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Message Archive: Messages 2251 - 2300

2300. Prizer paintings, 12 Feb 2008 - Do you have informaton on paintings from William Douglas Prizer or W Prizer or WD Prizer? Sender's name removed by request. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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2299. William Pickard, Zella Earl, 11 Feb 2008 - I am looking for any information related to my grandparents William Pickard and Zella Earl. He was a sea lion trainer and she was part of an act called the Earl Sisters who were bareback riders and aerialist in the early 1900’s. They married and settled in New York state and he continued to train sea lions for many years although he didn’t travel with the act. Thank You – A. Pickard. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 11 Feb 2008 - From "A three-year-old girl, stolen from her mother 22 years ago in New York by a woman from a circus and reared by her kidnapper without learning the circumstances of her birth, is now grown and married and has just learned her life story. In the hope of finding her parents she wrote a letter to the New York bureau of missing persons. The letter follows: 'Dear Sir: I am writing you for a little help In trying to locate my sister and brother. I am the missing person and it was around 1898 [?] I was taken away from my mother by a circus woman. I have never seen my mother, sister or brother from that day to this. I have only just learned about myself through the girl who took care of me, but she can't remember if may name is Wright or Knight. Now, if you can locate Charles Knight, or Wright, who has a missing sister, Susie, he ought to know. I had a sister, Pauline, also. I was known on the stage as Zella Earl up to five years ago, then I married.' The letter Is signed by Mrs William T. Pickard, of Tonawancla, N Y." Pinedale (MT) Roundup, July 29, 1920. Also published in the Oneonta (NY) Daily Star, April 19, 1902.
          Zella Earl was with the Yankee Robinson circus in 1914. There is a photo/illustration of Zella on page one of this newspaper. Perry (IA) Daily Chief, April 24, 1914. Article says she was performing with her sister Maude in an aerial act, double trapeze and swinging ladders, known as human butterflies of the air. Keep in mind Maude may not actually have been her real sister. - Judy Griffin

    Reply: 09 Sep 2009 - Hi, I too am seeking information on my great-grandmother who was part of this act. She was known as "Minnie Earl," but I think I that in the circus she may have been called "Gypsy Earl." There was another girl with her whom she considered a family member and may actually have been. Her name was Pauline. My great grandmother died before I was born, but I vaguely remember Pauline. One of the two was a bareback rider and the other, Pauline, I think an aerialist who hung by her hair. Both girls had been kidnapped. Anyway, I think my brother may have found one or two old newspaper articles about the act known as the "Earl Sisters." Buzzelli

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2298. Patu, magician, 11 Feb 2008 - Looking to know of a circus act with a magician I believe was a oriental guy of some sort in the 1930's, went by the last name PATU, traveled in circuses through Lousiana. Marchris Perkins, Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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2297. Margarito, smallest man, 11 Feb 2008 - In a year either 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958 or 1959 the Ringling Bros Circus was in Pomona, CA and they had the smallest man in the world. His name was Margarito and last name may have been Exparsa. He was 21 and stood at 22'. He was from Mexico and traveled with his parents who were of normal size. I recently heard he was seen on Mexican TV but have been unable to substantiate this story. We had his family and several of the other little people as our guests and I would very much like to know of his fate and if possible how I could contact him. I live in Las Vegas, NV, Ken Gossett, Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 25 Feb 2008 - Hallo Ken, Margarito lives in Mexico City, I see him sometimes walking in the center of the town and as well on television. I can give you the phonenumber from the t.v. channel he works for: Mexico City, 56835682. It is called Televisa, channel 4. Best wishes – Charly Ross.

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2296. Flying Esquedas, 11 Feb 2008 - Like to find info on the Flying Esquedas, we are having a Esqueda family reunion,and would love info on our talented relatives. Thank You Diana Esqueda, Email Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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2295. Midget, Mercer, 10 Feb 2008 - I came across this site when searching for information for my mother concerning her great uncle, who was a small man, midget performer up to the 1940's. We do not know what circus he worker for. We do know that his last name was Mercer, first name possibly John or David, and that he was born in Ontario,Canada. My mother last recalled seeing him when she was 5 or 6-years old, in the early 50's. He was known to his family members and did visit them when he was traveling. Sometime in the 50's he either retired or died. We don't know anything for sure. At this time he could have been in his mid sixties. He was also married to another circus performer. My mother believes that he was her grandfather's brother. Her grandfather's name was George Vickery Mercer, b.1885. George lived in Hamilton,Ontario. He also had sisters. Vicky,married to a dentist in Hamilton,Ontario. Another named Maggie, married to a farmer and lived in Saltfleet, Ontario and Annie, married to an Italian barber, lived in Hamilton also. His parents names were David and Annie Mercer. Mother's maiden name was Berniston. He might have used this name or Mercer. We have no idea what his stage/billing name was or his wife's. Any information from the members of this community or directions to ways we could research info regarding our 'family mystery man' would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance. leah mercer, Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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2294. Fat Lady, 09 Feb 2008 - Erin Foley from the Circus Museum in Baraboo, WI, suggested I get in touch with you and this discussion site. I am researching the subject of the fat lady in American sideshows/circuses in the 20th century, and would appreciate information, stories, anecdotes, or leads to print or photographic sources on this topic. Some specifics I'm trying to discover are, how much did the highest-earning ladies make? What kind of special arrangements were necessary to let them travel with a show, or remain comfortable while exhibiting themselves? Was the usual costume the Baby Doll-Romper Suite variety of outfit, or were there also glamorous fat ladies? Who were the most famous in the business or had the most unusual personalities? Are there any records or reminiscences of what and how much the ladies would eat, on the average? And so on. Thank you for any information you can supply on this interesting subject. Craig A. Smith. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 10 Feb 2008 - There are still a couple side shows left on the road today but few and far in between. Check the State Fairs around the country. If you can find the Ward Hall and Chris Christ Side show, these two gentleman know the ins and outs of side shows for the last 40 years. You'll look for years to find the information they can offer in 20 minutes. Bob Cline

    Reply: 11 Feb 2008 - You might also try to contact Bobby Reynolds, another great sideshow manager. There are many books for your research. Try We Who are Not as Others by Dan Mannix, Freak Show by Robert Bogdan and Secrets of the Sideshow by Joe Nickell. These books have helpful bibliographies for further research. Robert Momyer

    Reply: 12 Feb 2008 - For the exhibition of morbidly obese people, start at least as early as Barnum's American Museum [the Kunhardt book is good], whose attractions included obese children, and reach even further back to European precedents. Check works by Ricky Jay ["Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women," and more, his Journal of Anomalies, etc.] and others on fairground operations, itinerant showmen, etc. People on exhibition moved between dime museums, and side shows with circuses and carnivals, as well as independent attractions. John H. Craig had his own fairground attraction, John H. Craig's (Powers) Canvas Show; it's given slight coverage in "New York Clipper," May 24, 1884, page 150. The CWM library has a photo of him [John H. Powers, Kentucky Giant, 19 years old, 824 pounds, 6'-4", born Franklin County, KY, traveling with Orton's Mastodon Museum, Menagerie and Circus], and there are others elsewhere. A few people published souvenir books and these often include a biography. Try the Becker collection at University of Syracuse for some Eisenmann images, and the book about them, books about dime museums, Odell's "Annals of the New York Stage," and so on. The Bogdan book will provide background on the aggrandizement issues. I suggest this path because it provides the foundation for the 20th century exhibitions. Check the side show topic books by Al Stencell, who has another one in production.
          There's the Dolly Dimples book and perhaps other memoirs. There's photos in the Durant history book and also McKennon's carnival history. There's the possibly accurate story of the fat lady having her own berth on the train, as compared to the often two-across berth. The Kelty photos of side shows, both circus and amusement park/Coney Island, provide insights on presentation modes. You'll readily find side show staff photos for Coney Island, where there were quite a number of independent side shows, particularly from the 1920s into the 1940s. James Taylor's "Shocked and Amazed" has some coverage of these in a special issue. Ward Hall and others can indeed give you recent background. "Ten men to hug her and a box car to lug her" seems to be a line I heard him speak one time.
          The challenge is to compile a listing of names, both real, and stage, and to then pursue them individually in the documentation. That's where you'll move from the hype to the reality of their existence. Fred Dahlinger

    Reply: 24 Feb 2008 - Many thanks to everyone who replied to my first post and listed books, periodicals, etc. for follow-up. I had some of those books already; am glad to know they're prime sources; and am now searching for the others. Thank you also for the suggestion re: getting in touch with Ward Hall and other sideshow managers. I've had one excellent phone interview with Ward so far and look forward to more as his schedule permits. I will keep you all informed as to progress of this research, and again, many thanks. Craig A. Smith

    Reply: 05 Mar 2008 - Do any chat participants know, or have an idea, when Celesta "Dolly Dimples" Geyer died, and where? I am trying to locate a death certificate and any information on survivors (extended family), but she doesn't appear to have a certificate on file in Florida, which was her home state of last report. Many thanks. Craig Smith

    Reply: 05 Mar 2008 - Could this be Celesta? Social Security Death Index: Celesta Geyer; SSN: 267-54-1502; Last Residence: 33004, Dania, Broward, Florida, United States of America; Born: 18 Jul 1901; Died: Feb 1982; State (Year) SSN issued: Florida (1954 ). You can order the SSDI record or check for a death record with Broward County, FL. The birth and death years fit with information on Dolly Dimples. Judy Griffin

    Reply: 02 May 2008 - This is a slightly out of date but profuse thank you to Judy Griffin for her help in locating Celesta "Dolly Dimples" Geyer's death certificate information. Craig Smith

    Reply: 22 Aug 2012 - Dolly Dimples was a relative by marriage. Came across the Celesta Herrmann Geyer story (aka Dolly Dimples) a few years back. Would love to track down a copy of her book, "Diet or Die" or any pictures of her. Attached is a photo of her gravestone in St. Mary's Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio. Buried with her husband and parents. Bill Stothfang [photo: gravestone reads - Wife. Celesta F. Geyer, 1901 - 1982]

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2293. Jerry Booker Poster Prints, 08 Feb 2008 - I am searching for source of Jerry Booker Poster Prints as was once advertised in Bandwagon Magazine. Tom. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 24 Apr 2008 - Hi Tom - My name is Randy Booker and I am Jerry Booker's son. What prints are you looking for, and I'm really interested to learn about how you saw them initially. Hope to hear from you. Randy

