Circus Historical Society
Olympians of the Sawdust Circle
Olympians of the Sawdust Circle: A biographical dictionary of the ninteenth century American circus
Wa - We
Compiled and Edited by William L. Slout
Copyright © 2005 by William L. Slout. All rights reserved.
WACHTEL, ANNIE. See Charles W. Lingard.
WACK, EUGENE. Band Leader, Robert Hunting’s, 1894.
WADDELL, REV. “DOC” [r. n. W. S. Andres]. (b. August 26, 1863) Agent. Born in Portsmouth, OH. Grandfather was a horseman and animal trainer. Began as a candy butcher at age 10 and graduated to a variety of circus jobs - canvasman, driver, ticket seller, “grifter,” all day grinder, principal announcer, press agent, and circus parson, conducting revivals and preaching in many of the large churches in America and abroad. After 50 years of press work, became the dean of press agentry.
WADE, SILE. Negro minstrel, George F. Bailey & Co., 1859.
WAGNER, JESSE D. [“Prof.”]. Band leader. Donaldson & Rich, 1885; James T. Johnson’s Great Western Circus, 1886.
WAGSTAFF, LOUISA. Rider, Welch & Mann, 1843.
WAHLE, PROF. E. Band leader, Alex Robinson’s, 1865.
WAINO. See Plutano and Waino.
WALCOT, EDWARD. Clown, Spalding & Rogers’ Floating Palace, 1859.
WALHALLA BROTHERS [Edward, John, Max]. Hat spiners and acrobats. Adam Forepaugh’s, 1873-76; “Les Deux Comiques” and gymnasts, Cooper, Bailey & Co., Australian, 1876-77. Remained permanently in Australia, first joining Burton's Great Australian, 1878-79; l880; interested in Walhalla & Barlow's British-American; Chiarini’s, 1881-84; Wirth’s 1888-89; Mathews Bros.', 1888; Harmston’s, 1890; FitzGerald’s, 1903-05; Alison’s Vaudeville Co., touring New Zealand, 1921. John married Mme. DeGranville, iron-jawed lady, Australia, March 10, 1878. Edward died, Sydney, 1925. Max was clown, Sells Bros.’, 1878.
WALKER, EVA. Tight-rope, hippodrome jockey, Bamum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1882.
WALKER, JERRY, Clark Bros.’, winter 1889-90.
WALKER, JOHN. English musician “who plays the Ophicleide in the band,” Rockwell & Stone, #2, 1845.
WALKER, J. W. Press agent, Walter L. Main s, 1889.
WALKER, LLIAM. Dan Rice’s, 1862.
WALKER, THOMAS DAWSON [“Whimsical”]. (July 5, 1851-November 1934) Clown. Born in Hull, England, the son of Robert Stanley Walker, manager of Thomas Cooke’s circus, 1840s. Mother died, 1854; father remarried, moved to Stockport. At 8 years of age apprenticed to Pablo Fanque. Appeared as clown 2 years later. Remained with Fanque for some 8 years. Then, after Fanque’s death, 1871, joined Croueste and Nella’s. Followed by Charles Adams’. Came to USA for John H. Murray’s, 1875; then appearances with Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1879-80; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1880; Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881-82. Sailed for England, October 17, 1882, where he was with Hengler’s. [John Turner: “In U.S.A. 16 times, toured the world 3 times, with Hengler’s Circus 14 years, at Drury Lane, in pantomime. 21 seasons.”] Pursued a career in films under the name Jamie Darling, appearing in fourteen between 1913 and 1915.
WALKER, WILLIAM [a.k.a. Walker Nunn]. With Nathan Howes’, winter 1845; Rockwell & Stone, 1846; then Rufus Welch’s, 1848-49; St. Louis Amphitheatre, 1851; Rockwell’s, 1851; corde volante, Dan Rice’s, New Orleans, winter 1853-54; Crescent City, 1855-56.
WALL, J. Director of amusements, Baldwin, Wall & Co.’s Great Eastern, 1880.
WALL, J. M. Contracting agent, Cole’s (George S. Cole, John Sparks, proprietors), 1893.
WALL, W. B. Treasurer, Baldwin, Wall & Co.’s Great Eastern, 1880.
WALLACE. Strong man, Sweet & Hough, 1835.
WALLACE, BENJAMIN E. [“Col.” and “Uncle Ben”]. (1848-April 8, 1921) Born in Pennsylvania. Joined the Union Army at age 18 and participated in the Civil War. At close of hostilities, engaged as a hostler for a livery stable in Peru, IN. Later, became proprietor of his own stable. Spring 1884, joined with James Anderson and Al G. Field in a partnership to place a wagon show on the road under the title of Wallace & Co.’s Great Menagerie, International Circus, Museum, Alliance of Novelties and Mardi-Gras Street Carnival, an outfit consisting of 185 horses and mules and 55 wagons and cages. Took over ownership, 1887, changing the show’s title in 1892-94 to Cook & Whitby, but returned to the original when the outfit was enlarged for a trip to the West Coast and back, 1895. [Sturtevant: He had “a practice of hiring top people at prevailing wages, was a shrewd dealer and a supreme judge of horse flesh, and said to have been a very modest and retiring man, not wanting to be recognized as the owner of a large circus.”] However, he was not above allowing grift on his show. [Orin Copple King: He had “much in common with knaves like Willie Sells, Joe McMahon and others of like ilk.... They stayed close to the straight and narrow when at home, but once they passed the city limits nothing was too scurilous for them to attempt.”] The Wallace circus moved into new winter quarters in the fall, 1892, when a 220 acre farm was purchased for $30,000. 11 buildings were constructed—a 200’ x 120’ main barn, 40’ x 50’ cat animal building, 100’ x 50’ elephant building, 50’ x 50’ camel barn, 150’ x 50’ two-storied shop building, 50’ x 50’ ring barn and stables, two 50’ x 50’ storehouses, cook house, two-story residence and outbuildings, and a 750’ wagon shed. Wallace proudly stated: “When the Wallace show comes in for the winter, it puts its cars in its own sheds, on its own side tracks on my land; the wagons are run into my own shops, and my horses turned into my own pastures. I can feed my animals and men with my own hay, grain, vegetables, beef and pork raised by myself. I can replentish my stock from my own breeders. I can build all necessary buildings from timber cut from my own woods, and can winter my show without buying supplies outside, with the exception of the bread I get from the baker and a few cases of canned goods at the grocer’s.” With John Talbot and Jerry Mugivan, Wallace purchased the Hagenbeck Wild Animal Show, 1907; ultimately, combined it with the Wallace property and bought out his partners. 50-car Hagenbeck-Wallace circus continued under his management until he sold it and retired to his home in Peru, IN, July 1, 1913, from where he sold old circus equipment. In 1912, he owned real estate in Peru, including three square miles of farmland where the Hagenbeck-Wallace winter quarters were, holdings in banks, street railway lines, department stores, electric light plants, stocks and bonds, gilt edge securities, etc. Died at the Mayo Brothers Institute, Rochester, MN, age 73. [R. M. Harvey, Wallace’s last general agent: Wallace was “kind hearted, democratic, averse to display, opposed to false pretenses ... a plain Hoosier farmer, reared in and near a small town, governed by his natural Scotch common sense, guided by his own rules and judgment.”]
WALLACE, BERNARD L. Treasurer, with Hagen-beck & Wallace. A nephew of Ben E. Wallace. Married Caroline Schrock, Peru, IN, July 31, 1910.
WALLACE BROTHERS. Gymnasts. Tom King’s, 1862; Gardner & Hemmings, 1862.
WALLACE, DOC. Clown, Wootten & Haight, 1871.
WALLACE, FANNIE. Scottish giant, W. W. Cole’s, 1874-75.
WALLACE, FLORENCE E. (August 27, 1852-February 8, 1924) Wife of Ben E. Wallace. Born at Bennington VT, the daughter of Rueben Fuller and Mary Jane Skinner. Owned approximately 2,200 acres of land in Miami County, 600 of which were sold to the American Circus Corp. for winter quarters; owned the Senger Dry Goods Co., the Colonial Apartments, the Bearas Dairy, the Wickler Dairy, and 31 pieces of real estate in Peru, IN; had controling interest in the Wabash Valley Trust Co. Died at her residence in Peru following a stroke.
