Circus Historical Society
Olympians of the Sawdust Circle
Olympians of the Sawdust Circle: A biographical dictionary of the ninteenth century American circus
X - Y - Z
Compiled and Edited by William L. Slout
Copyright © 2005 by William L. Slout. All rights reserved.
YAGES, PROF. Aeronaut, G. G. Grady’s, 1872.
YAKERS, GEORGE. Acrobat, Palmer’s Pavilion Circus, 1836.
YALE, ENOCH C. Showman. Started in menagerie management with Miller, Yale, Sands & Co., 1835. Continued in the profession for several years, sometimes in association with Richard Sands. Miller, Yale, Sands & Co, 1835-38; co-proprietor, Miller, Yale & Howes, 1838; E. C. Yale & Co.’s National Circus, 1840; manager, Sands & Lent, 1842; treasurer, Franconi’s Hippodrome, 1853.
YAMADIVA. Contortionist. James M. Nixon’s Amphitheatre, Chicago, 1872; Barnum’s Roman Hippodrome, NYC, winter 1874-75.
YAMMAMOTA BROTHERS. Japanese balancers, Cooper & Co. (J. R. W. Hennessey, proprietor and manager), 1897.
YATES, ANNIE. Race rider, P. T. Barnum’s Roman Hippodrome, 1875; hippodrome jockey, Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1882.
YATES, FRANK. Press agent, Alexander Robinson’s, 1871. This may be the Yates who was a general performer with H. P. Madigan’s, 1856.
YATES, GEORGE. Press agent with Alexander Robinson’s, 1875.
YEAMAN, ANNIE. (Novermber 19, 1835-March 3, 1912) Equestrienne. Born on the Isle of Man. Made her debut in Sydney, Australia, 1845; following year, Malcolm’s Circus, then joined J. A. Rowe’s Australian Circus, billed as “La Sylphide-Equestrienne Extraordinaire”; Risley’s, a tour of China and Japan, 1859; Metcalfe’s, United States, 1867. Ultimately, gravitated to the stage when Augustin Daly engaged her to appear at the Grand Opera House, NYC, 1872; followed with engagements with A. M. Palmer in Lights of London, Union Square; Harrigan and Hart in The Mulligan Guard Ball, etc. Daughter, Jennie, followed in her theatrical footsteps. Died of a stroke, NYC, age 77.
YEAMAN, GEORGE. (d. November 1827) Rider. Born in Scotland. Came to America from England with James West’s troupe, 1816, and established his reputation here as a leading rider within a few years. [Charles Durang: “George Yeaman was a modest and well behaved young man.”] With West & Co., leaped and somersaulted over 6 men and a wagon, 1821; with the circus when West sold out to Price & Simpson, 1823; appears to have stayed on with the new owners. Lafayette Amphitheatre, NYC, in its initial season, 1825; William Harrington’s, 1825; Asa Smith’s, 1828; Fogg & Co., 1828. Judged as a competent but not outstanding rider, billed as “The Flying Horseman,” was agile and neat in execution, presenting a variety of attitudes and novel saddle tricks, which included throwing backward and forward somersaults. In leaping act, somersaulted over 6 men and a wagon. Married an equestrienne, 1825, and performed with her until his death. Died in Concord, NC. Asa T. Smith married his widow, 1829.
YEAMAN, MRS. GEORGE. Equestrienne. Came to America with her husband and the James West troupe. Career was not distinguished, but she was the first woman to have her name in a circus title in America, “Mrs. Yeaman’s Circus,” toured briefly, 1827, after her husband died. Remarried, 1829 to Asa T. Smith, and continued as a rider and a singer for his troupe. She was a commingling of talent and physical attractiveness. Appeared at least until 1834.
YEDDO JAPANESE TROUPE. Nixon’s Amphitheatre, Chicago, 1872
YEPPO. Wild African boy, P. T. Barnum, 1876-77.
YOUNG, CHARLES. Ventriloquist, Palace of Wonders, P. T. Barnum, 1876.
YOUNG, D. Contortionist and Indian rubber man. A. Hunt & Co., 1838; S. H. Nichols’, 1840; Howes & Mabie’s Olympic Circus, 1841; Rockwell & Stone, 1842; John Mateer’s Southern Circus, 1843-44.
YOUNG, FRITZ. Clown, Irwin Bros.’, 1888.
YOUNG, GEORGE A. Young Bros. & Baldwin (William E. Young, George A. Young, Bruce L. Baldwin, proprietors), 1892.
