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Message Archive: Messages 1451 - 1500
1500. Great Wonder Circus, 18 August, 2006 - I am wondering if anyone out there knows anything or could refer me to more information about the Great Wonder Circus - an all-women traveling show, circa 1905-1910. Any help would be most appreciated. Claire Murphy, Spokane, WA. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 23 August, 2006 - I can only tell you that it is not mentioned in Robert Parkinson's Directory of American Circuses from 1793 to 2000. This book lists every show title used, owners, and years of operation. Although there are small details missing, this book I would guess is 98 to 99% complete in it's coverage. Bob Cline
Reply: 30 August, 2006 - The title "Great Wonder Circus" is unusual and not typical of the ordinary traveling circuses of the early 20th century. Do you know if it's a vaudeville act or magic presentation? The word "circus" has been applied to any number of other entertainments. One of the few circuses that utilized "wonder" in the title was Christy Bros. Circus, which included it as part of the subtitle as the "Wonder Show."
If you have no personal names, just the title, the best place to start a search will be to check resources with key word searching for the title "Great Wonder Circus." A number of major daily newspapers are available via ProQuest, including the "New York Times," "Chicago Tribune" and "Los Angeles Times," among others. Check with your local or state library or historical society for access. The "Brooklyn Eagle" is available directly on-line at no cost through about 1902. www.newspaperarchive.com is also a place to check; it's a subscription service.
You might also try checking George C. D. Odell's monumental "Annals of the New York Stage," which covered most every form of entertainment in New York City. It's usually found at major city and university libraries. The coverage goes as far as 1894, which is before your cited period. If your date is off, or if you seek earlier coverage on your troupe's members, it's a great resource.
If all else fails, you can scan the pages of the weekly theatrical journals, "Billboard," "New York Clipper" and "Variety," the latter of which also carried act reviews. All of them also printed illustrations and advertisements.
The title suggests that the "circus" might have been an act or series of acts presented on the vaudeville stage. I checked the indexes in a number of standard vaudeville titles but found no suitable entry. That's not overly surprising as many vaudeville acts, especially the circus-type, are not found in such chronicles. The broadest vaudeville collection in the public domain might be the Redpath Chautauqua collection at the University of Iowa. A quick check for "Wonder" failed to produce any results, but further searching might reveal something pertinent.
If the acts were of the strength demonstration or skill type, you might contact Jan Todd, an authority on such things. She's at the University of Texas in Austin. A few years ago a book was published about similar topics; Joanna Frueh's book (2000), "Picturing the Modern Amazon." It may have some leads for you, or perhaps there's something in the bibliography.
Providing a bit of information about your source for the name might help to steer you to an appropriate response. Fred Dahlinger
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1499. Circus injuries, 18 August, 2006 - Is anyone aware of printed accounts of circus-related injuries, specifically related to performaces in the ring or rehearsing or sustained by female circus performers? Is anyone aware of these in past issues of Bandwagon or other printed media? Thanks! Carolyn Bowers, Annandale, VA firstname.lastname@example.org. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 29 August, 2006 - Hungarian artist Karoline Deak was lightly injured caused by a fall during her act in 1963 in Holland. Photo's and an account in dutch: go to www.circusmuseum.nl/eng. Type Deak in the search area. Herman Voogd, email@example.com
Reply: 29 August, 2006 - Among Mabel Stark's worst injuries came in Bangor, Maine, in 1928, on the John Robinson Circus, when she was attacked by two tigers, Zoo and Shiek. Lion trainer Terrell Jacobs and Ringmaster Hauser were able to get her out. She was attacked in Phoenix, in 1935, by Nellie tigress on the Barnes show. This was another bad one. She got tons of publicity out of this, as about the same time actor Charles Bickford was attacked by a lion on a movie set, and the newspapers had a field day running updates on both wild animal victims. There is more, of course, and these were hardly the only times Mabel was injured, but I don't how much detail you want. Roger Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reply: 31 August, 2006 - Herman Voogd, thank you very much for the URL! Unfortunately I do not speak or read dutch, but the posters on the site are very interesting and vibrant! Thanks! CB
Roger Smith, thanks for the information regarding the John Robinson Circus, I am sure I can search a collection of newspapers from Bangor, Maine to find the accounts! Thanks! CB
Reply: 06 September, 2006 - I recall that some time in the period 1970-73, national news media reported that Alicia Okpis, a diminutive Polish acrobat with Ringling Bros-Barnum & Bailey, was badly injured while rehearsing in Sarasota, FL. I wrote to Alicia at the time and received a reply from a care giver, but was unable to correspond after that. Sarasota papers of the period should have something about the accident. Ken Keller
Reply: 28 October, 2006 - In the french book" La Merveilleuse Histoire du Cirque" author Henry Thetard, 2nd edition published in 1978, page 611 to 615; you will find a list of performers (more than 150) who were killed during the show or training.There is also a statistic of accident by type of act.
François Rozès, email@example.com
1498. Krysztyna Kanigowska, 16 August, 2006 - I would like to get in touch with Krysztyna Kanigowska, from Dzialdowo, Poland, who was an aerialist with the Polish Circus in Budapest, August-September 1963. We were quarantined there together in a smallpox scare and lost contact after we were released. Ken Keller, Quito, Ecuador. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1497. Mons Jeckles, iron jaw, 16 August, 2006 - I don't know if you can help me - but I have a poster in my possession relating to one of my Ancestors dating 1874. The Poster is advertising Culeen & Linnet's American Variety & Gymnastic Show printed by the Guardian Letterpress & Steam Printing works in Manchester England - featuring:
The wonder of 1874 Mons Jeckles - the man with the iron jaw (my ancestor)
The great Acrobats - The Culeen Troup
Sandy Amos - the talking clown
Linnet & Starling - song, dance and burlesque
Bros. Mario - flying trapeze and ariel gymnasts
Young Alex - the bonless Wonder
I believe there was a write up in the Nottingham Journal June 3rd 1874 England - other than that - I have no other details! Would you possibly be able to tell me anything about Mon. Jeckles or give me any leads I could try to obtain more information? Thank you! Kay Atherton. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 04 September, 2006 - My book "Victorian Arena, the Performers" (Lingdales Press, Formby, 1995), volume 1, contains the following entry; - JECKLES. Strongman and clown. William McEwan, born 1845, son of Garrett McEwen. Probably the brother of Tom Culeen. Noted at Culeen's circus, in the 1880s. "Happy Jackles" noted at Wirth's circus, Australia, 1905. Died in 1913, buried in Burnley Cemetery, on 22nd July, in the family vault (Sources - World's Fair, 25/9/1926, p.23, col.1; June Huntingdon, personal correspondance,19/12/1993). If you are interested in circus performers in England, why not visit my website www.circusbiography.co.uk and sign my 'Guest Book' and post your query in the 'Forum' section? Thanks, John Turner
Reply: 24 September, 2006 - Hi Kay, I came across your post today and have some information about William Jeckles who is Mons Jeckles. He is buried in Burnley Cemetery in the Culeen family grave. The grave reference is 228 & 229. He is buried along with:
Garrat McEwen died August 22nd 1881 aged 75 years
Thomas Culeen McEwen died December 22nd 1901 aged 57 years
James Edward Culeen (son of the above) died January 30th 1909 aged 29 years
Joseph Kendal Hewson died March 8th 1900 aged 38 years
Also in the grave is Emma McEwen, wife of Thomas, who has no inscription.
William Jeckles died July 19th 1913 aged 68 years and the inscription reads ‘A Faithful Servant’.
I believe that William and Thomas Culeen were very close and that seems to be true as he is buried in the family tomb which I have photographs of. I have managed to trace William back through various censuses and can provide details if it if is of interest to anyone. In later life he became a circus groom. He is mentioned in a newspaper article from the Burnley Express dated December 28th 1901 when he attended the funeral of Thomas Culeen and there is also mention of him in an another article referring to him as a strong man act. The McEwen’s (Circus name of Culeen) are my direct descendants and I have more information on them and William Jeckles if you would like to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I would be happy to send you copies of the burial records and newspaper articles mentioning him.
I would be very interested to hear more about the poster you have – it’s amazing that it has survived. Best Wishes, Jane Culeen, email@example.com
Reply: 13 May 2007 - Hi Jane! Don't know if you got my previous message in reply to a posting on the Circus History Message Boards! Mons Jeckles was my Gt.Gt.Grandfather and I would be most greatfull for any photo's, articles and info you can provide regarding William and your Ancestors the McEwans/Culeens. I have been informed that William Jeckles the son of Garrett McEwan but our family story goes that William was abandoned as a young child at a circus in France and brought up by the Circus Family and purely known as 'Jeckles'. I haven't been able to find his birth registration - maybe Garrett McEwan adopted him? As I mentioned in my search - I have a Culeen Poster dated 1874 with Mons Jeckles on it as a Strong Man and Jeckles gold watch with 'Happy Jackles Circus' inscribed passed down through our family. Please contact me as soon as possible so we can share information!
