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Message Archive: Messages 1851 - 1900


1900. Ring Bros., 25 May 2007 - I have an old panorama picture from the the 1930's or early 40's of Ring Brothers Circus workers (Not Ringling Brothers). It was my father-in-laws. He worked with the midway part of the circus. I think the picture was probably taken in TX but not sure. Does anyone know anything about this circus? When was it formed and how long did it operate? Ann Joplin, annjop@austin.rr.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 27 May 2007 - Ring Bros. is typically listed as active 1953-1957, under proprietor Franco Richards. A search of past query entries will provide you with some connections and a starting point on Richards and his Ring Bros. I did not find Ring Bros. active in the 1930s-1940s. If you provide the name of your father-in-law, that's a more direct way of determining if assistance is possible. Perhaps someone will recognize the name.

    Is it possible that the title you're seeking is actually King Bros.? That would suggest other lines of research. That name was active in 1937, 1942, 1946-1956, under different proprietors. Fred Dahlinger

    Reply: 31 Oct 2007 - I am doing some searching on my father Leslie, who was a lad when he worked for Ringling Brothers. It could have been around 1913 - 1914, this could be when he met Captain Schroeder. Do you know if any lads who worked for Ringling Brothers at the age of 11 or 14 years old. As I wish to include this in to my family tree, for my children and grandchildren to see. What there grand dad and grand pa did. Your Truly, Lesley Speechley

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1899. John Phines, 23 May 2007 - I was wondering if any one knew my father John Constantine Phines he was from Mathews VA. I believe he traveled with RBBB in the late 40's. I know he was a clown, juggler, strong man and a catcher on trapeez. I have been searching the web for photos or information on him. Susan Jutras, Newport News VA. My email address is milforddavis59@cs.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 27 May 2007 - If your father was an actual employee of RBBB in the 1940s, an employment card for him, listing his position, wages, next of kin, etc., will be in the RBBB business records in the CWM library. Be sure that you supply all aliases, nicknames, etc. If there is no card for him, then it will likely be a difficult search until you can establish the actual show with which he was affiliated. The mixture of occupations that you mention is not commonly encountered. Around RBBB, someone usually did a single specialty. Fred Dahlinger

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1898. Burt Lancaster, Nick Cravat, 21 May 2007 - Dear Circus History, I'm doing research on "Burt Lancaster & Nick Cravat" their circus years. Could you help me find any information about their circus lives (years). Photos, newspaper articles, etc. Thank you, Clyde Lucas. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 27 May 2007 - A quick tertiary reference is Gary Fishgall's relatively recent biography, "Against Type." There is Kay Bros. coverage in "Bandwagon," March-April 1966, pages 22-23, which includes an image of Lancaster from 1941. Kay Bros. was owned by Bill Ketrow. If you want to dig deeper, look for primary resources on the W. P. A. Circus and the Kay Bros., secondary coverage in newspapers, "Billboard," "White Tops," etc. Your local librarian should be able to direct you in the use of on-line databases and how to do other searching. I believe that Cravat's daughter is still alive and you might be able to trace her. Fred Dahlinger

    Reply: 02 Jun 2007 - To Clyde Lucas: Look for "Burt Lancaster - An American Life," by Kate Buford (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000). This biography includes a complete filmography, notes, selected bibliography, acknowledgements, and index within 447 pages. Good luck in your research. Roger Smith, steelarena314@hotmail.com.

    Reply: 04 Jun 2007 - I wanted to thank everyone for their replies. I will try to contact Mr. Cravat's daughter and research the information you have provided. Best, Clyde Lucas

    Reply: 17 May 2008 - My name is Ms Pauline Roberts and I have been doing my family tree for year, about 14 years old I was told about my dad was family to Lord Frederick Sleigh and not I thought I had all my information I come up with Burt Lancaster saying he was also family to Lord Frederick Sleigh Roberts. I have a friend who lives in the USA and has sent me a book called Burt Lancaster An American Life by Kate Buford, and it tell me such a lot about him and his family live with his mum and dad, all the things he says like Blond hair and his Blue eyes, are the same as I am. Well the blond hair is but I have blue eyes. In photos that I see of him we both have the oval face, and one other thing it looks like Burt Lancaster had a bad temper. Well so have I, so all these connect to us might be family. His Grandmother was married to Sir Abraham Roberts and she had a daughter called Elizabeth Roberts she had a brother called George Roberts and Burt Lancaster was step brother to them. But what i am trying to fine out is the whereabout of Burt Lancaster children. I do know that Bill Lancaster died in 1997 as Burt Lancaster died in 1990 but where do the rest of his children live and can I get in touch with them. Lord Roberts was first cousin to my grandfather Edward Roberts but would love to talk to Burt Lancaster children. This is not about money or anything like that its to put this family back on track, as I am sure they would like or not like to know. I will grant them their wishes it that what they would like to do, not know anything about Lord Frederick Roberts or there Great Grandfather Sir Abraham Roberts. But if you can help me please tell them to e-mail me at robertspm@talktalk.net. Do hope you can help me get in touch with Burt Lancaster's children. Regards, Ms Pauline

    Reply: 26 May 2008 - I am looking for Burt Lancaster's family because I have read the book Burt Lancaster an American Life but before I read it I wasn't so sure that he was family to Lord Frederick Roberts. Because I am also family to Lord Frederick Roberts, he was my grandfather's first cousin, so this makes me and Burt Lancaster family. I am trying to find his children Jim, Susan, Joanna, Sighle and Keigh Lancaster. If you know the whereabouts of them, could you give them this message and tell them I am looking for them. And I could tell then a lot more about Lord Roberts and his father Sir Abraham Roberts who was his grandmother wife. There is no money in this. Trying to find Burt Lancaster family, I would just like to talk to them and that is all. So if you do know the whereabouts of Burt Lancaster's family can you please tell them to email me at robertspm@talktalk.net. Hope you can help me. From Ms Pauline Roberts

    Reply: 23 Oct 2009 - Burt Lancaster I think was hired as a flyer by Cole Brothers back in the forties or fifties to increase attendance. After living on the Cole Brothers for two weeks he resigned and returned to movies. Bob Unterreiner

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1897. Bobby Reynolds, 20 May 2007 - I would like to know when Bobby Reynolds was born, and where he grew up. Barbara Gerber, wheresey@hotmail.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 08 Jun 2007 - A piece was written about Bobby Reynolds titled "The Last Showman on Earth" and published in the British mag "Bizarre" (#88, Aug 2004 issue). The article calls him a "70-year-old walking myth" and that he grew up in Jersey City and Coney Island. Tom, zenheard at yahoo dot com

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1896. Barnum & Bailey Madison Square Garden, 17 May 2007 - I'm trying to find out how the Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Railroad circuses got their sixty or-so railroad cars onto the island of Manhattan to perform at Madison Square garden each year in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I suspect that they used float bridges to cross either the Hudson or the East river with their cargo, but cannot find a source to confirm this or to tell me which river they crossed. If anyone has any information on this, or suggestions for leads, I'd much appreciate it. Thanks in advance. Julie Golia, New York NY, jag2104@columbia.edu. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 05 Jun 2007 - If you will go to www.buckles.blogspot.com, there was a posting just yesterday (June 3rd) from noted Circus Historian Richard Reynolds III with a photograph of the ferry barges that transported the railcars across the rivers and the information of the rail routes and yards. It was quite detailed information. Bob Cline

    Reply: 05 Jun 2007 - This might be of interest - a picture entitled 'RBBB Crossing the Upper Bay' and an historical explanation was published on bucklesw.blogspot.com on 3rd June. Paul Griffiths.