YOUNG, JAMES. Ringmaster, Campbell’s Zoological and Equestrian Institute, 1870.
YOUNG, JOHN D. (d. April 24, 1915) Associate. At time of death, transportation manager, Barnum & Bailey. Died in Philadelphia of heart failure, age 53.
YOUNG, MARION [Miss]. Serio-comique, Palace of Wonders, P. T. Barnum, 1876.
YOUNG, MERRITT F. (May 31, 1850-June 16, 1897) Teasurer. Born at Sandusky, OH, the son of a railroad man. Became an express messenger for the Cincinnati, Sandusky and Cleveland Railroad. After the death of his father, moved to Cincinnati and was employed as a clerk in the express office. Later, took new employment as clerk at the Gibson House, where he remained 5 years. 1876, joined Cooper & Bailey as assistant treasurer and ticket seller; went with the show to Australia and South America, during which time was elevated to treasurer. When Barnum & Bailey was organized, Young remained with Bailey as treasurer for that enterprise, a position he held for many years. Died in Chicago, of typhoid fever, age 48. Was unmarried.
YOUNG, T. National Circus, 1847; Spalding’s North American, 1849.
YOUNG, WILLIAM E. Young Bros. & Baldwin’s Circus (William E. Young, George A. Young, Bruce L. Baldwin, proprietors), 1892.
YOUNG, WILLIAM H. (circa 1842-January 23, 1885) Rider and gymnast. Born in Philadelphia. At one time a pupil of Dan Rice. The billing promised “the most Daring Gymnast and Caricature Impersonator of his age in the World, will perform a most hazardous feat, jumping sixteen feet through the air, at an altitude of thirty feet, on l’echelle perilleuse.” For a time, doubled with John C. Luanda as the Luanda Brothers. Dan Rice’s, 1862-63; l’echelle perilleuse, National Circus, Philadelphia, fall 1863; stilt performer, l’echelle perilleuse, Mrs. Dan Rice’s, 1864; Stone & Rosston, 1864-65; Hippotheatron, NYC, fall 1865; Dan Rice’s, 1867-69; clown and stilt walker, Thayer & Noyes, 1877. Organized a trio of aerial gymnasts, Les Markoes, and performed in many of the large cities. Injury forced retirement from performing around 1880. Remaining Markoes became Ashton Brothers. Died in Baltimore at age 43.
YOUNG, W. S. General agent, W. C. Coup Equescurriculum and Carl Dice’s Great German Circus, 1894; contracting agent, the Great Exposition Circus (John C. O’Brien, manager), 1895.
ZACCO, JEAN. Gymnast, Great Eastern (Dan Carpenter and R. E. J. Miles & Co., proprietors), 1872.
ZAMORA FAMILY [Juan, Josie, Jose]. Triple trapeze, perche and Roman ladder performers. Shields’, 1887; Phil Diefenbach’s, 1889; Frank A. Gardner’s, South America, winter 1892-93. J. J. Zamora’s wife died of complication from childbirth in Ashley, IL, August 4, 1889, age 23. She was a native of Providence, KY. They were married in Knoxville, TN, September 19, 1888. Second wife, Lizzie Bixby. Prof. Zamora, Mexican aerialist, Andress’ New Colossal Shows, 1889.
ZAMPOLIE, SIGNOR [and son]. General performers, VanAmburgh’s, 1874.
ZANFRETTA BROTHERS [Henrico, Louis, Joseph]. Gymnasts. O’Brien & King’s, 1864; American Hippocolosiculum (Thompson, Smith and Haines, proprietors), 1866. Louis, gymnast, Palmer’s Great Western, 1865.
ZANFRETTA FAMILY [Alexander, Josephine, Master Beppo]. Gymnasts. Dan Rice’s, 1861; Spalding & Rogers, 1865; Albizu’s, Havana, winter 1866-67; Spalding & Rogers, Academy of Music, New Orleans, winter 1864-65; Campbell’s, 1869; J. M. French’s, 1870; VanAmburgh’s, 1871.
ZANFRETTA, JOSEPHINE. Albizu’s, Havana, November 1866.