If anyone has any further information, photos, articles etc regarding 'Mons Jeckles' please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for your help! Kay
1496. Lance King, 16 August, 2006 - Writing a book and need some info: Anybody know what ever happened to "Lance King" (Cowboy western act/singing Cowboy) I know he was once appearing at the Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris France, but that's about it! Regards, Wayne.
Wayne Paulo NFL Europe League Photographer. email@example.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 04 September, 2006 - My book "Twentieth Century Circus People, 1901-1950" (Lingdales Press, Formby, 2003), has the following entry for Lance King; - KING, Lance. Singing cowboy. A native of Canada. Noted with Mdme Paulo's circus, touring in 1948, singing, with his own guitar, again in 1949 as part of a Wild West act, "Just back from Canada, on his horse Gipsy", partnered by Texas Liz (Lizzie Paulo). With John Pearson's Mammoth Circus, King's Hall, Belfast, 1949-50, "Canada's Singing Rodeo Cowboy". Booked for Tom Arnold's Harringay circus, 1953-54, trick rider and rodeo cowboy, with his horse 'Gypsy' (Sources - World's Fair, 25/9/1948, p.12, col.3; ibid, 26/3/1949, p.12, col.3; ibid, 1/10/1949, p.16, col.4; ibid, 31/12/1949, p.16, col.1; ibid, 28/1/1950, p.16, col.1; ibid, 28/11/1953, p.28, col.3; ibid, 31/10/1953, p.24, col.3; ibid, 4/4/1964, p.48, col.2). If you are interested in circus artists who performed in England, why not visit my website and say hello in my 'Guest Book' or post a query in my 'Forum'? Thanks, John Turner.
Reply: 05 September, 2006 - Thank you for the response, still need to know more about him later in life! Regards, Wayne. Wayne Paulo NFL Europe League Photographer.
Reply: 28 October, 2006 - In the french book "La Merveilleuse Histoire du Cirque" author Henry Thetard, 2nd edition published in 1978, page 611 to 615; you will find a list of performers (more than 150) who were killed during the show or training.There is also a statistic of accident by type of act.
Reply: 04 November, 2006 - Lance King worked the season 1951 with the circus Strassburger in Holland - Charly Ross.
Reply: 19 November, 2006 - I found a photo copy of a small write-up about Lance King. It is from January 1952 when Lance King finished his contract with Circus Strassburger in the Carré Building in Amsterdam. It says that Lances learned to know his wife in England, that she manages the horse on which he works from the centre of the ring. "Lance is 25 years now, which means that he is travelling over the world for ten years now. He just has been to the Middle East and Israel, and soon he will go to Germany where he is going to perform for the U.S.Armee. He travels in a closed trailer in which he transports his horse. But he does not want to do this kind of work for always. In a couple of years he will go back to Canada, because there he belongs, so he says. And then he is a real cowboy again." The copy is not complete, and has a (bad) foto of Lance and his wife. Best wishes - Charly Ross.
1495. Barney O'Hern Circus, 15 August, 2006 - I'm doing some research on my parents collection of circus memorabilia and trying to gather information on a poster I have that shows a blonde female atop a reared elephant from the Barney O'Hern Circus. The only information I've found is that it was only out for one season - 1946. Does anyone know who took the show out and any of the acts that may have been with them? Terry Allread, Chico, CA. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 25 August, 2006 - I remember Grace asking the same question when I spent a couple of days at the house a number of years ago as we were looking at some show titles in the file drawers. I double checked and can find no dates for the show either in Billboard or any verification that it was on the road. Shows have been known to use stock posters and I also found a stock free kids ticket with no date on it. The only evidence that I can find in the Bowman Route Collection that the title existed comes from a letter by the general agent Rudy Jacobi who was filling a request for a copy of the show's letterhead from a fan. The request was made in March 1946 and in June 1946 a response came and the note "but owing to the many things that come up in getting a circus on the road these days". No guarantee Barney O'Hern owner and James O'Hern Treasurer got the show out that year, at least I cannot verify that it was on the road. John Polacsek
Reply: 31 August, 2006 - John, Thanks for the memory. I'll let you know if I can "dig" up anything by searching small local newspapers. Warm Regards, Terry
Reply: 24 November, 2006 - Hi, My Dad took out the Barney O'Hern World Wide Circus in 1945 and part of 1946. I traveled with the show and worked in the Winter Quarters and sometimes as performer while on the road. The show was a three ring, tent show with a side show and several "pit shows and traveled by truck. We played in both California and Nevada. The poster you reference is misleading as the show did not carry any elephants. Regards, Patrick O'Hern
Reply: 13 December, 2006 - Patrick, Thanks for the information. We actually have quite a number of various posters, approx. six (6) different if I recall, in multiple qtys. Merry Christmas! Terry Allread
Reply: 14 December, 2006 - Terry, When you note various quantities have you any duplicate Barney O'Hern Circus posters you might care to sell? Thanks, Pat, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reply: 10 Nov 2008 - I am trying to get in touch with Pat O'Hern. His SBC email address (email@example.com), telephone, and fax lines do not respond. If you know how to reach him, please have him contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888 891-0557. I have located Barney O'Hern posters for him. Jessee
1494. Captain Billy Reed, 14 August, 2006 - I'm looking for information on Henry Hamel aka Captain Billy Reed with the Clyde Beatty Circus in the 1930's. He was supposedly a lion trainer and married to a lion tamer who was killed by a black panther. Gwen Steen, Morgan Hill, CA, email@example.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1493. Louis Hook, 14 August, 2006 - My inquiry is about a man named Louis Hook from Brooklyn New York. He was born in 1890 and performed at the Hippodrome at age 14. He was small and evidently did some type of tumbling on camels, possibly. He was a member of a 3 person team which was composed of a man and girl. My mom thought they called themselves the three cherries. He was my grandfather and any information would be appreciated. Colette Hook Grower, Wasilla, Alaska, firstname.lastname@example.org. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1492. Clown bicycle, 12 August, 2006 - I remember see someplace, a photo of a circus clown with a bicycle. It may have been in a boot but I am unable to locate it. The bicycle had old boots instead of tires. I am trying to find who the clown was, and were I could get a copy of the photo. Bill Tedeski, Pittsburgh PA. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 13 August, 2006 - Joe Jackson jr had a bicycle like that. Unfortunately I don't have a photograph, but I'm sure there are many. Natasha Gerson
Reply: 06 January, 2007 - Hello Natasha and Bill, I'm Franck, from France. Natasha, you're right, the message of Bill reminds me of Joe Jackson Jr, who had a bicycle like that. Ineither do I, I don't have any photo, sorry. But you can see this stunning man on video. He was a part of Circus Scott's television performance in Sweden called "Clown Clown". I know you can order this video. Personnally, I recorded the performance on video about 10 years ago. Please find a biography of Joe Jackson Jr below: www.cirkusskandinavia.dk/joe_jackson.htm. Happy new year and best wishes, Franck
Reply: 18 Nov 2012 - There is an image of a clown on a bicycle in "The Great Circus Train Wreck of 1918." I think his family was killed in that wreck. Michael Casey
1491. Flying Patts, 12 August, 2006 - My great grandfather (who died over 30 years ago) told me a story about his brother being in the circus and was a trapeze catcher and that he died after tearing his stomach catching someone that he had to reach too far for. All I remember is he referred to them I think as the Flying Patts. My great grandfather's name was William Patt. Anyone hear of The Flying Patts? Maybe around the year 1900? Thanks, Joyce Spaulding. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1490. Tasley, Virginia Fair, 12 August, 2006 - I am looking for any information whatsoever, no matter how much or how little, concerning any circuses at Tasley, Virginia. I found on your site that the Campbell-Bailey-Hutchinson circus came to Tasley in 1922. Any information, photos, memories, or whatever you can provide would be greatly and sincerely appreciated. I am working on a book of Tasley history and any ionfo on this subject would be fantastic! Thanks. Don Amadeo, Tasley, Virginia, email: email@example.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 14 August, 2006 - Dear Friend Don: Are you aware that the complete history of the Campbell, Bailey & Hutchinson Circus is available to you in the Bandwagon icon, May 1960 issue? It mentions the Tasley, VA date. I am not sure what the thrust of your inquiry is: Are you writing about the entertainment activities of Tasley over the years or about the fair, or about the town of Tasley. I trust that you have visited you local library or that of the county seat if it isn't Tasley to review the local newspapers for the period that you are covering. I personally have used the State Library in Richmond which has many of the newspapers on microfilm readily available. Both the Un. of Virginia and William & Mary also have extensive files that may be useful to you. Best - Robert F Sabia
Reply: 14 August, 2006 - Joe Bradbury composed a history of the Campbell, Bailey & Hutchinson Circus, which was printed in the society's journal. If you check the "Bandwagon" article index on this website, you'll find it listed and can request a copy via interlibrary loan [Vol. IV, 3 (May-June 1960), pages 3-9, 12-17 and cover]. The business records of the circus are not known to exist. Other resources that you could check in regard to it are the weekly issues of "Billboard" and "New York Clipper," which can also be requested via interlibrary loan. The coverage in Billboard was likely accessed by Bradbury in preparing his article. Fred Dahlinger
