-83; S. H. Barrett & Co. (Sells Brothers, proprietors), 1883-86; P. T. Barnum’s, 1886; John B. Doris & John L. Sullivan Show, 1888; Gran Circo Estrellas Del Nortis (James Sturgis and James Donovan, proprietors), West Indies, fall 1888; Harper Bros.’, 1892 (fall of that year was at the West End Training Academy, NYC, breaking a troupe of Shetland ponies); Donovan & Long (James Donovan, Frank Long, proprietors), Central America, winter 1896-97; co-proprietor of Donovan & Stickney’s New Combined North American Circus, West Indies, winter 1897-98. Sold interest to partner, James Donovan, spring 1898. Along with the Robinson brothers, Stickney took over management John Robinson’s, 1871. After 1878, retired from riding due to a knee injury. Married Katie V. Robinson, the only daughter of John F. Robinson, 1870, after meeting her only a week before. Their first son, Robert John Danville Stickney, was born in Danville, IL; second son died in
childbirth on January 29, 1874, which led to the mothers death on February 24, 1874, in Cincinnati. Married Emma Rezac, March 2, 1893, in Cuba. Died in Miami, FL, age 81.
STICKNEY, ROSALINE. (1833-1857) Oldest off-spring of S. P. Stickney. Made her debut, 1836, as a 4 year old pony rider for Oscar Brown & Co. Robinson & Foster, 1842; Howes & Mabie, 1844; Stickney & Buckley (S. P. Stickney and Matthew Buckley, proprietors), 1844; S. P. Stickney’s, 1845-49; Spalding & Rogers’ Floating Palace, 1852-53; J. M. June’s, as “La Belle,” 1850. [John A. Dingess: “She had few rivals among female performers in the American arena.... She was a dashing and spirited equestrienne, who leaped like a gazelle over banners and bounded like an antelope through balloons.... She was tall and handsome and her winning naivety and peerless beauty blended with her faultless method of riding, which never failed to make her hosts of friends.”] Married Benoit Tourniaire (Mons. Benoit), of the famous French family of equestrians, in Havana, Cuba, around 1850. They appeared together as starring attractions with Spalding & Rogers, Welch & Lent, etc. Had 2 children, Rosaline, called Crissie (see below), and Samuel. The latter was probably a non-professional. Mrs. Tournaire died at the height of her career.
STICKNEY, ROSALINE “CRISSIE.” Equestrienne. The daughter of Rosaline Stickney and Benoit Tourniaire. John Robinson’s, 1873-76, 1879-82; W. W. Cole’s, 1878; Orrin Bros.’, Havana, winter 1878-79; Burr Robbins’, 1879, 1888; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1887-89; Martinho Lowande’s, West Indies, 1893; performed in South America up until 1895; Edward Shipp’s Petersburg Midwestern Circus, winter 1895-96. After giving up riding, became involved in trained animal acts. Married October 8, 1877, Lebanon, TN, to Robert Greare.
STICKNEY, SALLIE LOUISE. (1835?-January 5, 1886) Daughter of S. P. Stickney. Sometimes billed as “M’lle Heloise.” Born in Philadelphia. After starting riding at a very early age, developed an act of leaping, cutting, pirouetting, and one-foot riding with grace and ease; possessed beauty in face and form; bore herself with charm and dignity, which ranked her at the top of her profession. [C. G. Sturtevant: “In beautiful draperies and manipulating a long silken scarf, she would ‘strike’ various pictures and hold them in the scenic rides while going around the ring on horseback. She also introduced dancing, pirouettes, and rope skipping, all beautifully and artistically accomplished.”] October, 1861, created a sensation by marrying Omar Samuel Kingsley, whose act consisted of riding in woman’s clothing under the name of Ella Zoyara. Shortly, the couple left for California and Australia. The marriage was not a wise choice and they were soon separated. They had a daughter, Dona, who became a wire performer. Sallie returned from Australia, July, 1869. Kingsley subsequently procured a divorce and remarried. She performed with various circuses until marriage to rider William Franklin, 1872, while on the Forepaugh show and eventually “drifted out of the business.” Died in NYC after months of sickness and poverty; was cared for and buried through the auspices of the Actors Fund. S. P. Stickney’s, New Orleans, 1849; Welch’s, 1850; Welch & Lent, Philadelphia, 1854; S. B. Howes’, 1855; Joe Pentland’s, 1856; Dan Rice’s, Philadelphia, winter 1857-58; Tom King’s, 1858; L. B. Lent’s, 1858-60; Cooke’s Royal Amphitheatre, Niblo’s Garden, NYC, 1860; Lent’s Broadway Amphitheatre, NYC, winter 1863-64; John Wilson’s, San Francisco, 1864; Chiarini’s, Havana, 1864; Wilson & Zoyara’s, Calcutta, 1867; Thayer & Noyes, 1868; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1872. [John A. Dingess: “She had her own unique style of riding, as she abandoned the conventional devices of her contemporaries, giving performance that was refreshing, original, fine, graceful and modest, one which ladies who saw her grately admired.”]
STICKNEY, SAMUEL, JR. (1845-April 11, 1921) Eldest son of S. P. Stickney. Came into the profession as a hurdle rider, but an injury to an ankle ended the equestrian career. Subsequently, attended school in Philadelphia but returned to the ring as a Shakespearean clown to great success. [John A. Dingess: “As a jester he was witty, original and chaste. His voice was full and strong and his every word could be heard in the most remote recesses of the tent.”] Married Ida Sherwood, of the noted circus family, while with Mrs. Charles Warner’s, Philadelphia, December, 1864, a union which produced a son, Robert, and a daughter, Cora. Robert became a non-professional; Cora went into vaudeville as part of a juggling act with her husband, W. R. Johnson, whom she married in 1892. L. B. Lent’s, 1860; Howe’s, 199 Bowery, NYC, winter 1863-64; Thayer & Noyes, 1864; Mrs. Charles H. Warner’s, Continental Theatre, Philadelphia, winter 1864-65; New York Champs Elysees, 1865; Dan Rice’s, 1866; Dan Castello’s Great Show, 1866; French’s Oriental, 1867; ringmaster, L.. B. Lent’s, NYC, 1867; John Robinson’s, 1867, 1871; S. P. Stickney & Son’s World Circus, 1869, 1874; Campbell’s Zoological and Equestrian Institute, 1870; ringmaster, Curtis & DeHaven’s Roman Hippodrome, Circus and Menagerie, 1877. Died at his home in Chicago.