WALLACE, GEORGE. Charioteer, Barnum & Bailey, 1892.
WALLACE, HARRY. High-wire walker (with Idaletta), Pullman & Mack, 1885.
WALLACE, IDA. Rider, the Great Roman Hippodrome and Congress of Novelties (William D. Curtis, proprietor), 1877.
WALLACE, PROF. Performing bears from California, L. B. Lent’s, Wallack’s Old Theatre, NYC, November 1863; Lent’s Equescurriculum, 1863.
WALLACE, W. F. Showman, died from kidney trouble at Hot Springs, AR, September 13, 1912.
WALLACE, WILLIAM. Master of transportation, L. B. Lent’s, 1867-69; superintendent of animals, Robbins & Colvin, 1881.
WALLACE, WILLIAM. Chief usher, P. T. Barnum’s, 1873.
WALLACE, WILLIE. Cooper, Jackson & Co., 1882.
WALLACH, J. H. General agent, S. H. Barrett & Co., 1882.
WALLACKER, GEORGE W. (d. March 8, 1889) P. T. Barnum’s.
WALLETT, WILLIAM FREDERICK. (October 12, 1808-March 13, 1892) Shakespearean clown. Born in Southcoates, near Hull, England, of a sailor father of Scotch descent. Made first appearance on the stage as a “super” at the Royal Hull Theatre, 1830. Later, joined Abbott’s traveling company for 4 years; Milton’s Circus, where he made his debut as a clown; with James Wild’s, W. S. Thorn’s, Holloway’s Amphitheatre at Sheffield, Wells & Miller’s at Wakefield (where he assumed the title of the “Shakespearean Jester”). Engagements with Cooke’s and then VanAmburgh’s followed. After 2 years with the latter, joined Edwin Hughes’, where he designed the ornamental carriages for the show, including the great lion wagon drawn by elephants. Next, with William Batty’s and then Pablo Fanque’s; and became one of the greatest favorites seen in England at that time. 1849, left for America and made his debut for Gen. Rufus Welch in the fall of that year, one that was marred by ill feelings from an anti-British portion of the audience; but it was the making of him in this country as many in the crowded house rallied to his support (it was rumored that the incident was a ploy created by Wallett to insure his success). Next, employed by Seth B. Howes for the Federal Street Theatre, Boston. Followed by a season’s engagement at the National Circus, Philadelphia, beginning December 17, 1849; then, James M. June’s, where he was paid the highest salary ever received by a clown in America, 1850. Spalding & Rogers, American Theatre, New Orleans, winter 1850-51; Dan Rice’s, 1852; Rufus Welch’s, 1852, National Circus, Philadelphia. First appearance as an actor in this country, Chestnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, December 11, 1852, as Duke Aranza in The Honeymoon. Returned to England, 1858; while there, joined Howes & Cushing for their second season at the Alhambra Palace, London. Organized a traveling company for a provincial tour and then appeared throughout Europe as a star attraction. Subsequently, left Europe for America on the City of Baltimore, arriving in NYC, January 14, 1866. Appeared for Robert Fox, American Theatre, Philadelphia, January, 1866; P. T. Barnum’s, 1871; Forsitt’s, London, England, off-season 1890-91; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1892; Barnum & Bailey, 1895. Wallett was head and shoulders above his contemporaries, called the “Queen’s Jester” and the “Demosthenes of the Arena.” Costumed in mediaeval jester attire, depicting the Royal Arms, and sported a ponderous mustache, his jests were long recitations, sometimes in prose, sometimes in verse, refined and instructive, filled with political and moral sentiments. He is said to have introduced intellectuality into his act in place of the customary buffoonery, which inspired a school of Shakespearean clowns and created a rivalry with the English clown, Thomas Barry. A student of Shakespearean and a widely read man, eager to quote the bard whenever applicable. [John A. Dingess: “He had all the easy assurance, gentle ways, and polish of society.”] In semi-retirement for his last 20 years, he was an enthusiastic gardner, and an amateur photographer, one of the first to use the French Daguerrotype, on which made several improvements. An interest in science led to the invention of a self-charinging process in the bottling of mineral waters. Died at Beeston, England. [John Glenroy: “A better clown never stepped into a ring.”]
WILLIAM FREDERICK WALLETT, II. Equestrian, bareback jockey riding, somersault and trick bareback riding and two-horse Roman standing riding. Married to Sarah T. Wallett, and father of Florence and Russell. Nephew of the original, brother of Ada Wallett, the wife of Dave Castello. Born in England, 1871. American engagements with Adam Forepaugh’s, Barnum & Bailey, Forepaugh-Sells. Brought to this country by James A. Bailey about 1890. [New York Clipper: “Late of Circus Renz, Berlin, Germany, English jockey and hurdle rider.”] After 1894 season, sailed for England for the winter; back in America, 1895; while with Barnum & Bailey, married Florence, a member of the Flying Dillons, a casting act in which she was a leaper. 1896-97, while on Forepaugh-Sells, Florence was the trapezist; William did bareback somersaults and bounding jockey act. 1898, Florence was riding with her husband in double bareback jockey act on Walter L. Main’s; later that year, in England with Barnum & Bailey for the great five season tour. Opened with Barnum & Bailey at Madison Square Garden, 1903; later in the season, Ringling Bros., Oakland, California. Cirque MacCaddon, France, 1905; 1907, Forepaugh-Sells; 1909, Fred Buchanan’s Yankee Robinson Circus; 1910, Howes’ Great London; 1911, Gollmar Bros.’; 1912, Mighty Haag Show; 1913-14, Sun Bros. Circus; 1915, Jones Bros. World Toured Shows; 1916, Merkle's River Shows, later in the year, Wheeler Bros. Enormous Shows; 1917, Cook Bros. Circus, and later, Andrew Downie's La Tena Wild Animal Circus; 1918, Walter L. Main Circus; 1919, went to Mexico to present equestrian acts on circuses there; 1920-21, Howe's Great London Shows. [See John Daniel Draper, “The Wallett Family of Principal Riders,” Bandwagon, July/August, 2004.]
WALLGROVE, JAMES. Leaper, Alexander Robinson’s, 1871.
WALLHALLA, MAX. Clown, Sells Bros.’, 1878.
WALTER, JOHN. Rider. Began with Pepin & Barrett, 1822-23, and continued with Pepin at least through 1827; Royal Pavilion Circus/Olympic Circus, 1830; Frost, Husted & Co., 1836; J. J. Hall’s, 1836; Frost & Co., 1837.
WALTERS, CHARLES. Rider and gymnast. Spalding’s, 1847-50; Spalding & Rogers, 1851-53; Chiarini & Raymond, 1855; Herr Driesbach’s, 1856; Spalding & Rogers, 1857-59.
WALTERS, LEW. Variety troupe, with Haight & Chambers, 1867.
WALTERS, T. F. Treasurer, H. C. Lee’s Great Eastern, winter 1877-78.
WALTERS, W. Spalding & Rogers, 1859.
WALTON, BILLY. Clown, Spalding & Rogers’ Floating Palace, 1859.
WALTON BROTHERS [Dave, Hiram, Reno, Master John]. Wallace & Co., 1887; Sells Bros.’, 1891; Ringling Bros.’, 1893.
WALTON, FRED. (d. November 13, 1914) Acrobat. At one time with the Barnum & Bailey. In later years, a vendor of post cards and flowers. Died in Cincinnati, age 56.
WALTON, JOSEPH. Roberts & Gardner (Nick Roberts, F. A. Gardner, proprietors), 1886.
WAMBOLD, AMELIA. Running globe, Collins’ Oriental Combination, 1877.
WAMBOLD, CHARLOTTE [or Carlotta]. Equestrienne. Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1877; Lowande’s Great Brazilian, 1877.
WAMBOLD, E. Stickney’s Imperial Parisian Circus, 1880.
WAMBOLD, FRANCIS H. James M. Nixon’s Parisian Hippodrome and Chicago Amphitheatre, May 1872.