ZANFRETTA, MARIETTA. (August 31, 1832-February 8, 1898) Venetian by birth. One of the greatest female tight-rope dancers in the world. Extremely attractive, with “black, lustrous Italian eyes that pierce like an arrow” and an exquisite form. Member of the Ravel Family. Featured rider, E. F. and J. Mabie’s, 1852; Den Stone’s, 1854; L. G. Butler’s, 1855; Buckley’s, 1857; Orton & Older, 1859-60; Spalding & Robers, Old Bowery Theatre, NYC, 1861; Lent’s Equescurriculum, 1864; Hippotheatron, 14th Street, NYC, 1864; National Circus, New American Theatre, Philadelphia, winter 1865-66; VanAmburgh & Co., 1871; Orrin Bros.’, Havana, 1879. Called the most daring and graceful of tight-rope performers. [T. Allston Brown: “Her movements are as lithe as those of a panther. She never uses the balance pole but poises herself on the rope without any advantageous aid. She performs the same feats on the corde tendue, which I think surprising in a dancer on the firm floor. She runs backwards and forwards, turning with incredible rapidity, dances on the rope, stands on the point of one toe, descends the angle of the rope into the parquet, and re-ascends unfaltering and fearless. Indeed, her doings are unexampled.”] Married François Siegrist, French clown, gymnast and acrobat. After her husband’s death, married Francois Kennebel. Last engagement, with Orrin Bros.’, Havana, 1880. Died in NYC.
ZANGARA. Circassian girl, John H. Murray’s, 1874.
ZARAH, MLLE [or Zara]. James M. Nixon’s, Baltimore, spring 1863; trapeze and trained doves, P. T. Barnum’s, 1886; Barnum & Bailey, 1889, 1892.
ZARATE, ALBERT. Press agent, W. C. Coup’s Equescurriculum and Elliott’s London Show, 1887.
ZAZEL [r. n. Rosa M. Richter]. (b. April 11, 1862) Human cannon ball, the original Zazel; also tight-wire and single trapeze performer. Born in London, England, the daughter of a circus and dramatic agent. At 4 years of age, performed the role of one of Cinderella’s sisters in a pantomime at Drury Lane Theatre, London. Studied ballet and gymnastics. At 12 years of age, was a member of a traveling Japanese troupe as a boy. Became a protégé of Signor Guillermo Antonio Farini. First appearance in a cannon ball act occurred, 1877, at the Royal Westminster Aquarium, London, where she gradually increased the length of flight to 97’ through the air. [The Era, April 29, 1877 (from Gossard’s A Reckless Era of Aerial Performance, the Evolution of the Trapeze): “Zazel crawls into the huge mortar, a most realistic looking weapon.... We follow the progress of the torch for a moment only. We listen to the loud report which follows its application to the powder and lo! Our vision is startled by the sight of the living Miss - we mean missile - flying through space, and alighting safe and sound in the huge net spread to receive her.”] This was followed with a tour of England and the Continent before coming to America and starring with P. T. Barnum’s, 1880; John B. Doris’, 1881; Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson, 1882; Cooper, Jackson & Co., 1883; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1891. The name and the act were patented by Farini and threats of prosecution were made by him to anyone usurping either. Retired, fall 1891, after sustaining a back injury. Married Barnum executive George O. Starr some time previous to her engagement with Forepaugh. Her husband organized the Starr Opera Co., 1886, with which she performed various roles. When Starr became a European representative for Barnum & Bailey, she accompanied him to England, where she determined to resume her circus career. Shortly, made a sensational leap in street clothing from a 4th story window into a net used by the fire department (for years she had advocated the use of a fire net for saving lives). Remembered as being bright and intelligent, and for her acts of charity. 3
ZAZEL [Mrs. A. P. Roche, nee Elizabeth Ann Wallett]. (1863-March 12, 1885) “The human projectile,” not the original of that name. Born at Newcastle on Tyne, England. Came to America around 1881, first engagement being with Shelby, Pullman & Hamilton, where she met and married Albert P. Roche, proprietor of privileges with the show, June 9, 1881. With William O’Dale Stevens’, Park Square, Boston, June 1883, fell while doing her 50’ dive, causing severe injuries. May also have been connected with W. H. Harris’ Nickel-Plate, 1885; Barnum & Bailey, 1889. Died in childbirth at Norfolk, VA. Husband’s death occurred shortly before her own.
ZAZEL and MASON. Gymnasts, John Robinson’s, 1890.
ZAZELL, ESTELLA. Backward dive free act, Hummel, Hamilton & Co.’s, 1897.