Reply: 08 October, 2006 - Thank you so much for your replies. To clarify, I am working on a history of Tasley itself, with various chapters on the Tasley Fair, fire company, railroad, businesses, churches, etc. Your information will help greatly. And thanks for the research tips, I have so far only used local sources. Again, I thank you! Don Amadeo
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1489. Marketing, 12 August, 2006 - Hello All: Having spent many years in radio broadcasting including marketing and sales I am always interested in ways different organizations get their message across. This past Monday and Tuesday Carson and Barnes Circus was in Johnstown, Pa. and I searched area newspapers and TV stations to see exciting ads proclaiming their show times etc. Sadly, I only found a three liner in the around town ad in the Johnstown Tribune. I am sure there were placards on local phone poles. Yet, the area TV stations didn't go on the grounds for public affairs. Quite a difference from the late 1940s and early 1950s when The Greatest Show On Earth had ads all over town. Oh well! May All Your Days be Circus Days!!! Best, Craig, Lock Haven, Pa. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 14 August, 2006 - The Carson & Barnes date at the Galleria Mall in Johnstown was a lot & license where the circus books the date and uses the connections to the local media that the Mall has. It all depends on how good their connections were. To help promote the date the Mall probably ran events and a number of the stores advertised the circus. The show really does not advertise heavily in the newspapers. Also with the price of TV advertising it only works when there is blanket coverage for multiple dates in an area. The show usually relies on the posters that are put up by the bill posting crew and they also use a combination of free kids tickets and heralds. The heralds are a four page advertisement that are available at numerous outlets at the Mall, and local drug stores, gas stations, etc. along with ticket boxes that hold free kids tickets. The heralds also have a money saving coupon on the cover that can be used to get a discount when you buy tickets at the office. It is an ever changing marketing program that is still being refined. John Polacsek
Reply: 15 August, 2006 - John: Thank You for your complete reply. Hopefully, C&B will return to PA. and I can catch their show under canvas where in my opinion it belongs. Best, Craig
Reply: 15 August, 2006 - Circuses today are actively look for the answer to the
burning question, how do we market the show? Johnstown was neither the typical Lot and License date, nor the typical Hosted date. In Johnstown the local Mall bought a limited amount of media and sold advance tickets. However the mall did not act as a host. The show "papered" very little in Johnstown. These days circus posters are harder and harder to
place. Small businesses have been advised that any kind of poster on a door or window reduces visibility and creates security issues. Communities frequently have laws against posting bills on poles, vacant storefronts, etc. We do "lay down" free children's tickets for lot and license dates, and you'll frequently see them on store counters. Our primarly
means of selling a lot and license date is through direct mail - sending to households within a geographic area with childern under the age of 11. As it happens we may have missed the boat in Johnstown, where demographically it looks like there is a large older population and a modest median income. Mailing to homes in out-lying communities would probably have served us better. And I suspect the mall itself draws heavily from more affluent outlying areas. Ben Trumble, Carson & Barnes Circus
Reply: 16 August, 2006 - Ben: I am curious how your circus faired in Erie, Pa. yesterday the 14th of August? When I was in radio and on air I always gave a heavy plug to Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. when they showed in the New England area. I knew Fred Logan and Dave Hoover and having worked at the number three rated FM station in Boston giving free PR was always a plus. In 2006, anyone trying to capture a piece of the financial pie has to be a maestro at his or her game. For the heck of it, I asked friends and strangers alike if they ever heard of the Carson and Barnes Circus? Not one answered yes. They all answered Ringling Bros. was the one they remembered. I answered C&B still travels America and shows under the largest traditional big top and in my opinion is worth seeing. Your children and grand children will thank you for taking them. An advance clown driving a truck plastered with IT'S COMING THE LARGEST CIRCUS SHOWING UNDER THE LARGEST BIG TOP IN THE WORLD WILL BE IN ( ) DATE: ( ) THERE'S ONLY ONE CARSON & BARNES CIRCUS! I also would work with local band directors of high schools and cheer leading squads and promote great elephant races with local DJ's riding the elephants. I don't know how liability ties into 2006 local governments. Anything to promote THE CIRCUS I gladly welcome. I grew up under canvas every summer it seemed in Erie, Pa. and the excitement still remains 50 years later. Best, Craig
1488. Seils Sterling former member, 11 August, 2006 - My mother, Leila Zabel who is 89, traveled with Seils Sterling Circus (1920’s and early 30’s), as a child for approximately 10 years, with her parents, Ella and Otto Zabel. Otto ran concessions. There were times my mother performed on a swinging ladder (without a net). If anyone out there remembers her or her parents or traveled with Seils Sterling during this time, and would like to contact Leila, we would love to hear from you. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to hear from you. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 12 August, 2006 - Sonja Barta and her sister, Shirley, members of the Lindemann family which owned and operated Seils-Sterling, are, to the best of my knowledge, still residents of Sheboygan, WI. Sonja is likely in the telephone listings and you could call her. They will likely know of other Seils-Sterling veterans. Fred Dahlinger
1487. Circus performing deaths, 11 August, 2006 - I desperately need to find out some historical information about the circus. I need to know how many people have died when performing their dare-defying disciplines. Also how many people have died when performing the cloudswing, corde lisse, static trapeze, bungee. We are making a very positive show about the circus where we give 11 celebrities the opportunity to be perform these amazing circus acts. I need to find out really quickly so would appreciate any help asap. Many thanks, Luke Byrne, assistant producer, cirque de celebrité, London, email@example.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 20 August, 2006 - Dear Luke, As a circus historian I keep a pretty good file on circus aerialists, and their accomplishments, however fatal accidents is not an event that I keep statistical records on. I have lost a few good friends in fatal falls, and know of several who have suffered serious injuries. Let's just say in the past 40 years, I am aware of at least a dozen fatal falls of circus aerialists. Jim Cole
Reply: 22 August, 2006 - What is the death toll on performing high acts? If ever it were recorded, it would be sort of hard to assess what to include. People always realise that a performer can crash into the ring and break his or her neck, and admire them for taking that risk but that doesn't happen half as often as you would expect. But do we count, or even take into account invalidity and premature death as the result of innumerable lesions and fractions combined with longtime travelling life in all circumstances, performing when injured, breaking in (sometimes you can leave the 'in' off) the body at a young age, genetical body adaptation/abberation from generations performing and partnering in certain disciplines? Most don't crash into the manege. Most end up in wheelchairs slowly. Without financial safety nets, lot of times. Natasha Gerson
Reply: 14 October, 2006 - You find a long and complete historical list of deaths update to 1978 in the 2ns edition of the french book La Merveilleuse Histoire du Cirque of Henri Thetard. raffaele de ritis, Italy
1486. Modoc, 10 August, 2006 - I read on one of your questions that someone questioned if the book" Modoc" was real and someone answered and said no it wasn't. What do they mean? Was Modoc not sold to Mr. North, and shipwrecked with Bram in India only to be found by Mr. North and taken to America. Did the the author Ralph Helfer not only buy Modoc but employed Bram Gunterstein and his wife? If this is not true then Ralph Helfer has a big problem!? If anyone has the answer I would really like to know because I loved this book. Please answer me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 11 August, 2006 - The true answers to your questions are covered in these tables previously but I am not sure what the Question number was. You are correct that Mr. Helfer did briefly own an elephant named Modoc. My records indicate six different elephants over the years were named Modoc. The elephant that Mr. Helfer owned originated in America in 1922 on the Gollmar Bros. Circus. 1923 to 1924 she was on the John Robinson Circus and 1925 to 1934 she was on the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. This stay gave her the nickname of Wallace Modoc which kept her distinguished between other elephants named Modoc over the years. She was only under the Ringling Bros. title in 1939 when the Ringling show which owned Hagenbeck-Wallace, Al G. Barnes, Sells Floto, and John Robinson took them all off the road and combined everything they hadn't already sold over the last ten years of ownership of these circuses. Mr. Helfer's elephant, Wallace Modoc, then took up residence at Thousand Oaks, and Louis Goebel's in Ca. until 1948. 1949 and 1950 had her on Biller Bros. Circus. 1951 to 1962 she called the Memphis Zoo home. 1963 to 1972 she resided at Africa USA complexes in Ca. Mr. Helfer owned her from 1972 to 1975. She passed this life on July 19, 1975. Her age was determined to be 55 years old at the time of death. Big Modoc, which was the Ringling dancing star referred to in the book, has a long and rich history from her birth in 1900. She graced the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Big Top from 1930 to 1957. She died in Sarasota in 1957. Obviously her life had passed years before Mr. Helfer ever owned an elephant. Bob Cline