    Reply: 09 Jun 2007 - This is fabulously helpful! Thanks. Julie

    Reply: 03 Jul 2007 - Trains were parked in Motthaven RR yards and Ringling hauled performers and animals from Mott Haven yards to Garden in NYC. Circus train got to Mott Haven yards because it was pulled by the NYNHH engings from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to Mott Haven yards in Brooklyn (Ringling train was barged from Bayonne to Bay Ridge Acroos the Hudson River) Bob Unterreiner

    Reply: 08 Feb 2009 - The Ringling circus train usually would go from Sarasota to the freight yards in Bayonne, New Jersey at Bayonne the train would split up into small sections and hauled on to a barge which would be hauled by tug boat to the Bay Ridge Brooklyn freight terminal. From the Bay Ridge terminal the sections on the train would be joined together and then hauled by steam locomotive or electric locomotive all the way across Brooklyn and Queens to Mott Haven Freight Yards in Manhattant. From these the freight yards the circus wagons and animals would be hauled by truck to Madison Square Garden. Bob Unterreiner.

    Reply: 23 Oct 2009 - Julia, The Ringling circus train was usually parked in the Mott Haven RR yards across the Harlem River from Manhattan when the show played Madison Square in the 20th century. One year the Ringling Train parked on Manahattan Island in the NYC feight yards on New York's west side (near the Hudson River)in the thirties or forties (Streets) a short distance West of the old Madison Square Garden.(49th Street and Eight Avenue) Bob Unterreiner.

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1895. Bejamin Stuart aka Tex, 17 May 2007 - I am trying to find any info on a Bejamin Stuart aka Tex who left Kinston NC in the late 30's early 40's. He was a artist who traveled with the circus doing advertising. Any info or ideas on how to trace this person and his art would be greatly appreciated. I am a grandaughter who is attempting to trace family hx. Thanks, Michelle, micstewart@cox.net. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1894. Gainesville community circus, 15 May 2007 - My father walked the high wire and flew the trapeze in the Gainesville community circus. he started about 1952 and would have been about 16 or 17. I would like to find any pictures or information about him around that time. If any one can help me it would be greatly appreciated. Thank You, his Daughter, Gabriella McDow. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 17 May 2007 - Dear Ms. McDow; Years ago during the 50,s I believe, a magazine called Popular Mechanics ran a very nice article on this cicus. The reference department at your library hould be able to help you find it. Robert Mitchell

    Reply: 15 May 2007 - Your father's name? - J. Griffin

    Reply: 28 June 2009 - I grew up in the Gainesville Community Circus. Sadly the town of Gainesville does not recognize such a glorious time in it's history. I doubt if most of the citizens of the city even know of the circus as history of which they should be proud. The first money made by the circus was used to buy the bricks on the streets of Gainesville, Texas.
        Frankie Schmitz had the largest collection of pictures and equipment. The circus burned down and with air conditioned arenas for circuses, the tent circus died. I think that there is some of the memorabilia that was saved on display in the old brick train station which is now a museum. If not Gainesville should be ashamed.
        I started when I was 10 years old and my last act was 18 years of age. I performed every act I could master from bareback on horses to specialty trapeze and foot revolve trapeze, wire acts clown acrobat and on and on. My mother and I had a flying ladder act together and she rode "Red" the beautiful horse in dressage's. My brother was in riding acts and one of the wonderful clowns. We also had an up-side-down unicycle act some 20 feet off the ground.
        At the beginning of the season the surrounding cities and our high school band would lead the circus performers in a parade. The parade was led by guests such as General Wainright, Frank Buck, Glen McCarthy and many other notable people in our history. I feel sorry for children who do not get to see or be in the circus. Joy Bowles Woods

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1893. Knight family, 15 May 2007 - Does anyone remember the Knight family (maybe foot jugglers?) that were on Kelly Miller 1960's, I believe the father was named Pat, children were Mark (married Paulette Pyle) Debbie and Carol, also looking for information on Betty Spence, worked mixed animal act for Dory Miller 1960's. Thanks for any information, Terry Loter Parkinson, bosca215@hotmail.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 10 Sep 2007 - The Knight's essentially left the circus community at the end of the season after Paulette died in June 1968. Pat died in 1982 at the age of 70. Mark died in 2004 at the age of 54. His family misses him terribly. He left a wife and son. Phyllis, Pat's wife and mother of Beth, Mark, Debbie and Carol, is 81 years old and leaves with her daughter, Debbie. Beth did not travel with the circus. Mark and Debbie walked the low wire and worked in the wild west show. Carol did not perform. I do not have any information on Betty Spence. If you have any further questions, please reply. KnightCircusFam@aol.com

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1892. Louise Gontard and Martinek circus family, 15 May 2007 - I have recently found that the Louise Gontard (father Jean Joseph, mother Caroline nee Strassburger) that my Grandfather married was a member of a respected circus family. My Grandfather was Leonard Edward Charles Martinek and his father was Emmanuel Martinek, married to either Luise Elsner or Mary Ann P Stanley. I have always understood the Martineks to have been a circus family as well, but I don't know what their act might have been. My Grandfather and Louise separated - I don't know whether this was due to her death or for other personal reasons. I would very much like to know if anyone knows anything about Louise Gontard and whether or not she and Leonard had a daughter (possibly - there is some evidence of a girl called Kitty Martinek who would be the right age). I would also like to know if anyone knows about the Martinek family as a circus family. I am the granddaughter of Leonard from his second marriage/liaison (I haven't yet found evidence of a marriage between them). If Kitty existed she would have been my father's half sister. If she had children, they would be my half-cousins. Really hoping someone can help. Many thanks, Sally Freytag (nee Martinek). Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 20 May 2007 - Some corrections to the above - sorry for initial errors: Emanuel Martinek, father of Leonard and father-in-law to Louise Marie nee Gontard, was married to either Sophia Sumner Fisher or Jessie Angier. It was Emanuel's other son John who was married to either Luise Elsner or Mary Ann P Stanley. Any information gratefully received, especially re children of Louise Marie and Leonard, query Kitty Martinek S Freytag

    Reply: 06 Apr 2008 - Our Great-Great-grandmother was named Marie Gontard, acrobat. She is born to Mâcon in France. 1809. An other Gontard, Jean GONTARD, the famous clown (probably his brother) was born also to Mâcon the 01.01.1807. Jean Gontard is the grandfather of your Jean Joseph Gontard, also Clown. We search any informations to this Family Circus GONTARD. Could you tell me, if you know, where is born and dead, the date and the place, Louise Marie Gontard, Jean Joseph Gontard, Caroline Strassburger. 4 children for the couple Jean Joseph Gontard and Caroline Stassburger: Félix Pierre, clown and circus director; Claire, acrobat; Louise Marie, circus performer; Antoinette, circus performer. Kinds regards, Hugues, hlegrand@orange.fr

    Reply: 30 Jun 2008 - I have sent an email to the address you gave but have not heard from you. Since I made this post I have found out some more about my family. Emmanuel Martinek married Sophie Sumner Fisher, who had nothing to do with circus families. Emmanuel and Sophi had three children, Oceano, Ivy and Leonard. As far as I know, the family were acrobats or acrobatic dancers. I don't know if Ivy is the correct name for her. When they were all around 30+, Ivy became an actress in silent movies, Oceano acted and directed silent movies and Leonard moved into the Music Hall. I also have the name Emilie Olympia Rudolphine Martinek who is somehow linked to this family. Leonard married Louise Marie Gontard, daughter of Jean Joseph Gontard and Caroline, nee Strassberger (Strassburger). I know the Strassbergers were famous Dutch circus people. If anyone knows anything, however slight, about these people, I would be very pleased to know. Best wishes, Freya.