ZAZELLE, C. M. Comedy bar performer. Entered the profession playing light comedy roles in a theatrical repertoire company. Joined William Ward to play in pantomime, 1886. Fall of that year, Zazelle & Ward went to Australia, Wilson’s Circus; from there to India with Chiarini’s. Returned to USA, 1888, and in the winter Zazelle took Charles Mason as a partner, after which they played the leading vaudeville houses in the West. Later, joined McMahon’s and John Robinson’s. 1893, Zazelle went out with the “Black Crook” Co., playing the role of Greppo for a little over 2 seasons. Around 1895, took B. S. Vernon as a partner.
ZEBOLD, GEORGE W. “Electric” ticket seller, Howes’ Great London, 1878.
ZELA. Female cannon ball, John Robinson’s, 1882.
ZELECIC, ZOLO. Lady snake charmer, Washington Bros.’, 1887.
ZELIEL, H. Mike Lipman’s, winter 1866-67.
ZELKIKA, ADA [r. n. Ada Mack]. (d. July 15, 1891) Circassian lady impersonator and snake charmer. Native of Cleveland, OH. Began as a trapezist. Married C. W. Mack, 1882. Died from the effects of a falling tent pole during a storm near Savannah, GA.
ZELL, PETE. Clown, balancing, and juggling act, Adam Forepaugh’s, 1875.
ZELLA. Contortionist, Menches & Barber’s, 1887; “The Human Frog,” Harris’, 1891.
ZELLER, MONS. Whitmore, Thompson & Co.’s Equescurriculum, 1865.
ZELLICA, MME. George F. Bailey & Co., 1869.
ZENG, HENRY. Howes’ European Circus, winter 1864.
ZENO & STIRK. Flying return on the high wire, Barnum & Bailey, London, winter 1889-90; Walter L. Main’s, 1893. Zeno, flying trapeze, Sells Bros.’, 1886; teamed with Alice Whorter (“king and queen of the clouds”),Wenona Beach resort, MI, 1891.
ZENOBIA, SENORITA. See Minnie Cordella.
ZENOPIO. “The Fan Child,” curiosity, P. T. Barnum’s, 1877.
ZEONETTI, MLLE. ZEO. Trapezist and general performer, with J. W. Wilder’s, 1873.
ZERA, ELLA. Roberts & Gardner (Nick Roberts, F. A. Gardner, proprietors), 1886.
ZERUTH, ZILDA. Circassian woman, supposedly representing the purest white stock of the Caucasian race, with Adam Forepaugh’s, 1883.
ZIEGLER BROTHERS. Acrobats, S. H. Barrett’s, 1887.
ZIEGLER, ED. Boss razorback, John Robinson’s, 1882-85.
ZIEGLER, GEORGE. Vaulter, Andress’ New Colossal, 1889.
ZIGLER, CARL. Equestrian director, Burr Robbins’, 1874.
ZIMME, PHILIP. Howes’ European, winter 1864.
ZIMMERMAN, J. Band leader, John Robinson’s, 1857-58.
ZIMMERMAN, MAX W. (d. October 5, 1929) Interest in sideshow, Stowe & Long, 1889; sideshow and concert, Hurlburt & Leftwich, 1890; Zimmerman Bros.’, 1891; Snyder & Zimmerman Museum and Novelty Co., 1892; Zimmerman & Goodwin, 1912.
ZINGARA, ZULA. Circassian lady, L. B. Lent’s, 1876.
ZIN-ZE-BAR. Hyena king, Montgomery Queen’s, 1876.
ZIP [r. n. William H. Jackson]. (1842-April 30, 1926) Side-show curiosity. Often called Barnum’s original “What Is It” or pinhead man because of his cone-shaped head and general appearance. An American Black from New Jersey or Brooklyn or Bridgeport, CT, depending on the source. First put on exhibit, 1859, starting a career that lasted 67 years. Not so dumb, Zip owned a chicken farm near Nutley, NJ, as well as other property. P. T. Barnum, 1876-78; Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1879.
ZOE [r. n. Frances Thurman]. An acrobatic performer since childhood. Dan Rice’s Paris Pavilion Circus, 1871. With Lila, a “Two-woman” trapeze act as Zoe, blindfolded and encased in a sack, swung from a trapeze, turned a somersault in mid-air, and ended by clutching a single rope, a version of l’échelle périleuse. It has been said that their leap and catch performance may have represented the first appearance of a female catcher. However, a vague newspaper comment in August read: “Dan has no female trapeze performers. One of the girls was discovered to be a boy recently, and the other one left and went into Canada.” Rope-walker, Batcheller & Doris, 1881. Was drowned August 5, 1896, Curtis Bay, MD, near Baltimore.