    Reply: 11 Aug 2010 - I'm listing some Jerry Booker poster prints on eBay later this week. You may search for items by seller interface-rick to see these items once listed. Richard Levine

    Reply: 29 Oct 2011 - This is for Randy Booker. Your Father and my family had a mutual friend Frank Dutch Warner. It might be interesting to talk if you care to contact me. Thanks, J. Knupp

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2292. Harry Jaffe aka Harry Lewiston, 08 Feb 2008 - I am looking for information about my uncle, Harry Jaffe. He ran away from home and joined the circus in 1915. His stage name was Harry Lewiston. I'm interested in whatever information I can find and especially old photos of him. The last time I saw him was in 1955. If you can help me in my quest, I would be grateful. Sammi Backman. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 11 Jan 2009 - Harry Lewiston wrote Freak Show Man which is a great read. Bob Good,

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2291. Vickie Cristiani, 07 Feb 2008 - I went to high school with Vickie Cristiani of the Flying Cristiani's circus. After high school, Vickie rejoined her father and uncles in the act. The last I heard, Vickie had been injured while doing an act with a trained elephant. I am trying to locate Vickie of any of the Cristiani's. I want to invite her to visit and to join our 50 th year Class reunion coming up in 1 year. Any info? Thanks, Juliet. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 10 Feb 2008 - Vickie Cristiani is now a published author with her new book called "Spangles, Elephants, Violets, & Me". I would suggest you contact the Showfolks of Sarasota. I don't know if she is a member but I'm sure someone there does know her. Bob Cline

    Reply: 12 Feb 2008 - Try Florida directories under the name Victoria/Vickie B. Cristiani Rossi. Fred Dahlinger

    Reply: 13 Feb 2008 - Hi Bob, I believe the girl is Juliet Massey (although I'm sure her last name has since changed), my former classmate at the Academy of the Holy Names in Tampa. If at all possible please do give her my e-mail address. I'd love to connect with her. She was a beautiful girl, a day student who lived on Davis Island, and in fact one of my favorite classmates at the academy. Thank you so very much, Vickie

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2290. Age of Canvas Artwork, 07 Feb 2008 - A few years ago I bought 2 large canvases with RBBB artwork on them. One is about 7' x 18' and the other one is about 7' x 7'. They are signed or printed with "Bill Bailey" on them. The large one appears to be 8 different sheets sewn together. The colors vary greatly from one sheet to the other (almost like when your inkjet runs out of ink). Is this a screen print? How do you tell if this is "original" or a reproduction or anything? Sorry I am so uniformed. I just liked them so I bought them. Thanx in advance. Scott Holloway, Atlanta, Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 12 Feb 2008 - Scott: See the explanation of cloth banners given for question 826. I am unaware of anyone reproducing any form of poster this big, so I assume what you have are originals. Whitey

    Reply: 14 Feb 2008 - Thanx Whitney. I had seen that post but didn't know if there was more info out there about the really large pieces. Thanx again. Scott

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2289. Dick Clemens, Lion Tamer, 06 Feb 2008 - I am looking for more information and history on Captain Dick Clemens, Lion Tamer in the 30-50’s. He had been all over the US and abroad. His first wife, Grace died in 1947, She was only 40yrs old. He remarried to Mary, Japanese decent sometime after that. Mary passed around 2006. I am interested in anyone that has more information. He also had an assistant Fay Maloney, not sure how long he was with Dick. I appreciate your information. I am a relative of Dick & Grace, and knew Mary his second wife. Thanks, Robin. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 07 Feb 2008 - Dick Clemens worked in Ueno Zoo, Tokyo, and joined the zoo's traveling menagerie, in 1952. Dr. T. Koga, the zoo director, was my mentor, and the Clemens and I stayed in touch until the passing of Mary, his widow. Dick had an assistant, Annie Gates, and a while ago I noted on this board that a relative of Ms. Gates was writing about her. To the best of my knowledge, no one has written a life story of Dick Clemens. His engagement in Japan is mentioned, with photos, in my article "Delight for Shogun, Gift from Nehru: History of Traveling Menageries of Japan," Bandwagon November-December 2005, pages 44-53. Ken Kawata

    Reply: 25 May 2009 - Dick Clemens is buried in St Finbarr's cemetery near Grand Meadow, MN, where he lived for many years. His 1st wife, Grace, and 2nd wife, Mary, are buried along side him. Fay and Art Maloney were long time friends with Dick, but did not travel extensively with him. G Maloney. [Clemens - Deward D., 1899-1979; Mary, 1921-2006]

    Reply: 13 Aug 2009 - Thank you G.Maloney for adding this information on Dick and Art, Fay. I am looking seriously into writing a book about Dick now, and appreciate all the pictures, letters and information you gave me a few months ago. We may be in touch again sometime. Thanks, Robin

    Reply: 16 Aug 2009 - The surviving personal papers, photographs, films., etc., of Dick Clemens were deposited at the Circus World Museum library within the last year or two. Fred Dahlinger

    Reply: 21 Mar 2011 - Robin. I was looking for Dick Clemen's date of death and stumbled across the message board. I believe G. Maloney is my cousin. G sent information about Art and Fay Maloney. Fay is G's Father, now deceased. Art is my father, deceased 11/11/2010 at the age of 94. We Maloney's have wonderful stories and memories about Dick & Mary Clemens, and Dick's brother Jack. I have pictures of Dick and my Father on the Spring Valley farm. Dick and Mary brought the circus lions, bear(s), and circus members on occasion to the farm for respite before they owned property in Grand Meadow, MN. My brother D Maloney's middle name is Derwood named after Dick. I see Dick's middle name is referred to as Deward. I question the spelling Deward; I wonder, did it come from a birth certificate? Or did my parents misspell the middle name? Art & Fay Maloney, brothers, where childhood and life long friends of Dick's. Dick and his wives were considered part of the Maloney family. I was at Circus World in Barboo WI several years ago and was disappointed not to find much information on Dick. I saw Dick's picture on a wall, but staff seemed to be unaware of the role Dick had played as a circus entertainer or the amount of time he spent in Baraboo. I sure hope you are writing a book about Dick. He was a wonderful character! Kay

    Reply: 21 Nov 2011 - I have a picture of that states "Mr and Mrs Dick Clemens Bailey Bros. Circus 1944." Douglas

    Reply: 22 May 2012 - I wonder if Robin will read this. If so, Robin, did you ever write your book on Dick Clemens? Anyone out there know? Regards, Dave

    Reply: 22 May 2012 - Dick's brother Jack was my mom's uncle - his first wife (Alice) was my grandmother's sister. In the early 50's Dick used to visit our home in Calumet City outside Chicago when he had a circus TVshow. We always heard he was trained by Clyde Beatty. Jack and Dick dropped out of school in Grand Meadow and joined the merchant marine traveling to the Far East. In the 30's, Jack returned to San Francisco and worked at many famous hotels. I believe Dick returned to Grand meadow for a time. Walt

    Reply: 30 Jun 2012 - My name is Tyrone Travis Gates, Anne Gates is my mother. I was born on the circus in '51, and referred fondly to Dick Clemens for a lot of my life as Uncle Dick. Anne trained for Dick for 4 years and retired from the act when I was 2, a year 1/2 after we left Japan. Dick sold a large part of the act to the Tokyo zoo and stayed 6 months to insure they were properly taken care of. I spent summers with him and Mary the last year or two he was still with the circus, then several summers in Grand Meadow and Kingfisher, Oklahoma where he also had a small farm. We had some farm animals [pigs], as well as 'Baby' the oversized bobcat and Mary had some coyotes that gave birth and there was 7. She was the only one they trusted, they eventually turned on her one day for some unknown reason and Dick shot them all. He would also take care of circus animals that might be lamed up or not trained well enough. When I was 8 we had an elephant for part of the summer. He had a bruised foot and was to much to haul around. He was my charge and what a great summer that was. I had a fantastic childhood thanks to uncle Dick.
        Anne was just visiting, she lives between San Francisco and Guatemala where my sister lives now. She has a published auto biography called "Cages to Kayaks" and my sister, a successful author is trying to accumulate more info to write another biography including Dick. Her name is Caroline Kellems Godoy. She has scrapbooks and I have some old 16 mm movies of the act in Japan an other places.
        I live in Homer, Alaska where we've raised 3 children all in their 20's now, who definitely keep the spirit of adventure alive. We are going to Minn. for a reunion over the 4th, I thought I might drive down to Grand Meadow to pay my respects. Somehow you got in my google. I think about uncle Dick and was really glad to find your interest. Would really enjoy more communication. Thanks so much, Ty

    Reply: 07 Aug 2012 - Kay. Yes we talked via email one time, and your dad was still alive and you had asked him about Dick. Deward was Dick’s middle name, and on his records that way. I never did write a book, but did put together a huge memorial book of all the info and original pics I have. I sure wish I had the rest of his stuff that was given to the Circus Museum by Mary Clemens guardians when she passed.
        DOUGLAS, would love to see this pic, please email me at, thanks, robin
        Dave, no I didn’t ever do this, but have a huge memorial book of his life. thanks, Robin
        WALT, I would love to talk more, as I didn’t know if there were any living relatives of Jacks first wife, as Jack had no blood children, but did not know much about Alice. Although I do have a picture of Dick, Grace, Jack, Alice and my mom, which was Uncle Dicks neice though Grace Clemens, Dicks first wife. Can get confusing huh? I would love to talk. Thanks, Robin
        TY, we need to talk. I would love to hear more, as you are one person I have not heard about yet. Please email me., thanks, robin

    Reply: 09 Aug 2012 - I have misinformed a few people here, only because I am getting a bit confused with all the people that had known Dick. So if my answer seems strange, it probably is the wrong person I am remembering from all my research on Dick. If you would like to email me, I could put the names in better order. I want to know all I can about my Uncle Dick Clemens and the people in his life. Greg Maloney, Kay, Douglas, Dave, Walt,and (Ty, already wrote an email to you and Caroline.) And to clear up one thing, and that is Dick and his brother Jack had no biological children (that anyone knows of). Jack had an adopted son, George, still in AZ. I guess. My mom Mary Claypool Peck was Dicks niece by marriage and he was married the first time to Grace Claypool Clemens. Dick would be my second uncle by marriage. Hope to hear from you, especially Kay, Douglas, Walt, as I don’t think we have communicated before. (I'm beginning to understand "senior moments"). Thanks, Robin Peck,