STICKNEY, SAMUEL PECK (1808-March 20, 1877) Father of the Stickney clan. Originally from Boston; tall, gentlemanly and possessed a fair education, as well as having a patriotic bent; never apprenticed, rather came into the profession as a “fill up.” Best act was “The Courier of St. Petersburg” on 8 horses. [John A. Dingess: “His manipulation of the reigns and his elegant and spirited manuvers were the height of perfection.”] Was considered a competent but not outstanding rider and one of the leading circus proprietors prior to the civil war. Called “Old Sam” or “S. P.” by those in the profession. Began his career riding and training horses with Price & Simpson, 1823, and ended with Stickney’s Calisthenic Exhibition, 1876. William Blanchard’s, 1823; Joseph Cowell’s, Savannah, GA, winter 1823-24; Price & Simpson, 1824-25; Quick & Mead, 1826; Nathan Howes & Co., 1826. In 1827, before 20 years of age, was in partnership with Jeremiah Fogg in what was said to be the second circus to cross the Allegheny Mountains. The troupe performed in Cincinnati and then took a flatboat down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, showing in towns along the route. The men opened circuses in New Orleans, Philadelphia, New York City. At the Washington Circus, Philadelphia, 1828, rode an act, carrying Charles J. Rogers on his shoulders and finished by leaping through a large balloon with Rogers still in place. John Lamb’s, 1831; Brown’s, 1835; Brown & Co., 1836-37; Raymond & Waring, 1840; Robinson & Foster, 1843, and while with him pioneered the 4-horse act. Followed with his own S. P. Stickney’s New Orleans Circus, 1844-47; managed the Philadelphia Amphitheatre, 1844; Amphitheatre, New Orleans, 1845; American Theatre, New Orleans, 1846; S. P. Stickney’s Circus, 1845-49. June & Co., NYC, 1850; Rufus Welch’s, Philadelphia, 1850, and continued with Welch into 1852 (at this time was performing the trained horse, Cincinnatus, as well as the 6-horse “The Courier of St. Petersburg”); Dan Rice’s, 1851; Robinson & Eldred, Boston, 1852; equestrian director, Raymond’s Zoological Institute, Philadelphia, 1853; Philadelphia Circus, 1853-55, where he performed his drunken soldier equestrian act called “Monticello”; Seth B. Howes’, 1855; 4 and 6-horse rider, Joe Pentland’s, 1856; Herr Driesbach & Co., 1857. 1858, opened the Phoenix Saloon, 611 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia; sold it a year later and returned to the circus business. L. B. Lent’s, 1860-64, ringmaster, 1867; Chiarini’s, 1861; brought the National Circus to the Bowery Theatre, NYC, 1861; Hippotheatron, NYC, winter 1864-65; New York Champs Elysees, 1865; with a split troupe from the Thayer & Noyes organization, under the management of Dr. Thayer, moved by steamboat along the tributaries of the Mississippi, 1865; Thayer & Noyes’, 1866-68; L. B. Lent’s, 1866; S. P. Stickney’s, 1869; equestrian director, Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1870; S. P. Stickney & Son’s World Circus, 1874; and was on the road with his own company off and on until his death in New Orleans. [C. G. Sturtetvant: “His greatest reputatation was gained ... by his remarkable versatility as ringmaster, horse trainer, instructor in all banches of the equestrian art, and in the general management of circus performances.”] Married Christiana Wolf, a non-professional, in the early 1830s and fathered 5 remarkable equestrians - Rosaline, Sallie Louise, Emma Auline, Samuel Jr., and Robert Theodore. Mrs. Stickney died, 1865. S. P.’s death in Cincinnati, while visiting his friend, John Robinson, was caused from slipping on the icy sidewalk as he came out of Wood’s Theatre.
STICKNEY, WILLIE. Howe’s New Colossal Shows, 1888.
STIENE, EDDIE. Vaulter, Albert M. Wetter’s New Model Shows, 1893.
STIFNEY BROTHERS. Acrobats, Holland & McMahon, 1885.
STILES, JACOB. George W. DeHaven’s Great Union, 1860.
STILES, JOHNNY. Clog dancer, with Hippocomique, 1868.
STILL, ALFRED. Animal tamer, Howes’ Great London, 1878; asst. Supt. menagerie and tiger performer, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1879-80; tiger performer, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881.
STILL, MRS. ALFRED. Panther performer, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1880.
STILLWELL, RENA. Snake charmer, Walter L. Main’s, 1892.
STIMSON, C. General performer, Spalding & Rogers, 1856.
STINER, WILLIAM. Gymnast, Melville, Maginley & Cooke, 1875.
STIRK, DENNY [r. n. Moore]. (d. March 26, 1901) Born in England. Came to USA at the age of 12. Remained with the Stirk troupe until 1882, when he became a member of the team of Stirk & Zeno doing an aerial return act. Flying return on the high wire, Sells Bros.’, 1886; Irwin Bros.’, 1889; Barnum & Bailey, London, winter 1889-90; Walter L. Main’s, 1893-94. The two continued to work together until 1897 when Stirk and his wife formed a team known as Stirk & Anita doing a double trapeze act. Died of pneumonia, NYC, age about 34.
STIRK FAMILY [Thomas, Mrs. Thomas, Denny, Flora, Nettie, etc.]. Bicyclists, fathered and headed by Thomas M. Stirk (1859-August 30, 1924), born in Birmingham, England. Died in Cincinnati. Troupe was brought to America by Tony Pastor, 1881, for a 2-weeks engagement, and were immediately hired by Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson for a 5 year contract. Followed by 13 years, Sells Bros.’; 8 years, Great Wallace’s. Thought to be the first troupe of bicycle riders to appear in the United States. Mrs. Stirk died in Boston, September 14, 1908.
STIRK, FLORA. (d. April 2, 1886) Born in Birmingham, England. Performed with the Stirk family since 1877, portraying fearlessness and grace in the bicycle act. Died in NYC, age about 11.
STIRTON, W. R. E. Aeronaut. Native of Southhampton, England. While making an ascension on a trapeze bar suspended from the car of a balloon with the United States Circus, 1882, drowned after he slipped and fell into the Ohio River at Maysville, Kentucky, August 5, age about 22.
STITCHBURY. Vaulter, West’s, 1818; clown, 1821-22. Sang “Around the Huge Oak.”
STITT, JAMES. (1880?-April 1, 1906) Gymnast. Began with a wagon show, 1892; Robert Hunting’s, 1893, as part of the Petite Family in an aerial bar and flying act; Sells Bros.’, 1894; Lemon Bros. & Walter L. Main’s, 1895-96; last 7 years with Great Wallace’s. Died, Mercer, PA, age 36.
STOCKING, J. W. Proprietor, J. W. Stocking’s, 1839.
STOKER, BEN. Yorkshireman. Slack and tight-rope performer. Yorkshireman and formerly from the Surry and Olympic Theatres. One of the circus talents recruited and brought to America by Stephen Price, 1822, along with the bareback riding star, James Hunter. American debut at the Park Theatre, NYC. Performed in and around NYC for several years. As part of his act on the wire, with one lightning move he would simulate being hung at the gallows, the sight and surprise of which caused ladies in the audience to faint and men to tremble. Price & Simpson, 1823-27; American Arena, Washington, DC, winter 1828-29; Samuel Parsons’ (under the management of Simon V. Wemple), Troy, NY, 1828; William Harrington’s, 1829; Sweet & Hough, 1835; Palmer’s, 1835.
STOKES, BELLE MARRIETA [Mrs. Austin]. (d. October 19, 1910) Equestrienne. One of the Stokes sisters - Kate (wife of John Stetson) and Ella (wife of John B. Doris) and Emma Stokes (wife of Frank Philling, manager of Philling, Crawford, & Chamberlain, Nebraska theatre owners). Born on steamer Belle at Marietta, OH, 1870. Father was Spencer Q. Stokes. Made her debut as an actress with Gill’s Two Bad Men; two seasons with Mestayer’s We, Us and Co.; leading lady for Tony Hart’s Donnybrook and Nellie in A Dark Secret; leading lady with Patti Rosa and the Dr. Bill. Died, NYC, following surgery.