    Reply: 30 Nov 2008 - I'm alvays intresting to anyone information or link for GONTARD circus family. My correct mail is huglegrand@orange.fr We have antohers circus performers and directors in ours ancestrians : ROBBA, DUMAS, CAUSSIN, essentialy in France and in Europe. Many thanks for your help. Hugues

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1891. William Kite, 14 May 2007 - Dear All - I'm working on a local history project in which I discovered the name of a Mr. Kite attending a 'show business' funeral of John McCarthy in Stratford London's East End in 1914. I'm trying to establish if the Mr. Kite at the funeral is connected to circus performer William Kite - Does anyone know of William antecedents and subsequent family history i.e. marriage and family? - Were the family all connected to performance to present day? - Also were John Henderson and his Wife Agnes connected to the clown and music hall performer Dick Henderson and his famous son, the 1950'/60' entertainer Dickie Henderson? - I'm also trying to track down images and illustrations of William Kite and subsequent family i.e. Circus posters with their names on or any of them performing - Any suggestions and help appreciated. Many thanks and kind regards, Andy Aliffe, andy@aliffe.freeserve.co.uk. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 16 May 2007 - "The Hendersons will all be there, Late of Pablo Fanque's Fair". I can answer the question of whether Dickie Henderson was a descendant of John Henderson (1822-1867). The answer is no! John Henderson and his wife Agnes Selina (nee Hengler) had only one child, a daughter Jane Martha who died aged only 21 years. The family was in Lambeth for the 1851 census, John Henderson with his wife, Agnes, and daughter Jane Martha aged six and born in Maidstone. In the 1861 census John Henderson was lodging in Westminster but Agnes and Jane were in Sheffield. John Henderson and his beloved daughter were both buried in Highgate Cemetery, London, in 1867, although he was initially interred in a cemetery in Ipswich where he had died during a visit there of his circus. Widow Agnes Selina Hengler died on 10th October 1879, in Liverpool. She was buried in Toxteth Cemetery, Smithdown Road, with no surviving children. I can also add that John Henderson was the son of John Henderson the artist but was unrelated to the actor of the same name. Hope this helps. Pablo Fanque, by the way, does have descendants but they are not in show business. They are descended from Pablo's son Edward Pablo (1856-1937), one branch of the family living in Canada. John Turner

    Reply: 17 May 2007 - Hi John - Many thanks for the reply - I thought it was to good to be true that John Henderson was related to Dick and Dickie although I have a great picture of Dick Henderson dressed as a clown with I think Nat Jackley? - I wonder if you can supply information on my main interest of research - Do you know the family line of the Kites to modern times? - I was wrong with the date of the funeral at which a Mr. Kite attended it was 1934 and not 1914 so I need to know if there was a Kite in the profession in the East End of London in the 1930's - Are there pictures of the original Mr Kite or Henderson? I'm also waiting to hear back from David Gaertner - I'd love to travel to the various archives and read up about the subject matter but I'm currently broke, unemployed (hence the time for research!) and have no means of travel!! - Are copies of King Pole held at the British Library? Any help would be appreciated, Many thanks, Andy Aliffe, High Wycombe, Bucks, andy@aliffe.freeserve.co.uk

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1890. Elephant death, Louisville, 13 May 2007 - My Mother claims that an elephant from the circus, died and was buried in Louisville, KY across the street from her on the Outer Loop. Burial Site is now church grounds of the New Vision Ministry? This story seems a little crazy, but was wondering if it wasn't true. Don't know the exact year of the supposed event, but guessing in the 1960's. If you can confirm this story, please let me know. I'd love to be able to confirm this story for Mother's Day. I believe there was a write up in the Louisville Paper at the time of the burial. Thanks! Carol Hoferkamp, c.hoferkamp@insightbb.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 14 May 2007 - I believe an elephant died during the Louisville Shrine Circus in February 1966, possibly Kathy of the Polack Bros herd, trained by Mack MacDonald and then worked by Buckles and Barbara Woodcock. Maybe Bob Cline will get in on this discussion; he will know for sure. Regards - Whitey

    Reply: 15 May 2007 - I believe that Buckles is the expert on this matter. I do have an Asian Female elephant named Kathy in my records that was on the Polack Bros. Circus from 1953 to 1966 that died unexpectedly in Louisville, Ky. on Feb. 18, 1966. I can't attest to her burial but I do have a copy of the newspaper article when she passed away. Bob Cline

    Reply: 20 May 2007 - Bob Cline, Thanks for replying. Would you be able to e-mail the article from the newspaper? Carol Hoferkamp, c.hoferkamp@insightbb.com

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1889. Captain Hertbert Clarke, animal trainer, 13 May 2007 - I am looking for any Information on an animal trainer named Captain Hertbert Vincent Clarke. Worked for various Circuses - Chapmans, Pat Collins, Ringling to name but a few. Mainly worked with Lions but also Polar Bears, and Elephants. Probably going back to 1910 to 1940's. Was apparently well known, and travelled to places like Amnerica, Africa amongst other places. His wife went under the name Madam Louise and or Madame Flora - she was also involved in working with animals. I have various newspaper cutting about him, with pictures of him with the Lions. Any information would be greatly appreciated. s.hunt1@virgin.net. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1888. Three Chesters, A Party on the Wire, 12 May 2007 - Does anyone have information about my mother and grandparents that were The Three Chesters, A Party on the Wire. Performed in the 1920's to the early 1940's at fairs and also did some work with Ringling Bros. They had a low wire act. Other family members also performed. They began performing in PA and performed on the east coast, Indiana and Ill. and stopped at depression time in the early 40's. Last act was in Pittsburgh. Cindy Weber, cbw@neoucom.edu. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1887. Hamid ringmaster, 12 May 2007 - Who was the ringmaster for the Hamid circus in Harrisburg? frankiegee1@verizon.net. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1886. RBB&B 1952 wagon, 10 May 2007 - I have a painting of a RBB&B circa 1952 circus wagon no. 6 along side of the dining tent with the "Big Top" in the back ground. Is there somewhere where I can find out what wagon number six is? It appears to be a generator running the dish washing and kitchen area. I believe there is an on line site that has wagon numbers and a corresponding reference to what the wagon where carrying. Thank you for any help in helping me identify this scene. David Coolidge. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 12 May 2007 - In 1952 # 6 wagon listed as the dishwasher which had a boiler and generator in the front end of the wagon. NedCircus@aol.com

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1885. Tom Mix Circus, 10 May 2007 - As a young boy I remember attending a Tom Mix circus sometime around 1935 to 1937. It was in easten Massachusetts probably north of Boston. It could have been at the Essex county fair grounds.I am trying to pinpoint the time and place. Can someone help me? Robert Day. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 30 May 2007 - Dear Mr. Day: Are you any relation to Mr. William Day of New Britain, CT or his son, Mr. Robert Day of Litchfield County, CT? Both fine gentlemen. Please be advised that Tom Mix Circus played Mass. in two years. In 1936, starting with August 17 through August 26 (excepting Sunday) the following dates were played: Quincy, Waltham, Lynn, Salem, Gloucester, Newburyport, Lowell, Fitchburg and Holyoke. In 1937, a slightly greater route was played starting on May 17 through June 1 (again excepting Sundays) Springfield, Worcester, Providence (RI), Fall River, New Bedford, Brockton, Quincy, Framingham, Lawrence, Lynn, Salem, Waltham, Fitchburg and Holyoke. The fact that the show played many of the same dates indicates that it did good business there the previous year. Please note that in 1937 Tom Mix preceeded Cole Bros by about two weeks in some of these locations and RBBB about a month later. Best, Robert F Sabia