Reply: 12 August, 2006 - Mr. Cline, Thank you so much for answering. This may be a stupid question but, who are you? How do you know so much about Modoc etc? I read previously about the different Modocs but it still doesn't answer my question. Did Bram grow up with modoc, get shipwrecked in India, marry, brought back to America by Mr. North (was there really a North Circus). I guess it doesn't really matter whether or not Helfer owned the dancing Modoc. What makes the book amazing is the relationship between Bram and Modoc. If there was no such relationship , I don't see how he can get away with the book?? Again, thank you for taking the time to answer me. I feel like an idiot for recommending this book to everyone if it isn't true. jeanine partridge, email@example.com
Reply: 13 August, 2006 - I am a former circus performer and now a Historian of sorts. I have been keeping elephant lives information for about 15 years and with the computer age, I can keep it all in an Excel Program at my fingertips. Did I do it all by myself, Certainly not. I have collected information over the years from reports on circuses, Historical writings by others, eye witness accounts, my own recollections and other elephant historians like Chang Reynolds (His files are now housed in the Circus World Museum Library in Baraboo, Wi.) Renowned Animal historian Richard Reynolds III, Don Marcks files, Stephen Flint, and legendary elephant historian and former performer Buckles Woodcock to name a few. I simply answered your question. The Mr. North you ask about is in reference to John Ringling North who owned the Ringling Bros. Circus from about the 1940's till he sold it the Irvin Feld's organization in 1968. Mr. North was a son to the famous Ringling Bros. sister. As for Bram, He is probably researchable as well to determine whether factual or fake by checking the Immigration records first. That was never my concern. Just the elephant's life story. Bob Cline
Reply: 15 June 2009 - I have just finished reading Modoc by Ralph Helfer and I too was bothered by inconsitancies. I went to the internet to investigate. Not only did I find reference to six different Modocs, but there was no evidence of a real Bram Gunterstein. It was an exciting story, but if it is only "true-ish" that takes away much of my enthusiasm. I noticed for example plenty of written references to Modoc's tusks but
none of the uncaptioned pictures showed any tusks at all on any
elephant. It seems like a shipwreck involving a famous circus would
be easy to track down. A circus elephant born in captivity and then
secretly working in an Indian teak forest would also stand out in
circus history. Like others who have written I would like to know how
Helfer managed to come up with this entertaining but apparently
fictional--loosely based on facts--story. S. D. Landre
Reply: 22 Mar 2010 - I understand that Ralph Helfer is still living--although he will be about 79 years old this year. Perhaps there is way to contact him directly so as to set the record straight concerning his book, "Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived." I agree--if there is no Bram Gunterstein or otherwise named person who carried a deep, overcoming, lifelong relationship with an elephant of exceptional character, the book is a farce. If there is such a person and such an elephant, a great amount of fictionalization seems acceptable in order to present the heart of the matter, which is the RELATIONSHIP itself and the power of that love to conquer tragedy, time and distance...even death.
I want to make the point that Helfer's ownership of his "Modoc," as recorded at www.elephant.se, began in 1963 when "One-Eyed Modoc" went to the Gentle Jungle compound. In 1966, she was on record at Marine World Africa (Redwood Shores), and then in 1974 at Lion Country Safari in Florida until she was transferred to the San Francisco Zoo in June of 1975. She died there one month later of "unknown" causes. I am under the impression that Helfer's successful animal training and connection with the entertainment industry morphed into "Africa USA," "Marine World," and possibly even "Lion Country Safari;" so, in a real sense, his ownership of "One-Eyed Modoc" spanned over a decade, not just a couple of years as previously mentioned.
I do want to offer one suggestion regarding the vagueness of Helfer's reporting. If a "Bram Gunterstein" did exist, it is quite possible that he did not become a US citizen. As a German Jew, he may well have chosen to stay under the radar considering the time frame in which he lived. Mr. Helfer, in that case, would want to remain as vague as possible in order to cover for his friend by changing his name and leaving all researchable elements out of the story. Unless I hear otherwise, I lean toward giving him the benefit of the doubt in this, because my husband and I were deeply affected by his book and would be profoundly disappointed if the fundamental premise of it were entirely made up...and then presented as a "true story." Elaine
1485. Fred Bramblett, Bronze Circus, 10 August, 2006 - Looking for info on Fred Bramblett, Bronze Circus, may have been Ringmaster during 1930s-1940s. Any info would be appreciated. Penny Scott, pas @ mywdo.com. . Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1484. Circus Henry, 10 August, 2006 - I'm seeking information on Circus Henry, a 3-ring circus owned by Henry Koschke, and playing Austria/Hungary, maybe beyond, in the late 1800s to about WWI. I believe he gave a one-ring circus to his daughter Henriette, who married into a family of trapeze artists, the Italian Valenta family in the early 1900s. Is there any information about them? Thank you! Cat Dubie, Surrey, BC, firstname.lastname@example.org. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 12 August, 2006 - Circus Henry must have travelled in Germany as well, as I find a permit for the city of Hof in Bayern, for 1912, in the name of H.Koschke-Henry for Zirkus Henry on www.stadt-hof.de/hof_deu/32_armu/findbuecher/bm1910-1918.pdf. Are you sure the Valenta's were Italian? I know of Valenta's in the 1910's with perch and trapeze numbers, but the were not Italian, but Czech, and this seems to fit with the vicinity (Austria/Hungary incorporated Czechia at that time) of Circus Henry. See also Vladimir Valenta, acting offspring of this family. Natasha Gerson
Reply: 20 August, 2006 - Heinrich Gotthelf Koschke was born in Berlin 1862. With 20 years he joined the equestrian troupe of Anton Klieber and worked with horses and did trickriding. He also worked for famous shows like Herzog, Conrady, Lorch and Busch. In 1888 he started his own circus Henry, together with his wife Pernitza, a dressage-star, whom he had married in 1885. They toured Austria and Hungary and travelled in 1901 for the first time in Germany. The circus grows fast with a bigtop for 3600 people and 120 horses. In 1914 Koschke sold his circus to Sarrasani and bought his family a candle-factory. Also his two daughters, Henriette and Hortense (both very fine riders) left the circus-scene. Koschke died in may 1935 in Graz-Austria. John de Vries email@example.com
Reply: 27 July 2007 - I’m a hungarian circus collector and I have some old circus program of Circus Henry. 1903: Director Henry Koschke 14 liberty horses, High School riders Carl Petoletti and Robert Zeyen. Mr.Glauert jockey act, Mr.Riego rider juggler, Alfred Barker’s trained dogs, Carla Waldemar trickrider. 1910: Dir. Henry 12 black stallions, Hortensia Henry high school riding, Signor Talotta jockey, Melanie K voltige, Corini Henry parforce rider, Dir. Henry elephant, horses, dogs, Gudzow Cossack rider, Henrietta’s riding act. Sigela@citromail.hu
Reply: 28 Dec 2008 - My Grandfather was Willy Pantzer, his act was called Willy Pantzer and his midgets. He married Ida Welena Hortense Koschke on the 8th March 1914 and they were divorced in 1937. They had one child Alfred Pantzer who became Freddie Harrison - acrobat and pianist. Paul Littler
Reply: 29 Dec 2011 - I am trying to find out some history on circus Henry in the 1930s-1940s and beyond. My father John Wertheim who was Czech immigrated to Australia in the 1950s and brought photos of this circus with him. He passed away in 1990. I believe that his family were involved in the circus during the WWII. I returned to Europe with my father in the 1970s and we caught up with his family, who were still involved in a type of carnival, more like a travelling schutzenfest with a large tent. I was told this tent was part of the original circus Henry? My grandfather was Emanuel Wertheim. Does anyone know anything about my familys history or Circus Henry? Bella
Reply: 28 Aug 2012 - Re Circus Henry, my name is Rod Harrison, only son of Freddie Harrison who was the only son of Willie Pantzer and Hortense Koschke aka Tessie Harrison. Willie did not have any other children from any of his marriages therefore I am the only grandson, I do not know much about the family history but if anyone could help I would be very interested to hear from anyone, email address is, firstname.lastname@example.org, here's hoping cheers
1483. Rose Sekula, Rosa Lee, 10 August, 2006 - I am trying to find more information on a great aunt of mine, reportedly in the circus in the 1930’s. Her name was Rose Sekula, born in West Virginia in 1910. When she was about 10 yrs old she lost both arms in an electrical accident in West Virginia. For several years she went to the Massachusetts Hospital School for Crippled Children to learn how to function without arms. She supposedly joined with the circus in the mid-1930’s. It is possible her stage name was Rosa Lee. I would like to know any information anyone can provide. My name is David Jones, from Michigan. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1482. Want history of two railroad cars, 08 August, 2006 - Two former RBB&B cars went to Circus World in Hanes City, FL. Later they became part of Grandpa's Steak House in Cocoa, Fl. The owner did not know the original history and asked if any one could help with information. Circus world in Baraboo, WI has no info on these cars. Terry Cummings. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 11 August, 2006 - A real authority on RBBB railroad cars is retired RBBB unit general manager Bob MacDougall. In a conversation Bob, he advised that the two cars in question are likely part of the fleet of ex-U. S. Army hospital cars that were acquired by RBBB for 1947. They were adapted for circus use and utilized from 1947 to 1956. Some were again adapted for use with the new RBBB train of 1960, remaining in service until being retired after the 1972 tour. Bob wrote an extensive history of these cars in two articles in "Bandwagon," XLIII, 6, pages 4-17 and XLV, 1, pages 5-15. I'd recommend that the car owner purchase these back issues [info on the website]. Their story is quite interesting and told in extreme detail.