STOKES, ELLA. Bareback equestrienne, the daughter of Spencer Q. Stokes, sister of Belle, Kate, Emma. Married Rudolphe Mette of the gymnast Mette Brothers, January 25, 1877. Both were performing with Stokes’ World Circus at the New National Theatre, Philadelphia. Married John B. Doris, April 5, 1887, and performed with his circus company, around 1883-88. Also connected with Empire City, 1871; New National Theatre, Philadelphia, winter 1876-77; W. W. Cole’s, 1880; Dan Rice’s, 1881; Leon & Dockrill, Iron Amphitheatre, Havana, winter 1881-82; P. T. Barnum’s, 1886.
STOKES, EMMA. Manège performer. Daughter of Spencer Q. Stokes and sister of Kate, Ella, Belle. New National Theatre, Philadelphia, winter 1876-77; W. C. Coup’s, 1878-81. Married Frank J. Pilling, at one time business manager of the Globe Theatre, Boston. He took her on the road, starring in a “Child of State” Co., but she failed as an actress. The pair subsequently ran a candy store.
STOKES, JAMES. Slack-wire. Arrived from England with West’s company, 1816. Killed by Cherokee Indians while traveling on foot to Montgomery, Alabama, 1833.
STOKES, JOSEPHINE. P. T. Barnum’s, 1878.
STOKES, KATHERINE. (d. May 4, 1896) Equestrian, “one of the prettiest women that ever jumped a banner.” Daughter of Spencer Q. Stokes and Emma, Ella, and [sister of] Belle. Made debut with L. B. Lent’s, NYC at a very young age to became one of the the most intrepid bareback riders in the country. Singled out by Gil Robinson as the most beautiful rider ever seen in America. Great Chicago, 1873; principal rider in her father’s circus at the National Theatre, Philadelphia, winter 1876-77; P. T. Barnum’s, 1878-79; principal rider, W. C. Coup’s, 1881, 1887. Married Carl Antony, horse trainer, in Pittsburgh, PA, September 10, 1878; divorced, October 6, 1886, after living apart for several years; second husband was John Stetson (prominent and wealthy theatre manager, real estate invester and publisher), married June 30, 1887. After this marriage, appeared upon the stage in her husband’s companies, notably in The Gongoliers and The Crust of Society. Sisters, Ella and Emma, were prominent equestriennes; another sister, Belle, went upon the stage. Stetson died at his home in Boston, April 18, 1896, age 61. Kate died from nervous prostration at her home in Boston the following month, age about 37.
STOKES, MOLLIE. Rider, W. W. Cole's, 1886; S. H Barren's, 1887.
STOKES, PAULINE. Hunting's Railroad Shows, 1893.
STOKES, SPENCER Q. (July 26, 1819-February 28, 1888) Horse trainer and showman. Born in Cincinnati, OH. At age 10 was inspired by Purdy Brown when the manager came to Cincinnati with his company. With Benedict & Eldred, early 1830s; 1836, worked in the mercantile trade for 4 years; manager, Rockwell's, 1848; after which, embarked into' management for himself. Married Emma Sampson, with whom he produced 4 daughters - Ella (born in England), Emma (born in Germany), Kate (born in the USA), Belle. His wife applied for divorce, January 1858; he had left her in St. Louis and had gone to England. The latter never performed in the circus but went upon the stage. Fall 1846, while with his circus company in New Orleans, because there was a lack of female performers, dressed young boys in feminine garb, a young rider named Leon made an impression. This was followed with Omar Kingsley. Stokes sailed for England with his company, 1851; disbanded in Hamburg, 1859, and returned to America, bringing Ella Zoyara out at Niblo's Garden, NYC, with Cooke's Circus, then under the management of James M. Nixon. His pupil succeeded in deceiving the audiences, as he worked nightly in a principal act as a female rider. Some time later he appeared as a male under his real name, Omar Kingsley. Stokes gained fame during his career as a horse breaker and trainer. His invention for the training of riders, which eliminated the danger of injury to the novice, called the "mechanic," was used for years by circus professional without profit to him. He continued with various circuses, supplying horses and performers, and at times financially interested in management. Died in NYC. Edward Eldred's, 1834; Buckley, Weeks & Co., 1835; J. J. Hall's, 1836; Eagle Circus/Cole & Co., 1837; A. Hunt & Co., 1838; Robmson & Foster, 1842; riding master, Howes & Mabie, 1844; agent. Great Western, traveling by steamboat, 1846 (was manager the following year when the show changed to wagon travel); equestrian director. First National Union Circus (combination of Nixon's Royal Circus and Sloat's New York Circus), 1861; with his horse Pasha, Tom King's, Washington, DC, winter 1861-62; Dan Rice's, 1864; trained horses. Lake's, Cincinnati, 1865; Brien's (John V. O'Brien's), 1868; Adam Forepaugh's, 1869; Dan Rice's, 1869; Wootten & Haight, 1871; P. T. Bamum's, 1872; ringmaster, James M. Nixon's, Chicago, 1872; manager, Parisian Circus, Operti's Tropical Garden, Philadelphia, fall 1876; director, circus at New National Theatre, Philadelphia, winter 1876-77; W. C. Coup's, 1881. In retirement was assistant treasurer of the Fifth Avenue Theatre, NYC, 1888.
STOKES, W. S. Band leader, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1889.
STOLTZ, W. W. Treasurer, Cooper & Co. (J. R. W. Hennessey, proprietor and manager), 1897.
STONE BROTHERS. George Sieber & Co., 1887; F. J. Tayor’s Circus and Menagerie, 1893. One of the act, Fred Stone, became a Broadway star.
STONE, DENNISON W. (1824-April 20, 1892) Clown and showman. Born in Burlington, VT, the son of a lawyer and namesake of Judge Denison, a prominent Vermont counselor. At age 14, ran away from to Brattleboro, VT, and joined Ira Cole’s Zoological Institute, initial job being carried in a 2-horse act by Elbert Howes. Became a clown, 1840, having appeared with Joseph C. Foster in the pantomime of Mother Goose. Between 1842-1875, in circus management under titles of Stone & McCollum, Stone & Madigan, and Stone & Murray. As Den Stone’s Circus and Central Park Menagerie. 1865, established groundwork for wealth by clearing $30,000 from a tour of Vermont. In 1878, toured his Grand Circus and Musical Brigade. It has been said he was the first (or perhaps one of the first) to put a circus on combined boat and railroad. Died at Franklin, NJ. Clown, Nathan A. Howes’, 1836; rider, Eagle Circus/Cole & Co., 1837; H. A. Woodward & Co., 1838; Ludlow & Smith, 1841; Robinson & Foster, 1842; Robinson & Foster, 1843; Stickney & Buckley, 1844; Great Western Circus (Dennison Stone, Eaton Stone, Thomas McCollum, proprietors), 1846-47; proprietor, (with H. P. Madigan), Stone & Madigan’s Great Southwestern Circus, 1850; VanAmburgh & Co., 1856; Hyatt Frost’s, 1857; New National Circus (John Tryon, proprietor), winter 1857-58; James M. Nixon’s, 1861; S. P. Stickney’s, NYC, fall 1861; Mabie’s, 1862; Howe’s, 199 Bowery, NYC, winter 1863-64; Stone, Rosston & Co., 1864-65; Stone, Rosston & Murray, 1866-68; Stone & Murray, 1869-71; Central Park Menagerie and Den Stone’s Circus, 1872; clown and equestrian director, Howe’s Great London, 1874-75; proprietor and manager, D. W. Stone’s Grand Circus and Musical Brigade, 1878; W. C. Coup’s, 1880; equestrian director, Robbins & Colvin, 1881; equestrian director, VanAmburgh & Reich Bros., 1885; and equestrian manager, Burr Robbins’, 1886.