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1884. Gainesville Community Circus, 10 May 2007 - The Gainesville Community Circus will be featured in the opening segement of the documentary "Nowhere But Texas," on Monday, June 4th on KERA 13. Interviews are supplemented with vintage footage featuring amazing performances by some of the nearly 1,500 daring citizens who performed during the more than 25 years the circus operated, and put Gainesville in the national spotlight. Meg Fullwood, Publicist. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 14 May 2007 - Dear Meg, Please find out about getting a VHS or DVD recording of this TV show. An important part of youth circus history. Thanks. Jim Cole, circus4youth@earthlink.net

    Reply: 17 May 2007 - Check your local TV listings for the call letters of the PBS station in your area. Call them and they will be able to tell you if this program in on their schedule. If it isn,t they should be able to give you additional information about the producer of the program and you can contact them to see if there are going to be copys of the program available. rlmentertain@webtv.net

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1883. Skippy and Bum, 09 May 2007 - Can you help me with some research? When did the act of Skippy and Bum perform in the Ringling Bros. Circus? Thanks, Sam. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1882. Billy Martin ringmaster, 09 May 2007 - What can tell about Billy Martin Circus Ringmaster and I have a question what did the Royal Hannefod Play Harrisburg for the Zombo Shine Circus and why don't circus play Harrisburg. frankiegee1@verizon.net. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 17 May 2007 - Various shows have played Harrisburg including Bently several times and I thing Beatty-Cole. I do know that over the years various shows have tried to book the arena at the fair grounds and the fair has refused to rent to them. Robert Mitchell

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1881. Jack Cottrell, boss hostler, 08 May 2007 - I am wondering if anyone has any information on a Boss Hostler from the John Robinson Circus 1879-81 named Jack Cottrell? Story has it an elephant sat on him and he then required a metal plate in his head. Also wondering if his parents/family were circus people as well. Please email me with ANY information,pictures or comments. jfromtheb@hotmail.com, Thanks! Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1880. Charles Andress, 08 May 2007 - Charles Andress is a CHS member who resides [resided] in Greensburg, Kansas, the site of last week's devastating tornado. Thankfully, Charlie is alive. A Google search located a Wichita newspaper that quoted him in the coverage they provided. He endured the twister in the basement of his house, which was destroyed. He also lost his collection of circus documentation, much of which related to his father's many years in the business as a show owner and also as an employee of Barnum & Bailey and Ringling Bros., over a century ago. Following retirement, his father entertained many guests from the circus, including RBBB, when the show visited Great Bend, Kansas, where he'd erected his home. Fred Dahlinger. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1879. Coney Island Circuses 1930s, 08 May 2007 - Can you tell me what acts were featured at the circuses in Steeplechase Park, Coney Island and Luna Park Coney Island in the 1930s. Bob Unterreiner, CFA Member, E mail runterr@juno.com. Thank you. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1878. Lion tamer Schroeder, Leslie Speechley, 07 May 2007 - I am looking for a lion tamer by the name of Captain Schroeder, who worked in a circus and had an apprentice under him by the name of Leslie James Speechley. Would you be able to help, as I am doing a family tree on both gentleman. I do hope you can help, and thank you. Here is my email: silvergreylass@hotmail.com. Kind Regards, Lesley Brown. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 01 Sep 2007 - I 'm not sure, he may be my father's dad if you are talking about pre WW2. I have a photo of him with a lion having tea, with an elephant and with an orangutan. Contact me at kbriscoe@tadaust.org.au or my dad (In Toowoomba QLD) at janschroeder@tadaust.org.au. He is also seeking info on family tree if you think it same person. Kym Briscoe, Lightning Ridge NSW

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1877. Bailey Circus, Civil War, 07 May 2007 - I understand that the Bailey Circus wintered in Fairfax, Virginia during the Civil War. I would appreciate any information about this. Sincerely, Jane Singer. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1876. Willy Togni, 05 May 2007 - Willy Togni passed away last Wednesday in Verona, at age of 77. Son of Ferdinando, with his brothers Enis and Bruno he was the founder in 1963 of Circo Americano. He was trapeze artist, acrobat, and first of all horse and elephant trainer. Willy is considered one of the greatest elephant trainers of the last generation. He is the only one remembered ever to present a full group of 22 in a single space. In 1963 in Torino he presented with Gunther Gebel a group of 26 elephants, probably the largest ever. Willy was the teacher of his nephew Flavio. Willy togni is also remebered for being the ring director of the first 15 edition of Monte Carlo Circus Festival. His sons are Marco and Loris, good trapeze flyers and illusion artists. For telegrams: Fam.Togni, Circo Americano, Via Germania, 3, Verona, Italy. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1875. Marninkovich family, 04 May 2007 - Many , many, thanks for your interesting information. However, I am looking for my mothers lost relatives, which we believe they are the Barnum and Ringling Brothers. In 1947 roughly, my two Uncle’s from America came looking for their youngest Sister Roma, Rosa, Christina Mikhailovich. She was married to Vaso Marinkovich. She had four brothers, four or fives sisters. One of her brother, had married a Countess from Spain. They went to Italy to run their Big Circus. The Circus was near a Rail Road, and the horses ran out on the Railway and caused a big accident. They fled to South America (Brazil)? They Changed their name at the time and had to get away from the Law, by boat. They reached South America Brazil, They had the Plastic Top the only ones then to have Plastic Top Circus, we then found out that they were (their real name was) Balia and Rangli Mikhailovich now they are know as Bailey and Ringling Brothers. If anyone can come forward and help me find my lost family, as I am the only Relative left Catherine Marinkovich the last daughter of Roma and Vaso Marninkovich. They must have been looking for us too. The two brothers visited the Family Tomb in Marseille-South of France they left a bouquet of White Flowers on the Tomb. My mother is the sole survier of the Marinkovich Family. I am writing this on behalf of my Mother. I would be more than grateful to hear from someone out there who knows the family. Elaine Gerogeovich, Worcester, England. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1874. James Kaler, Barnum 1872, 04 May 2007 - I am doing research related to my grandfather, James Otis Kaler, who during the 1870s worked for Frank Leslie's Boys' and Girls' Weekly. During 1870 or 1871 he is said to have traveled with the P.T. Barnum circus and written articles about the experience for the Leslie magazine and also for the New York Sun newspaper. It is uncertain whether he traveled in 1870 with the Castello/Coup organization, which was to become the Barnum circus later that year, or with the first Barnum organization in 1871. I have just recently read that in 1872 Barnum hired three full time press agents to travel with the show and I wonder whether the names of these persons are known. Any suggestions as to how to research this further would be very much appreciated. John Kaler, jkaler@sympatico.ca. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 06 May 2007 - James Kaler. I cannot confirm the presence of James Kaler on the P. T. Barnum Show nor any other comtemporary show. However he must have been on a show prior to 1880 for Harper & Brothers published the circus classic Toby Tyler or Ten Weeks With A Circus that year. The 1880 & 1881 editions were copyright by Harper & Brothers, the 1908 and 1909 editions by James Otis Kaler, and the 1923 edition by Mrs. James Otis Kaler. John Polacsek