    Reply: 25 Feb 2013 - I have two small oil paintings in my antique store that say they come from Dick and Mary's Studio in Grand Meadow, MN. Sounds like this could be the same people described in the e-mails. I'm in Hayward, WI. Up North Antiques and I can be reached at

    Reply: 03 Jul 2013 - My family had a long association with Dick and Mary. I recognize Tyrone and Jack's names, I know my parents knew them. The relationship started in Mpls in the early 60's. My uncle operated a Japanese restaurant at the time and he met Mary on the street, presumably when the circus was in town. He introduced Dick and Mary to my parents.
        I have fond memories of Mary and "uncle" Dick. I remember attending the Shrine Circus at the Mpls auditorium? and having backstage access to the animals, including the elephants. We spent many days down in Rochester, staying overnight. My parents stayed in the farm house and the 3 kids stayed in an old Airstream trailer. Dick had big cats around in the early days and used to put on a show for the locals in a big cage. He also had big dogs that were so well trained. The days were filled outdoors, cutting trees, shooting guns and playing with the animals. I have access to many family pictures from that era.
        They frequently stopped at our home in the twin cities; one time Dick must have been hunting up north because he had a deer strapped to the roof of his vehicle. He loved to take a nip of spirits my dad had on hand, called it medicine. I always laughed when he used Japanese words. A true character that was loved by all.
        I knew about their ranch in Oklahoma, they showed us home movies that included this place. I don't recall seeing circus memorabilia around their house. After Dick died, Mary and my parents spent many winters in Arizona, I believe Jack also lived there.
        Mary would split her later years between Grand Meadow, Arizona and Hayward. She would ride back and forth to AZ with my parents. I know she sold a lot of paintings in Hayward; using an unusual instrument, a wide house brush.
        Mary was born in Japan and I assume she met Dick while he worked in that country. She was divorced from her first husband and had fallen out of touch with family. She eventually got in contact with a daughter and they became close in their later years. My parents were very good to Mary and one time they were in Japan and visited Mary's daughter, who is married to one of Japan's leading manga cartoonists. He is the Japanese version of Charles Schultz. The daughter stays in touch with my father to this day, mailing him New Year's treats from Japan.
        My father is full of stories about Dick. The Mori's of Grand Meadow are another source of information. It would be great if you could scan and share your scrapbook! Randy,

    Reply: 21 Mar 2014 - Thank you so much for the posts in 2013 by two individuals, I am trying to reach by email. Please if you have any pics or Dick or Grace (his first wife) or Mary (second wife) email me at Thank you, Robin

    Reply: 13 Feb 2015 - Just a note. Ty I tried to reach you in Alaska to talk about Dick Clemens. I also got the two pictures from the gal with the store, they are from Mary ‘s paintings. I was thrilled to get them. they look familiar, like I have seen them before. Who knows. Still would like to reach Ty. Thanks all for responding to me about Dick. Robin,

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2288. Atlas Trio, 05 Feb 2008 - My father was born in Panama in 1917. He was part of an act called the Atlas Trio. They were a hand balancing act and traveled to Cuba, The U.S. and Canada and within Panama with their act. I am trying to find pictures and more history and information about them. Please if you you have info or suggestions on how to research or find info I would be so grateful. His name is Carlos Moran. Your help is greatly appreciated. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 11 Jan 2009 - The Lost Art of has at least one picture of the Atlas Troup. Bob Good,

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2287. Gordon's clown shoes, 04 Feb 2008 - I have acquired from Ruby and Jay Gordon who have since past a pair of clown shoes with a brass plate on the back of them that states they had been on displayed in a New York museum. I do not have any other history on these except she was a professional clown. She left several outfits and these mysterious shoes with the brass plate attached to the back of them. We will miss them and their clown antics. Would appreciate any direction or information you can give. Thank you, Lorrie Sprigg, Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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2286. Greatest Show on Earth photos, 04 Feb 2008 - I found two perfect photographs taken probably early 1950's, somewhere in North Eastern USA. Either my grandfather or father took them. One is a midget in a suit on stage. I would really like to know who he is. The other is a picture of the tent with people walking around. The sign on the tent says "The Greatest Show on Earth". Would appreciate any help. I can fax a copy of both pictures. Thank-you. Linda from Largo, Fla., Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 10 Feb 2008 - In the early 1950's, Ringling carried the famed Doll family of midgets. I can only assume this is but one member of the Doll family. The picture of the tent with the Greatest Show on Earth is probably the Main Entrance to the Big Top. Everyone going to the show passed through here to have their tickets collected as they entered. Bob Cline

    Reply: 12 Feb 2008 - I wrote a message about the smallest man on earth with the Ringling Bros Circus in Pomona, CA in the late 1950's. He was only 21 years old and 22' high. If you could send me the pictures you have I would like to compare them with what I remember of him. He was from Mexico and his name was Margarito and I think his last name was Esparsa. His parents were of normal size. Please repoly to Ken Gossett, I am in Las Vegas, NV.

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2285. Luigi Gerardi, 03 Feb 2008 - Does anyone have information on what happened to the Italian wild animal trainer Luigi Gerardi and his family (Luigi, Gerardo, Fosco, Wilma or Gladis Gerardi)? Luigo worked with lions and tigers for Danish Circus Moreno until 1962 when wild animal acts was forbidden in Denmark. Some year later the family started their own circus in Italy (Cirque Gerard?). Kind regards, Ole Simonsen, Afsendes email-adresse: Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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2284. Dare Devil Devlin, 03 Feb 2008 - My cousin, Charles Devlin, joined the M. L. Clark Circus around 1900. He was a one-legged bicycle stunt man and performed a stunt under the name Dare-Devil Devlin called "Ride for Life." He performed this stunt with several shows between 1900 and 1910 when he left the circus. I am interested in learning if there is any record of this act and any description of the act. Jack Devlin, San Rafael, California, Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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2283. Johnny J. Jones route 1908, 01 Feb 2008 - I am wondering if anyone has information about Johnny J. Jones' carnival route for 1908. Any little bit would be helpful. Thank you,, Pittsburgh, Pa. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 02 Feb 2008 - Bob Goldsack's book, "A History of the Johnny J. Jones Exposition," (1990) has the following 1908 route data on page 9: several dates in FL; several weeks in GA; by early May into the Carolinas; Concord, Mt. Airy, Greensboro, Wilmington, North Carolina; SC dates at Lake City, Darlington, Spartanburg through July 4; NC dates at Charlotte, Salisbury, Marion, Morgantown, Statesville, Edenton, Newbern, Greenville and North Wilkesboro; SC dates at Rock Hill, Greensville, Salisbury, Columbia and Newberry; several stands in FL, including Live Oak; back to GA at Thomasville, Americus, Tifton, Cordela and New Years at Ocilla, followed by winter dates in FL. Carnival routes are generally not readily available. You can locate them in weekly issues of "Billboard," "New York Clipper" and "Show World," by checking the special route listings and also the news columns. Searching newspaper databases is also a possibility. Hooray for Carnegie-Mellon University! Go Tartans! Fred Dahlinger

    Reply: 03 Feb 2008 - Thanks so much, Fred, for your information, and for the CMU support! Lisa

    Reply: 16 Oct 2008 - Hello, I have six posters for the Johnny J. Jones show. My grandfather posted bill for over 50 years. I don't have much info, but I think the show was in Uniontown, PA. Thanks, Bobbi Fetsko

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2282. George Carden Circus, 01 Feb 2008 - Do you by any chance have the name of the song that George Carden Circus International uses during their light show? Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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2281. John H. Smith, Little Prince, 01 Feb 2008 - My name is Rolanda Smith and I am trying to get some information on my father. His name is John H. Smith and he once performed with the Ringling Brothers when he was 12 years old. Which would make it in the late 1920s. He went by the name the little prince. He was a snake charmer and he swallowed swords. He also performed with a monkey named Bobo. He was African American. I have two county fair IDs if that helps with anything. I have other lists of performances he was a part of. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 07 May 2011 - Rolanda - I do not have any other information on your father John H. Smith, "Little Prince" the sword swallower, but I am very interested in finding out what other information you have on him, possibly get scans of his county fair IDs, and lists of the other performances that you know of to help you track down more information on him. I do the historical research for the Sword Swallowers Association and Hall of Fame, and would be glad to help you find out more info on him. Please contact me directly at Dan Meyer President, Sword Swallowers Association Int'l,

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2280. Three Delaney Brothers, 01 Feb 2008 - Does any one have any information about this act? I would love to know more! Jamie Stimpson, Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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2279. Antalek Troupe Poster, 30 Jan 2008 - Hello, my name is Tabitha Antalek. My husband is related to the former Frank Antalek who was a trapeze artist in the Ringling Bros Circus that came over from Hungary in the 1920s and formed the "Antalek Troupe". I have been searching for the poster of theirs and I have seen it in museums but have no luck finding one. Can you please help me. My husband would be thrilled to have one and I would love to make his dream come true. Any information you could have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you again, Tabitha Antalek. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 02 Feb 2008 - There is one photograph of an artist named Antalek on but the picture is taken in 1957. Herman Voogd,

    Reply: 05 Jul 2008 - Hi Tabitha, This is Terry of the (Robert, Ohio) Antaleks. We are looking to locate this lithograph too. We have the information as
          1937 Mon 10/4 to Tue 10/5 Houston Description: Acrobats: Antalek Troupe, perch act, 14 figures Lithographer: Erie 41-436-6 Size: one sheet upright streamer, date tag See also: 20-74, 57-77, 57-82 Number: 257-57-77 Circus name: Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Performance: 1937 Mon 10/4 to Tue 10/5 Houston Description: Acrobats: Antalek Troupe, perch act, 14 figures Lithographer: Erie Size: half sheet upright streamer, date tag See also: 20-74, 57-76, 57-82
          Please contact us if you have any luck finding the lithograph. Of course, this other photo is a great find, too! Great to talk to you. Terry Zondlak (Antalek),

    Reply: 13 Nov 2008 - Tabitha, My father was Frank Antalek (1923 – 2005) who came over from Hungary in the 30S. To the best of my knowledge, Dad was a slack wire artist. He left the circus fold and enlisted in the U.S. Army in the early 40s and was granted ‘instant’ citizenship as a result. (Some of his military documents list him as Frank while others list him as Franz.) He was decorated foot soldier in the Big Red 1 who participated in the D-Day Invasion in Normandy. He moved on to the U.S. Air Force in the late 40s, finally retiring as a senior enlisted man in the early 70s. When Dad left the circus, he never looked back – Something he never regretted but something the rest of the family never quite forgave him for. I believe one of my brothers has poster photos. Would you be interested? I can’t make any promises but am willing to look into it further. Regards, Tony Antalek, Colorado,

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2278. Small circuses 1930s, 29 Jan 2008 - I am reviewing "Water for Elephants" by Susan Gruen for our book club. I grew up in Wabash, Indiana, about 15 miles from Peru, Indiana. As a girl, I remember hearing about the small circuses wintering there, especially Cole Brothers Circus. I would deeply appreciate your sending me information or giving me directions on how to find some pertinent information about small circuses in the 1930's. Thank you for any help you can give me. Sincerely, Barbara Keefer. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 30 Jan 2008 - Dorothy and Eddie Kelly are a wealth of information - Hwy 31, phone under Paul Kelly in Peru - they would love hearing from you. Thanx, Kelly Weaver

    Reply: 10 Mar 2008 - My grandfather had a small circus, Miller Brothers. Maybe you have questions?