STONE, EATON. (January 9, 1818-August 8, 1903) Bareback rider. Born in Bennington, VT, the son of Davis Stone, a prominent lawyer, and the brother of the clown, Den Stone. At the age of 8, ran away from home and joined Buckley & Weeks. Shortly, entered a 2-year apprenticeship with Ira Cole’s under Ben Brown, where he was put on Buckskin, an old and gentle horse, and within a week’s time made his first public appearance as “The Monkey Rider.” March, 1833, commenced an engagement at Richmond Hill Circus, NYC, as principal rider, tumbler, vaulter, and general performer. On the road with Raymond’s, 1835-36; Nathan A. Howes’, 1836-37; Yale, Sands & Co., 1838; Ludlow & Smith, American Theatre, New Orleans, 1840, during which time he received a gold medal for his artistry; Henry Rockwell & Co., winter 1841; Ludlow & Smith, 1841; Robinson & Foster, 1842-43; Stickney & Buckley, 1844; Great Western (Dennison Stone, Eaton Stone, Thomas McCollum, proprietors), 1846-47. At Montgomery, AL, was presented with a diamond brooch containing 21 stones and said to be valued at $1,200. That same year, appeared in Havana, Cuba, for 6 weeks, where he was dubbed “The Devil Rider”; the occasion of his benefit, the Governor General gave him 20 doubloons and 1,000 cigars. Spencer Stokes’ boat show, 1846; Olympic Theatre, New Orleans, 1848; Philadelphia, 1850, for a 2-week engagement under Sands and Avery Smith’s management, during which time he was presented with a silver service. Early in the fall of that year, Hamlin’s Old Bowery Theatre, which was so successful Chanfrau engaged him, hired 100 men, who with teams hauled cartloads of clay from Harlem and built a dirt ring on the stage of the National Theatre, where for 6 nights the place was densely crowded with audiences eager to see the famed equestrian. Sailed for England, May 1, 1851, and opened at the Drury Lane Theatre, London, for a 4-week run; on the occasion of his benefit, 7,000 tickets were sold; London Times pronounced him the best bareback rider ever seen in that city. Welch’s National Circus, 1850-51; Welch, McCollum & Risley, England, 1851. Returned home, 1855, on the sailing ship Ocean Queen. VanAmburgh’s, 1857-60, opening at the Old Bowery Theatre, NYC, December 14, 1857; took a benefit, January 27, when he appeared as a clown for the first time. Bareback and scenic rider, Sands, Nathans & Co., 1859; Stickney’s, 1861; First National Union Circus (combination of Nixon’s Royal Circus and Sloat’s New York Circus), NYC, fall 1861; Thayer & Noyes, 1862; James M. Nixon’s, Alhambra, NYC, 1863; Nixon’s Cremorne Garden Circus, 1863; Nixon-Macarte, 1863; National Circus, Philadelphia, 1863; Stone, Rosston & Co., 1864; James M. Nixon’s Hippotheatron, 14th Street, NYC, 1864; Mrs. Charles H. Warner’s, Continental Theatre, Philadelphia, winter 1864-65; S. O. Wheeler’s New Amphitheatre, Boston, winter 1864-65; S. O. Wheeler’s, 1865; Lipman & Stokes, 1866; Mike Lipman’s, 1866. After being in the circus profession for nearly 40 years, announced his retirement, 1867, to settle down on his farm in Essex County, NJ. Erected a private hippodrome, fitted up as a training school. His wife Lizzie died in Franklin, NJ, April, 1896. He was gravely injured from an assualt committed upon him November 10, 1898, in the Empire Hotel, Nutley, NJ, by Joseph Carroll. Carroll is said to have struck him without provocation, knocking him into an open fireplace; but there appears to have been no lasting damage from the event. Died at his home in Nutley, NJ, some 5 years later. In his prime, was a fearless rider who “would urge his horse to his utmost speed, and, without saddle or bridle, sometimes standing upon the back of the animal and sometimes seated upon his flanks, holding on, one scarcely knew how, careened around the arena with a velocity almost painful to look at.”
STONE, GEORGE. (d. December 18, 1864) Clown. Brother of equestrian William Stone. Native of Albany, NY, and began professional life at North Pearl Street Amphitheatre there under management of Samuel Parsons, probably as early as 1824. As a comedian, was said to possess rare dramatic talent and versatility. Was friend of Edwin Forrest, a man several years his senior. [Edwin Forrest: “His memory was the most remarkable I ever knew.”] Scenes, faces, and incidents were indelibly photographed in his mind and seldom forgotten. Visits to all the principal cities and towns of USA and Canada, and tours of England, Ireland, and Scotland, afforded him ample opportunities for recording a journal, the principal portion of which was ultimately published by Henry Dickinson Stone, 1873, under title Theatrical Reminiscences, as well as in T. Allston Brown’s lengthy series, New York Clipper, December 22, 1860 thru February 9, 1861. James W. Bancker’s, 1832; American Circus, 1833; Aaron Turner’s, winter, Philadelphia, 1833-34; Frost, Husted & Co., 1836; Eagle Circus/Cole & Co., 1837; A. Hunt & Co., 1838; Yale, Sands & Co., 1838; Miller, Yale & Howes, 1838; Charles LaForest’s, 1842; Waring & Raymond’s, 1842. After retirement from the profession, embarked in commercial business, Philadelphia, where he died, age 53.
STONE, HOWARD N. Burr Robbins’, 1885.
STONE, JAMES Equestrian director, S. H. Barrett’s, 1885.
STONE, JENNY. Equestrienne, Grand National, 1865.