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1873. Elephants Tory and Duchess, 03 May 2007 - I would like to know what happened to the two elephants, Tory and Duchess, that were hidden by Murray Hill (alias) for several years in late 80s and early 90s. The courts ordered them returned to Dick & Eddie Drake and they evidently had them near Tehachapi,California until a few years ago. Does anybody know where they are and are they still living? Thanks. TxStarmt@aol.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 04 May 2007 - Both have been owned and cared for by George Carden International Circus since 1992. They were just sold to his son Brett Carden in Jan. of 2006. Both are alive and well. Bob Cline

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1872. Franz Althoff Circus 1959, 02 May 2007 - Looking for pictures or Circus Zeitung from the Franz Althoff Circus in 1959. Especially interested in a picture of the 48-liberty horse display and their Elephant Display. fatima. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 09 May 2007 - A quick scan on the website www.circusmuseum.nl/eng learns that there are pictures of Franz Althoff Circus with elephants and horses in the fifties. The exact year 1959 in combination with the Althoffcircus was not found by me but maybe you have better luck. Go to search, select Althoff, Franz in the Index of Circus, specify by putting words as "olifanten" and ""paarden" (horses) in the upper part of the search page. Herman Voogd

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1871. Trapeze accident, 02 May 2007 - I was watching a show (I forget the name of the circus) two years ago in South Jersey. Actually Voorhees or Echelon. The circus was in the Echelon Mall's parking lot. There was an Asian group of artsits who worked on the Trapeze (that is the swings in the air, correct?) The group was swinging on ropes when one young man fell head first onto the concrete ground. He was lifeless and after several moments, they put him on a stretcher and quickly put him into an ambulance. My children and I were in the back row and we could see what went on behind the scenes. Everyone was running around, some crying hysterically. I've wanted to know what happened to this gentlemen for quite some time. Never saw a newspaper article about it. Would you happen to know the history of this accident? Thanks for your time. Jennieerial@aol.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 16 Nov 2010 - I would think if you contacted the hospital and politely asked about the outcome of the accident victim, they would share the outcome. Just don't ask for the name of the person. All things depend on how you talk to people. Ask any car salesman. r.turdo.

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1870. Baraboo Elephant Graveyard, 01 May 2007 - Is it recorded just how many elephants have died at the Ringling Bros. Winterquarters over the years? Which of these elephants had been buried and which ones may have been donated to science? I had heard that the original famous elephant of Ringling Bros. show, "Old Babe" had died at Baraboo November 1915. Old Babe was reputed to have been, "A few more than One Hundred years old." It was said that her 4 ton body had been placed on a large stoneboat and hauled by 16 horses to be buried in a gully with a large boulder marking the spot, not too far from Devil's Lake. I have heard also that the Circus World Museum has in its collections a few elephant skulls. Is it recorded from which elephants they belonged to, or has the information been lost over the years? Kenton C. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 05 May 2007 - I don't think that anyone has systematically established the necrology for Ringling elephants to an exacting degree. You'd need to start with accurate annual herd listings, determine and eliminate the sales, trades, transfers and possible in-season deaths, and then search the route books, newspapers and trade journals for confirmation of deaths. There was at least one elephant executed on the road [circa 1908-1909, others have the date] and there may have been other such incidents. I'm sure you're familiar with Chang Reynolds summary of the Ringling herd in Bandwagon and other papers about the Ringling elephants, which can serve as a basis for further work. As with all elephant matters, accuracy is a challenge because of a lack of primary data, changing names, duplication of names, apocrypha and legends.

    An elephant identified as Zip died in early 1893 and his death is covered in the Baraboo Republic of January 12, 1893. A post mortem was conducted by Prof. Donaldson of a Chicago university and Carl Akeley, then identified with the Milwaukee museum. You might check coverage of Akeley's life for this episode or others in Milwaukee. A local taxidermist named Ochsner, for whom the local Baraboo park is named, received many dead animals from the Ringlings and some of these are now in a publicly-owned collection just south of Baraboo. No elephants are in those holdings.

    One Ringling elephant carcass was donated to the Milwaukee Public Museum. The beast was mounted and placed on exhibition in the "old" museum, now the public library, but I've not seen it since the 1950s. It had been interpreted in a sort of "circus ring" setting. Several decades ago the Milwaukee Journal published a photo in its famous "Green Sheet" of the hide from this beast or another being cleaned/stretched, presumably in preparation for being mounted. The image was likely from the Milwaukee Public Library local history department.

    The several elephant skulls at Baraboo were gathered at George Christy's winter quarters in South Houston, Texas, in the 1960s, when a couple men were given unobstructed access to scour the place before it was sold or demolished. Thus those skulls have no relation to the Ringling bull herd history unless the living animals went from Ringling to Christy. More than likely they were female Asiatics that passed away in the Christy quarters.

    The large elephant tusks that were once displayed in the Elephant House had no circus heritage but originated from a hunt in Africa. They were returned to the Milwaukee-area owner a few years ago.

    There are other pieces or sections of elephant tusks in the collection, one of which originated with the widow of Stewart Craven and was acquired with the Tom Parkinson collection. It was alleged to have originated with some legendary beast in American circus history. Fred Dahlinger

    Reply: 31 May 2007 - The elephant named,"Zip',was said to have been a large female African Elephant (Loxodonta africana). Curiously when they performed the necropsy, they reportly found inside her stomach a four foot long section of chain that weighed ninety pounds. How it got there no one could say,but for three days before her demise around January 3, 1893, Zip a usually docile and tractable elephant was in a state of wild frenzy. How an elephant could swallow a chain that big is a mystery, but possibly the chain may have been rolled up in a bushel and or perhaps some disgruntled employee tricked her into eating the bushel that may have been covered with fruit,as hungry elephants have been known to swallow baskets of fruit or vegetables in one gulp. Kenton Cornish, kentonc2001@yahoo.com

    Reply: 08 Jul 2007 - As near as I can tell with the information available to me, as to the number of elephants that died while at the Baraboo,Wisconsin winter quarters from the 1880's up until 1919, when the winter quarters moved to Bridgeport,CT.
          The first elephant that I could find any mention of that died there,would appear to have been "Zip", which died in January 1893.
          2.) A large elephant named, "Cincinnati" died from blood poisoning in Baraboo June 1898.
          3.) An unnamed elephant, but described in the press as"The Biggest Elephant of the Herd", had died from a cold in the head, November 1906, it was buried in Baraboo in a grave as 'big as a celler".
          4.) The previously mentioned"Old Babe" The Ringling Bros. original elephant died in Baraboo November 1915.
          5.) In early January 1918,the newspapers reported the demise of a "Famous old Elephant "with the Ringling show that died in Baraboo, reportly it had been with the show since ca.1898.
          In addition, it has been reported elesewhere that one of the ealy Ringling Bros. elephants "Fannie" a female African elephant with the show since 1888, died in Baraboo either November 1900 or November 1908, so perhaps either one of those two dates is a typo or perhaps both, as the newspapers reported an unmamed elephant having died there November 1906 (see# 3 on this listing). Kenton C.

    Reply: 18 July 2007 - Mr. Dahlinger, Sometime ago I inquired to the Milwaukee Public Museum to ask if they had any elephants in their collections. I was told by one of the collections managers that the mounted hide of the elephant now on display in the India Market exhibit at the museum, had once been a Ringling Bros. elephant and received from Baraboo WI and that the elephants name was "Alice". So possibly from the date you mentioned as having seen it in the 1950's,perhaps this was the Alice that had been one of the eleven elephants that died as a result of the mass poisoning in Atlanta Georgia in November 1941. That Alice was approx 26 years old when it died. Also I believe they have its skull in the collections department. Kenton C.