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2277. Buckley & Coup c.1864, 29 Jan 2008 - In hopes of dating, and learning more about a very early poster that I have, I am looking for specific information on "Buckley & Coup," a wagon show that was based in Delavan, Wisconsin during the Civil War. This particular title is NOT listed in Bob Parkinson’s "Directory of American Circuses." The internet, being the amazing research tool that it is, provides evidence of that show paying a performance tax to exhibit in Jones County Iowa on May 23, 1864. I also know that W. C. Coup’s father-in-law was an old showman named Matthew Buckley, who died March 1, 1897 in Delavan at the ripe age of 97. Matthew Buckley was involved with a number of wagon shows back in the 1830s-50s. It appears that "Buckley & Coup" may have been a joint enterprise of father-and-son in-law. Can anyone confirm that? Was the "Buckley & Coup" title used in any year other than 1864? A side question: there was an "Ed Buckley" who was asst to General Manager W C Coup on the first PT Barnum show of 1871. Was Ed Buckley W. C. Coup’s brother-in-law? Uncle? Chris Berry, Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 30 Jan 2008 - William Cameron "W. C." Coup and Harry Buckley were partners the side show attached to the Mabie circus in 1861. Reportedly, Coup bought out Buckley's interest [reportedly 1861 or 1863]. It's possible that Coup continued the firm's name, if it was Buckley & Coup, as a business decision. Or, perhaps Harry decided to reinvest in the proposition after a few years. The side show, as well as the Mabie circus, may have been required to purchase a license or pay a performance tax in Jones County, Iowa, in 1864. I don't believe that Buckley and Coup, of itself, was an independent circus.
          A collector has a small print of the Lucasie family [albinos] with the Buckley and Coup title on it. What's the nature of your item?
          It was not uncommon for side shows to be operated as a concession with a circus. For example, the Bunnell Bros. had the side show on the Barnum circus a few years later, when Coup was manager.
          Gordon Yadon's research, summarized and published in the "Delevan, Wisconsin Circus Historical Souvenir Magazine," states that Edward Buckley (1836-1892) was the son of Matthew Buckley (1800-1897). Another son was Harry Buckley (1829-1884), Coup's one-time partner. You can also check them out in Slout's "Olympians of the Sawdust Circle," on this website. All of the above people are profiled and illustrated in the book "Badger State Showmen."
          W. C. Coup married Henrietta Bradley of Kenosha, WI in 1860. Their son was W. [William] W. Coup. He was a clerk for the C&NW Railroad in Chicago in the 1890s. I don't recall reading about W. C. Coup's wife dying or their divorce, despite the fact she wanted him out of show business. Perhaps it was his son who married into the Buckley family? Both Harry and Edward Buckley died in Chicago. Fred Dahlinger

    Reply: 02 Feb 2008 - Thanks Fred. Good stuff, and I believe you have answered my question. A couple of follow-ups to your post which links the Mabie Bros Circus to the Buckley & Coup Sideshow. According to the Mabie Bros route of 1864 they did in fact exhibit in Anamosa, Iowa (the Jones County seat) on May 25. It seems likely that the license to exhibit purchased on May 23 was for that May 25 performance of the Mabie Bros Circus and Buckley & Coup Sideshow. (Scroll down on this website to May 23 and you will see evidence that a license to exhibit was bought by Buckley & Coup, most likely two days before the shows arrived in Anamosa.
          Incidentally, regarding the other part of the posting vis-à-vis the family relationship between Matthew Buckley and W.C. Coup; according to the attached obituary from the NY Times (March 2, 1897, page two) Matthew Buckley’s “daughter married W.C. Coup”.
    Although it doesn’t say when they were married, and she is not identified by name in the obituary, your posting now leads me to ponder whether W.C. Coup was married more than once – OR if Henrietta Bradley was in fact Matthew Buckley’s daughter. Chris Berry

    Reply: 05 Feb 2008 - Unfortunately, in regard to Matthew Buckley's obituary in the "New York Times," the newspaper and/or their source didn't have the story entirely straight. They mixed his career with that of his sons. Obituaries are notoriously inaccurate and this is just another case wherein the facts as presented aren't totally correct.
          Matthew Buckley was born in England in 1800, came to the US in 1826, had a show on and off after 1828 and retired from the traveling show business to Delavan after the season of 1849. Marianne (1802-1877) was his wife. Their children included sons Henry/Harry (1829-1884), Edward G. (1836-1892) and James Page (1848-1918). Details are in Slout's Olympians, on this website.
          W. C. Coup presumably recruited all three of the Buckley brothers to work for the Barnum show during the great years of 1871-1873 [each in different years, different roles]. Their father, Matthew, was not with it. He became a Delavan farmer and then retired entirely by 1870. The "Times" erred in stating that Matthew was on the Barnum show. It was his sons who were with it. Check Thayer and Slout's extensive book account of the early Barnum circus, "Grand Entree," and you'll find the sons listed therein as employees, but not the father.
          Edward Buckley was with Coup's later Equescurriculum, dates not cited, could be sometime late 1880s and into the 1890s. Yadon's research in the Delavan booklet stipulates the year as 1889. James Page Buckley was with Coup's final dog and pony show efforts of 1893-1894.
          Coup had been with Harry Buckley's circus 1859-1860 and then they were partners in the side show with the Mabie outfit. They went into partnership in a cheese factory, but it was surely not the first in Wisconsin, though it may have been first in some other regard.
          Coup's status, in regard to his exact relation to the Buckley family requires further investigation. Fred Dahlinger

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2276. Article, 28 Jan 2008 - May be of some interest in Sunday’s January 27th Los Angeles Times,, A High Flying Job Isn’t Out Of Reach by Myung J. Chun. RG. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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2275. Rollah family, trapeze, 28 Jan 2008 - Looking for information on a family of trapeze artists by the name of Rollah. My great-grandmother's family. Her name was Sarinda Rosella Rollah Griffin. She married my great-grandfather Charles Griffin in Michigan. Her family was supposed to be Indian, maybe Kickapoo. She died visiting her family in Tennessee, from Bronchial Pneumonia. She had a metal plate in her head from a fall on the trapeze. The whole family were circus performers on the trapeze. GLORIA ODELL, Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 30 Jan 2008 - Hi, there was a ropewalker named Rolla Rossiter who appears briefly in Australia c1855 then sails for California in company with James Melville, famous Australian equestrian. Much more I don't know as he has been a mystery to me. Regards, Mark St Leon, Sydney, Australia.

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2274. Virginia Sprengel, equestrian, 27 Jan 2008 - Greetings, I’m looking for information about my aunt (Virginia (Joan) Sprengel born 1919) who performed with the Poodles Hannaford troupe in the late 30’s. Besides the equestrian acts, she performed high wire and traipse acts. Her stage name was probably Marta Tonga (from Tahiti), although she occasionally went by the name of "Joan Charlton", but probably used this for her acting/modeling "careers" (appeared at least once on the cover of Vogue magazine). She also performed in the opening of the Golden State Bridge on a mobile traipse "float" (I’ve actually seen one news photo on this one). My aunt’s future was foretold to her by a "mystic" in 1931. She tells me that all foretold had thus far come to pass. Anyway, her memory is fading, but those of her circus career and especially of the equestrian acts, remain the most vivid left to her. Any leads on old stories, posters etc. would be most appreciated. Thanks, Keith Sprengel. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 28 Jan 2008 - The Hanneford circus family story was told by John McConnell in his book "A Ring, A Horse and A Clown." I believe it's now out of print, but perhaps the author, who resides in Morristown, NJ has an extra copy?
          George Hanneford [born 1923], the eldest member of the family, is still alive and resides in FL with his wife Vicki. Someone should have contact information for him. He may be in the Miami area, but perhaps has relocated.
          There's been a telecast special on the Golden Gate Bridge construction that might include the opening ceremony. It was on one of the series like "Modern Marvels." Fred Dahlinger

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2273. Nellie, Tattooed Lady, 27 Jan 2008 - I am trying to find out information on my Great Grandmother Nellie Mae Thornton (maiden name) she became a tattooed lady in the circus around 1932. She went by Nellie the Tattooed Lady. Any help or direction would be greatly appreciated Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 31 May 2008 - I think I met and conversed with Nellie perhaps around 12 or more years ago in a sideshow tent at the Bloomsburg,PA Fair. We conversed (I may be wrong, but it fit by description) since we both knew a famous sword swallower called Francis (or Frances) - last name escapes me today. He traveled with the then "new" Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers. My second child, a daughter, adored him/her. The lady was quite old (like late sixties or mid-seventies then) and very friendly. I feel certain she was called Nellie. WED (I myself am now in the eighties--so if you reply, do it before too long on the email indicated.)