STONE, OSCAR R. (December 3, 1815-August 31, 1846) Equestrian. Born on a farm near Pittstown, New York; age of 12 was apprenticed to a tailor; later, to another tailor in Bennington, Vermont, and to a third in Troy, then, at about age 19, set himself up as a tailor in Hoosick Falls, New York. Taught himself circus riding after purchasing a horse named Kitty Clover which cost him twenty dollars and a gold watch (used her as late as 1838); trained at a coal pit in the woods about two miles out of Hoosick Falls, which he converted into his practice arena; did not use a pad or a saddle, but applied himself from the start to become a bareback rider; later erected a ring barn with a thatched roof; by spring, 1836, had five horses and had trained four boy riders and decided it was time to abandon the tailor’s trade for circus proprietorship; began by performing for pay in a four-day stand at his own arena; went to Read’s Hollow, west of Hoosick Falls, and enclosed an abandoned blacksmith shop with a board fence for use as an arena; visited North Adams, Massachusetts, for five days of “good business”; traveled to Albany, at the corner of Green and Division Streets; acquired two more horses and several men at this point, and began a six-week stand; purchased a tent and wagons and joined a small menagerie and wax-figure exhibition with the title Hoadley, Latham & Eldred; December, 1837, formed a partnership with John Benchley which was called the Lafayette Circus; began in Commerce, Missouri, on December 5, and spent the next year in Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee and Mississippi. By 1841 Stone was a more-than-competent rider, having mastered both principal and scenic riding and performing them on barebacked horses, when he joined P. H. Nichol’s Grecian Arena and Classic Circus; 1842 he became a partner of Henry Rockwell, one of the better riders of the day, in Rockwell & Stone’s New York Circus; by 1845 put out two units. May 23, 1846, very heavy thunderstorm struck after the evening performance, and Stone caught a bad cold, probably developing pneumonia; lingered three months, dying in Boston in August. (courtesy of Stuart Thayer)
STONE, SOLOMON. Arithmatical phenomenon, sideshow, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1879-80.
STONE, WILLIAM F. Equestrian. Brother of George Stone. J. W. Bancker’s, 1832; Aaron Turner’s, Philadelphia, winter 1833-34; Buckley, Weeks & Co., 1835; clown, Frost, Husted & Co., 1836. Died in Nevada, California, age 40. [T. Allston Brown: “He was extensively known as an equestrian performer of great ability and as a man of many good and charitable qualities.”]
STONEHAM, W. Band leader, Cooper, Bailey & Co. Australian tour, 1877.
STORER, LOUIS “PETEY.” (d. September 12, 1907) Rider. One time connected with John Robinson’s as a featured bareback performer. Died at Lafayette, IN, age about 50.
STOREY, WILLIAM D. Band leader. James M. French’s, 1869-70; Rosston, Springer & Henderson, 1871.
STOUT, ACH. Agent, car #3, Metropolitan Circus, 1897.
STOUT, CHRIS B. Formerly treasurer, Enoch’s varieties; sideshow privilege (with Ham Norman), Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1877.
STOUT, HUGHIE. Fat man, Walter L. Main’s, 1893.
STOUT, JOHN. Concert performer, Dan Rice’s, 1860; Dan Castello & Co., 1866.
STOUT, WILLIAM H. (d. April 26, 1889) Rider and clown, J. T. and J. B. Bailey’s, 1834; strongman, J. W. Bancker’s, 1836; rider, Eagle Circus/Cole & Co., 1837; clown, H. A. Woodward & Co., 1838; 4-horse rider, S. H. Nichols’, Albany Amphitheatre, winter 1843; winter circus, Niblo’s Garden, 1843-44; equestrian director and 4-horse rider, Dr. Gilbert R. Spalding’s, 1844; rider, June & Turner, 1845; scenic rider, Rockwell & Stone, 1846; Welch’s National, 1847; equestrian director and 2 and 4-horse rider, R. Sands & Co., 1849; rider, Johnson & Co., 1852; equestrian director, Welch & Lent, 1855; equestrian director and 6-horse rider, Mabie’s, 1857-59; billposter, P. T. Barnum’s, 1873.
STOVEY, PROF. Musical director, Haight, Chambers and Ames, 1867.
STOW, ASA BRAY [or Stowe]. (May 5, 1818-February 23, 1898) Showman. Born in Cromwell, CT. With John Bailey, Gen. Wilcox, and Walter Hall, organized Great Northern Circus from stock he acquired from the European Circus, and took the show through Canada, the eastern states, NY and PA. 1872-73, contracting agent with Showles & Co.’s Grand Triple Combination. After leaving the circus business, occupied himself with wood engraving and monumental photographing. Died at his home in Middletown, CT.
STOW, CHARLES E. (d. August 16, 1907) Considered one of the greatest press and bill writers of all time. Father was an Erie County, PA, judge, who expected his son to follow in his footsteps. Before entering show business, was an editor for Dan Rice’s newspaper, the Cosmopolite. A man of strong views and one who expressed them freely. [Charles H. Day: He wrote with enthusiasm, “his pen shed the flowers of a rich imagination.”] Gardner, Hemmings & Cooper (Dan Gardner, Richard Hemmings, William H. Gardner, and James E. Cooper, proprietors), 1867-68; general agent, Rosston, Springer & Henderson, 1872; director of publications, P. T. Barnum’s, 1874-75, 1877; general advertiser, Sells Bros.’, 1878-81, tour of Australia, 1891-92.; P. T. Barnum’s, 1882-86; Barnum & Bailey, 1888. Died at Whitestone, Long Island. [Louis E. Cooke: “Charley Stow was a man of most remarkable talent, a veritable genius and a writer of wonderful power, whose descriptive paragraphs were songs in both prose and poetry.”]
STOW, HENRY. North American Circus and Balloon Show, 1875.
STOWE, A. B. Proprietor, Stowe’s, 1868; Great National, 1872.
STOWE, ALBERT M. “BURT.” (1858?-March 16, 1911) Showman. The brother of John F. Stowe. W. H. Stowe’s Circus, winter 1881-82; Burr Robbins’, 1885; proprietor and business manager, Stowe Bros.’, 1888-89; general superintendent and contortionist, Sig. Sautelle’s, 1897. Died in Cincinnati, age 53.
STOWE, ELIAKIM “UNCLE IKE”. (1821-January 14, 1899) Born in Pennsylvania. Father of leaper James Stowe. In partnership with his brothers, John and Albert, formed Stowe’s Western Circus and Indian Show, 1868. Show later became known as the Stowe & Fisher Circus, touring Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Michigan. Company discontinued, 1873. Died in Fort Wayne, IN.
STOWE, FRANK. Treasurer, Stowe’s Western Circus and Indian Show, 1868; band leader, Stowe’s Circus, 1870; press agent, E. Stowe’s Northwestern Circus, 1871; proprietor, Frank Stowe’s Great Western Aggregation, Balloon Show and Bedouin Arab Show, 1874; band leader, W. W. Cole’s, 1875; band leader, John Robinson’s, 1879; W. H. Stowe’s Circus, winter 1881-82; old time clown, Stowe Bros.’, 1896.
STOWE, HARRY. Stowe’s Western Circus and Indian Show, 1868.
STOWE, JAMES B. Tumbler and gymnast, with E. Stowe’s Northwestern Circus, 1871; principal equestrian, Burr Robbins’, 1872; battoute leaps, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1878-79, 1892; P. T. Barnum’s, 1880; Orrin Bros.’, Mexico, winter 1881-82; Sells Bros.’, 1882, 1884; equestrian director, S. H. Barrett’s, 1885; Miller, Stowe & Freeman (Charles A. Miller, James B. Stowe, William H. Freeman, proprietors), 1887; equestrian manager and hurdle rider, Fulford & Co., 1890; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1892; Walter L. Main’s, 1893; manager, Stowe Bros.’ Circus, 1896.