Bob is preparing another article about the subsequent history of the 1947 RBBB train cars, but kindly offered the following insights in advance. Fourteen of the retired 1960-1972 train cars were utilized at the RBBB Circus World attraction. Eight were paired together, side by side, with the mating sidewalls removed. Six others were used singly around the property. When the subsequent Baseball & Boardwalk facility was cleared, the eight connected cars were scrapped. he remaining six cars were salvaged and became somewhat like rail "fugitives" for a period of time. Bob later saw two of them off their trucks, ready to be trucked to an unnamed Florida restaurant. Those may be the two cars in question. The 1947 cars were all made essentially the same, but minor variations do differentiate them during circus service. Unfortunately, Bob did not think that the passage of time was kind to these individual markings, making specific identity of the two cars nearly possible. If anyone else has knowledge of the whereabouts of other 1947-vintage RBBB cars, Bob would appreciate hearing from you. Fred Dahlinger
1481. Famous Geo. W. Cole Circus, 08 August, 2006 - I would appreicate any history on the Geo. W. Cole Circus. The same name appears linked with '1881 Coles Gt. Southern' - and a Geo. W. Cole was listed as a 'manager of concert' for Frank Robins Circus of 1885 - is there any connection? When was the George W. Cole Circus performing - any connection to Cole Brothers I see so much about? Thank you for your time and information. Lisa A. Cole (no connection), email@example.com, Chicago, IL. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 10 August, 2006 - I thought someone would have jumped on this by now, but apparently not so here goes: The only George W Cole Circus I know of began life as "Cole and Walters Circus" in about 1950. It was framed in Hugo, Oklahoma, by Herb Walters (an old rep showman) with the help of D R Miller. Mr Walters had a son-in-law named George William Cole, who was usually called "Bill," and whose last name was appropriated for the title for this nice little truck show traveling on about seven show-owned vehicles. After a few seasons as Cole and Walters, the title was changed to George W Cole and then later to Famous Cole. It was the first circus I ever worked for. The show was eventually sold to Bob Couls in the early 1960s and I believe Ron Bacon used the title on an indoor show in later years. It was not related in any way to W W Cole or to any of the various Cole Bros Circuses that have toured. No doubt the name COLE causes more confusion than any other ever used in circus titles; there are frequently items on eBay from one Cole Circus which are described as being from another. Ree-gards, Ole Whitey
Reply: 10 August, 2006 - I'd recommend that you look in Slout's "Olympians of the Sawdust Circle" for the biography of George S. Cole. It's on the CHS website, click on "history" and you'll see it listed. George W. Cole is likely in error, according to Slout's entry. You can also check Bob Sabia's article about the Frank A. Robbins circus; it ran in "Bandwagon" a few years ago. There's no relation to Cole Bros., which was started later, by Martin Downs, 1906-1909. There never were any bonafide brothers named Cole. There have been many variations on the Cole name in American circus history, most utilized by people that were not named Cole. Real Coles included George S. Cole, W. W. Cole, James M. Cole and Ira Cole, who were all independent of one another and active with different shows at different times. Fred Dahlinger
Reply: 14 August, 2006 - Thank you both for your help. I bought my husband two posters in a junk shop (mainly because we share the name) and never knew about them. Both are a main circus poster with: 'Famous Geo. W. Cole Circus' and 'All New This Year' on them. It appears that when circus came into each town they would glue specific info on to bottom. Mine say: 'Aus. Booster Club - Bloomingdale - Afternoon and Night - June 23' but no year - I'm guessing 50's? My posters both show clowns - what type of show was this? Thanks again. Lisa Cole
Reply: 15 August, 2006 - The George W. Cole Circus was a tent circus that played the mid west. The poster is dated June 23, 1956 and the show played at Bloomingdale, Michigan. Ted Bowman Route Collection
Reply: 21 August, 2006 - Thank you Ted for the info. Lisa
1480. Dodson's World Fair and Circus, 08 August, 2006 - I am trying to find all the information I can on the Dodson's World Fair and Circus. I am looking for owners and operators especially any Dodsons. I am also looking for any information on some performers in the fair, their stage names were Lady Burdel and Professor Harry Simms. Lady Burdel's name was Jennie Burdel Drew and she married the Professor Harry Simms. Jennie Burdel was a bareback rider for the John Robinson Circus and said that she performed at Vadeville (not sure what that means). I was hoping that this might help with the search for her and Professor Harry Simms. Anything that can help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,
Jennifer Ball. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 11 August, 2006 - Information on the Dodson operation can be located in a previous query. In summary, an extended article is: Bob Goldsack, "Dodson's World's Fair Shows," printed in "Midway Journal Illustrated," May 2000, pages 6-19. Bob Goldsack's contact address is also in past queries. Search the past queries with your toolbar "edit" search function.
The principal was C. Guy Dodson. A story about his 50th wedding anniversary is in "Billboard," December 3, 1955, pages 73 and 74, with an obituary in "Billboard," September 19, 1956, page 80. He passed away in Savannah, GA on September 22, 1956. A brother, Melvin G. Dodson, was also involved with him, but apparently played a lesser role. If by no other means, ask that your local librarian obtain copies of these items via interlibrary loan. From this obituary, or the one in the local newspaper, you can garner the names of his survivors. Perhaps they remain in the Savannah area? There was a surviving widow, daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Surely he has some living descendants today, but it will take some searching to find them. Whether they retained any of the show business documentation or his personal papers remains to be determined.
There is no guide to locating performer information in the weekly trade journals [New York Clipper, Billboard, Variety, Show World, Greater Show World, etc.] that carried carnival news. The only guide is the compiled obituaries from Variety. To find information one must arduously scan through many pages of interesting but not always useful information. Being prepared with a timeline for each of the individuals is the best way to start reading these journals. You might try searching for their names in www.newspaperarchive.com. Fred Dahlinger
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1479. Gatewoods Flying X Rodeo, 07 August, 2006 - Would like to know if you have any information on the Gatewoods Flying X Rodeo from the the 1937 or before. Thank you, Lynne (Gatewood) Phillips at JP72280@Aol.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1478. Aerial Apparatus, 07 August, 2006 - Greetings, Carrie Heller here. I have a question: During Barnum's lifetime, in terms of Aerial Apparatus that was performed, what exactly was there? For example, I know there was trapeze: still, swinging and flying. And I'm pretty sure there was the Spanish Web. However, what else was performed, if anything else back then? For example, I'm 99.9% sure there was no Tissu, correct? or single point trapeze, correct? I look forward to hearing exactly what was invented or performed in those days in the 1800's. I am currently conversing with someone who is interested in hiring me for a job and it would be helpful for me if you could write back as soon as possible since I would so appreciate this fact before my next conversation with him on Monday. Please write back regardless, even if you don't read this e-mail until Tuesday or later. Thank you so much for your time. With Peace and Flight, Carrie Heller, www.circusartsinstitute.com, Carrie@CircusArtsInstitute.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1477. Bill Maack, route man, 07 August, 2006 - Joyce Back here, looking for pictures of my Uncle Bill Maack, route man for Mills Brothers Circus. He passed on in the 60's. firstname.lastname@example.org. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1476. Interview for circus novel, 06 August, 2006 - My name is Susabelle Kelmer and I'm currently researching for my latest book, tentatively titled WITHOUT A NET. I'm looking for people to interview or ask questions of regarding modern circus. I'm particularly looking for people who were performers, ring personnel, front/back office, cooks/food service, animal trainser and support personnel, wardrobe, etc. I am not interested in concessions or customer-based operations (like ticketing or ushering).
To make it clear, this will be a work of FICTION. I reserve the right to use some poetic/literary license in the finished product. I am looking for accuracy, but as with all works of fiction, my final work cannot resemble any actual circus or person.
The "type" of circus that I am writing my story inside is not Ringling or Soleil, and not a mud show, but something in between. Think Big Apple, Circus Flora, Zoppe Family Circus, etc. Human acts, animal acts, but no shooting out of a cannon or motorcycles in the cage or anything like that. I am talking modern-day circus, something in the last decade.
Anyone who responds should be prepared to answer a list of questions I will pose to you (somewhere around 10-12). After that, I may tap you for more questions, or clarification of your answers. I need detail detail detail; although my muse is in an incredible hurry, I am prepared to wait for quality answers, rather than fast answers.
My credentials: I'm married to a former Ringling Bros. clown who toured in Japan in the late 80's. He's also worked several other circuses in Canada and the U.S. and is currently working as the clown at Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI. I've been a writer all my life and have two novels published at this time, along with an anthology. I have a day job, but also perform as a clown through our entertainment company, Chicken Scratch Productions.