WAMBOLD, GEORGE [a. k. a. William Mitchell]. (b. October 13, 1842-1908) Born in Quebec, Canada. Contortionist, equestrian acts, tight-rope, globe, barrel, and performing dogs. Brother of gymnast Harry Wambold. Gardner & Hemmings, 1863; with the trick dog, Beauty, Tom King’s, 1864; Havana, fall 1864; Palmer’s Great Western, 1866; dog, etc., Gardner & Hemmings, Front Street Theatre, winter 1865-66; George F. Bailey & Co., 1866; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1867; DeMott & Ward, 1868; James M. Nixon’s, 1870, 1872; John O’Brien’s, 1871; Cooper, Bailey & Co., Australian tour, 1877-78 (performing in the concert as Prof. Wambold, fire eater); Cooper, Jackson & Co., 1882; Wallace & Co., 1884. Married Millie Cordella, principal rider and gymnast, Australia, 1878. The two were with St. Leon’s, Austust 1878; Burton’s the following year. Divorced in 1884; second wife was Belle Celeste. There was a son, George, Jr., with whom he performed as an acrobatic team, Guilford & Cannon, winter 1889-90; Phil Diefenbach’s, 1895; M. L. Clark Shows, 1896. Died of consumption in St. Louis, MO.
WAMBOLD, HARRY. (1848-November 28, 1889) Some 25 years involved in the performance of aerial and gymnastic feats. Brother of George Wambold. Married Lottie Aymar around 1874. Wambold & Whitby, 1861; horizontal bars, DeMott & Ward, 1868; walked from ground to the top of center pole and back, Haight & Co.’s Empire City, 1871. Treasurer, Walter B. Aymar’s, South America, early 1870s; the troupe returned to the United States, 1875, and performed at Bidwell’s Acadamy of Music, New Orleans. Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1877; Howes & Cushing, 1877; Lowande’s Great Brazilian, 1877. Died of a stroke.
WAMBOLD, JAMES F. (March 4, 1834-June 15, 1901) Clown and minstrel performer. Born in Newark, NJ. As a young man learned the trade of trunk maker. Devoted himself to the banjo and became a member of a local minstrel troupe with which his brother, David S. Wambold, was associated. Later, joined Spalding’s Floating Palace. Afterward, Backus’ Minstrels, Chicago, where he became a popular comedian, assuming the name of Senor Wamboldi. Next, traveled with the Sands & Nathans as a clowns; also, George F. Bailey & Co., 1861-69; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1867. An expert whistler and imitator of sounds of birds, frogs, turtles, using the banjo as accompaniment. Last engaged, clown, Henry Barnum’s, where he developed an ailment caused by the use of bismuth and antimony for whitening the face. Admitted to the Overbrook Insane Asylum on Camden St., Newark, NJ, and remained there some 26 years prior to his death.
WARD, CAROLINA. Child performer, DeMott & Ward, 1868.
WARD, DOC. G. G. Grady’s, 1868.
WARD, EDDIE. Griffith & Allen, 1886.
WARD, FRANK A. Pad rider. New York Champs Elysees, 1866; James M. French’s, 1869; program agent, Stevens & Begun, 1874; bareback rider, H. Harlan’s Great Inter-Ocean, 1875.
WARD, GEORGE. James M. Nixon’s, fall 1870.
WARD, IRA C. Ward’s Great London Shows (formerly Charles Lee’s, Ira C. Ward, proprietor and manager), 1897.
WARD, JAMES M. (d. October 28, 1888) Clown and juggler. Aaron Turner’s, 1848-57; George F. Bailey & Co., 1857, 1862, 1864; James M. Nixon’s, 1860; Bailey & Co. at Spalding & Rogers’ Academy of Music, New Orleans, winter 1863-64 (this being the first equestrian exhibition in that city in 3 years) Tom King’s, 1864; Gardner & Hemmings, Front Street Theatre, Baltimore, 1866; slack-rope, George Metchfe's Hippotheatron, St. Louis, 1866; New York Champs Elysees, 1866; Stone, Rosston & Murray, Front Street Theatre, Baltimore, winter 1866-67; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1867; proprietor, clown, slack-rope performer, hat spinner and juggler, DeMott & Ward, 1868; Campbell’s, 1869-70, 1878; Philadelphia Circus, winter 1870-71; Hemmings & Cooper, 1871; Sheldenburger’s, 1871; Trimble’s Varieties (with an act called “At Home In The Air.”), Pittsburgh, 1872; James E. Cooper’s, 1872-74; Haight’s Great Southern, 1874; Cooper and Bailey, 1875; concert privilege and clown, Rothschild & Co., 1876; Campbell’s, 1878; Batcheller & Doris, 1879; John B. Doris’ Inter-Ocean, 1883; O’Brien, Handenberger, Astley & Lowanda, 1884. Married widow of clown Charles Parker in Philadelphia, 1875. While performing on the trapeze at the London Theatre, St. Louis, fell 30’ to his death.
WARD, L. P. Horizontal bar performer, Lee & Ryland, California, and other west coast locations, winter 1866-67.
WARD, MARTIN. (d. October 20, 1869) Animal keeper. Got started with Mabie’s Menagerie and then was connected with Yankee Robinson’s. Died in Sherburne, NY, age 24
WARD, THOMAS T. “HI TOM.” Clown and leaper. Early on, apprentice to Wally Ward. He did a song and dance in the concert and leaped and tumbled in the circus program. [Charles H. Day: “Ward was a cyclone of wind and the top of the canvas used to flop when he talked. He blew a perfect gale with his mouth.”] James P. Johnson’s, 1870; Michael O’Conner & Co., 1870; trick clown, L. B. Lent’s, 1874, 1876; John H. Murray’s, 1877; Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1880; Sells Bros.’, 1882; John B. Doris’ Inter-Ocean, 1884.
WARD, WILLIAM. Clown and juggler. Cooke’s Equestrian Troupe (James M. Nixon, proprietor), Niblo’s Garden, NYC, 1860; Silas Dutton’s, winter 1879-80, 1880.
WARD, WALLY. Privileges, John H. Murray’s. Earlier, kept a hotel and later ran a variety theatre, Newark, NJ.
WARE, WILLIAM. English bounding jockey, Frank A. Gardner’s, South America, 1895.
WARING, HIRAM. Co-proprietor, Waring, Tufts & Co., 1833-34; Raymond-Ogden-Waring, 1835.
WARING, NOELL E. (d. February 1, 1854) One of the earliest exhibitors of menageries in this country, in partnership with James A. Raymond in the firm of Raymond & Waring for several years. Manager, Mammoth Exhibition from Zoological Institute, New York, 1836; manager, Association’s Celebrated Menagerie and Aviary from the Zoological Institute, Baltimore, 1837; proprietor, Noel E. Waring’s winter circus, 1837-38; manager, Waring, Raymond & Co., 1839; proprietor, Raymond & Waring, 1840; Philadelphia Circus, 1840; Waring & Raymond, 1842; Raymond & Waring’s Grand Zoological Exhibition, 1846-47. Died in New Orleans.
WARNER, CHARLES. Lion tamer, with Chiarini’s. Died of small pox, Calcutta, June 2, 1881.
WARNER, CHARLES. (d. August 30, 1865) Native of Great Barrington, MA. First engaged by Dan Rice, 1856, as treasurer, a position he held until 1860. Married Mrs. Rice, fall 1861. Following year, Mrs. Rice’s Great Show (managed by George Goodwin); O’Brien’s National Circus, 1863; proprietor, circus at National Hall, Market Street, Philadelphia, winter 1863-64, and then on the road. Died at Sam Miller’s Hotel, Philadelphia, age 34.
WARNER, CHARLES H. Gymnast, Kincade’s, 1871.
WARNER, HANFORD. (d. February 16, 1910) Many years manager of “Wild Men of Borneo,” Plutano and Waino. Died at his home in Waltham, MA.