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1869. Fat Lady, Sara Gruen book, 01 May 2007 - I recently read Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants. In the book, the Fat Lady, Lovely Lucinda, drops dead in Terre Haute. As a youth growing up in Terre Haute, Indiana in the 1950's, I seem to remember a story about a fat lady who died while the show was in Terre Haute, and was buried in a nearby cemetery. Does anybody know if there is any truth to the story or is this just an old man looking back through a hazy memory? William Shassere, Bradenton, Fl. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1868. Jacko the clown, 29 April 2007 - My Father was James Plasclascovitie aka Jaco or Jacko the clown. He passed in 1949 and his scrap book was lost. Our family knows that he was once with Ringling Brothers Circus. Probably around WW1 but before 1930. Any help or hints as where to search would be greatly appreciated. Marjilee Blackwell, marjilee@mac.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1867. Billboard, Interlibrary loan, 28 April 2007 - I know that Billboard magazine (founded 1894) has been microfilmed. I put in a request at my local library (Phoenix Public Library) to obtain the BB, year 1914, on interlibrary loan and I just received their reply: "Your request has been cancelled for the following reason: Few libraries own this title and none of them would lend it to us." Would anybody on this message board know from personal experience which, if any, libraries or other institutions are willing to lend the Billboard on interlibrary loan? Thanking you in advance, Tom Hernandez. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 17 May 2007 - Dear Tom; Here in Florida both Florida State and the University of Fla. have the Billboard on microfilm. At one time they both would loan their films out but this was several years ago. Whether they still do it now I don t know. Robert Mitchell

    Reply: 20 May 2007 - Robert, Thanks for your reply. I'll look into it. I've also looked up the companies that produced the microfilm itself with the thought of purchasing but that led to a dead end. Tom

    Reply: 11 Apr 2008 - Do you have access to Worldcat? If you do, you could see for yourself which libraries have Billboard for that year. Search under "The Billboard", not simply "Billboard." If you don't have access to Worldcat, local libraries usually do for on-site use only. InterLibrary Loan can be a real pain-some of the people working there are rather lazy and don't really want to work with the public but some are very helpful. However, the more specific you are in your request, the more possible your request will be fullfilled. John

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1866. Big John Strong, 28 April 2007 - Looking for members of the Big John Strong 1980-close. BJ the Clown, Buckles, Red Johnson, Amazing Seaton, Dixie the clown, Tina brown, Jay Evans, Ron Pace, Chris Kenington, Marshe Kenington. Swamie. thx, RS. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 08 May 2007 - Am in touch with several of the people you have mentioned, contact me at bjscircus@yhoo.com

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1865. Bertram Mills, 28 April 2007 - Could you tell me when Bertram Mills Circus disbanded? I remember my Dad taking me to see it when I was a child in the sixties in London. I love Circuses. Penny Owen, Australia. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 30 April 2007 - Hello Penny. Bertram Mills’ Olympia Circus, London, opened for the 40th and final season on 23rd December 1966. It was under the directorship of Bernard Mills and Maxwell Joseph. The circus closed forever on 21st January, after a shorter season than usual, business far below expectations. Maxwell Joseph, the hotel and property owner and entrepreneur, had purchased a controlling interest in the Bertram Mills circus, in 1965, for £210,000. He later bought shares and control from the Mills family and the other principal shareholders. By the end of 1965 had achieved a take-over, owning 69.2% of the shares. He retained Bernard Mills to act as Managing Director and saved the circus for another year. In 1966 he announced that his circus at Olympia would have only a short winter season, from 23rd December 1966, for four weeks until 21st January. He was reported to be looking for a new venue for the circus after 1966-67, because Olympia was unavailable, but this never materialised. Glad you still enjoy circus, John Turner (www.circusbiography.co.uk).

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1864. Bandmaster Schlafer or Schlaefer, 27 April 2007 - I am looking for the names of the band master from the late 1800's thru early 1900's, looking specifically for the name Schlafer or Schlaefer, may have been a band master with Barnum & Bailey Circus. Any help would be greatly appreciated. RobertsCline@aol.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1863. Miller Brothers Wild West, 26 April 2007 - Claire Belcher was listed with the Miller Brothers Wild West Show as a Lady Bulldogger and was with the show from about 1925 to 1930. Were their many women with the show? Where could I find photos of her bulldogging? as this a show or a rodeo? Thank you! Doreen Barnes Alfonso of California. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1862. Circuses 1900, 26 April 2007 - What was the number of circuses in America in 1900? Rob. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 27 April 2007 - Any "count" of circuses is fraught with uncertainty because of incomplete records, definitional issues and more. "Counts" are of more value for comparative purposes than exacting specific knowledge and application. Col. C. G. Sturtevant enumerated 69 different circuses in America in his list [serialized in "White Tops," starting in Vol. XXXV], derived from entries in the "New York Clipper," "Billboard" and other resources. Bear in mind that some of these were limited winter circuses; others were overland and rail shows with a long route. The number excludes his listings of Wild West aggregations, foreign troupes, etc. Some of these may also have been essentially "vaudeville under a tent," perhaps without a ring or animals. The number does include dog and pony shows. There were also some very small troupes that played locally or regionally that never communicated with the trade journals and may not have been known to Sturtevant. You can temper this number by examining the circus title list in the back of George Chindahl's book "A History of the Circus In America," as well as Robert L. Parkinson's "Directory of American Circuses." All are fraught with traps for the unwary, in terms of securing an accurate count. Fred Dahlinger

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1861. Circus Philadelphia 1900-20, 25 April 2007 - My daughter must write a paper on Circus History in and around Philadelphia, PA between 1900-1920. Can you help us out. Thanking you in advance for your help. Best Regards, Lisa Culver. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 28 April 2007 - Most of the circuses had moved out of Philadelphia winter quarters by 1900. However if you look under winter quarters on this web site you will find the Hulburd Wild West Show. The letterhead reads Hulburd's Wild West, Mexican Hippodrome, Indian Village & World's Rough Riders. Byron N. Hulburd was sole owner and General Manager. The Winter Quarters was listed as Philadelphia, Pa. Byron was born in Placerville, Calif. about 1873 and he worked on Howard's Wagon Show that toured the Pacific Coast. At the close of the 1891 season he sold out his circus interest and went into producing various theatrical companies. In 1898 he enlisted in the Spanish American War and saw service in Cuba, leaving the army in 1899.He returned to his home in Sacramento and organized Hulburd's Vaudeville Company and went to South America, returning to New York in 1901.In the fall of 1902 he organized his Wild West Show, established a winter quarters and opened April 25 at Norristown, Pa., 27th at Reading, Pa, 28th at Pottstown, and 30th Chester, Pa. The show then went into New Jersey, New York, Mass., Conn., R.I., New Hampshire, and then returned to winter in Philadelphia. It was reported that for 1904 he was to have a three ring circus known as the Great Hulburd Shows, Circus, Wild West, Museum and Menagerie, but no route is known. For the 1905 season he purchased the Buckskin Bill Wild West outfit and opened at San Antonio April 15, 1905. By 1920 the winter quarters of Hulburd's Dog & Pony Show & Trained Wild Animals was in Dallas, Texas. Ted Bowman Route Collection