I can be reached via email at susabelle @ susabelle.com (remove the spaces), or if you prefer instant messenger, I am smkelmer on Yahoo instant Messenger. I look forward to hearing from lots of people! -Susabelle Kelmer. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1475. Zero, the polar bear, 06 August, 2006 - Does anyone have any information of Zero, the polar bear (Paramount Bears) going amok into the audience at Palisades Park (Hunt Bros.)? I believe the year was 1958. Zero was trying to catch a small mexican child performer who was waiting in the wings with her family to "go on" The child was handed up by the audience in the bleachers, to the top, as Zero plowed up after her, dragging me behind. The child was dropped through the top seating to underneath the bleachers where she escaped. I managed to get Zero back to her cage without any harm done other than a very disheveled manager whom Zero had pushed aside. I am looking for any article on the incident or contact with the Mexican family, who I believe were acrobats. Patricia Jameson, email@example.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 08 August, 2006 - Hi Patricia, I remember working with ZERO in Canada with JC. Being very young and inexperienced about everything, "those were the days" I did whatever JC told me to do. Here hold this bear, turn off motorcycle, etc. I was afraid of the motorcycle not the bear. ZERO may have made a few extra circles before I got the hang of it. JC was a great teacher and never lost patience with me. I had never seen a bear before. I never even thought to have pictures taken back then. My dates get a little mixed up sometimes. Those things happen at our age. Rebecca
1474. Ringling at Racine, 04 August, 2006 - Many thanks to Bob Cline, Ted Bowman, Ned Kronberg, and Fred Dahlinger for looking up the RBBB routes for me. And Fred, I appreciate all the circus resources you provided. Currently, I've piles of books on the circus in my office, but some you mentioned I don't have here. I'm especially interested in the Joe Bradbury pieces on RBBB's "Gumpertz years, 1932-1937 in "White Tops." Where
might I find these?
Point of interest: My uncle's memoir begins "I was fourteen when Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus came to Racine. The Racine Journal Times announced that the circus would come to town next week, Saturday."
My uncle, Jacob Valentine Jr., was born May 18, 1917. Since RBBB apparently played in Racine in 1929, that would have made him 12, not 14. Also of interest, the location he mentions is "city-owned grounds on the South Side of Racine near Lake Michigan. It was right on the top of the hill where the water treatment plant is now."
Again, thanks so much for your interest and help. It's very much appreciated! Bonnie Graves, firstname.lastname@example.org. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 06 August, 2006 - Bonnie, click on the "Publications" button on the left side of the CHS home page screen. That will take you to chronological listings of the articles in White Tops. There you can do a search for the relevant articles. Copies can then be obtained from the CFA or other sources. There may be other memoir articles about RBBB, so do a generalized search. Just reading 1930s copies of White Tops and Billboard would also develop your understanding of the era. Henry North's book "Circus Kings" also gives another perspective on the Gumpertz years.
Have you tried contacting the Racine library, or the local historical society in regard to circus history? Local Racine resident C. Bernie Beernsten [who has not been in good health for some time and cannot be readily accessed] did a compilation of circuses that visited Racine. A copy of his findings are in the CWM Library vertical file under Wisconsin, then the city name. There may be other copies elsewhere. I don't recall if his work went into the 20th century or not. Don Hensey also did one for Kenosha, but circuses often hop-scotched between the two, often not playing both as they moved along the Lake Michigan shore between Milwaukee and Chicago.
A check of the various RBBB dates at Racine against the perpetual calendar reveals that none of them were on a Saturday. Perhaps the memoir is somewhat factually faulted, or perhaps several circus experiences have been merged into one? My experience is that through the passage of time many youthful experiences become "RBBB," when in fact it was Sells-Floto, Hagenbeck-Wallace or another troupe.
The show ground location in most cities are well known. They were typically specified with the appearance of the circus. Locally, they become so well known that some ads often just refer to the "circus grounds." They became part of the local ritual of show attendance, but there's often an interesting history associated with each one. In your case, you have a very exacting description, which should make them easy to confirm. Most such grounds were re-developed as metropolitan areas developed. Fred Dahlinger
Reply: 06 August, 2006 - For what it's worth, circus historian G. Beernsten compiled a history of circus and carnival dates for Racine from 1843-1973. It shows that
Ringling played Racine July 29, 1929 and July 29,1930. The lot was listed as "lakeside" which was probably in the Southeast part of town near the wastewater treatment facility and the (recently razed) Case foundry and assembly plant. This lot was not far from the former railroad yards. RBBB showed Racine just two more times - 1938 (as part of Al. G. Barnes-Sells Floto) and in 1953. Paul Holley, Racine, WI
Reply: 07 August, 2006 - RBBB-compiled routes show the circus as being in Oskaloosa, Iowa on July 29, 1930. Fred Dahlinger
1473. Ringling video, 03 August, 2006 - Hello Circusfans, what has been the first year, that Ringling put it's annual show on video? Thanks for answering! John de Vries, email@example.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 08 August, 2006 - Hi John, 1988 was the first year (118th edition) that RB&BB sold the souvenir video program. Two Years Prior to that the 115th (Living Unicorn) show was put out as a complete show video tape featuring Tim Holst in his one and only major acting role. The tape was produced by Family Home Entertainment. It sold for around $90. (I paid that much?) The following year the "116th" edition was put out by that same company at a lower price. About that same time period, F. H. E. also produced a series for Ringling of about 6 video tapes ( Big Cats, Aerial Thrill Acts, Clowns, Trained Animals ect) that contained some really nice older historic footage. Somewhere in the shuffle the 117th edition did not make it on to video tape, although most die-hard circus fans made videos from the (then) annual TV special. Was that legal?? The annual souvenir video remains to this day, although within the last year or two they have been sold only in the DVD format. I don't have the latest, but how can you make a home DVD of a show that's already being shown on TV? Jim Cole
1472. Poster, 03 August, 2006 - I have had a circus poster (lithograph?) that has been in the family for a number of years, but have not been able to find any info on it. It measures approximately 22 x 38 inches. In the corner it has Riverside Print Co. Milwaukee Chicago and a # 3006. It is a scene of a circus with the Wild West, Wild Animal Show, La Zora, Living Wonders, etc. If anyone can give me any info about it, or a source to find more info I would really appreciate it! Sue Philbin, Detroit, Michigan firstname.lastname@example.org. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1471. Elephant training, 02 August, 2006 - I would like more information about a story that explains how elephants had can be held with a light rope. I heard a story that elephants are trained with very heavy chains and as they grow the restraints can be light because they believe they can't break the "chain." Supposedly, some elephants died in a fire when they could have easily broken their ropes. Is there any truth to this story? Renee Watts, email@example.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 08 August, 2006 - With all due respect to the circus historians, this question about training, chaining, and rope use might receive a more informative answer if you posted it on the bulletin board of the Elephant Managers Association. I don't recall many stories of elephants dying in fires but there is one that Pat Derby's young elephant died in a fire in her barn, many years ago, when she operated some kind of facility in Buellton, California that - rumor has it - ultimately was closed by city officials. Circus historians may recall some details about that particular incident. TempFam, firstname.lastname@example.org
1470. Model shop Europe, 02 August, 2006 - I am visiting Europe at present I would like to know a hobby/model shop who sell 0 scale items for a model circus. Phil. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
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1469. Hancocks circus, 01 August, 2006 - I am searching for any information on a circus that toured the United Kingdom in the 19th century. The circus was called Hancocks and in July 1896 it was in Cardiff South Wales. I would appreciate any information that you may have. Thank you. My name is Glen Joe Davies. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 04 September, 2006 - Hello Glen, My records give details of the family you are interested in. My book “Twentieth Century Circus People, 1901-1950 (Lingdales Press, Formby, 2003) gives the following; - HANCOCK, W. & C. Circus proprietors. William, Charles, with Sophie Hancock. Hancock's circus was at the Winter Gardens, Plymouth, 1889-1900, with J.F. Patterson, 'The Flying Horseman', and in March 1901, with Houpla and Hecla, balancers, Alf Burgess the clown, and again for the 1901-1902 winter season with Atlas and Vulcana, athletes, and Billy Silver as clown (Sources - The Era, 30/12/1899, p.29; The Showman, 3/1/1902, p.268, col.2; ibid, 17/01/1902, p.298, col.2; World's Fair, 28/1/1950, p.14, col.4.