WARNER, HENRY D. (d. June 12, 1905) Brother of Joel E. Warner. Contracting agent, J. E. Warner & Co., 1871; Warner & Henderson, 1874; Springer’s Royal Cirq-Zoolodon, 1875. Veteran of the Civil War. Settled in Lansing, MI, after retiring from the circus business; at various times holding the offices of Deputy Sheriff, City Marshal, and Justice of the Peace and for 2 years prior to death was clerk of the Municipal Court. Died at his home in Lansing, age 64.
WARNER, J. C. Great Australian Show, 1880.
WARNER, JOSEPH E. “JOEL.” (1831-May 21, 1914) Born in Genessee County, NY. Introduction into show business was as a magician, 1850, at the age of 18; traveled through the Middlewest and South, closing with 100 nights at American Museum, New Orleans, winter 1853-54, under the management of Dan Rice. Joined Spalding & Rogers as assistant agent under Van Orden, spring 1854, and remained with that company for 9 years, summer and winter. Agent, New Davis’ Ohio Minstrels, organized in Cincinnati, OH, in October, 1855, by Dr. Gilbert R. Spalding and Charles Rogers (steamboat Banjo was built expressly for this band to visit the river towns of the West and South, starting at Lawrenceburg, IN). Dan Rice’s, 1862; general agent, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1865, for 3 years; following, Brien’s; then rejoined Forepaugh and remained with him until 1871, when he started a show called J. E. Warner & Co.’s Great Pacific Menagerie and Circus, with John O’Brien and P. Ryan as partners; 2 seasons later, sold out to O’Brien. 1873, organized J. E. Warner’s Great Pacific Museum, Menagerie and Circus; sold a one-third interest to Henderson & Springer, 1874; they merged the show into what was called Springer’s Royal Cirqzoolodon, with Warner as manager, 1875, but the partnership was dissolved in the fall of that year. Managed a show under his name but owned by D. B. Lincoln, 1876. Engaged by E. D. Colvin following year to act as general director of Montgomery Queen’s. In the fall of that year returned to his farm home near Lansing, MI. Elected Mayor of that city on the Democratic ticket, 1878; also served at various times as city clerk, alderman, and twice as a member of the board of police and fire commissioners. 1879. Gen. Mgr. Advance dept., Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1880; excursion agent, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1881; with the merging of Barnum and Bailey, became a representative for that circus. Claimed to have been responsible for the importation of the elephant Jumbo, as well as “The Wild Man from Borneo.” Around 1889, retired from the circus business and became prominent in the Central Michigan Agricultural Society and occupied himself with lecturing. Died in Lansing, age 82.
WARNER, MORRIS H. Press agent, Barnum & Bailey, 1886.
WARNER, MRS. CHARLES [formerly Margaret “Maggie” Rice]. Manège equestrienne. Was Mrs. Dan Rice, divorced in 1861. With her horses, Surry and Arab, Dan Rice’s 1856-59; Goodwin & Wilder, 1862; began profiting from the Rice name with Mrs. Warner’s National Circus at National Hall, Philadelphia, winter 1862-63; brought with her her stock of horses, including the performing horse Surry and trained mules John C. Heenan and Tom Sayers; Brian’s Circus with Mrs. Dan Rice, 1863; Mrs. Charles H. Warner’s Great National Circus, Continental Theatre, Philadelphia, winter 1864-65; New American Theatre, Philadelphia, winter 1865-66; also Palmer’s Great Western, 1866; Hemmings, Cooper & Whitby, 1869; Mrs. Charles Warner’s Champion Circus, corner of 10th and Callowhill, Philadelphia, winter 1869-70; proprietor, Philadelphia Circus (performing a dancing horse, Champion), winter 1870-71; E. Stowe’s Northwestern, 1871; Cosmopolitan, 1871-72.
WARNER, WILLIAM. John Wilson’s, California, 1873; manager, Beckett’s, 1881.
WARREN, CHARLES. Door keeper, P. T. Barnum’s, 1872.
WARREN, GEORGE. Gymnast, Alexander Robinson’s, 1875.
WARREN, MILLIE. Performed trick pony, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1872; W. H. Harris’ Nickel-Plate, 1885. Married B. F. Allen, also with the Harris show, July 25, 1885.
WASHBURN, E. S. (1826-August 15, 1889) Proprietor and manager. Adopted Leon W. Washburn. Washburn’s Great Indian Amphitheatre and Circus, 1854-57; proprietor, Washburn’s Last Sensation, a hall show for several seasons beginning in 1866.
WASHBURN, SAMUEL. Co-proprietor, Gregory, Washburn & Co., 1834-35.
WASHBURN, GRACE. Rider, Sig. Sautelle’s, 1897.
WASHBURN, J. H. Menagerie operator, Gregory, Washburn & Co., 1830s, and stockholder in the Zoological Institute.
WASHBURN, LEON WELLS. (d. October 22, 1930) Adopted son of E. S. Washburn. Proprietor, Washburn Pavillion Show, 1881; Washburn’s United Monster Shows, 1882-83; Washburn & Hunting, 1884, during which partnership was dissolved but title continued by Washburn; proprietor, Stetson’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” Co., 1890; Washburn & Arlington’s Circus, 1890; advertised for new partner, 1891; Washburn’s Great Eastern, show attached by San Francisco customs authorities for smuggling 10 horses into the country, 1893; Leon W. Washburn’s Circus, 1895-97; menagerie sold to LaPearl, 1897; show closed in May 1902 for small pox, season called off; Washburn Dog and Pony Show (or Washburn & D’Alma), 1905-06; advertised show for sale, 1917.
WASHBURN, WILLIE. (d. February 1907) Perhaps the son of E. S. Washburn. Gymnast, Shelby, Pullman & Hamilton, 1881.
WASHBURNE, LEWIS. Boss canvasman, Great Combination Circus (George M. Kelley, Pete and John Conklin, William LaRue, proprietors), 1871.
VASSERY, J. Clown, Baldwin, Wall & Co.’s Great Eastern, 1880.
WATERMAN, BERT. Band leader, Frank A. Robbins’, 1881-83.
WATERMAN, DICK. For 3 or 4 years a driver, Burr Robbins’. It was said that he could drive more horses than the average man could carry halters for. Not a companionable person unless you knew him well. Had a repulsive face and a voice to match, and it was seldom that he would speak to anyone. With Robbins, drove 6 horses on the big wagon.
WATERMAN, WALTER. (d. October 4, 1880) Rider. Born in Rhode Island. Debut, Providence Circus, January 1, 1828. Was touring with his own circus through the South as early as 1938. Howes & Sands, 1835; ringmaster, Drury, Van Tassle, Brown & Co., 1837; 2-horse rider, Brown & Mills, 1838, took over the management around March of that year as Waterman & Co.; Hobby & Pratt, 1842; Ogden & Hobby, 1842; equestrian director, Waring & Raymond, 1842; Howes & Mabie, 1844-46; 2 and 4-horse rider, E. F. Mabie’s, 1847-51; 2-horse rider and equestrian director, P. A. Older & Co.’s, 1852; equestrian director and 4-horse rider, H. Buckley & Co., 1856-57, 1860, 1861-62; equestrian director, Howes’ European, 1865-69; equestrian director, George F. Bailey & Co., 1874; equestrian director, P. T. Barnum’s, 1876-80; later, in charge of importing the trained stallions that were a feature on the Barnum show. Died in Little Rock, AR.
WATERS, LEW. Equestrian director, Valkingburg’s United Circus, 1881.
WATERS, SAMUEL. General performer, Thompson, Smith & Hawes, 1866.
WATKINS, JAMES. Boss canvasman, Howes & Cushing, 1859.
WATROUS, F. M. Treasurer, Johnson & Co., 1881.
WATSON, ALEX. Cook tent manager, with John Robinson’s, 1886.
WATSON, ANNIE. Weldon & Co. (R. W. Weldon, proprietor), winter 1884.
WATSON, BEN. Holland & Gormley (George Holland and F. D. Gormley, proprietors), 1889.
WATSON, BILLY [r. n. Lyman C. Smith]. (d. December 17, 1888) Clown, Spalding & Rogers, 1859; Courtney & Sanford’s Minstrels, a party made up in New York to travel with Courtney & Sanford’s Circus in South America, which sailed from NYC, July 23, 1873; proprietor, Watson & Wells’, which was sold around 1876; following year, became manager of St. Charles Hotel, NYC. Candy privilege (with Edward L. Brannan), Lively’s Great Allied Shows, 1878. Died of Bright’s disease there, age 41.