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2272. Cole Bros. Iowa, 25 Jan 2008 - I am looking for information as to the date(s) Cole Brothers Circus played in Sioux City, Iowa from the period of 1927 to 1935. Any ideas and/or help would be appreciated. Thanks. Hess R. Roorda from Iowa. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 30 Jan 2008 - This is straight out of the Robert Parkinson book Directory of American Circuses 1793 to 2000. There are a number of shows with the Cole title. You have Cole & Rice Circus between 1933 and 1934. Cole & Rogers Circus from 1928 to 1931 and again in 1934. Cole Bros. World Toured Circus was owned by Floyd and Howard King from 1929 to 1930. The Cole Bros. Circus was owned by Jess Adkins & Zack Terrell in 1935. Cook & Cole's Circus was out in 1927.
          Now that you have the possible titles of the Circus that played Sioux City, You can look in the Library at the local newspapers usually found on microfilm. Almost all of these circuses were certainly on the road between April 1 and Nov. 1. That will help you narrow down your searches. You could try This is a fee based newspaper search from your home of over 80 million newspaper pages. You could try to get Billboard on an interlibrary loan. This was a wonderful trade journal of the time. There was a section just about circuses each week. There was also a section that listed routes for that week from the shows on the road. While not every show listed their routes and some changes were made, its a real good source of information. You could also contact the Circus World Museum Research Library in Baraboo, WI. Erin Foley is the Archivist on duty. She will be glad to help you. Hope this helps you a little bit. Bob Cline

    Reply: 02 Feb 2008 - My mother was a performer with Cole Brothers I think at that time. (the one with Zack Terrell as owner) She may have been a little later. Is there anyone out there who would know anyone associated with them in the 30's and 40's? steven peter

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2271. Flying Ridgeways, 25 Jan 2008 - I have been trying to find information about a circus family called Ridgeway from Sydney, Australia (they may have originated in New Zealand) They were also known as The Flying Ridgeways. They worked with Ashtons circus at one time in about the 1930's. They were a trapese act, a canon act and I think horses. They are the great Grandmother and Great Great Aunt to my children and it would be wonderful to find out some more information about them. If anybody has any information I would be so grateful, so would my triplet girls. Thank you, N. Otway. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 26 Jan 2008 - Lola West (nee) Ridgeway lives on the gold coast was only talking to her a couple of weeks ago. Robert Perry

    Reply: 16 Feb 2008 - Hi there. The Ridgeway Family is still around. Although there outfit is a lot smaller than years gone by. I worked for Carrie Ridgeway for 4 years travelling around NZ performing. His parents were still Around then. His Father Charlie Ridgeway and his Mother, although both may have died since then. I am sure Charlie and his wife did a horse act and balancing act back in there day. Last I heard Carrie’s older brother Charlie was still showing, but I don’t know what his outfit is called. I can still probably get in contact with Carrie Ridgeway quite easily as well. Feel fee to contact me at, Thanks. Drew

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2270. Circus Research, 24 Jan 2008 - For all those who are not CHS members or Bandwagon subscribers, you absolutely should order a back issue of the current Bandwagon, November-December, 2007 (Vol. 51, No. 6). Fred Pfening III's article provides information on online newspaper sources for researching the circus - will help you find information for your particular circus interest. Pfening lists free and fee ($) sources that should help you in your search for information. He lists some sources that are new to me, and I thought I was up-to-date on various online newspaper archives. In addition, he lists information on which newspapers, locations and dates are available. Order this issue of Bandwagon from: Bandwagon Back Issues, 2515 Dorset Rd., Columbus, OH 43221, cost is $4.00 per issue, plus $2.50 per issue postage. - Judy Griffin. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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2269. Elephant death, New Zealand, 24 Jan 2008 - I am trying to find out the name of an elephant that died in Ohakune, a small village in the central North Island of New Zealand, around the end of the 1950s or early in the 1960s. It was most likely, though not certainly, with Sole Brothers Circus. The elephant died from eating tutu, a native shrub that is toxic to animals and humans. Its bones were later removed to the museum in the Biology Department at Auckland University. I was a child living in Ohakune at the time and recall the event quite clearly - but lack documentary details. Any help would be much appreciated. Martin Edmond. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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2268. Mildred Nugent, Ward-Bell Flying Act, 24 Jan 2008 - It is my deepest regret to inform all that the last surviving member of the Ward-Bell Flying Act and my grandmother, Mildred P. Nugent, former wife of Harold Ward, passed away on Saturday, January 19, 2008. She was 87 and lived a long good life. Ariana Dunbar, Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 25 Jan 2008 - Ariana, was Mildred's maiden name Keathey/Keathy? Was she from Illinois and were her parents in the circus? If so, do you know anything about the Keathey family? Were Mildred and Harold married in Reno, NV in 1951 when they were with the Polack Bros. Shrine Circus? - Judy Griffin

    Reply: 22 Apr 2009 - Dear Ariana, I was deeply shocked today while I was trying to locate my sister Millie, your Nana, to have found that she has passed away. I would appreciate any information that you could provide me and my family. I know you were very young when I saw you, but through the years your Nana has kept me up to date regarding your life. I wish we had been able to meet your husband and family, I recall she was so pleased to be going to be a new great grandmother, she loved you dearly. Please give your mother my love. Love, your great aunt Erma

    Reply: 18 Jun 2012 - Aunt Erma: I hope that this message finds you. I would love to speak to you. If you receive this message, please email me at

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2267. Clarence Wortham, 24 Jan 2008 - My great uncle, Clarence Wortham, was the youngest brother of my materal grandmother, Lola Wortham Snell. I am interested in making a connection to this family. I have colored circus print of Clarence Wortham after his death, the funeral attended by the Ringling Bros. My mother, Katherine Snell, babysat for his children and often spoke of Aunt Belle. Clarence had a younger brother, John, and we visited their circus/carnaival when I was a young child in San Francisco, CA. Any information. Virginia Redfield, Edmonds WA. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 26 Jan 2008 - My name is Carol Wortham Anspacher. I am the daughter of Maxwell Wortham, Clarence Wortham’s oldest son. Your message was forwarded to me by Fred Dahlinger. I remember Uncle John. He lived in Lufkin, Texas which was my home. My father gave him jobs. His son was in prison. I think he was penniless when he came to us. I remember going to his funeral when I was a senior in high school(1955-1956). His son was not there. Uncle John was at all our holiday dinners. I currently live in La Grande, OR. I am 68. Have been helping Fred Dahlinger with his book about my grandfather. I know very little about him. Belle died when I was in grade school. She was living in San Antonio. I recently visited her home as I have been in contact with the man who is restoring it. It is exactly like I remember. Like I was still a child visiting her grandmother. I hope this helps and we can continue to be in touch. Carol Wortham Anspacher

    Reply: 30 Jan 2008 - Virginia Redfield, I am Michael Wortham, grandson of Clarence A. Wortham. Maxwell Wortham was my father. I remember Uncle John. He moved to Lufkin to live near my dad later in life. Now I live in Texas near San Antonio where Belle had her home when I was a young boy. My email is Mike Wortham

    Reply: 08 Feb 2008 - I am the great-granddaughter of Lola Wortham Snell. I had always heard that someone on Lola's side had been involved with a circus, but that is all I knew. After hearing from Virginia, I found out much more. While visiting Texas, I did travel to Wortham, TX. I did not have much time to investigate the area or learn much else. I am interested in learning more and finding out about the Wortham family. When is the book going to be completed? I would like to get a copy when it is finished! Thanks, Susan Stevens,

    Reply: 09 Feb 2008 - I am the oldest child of Maxwell Wortham, Clarence would have been the grandfather I never met. I live in Austin, Texas, having just returned from 14 years in Honolulu teaching dyslexic children to read and having the time of my life. Returning with the prosperity Hawaii gave to me, I have settled here, have also just returned from two weeks in Puerto Vallarta visiting with old friends and making new ones. Aloha, Hola, Judy Brooks

    Reply: 11 Feb 2008 - Virginia, I responded to you, you can’t find the link to the message board. I am the granddaughter of Clarence Wortham. Maybe you could use my email — Thanks, Carol

    Reply: 21 Apr 2009 - I'm Chris Schultz, the guy who lives in Belle Wortham's home in San Antonio. Belle was Clarence's widow. As you've read, Judy, Carol and Michael - the children of Maxwell Wortham, Clarence's oldest son, have all visited me and Carol has shared some photos she has of the Worthams, their circus, etc. I am slowly restoring the house and in order to get a better picture of those for whom it was built, I've done some amateur genealogical research. Though Clarence had already died before the house was built, I've done some research on his background also. He grew up in Paris, TX and according to the 1900 census, his father was Charles Wortham, born around August 1847 in Tennessee (the census also recorded that Charles's father was from North Carolina and his mother from Tennessee). Charles was married to Florence, born around March 1858 in Alabama, her father and mother also both having come from Alabama. In 1900, they had seven children, all living, 5 of whom were listed as living at home: Clarence (born Oct 1881, though other records show Oct. 14, 1882; he died on Sept. 24, 1922 in Cincinatti, OH.) - he was listed as a "newsboy", Nannie (born March 1884), John (born Aug. 1886), Maude (born June 1888) and Florence (born Feb. 1895). I suspect your grandmother Lola as the eldest sister; I also found a reference for an older brother, Charles I. "Charlie" Wortham who was born around 1876 (which would make historical sense). Charles was listed as a grocer according to the census and owned his home (they lived on South Mill Street) "free of mortgage". I also found that Charles Wortham died in Dallas County, TX on March 22, 1930 (after Clarence's death) and Florence (the mother) died in Dallas Co., TX on Dec. 8, 1920. I know from other information that Clarence and Belle Wortham lived in Dallas before Clarence's death. After his death, Belle and her two sons, Maxwell and Clarence, Jr. eventually settled in San Antonio where the carnival's winter headquarters were located (Maxwell was already attending Rice Institute, later University, in Houston by then). Hope this gives you some more information. By extention, my greetings go out to Judy (yes, I did get your message), Carol, and Michael. Hope you are all doing well and my renovations are still on-going - slowly but surely. Chris Schultz

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2266. Unus, 23 Jan 2008 - Please provide bio information on finger stand equilibrist Franz Furtner Unus. Thank you! - Bill Hall, Bill Hall Entertainment And Events, Churchville, PA. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 23 Jan 2008 - There is information on Unus on this website. Search "Unus" using the general search engine on this website. - Judy Griffin