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1860. Ringling clowns 1956, 25 April 2007 - I am researching circus history for a story. Can anyone tell me what the names of the clowns were on the Ringling Show in 1956 when they folded the tent in Heidelburg PA.? (July 16, 1956) I specifically want to know if Mark Anthony, Lou Jacobs, Swede Johnson or Price Paul were working the show at that time. If Mark was on the show, was he a character or still a white face? Any info would be greatly appreciated: a picture would be of great value. Sincere thanks, Michael Perry, mpcirk@verizon.net. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 29 Sep 2008 - There was some sort of strike in that year that was also in the year before and the year after. Lou Jacobs actually worked with Polack Bros in 1955 and 1956. I know that Emmett Kelly and Otto Griebling did not perform with RBBB in 1956. If we can trust the 1956 RBBB program, Marc Anthony was not with them that year. The programs lists: Jimmy Armstrong, Frankie Saluto, Myron Orton, Owen McQaude, Prince Paul, Paul Horumpo, Dennis Stevens, Al White, Freddy Freeman, Gene Lewis, Paul Jung, Charlie Bell, Hoaquim Crus, Harry Ruster, Frank Cromwell, Joe Nawrath, Harry Klima, Carl Stephan and Alvin Schwartz. - Ray Kadlec

    Reply: 09 Feb 2013 - My name is Carla, and I live in a small town very close to Valdosta, Ga. I have come into alot of history of alot of clowns. Floto circus, Cristiani Brothers, Cole Brothers circus, and of course Ringling Brothers. Sonny brother trio, Juanita which was Sonny's wife, and famous roller skater, that went to the Olympics, in which she told Adolf Hitler to kiss her a...s! Lived to tell the story. I have so many clown pics, elephants, just circus life. Unfolding the lives of a great time and truely talented clowns, and beautiful skaters. Even Emmet Kelly with Sonny in snap shots. If anyone wants to ask me names, feel free!!! Names are on the original Ringling brothers post cards. Lets bring out the history of a life worth telling about.

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1859. Hagenbeck-Wallace posters, 24 April, 2007 - I have two identical Hagenbeck-Wallace posters. Well, not quite identical. The imprint on one reads: "Erie Litho and Ptg Co, Erie PA" and on the other: "Erie Litho and Ptg Co, Erie PA - Atlanta." Can someone out there tell me about Erie Litho having an Atlanta shop? Dave Price. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 31 Oct 2007 - I am doing some search on Carl Hagenbeck, as my father Leslie met Mr Hagenbeck in a Cafe because my father could not pay for his meal. So My Hagenbeck paid for my fathers meal and asked him would he like to work at the circus and I will teach you from A to Z. Leslie jumped at the idea, my father would have been 9 years old , because he ran away from home at that age. Could you see if you can help and find out for me please, as I would be most appreciate. And would you have any posters on my father every working for Hagenbeck in 1912. Kind Regards, Lesley Speechley

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1858. Percy Pringle Circus, 23 April, 2007 - Has anyone ever heard Percey Pringles circus or clowns in 42, was suppose to be my great grandfather? Prescott Pringle was his name? Understood possible areas Ill? and Florida? Interesting question for me. steven pringle, fmlyauto@sbcglobal.net. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 29 Dec 2013 - My Uncle's family are Pringle's. They lived in Illinois and it is well known that the Pringles from that county were in the Circus. Not sure if this is your Pringle? My Uncle's family was from Scotland. The Pringle family that I am referencing is from the Menard County area in Illinois. Unfortunately all my Pringle family relatives are gone now. Toni

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1857. Big Bertha, 22 April, 2007 - Hello All: Whare did the name BIG BERTHA originate? Best, Craig Johnson, Lock Haven, Pa. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 23 April 2007 - From a couple of internet sites: A giant German howitzer from WW1 built by Gustav Krupp’s firm. Gustav’s wife’s name was Bertha. Don’t know if it were Germans or the British that dubbed it Big Bertha. Search spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk on the internet for more info. I took my grandson to a circus at the Fairgrounds in Detroit years ago. When the cannon went off he took my hand and said let’s go. Richard Gephart

    Reply: 24 April 2007 - The term "dicke Berta" apparently originated with front-line German troops in World War I. While soldiers of all armies had their own jargon and nicknamed virtually everything, they also picked up each other's slang — "Fat Bertha", "Big Bertha" or just "Bertha" all appear as English slang for large caliber, long-range German guns. "Big Bertha" in that period most often refers to one of four monster German siege guns (420mm/16") and is probably derived from Berta Krupp, a daughter of the famous German munitions maker (her husband changed his last name to hers).
    During the siege of Paris, newspapers reported "Big Bertha" was shelling the city, which likely pushed the term into the spotlight and common use among the public. “Big” was being used as slang as in “he made it big” around 1912 according to my 1987 Webster’s Dictionary (which does not list “Big Bertha”).
    The Ringlings combined with Barnum & Bailey in 1918, and in civilian usage by that time, "Big Bertha" had come to describe anything with enormous power and/or size, and the newly merged show would certainly have had both.
    Like most slang, it seems to have faded out of common use pretty quickly; the only contemporary reference I came across was a brand of golf clubs, where the connotations of size and power still hold true. Lance Burton

    Reply: 26 April 2007 - A Big Thank You to all that responded to my question. Best, Craig Johnson, Lock Haven, Pa.

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1856. King and Franklin Circus, 21 April, 2007 - Message removed by request.




1855. Circus Boys novels, 21 April, 2007 - I recently discovered and enjoyed the five "Circus Boys" novels written by Edgar B. P. Darlington, and have some questions relating to them. An on-line search turned up no biography or other books by the author, so I must assume it was a pen name.
      Does any one know the actual year these were written? The copyrights apparently have long since expired, as the text is readily available on-line from a number of free book sites, however they were reprinted in paperback around 2004 by a company in Nebraska. The earliest period copies turned up in an on-line search were printed in Ohio in 1920. If I remember correctly, copyright is good for 75 years unless extended, so that may help date them. However, I'm led to believe they are either based on earlier events or were written before then. Two principal acts mentioned include the Somersaulting Auto and a Balloon Horse (both early 1900s features if I remember correctly?), leaping is still an important act (was it becoming less so by the 20s?) Ringling hasn’t yet merged with Barnum & Bailey, the tops are illuminated with gasoline lanterns and there is no mention of light plants, trucks or tractors, although automobiles and motion pictures are mentioned as something of a novelty.
      The fifth story closes with a reference to a coming sixth volume (The Circus Boys at the Top; Or, Bossing the Greatest Show of All"), in which our heroes were to join Barnum & Bailey. One of the on-line sources for these stories indicates this volume was never printed and again, nothing shows up on-line. It's purely conjecture on my part but would B&B have objected to the use of its name? Several actual shows are mentioned in passing in the earlier volumes, a bareback rider states she was with Ringling for example, but in the fifth story the boys have an ongoing billing war with the crew of a Barnum & Bailey advance car, in which they repeatedly outdo the opposition.
      Thanks for any info anyone can share! Lance Burton. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 24 April 2007 - Whether a connection or not - in 1902 the Darling & DeOnzo Bros. Consolidated Railroad Circus opened in Hamilton, Ohio and spent the next few months playing the State of Ohio. In 1905, Fred Darling. Prop. had Darling's Dog and Pony Show in New York State. I think I have a letterhead from this show, will see if it mentions the location of the winter quarters. If there is any connection to the author of the series, Edgar B. P. Darlington it is unknown. My copy of The Circus Boys in Dixie Land was printed in 1911, and The Circus Boys on the Plains was printed in 1920. I purchased my copies from an older circus fan in Cleveland, Ohio and he mentioned that he once tried to find additional information about the author. He contacted the publisher Saalfield Publishing Co. in Akron, Ohio and was unable to find any additional information. FYI the library and archives of the Saalfield Publishing Company was purchased by Kent State University in April 1977. The company published children's books from 1899 to 1977 and was at one time one of the largest publishers of children's materials in the world. Google the name and the inventory of the Kent State holdings will come up. John Polacsek