WATSON, BLANCHE. Equestrienne, Howes’ Great European, 1864.
WATSON BROTHERS [Edwin, George, Thomas]. Gymnasts and acrobats. Seth B. Howe’s European, 1864-66; performed their flying men of the air act with G. A. Huff & Co.’s Metropolitan Circus, 1870; Empire City, 1871; Imperial Brazilian Hippodrome and Great California Circus, Market Street near 13th, Philadelphia, winter 1872-73; Dan Rice’s, 1873; George F. Bailey & Co., 1874.
WATSON, CHARLES P. (July 11, 1869-June 13, 1907) Rider. Born in St. Louis. VanAmburgh & Co., 1876; Chiairini’s, the Orient, 1881-82; Dockrill’s, South America, winter 1885-86; W. W. Cole’s, 1886; principal rider, Frank A. Robbins’, 1888; hurdle rider, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1889; Orrin Bros.’, Mexico, winter 1889-90; Ringling Bros.’, 1891; Stowe & Pubilliones, Havana, winter 1891-92; 6-horse rider, Sells & Rentfrow’s, 1893; equestrian manager, hurdle and principal rider, Bryan & Williams, 1894; Charles Lee’s, 1895; Sig. Sautelle’s, 1896; carrying act, Robinson-Franklin, 1897. An equestrienne named Lotta must have been his first wife; married Emma B. Parker, a non-professional, a few years prior to his death. Joined the beach life saving crew, Venice, CA; but during a practice session his boat capsized, causing his death.
WATSON, CHARLOTTE. Equestrienne, W. W. Cole, 1886.
WATSON, EDWARD. Herr Driesbach & Howes, 1868.
WATSON, EDWIN. Rider. Howe’s European, 1864-66; Albisu’s, Havana, winter 1866-67; Howe’s European, 1867-68; scenic and principal rider, Howes Trans-Atlantic Circus and Risbeck’s Menagerie (Frank Howes, proprietor), 1868; George F. Bailey & Co., 1874.
WATSON FAMILY. Chiarini’s, San Francisco, August 7, 1879. September 29 of the same year, sailed for Aukland, New Zealand, beginning a tour of the world. Returned to America after an absence of 4 years, 5 months, and 7 days, having traveled 82,118 miles, visiting the Sandwich Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Java, India, China, Siam, Manila, Spain, England, etc. VanAmburgh & Reich Bros.’, 1885.
WATSON, FRANK. Manager, Alex Abar’s Pavilion Show, 1889.
WATSON, FREDERICK. Acrobat and rider. Brother of circus performer, Tom Watson. Patriarch of the Watson Family. Wife, Carlotta, a female Sampson; son, Charles, a hurdle rider; daughter, Fredericka, worked performing dogs. Rivers & Derious, 1859; Dan Castello’s, 1866; general performer, Howes European, 1869; C. T. Ames’, 1870; Older’s, 1871-72; P. T. Barnum’s, 1872-73; Stevens & Begun, 1874; VanAmburgh & Co., 1876-77; Burr Robbins’, 1879; Chiarini’s, San Francisco, 1879, India, 1881-82; VanAmburgh & Reiche Bros.’, 1885; trained dogs, W. W. Cole’s, 1886; P. T. Barnum’s, 1886; equestrian director, Three Melville’s & Co., 1889; Ringling Bros.’, 1891; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1892.
WATSON, GEORGE. Lowande’s Brazilian Circus, 1889.
WATSON, HARRY. Dr. James L. Theyer’s, 1880.
WATSON, JEANETTE. Equestrienne. Sister of Lucy Watson. Howe’s European, 1867-70; Newton’s, 1872; James Robinson’s, winter 1872-73; Montgomery Queen’s, 1873; P. T. Barnum’s, 1876-77; Chiarini’s, San Francisco, 1879.
WATSON, JOHN A. Sideshow privilege, S. O. Wheeler’s, 1867.
WATSON, KATE. W. W. Cole’s, 1886.
WATSON, LEMUEL. Museum director, VanAmburgh & Co., 1874.
WATSON, LOTTIE. Gymnast and rider. Ringling Bros.’, 1891; wire and Spanish rings, Bryan & Williams, 1894; principal riding act, Sig. Sautelle’s, 1896; John Robinson’s, 1899.
WATSON, LOVELLIE. Equestrienne, John Stowe & Sons, 1871.
WATSON, LUCILLE [Mrs. J. J. Nathans]. (1845-October 12, 1893) Equestrienne. Made debut at Bolton, in Lancashire, England, at the early age of 7 years; soon after, appeared at Astley’s Arnphitheatre, London. Considered one of the best of her day, described as “a fresh little English girl who rides a dashing act” and “is as pretty as a peach.” Member of the famous Watson Family of riders, she served her apprenticeship under the English circus rider and manager James H. Emidy. Came to the United States with Howes’ Europcan, 1864-68; Albisu’s, Havana, 1866; Thayer & Noyes, 1867; L. B. Lent’s, 14th Street, NYC, winter 1867-68; C. T. Ames’, New Orleans, winter 1868-69; James M. French’s, 1869; pad saddle and bareback rider, C. T. Ames’, 1870; James Robinson’s, 1870; George F. Bailey & Co., 1872; P. T. Barnum’s, 1873-74. After marriage to John J. Nathans, lived in retirement.
WATSON, M. A. General agent, Beckett’s Great Exposition Circus, 1881.
WATSON, PROF. Performing dogs, W. W. Cole’s, 1886.
WATSON, SAMUEL. English bareback and 4-horse rider. Billed as the “Champion of England,” Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1880; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1881, and, apparently, for his remaining time in America. Broke ribs from a fall, May 1886, and sailed for England the same month. Forepaugh’s European agent, 1882-83. [D. W. Watt: “He was what was known as the old school of circus people and a high class gentleman in every way.”] After retiring from riding, went into vaudeville with a farmyard circus - pigs, chickens, sheep and a gander which he had trained to do almost everything. “You know, as I grew older the riding was not quite as good and I well knew that it would only be a matter of time till I would need a new act,” Watson once remarked. “So I took a season off and commenced gathering up these animals that you see here and training them, and within a year’s time was ready to start out a show of this kind in a vaudeville circuit and I am now billed six weeks ahead at $600 per week and no open dates.” Married Alice J. Cooke, eldest daughter of Harry Welby Cooke, October 17, 1889, Liverpool, England.
WATSON, TOM. English clown. Brother of circus performer Fred Watson. Dan Rice’s, 1856; returned to America from England, March 1858; Tourniaire & Whitby, 1858; Tom King’s, California Circus, 1858; National Circus, 84 Bowery, NYC, winter 1858-59; Levi J. North’s, Chicago, 1859; VanAmburgh & Co., winter 1859-60; Spalding & Rogers, 1860; Howes’ European, 1864-66; leaper, tumbler, P. T. Barnum’s, 1873, 1876; James Robinson’s, 1874. His promotional stunt was to ride in a tub on a river, pulled by a team of geese.
WATSON, THOMAS V. Gymnast and equestrian. James M. French’s, 1867; somersault act, C. T. Ames’, 1868; winter circus, Chestnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, 1868-69; Yankee Robinson’s, 1869; James Robinson’s, 1870; Great Eastern, 1872-74; VanAmburgh & Co., 1881; Frank A. Robbins’, 1888. This may be same as above.
WATSON, WILLIAM [r. n. Lyman Smith]. (d. December 17, 1888) Rider. Courtney & Sanford, early 1870s; Stevens & Begun, 1874; Conrad & Watson’s Transatlantic, South America, 1880.
WATT, D. W. Treasurer, Burr Robbins’, 1878-79; manager, 1880-81. Began as treasurer, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1882, and remained on after the circus proprietor’s death when Cooper and Bailey bought the outfit. Wrote a column for the Janesville (WI) Daily Gazette, June 1912-March 1920; Baraboo (WI) Weekly News, January 1918-July 1918, “Sidelights on the Circus Business.”