STOWE, JOHN. Equestrian director and talking clown. King & Franklin, 1887; John F. Stowe & Co., 1888; proprietor and manager, Stowe Bros.’, 1889; Stowe & Pubilliones (John F. Stowe, S. Pubilliones, proprietors), Havana, winter 1891-92; John F. Stowe’s Railroad Show, 1892; superintendent, Walter L. Main, 1897. [D. W. Watt: “Uncle John was the typical early day showman, massive in size, wore a velvet vest and a large watch chain. While Uncle John never went through college, he insisted on making the announcement for the evening show. It went like this—‘Ladies and Gentlemen, we thank you kindly for your liberal patronage this afternoon and we show here again this evening with an entire change of program, and I will guarantee that if you give us a good crowd, we will give you a good show.’”]
STOWE, JOHN. (1817?-December 17, 1876) Father of John F. and Albert. Proprietor, John F. Stowe Circus, 1867-68; Stowe & Norton, 1869; Stowe & Orton, 1870-71; John Stowe & Son, 1872; Stowe, Robbins & Co., 1873; assistant manager, Sadler’s Great English Circus, 1875; proprietor, Cooke’s English and American Circus, 1876. Died in Vicksburg, MS, age 59.
STOWE, JOHN F. (d. May 16, 1939) Cousin of Harriet Beecher Stowe, had his “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” show on the road for 37 years. Father was a showman, piloting a showboat on the Mississippi. After father’s death, 1871, young John carried on. Equestrian director, King & Franklin, 1887. Summer 1892, equipped his own 10-car circus, touring the country until fall, when financial reverses caused him to disband. Organized smaller show and shipped from Tampa, FL, to Havana, and a 5-month’s tour; New York, 1896, met W. H. Donaldson, founder of the Billboard, who suggested he try an “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” company, which made a debut, Vineland, NJ, September 1896, and for 34 years played nearly every Northern city of importance. In 1897, New York City, at Flatbush and Fifth Avenue, built an enormous stage covered with canvas and featured a cast of more than 100 people, which ran for 20 consecutive weeks. Had Stowe Bros.’, 1897, a 10-car circus; leased a 9-car trained animal show from Walter L. Main, 1898, which failed. [Walter L. Main: “Stowe was a gentleman always, but a better worker for someone else than for himself.”] Wife’s name was Katherine; had a son, John. Died at his home, Niles, MI, one of the oldest “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” show managers in the country, age 80.
STOWE, MRS. JAMES. Manège performer, Fulford & Co., 1890; flying rings and dive for life, Stowe Bros.’, 1896.
STOWE, WILLIAM H. (d. March 30, 1882) Son of showman John Stowe. Born in Ottokee, OH, around 1852. First worked with his father’s company, 1868. The show went out as Stowe & Orton, 1870-71; following year, listed as a partner, John Stowe & Son’s Circus; clown, Stowe, Robbins & Co., 1873; Sam Cole’s, 1874; Sadler’s (with which his father was assistant manager), 1875; Cooke’s English and American, 1876; P. T. Barnum’s, 1877, 1879-80; Orrin Bros.’, 1878; John H. Murray’s, West Indies, 1878-79. Opened Stowe’s Circus, under his sole management, New Orleans, February 20, 1881. After 3-week engagement, toured the South by rail, wagon and steamer. As a performer, considered a good clown and Ethiopian comedian and excellent leaper. During off seasons, performed in variety theatres. Married equestrienne Lizzie Marcellus. Both died in the burning of the Golden City steamer. The company had boarded the boat in Vandalia, LA, headed for Cairo, IL, and their season opening. As the boat was about to tie up at Memphis, TN, fire broke out and in less than 30 minutes it went down about 200 yards from shore with a loss of 50 lives, which included Stowe, his wife and his children, Birdie and Willie.
STRAIGHT, CHARLES. With Ned Straight, ran the sideshow with Maginley’s Cosmopolitan Circus, 1863.
STRAIGHT, D. H. Agent, DeHaven’s (Andrews & Carpenter, proprietors), 1861.
STRAIGHT, E. V. Proprietor, Straight’s, 1891.
STRAIGHT, NED. With Charley Straight, ran the sideshow with Maginley’s Cosmopolitan Circus, 1863.
STREETER, J. H. Sideshow manager, Beckett’s Great Exposition Circus, 1881.
STREVBIG, J. V. Advertising agent, Inter-Ocean Show, 1883.
STRICKER, JOHN C. See John C. Luando.
STRICKLAND, J. S. General performer, L. B. Lent’s, 1866.
STROBACH. Equestrian. Boy trained by John Bill Ricketts, 1793, to ride on his shoulders in a “Flying Mercury” act.
STROUP, ALBERT. Great Combination Circus (George M. Kelley, Pete and John Conklin, William LaRue, proprietors), 1871.
STROUSE, NAT. Acrobat, Charles Bartine’s, 1872.
STUART, CAPT. J. C. Advertising agent, Ball & Fitzpatrick, 1865.
STUBBS, CAPT. ELMER E. “Champion Rifle, Revolver and General Shot of the World,” Senor Cortina’s Wild West Show, 1885; feature attraction, Doris & Colvin, 1887.
STUBBS, STOKES. Program agent, L. B. Lent’s, 1874; chief billposter, Howes’ London, 1875.
STURGIS, C. J. Proprietor, Sturgis & Donovan, 1889-90.
STURGIS, JAMES. Gran Circo Estrellas Del Nortis (James Sturgis and James Donovan, proprietors), West Indies, fall 1888.
STURTEVANT, JAMES B. Delavan, WI, grocer. Co-proprietor with Edward Holland, Van Amburgh Circus, 1891.
SUILIE, LEON. Bareback and trick rider, Howes & Sanger, 1872.
SULLIVAN, JOE. (d. May 6, 1894) “The Oakland Giant.” Formerly with Sells Bros.’.
SULLIVAN, JOHN L. Celebrity boxer, featured with John B. Doris & John L. Sullivan Show, 1888.
SULLIVAN, THEODORE J. (1840-1920) Partner, to Henry A. Eagle, of Sullivan & Eagle, makers of parade wagons for small to medium size traveling amusements. First organized in 1879, the firm operated from 1880 into the 1910s. Their output included at least 8 steam calliopes to various shows.
SULLY, MATTHEW. Clown. Son of a wealthy Englishman, and said to have been disinherited for giving up his theological training. Instead, married Sarah Chester and followed an acting career in England and performing as a singer and tumbler at Sadler’s Wells. His sister was married to Thomas West, who planned the Charleston Theatre and who brought the Sully family to Charleston, 1792. Wife was a talented musician and at some point gave music lessons to some of the Charleston citizens. Oldest son, Lawrence, studied art and subsequently was a miniaturist painter. Younger son, Thomas, apprenticed to his sister Julia’s husband, a French miniaturist named Belzons. Thomas eventually married brother Lawrence’s widow and pursued an art career in Philadelphia, where he painted a portrait of the famous actor George Frederick Cooke.