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2265. Peter Hames, tight rope, 23 Jan 2008 - My grandmother tells me this story about her grandfather, Peter Hames. Peter was a tight-rope walker in the traveling German circus and traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil some time during 1909-1911. In 1911, while at sea, he perished, supposedly swept away by a wave while he practiced on deck. He was 22 years old. Word reached my heart-broken great-great-grandmother of her lover's tragic death while she was 6 months pregnant with his child. All very dramatic and interesting, but how do I go about verifying this story of a circus act that traveled to Brazil? Are there records? I'd love to find out more about this circus and fill out this story. (I don't read German or Portuguese). Thanks for any help! Viviane. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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2264. Gallagher Family, 23 Jan 2008 - I am looking for information on a Family of Gallagher children that performed together in a acrobat act. I think in the forties or fifties. I have some pictures. Any information would be appreciated. John Regan, Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 23 Jan 2008 - Found on and Google search - Judy Griffin. "NEW YORK (UP)-How does a pretty girl become a thrilling headliner aerialist in "The-Greatest Show on Earth?" Work. Just plain work, and years and years of it. Plus plenty of pain. Take the case of Galla Shawn, a slip of a lass with green Irish eyes. She will celebrate her 23rd birthday next week by doing her regular two-a-day-stand performances on the high trapeze in Madison Square Garden with a steel brace guarding her broken back. For 17 of her 23 years she has been in show business doing acrobatics and aerial work — a long apprenticeship for her opening in the big town Wednesday night as a star of the Ringling Bros, and Barnum & Bailey combined shows - the circus that has ditched the 'big top.' . . . She was born in Sioux Falls, S.D., but lived there only two days. Her mother was a trapeze performer, her father a dancer, and their vaudeville act had to move on. She began working when she was six, after long and tedious practice in private. It was in a Houston, Tex. night club that her father carried the six-year-old onstage in a suitcase. He opened the case and she jumped out, dressed in a sailor outfit, and ate a banana and drank a glass of milk while standing on her head on a little pedestal. Her mother had eight girls and three boys, and soon all 11 kids were working in the same act, billed as 'The Gallagher Family.' They did a teeter-board acrobatic act. The kids, their parents, and three pets — a police dog named Reno, a rabbit, and a guinea pig traveled together in three cars and two trailers. Quite a show in itself. Seven years ago the family act broke up, and Miss Shawn has been doing pretty well in movies. She once doubled for Zsa Zsa Gabor in a circus movie, was with Pat O'Brien in another. . . . In her first appearance with the Ringling Circus, she stars in an aerial ballet in the center ring which has 32 other girls in the air at the same time. She takes to the high trapeze, stands on her head, swings, then juggles four hoops, one for each ankle and wrist. Her head-standing act finishes and a 'swivel' unwinding the trapeze in a fast whirl. This hard worker has two children, Louis, 6, and Mark, 2, staying with their grandmother in Houston. Her husband, Louis Cuttin, travels with her, acting as manager. 'Also, he stands below me during the act to catch me if I fall,' she said. 'Only one time — he didn't catch me.' That was last Feb. 4, in Sarasota, Fla., while practicing for her big circus act. She fell onto a concrete floor and fractured one of her lower vertebrae. She spent two weeks in a hospital. Then out and to work wearing a plastic brace with a steel plate in the back to protect the fracture. Miss Shawn is a cheery sort. The pain is not so much. And the show — as they say — must go on." - Daily Courier (Connellsville, PA), April 6, 1957.
          "in 1944 child performers . . . Wallace Bros. featured the Gallagher Family of child acrobate - Betty, Bonny, Patsy, Mugsy and Jimmy - stairstepping in age from 14 to 7. . . ." - Yank the Army Weekly (New York, NY), October 20, 1944.
          "HARLINGEN, Feb. 4. — Seven members of the Gallagher family of Oklahoma City, Okla., traveling with the Ray Brothers circus, narrowly escaped death Thursday when a gas leak overcame practically all of them in Harlingen municipal auditorium. If Betty, a sister, had not been sitting up with her boy friend they might have lost their lives. . . . According to reports, all except Betty of a family of five sisters and two brothers, had retired for the night in one of the backstage rooms of the auditorium. About 2 a.m., Betty who was talking with Joe Pinney, her boy friend also with the circus, saw Michael Patrick Gallagher, 5, become nauseated and very ill. Betty awakened one of her sisters who arose and fainted. . . . Betty got excited and woke up everybody. She passed out finally but not before she got a door open and one window. Thursday night, all were reported fully recovered." - Brownsville (TX) Herald, February 4, 1949.
          ". . . Stevens Bros. Circus . . . Hamburg . . . June 4 . . . From Ireland comes the truly remarkable Gallagher family composed of six sons and daughters . . ." - Hamburg, Iowa Reporter, May 31, 1951. "One of America's leading circus families - and it's still growing - is the Gallagher family, acrobatic-teeterboard act, . . . 1947 State Fair in Huron, Sept. 2-6. There are six in the act now - five girls and one boy - with age ranging from 8 years to 17. And coming up . . . are two more youngsters, age 2 and 3 . . ." [1947 South Dakota State Fair] - Daily Plainsman (Huron, SD), August 27, 1947.
          Gallagher Family all with the Barnes Circus. 1946, "Al G. Kelly & Miller Bros. Circus [1949] Gallagher Family - ten brothers and sisters, ranging from 5 years to teen-age - who could, we believe, if necessary, put on an entire circus performance by themselves - teetrboard, juggling, trampoline, contortion, riding act - you name it and they will probably be doing it. . . . cute little blonde from the Gallagher troupe who provides the comedy element (ala "Poodles" Hanneford) sometimes from the seats and sometimes in the ring. She is a real show-stopper. Hobby Bandwagon, Vol. 4, No. 7 (Aug), 1949, pp. 3-5,

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2263. RBBB 1939, 22 Jan 2008 - Can anyone give me information about how I can find out if my dad worked for the Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey circus back in 1939. I have a picture of the circus employees. Thank you, my email is Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 23 Jan 2008 - The RBBB Business Records in the CWM [Circus World Museum] library include the employment cards for all RBBB employees between 1938 and 1956. If your father worked for the firm, he'll have a card. If there's no card, he didn't work for RBBB. There are possibilities that he may have worked for a contracted concessionaire. Contact the CWM archivist for details on obtaining a photocopy of the card. It lists name, address, next of kin, job(s), pay rate, start and last worked dates. If he was a longer term employee, through the end of a season, he will also be listed in the annual season's route book. That can be found in the "yellow tickets" name finding aid. Do you have one of the mass group photos taken by Ed Kelty of Century? Fred Dahlinger

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2262. Dexter Fellows, 20 Jan 2008 - I am looking for information and pictures of Dexter Fellows the press agent for Barnum and Bailey in the early l900’s and founded the Saints and Sinners. I have his autobiography but just found your and thought I would ask. Thank you, Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 31 Jan 2008 - You'll find this article about Dexter Fellows of interest: Jerome Beatty, "Dexter Fellows, The Master of Ballyhoo," "The American Magazine," March 1930, pages 62-67, continued between pages 120 and 130. Ask your local librarian to obtain a copy for you. There are also obituaries for him, about 1937, I believe. Fellows' forte was dealing with newspaper men. His arrival in the editor's office was viewed as a harbinger of spring, the circus was coming to town. he was beloved to the newspaper guys because he was always good for an engaging story. If you search the digitized newspapers, available at sites such as, ProQuest, etc., you'll garner many hits. An important thing to remember is that Fellows was trying to gain audience for the circus by telling interesting stories. Some might be found to be a bit "creative." People want to believe such things, even today. Fred Dahlinger.

    Reply: 07 Feb 2008 - Try to find a copy of This Way to the Big Show - The Life of Dexter Fellows, by Dexter W. Fellows and Andrew A. Freeman. The book was published in 1936 by Halcyon House in New York and as you can probably tell by the title, it will have all the information and pictures you are seeking. You might try Abe Books ( to begin your search. Rick Whelan,

    Reply: 27 Jun 2008 - Hi: I have a copy of "This Way to the Big Show" Give me a reply, and we'll see what you need. Woody, retired Ringling Trainmaster,