WATT, FERRIS. Equestrian, VanAmburgh & Co., 1881.
WATTS, DR. AL. Animal doctor and importer, performing surgery on many animals for leading showmen in America. 1870, began a wild animal importation enterprise, supplying zoological gardens and traveling menageries and circuses. Through study and practice, Watts developed remarkable control over most unruly animals. 1882, launched a menagerie exhibition in Boston, where, in one cage, he displayed a collection of notably different temperments and habits - 2 lions, 2 hyenas, 2 leopards, a grizzly bear, a black bear and a puma. Held a commission from the Mayor of Boston, being in charge of the municipal animal shelter. His humane and effective methods of care and handling were copied by other cities.
WAUGH, HENRY W. “DILLY FAY.” Clown. Born in Greenville, PA, about 1830. Father was an artist and father’s brother, Alfred S. Waugh, a well known painter of panoramas. Orphaned at an early age, left to seek his fame as a painter but was soon forced to find other employment. Too slight of frame to do heavy labor, became a horse driver on a canal tow path for a time; next, returned to itinerant painting, doing commissioned water colors. First experience with show business, with a panorama of the Mexican War, which he had painted in Laurel, IN. After exhibiting it a few places, he sold it; spring 1851, Waugh and Alphonso S. Burt (later a circus agent) were occupied in house and sign painting. Met Yankee Robinson the following fall in Rock Island, IL, and were engaged to paint sets for his dramatic company. When Robinson moved into circus management, Waugh first performed, 1857, as Dilly Fay, the clown. Later, engaged by Spalding & Rogers for their amphitheatre, New Orleans, and re-engaged, 1858 summer and winter season. Before his death, was able to fulfill his dream of going to Italy to study painting, leaving for Europe, June 18, 1859. Stay was cut short by his consumptive condition, which forced him to return to USA. Robinson described his clowning as “refined, elegant, tasty and very chaste in language.”
WAY, CHARLES. Proprietor, Alward & Way, 1883.
WEAVER, FANNY. Concert performer, Dan Castello & Co., 1866.
WEAVER, JOHN. Herculean performer, J. W. Bancker’s, 1830-31. When performing in one of the small towns in Canada, the company was charged with witchcraft and law-breaking. He escaped arrest by running away but lost his way in the woods and was not found for 2 days. Weather was damp and cold, from which he took sick and died a few days later, Niagara Falls, and was buried in a church-yard on the banks of Lake Ontario.
WEAVER, JOHN. Manager, European and American Museum, Amphitheatre and Indian Show (Prof. W. S. Hutchings, proprietor), 1867, which started out of Louisville, KY.
WEAVER, JOHNNY. Clown, Maginley & Carroll, 1868.
WEAVER, SAM. Took over proprietorship of DeHaven & Bell at mid-season; proprietor of winter season, 1860-61, Freeport, IL, within a structure he created; received a complimentary benefit from the entire company. [Freeport Bulletin: “Mr. Weaver requests us to return his sincere thanks to the citizens of Freeport and surrounding country, who have lent him their liberal support the past winter.”
WEBB, FRANK. Holton & Gates’ Harmoniums, a minstrel band was organized for the the Simon Pure American Circus in New York, October 1, 1866.
WEBB, JAMES C. [“Col.”]. Boss canvasman. Brother of Judd Webb. Spent some years of his early life as a sailor; knew all about making and repairing canvas. Started in the business around 1870. Great Eastern, 1873; George W. Richard’s, 1887; also Barnum’s, Adam Forepaugh’s. [D. W. Watt: “Jim Webb was high class in his business and his services were always sought after; and yet, he was an unfinished piece of furniture, something on the mission style, strong but unpolished.”]
WEBB, JOSEPH. Missouri Giant, Robert Hunting’s, 1894.
WEBB, JOSEPHINE [sometimes called Josephine Devinier]. Daughter of gymnast Sydney Webb. Wire-walker, James M. Nixon’s Cremorne Garden Circus, 1862-63; perhaps New York Champs Elysees, 1865-66.
WEBB, JUDD. Brother of James Webb. Started in the business around 1870. Became master of transportation, Adam Forepaugh’s, for several years. Assistant manager, Great Chicago, 1879.
WEBB, SIDNEY. Father of wire-walker Josephine Webb. Gymnast, First National Union (Nixon & Sloat), 1861; James M. Nixon’s, Washington, DC, fall 1862; performed trick horses and ponies, New York Champs Elysees, 1865, ringmaster, 1866.
WEBB, WILLIAM. Boss hostler, Reichold Shows, 1897.
WEBSTER, DANIEL. Horse trainer, L. B. Lent’s, 1859.
WEEKS, CALEB. With Gen. Rufus Welsh, imported animals from South Africa, 1838, including several giraffes, the first exhibited in this country.
WEEKS, CHAUNCEY ROBERT. (March 12, 1812-January 29, 1887) Native of Carmel, NY. Harness-maker by trade, employed in the shop belonging to James Raymond. 1832. Entered into a menagerie venture with Raymond, Raymond, Weeks & Co., and was connected with many of Raymond’s enterprises until his retirement in 1855. Married Raymond’s daughter, Ada, 1837. Co-proprietor, Raymond, Weeks, Ogden & Co.’s menagerie, 1833; agent, circus managed by Joseph E. M. Hobby for James Raymond, 1840; proprietor (with James Raymond), Raymond, Weeks & Co.’s Zoological Exhibition, 1843; manager (with Darius Ogden), Ogden, Weeks & Co.’s Zoological Exhibition, 1845. Elected to State Legislature, 1847, and again 1856. When Raymond retired, Weeks and Drake took over, 1851; both Raymond & VanAmburgh and Welch, Raymond & Driesbach, 1852; Raymond & VanAmburgh and 2 menageries, 1853; VanAmburgh & Co., 1854-56; Great Broadway Menagerie, 1854; Raymond & Chiarini, 1855. Sold interests to Hyatt Frost, 1856, and retired, 1857, to Hudson River Steamboat Co.
WEEKS, E. B. Ticket agent, P. T. Barnum’s, 1880.
WEEKS, EDWARD C. (1844-1918) Son of Chauncey Weeks. Involved in exhibitions of winter circuses in a hall on Sansom Street, between Eighth and Ninth, Philadelphia, 1833-34 and 1834-35; manager, Buckley, Weeks & Co., 1835; Boston Lion Circus (Raymond & Weeks, proprietors), 1836.
WEIGHTMAN, CHARLES. Dan Rice’s, 1872.
WEIR, ROBERT. Began career as clown, Victor Pepin’s, 1822. Married Narcissa Pepin, but divorced, May 1828. Pepin & Barnet, 1823-24; Victor Pepin’s, 1827; Asa Smith’s, 1829; William Blanchard’s, 1829-30; T. L. Stewart’s, 1832; J. P. Brown’s, 1834; Eldred’s, 1834.
WELBY, CLARENCE “MASTER”. With Springer’s Royal Cirq-Zoolodon, 1875.
WELBY, EDDIE “MASTER”. With Springer’s Royal Cirq-Zoolodon, 1875.
WELCH, CHARLES. Clown. Adam Forepaugh’s, 1887; Robert Hunting’s, 1897.
WELCH, ED. Advance agent, Bentley’s Pavilion Show, 1888.
WELCH, JOSEPH. Clown, Pepin’s company, NYC, 1819-20; West’s, 1821-22.
WELCH, MARTIN. (d. November 10, 1907) Groom. Born in Burlington, IL. Served Frank Melville for 24 years in various parts of the world. First circus experience was with John Wilson and the show’s trip to the Orient. On return, was in charge of the bareback and high school horses for Cooper & Bailey, where he first met Melville and developed a life-long friendship. Spoke French, German, Russian and Dutch fluently. Died at Bridgeport, CT, age 52.