SULLY, MATTHEW, JR. Ground and lofty tumbler. Appeared with John Bill Ricketts’, 1795, and later with Lailson’s ill-fated group in NYC and Philadelphia, 1797-98. Daughters Charlotte and Elizabeth were actresses who also appeared with Ricketts’ company.
SUMMERS, JOHN. DeHaven & Co., 1865.
SUN BROTHERS. Showmen. Born to German parents, John and Caroline Glotz, John being a tug boat captain in Oswego, NY. Moved to Toledo, OH, around 1860 and began rearing 3 daughters and 4 sons. After John died, 1873, Caroline was left alone to raise the 7 children by operating a small hotel. John, Jr. (1858-1941), the oldest of the boys, once billed as J. H. Jamima, juggled cannon balls and swords 3½ feet long, or, as a newspaper item suggested, “handled huge dice and other articles as though the laws of gravitation had been suspended for the time being, or threw sharp knives about and caught them again with reckless indifference.” [Jack K. Sun: “John began performing at the early age of seven, by ‘mountebanking,’ which was doing an act in the open air or in saloons and passing the hat as a reward for the performance. At ten he was walking from town to town....”] A serious injury occurred some time prior to the brothers opening their own show but he seems to have been involved in some capacity for the first year or two. After leaving show business, he was reported being occupied in the real estate in New York. Died in Tampa, FL, having never married. George J., the second son (1862-1917), born in Toledo, OH. In early days, a competent juggler, following in the steps of his older brother. Was connected with Barnum & Bailey, Wallace & Co., Batcheller & Doris, and Charles Andress’ Magic Show before starting the Sun Bros.’ Circus. With the latter, suffered a leaping accident that paralysed both of his legs for the remainder of his life. Following the accident, took out a small variety road show, Sun’s Phantasma & Novelty Co., with brother John as a feature performer. 1892, with his brothers John and Gus, established the Sun Bros. Great United Shows, 1895, married an inn keeper’s daughter from Hamilton County, OH, Jessie Kraut. Often worked his act when his physical condition necessitated him being propped up on the stage. After founding and managing the Sun Bros.’ for 21 years, retired from active management, 1912. Ended his own life in his home in Hot Springs, AR, by shooting himself in the head, age 55, after having been paralysed for 30 years. Lived in Hot Springs as a winter home for 10 years, partaking of the baths and investing in local real estate. Was a stockholder in the Arkansas Trust Co., DeSoto Springs Water Co., and Maurice Bath House Co. His children were son George J. Jr. and daughters Aleen and Jessie. Sold his interest in the Sun Bros.’ to Pete about 3 years prior to his death. Gustave Ferdinand Sun (b. 1868), juggler and equilibrist, the third in age of the Sun Bros. Born in Toledo, OH. Early professional experience came from engagements with the Amaranth Minstrels, with the Somerville and Fry Circus in Chicago, in various dime museums and medicine shows. Even took out a medicine show of his own. Around 1896, formed the Gus Sun Rising Minstrels and later organized an “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” Co. Married his wife, Nellie, 1897. The couple had four children - Louise, Nina, Gus Jr., and Bob. Entered into the theatrical business, 1904, Springfield, OH, and by 1907, with a partner, was operating 10 theatres. This prompted his establishing a vaudeville booking agency, through which many well known performers got their start in the business. Bought a half interest in the Sun Bros.’ from his retiring brother, George, 1913, to keep outside parties from obtaining an interest in it. Enterprises earned him considerable wealth. Peter Sun (1872-1961), the youngest of the brothers, was also born in Toledo. Became a stockholder in the circus when Gus originally disposed of his interest, 1898; and with brother George, was chief proprietor of the family show. Proficient as a juggler, slack wire performer, aerial acrobat, clown, and an outstanding paper-tearing act. Married Vira Maddock, 1910. Their children were Pete Jr., Paul, John, and Harriet. Sold the equipment of the Sun Bros.’ in the fall of 1918.
SUN, EILEEN. (1902-1989) Equestrienne. Was a daughter of George J. Sun of the Sun Bros.’ Performed with that company from an early age.
SUN, GEORGE, JR. (1898-1986) Son of George J. Sun of the Sun Bros.’ Began performing as a clown on his father’s show at the age of 3. Later became an equestrian. Married in 1945 but had no children. After leaving show business, worked for the Internal Revenue Service.
SUNLIN, LEW. Sells Bros.’, 1886-87; Ringling Bros.’, 1892-94. Married Allie Jackson.
SUNLIN, WILLIAM. Acrobat, Hudson & Castello, 1881.
SUTHERLAND, JOSIE. A Chicago girl who, 1881, was selected by Adam Forepaugh to replace Louise Montague as the $10,000 beauty.
SUTHERLAND SISTERS [3 in number]. King & Franklin, 1888.
SUTTON, DAN. G. G. Grady’s, 1868; assistant manager, Warner & Henderson, 1874.
SUTTON, H. N. Knockabout, clown, Sutton & Jackson’s Great Combined Shows (with A. Jackson, proprietors), 1896.
SUTTON, J. F. General Agent, Satterlee, Bell & Co., 1858.
SUTTON, RICHARD P. Richard’s Big Show (Richard P. Sutton, proprietor), 1889-92.
SUTTON, W. H. Director of publications, Cooper & Jackson, 1880.
SUTTON, WILLIAM. Equestrian, Orrin Bros.’, Havana, winter 1878-79.
SUYDAM BROTHERS [Frank, Eugene]. Leapers and tumblers, general gymnasts. Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1877; Lowande’s Great Brazilian, 1877; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1878.
SWADLEY, D. S. Proprietor, D. S. Swadley’s Monster Combination, 1872.
SWADLEY, JOSIE. Principal and bareback rider, Valkingburg’s, 1881.
SWALLS, CHARLES. Railroad contractor, W. W. Cole’s, 1883.
SWAN, ANNA HANNON. (1846-August 5, 1888) Sideshow giantess. Born in New Annan, Nova Scotia. Became “The Nova Scotia Giantess.” Another Barnum discovery, exhibited at the American Museum at age 17. At one time weighed nearly 400 pounds. Billed as “the tallest woman in the world,” standing around 7’ 4”. Became a leading attraction. Saved from the museum fire, 1865, by being lifted from an upper story by a derrick. Booked on a European tour by Judge Ingalls, 1871, along with another giant, Captain Van Buren Bates. The two were married on June 17 of that year. Toured with Cole Bros.’, 1878-80, after which time they turned to farming in Ohio.
SWANN, THOMAS. (d. July 26, 1812) Equestrian. Opened a riding school, September 9, 1794, at a building near the Battery, NYC (perhaps the building Ricketts had erected). In October, a troupe of dancing monkeys was added to the performances under the hand of a Mr. Cressin. After this engagement, Swann began the practice of veterinary medicine in Philadelphia and erected a building there in which to show horses and give riding lessons.
SWARTWOOD, DOTTIE. See Admiral Dot.
SWEENEY, ANDREW. (d. July 21, 1892) Herculean performer, who threw and caught cannonballs, caught a shot fired from a cannon. Gregory Bros.’, 1884; Sells Bros.’, 1885; John Robinson’s, California (Frank Frost, manager), 1886; Howe’s New London, 1887. Principal attraction with the Sullivan-Muldoon Co. at the time of his death in Kansas City, MO.