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2261. Von Bros., 20 Jan 2008 - I had such success receiving responses to my recent former message #2239, I'm going to try again. In my search for circuses and dates that have played in Pittsfield, MA over the years, I have come across a rather vague reference to Von Bros. circus being in western MA, Berkshire County, during the 1963 season. It may not have been Pittsfield, but I'd like to know where and when. Did Von Bros. play in MA at all? I'd appreciate any assistance with this inquiry. Richard Hamilton, CHS #4120, Thanks. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 21 Jan 2008 - In Parkinson's Directory of American Circuses, p. 405. Von Bros., 1954-1967, Henry Vonderheid, proprietor. I became curious about the Von Bros. circus and did a Google and search - Judy Griffin.
          See Von Bros. show for 1963 at Also see message archives for number 678. Message on Buckles Woodcock website: ". . . In 1966, it [Robbins Bros.] came out again until June. Managed by Paul Cristiani. Playing the Western Pa, Va and West Va route for the Cristiani-Wallace show which was merged with Von Bros. for the eastern dates. Show was rather short, not many workingmen and played my home town spot only to be partially abandoned there. Big top and seats on 2 semis were sold at a sheriffs sale in Dec. . . ."
          Advertisement. Von Bros. Circus. Hart Family, hand balancers, jugglers, wire walkers. Captain [Roy Howze ?] high school horses-ponies. Frederick Von, trapeze. At Coolbaugh School grounds, Tobyh???, PA, July 25. Daily Record (Stroudsburg, PA), Friday, July 24, 1953. Von Bros. to show one mile north of Pennington, NJ, July 21, 1954. - Hopewell (NJ) Herald, Thursday, July 15, 1954.
          ". . . guests of Henry L. Vonderheid at the Red Rock Game Farm in the Pismire Moutains. Mr. Vonderheid operates Von Bros. Circus, several travelling amusement shows, and the Game Farm in Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania Route 115." - Times-Mirror (Warren, PA), July 9, 1958.
          Von Bros. to be at Waterford, NY, Friday June 21. - Times Record (Troy, NY), Monday, June 17, 1963, also June 11, 1963.
          Von Bros. will open April 25, 1964 at Dover, Maryland. The clown Edward T. Allen, Jr., "Jo Jo," was with the show. - Bridgeport (CT) Sunday Post, April 12, 1964. Probably at New Milford, CT, August 11, 1964. - Bridgeport (CT) Post, August 10, 1964.
          Von Bros. at Huntington, PA on May 1, 1965. "This year will be the 18th edition of the Von Bros. 3-Ring Circus. It is considered the world's second largest motorized circus. Hailed as bigger and better than ever, the 1965 edition will feature scores of imported and domestic circus acts, pageant spectacles, a steel arena of jungle-bred lions, liberty horses, trapeze chimpanzees, Llamas, camels, the whole to be climaxed by the world renowned Von Bros. elephant ballet." - Daily News (Huntingdon and Mount Union, PA), March 15, 1965. Show had an all-girl aerial ballet and a Circus on Parade opening spectacle. - Daily News (Huntingdon and Mount Union, PA), April 21, 1965
          Von Bros. at Salisbury, MD, September 5 or 8 [?] 1965. Had two motor caravans of double length tractor trailers. Big top said to seat 3, 500 people. - Daily Times (Salisbury, MD), August 5, 1965. Von Bros. at Hagerstown, MD next Wed. Had a parade, seven lions, circus band. - Daily Mail (Hagerstown, MD), Friday, September 24, 1965. Von Bros. to be at Mount Union May 3, 1965. - Daily News (Huntingdon and Mount Union, PA), April 1, 1965. Von Bros. at Westford, MA, July 24, 1965. - Lowell (MA) Sun, July 19, 1965. Von Bros. at Annapolis September 11, 1965. Has 42 motorized units. - Evening Capital (Annapolis, MD), September 10, 1965. Von Bros. to be at Myersville, MD September 28, 1965. - Frederick (MD) Post, September 27, 1965. Von Bros. at Clifton Heights, PA, May 14. - Delaware County Daily Times (Chester, PA), May 10, 1965.
          Von Bros. at Merrimack, NH, tomorrow. - Nashua (NH) Telegraph, July 16, 1965. Von Bros. was at Greenville, New Hampshire Wednesday, July 20, 1966. Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel, July 15, 1966. [article on Friday, July 15 said "final week of ticket sales for the one day appearance of the Von. Bros. three-ring circus in Greenville on Wednesday."
          Von Bros. at Bristol Township, PA, May 29, 1966. Had elephant Tina and chimpanzee Bongo, Dixieland band, Alberta Family, Norma Cristiani bareback rider. - Bucks County Courier and Bucks County Times (Bristol, PA), May 26, 1966. Von Bros. to be at Seneca Falls, NY, June 19, 1966. 18th edition. - Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), June 13, 1966. Von Bros. to be at DuBoistown, PA June 11 instead of next Monday. "Von and the Christiani Wallace Circus merged and because of route changes, the DuBoistown date had to be switched." - Williamsport (PA) Sun-Gazette, Wednesday, April 20, 1966. Von Bros. to be at Townsend, MA Thursday. Suburban News (Fitchburg, MA), Monday, July 18, 1966.
          Kennet Square, PA. Elephant Jewel injured in tractor-trailer accident Thursday along Lancaster Pike near Ephrata. Jewel taken to Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine for treatment. Jewel owned by Von Brothers - Christiani - Wallace Circus. Valley Independent (Monessen, PA), Saturday, May 7, 1966.
          Von Bros. circus left two elephants behind at North Syracuse, NY. "Because of a breakdown of moving equipment, the circus, which was in the village for the Lions Club Festival over the weekend, left the elephants in a vacant lot . . . Circus officials are due to pick up the animals later today . . . Circus officials were forced to temporarily abandon the elephants until a moving van can be repaired. . . . The Von Bros. circus is also reportedly disbanding and selling many of its animals. . . . the circus manager said the circus is disbanding because of the death of the manager's husband a month ago. Ironically, the woman's husband was on crutches when the Lions Club official spoke with him. The crutches were the result of the circus man having been mauled by an elephant." - Syracuse (NY) Herald-Journal, June 13, 1967. Show was to be at North Syracuse on June 10-11, 1967 - Syracuse (NY) Herald-Journal, June 5, 1967.
          Von Bros. scheduled for Littlestown, PA, May 19, 1967. - Gettysburg (PA) Times, April, 18, 1967. Von Bros. to be at Brunswick, Maryland, May 16, 1967. - The Post (Frederick, MD), May 11, 1967. Von Bros. at Pembroke, NC Monday, April 10, 1967. Clowns were Robert Gardner, James Douglas and Kent Chastain, all from Daytona Beach, Florida. Performers were Christa and Antionette Dubsky, from Sarasota, Florida. - Robesonian (Lumberton, NC), April 11, 1967.
          Von Bros., 21st annual edition, to be at Thurmont, MD, May 18, 1967. - Frederick (MD) Post, May 11, 1967. Larry Rich of Elyria, clown, was with Von Bros. Circus from Pennsylvania last season. Chronical-Telegram (Elyria, OH), September 2, 1967.
          This may be Henry, Social Security Death Index: Henry Vonderheid, Born: 24 Jun 1919, Died: Apr 1967, State (Year) SSN issued: Pennsylvania.

    Reply: 21 Jan 2008 - The Billboard routes noted that Von Bros. was to play at Lee, Mass. on June 24, 1963. Ted Bowman Circus Route Collection.

    Reply: 02 Feb 2008 - I appreciate very much the information in answer to my message #2261 regarding Von Bros. circus that I received from Robert Sabia and Ted Bowman Circus Route. I now have what I was looking for. Thank you very much. Richard Hamilton

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2260. William Strong, Frosty the Clown, 20 Jan 2008 - I have recently met the sweetest man that was a clown for the Ringling Bros. Barnum Bailey circus for 50 years. His name is Billy (William Strong) and he went by the name of Frosty the Clown. He was married to a trapeze artist from the same circus and they had a daughter. Both his wife and his daughter are deceased. The unusual thing about Billy is that he cannot speak. He lights up the room with his smile and is quite animated with his gestures. He is 80 years old now and in a nursing home in Waco, Texas. Can anyone help me in knowing more about his history with the circus? Perhaps his family? He has traveled the world with the circus, and currently seems to be alone in this world. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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2259. William Lindsay Gresham, 19 Jan 2008 - To any and all concerned: I am writing (over four years now) a biography and semi-critical study of William Lindsay Gresham, author of "Nightmare Alley" (1946), and "Monster Midway" (1953). Both are, as you all probably know, are about the carny life. And of course, "Nightmare Alley" was made into a now famous noir movie in 1947, starring Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell, and Coleen Gray. If anyone has any info at all about Gresham (no matter how small or insignificant!), or what he wrote, I would appreciate it if you would reply back to me as soon as is convenient. Many thanks, Perry Bramlett, Louisville, KY. Author: C. S. Lewis: Life at the Center; Touring C. S. Lewis's Ireland and England; I Am in Fact a Hobbit: An Introduction to the Life and Work of J. R. R. Tolkien. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 20 Jan 2008 - One of the carnival historians who has dived into the pages of "Billboard," the weekly trade journal that carried carnival news [Bob Goldsack, Fred Heatley, Al Stencell, etc.] may have picked up some notes about the midway or midways which Gresham observed or perhaps traveled. Goldsack published a book about the World of Mirth that's available in the aftermarket. Gresham did a pretty good job, but there are some errors [page 25: it's Ferari, not Ferrari; Dobyns, not Dobbins; Melville-Reiss, not Melville Reese]. Fred Dahlinger

    Reply: 21 Jan 2008 - If you haven't done so, you might want to find "Blind Alley: the sad and geeky life of william Lindsay Gresham - Notes on a Strange World," Skeptical Inquirer, July-August, 2003 by Massimo Polidoro. - Judy Griffin

    Reply: 21 Jan 2008 - In 1959 Gresham wrote "Houdini, The Man Who Walked Through Walls" a biography of the magician, origially published by Holt & Co. Hope this helps. Jerry Jacobson,

    Reply: 18 Nov 2009 - Hi Perry! What about your study on Gresham? Did you write his biography? I'm an Italian student, or perhaps it should be better to define me just like a reader, keened on Gresham's works and life, and despired for the difficulties to find out informations about him and his books. Did you succeed in finding "Blind Alley: the sad and geeky life of William Lindsay Gresham" by Massimo Polidori? According to my experience it's quite impossible to get it! Just like it's impossible to get Monster Midway at a reasonable price. Perhaps you are able to suggest me where/how it could be less difficult for me to find it. I hope you'll soon let me know something about you and your work. E. T.

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2258. William Soldner, slack wire, 18 Jan 2008 - I'm looking for information on my grandfather, William Edward Soldner, who was a slack wire walker in the era between 1915 and 1925. He also patented (who knows if he was the first) an exhibition where monkeys raced small carts around a banked wooden track. We believe he was with Ringling Brothers. Salina, Kansas was home for him, which I note was a frequent stop for them. Any information would be greatly appreciated. You can reach me individually at Thanks so much for any information you might have! M. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 20 Jan 2008 - Al Stencell's tribute to sideshows, "Seeing Is Believing, America's Sideshows," has some coverage of monkey speedways [pages 125-129]. The name Soldner isn't mentioned in the coverage that starts in 1914. You can directly do some on-line patent searching. A librarian may be able to assist you in that quest. Fred Dahlinger

    Reply: 21 Jan 2008 - In case you haven't seen this: William Edward Soldner WWI draft card, dated May 29, 1917. Age 26, home Lincoln, KS. Born September 22, 1891 at Lincoln, KS. Occupation managing show and motor mechanic, employed by self, on the road traveling. Single. Asked for exemption due to "existing contracts which would involve financial liability." Might have had some sort of show of his own? - Judy Griffin

    Reply: 13 Feb 2008 - No need to do a patent search. I have the original patent for dads monkey cars. As I recall the story, he sold the rights to another man at some time. The monkey farm was along the river off Crawford Street in Salina Kansas. The Salina Journal may have some account of the cars or the farm.