My ‘Dictionary of British Circus Biography’ database also gives; - HANCOCK Family. Fairground menagerie and bioscope proprietors. William, Charles and Sophie. Well-known in the West Country. Operated roudabouts and shows but also a menagerie. Their lion-tamer was Richard Dooner, an accomplished animal trainer. Travelled a combined 'Living Pictures and Menagerie', from 1999. In 1900 the show became the 'Palace of Varieties and Living Pictures', with the fate of the menagerie unknown. Isabella Hancock married Edward Henderson the equestrian (Sources - Scrivens and Smith, 'The Travelling Cinematograph' (2002). If you are interested in circus or related artists in England why not visit my website and at least sign the ‘Guest Book’? www.circusbiography.co.uk Thanks, John Turner
Reply: 21 Aug 2007 - Are you researching anything in particular with regarding Hancocks circus and Cardiff? email@example.com
1468. Bertha, Iron Jaw, 01 August, 2006 - A friend grew up in CA with a former high-wire star named Bertha, stage name "Iron Jaw" due to her astounding ability to spin by holding a device in her teeth. I am seeking her photo as she is the 3rd (and last) wife of wild west (circa 1914-1940) and movie (1924-1944) star, Ken Maynard. Bertha and Ken met and married in 1939-1940 which would be the period that they were performing in the Cole Brothers-Clyde Bailey Circus. Any assistance is appreciated as we are trying to surprise our friend. Lori, Kennewick, WA. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 21 January, 2007 - I would appreciate more information about the Clyde Bailey circus, especially a clown/bareback rider named Polly. She is my great-grandmother, Annie Laura Potts. I know family anecdotes about her but would appreciate other reminiscences from people who knew her. She died before I was a year old. Her circus days would have been from the late 1800s through the early 1900s. She married and had my grandmother in 1911. Susan Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org
1467. Mabel Stark, 31 July, 2006 - I'm seeking sources for information on the early carnival years of Mabel Stark, especially on Great Patterson, Cosmopolitan, C.W. Parker, and her association with Al. G. Barnes on Con. T. Kennedy, the years circa 1909-1913. I'm also looking for the names of the shows she was on for her South American and Japanese tours. She told me of these years, but never named show titles. All verifiable assistance gets name credit in my projects. Thank you. Roger Smith, email@example.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 01 August, 2006 - Roger, you'll need to carefully scan issues of "Billboard," "New York Clipper," "Variety" and "Show World" for the early years of Mabel Stark. The first three can often be obtained via interlibrary loan; the latter has not yet been microfilmed and you'll need your librarian to identify the closest hard copy holdings for you. There have been a few articles about the early years of the Barnes circus in "Bandwagon." You can locate these in the article index that is on the CHS website and then obtain copies of the items of interest. Bob Goldsack has done a small booklet about C. W. Parker that you might check for Stark references, but no one has yet chronicled the Great Cosmopolitan. A few pieces have appeared in both "Bandwagon" and "White Tops" about various James Patterson operations. An archive of Parker materials, including some coverage of the Con T. Kennedy Show is at the Dickinson County Historical Society in Abilene, KS. There's also the piece that E. C. May was in the course of writing about Mabel in the CWM Library; his collection contains the materials in relation to it. Fred Dahlinger
Reply: 02 August, 2006 - Another good source would be the interview that several people conducted with Barnes employee Bob Thornton. A transcript is in the Tom Parkinson papers. Also check the Bandwagon index for Barnes articles by a fellow named Alton and another by Chang Reynolds. www.newspaperarchive.com is a possibility, but Mable might not have garnered many personal reviews until later in her career. I've examined several holdings of Patterson family materials but none included materials concerning Stark. Fred Dahlinger.
Reply: 06 August, 2006 - Thank you, Fred. This will prove quite an undertaking, but I'm going for it. I did find the museum in Abilene, KS. I appreciate your thoughtful
attention and reply. Roger Smith
1466. Circus Bands, 31 July, 2006 - I am looking for information on Hans Frederick Hansen who was a trombone player for Ringling Brothers Circus, the Norfolk & Western Band and Riverboat shows. Is there a rooster showing the members of the band. Norma J. Hansen - firstname.lastname@example.org. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 01 August, 2006 - Sverre O. Braathen compiled a typed listing of circus bands, as well as alphabetical listings of bandleaders and bandsmen, including big show bands as well as some side show bands and carnival bands. It is not totally comprehensive and some of the listings do not have a reference. The bulk of the work was based on route book, program and similar sources, as well as enumerations in Billboard and New York Clipper. Copies of his work are in: the Illinois State University at Bloomington-Normal, IL, Braathen collection; the Ringling Circus Museum, Sarasota, FL; and the Circus World Museum library. Fred Dahlinger
1465. Gee Gee Engesser, 31 July, 2006 - This is Bill Powell, son of Gee Gee Engesser. We recently celebrated her 80th birthday with a retrospective of her life in the circus. While doing the research for the slide show we discovered a trove of pictures and some video of her performing. We are interested in producing a documentary of her life and are seeking additional video. We are looking for anyone who might have any video or film of the following:
Gee Gee's Alaskans (1954 - 1972)
Billy Powell Sr. tight wire act (1940 - 1954)
Gee Gee riding the 16 horse roman hitch on Cole Bros in 1946
Video of Schell or Zellmar Bros. Circus
Any responses should be sent to: email@example.com. Thank you, Bill Powell. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1464. Tom Yeager, 31 July, 2006 - I am trying to locate a gentleman who worked for the Clyde Beatty Circus back in the late 50's. His name is Tom Yeager and he was an elephant handler and something else that I can not recall. I would like to know what happened to him. I met him back then while I was in high school and I also wrote to him for a short time until my mother put a stop to that. The reason I am writing is because he has been on my mind all these years and I would love to know where and how he is. I would like to know all about him, whatever he is doing and where he is living and if it would be possible for me to contact him in any way. My e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org, my full name is Evelyn Collins and back then the last name was Macomber, when I corresponded with him. If you need more information from me please let me know. Mr. Yeager has been on my mind since we met and especially when I hear Etta James', " At Last". If you can please help me locate him I would deeply appreciate it. Thank you so much, Evelyn Collins. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1463. Liniger, 31 July, 2006 - Seeking information about my father, Harry Liniger, grandfather, Paul Liniger and uncle, Harry A. Liniger and the name of shows they were employed with. Harry Liniger Portsmouth, Va. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 01 August, 2006 - There are listings for Liniger & O'Wesney Shows 1916 [Paul Liniger, Harry Liniger and Capt. Ray O'Wesney, proprietors] and Liniger Bros. Shows, 1916-1925 [Paul and Harry Liniger, proprietors]. Chindahl listed the 1916-1925 dates prefaced by "circa," which may have been confirmed by Parkinson's later work. The references likely originated from news reports in "Billboard" and "New York Clipper," newspaper ads, surviving handbills and letterheads, etc. The Isaac Marcks collection in the CWM Library likely contains rosters and routes for many of the years it operated. I would assume that it was a modest overland troupe. George Chindahl had a special interest in such shows and his files at the CWM library may contain some references to the proprietors and their careers. The yellow ticket and Draper files would be places to check for their employment with other troupes. If you know where they resided during their period of operations, the community likely served as their winter quarters and opening day location. A check with the local library or historical society might yield some immediate results. Fred Dahlinger
1462. Smilety Circus, 31 July, 2006 - Has anyone ever heard of the Smilety Circus? D Seliger, Bakersfield, CA email@example.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1461. Ringling 1931, 31 July, 2006 - According the route schedule for Ringling posted on this website for 1931, the circus traveled from Chicago to Milwaukee. It there any chance the circus might have made an unscheduled stop in Racine on its way from Chicago (Aug 8-16) to Milwaukee (Aug 17). Does anyone know if circuses sometimes made stops not listed on the schedule? I'm trying to find information on a circus that performed in Racine, WI sometime in the early 1930s, probably 1931. Thanks! Bonnie Graves, Minneapolis. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 01 August, 2006 - As far as I recall, one of the few times that a circus made something akin to an "unscheduled stop" was in the 1920s when the Christy Bros. unloaded, set up, put on a show, and then tore down, reloaded and moved on to a second community the same day. It appears on the compiled route of the circus and was confirmed by a letter to "Billboard" in the 1930s. George Christy was something of a maverick in being able to do that; it surely didn't initiate a pattern of such moves by Christy or any other showman. It's doubtful that this sort of thing was ever done with any frequency, especially by a huge organization like RBBB. Circuses did make stops along the railroad right of way, moving to side tracks to let trains with higher authority pass and also to make feed and water stops for animals and the staff and crew. An unscheduled visit to play Racine would be highly unlikely, unless there was a delay in being able to get into Milwaukee [RR wreck tying up the line, tornado-like weather, etc.] Such circumstances were exceedingly rare; very little ever withstood the determination of circus people to make the date in the next community. You'll find reference to any delay in the Racine or Milwaukee newspapers. They truly lived the saying "the show must go on." If it didn't, their income stream came to an end. A circus existed on cash flow; it made advance bookings for advertising and supplies, arranged special excursions, etc. To trash all of the advance work, miss necessary deliveries, etc., and to appear unannounced in another community really threatened the financial well-being of the show. For railroads to have also accommodated such extraordinary moves in their daily operations would also have been extremely difficult. When it did happen, showmen adapted to the conditions imposed upon them and responded with the necessary fortitude, energy and intellect to keep the show moving. Fred Dahlinger