WELCH, RUFUS. (September 1, 1800-December 5, 1856) Born in New Berlin, Chenango County, NY. Began career at age 18, first as an apprentice to a chairmaker. May have become connected with show business as early as 1825. 1829, took a circus to Cuba along with Erman Handy; co-proprietor, Purdy, Welch, Finch & Wright’s menagerie, 1832; co-proprietor, Purdy, Welch, Macomber & Co.’s menagerie, 1833-34. By 1834, had Welch & Co.’s Mammoth Zoological Exhibition on the road and followed with interests in other menagerie organizations and in directing foreign expeditions for animals. Took out Purdy, Welch, Macomber & Co.’s menagerie, 1837; manager, Lion Theatre Circus, 1837; Welch, Bartlett & Co., 1838; proprietor, Clayton, Bartlett & Welch, 1839-40; Welch, Bartlett & Co., 1840, but sold out to Bartlett, January 4, 1841; proprietor, Welch & Mann’s New York Circus, 1841, the show being purchased from Bartlett & Delavan; Welch & Delavan, Baltimore, 1841. With Alvah Mann, converted National Theatre, Philadelphia, into an amphitheatre and operated it as a circus, Welch & Mann’s New York and Philadelphia Circus, 1842; Welch & Mann’s, Park Theatre and Bowery Amphitheatre, NYC, also Olympic Circus, Philadelphia, and Front Street Theatre, Baltimore, and Military Gardens, Brooklyn, 1843; Welch, Mann & Delavan’s Grand Double Circus, 1844; Welch & Mann’s Mammoth National Circus, 1845; Welch & Delavan’s National Circus, 1847; Welch’s National Circus, 1847; Welch, Delavan & Nathans Circus, 1848; Welch’s National Circus, 1852. In all, was active as a major circus proprietor between 1839 and 1853. [Stuart Thayer: “Never a wealthy man,... his ability at raising capital allowed his expansive ideas to become reality, and thus he seems to a present-day observer to have been operating on a sort of treadmill.”] Considered honest, good-hearted and a gentleman in every sense of the word. Generousity is said to have been the ruin of him. Died in Philadelphia.
WELCH, WILLIAM. Clown and gymnast. Came to America with West’s company, 1816. Pepin’s, Baltimore, 1817. In his act he leaped a pyramid of men, a ribbon 12’ high, a mounted man and 5 horses. Probably the Welch that was the clown with West’s circus, 1820-22.
WELCOME, FRED. Balancing trapeze act, F. J. Taylor’s Circus and Menagerie, 1893; Shedman Bros.’, 1894.
WELDON, THOMAS. Band leader, W. H. Stowe’s, 1881.
WELDON, WILLIAM [Prof.]. Band leader, with Ringling Bros.’, 1893.
WELLER, EUGENE A. Contracting agent, Montgomery Queen’s, 1877; W. C. Coup’ New United Monster Show, 1879; general agent, Dr. James L. Thayer’s, 1880.
WELLS, AMELIA [Mrs. Robert Butler]. (d. May 14, 1869) Equestrienne. Daughter of clown John Wells. Philadelphia Circus (Raymond & Waring), 1840; Welch, Bartlett & Co., 1840; Howes & Co., 1848; E. F. & J. Mabie’s, 1849-50; clown (perhaps the first female in USA), Nixon & Kemp, 1858; Grand National, 1865; ballads and operatic songs, E. G. Smith’s, 1867. Died in NYC. See John Wells.
WELLS, CURT. Clown and tumbler, Cooper & Co., 1874.
WELLS, F. E. McDonald & Wells’ Big Show (George W. McDonald, F. E. Wells, proprietors), 1892.
WELLS, FLORA. E. F. & J. Mabie’s, 1849-50.
WELLS, GEORGE A. (d. October 2, 1892) Associated with P. T. Barnum, 1845. 1850, managed the Jenny Lind tour and traveled throughout the United States and Europe. Claimed to be the discoverer of Tom Thumb and his wife, Lavinia, with whom he toured 3 continents. After retiring from show business, 1870, became involved in various real estate transactions. Most recently, before his death, was involved in the promotion of Negro prodigy Oscar Moore. Died at Bridgeport, CT, age 75, leaving an estate of $200,000.
WELLS, G. E. Curator of natural history, P. T. Barnum’s, 1875. May be same as above.
WELLS, JOHN “GRIMALDI” [r. n. John Willis]. (d. 1852) Clown. Came to America with Cooke’s Circus, bringing with him his wife and 3 daughters - Mary Ann, Amelia, and Louise. (Stuart Thayer shows 5 daughters, adding Maria and Flora). Page & Harrington, 1826; Fogg & Co., 1827; Ben Brown’s, 1828; J. P. Brown’s, 1831; New York Circus, 1831; Joseph D. Palmer’s, 1833-34; Edward Eldred’s, 1834; Thomas Cooke’s, 1836-37, performing in a building erected on Walnut Street, Philadelphia; Charles Bacon’s, November 1837; Fogg & Stickney, 1838; Welch, Bartlett & Co., 1839-41; Philadelphia Circus (Raymond & Waring), 1840; Broadway Circus, NYC, 1840; Welch, Bartlett & Co., 1840; Welch & Mann, 1841-43; Mann, Welch & Delevan, 1844; Welch & Mann, 1845-46; Welch & Delavan, 1847; John Tryon’s, Bowery Amphitheatre, NYC, 1847; E. F. & J. Mabie’s, 1849-50. Died in Philadelphia. [T. Allston Brown: “An inoffensive man and clever fellow, he was himself his only enemy.”]
WELLS, LOUISA [Mrs. Lafayette Nixon]. (d. September 7, 1873) Equestrienne. Daughter of John Wells. Philadelphia Circus (Raymond & Waring, proprietors), 1840; Welch, Bartlett & Co., 1840; New York Circus, 1841; Welch & Mann, 1841-46; Welch, Mann & Delavan, 1846-47; John Tryon’s, winter 1847; equestrienne, J. O. Howes’, 1848; danseuse, Crane & Co., 1849; Rufus Welch’s, 1851; Den Stone’s, 1854; Levi J. North’s, 1855; Jim Myers’, 1856; Nixon & Kemp, 1857; VanAmburgh’s, Broadway Theatre, winter 1857-58; Nixon & Aymer, National Theatre, NYC, winter 1859-60; Louisa Wells’ Equestrian Troupe, 1859-60; and James M. Nixon’s Alhambra, NYC, fall 1863. Died in Philadelphia. See John Wells.
WELLS, MARIA. Probably the daughter of John Wells. E. F. & J. Mabie’s, 1849. See John Wells.
WELLS, MARY ANN. (d. April 10, 1874) Equestrienne. Daughter of John “Grimaldi” Wells. Sister of Louisa Wells. Married Frank Whittaker; divorced and married Frank J. Howes. Popular in Philadelphia in the days of Rufus Welch. Welch & Bartlett, winter 1840; Bartlett & Delavan, 1841; Welch & Mann, 1841-42, 1846; Welch, Mann & Delavan, 1845; John Tryon’s, winter 1847; E. F. & J. Mabie’s, 1848-50; Welch’s 1851-52; Den Stone’s, 1854; Rowe & Co., 1856; Lee & Bennett, 1857. Died in Dover, NH, in her 37th year. See John Wells.
WELLS, MINNIE. Lion tamer. Also known as M’lle Minnetta, iron-jawed lady. Great Australian Circus, which disbanded in mid-season, 1870; Metchear & Cameron, 1870; James M. Nixon’s, fall 1870; Empire City, 1871, assisted by W. B. Reynolds, 1871. Married leaper James White, July 7, 1882, Waseca, MN.
WELLS, W. H. Treasurer, Spalding & Rogers, 1859.
WELLS, WILLIAM. Contortionist, Dan Rice’s, 1878.
WELSER, SAM R. (1816?-May 27, 1901) Began his career by training horses for James Taylor in Pennsylvania, but became a popular clown. June, Titus & Angevine, 1839; Raymond & Waring, 1847; Banks, Archer & Rockwell, 1848-49; made a trip through South America, returning, 1850; Rockwell & Co., 1850; Dan Rice’s, 1851; McFarland’s, 1852; Mabie & Co., 1853; Whitbeck’s, 1854; Ballard, Bailey & Co., 1855-56; Sands, Nathans & Co., 1856; L. B. Lent’s, 1857, 1859; S. O. Wheeler’s, 1863-66. At one time he had his own show on the road. Married 3 times. Second wife was Julia Stacey, whom he married in McKeesport, PA, 1856, and who died childless, 1886. At 73 years of age, married Pearl Wilson, 1889, a 16 year old girl, an apparent happy union until her death, June 6, 1891. Died at the home of his father-in-law, Pittsburgh, PA.