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2257. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show - British Tour, 16 Jan 2008 - I am doing a bit of research into the tour conducted in 1904, particularly between the dates of 6th October - 14th October 1904, when the show reached the counties of Cumberland, Lancashire and Westmorland in England.
      I am a railway historian and started by looking at the way the circus was moved from town to town, but I have been drawn into how the show worked and the attractions it offered.
      I have found the Special Train Notice covering most of the movements in this period, but am not sure of the division of labour between the railway companies and the Barnum & Bailey staff, nor how the material was off-loaded. Local newspaper reports give me the flavour of the impact of the show on the towns it visited and the fun the local population had.
      I have still a lot to discover - how the masses of the workers were carried (I assume in other trains rather that the show special stock, which seemed to have limited passenger capacity) and how the advanced publicity carriage was handled ahead of the show. I would appreciate any help members might be able to offer.
      P.S. The Barnum and Bailey show visited the same area in 1899 and this seemed to be a bigger affair as far as the railway operation was concerned - four trains instead of three. Mike Peascod, of Pinner, England. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 17 Jan 2008 - In forwarding this response, I'm assuming that there was no major change in the local movement of the Wild West, that it took place much like the rest of the British tour. The Wild West moved in the same manner as the circus, with: animals [baggage stock (work horses), ring stock (performance equines), any bison, etc.] loaded into stock cars; all equipment [tents, poles, props, dining equipment, trunks, etc.] loaded into wagons and then placed on flat cars, "circus style," by means of end-loading ramps; and sleepers for most personnel [some animal people bunked in the stock cars]. If you have train orders that indicate the respective numbers of cars in each section, analysis of the operation is pretty straight forward.
          The major difference between the Barnum & Bailey outfit of 1898-1899 and the subsequent Buffalo Bill's Wild West was the deletion of the menagerie, the traveling zoo. It was not uncommon for the animal sector to consume one-quarter, or more, of a show train operation, especially with a large circus like B&B. The elephants, lead stock [camels, zebras, sacred cows, etc.] and caged beasts that were with the circus were not with the Wild West, it was not part of the western exhibition. That largely explains deletion of the elephant cars [no elephants], some stock cars [no lead stock and fewer baggage stock], flats [no cage wagons]. There was one additional sleeping car, presumably because there were more actors in the Wild West, or different bunk and berth assignments. One or more cars may have been reserved for the singular use of the Native Americans.
          Richard E. Conover's account of the B&B train in "Bandwagon," March-April 1959, pages 3-5, sets the circus train size at 67 cars: 3 elephant cars; 18 stock cars; 1 double deck pony car, 1 baggage car; eight sleepers; 35 flat cars; and one advance car.
          It seems that the total number of BBWW cars was 49, 18 less than B&B, a 26% shrinkage. The BBWW train, as generally documented in "World's Fair," March 3, 1951, and elsewhere, was likely: 17 stocks; 1 baggage; 22 flats; and 9 sleepers. Not included in the BBWW or B&B numbers, for that matter, are the brake carriages, which were usually at the head and tail of each train. There were plans prepared to enable the BBWW train to move in three, four and even five sections when necessary, depending upon engine tractive effort and the ruling grade. Thus, "number of trains" alone is not to be used as a meaningful comparator, it's the specific number of cars that tells the story.
          The railroad provided the tracks, locomotives, caboose [American term, British would be brake carriages] and crew [engineer, fireman, brakemen and conductor], as well as all trackside management and operational facilities necessary to move the train between contracted points as well as local shifting, storage, etc., after arrival. Show personnel did general maintenance, heavy repairs would have been contracted to a car builder or the railroad car shops. The Wild West personnel loaded and unloaded the entire contents of the train. Horsemen and Indians managed the baggage stock and riding animals, as well as bison and so on. Train men, called "razorbacks," unloaded the wagons from the flat cars with ramps called "runs", in conjunction with ropes and other simple tools. The British railroads would have been familiar with the Wild West train requirements, having moved the B&B show just a few years previously. The movements were planned in great detail, staged in a strategic logistical manner, and then articulated to the railroad. B&B went to the extent of printing an elaborate booklet, in French, to provide to the railroad men in that country.
          It's possible that some supplemental passenger cars may have moved show personnel, but it seems more likely that all Wild West people moved on the train. The majority were housed in the sleepers, which were in some cases high density [three high bunks, two deep, lining both sides of the center aisle]. As one moved up in the staff hierarchy, more space was provided, greater bunk space, then a separate compartment, etc. A proprietor may have occupied an entire car. There is also a possibility that "supplemental" workingmen were hired locally, on the day of the exhibition, to augment the "permanent" crew.
          The B&B train construction was covered by Chris Leigh in two articles in "Model Railway Constructor," October 1983 and August 1984. There is more coverage elsewhere, in other Buffalo Bill books, of the train while in service on the BBWW. The advance car, which had been constructed in the US by Barney & Smith and then shipped to England in time for the 1898 tour, usually traveled a couple weeks ahead of the show trains. It would have been attached to regularly scheduled trains. In the US, sometimes these were express trains, at other times it was coupled to a "local." It all depended upon the route of the circus, the advance car taking the same journey a few weeks "in advance." Fred Dahlinger

    Reply: 18 Jan 2008 - Mike, although I can't help may I declare an interest in Special Train Notices. I'm wondering if these go back to the 1830s/1840s in England. By the way, a wagon once belonging to Buffalo Bill is in storage in Wales. Dave Page (

    Reply: 30 Jan 2008 - Hi Mike. Interesting to read your notes on the BBWW 1904 UK. I too am doing research into circus trains within the UK although, till now, I have concentrated my efforts on the Barnum and Bailey UK and European tour which took place between 1897 and 1900. My particular interest is in the construction of the carriages and rolling stock. Were you aware that they were all constructed by Messrs W R Renshaw of Stoke on Trent and that B&B used an adjacent site in Cliffe Vale as their Winter HQ. Much of the stock which was used in this tour was subsequently returned to the UK following a disastrous crash in Germany and many of the carriages and wagons were then used by Buffalo Bill's tour. I have covered some of this in my recent book - British carriage & Wagon Builders 1830 - 2006 - Lightmoor Press, but am anxious to update and expand upon the information to hand. Best of luck with your researches. Chris Sambrook. Birmingham. England.

    Reply: 31 Jan 2008 - As far as I know, the B&B train remained on the continent after it was shipped over to support the commencement of the 1900 B&B tour. The logistics of transporting it by steamship back and forth across the Channel during the next two winters were more difficult and costly than the simple storage of the cars on railroad sidings or in a "yard" on the continent. Only one steamship reportedly had a cargo opening adequately long to handle the 53-foot long flat cars. The wreck in Beuthen, Germany took place on July 6, 1901, yet the route continued without interruption. The show continued to play the continent through October 1902, traveling during the spring to fall seasons and thereafter wintering in Vienna [1900-1901] and Paris [1901-1902]. It was at the end of the 1902 tour that the train was returned to Great Britain, to serve the following year in transporting Buffalo Bill's Wild West. The same operating philosophy prevailed during the four years that the Buffalo Bill's Wild West toured Europe. The Stoke-on-Trent winter quarters became the property of the Ringling Bros. when their purchase of Barnum & Bailey, Ltd. was ratified by the board in 1907. If the B&B/BBWW train had not been sold by that time, the Ringlings would have been the last owners of the vehicles and caused the dispersal to take place. One version of the construction of the B&B/BBWW train is told in Louis E. Cooke's memoir, available on this website. See: There are other memoirs, such as the one by Jake Posey, that provide further insights. Fred Dahlinger

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2256. Brooke Barnett, trapeze, 15 Jan 2008 - Am looking for Brooke Barnett, a trapeze flyer with Barnum in the 1950s (we think). We do know she married a popular singer but don't know his name. Any information or recollections would be terrific! Or even suggestions for where I should try next? Jim (sometime trapeze flyer at Imperial Flyers in Denver). Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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2255. Missouri Giantess, 15 Jan 2008 - I have found that the Missouri Giantess (Kate Keathley) Is my Great-grandaunt. I have found some information about her but would like to find a picture of her. does anyone happen to have one or could point me in the right direction. Thomas C. Wiegand, Bremerton, Wa., Email, Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 16 Jan 2008 - You could try the emailing the Harvard Theatre Collection in Massachusetts or the Parkinson Library at Circus World Museum in Wisconsin. Links to these resources are on this website, click on "Research" on the navigation bar. - Judy Griffin

    Reply: 30 Sep 2013 - Punch in her name on a google search. There is a postcard of her on pinterest, and an obit from the N.Y. times found through a google news archives search. She is also an ancestor of mine. Jana

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2254. Circus performers UK, 14 Jan 2008 - I found this website, whilst searching on google. I was wondering if you have any information on some circus performers from the same family. Do any of theses names ring a bell? Peter Morrissey, Wendy Van Haarlem, Thomas and Collette Salsky? They worked in numerous circuses around the world including: Zippos in England, Bobby Roberts, Chiperfields Gasa Olimpia, Finlandia, Chinese State circus, Pinda and many more. Peter morrissey as far as I know has also apeared in magazines such as "the worlds fair". If you do, can someone gat back to me. Thanx. Wendy Morrissey, Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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2253. German circuses pre WWII, 13 Jan 2008 - I am looking for the names of German circus groups before the second world war. Thank you. Jack Gootjes, Canada, Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 14 Jan 2008 - I guess you meant Circuses? Here are some which my family traveled with. Cirkus: Gleich, Barum, Krone, Sarassani, Van Bever, Bush, Strassburger, Fischer, Hagenbeck; to name a few. Hope this helps. Erny Karoly

    Reply: 14 Jan 2008 - Check or the dutch version www. : Many many german circuses and acts on posters and photographs. Use the search options. Herman Voogd,

    Reply: 28 Aug 2008 - Hello. I, too, am searching for information regarding German Cirkus pre-WW II. My mother, Elly Hoever, belonged to a troupe called the “Ida Mae Mid-Ship Girls”, a trapeze/dance act. They traveled throughout Europe pre-WW II. My sister and I have been searching for years attempting to find out anything about this group or the Cirkus connected with it. If you have any suggestions as to where our search may continue we would be most interested to know. Thank you, in advance, for anything you are able to offer. Linda Galante- Program Coordinator, Radiology Residency Henry Ford Hospital - Detroit, MI,

    Reply: 22 Aug 2013 - Ellie Hoever - Mid-Ship Girls - Att: Linda Galante. My name is Derek Harper of Winchester, UK. neighbour, Felicitas, aged about 93 was a member of this group of artists. We were looking at her album of photos et al when working pre- WW2 and during. When next I see her, I'll mention Ellie and this link. Sincerely, Derek

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2252. Castings Campbell Circus, 13 Jan 2008 - Dear Circus History message board: Can anyone give me any information or leads as to The Castings Campbell Circus. They may have been based in the Northeast, Connecticut, Massachusetts area. Thank you. H. Peck. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

    Reply: 23 Jan 2008 - This title doesn't have an accurate sound or appearance. What's the source or reference to it? Fred Dahlinger

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2251. Grace or Anna Weed, 12 Jan 2008 - I am looking for information about a woman who was my great aunt named Grace or Anna Weed. Original surname was Wiig. She was born in Iowa and lived in Minnesota for awhile. It is said through the family that she may have gotten involved with someone from the Ringling brothers and no one had seen her after that until she died. Just Curious. Connie. Reply to this message, replies go to this board, not to the message sender.

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