Reply: 01 August, 2006 - The RBBB 1931 route card notes that the show performed August 16 in Grant Park at Chicago. It then tore down, loaded and moved 85 miles to Milwaukee then set up again where the show performed August 17. Just when would it have time to set up and perform in Racine? Please eliminate RBBB from your possible Racine shows in 1931. Ted Bowman Route Collection
1460. Light circus, 31 July, 2006 - I would like to find out if you have any record of the Light circus from England which moved to America at the turn of the century. I would be grateful if you could contact me if you have any records or could let me know where I might find any records. Regards, alan ralph. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1459. Ringling 1909-17, 31 July, 2006 - Does anyone have any information on circus acts for Ringling Bros during 1909-1917. Particularly interested in pole climbing. Diane McIntosh firstname.lastname@example.org. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 01 August, 2006 - Do you mean perch pole or another form of pole climbing, as in a sway pole style "thrill" act? Fred Dahlinger
1458. Poco the Clown, 31 July, 2006 - On July 14th, 1976, I had the pleasure of spending my birthday enjoying The Big John Strong Circus in Busti, New York. After the performance, a wonderfully friendly clown struck up a conversation with me, and arranged for me to ride on the elephant, quite a treat! Poco the Clown and I became penpals, and at one point I was even invited to join the circuit. Unfortuneately my obligations wouldn't allow that to be an obtainable offer. I lost track of Poco after a couple of years, and have often wondered how he was. Any information regarding Poco The Clown (Don Young) would be greatly appreciated. Smiling Always, Toni Gray. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1457. Diano Circus Farm, 31 July, 2006 - I am looking for information about the Diano Circus Farm in Canton South, Ohio. Mr. Diano died in 1992 and I currently live on his former property. Any direction would be appreciated as I research the history of this area. Thanks! Peace, Judith, Email: email@example.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 01 August, 2006 - An article about the Tony Diano Circus farm was printed in the CHS journal "Bandwagon." It was in the May-June 1962 issue, pages 14-15. If you go to the article index, you will see that the article has been scanned and is available on-line. Simply place your mouse arrow on the blue phrase "online" and it will appear on-screen for you. You'll have to scroll down the page a bit to find it. For the accompanying images you'll need to obtain a hard copy. Joe Bradbury later wrote an article about the Diano Bros. Circus. You can also locate this in the article index. Fred Dahlinger
Reply: 14 July 2007 - I am not adept at using the computer. Bear with me. I am looking for information about a very large painting that I bought at Auction at the Diano Ranch which was located on Belden Ave. S.E. Canton. OH. I live close to there now. I guess I am supposed to put my email address on here. It is MMMKersey@aol.com
1456. Dennis Magner, horse trainer, 31 July, 2006 - I would like any and all information about the world famous horse trainer & tamer Professor Dennis Magner. SEALMATH@aol.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 01 August, 2006 - If he's any relation to the Magner circus, there's a collection of material relating to it at the Ohio Historical Center, Columbus, OH. Their time frame was circa 1873-1874. Fred Dahlinger
Reply: 01 August, 2006 - The horse trainer/presenter Dennis Magner was active from the 1860s to 1880s. As a circus proprietor he was known to have his own show out traveling by boat in the mid 1870's on the Great Lakes. The show came out of Detroit, Michigan where he contracted for some lions and an elephant from the J. M. French Menagerie that was headquartered in Detroit. There are bits and pieces of this shows correspondence and receipts scattered in a number of circus collections. The greatest manuscript holding is located at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, Ohio. A former curator at the Historical Society told me that he stumbled across the collection in Bucyrus, Ohio and was able to purchase the majority of the records. This includes correspondence from the 1870s circus and the lot contracts noting where the show played in various ports on the lower Great Lakes. The Ohio Historical Society lists the collection as MSS 135 Magner Circus 1869-1881. As I am writing a book about the various circuses that have traveled by boat on the Great Lakes, it is one of the few that there is more than just a newspaper advertisement for. There are also some notes in the New York Clipper. John Polacsek
Reply: 09 August, 2006 - I know that Dennis Magner became ill and was hospitialized in Battlecreek Michigan while he wrote his book "The Art of Taming & Educating Horses" (One of many books) He later became president of a company called Magner's Stock Food & Remedy Co., LTD and had a partner Dr. D.T. Wilson who served as vice-president. The company was incorporated in 1903. Later in 1916 Dr. Wilson became president of that company and Dennis Magner was listed as vice-president. Does anyone know what happened to Dennis Magner after that. This man was so famous in his time and I would like to know more about him and where he is now buried. Sealmath5@aol.com
Reply: 11 August, 2006 - To locate Magner's remains, seek the city where he was born, primarily resided and his last known residence. Start with the last named. Then check local cemetery internment records and obituaries compiled by researchers or clipped and maintained by local libraries and historical societies. If you can find an internment record, you're home. The internment date can lead to a published obituary. There are also several genealogical search techniques that can lead to the same result. Check with your local or state library or historical society and ask about a local genealogy group. The compiled assets now available, often on-line, are truly incredible. A quick Google search under "Dennis Magner" turned up a Schauls family website that may provide the information that you seek [1921 death date], as well as Magner.org which is devoted to the Magner family research and more. A quick check at www.newspaperarchive.com might also yield a result, given the widespread knowledge of his horse book. Fred Dahlinger
1455. Coburn Bros., 31 July, 2006 - I collect old postcards, and I recently obtained one that has no caption or postmark, so the location is unknown. It is a photo postcard of some people outside an entrance gate at a grandstand, the back of which is plastered with posters for the "Coburn Bros. Shows - Now Better Than Ever." The performances look to have been heavy on horse-related acts, but I also see pictures of what look to be acrobats and clowns. I thought the posters might help me pinpoint the state in which this photo was taken, but I can find no information about the Coburn brothers. Has anyone ever heard of them? Thanks if you can help. Jane Lyle. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 01 August, 2006 - Coburn Bros. is listed as circa 1914-1925, another modest overland operation. Check the response to query 1463 for further possible research. Fred Dahlinger
1454. Louis Foote, Flying Frenchman, 28 July, 2006 - Looking for any history notes on my grandfather, Louis Phillip Foote - He was a trapeze artist with I believe was known as the Cole Circus. I believe they were known as the Flying Frenchman - He died in 1954. Cjadegrl@aol.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1453. Orin Williams, minstrel, 28 July, 2006 - My Grandfather was a minstrel man in the circus. Mostly in Illinois in the 1800's. His name is Orin Jefferson Williams and he was born in Texas according to my mothers birth certificate. I'm just trying to find out if there is any information on him in the Circus Archives. Thank you. Bev White. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
1452. Ringling 1933, 28 July, 2006 - I am a children's author currently living in Minneapolis, MN and am writing a novel set in Racine, WI, 1933. The story is based on a
memoir my uncle wrote about his adventure earning a ticket to the matinee of the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus performed in Racine that summer. I am looking for any information that might provide the date of that 1933 performance in Racine or information
about any circus in Racine around 1928-1933. I have ordered microfilm of the Racine Journal Times from the Racine library for the summer months of 1933. I am hoping these might disclose some information about the circus, but it would be helpful if I knew the date (and any other details) about the performance my uncle saw. Thanks so much for any assistance you might be able to give me! Bonnie Graves, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.childrensliteraturenetwork.org/authors/graves.html. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.
Reply: 31 July, 2006 - RBBB Played Racine, WI. July 25, 1927. Bob Cline
Reply: 01 August, 2006 - In addition to 1927, RBBB played Racine on July 29, 1929. The closest that RBBB came to Racine during this time frame was Kenosha, in 1935 [August 19] and 1937 [July 23]. Don Hensey, a fine gentleman with circus knowledge, resides in Kenosha and may have seen the show; you might telephone him in regards to that possibility.
For circus flavor, especially as appreciated by children, you may want to read period books and literature. Those by Courtney Ryley Cooper, Dixie Willson and Edwin Norwood would be good. I'd also suggest checking the "Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature" for period references.
The above mentioned Don Hensey did a compilation of short stories with circus topics some years ago in "Bandwagon" and it might prove useful to you. Be aware that some of the writings are "outside" the circus, composed by people that were not familiar with all of its intricacies and peculiarities.
You might also find Joe Bradbury's coverage of RBBB's Gumpertz years, 1932-1937, in "White Tops" to be of background value. It's as good a resource as any for knowing what RBBB looked like during that time frame. Fred Dahlinger
1451. Blondin, 28 July, 2006 - Seeking info on aerialist The Great Blondin, first to cross Niagara Falls on a high wire in 1859. Anyone familiar with the Ecole de Gymnase in Lyons, France, where Blondin is supposed to have trained? What was it? Does it still exist? What about the circus company of which he was supposedly proprietor for a couple of years? Was this the "Ravel, Blondin, Dubonchet & Martinetti" listed in Sturtevant's List of Circuses 1850 - 1869? Anyone aware of any published interviews with Blondin? Any help would be most appreciated. Sue V., Norfolk, Virginia, e-mail: email@example.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.