ZOE, MARIE. A pantomimist and danseuse in the 1860s. Husband, Ben Yates, was a well known ballet master of the time.
ZOLA FAMILY [Emily, Winnie, Frank]. Troupe of aerial artists. John Forepaugh’s, California (Frank Frost, manager), 1886; Harper Bros.’, 1891; Jesse W. Foster’s New York Circus, South America, 1894. Frank M., assistant manager, Harper Bros.’ European, 1893. 4
ZOLO. Human cannonball, S. H. Barrett’s, 1887.
ZORELLA BROTHERS. [George and Tommy]. Aerialists. Tommy (r. n. Thomas Fox) was a native Australian. He died, January 20, 1882, in San Francisco while practicing a “Leap for Life” at Woodward’s Gardens, age 19. George with Sells Bros.’, 1885; (with Emma DuBois) high-wire bicycle artists, S. H. Barrett’s, 1885-87.
ZORILLA, ARGENTE. John Robinson’s, 1885.
ZOYARA, ELLA. See Omar Kingsley.
ZOYARA, HORACE [and wife]. Aerialists, Lowande & Hoffman, 1887; Washburn & Arlington, 1891.
ZUILA & LOYAL [George and Ella, or Minnie?]. Husband and wife, a leap for life, high-wire, and trapeze act. Loyal established a career as a wire-walker, 1860s; 1868 rode a velocipede on a high wire at the theatre Comique, Melbourne, Australia; produced a cannon feat in Sydney, New South Wales in 1872, consisting of him being shot from some kind of apparatus to a hand catch by his partner. Was said to be one of the few to make any money out of his cannon act. Well educated, he was a linguist, speaking French, German, Spanish, Hindostan,, and Malay. Ella Zuila was known as “the female Blondin”; walked blindfolded with her feet encased in baskets, wheeling a person in a wheel barrow, riding a velocipede, and performed a double trapeze act with George Loyal. She also served as catcher for Loyal’s human cannon ball feat. [Richard E. Conover: “Unlike today’s acts of this kind that use a net to catch the human projectile, Zuila did that chore while invertedly suspended from a single trap high above the launcher. It should be stated, in fairness to the modern cannonballers, that in the 1880 version the projectile was launched almost vertically and the distance traveled was relatively short.”] At Natal, 1876, Zuila crossed the Magane Falls, from 368’ above on a 500’ wire riding a velosipede; Chiarini’s, San Francisco, summer 1879, then sailed for Aukland, New Zealand, which began a 4½ year world tour of 2,118 miles; Orrin Bros.’, Mexico, winter 1880-81; Adam Forepaugh’s, 1881; Great Australian Circus (combination of William O’Dale Stevens’ Australian Circus and T. F. Kelly’s Specialty Troupe), National Theatre, Philadelphia, winter 1881-82; Leon & Cantelli, Jane’s Theatre-Circus, Havana, winter 1882-83; opened, Crystal Palace, London, July 8, 1885, where Ella performed on a wire 300 feet long, stretched 90 feet above her audience. [Charles H. Day: “Loyal is both a producer and a hustler and his wife is one of the smartest and bravest little women who ever put on tights or attempted feats of skill and daring.”] Ella died January 30, 1926, at Walton-on-the-Naze, England, age 72.
ZUILA, BLANCHE. Began her career as a variety performer, Australia, 1872-1877. Featured in George Loyal’s Combination Troupe. See Zuila & Loyal.
ZULELIA & VENTINI. Comic hat spinning, Dan Rice’s Paris Pavilion, 1873.
ZULLEIA, MLLE. (d. September 25, 1882) “Leap for Life” performer. Worked for year in England with William Leopold as Zulleia & Leopold; Sanger’s at Agricultural Hall, London; took a new partner and performed as Zullwia & Ventini; came to USA, Tammany Hall, NYC, 1869; afterward, Denier’s, Shelby’s. Brother was Gustavus Foster, in charge of Sanger’s Zoological Garden, England. Died in Montreal, Canada, of consumption.
ZULLOCK, LEVI J. Advertising agent, with Montgomery Queen’s, 1873.
ZULUTI, PEARLY. Albino, Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1880.
ZUMI, ZERODI. Circassian lady, Shellenberger’s, 1871.
ZUNNETT CHILDREN. Trapeze performers, Cooper, Jackson & Co., 1884.
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Last modified October 2005