WELSH, GEORGE. Treasurer, Welsh Bros.’ (Col. M. H. Welsh, John Welsh, proprietors), 1897.
WELSH, JOHN. General manager, Welsh’s New Golden Allied Pavilion Shows, 1892; manager, Welsh & Sands’ Big City Show, 1893; Welsh Bros.’ Shows (Col. M. H. Welsh, John Welsh, proprietors), 1894 to as late as 1915.
WELSH, M. H. “COL.” General agent and proprietor, Welsh’s New Golden Allied Pavilion Shows, 1892; business and general agent, Welsh & Sands’ Big City Show, 1893; Welsh Bros.’ Shows (Col. M. H. Welsh, John Welsh, proprietors), 1894 to as late as 1915.
WENTWORTH, HARRY. Main & Burdick, 1879-80; Barnum & Bailey, England, 1898.
WENTWORTH, ROSE. Began as an English pantomime performer, until James A. Bailey induced her to become an equestrienne, probably because of the grace and agility she showed as a dancer. Forepaugh-Sells, 1893; Barnum & Bailey, 1894-1905; John Robinson’s, 1898. Although she performed at times as a contortionist and aerialist, was primarily a bareback rider, famous for her cart act which consisted of somersaulting from the English road cart to the back of the harnessed horse while in motion. Went into vaudville, 1906; Pubillones’, Cuba, 1907; Ringling Bros.’, 1908; Frank Spellman’s, 1909; Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, around 1913. Retired around 1925. Was married to a rancher and horse dealer, Ed Carr.
WENTWORTH, WALTER. Boneless man. With Lipman & Stokes, first-year organization, winter 1866-67; Orton Bros.’, 1866-67; Michael O’Conner & Co., 1870; Pubillones’, Cuba, winter 1885-86.
WERL, W. T. General performer, Welch & Lent, 1855.
WERNER, GUS [r. n. Justus]. (d. September 22, 1897) Acrobat. Entered the profession about 1891. In an engagement with Barnum & Bailey which opened at Madison Square Garden April 1, 1897, attempted a triple somersault from a springboard over the backs of 2 elephants, which caused his death from a broken spine. Died at St. Barnabus Hospital, Newark, NJ, age about 26.
WERT, WILLIAM. Assistant agent, Dan Castello’s, 1868.
WERTZ, CHAD. Equestrian director, Hendry’s New London Shows, 1892.
WERTZ, CHRIS. Leaper and tumbler, Lemen Bros.’, 1892.
WERTZ, HARRY. Leaper and tumbler, P. T. Barnum’s, 1880.
WERTZ, WILLIAM. Of the Wertz Brothers; joined the Albion Brothers with Burr Robbins’, August 1886, replacing William Albion.
WEST, A. C. General agent, Shedman Bros.’, 1894.
WEST, FRANK. (d. May 28, 1888) Holland & McMahon, 1885.
WEST, JAMES G. Knockabout clown. Pullman, Mack & Co., 1884; King, Burk & Co., 1885; John Robinson’s, 1886-1890; Walter L. Main’s, 1892.
WEST, JAMES. Landed at NYC, November of 1816, with his circus company from England, after a 44 day trip on the Chancey, during which some of his horses were lost overboard in a storm. Had been a principal performer at the Royal Circus, London, since 1805. Being contacted by Pepin, West took his company to Philadelphia, opening on November 28 of that year and closing January 1, 1817. Following that, went to NYC where he was engaged by Price and Simpson of the Park Theatre to produce the hippodrama of Timour the Tartar, which ran from January 22 to February 28, 1817. Went on tour - Boston, Providence and other cities in the vicinity - with his equestrian/dramatic company. When the company was in Charlestown, MA, President Monroe was making a tour of New England. West sent his fine white horse, Alfred, to use for his entrée into Charlestown. The president graciously accepted the gesture and rode the mount into town and then attended the evening performance. The troupe returned to NYC as a regular circus, erecting a building on the east side of Broadway and Canal Streets, where they opened, August 21, closed September 26, 1817. Movd to Philadelphia and joined Pepin for the winter season at the Olympic, October 3-November 29. Then to Baltimore, closing there January 24, 1818. After which, spent the entire year in the state of Virginia. In Washington, DC, January 13, 1819- February 24. Last engagement in America, NYC, February 11, 1822-August 5, 1822. Then sold his circus holdings to Stephen Price and Edmund Simpson. During West’s stay in America, the company displayed an expertise in presenting hippodramas; using well-trained and excellent specimens of horse flesh; as a troupe, stood out above the others that had previously performed in America. After returning to England in wealth, by 1824 had become a managing partner with Andrew Ducrow, which continued through 1831.
WEST, JIM [r. n. James G. Wesson]. (d. July 30, 1906) Clown. Connected with Adam Forepaugh’s, Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey, and Hagenbeck-Wallace. In early years, was a member of the Whitney & West, song and dance team, also performed on the minstrel stage. After having been a clown for over 30 years, committed suicide in his room at the Windsor Hotel, Schenectady, NY, by shooting himself in the head, age 47, caused by ill health and an inability to work.
WEST, WILLIAM. Rider. Younger brother of James West. Came to America with the West troupe, 1816. Stayed behind when James West returned to England and ultimately settled in Montreal; joined Cayetano’s company, New Orleans, July 1817; James West’s, 1821, apparently leaving West that year in Montreal; following year, gave riding lessons in that city; joined in partnership with William Blanchard for performances in Canada, 1823; Richmond Hill Amphitheatre, summer 1823; John Rogers’ company, NYC, 1823-24; took out William West’s circus, 1825, when he was reputed to have the most magnificent stud of horses seen on this side of the Atlantic; Samuel McCracken’s, 1825-26; Albany Circus, February 1826. While performing with Capt. Page’s company in Montreal, 1830, his performance as “Billy Buttons” ignited a series of riots by the local tailor’s association, who interpreted the act as being an insult to their trade. The same problem occurred when the company moved to Quebec City. Special acts included making 4 horses walk on their knees around the ring and “Six Divisions of the Broad Sword and Tambourine Dance.”
WEST, WILLIAM H. Aerialist, bar performer, Lowande & Hoffman Mexican Pavilion Circus, 1887; Burke’s, 1887.
WESTENDORF, ROBERT T. Assistant doorkeeper, P. T. Barnum’s, 1873; manager, confectionary dept., P. T. Barnum, 1876; program, photo, and candy concession, 1879, chief detective, 1880; agent, Holland & McMahon (George Holland, John McMahon, proprietors), Chicago, fall 1885; Holland & Gormley (George Holland and Frank Gormley, proprietors), 1888.
WESTERVELT, JAMES. Rider, William Blanchard’s, in NYC and Albany, 1823.
WESTON, HARRY. Advertiser, Robbins & Co., 1872.
WESTON, HORACE. Minstrel performer, P. T. Barnum’s, 1873.
WESTON, LARRY. Clown, Bruce L. Baldwin’s, 1894.
WETTER, ALBERT M. (November 27, 1871-October 5, 1901) Proprietor, Albert M. Wetter’s New Model Shows. Born in Massillon, OH. His Swiss born father became a self-made millionaire, dealing in coal, stone and banking. Albert, an only child, inherited $20,000 at age 21 and entered the circus business, 1893, fulfilling a childhood dream which ended early in the 1894 season. Then joined the family business of banking and commerce, becoming director and principal stock holder of the Massillon State Bank and president of the Wetter Steel Sand Company. Died from a self-inflicted revolver wound, age 32. [Fred D. Pfening, Jr.: “Wetter had been carried away with his enthusiasm to enlarge his show, convinced that he was indeed a gifted showman - after one season. He spent widely on equipment and hired expensive acts and paid them rail show salaries.”]
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