SWEENEY, CHARLES HENRY. (1857?-March 9, 1932) Clown, equestrian director. Weldon & Co., 1884; Wallace & Co., 1887; equestrian director, Cook & Whitby’s, 1892; equestrian director, Great Wallace, 1896. Traveled with circuses for 27 years. Retired from show business around 1924. In latter years, was employed as custodian at the Mississinewa Country Club, Peru, IN.
SWEENEY, DICK. Ethiopian entertainer, John Robinson’s, 1857-58.
SWEENEY, FRANK. Contortionist, “the human python,” Wallace & Co., 1887; Wallace & Anderson, 1890.
SWEENEY, JAMES T. Married Alice Wallace, sister of Benjamin E. Wallace, circus manager, September 19, 1893, in Peru, IN. Had been working for the Great Wallace since 1884. Superintendent of menagerie, Cook & Whitby’s, 1892; in charge of animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, 1893.
SWEENEY, JOE. (d. October 27, 1860) Ethiopian entertainer. Welch, Bartlett & Co., 1839; Broadway Circus, NYC, 1840; June, Titus, Angevine & Co., 1841; Welch & Mann, 1841, 1845. Died at Appomattox, VA.
SWEENEY, SAM: Ethiopian entertainer, Bowery Amphitheatre, NYC, 1841; sideshow entertainer, Sable Minstrels, Orton & Older, 1859.
SWEET, ELIZA SEBASTIAN. Equestrienne. Married Signor Sebastian, London, February 8, 1860; divorced December 5, 1873; retained the name of Sebastian in her billing - ”Madame Sebastian Sweet” - which prompted a exchange in the press between the two. Jackley’s Vienna Circus, 1874, performing a manège act with her horse Mountain Toncrede; Sandford & Courtney, South America, 1875; Robinson & Myers, 1883. Daughter Josephine was an equestrienne with the show.
SWEET, GERMAIN. Tight-rope, Olympic Theatre, New Orleans, 1848.
SWEET, GEORGE. (b. 1816) Rider and rope-walker. While with Asa T. Smith’s circus, threw the first forward somersault from ground to horse seen in this country. Olympic Circus, Philadelphia, 1823; John Rogers’, NYC, 1823-24; Price & Simpson, 1823-27; Walnut Street Theatre, 1824, where he was announced as an infant prodegy of 9 years of age; Fogg & Stickney, Washington Amphitheatre, Philadelphia, 1830; Yeaman Circus, 1831; rider and tight-rope performer, American Circus, 1833; proprietor, Sweet & Hough’s Pavilion Circus, 1835; Palmer’s, 1835; Bancker & Harrington, 1835-36; Brown & Co., 1836; scenic rider, A. Hunt & Co., 1838; H. H. Fuller’s, 1838; J. W. Stocking’s, 1839; the winter circus at Richmond Hill, NYC, 1837; Frost & Co., 1837; tight-rope, June, Titus, Angevine & Co., Bowery Amphitheatre, 1840-41; Howes & Mabie, 1841; Welch & Delavan, Baltimore, 1841; 2-horse rider, Nathan A. Howes’, winter, 1842; tight-rope and transformation act, Welch’s National, Philadelphia, 1842; 2-horse rider and still vaulter, N. A. Howes’, Bowery, NYC, 1842; John Tryon’s, Bowery Amphitheatre, NYC, 1843-44; James Raymond’s, 1843-44; Nathan A. Howes’, winter 1843-44; Rockwell & Co., 1847; Stickney’s New Orleans Circus (Stickney, North & Jones, proprietors), 1849; vaulter, June & Co., 1851; Dan Rice’s, 1852; Welch’s National, 1852; L. B. Lent’s, 1860. Eventually developed a form of insanity and, while performing at the Amphitheatre, Buffalo, threw himself from the third floor of the Eagle Tavern.
SWEET, ISAAC. 2-horse rider, Sweet & Hough’s Pavilion Circus, 1835; Palmer’s, 1835; western unit, June, Titus, Angevine & Co., 1842; John T. Potter’s, 1844; John Tryon’s, Bowery Amphitheatre, NYC, 1844-45; Nathan A. Howes’ New York Bowery Circus, 1845; Howes & Co., 1846; 4-horse rider, Victory Circus, 1847; gymnast, Dan Rice’s, 1855-56. Later, became a streetcar conductor, NYC.
SWEET, J. D. Privileges, Great Southern Circus, 1874.
SWEET, JOSEPHINE. Child bareback rider, Jakeley’s Vienna Circus, 1874; Sandford & Courtney, South America, 1875. Daughter of Mrs. Eliza Sebastian Sweet, manège performer.
SWEET, O. P. Holton & Gates’ Harmoniums, a minstrel band organized for the the Simon Pure American Circus in New York, October 1, 1866. Was one of the better bassos and interlocutors in the minstrel business. [M. B. Leavitt: “His conviviality made him at times a little unreliable...”] Eventually settled in Springfield, MA, and became one of its leading surgeons.
SWINGLEHURST, T. Boss canvasman, P. T. Barnum’s, 1875.
SYLVESTER, A. D. Came to America with Franconi’s Hippodrome, 1853. Died, Philadelphia, September 5, 1881, after being in retirement for some tme. May be Arthur Sylvester below.
SYLVESTER, ANNIE. Trick bicyclist, Frank A. Gardner’s, South America, 1896.
SYLVESTER, ARTHUR. General performer, Flagg & Aymar, 1856.
SYLVESTER, BEN. Orrin Bros.’, Havana, March 1879.
SYLVESTER, EDDIE. Knockabout clown, Burr Robbins’, 1880; Robbins & Colvin, 1881; W. W. Cole, 1884; King, Burk & Co., 1884.
SYLVESTER, EVERETT. Contortionist, “the Boa Constrictor Man,” Sells & Rentfrow’s, 1893.
SYLVESTER, FRED J. (1838?-June 13, 1887) Rider. Late of Franconi’s Hippodrome, Paris and New York, Washburn’s, 1855; Chiarini’s, South and Central America, 1869-70; James M. Nixon’s, 1870; Great Eastern (Dan Carpenter and R. E. J. Miles & Co., proprietors), 1872-74; James Robinson’s, 1874; Chiarini’s, San Francisco, 1879; the same in the Orient, 1887. Died in Shanghai, age 49.
SYLVESTER, HARRY. Juggler, Robinson’s Combined Shows and Trained Animal Exhibition, 1892.
SYLVESTER, HARRY. Orchestra leader, Gollmar Bros.’, 1894.
SYLVESTER, JAMES. Trapeze performer, died on March 19, 1874, NYC.
SYLVESTER, JENNIE [Mrs. William Aymar]. James M. Nixon’s, Alhambra, NYC, fall 1863; dancing horses, Allen’s Great Eastern, 1880.
SYLVESTER, JOHN R. Program advertising, Scribner & Smith, 1894.
SYLVESTER, MME. Circassian lady, Haight’s Great Eastern, 1874.
SYLVESTERS. Lady gymnasts, P. T. Barnum’s, 1886.
SYLVIA, HOMER. Boss canvasman, Great London, 1880.
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