    Reply: 26 April 2007 - Many thanks for the information on the Saalfield holdings. I did run a quick Google search and at least one dealer had an early volume published in 1911 in New York. Another site indicates that "Edgar Darlington" was indeed a pen name, used by Frank Gee Patchin, and again states that the 6th book was a phantom (rats!). It would appear Patchin was a prolific author of similar Boys novels (many with western and military themes) for the same publisher. Lance Burton

    Reply: 26 April 2007 - A search through worldcat and other sources failed to reveal any identity for Edgar B. P. Darlington. The name was not listed in Social Security death listings. I also tried searching www.newspaperarchive.com for reviews, variations on the name and such, but nothing was revealed about the books or their author. You could try on-line census documents but you may come up equally empty-handed. If you have access to the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature at a major city public library or university library, you might check for the author's name therein between 1910-1920. The Library of Congress does not list Darlington or the Circus Boys books. Sturtevant and others have listed circus books in various articles in Billboard and White Tops and it's not impossible that they may have revealed the real name of the author in one of these compilations. As John suggested, you might check the Saalfield papers; perhaps there's an obvious author's name that was transposed into that used for the circus boys books.

    Worldcat and the Toole-Stott bibliography [Circus and Allied Arts] did list different editions and another publisher, Henry Altemus Company of Philadelphia, active 1842-1936. There must have been a contractual arrangement between Altemus and Saalfield. These were the tiles and publication information: The Circus Boys on the Flying Rings, 1910, Henry Altemus Company, Philadelphia [1911 in Toole-Stott, also 1910 Saalfield]; Circus Boys Across the Continent, 1911, Altemus; The Circus Boys in Dixieland, 1911, Altemus [also 1911 Saalfield]; The Circus Boys on the Mississippi, 1912, Altemus; Circus Boys on the Plains, 1920, Altemus; The Circus Boys at the Big Top, not dated [one site says not published], Altemus.

    A Google search for "Henry Altemus Company" turned up a number of hits that might prove worthwhile. I lodged a query with one "expert" on Altemus but their mailbox was filled and won't accept any more contacts. The site does list some reference books that might prove worthwhile. You might want to check out: http://henryaltemus.com/index.html Two Altemus authors that might be worth looking at are H[arrie] Irving Hancock and Frank Gee Patchin. They wrote other series books for Altemus. Fred Dahlinger

    Reply: 27 April 2007 - Altemus expert Cary Sternick replied that she doesn't know the identity of Edgar B. P. Darlington, but suggested that it may be one of the authors of another series. Fred Dahlinger

    Reply: 05 May 2007 - Thank you both for your time and efforts! Lance Burton

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1854. Flying Alveras, 20 April, 2007 - Information regarding a trapeze family with the Clyde Beatty circus 1945-1959. Name of group was the Flying Alveras. Please respond to Galvera@aol.com. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1853. Canton OH circus, 19 April, 2007 - When I was a child in the mid-50s my family lived on a "ranch" near Canton, Ohio which housed circus animals. I specifically remember elephants, some large cats, chimpanzees. I don't know the address of the property nor the circus with which it was affiliated. Can anyone help me? Thank you. Sue Herman, English Department, Wooster High School. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 22 April 2007 - I thought someone would have stepped up on this one by now. There's an informative article called "Tony Diano Winter Quarters" by Homer C. Walton in the May/June 1962 issue of Bandwagon which you can navigate to through this website.
          Diano acquired the old "Canton Club" property in the late 1930s and began collecting exotic animals: elephants, zebras, a giraffe, a rhino etc as well as native American buffalo and Texas longhorn cattle.
          He frequently leased animal to circuses and also to the movie industry. In 1953 he went into a short-lived partnership with Ben Davenport and operated Diano Bros Circus, which by season's end had split into two shows: Diano's show under his name and Wallace Bros under Davenport. In the split-up, Diano gained possession of several of Davenport's elephants including one "Tommy," who had begun his career as a very young elephant, having been imported in his early youth by Davenport.
          Diano then operated a traveling menagerie on the World of Mirth railroad carnival and later furnished many of the animals on Cristiani Bros Circus. His elephants were on various shows for years and eventually sold to Ringling Bros-Barnum & Bailey where little Tommy, by now grown to tremendous size and sporting a massive pair of tusks, was renamed "King Tusk" and featured on the show.
          I'd suggest you read the Bandwagon article mentioned above for more details. Regards - Ole Whitey

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1852. Fat lady Baby May, 19 April, 2007 - Am trying to locate fat lady Baby May (or Mae), aka Helen Czekanowski, born in 1902 in Minnesota to Karoline and Ignatius Czekanowski, who are of Russian descent. She traveled with a circus in Minnesota. I am not sure of the name of the circus. Can you assist me or direct to me to another resource? Rita R. Bennett, Anchorage, AK. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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1851. Water for Elephants, book, 18 April, 2007 - I've just read "Water for Elephants" It was great but is the book based on a real disaster? Was there a Benzini Brothers? Was there an animal stampede? Any help would be much appreciated. Colleen. Respond to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 20 April 2007 - I hate to be the one to tell you this but Water for Elephants is pure fiction and includes much that is inconsistent with the real circus. I received it as a gift so I did read it and very frankly was disappointed. There are several good works of circus fiction but some novelists apparently just do a little cursory research and figure the reader won't know the difference.
          If you want to read a much better book which happens to deal with a circus man, read Thomas Duncan's fantastic Gus the Great, which I consider to be one of the Great American Novels. I had hoped in my retirement years to use it as the text of an American Lit class I thought I might teach and, knowing that college bookstores don't routinely carry it, I accumulated about thirty copies for that purpose. Alas that ambition has not been realized but I haven't given up. I have read it something like thirty times in the last fifty-five years and am now older than Gus was at the end of the book. Ole Whitey

    Reply: 23 April 2007 - As a children’s author who is working on a story where a great deal of the action takes place at a fictional circus in 1932, I was very interested in Ole Whitey’s criticism of Sara Gruen’s book, Water for Elephants. I am wondering what inconsistencies Mr. Whitey is referring to? I have read the novel and also have read Sara Gruen’s article “Blending Fact with Fiction” in The Writer magazine (April, 2007) in which she describes her very intensive research for the book. Most serious authors who write historical fiction try hard to be accurate in portraying details of the time, but I suppose it’s impossible to get every detail 100 percent correct. I would be very curious to know what erroneous details Mr. Whitey found in Ms. Gruen’s book! Bonnie_Graves@msn.com

    Reply: 29 July 2007 - Whilst this may be seen as a fairly dated answer to this post, I have learned recently of my own families history regarding the circus. My great grandfather, as told through an oral history of memory's (which can not be corroborated through written journals or photographs) passed down through my great grand mother and later by my father. My great grand father went by the name of "King Kingsley" and was hired by P.T. Barnum on the spot after raising an entrance to the tent in her presence. In this post, there is a question as to whether or not a animal stampede took place on a bridge in what is presumably New York City (this is part of the story we were told), it is in our family lore that Jumbo the african elephant saved my great grand father from this stampede by picking him up with his trunk and placing him on the other side of a barricade to protect him from the animals that were riled during this time. If there is any information on King Kingsley or the animal stampede, please reply, as this aspect of my family history has never been corroborated by any internet article after hours of searching. Hope all is well, bryant dunivan

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